Here’s a collection of tips and learnings we came across on our extended stay in Thailand:
– 7/11 stores are everywhere and they are amazing! You can get a <$1 grilled cheese any hour of the day.
– You may need to take off your shoes before entering a shop and definitely before entering a temple. Hint – check to see if a few pairs are left outside.
– When greeting people say sawasdee ka(female)/krab (male), the same saying can be used when you leave while you give a little bow in gratitude.
– Food poisoning is very common; carry Imodium, drink Gatorade, and know it will be over in a few hours.
– Thai people are very sweet, we loved their calm demeanor and felt well taken care of.
– If you would like your coffee iced, ask for it cold (iced was not a common adjective)
– Avoid the water, I would even be weary of ice the first few days while your stomach is adjusting.
– Consider an Airbnb over a hotel or resort. Five stars in Thailand is different then five stars in America. We found the reviews on Airbnb to be more consistent with our experience.
– Thai messages are intense, it felt similar to being rolled out on a foam roller. If you are not used to this sensation ask for a softer message before beginning.
– Stay in a spot close to the center of town if you are going to Phuket. Taxis are the only thing that are comparable in cost to America prices (most everything else was extremely affordable).
– Rainy season is long and depends on monsoons. Check the cities you will be visiting to see when rainfall is at its lowest. We were always thankful for the cloud cover that the rain provided, but if you are looking for a sunny beachside getaway you may want to plan accordingly.
– Negotiate prices on taxi rides and tuk tuks before jumping in. We were told “they say 300 you say 60”, we usually would offer (and get) about 50 baht under asking price. Keep in mind 100 baht is roughly $3, so it may not be worth stressing over negotiating too much.
– Respect the king, he actually passed while we were in Thailand. People in Thailand LOVED their king (picture Obama and Jesus mixed together). Just like the locals we wore black or a ribbon as a sign of respect for his passing.
– Thailand is the second most dangerous place in the world to drive. I heard 70 people a day die from accidents in the country. Be thoughtful before jumping on a moped or driving a car.
– Street lights can last over 2 minutes. So learn to relax and enjoy your surroundings!
– Most rides on songthaews are 20 baht. At night we found it may go up a bit, just say your destination and confirm a 20 baht price before jumping in.
– Street vendors are everywhere. If you are looking for Thai tea or a great new fashion statement via elephant printed pants, know neither are more then a block away.
– Pack a scarf (or two) and bring it with you when you visit temples. They have items you can borrow to cover legs and shoulders (typically required) but this way you are sure it is clean, or at least dirty with only your sweat.
– Dogs wearing a collar around town doesn’t mean they are owned. They most likely have a temple or family that puts food out for them that is provided by an organization. So many cute dogs (we wanted to pet them all, but for our safety resisted)
– Always carry cash, small bills are best.
– When dining out put your hand up (or wave) when you are ready to order and when you need the check. They may not come to your table if you don’t let them know, especially at the end of the meal. I know it sounds rude, you have to trust me here.
– No need to tip. We would often leave change from the meal as a thank you, but it is not expected.
– Trash cans are rare, we often had a bag in our backpack to put items into until we found a receptacle.
– No need to bring those warm layers for a cool night, they don’t exist here.
– Street food is cheaper, a lot cheaper! Dive in and start living like a local!
– Eat mangos! Mango juice, fresh mango, mango stick rice… it is all delicious and always perfectly ripe.
– Watch your step! There are ledges everywhere. I was not so gracefully footed…
– I hope this sets you up for a graceful transition into Thailand. Let us know if you have other tips!