9 Helpful Lessons for Visiting Thailand

9 Helpful Lessons for Visiting Thailand

We naturally had a lot to learn, being first timers in Thailand! After leaving, we had learned many helpful lessons for visiting Thailand. We planned our trip without the help of a travel guide or travel agency. Everything we encountered was a learning experience. Some helpful lessons for visiting Thailand had to be learned the hard way. Even though our trip was quite the adventure, we wished we had read about the tips we learned before our trip! Reading other blogs helped us to recognize some of the scams to avoid here before it was too late. I hope what we learned can help at least one other person have a more enjoyable and memorable trip!

1. Pack Lightly

In fact, forget rolling luggage all together, and get yourself a hiking backpack. This was one of the helpful lessons for visiting Thailand before we even got there! You will be especially grateful if you plan on hopping all around Thailand. The last thing you want to do is have to lug heavy luggage on and off of boats, buses and planes. Every time we saw people with rolling suitcases, we instantly felt bad for them. We packed all light weight clothing in a large hiking pack each. No checking luggage, no lugging roller bags through crowded streets, and no packing unnecessary items. We were able to do laundry a few times along the way so we only packed what we would actually wear. Also, there are TONS of 7-Elevens everywhere, so we were able to buy cheap toiletries when we needed them.

9 Helpful lessons for visiting thailand #1 - Pack lightly! Photo of our hiking packs at the front of a longtail boat.
We had the same idea as the other longtail riders. Can you imagine throwing your roller bag on a boat taxi like this?

2. Avoid Scams

Thailand is filled with scam artists trying to make a few bucks. If a super friendly, well dressed, Thai person starts speaking to you in perfect English, they are probably a scam artist. If what they are telling you seems too good to be true, it probably is. Also, be explicit in your instructions to taxi and tuk drivers. They will try to get you to go to certain places, knowing you are a tourist, which will charge you way more than they should. Be specific on where you want to go and how much it will cost before you start your trip. If you are able to, take an Uber! We were able to take Uber in Bangkok and Chiang Mai for really cheap! We wished we had learned this as one of the helpful lessons for visiting Thailand before we got there.

9 Helpful lessons for visiting thailand #2 - Avoid Scams: Us in the back of a tuk tuk, which are often part of scams
Us in the back of our tuk tuk, so excited to get a cheap, 4 hour ride anywhere we wanted. The catch was our driver made money every time we stopped somewhere and spent money!

3. Print your tickets out!

If you buy tickets online for a ferry ride, or a flight, have your hotel print it out for you. Many airlines will charge you extra to print boarding passes at the airport, and even though the ferry ticket might not say you need to print it out, they might ask you to do so. It will really make your life a lot easier having passes on paper. Don’t miss your boat by being held up trying to find a printer! After this happened, I said, “I’m going to have to write a helpful lessons for visiting Thailand post!”

9 Helpful lessons for visiting thailand #3 - Print your tickets out! Photo of Bangkok Air, on our tram to Koh Samui Airport
Bangkok Air, on our tram to Koh Samui Airport

4. Dress “Smart” When Necessary

Most of the time in Thailand, you will want to wear shorts, tank tops and other lightweight clothing because it can be incredibly hot. However, when you visit temples and rooftop bars, you will need to dress appropriately. We saw many people not dressed appropriately at some temples, but don’t be that guy. Show some respect for the monks and other Buddhists, and dress modestly. At temples, guys can wear t-shirts and longer shorts, just no tank tops. Nine times out of ten, you will go in barefoot, so don’t worry about what kind of shoes you are wearing. Ladies, a t-shirt and longer pants like capris will be just fine. If you have to wear shorts or a tank top like I did, just bring a non-see-through beach wrap or scarf to place around your shoulders and wrap around your waist.

I only packed tank, shorts and a long dress, so I had to layer up with scarfs to cover my knees and shoulders. I saw it was much easier to wear a t-shirt and a skirt or pants to cover your knees, rather than adding extra layers in such a hot environment.

9 Helpful Lessons for Visiting Thailand #4 - Dress Smart: My husband and I in front of the silver temple, with the appropriate dress for temples.
Capris and something for my shoulders worked just fine!

