So you’ve decided to take the plunge, quit your job and go see what’s happening in other parts of the world! Well done you, you won’t regret it! If Thailand is your first port of call, that’s also a great choice with it being cheap, easy to get around, has great weather and super friendly locals.
While you might be all caught up in the excitement of leaving, you’re probably in a whirlwind of goodbyes and leaving parties – but take a few seconds to do your research and arm yourself with knowledge to help you navigate the Thai tourist trails. Here’s a compilation of some of the top things you need to know before travelling around Thailand.
Research the Weather
If you’re looking forward to getting away from the rain and soaking up some sun, you need to do your homework before visiting Thailand. There are generally two seasons – hot and rainy and in the Southern islands these seasons do not run at the same time. On the West side the rain can start from April going on through to October, but showers generally range from 30 minutes to an hour, allowing you to enjoy the beach again after! On the East side, rain is usually seen from September to December.
Be Respectful Of Religious Beliefs
93.8% of Thais are reported to follow Buddhism, 4.94% follow Islam and 1.20% follow Christianity. All have their own religious practices and this can include keeping shoulders, legs and sometimes the head covered. While you obviously won’t want to be covering up on the beach and missing out on that tan, if you visit temples or any other religious site, make sure you have long sleeves and long, loose trousers to cover up and be respectful. You may be refused entry if you don’t adhere to the rules!
Apply for a Visa Before you Enter Thailand for Longer Stay
While UK, US and other visa free countries get a 30 day visa on arrival, with the option to extend for another 30 days at a Thai embassy, if you already know you’ll want to stay longer you can visit a Thai embassy at any country before you arrive to apply for a SETV (single entry tourist visa). This will get you 60 days on arrival, with the option to extend for another 30 days while in Thailand.
Eat Local Street Food
While Thailand’s tourist industry is thriving and you can find many excellent western style restaurants, these can generally dent a hole in your pocket if you’re on a budget. Most places you visit in Thailand will have street food in the form of a market, a walking street and plenty of family run local eateries. Thai’s know how to cook and you’ll be able to try delicious local dishes for a tiny $1-2!
Ask for Discounts on Souvenirs and Accommodation
When shopping for souvenirs you’ll often not see a price attached to items. Thai sellers will often give you a price they think you can afford, which could be inflated from what someone else has bought it for. The same goes for accommodation especially in the quieter season; you can often get a deal if you just ask. The main thing is to always have a smile on your face and always be polite and you’ll often get a great discount.
Stay in Hostels to Meet other Travellers
If you’re travelling solo or with friends, one of the best parts about travelling is meeting people from all over the world. Staying in a hostel is the best way to meet other awesome people who you may even end up travelling with for a while. Be open and push yourself to start conversations – most people actually do want to talk to you, even if they seem to avoid eye contact at first!
Be Careful if You Rent a Motorbike
Cruising along mountain roads and beachy highways on a motorbike is a mind-blowing feeling of freedom, but tourists falling off motorbikes happens all too often in Thailand. It’s very easy to rent a motorbike in Thailand, with only a copy of your passport sometimes needed and no check to see if you can actually ride a bike!? If you still plan to do it, start off slowly and practice in an area with no traffic to start with. Be aware that bikes can slip easily on sand, so avoid sandy patches and use the brakes smoothly.
Learn a Few Local Thai Phrases
While you’ll easily be able to get by speaking English in the well-trodden touristy areas of Thailand, locals love it and find it quite amusing when tourists speak their language. Start with a basic greeting – Sawadee Ka/Khrup which means hello female version/male version. Always finish with Kop Khun ka/Khrup – thank you female/male and you’ll be well on your way to making a few Thai friends!