Hope you are all doing well! I’ve been taking a break since returning to Thailand. Not going to lie, I had a lot on my plate in Bangkok. But now, that I am in Koh Samui, visiting my family, I have more time to feed my blog. Since I’m here, I have decided to share some useful things to know if you are planning to visit Thailand for the first time – or once more.
#1 – You get a lot, for less
Thailand is one of those South-East Asian destinations where you can really enjoy many things and activities without going broke. For example, eating is VERY cheap (unless you go to a fancy restaurant) and delicious. To illustrate that, a dish with a generous portion of food can start anywhere from 50 baht, which is about £1.30 or 1.40 euro.
Other examples: You can rent a luxurious villa by the beach on an island without spending a fortune. Or engage in activities that you’ve never tried back in Europe due to high prices; well it’s time to do it here in Thailand. Same experience but lower price.
#2 – Make a Thai friend
This is definitely a plus!! If you know a Thai person, it’s a good idea to visit the country with them. The country has some gems that are sometimes only known by local people and aren’t featured in guide books. So having a Thai friend is like have a key to unlock more doors and to discover more in depth Thailand and its culture. And who knows, it might make your travel go smoother.
#3 – Smile, Talk, Enjoy
Yes indeed, Thai people are very friendly and will always have a welcoming smile. So never, ever hesitate to ask for help and advice from the locals. Even if some don’t speak English well, they will always try to find a way to help you. Thai people are easygoing and always love a conversation to learn more about other countries’ culture…
#4 – THE indispensable clothing items
If you are coming to Thailand, you will most likely be visiting temples. And for that, you have to respect the culture. By covering yourself up. So don’t forget long-sleeved tops and long dresses/trousers. Plus, they are always useful to protect yourself against mosquitoes.
#5 – Reusables are things to consider
Unfortunately, in Thailand, too much plastic is used. From straws to shopping bags. You’ll understand the amount used once you are in Thailand and see it for yourself. To do something about it, please bring at least a reusable shopping bag. That’s the minimum. If you want to reduce even more your consumption of plastic during your stay, you can bring a metal/glass straw. I would say these two items are the most essential. It’s up to you if you want to bring more reusables such as water bottles or reusable containers.
#6 – Paper tissue – and don’t flush it
If I were you, I would always carry a small pack of tissues. Why? Because some toilets lack toilet paper and only have a water sprayer. Also: except in shopping malls, refrain from throwing the paper into the toilet bowl and put it in the bin next to it. The sewage system in Thailand is not really designed to take toilet paper. So you want to prevent a potential blockage.
#7 – Seasons
Now, you might be asking yourself when you should plan a trip to Thailand. Well, the answer is, there isn’t just ONE perfect season. Each have their pros and cons. First, there’s the most popular one which is the high season. As the name says it, during this season that runs from the month of November throughout March, hotels and plane tickets prices are rather high as the demand is also high. Whereas in the low season where you will definitely have cheaper prices – and less crowds. The low season starts in July and ends in October.
The low season coincides with the rainy, or wet, season. From May/June until October, it is generally expected to rain every day but not all day. The rain pours will definitely be more intense than in other seasons.
# 8 – Where to go, for what? (in a few words)
- North : mountains, elephants, temples (really special ones)
- Bangkok : city life, temples, shopping, arts, nightlife
- South (Islands) : beach, sun, tropical vibes
#9 – Always negotiate for a lower price
Yes, bargaining is real in Thailand, especially in markets. Of course, you won’t bargain in shopping malls. If you bargain, you are not always guaranteed to get a lower price but, most of time, you will get a discount. But don’t expect huge discounts, as the prices are already low.
Tip : to increase your chances of being successful, always have a friendly smile and never be aggressive towards the seller as you bargain.
#10- Festivals you should know about
In Thailand, there are many festivals but these I think are the top three ones.
First, there’s the Songkran Festival, also known as the water festival. This festival is the Thai New Year holiday. It lasts for three days in mid-April. It is mainly known for the water fights that take place across the country.
Then there’s Vesak Day, in other words the Buddha Day, in May. This is a festival that is shared with many different countries such as India, Laos, Malaysia, Japan, etc. In Thailand, ways to celebrate this festival are to meditate and observe the eight precepts. The best place to go to see the festival is definitively Chiang Mai.
Finally, we have the Loy Krathong Festival (Lantern Festival). This Thailand’s festival of light takes place during the month of November.
#11- Massage : A must-do!
Obviously you can’t forget to take some time off to take care of yourself by getting a massage. Thai massage is a good way cure and heal any pain that you have, whether it’s back pain, leg pain, etc. Thai massage involves the triggering of pressure points all over your body. The most complete is the full body massage, which should last at least an hour. The starting price will usually range around 200 or 250 baht per hour. You will definitely feel very relieved, relaxed and light after your massage.
#12 – Remove your shoes
Wear some easily removable shoes during your stay in Thailand. The reason is, many places ask you to take off your shoes, especially in temples. So don’t wear shoes that take half an hour to lace.
#13- Beware of mosquitoes
One thing you definitely can’t forget is mosquito repellent spray. Especially in the south where the climate is hotter and more tropical. You don’t want to end up with a ton of bites at the end of your stay.
#14- Stay away from animal exploitation for tourist attractions
When you come to Thailand, you’ll see many attractions involving animals. Such as tiger or elephant shows. These animals are often exploited and not well treated, some are malnourished and others just have bad health conditions. But all of this is hidden behind the “glitz and glam” of the show they put on. But you can definitively change this situation by simply making smarter choices. This can either be done by looking up at the background of the place where different attractions are proposed or by supporting eco-tourism attractions. Elephant sanctuaries are a good example. But again do well your research, as some may just use the name of “sanctuary” but are still exploiting the animals.
#15- Enjoy fruits
One of my favourite thing to do whenever I’m back in Thailand is to eat a ton of fruits. Not only you can find a wide variety of fruits (mangoes, strawberries, bananas, water apples…) but they are also very cheap and delicious/fresh.
PS: for the avocado lovers like me, Chiang Mai is definitively paradise. They are grown in the North of Thailand and are very big. I’ve never seen such big avocados. In the streets of Chiang Mai, you will also often bump into stalls that sell avocado smoothies.
#16 – FACT : Shop, eat, sleep & repeat
Shopping and eating are the two favourite pastimes of Thai people.
Hope you enjoyed this post! If you have questions about this topic, don’t hesitate to ask me in the comment section.