It’s been a long time since I first set off to Bangkok and left my life behind. I didn’t really have a plan. I wish I’d had the perfect Thailand itinerary all planned and I wish someone had told me what to expect when I got there. BUT I didn’t and nobody did. Fortunately for you I’m here to tell you all my top Thailand travel tips so that you might be a bit more prepared than I was.
My Top Thailand Travel Tips
1) Toilets: You do not flush your toilet paper
When it comes to Thailand travel advice, this is KEY! You put the toilet paper in a bin next to the toilet, you do not flush it. This can be hard to remember, and slightly worrying on the hygiene side of things. It can also be rather off putting whilst sitting on the toilet and staring at a bin full of various bodily excretions. Of course, there is also the option of not using toilet paper at all.
There is a small shower head beside every toilet which is basically like a bidet to wash your bits with after each bathroom trip. It is often affectionately known as the “bum hose”. There is a bit of a lack of toilet paper in Thailand in public toilets. If you don’t want to use the bits shower/ bum hose I’d recommend bringing your own toilet paper in your bag with you. Don’t worry, you quickly get used to this. Thailand travel tips aren’t always glamorous.
Not a big deal. But I suppose if you’re from a conservative little town this might be a bit shocking. Contrary to popular belief they are not all out on the street trying to get you into bars wearing fishnets and leather. Sure, some of them are, but others are just simply going about their business, having a day job, doing their own thing. Because, after all, they’re just normal people. The lady/ gent that checked me in for my ferry was very efficient and immaculately dressed. Worthy of the pages of any fashion blog. I was both impressed and completely embarrassed at my sweaty, make-up less appearance.
The local beer. Questionable quality control, of course. They call it Chang roulette, because a Chang can be anything between 6-12% alcohol. It’s basically a sort of alcoholic lottery, you never know what you’ll get. You could be fairly drunk after one. The small bottle is only about 10bat cheaper than the large.
However, the large will end up going warm by the time you’ve gotten half way through. I guess it depends on where your priorities lie. Chang is popular because it’s the cheapest really. Most people that spend a lot of time in Thailand tend to stay away from it and stick with something safer like Singha.
Of all my Thailand travel tips , listen to this one. Yep, more about alcohol! I am Irish I guess. Buckets are relatively cheap and incredibly effective. My first night in Thailand we went out for a couple of beers…. which turned into at least 4 buckets, which turned into the most wretched hang over.
I literally ordered a plate of pad thai at lunch time the next day and just stared at it. Didn’t even have a mouthful. Then I had to get on a night bus/ferry to Ko Tao(or Koh Tao). Be careful with buckets, they often have a lot of red bull in them. A lethal dose of caffeine does exist, so don’t go having 6 buckets all to yourself. I recommend sharing the damage if you’re really intent on bucketing the night away.
If you’re like me and from somewhere that does not know the meaning of humidity, this will be a difficult adjustment. SO MUCH SWEAT! At one point I found myself lathered up in aloe vera gel and standing under the one fan in our room. Except the fan did not stay in the same place, it rotated around the room. Soo I was swaying my body around in circles, as if I was playing hula hoop, to try adsorb as much cold air as humanly possible.
I have learnt now that it’s about light, loose clothing. Though I am considering investing in one of those handheld fans that would make me look like an idiot but FEEL way better and less shiny. Make sure you keep hydrated too since you’ll be sweating out so much liquids.
People either wear flip flops or nothing. It is not unusual to see people with no shoes. For me, it was another adjustment. I don’t really like wearing sandals at all, and flip flops hurt my toes… and I kind of think they’re a death trap in general. I mean, you slip on any barely wet surface AND those things are always getting caught in stuff and causing a trip/fall. Nightmare.