For men, be sure to bring one pair of pants and closed toes shoes to wear at the rooftop bars in Bangkok. They are very strict about this, and we chose not to go because Tiago only had a polo shirt, boat shoes and shorts. Women are not allowed to wear shorts or flip flops, but dresses and nice sandals are completely acceptable. If you are not sure, be sure to look up what they consider a “smart” outfit.

5. Enjoy, but Beware of the Buckets!

First of all, everywhere you go, they sell these “buckets” which are essentially a small beach pail, with sealed bottles of various liquor, juice, and/or soda. They are a great deal, but I will give you some advice to better enjoy your time! Choose the more expensive, well known liquor brands over the cheap Thai brands. You will feel much better in the morning!

9 Helpful Lessons for Visiting Thailand #5 - Beware of the Buckets. My husband ordering the bucket he wanted for the night.
My husband deciding on what kind of bucket he wanted to buy

Also, keep in mind that their Red Bull is NOT the same stuff we get in the states, so drink with caution! This was one of the more important helpful lessons for visiting Thailand. We heard the ingredient in the original formula of Fourloko is in their Red Bull, which is similar to speed. Also, be sure to WATCH them make the drink. You want to make sure they are truly using UNOPENED sealed bottles, otherwise, you won’t know if they filled the bottles with something else.

When we entered the beach, we saw signs saying “no outside drinks allowed,” and at first we were like “crap, now what?” As we already had a bucket in hand. But we realized that there was literally no one to enforce this, and everyone already had a bucket. So in we went! In America, I would never pull this off, but in Thailand, go for it.

20170412_003430
We shared a few of these and never fell asleep because of the Red Bull!

 

6. Don’t be Afraid to See a Doctor if you Need it!

If you are not feeling well in Thailand, go see a doctor! Don’t do what I did and wait until I was so sick I couldn’t talk or eat. They have clinics everywhere, as this is a popular country for tourists. It is cheap, you will be seen right away, and you can get the medicine you need for a fraction of the price in America.

20170416_161252
At the clinic in my bathing suit, immediately after we got off the boat to Maya Bay. Got treated for an infection in my throat! Tried toughing it out for 5 days…

7. Where to Stay for the Full Moon Party

Prices for a place to stay for the Full Moon Party can get really expensive the days right before, during and after if you look on Koh Phangan. The reality is, you don’t even need to stay on that island. Most people like to party until the sun comes up anyway, but if you are like me, I like to know I have a place to rest my head at night. Ferries run back and forth from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan all night, and is about a 20 minute ride. We learned this the hard way, but we could have had a place on Koh Samui, which is much nicer in my opinion, take a ferry directly to the full moon party, have a great time, then walk back to the boat to take you to your hotel.

9 Helpful Lessons for Visiting Thailand #7 - Where to Stay for the Full Moon Party. Relaxing in my hammock outside the bungalow
This was a great view, but a bit too far from the Full Moon party….and no AC!

8. Avoid Conflict and Always Smile When Having an Issue

Thai people are very peaceful individuals, and some believe it is because of their Buddhist practices, which involves regular meditation. It is certainly okay to be firm with someone, especially if you are not interested in what they are selling or if you feel you are being scammed. But if you need something from someone, a smile goes a long way. Thai people do not like confrontation. They will be less likely to help you if you start to act with aggression. This was one of the helpful lessons for visiting Thailand that we learned the hard way, when my husband got upset about having to print our ferry ride tickets out!

9 Helpful Lessons for Visiting Thailand #8 - Avoid Conflict. Paying respects at a temple in Bangkok

9. Save Places you want to Visit on Google Maps

When you are connected to Wi-Fi, be sure to star places you want to go to, like temples, attractions, restaurants and parks. You will be able to see the destinations and your location on the map once the map is downloaded,. This was one of our favorite helpful lessons for visiting Thailand especially for showing a cab driver exactly where to go, or to navigate on foot.

9 Helpful Lessons for Visiting Thailand #9 - Star the places you want to visit on google maps when you are on wifi
When we were connected to Wi-Fi, we starred places we wanted to go to on Google Maps. This was helpful so we could better navigate on foot or show our driver.

These are all the helpful lessons for visiting Thailand that we wish we had learned before we went!

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