In 2018, I was lucky enough to travel for 3 weeks around Thailand. It was incredible! If you want to travel around Thailand, I highly recommend you do. Even almost 4 years later, I think of the trip so often. It is one of the top places I’ve travelled to. I know that it is a major destination, especially for student/ gap year travellers and backpackers. I didn’t backpack around. However, I feel like the tips in this post will still apply, so read on to find out about the 16 top tips for Thailand you NEED to know!
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Why Visit Thailand?
Why visit Thailand? Thailand is a Southeast Asian country with beautiful beaches, stunning landscapes, fascinating culture, and friendly people. From vibrant cities to tranquil islands, there’s something for everyone in this multifaceted country. People should visit Thailand for its world-class cuisine, with dishes like Pad Thai, Massaman curry, and Mango Sticky Rice being some of the country’s most beloved culinary offerings.
A visit to Thailand would be incomplete without exploring its various cultural experiences, from floating markets to historic temples. Additionally, the diverse and varied landscapes of Thailand offer something for any kind of traveller: majestic mountains, vivid jungles, and stunning beaches are all there to be explored. All in all, Thailand is sure to offer a memorable and rewarding experience.
16 Tips for Visiting Thailand:
If you’re interested in visiting Thailand, then check out these 16 tips for visiting Thailand!
1. Don’t ride the Elephants.
Please don’t ride the Elephants. If you love animals, then I urge you not to partake in activities like these. Almost always, the elephant has been beaten and tortured into submission in order for these activities to take place. I won’t go into too much detail as it can be very graphic, but in order to ”tame” the elephant, they do something called ”crushing the spirit”, which IS as cruel as it sounds. They are babies when this happens, and they are usually put in a cage where they can’t move, lift their heads and have nails and sticks pushed into their feet. If you want to do more research, click here for more in-depth information about what happens.
It is just so cruel and makes me upset even thinking about it. Elephants are beautiful, intelligent, amazing animals, so they don’t deserve this treatment. If you want to see Elephants in Thailand, I suggest you go to an ethical elephant sanctuary. The Happy Elephant Home and Elephant Nature Park are two excellent examples of ethical elephant sanctuaries that have rehomed elephants that were once sadly abused. Spending a full day at the Elephant Nature Park instead of riding elephants will create memories that are happy for both you and the elephants for years to come.
Additionally, please don’t partake in places that offer the chance to have your photos taken with the tigers – they’re most likely drugged, even if the place says otherwise. They’re wild animals; there’s no way that they could be ‘tamed’ to be around humans and not ever attack. Just be vigilant with animal encounters in general in Thailand, as they don’t have the best track record with animal rights.
Even if you see people offering the chance to buy the animal to release it back into the water, they will then be caught again, and the process repeats itself. I remember we bought some turtles and fish to release into the water, but when I got back home, I googled the tradition and read more about it and realised. It is a Buddhist practice called Marking Merit. Although I do believe it is a good practice, I disagree with the animals being recaught over and over again.
2. Be aware about the stray dog issue
Stray dogs are everywhere. This can be very sad if you love dogs, like me. If you can, try to buy them food and feed them when you can, but I have heard people say that this can be bad too. So I believe that this is up to you to decide for yourself. My heart hurts when I see any animal needing care.
3. Use the bus!
Bus travel is the way to go! We travelled by bus from the East of Thailand back to Bangkok. It was a 3.5-hour journey in total, and for only £5, it was like travelling first class! They had a ‘bus attendant’ who was like a flight attendant (yes, including the uniform), and they gave us food, water and a blanket – the seats even reclined! I could’ve travelled around like that for days, so definitely look into it if you want cheap travel.
4. Cover-up at temples
There are a lot of temples in Thailand, as you probably know. It is inevitable not to come across one! If you want to visit one (you probably will – they’re gorgeous), then it’s important to be respectful at all times.
In order to go in, you must not show shoulders. I recommend bringing a lightweight scarf or shawl to wear over your clothing. If you do forget, many major temples sell temporary ones to hire.
5. Make the most of 7-Eleven
7-Eleven is everywhere! When visiting Thailand, tourists should make sure to use the ubiquitous 7-Eleven convenience stores. This nationwide chain provides everything from snacks to essential items like sunscreen and insect repellent.
It also offers international phone cards and other important items such as a first-aid kit. Moreover, 7-Eleven is an unbeatable source of Thai snacks.
Tourists can enjoy the local flavours of the country with Thai milk tea (the best!), instant noodles, and other tasty treats. With prices that are generally lower than at other convenience stores in Thailand, 7-Eleven is an ideal spot for tourists to purchase essential items and snacks.
6. Visit night markets
Night markets are another popular thing for tourists and locals to visit. Here you will find plenty of cheap items such as shoes, clothes, technology and street food…including bugs to eat!