Soo, I have started to do a bit of barefoot wandering. However, all my hopes of being a foot model have now been dashed. Hard skin galore! Ill need a pedicure a week at this stage. Also, taking your shoes off before you go inside anywhere (especially temples) is a big thing. Restaurants, hotels, shops, pretty much any building. I kind of like this. I find it strangely relaxing. Though I have forgotten to do it a few times and had that awkward moment where I’m the only one in the room wearing shoes. There’s some etiquette to be learnt in this list of Thailand travel tips!
Sand flies, those horrible bastards. I left my tshirt on the sand for about 15 minutes in the middle of the day, then I stupidly put it back on to sleep in. I woke up the next morning absolutely covered in bites all over my entire torso; my ass, my stomach, the backs of my legs, even my boobs! Attacked by pervert insects!
I’d recommend not leaving anything on the sand. Get a dry bag and put it in there. I need to get one. In fact, I’m eyeballing a lovely pink one as we speak/ e-communicate. To buy or not to buy?! I’ll probably buy 😛 (I did buy it in the end, a sound investment).
I would also like to add that I was swimming in 50% DEET and it made no difference whatsoever to those sand flies. I’d still recommend using it because it definitely keeps the mosquitos away.
The other thing you have to look our for is bed bugs. If you’re staying in budget places like hostels or guesthouses then make sure you check the seams of the mattress or use a silk sleeping bag. Bed bugs are INCREDIBLY hard to get rid of and also very irritating.
You can also EAT a wide variety of insects in Thailand, if that’s something you’re interested in. Scorpions, grasshoppers and more can be found skewered on kebabs being sold by street vendors. It’s actually not as authentic as you might think, local rarely eat this kind of thing, it’s more for tourists.
8) The food
I used to claim that I didn’t like Thai food. I don’t really know where I got that from…. I LOVE IT! Red curry, green curry, yellow curry, massaman. I love them all. You will never have a cold in Thailand, the spice will kill all those germs. Also, the fruit shakes! These are basically slushies. Amazing!
Oh and if you’re a vegetarian that is not a problem, there’s plenty of vege options. In fact, I’ve had tofu with most of my curries instead of meat.
Quick tip, ham and cheese toasties are the drunken/ hungover snack of any tourist in Thailand. Available in your local 7-11, where they will toast it as you wait. The dream. Thailand travel tips ESSENTIAL tip.
9) Thai Massage
I had my first Thai massage in Ko Tao. Don’t get me wrong, I felt amazing afterwards, but during I thought that little Thai lady was trying to kill me. She really worked her elbow into my shoulder. I thought it was going to dislocate.
She put tiger balm all over my bites and used coconut oil for the massage. This did help the situation. However, I did have to take my bra off in a very open room full of men getting massages, that was slightly off putting. But once I was getting massaged, it was worth it. The massages are super cheap too, so treat yourself to a full body massage if you can handle the pain!
10) Whitening agent is in practically everything
One of my top tips for travel to Thailand is to be careful if you buy any sun cream or moisturiser. Pay close attention to the label, whitening agents are in most of these. Unless that’s what you want, in which case you are sorted. Personally, I’m definitely pale enough. If I used whitener I’d probably start going transparent.
11) Safety in Thailand
Is Thailand safe? That’s a question I get asked a lot by people planning a trip to Thailand. For me, I never had a problem in Thailand, though I was travelling with someone. Like everywhere else in the world you just need to be vigilant. Pick pockets are always prevalent in large cities like Bangkok. Be careful if you’re renting a moped or scooter as there are several common scams associated with them. Also, the traffic in Thailand is completely insane and scooter burns/scars are very common among backpackers. I recommend just avoiding scooters.
There’s plenty more to say about Thailand, but those are my must know tips for Thailand travel. Mainly because I think 10 is a good number. Plus I’m watching 47 Ronin and really want to see what happens so I need to get off my phone now 😛 If you want to get a real view of what Thailand is like for a first-timer then make sure to check out Erika’s guide to solo travel in Thailand.
Do you have any tips on travelling to Thailand?? Let me know!
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