One thing important to note is that sometimes some sellers sell weapons such as knives and swords. You most likely wouldn’t be able to take it back to your home country, but it doesn’t stop people from buying them. They are often on display for anyone to touch and look at, with no ‘protective packaging’, which can be a bit scary.
7. Consider getting vaccinated
You don’t need any vaccinations* to visit Thailand, but it’s recommended to get a Tetanus, Hep A and Yellow fever vaccination before you go. Seasonal illnesses like the flu and mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue and malaria are known to occur in Thailand. Furthermore, getting the MMR vaccine is recommended as there has been a recent outbreak of the (measles) virus in the country.
Vaccines are readily available on the NHS, and they are relatively inexpensive. Vaccinating before visiting Thailand is an important step in helping to protect against potentially dangerous diseases and illnesses.
8. Know if your area has a Malaria risk
Malaria is common in Thailand, however, just in certain areas. Therefore, I would advise you to have a look if where your travelling is on the malaria map and take extra precautions just in case. I didn’t travel to any of the areas, but I still took bug/mosquito repellent.
Ironically, I didn’t get bitten the entire time, except from on the way back to the airport on the bus, and it was so itchy!!! I managed to buy some Tiger Balm in duty-free, which did help, but it was so horrible on an 18-hour flight back!
9. Use the Tuk Tuks
Tuk-tuks should be a must for any traveller visiting Thailand. Not only are tuk-tuks the nation’s classic and most iconic mode of transport, but they’re also a great way to explore the country. They’re cheap, fast and fun.
Tuk-tuks offer a unique experience, taking tourists to destinations off the beaten path while providing helpful tips and stories from their drivers. Plus, they are often a more affordable and convenient way to get around than other forms of transport. Beware that you can get ripped off by some drivers, so just make sure to know the average prices beforehand.
Tuk-tuks are a fun way to get around and they also offer a great opportunity to mingle with locals. So why not jump on a tuk-tuk and explore some of the hidden gems of Thailand?
10. Make a visit to Terminal 21!
Visit Terminal 21! Terminal 21 is a huge shopping centre in major cities in Thailand, designed to be like an airport/destination type thing. Each level is a different location, such as Japan, San Fransico and London! I happily spent hours here walking around, not even buying anything but just looking at the design!
11. NEVER disrespect the King
Respect for the monarchy is deeply ingrained in Thai culture, and tourists should be aware that disrespecting the King can be illegal in Thailand. People should avoid making negative comments about the King, his family, or the royal institution, as this can lead to fines, jail time, and even deportation.
Tourists should carefully review and adhere to the laws of the country, which criminalise any actions that defame or insult members of the royal family. Furthermore, tourists should not even stand on the money with the Kings face, as this is considered very rude and disrespectful. Just show the utmost respect for the royal family while in Thailand to avoid any legal troubles.
12. Eat in local restaurants
There are restaurants everywhere. Specifically, people’s garages. I remember we had food in a woman’s nicely decorated garage with Christmas decorations up (it was June) and a horror movie on the TV behind us.
I thoroughly suggest you visit these little random restaurants not just for the random appeal but because the food is very good and homemade, and you’re helping the locals by giving them money.
13. Don’t disrespect Buddha
Don’t take Buddha heads out of the country or even buy them in the first place. It is very, very disrespectful in Buddhist culture, and it is illegal. I think they would be hard to find anyway due to the illegality of them; however, it’s just important to note.
Tourists should not take photos or videos of sacred art, or other religious sites, and should not wear or display clothing that is inappropriate or offensive.
Moreover, a hat or any form of head covering should be removed when entering a temple, as this is a sign of utmost respect. By respecting Buddha and Buddhist culture, tourists can help preserve the country’s rich spiritual history.
14. Be aware of the negative effects tourism has had
Tourists should be aware of the environmental, cultural, and economic impacts that tourism has had in Thailand. Tourism can have a detrimental effect on fragile ecosystems, with issues such as water pollution and overcrowding of wildlife areas being especially concerning.
The sudden influx of tourists to a destination can also have a disruptive impact on local customs and traditions, leading to a sense of alienation and displacement among indigenous communities.
Moreover, the tourism industry has sometimes been linked to an increase in poverty in certain areas of Thailand. Therefore, to ensure responsible and sustainable tourism, it is essential for tourists to be aware of the potential negative impacts tourism can have.
Top Tips for Visiting Thailand – Conclusion
Hopefully, after reading this post, you’ve learnt about all of the most useful tips for visiting Thailand. Do you have any tips for visiting Thailand you believe others should know? Which tips for Thailand surprised you the most? If you’re visiting Thailand, or have any tips for Thailand that you feel should be included, then feel free to contact me. If you liked this post, you might also like:
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*Covid vaccinations are different. You can not enter the country without one, at the time of publishing.