This is a guest post written by James Anderson from the UK. If you would like to write a guest post for Expat and the City, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thailand is indisputably one of the best destinations in the world for travellers, what with its wealth of natural beauty and historical value. With that being said, there’s a few things to look out for if you’re planning a trip – here are six tips to ensure you get the most out of your first time visit to Thailand.
Keep your belongings safe
It’s an unfortunate fact, but you should expect opportunists and thieves to be lurking in certain parts of Thailand. If you stand out as a tourist with your belongings left unwatched and vulnerable, you should expect to be a potential target. Stay vigilant and keep your things with you at all times.
One common practice is “bag snatching”, as locals ride past on motorbikes and grab your bag from you when you least expect it. Combat this by investing in a cross-body bag, so that it cannot be removed easily. It’s a worthy purchase, as this type of theft is more common than you may think.
Don’t head off the beaten track
Sure, if you’re being led by a registered and trustworthy tour guide then feel free to explore – but don’t go about it alone. Many parts of Thailand are uncharted, isolated and potentially dangerous if you don’t know the area.
If you choose to explore an untamed and wild part of Thailand with a tour guide, make sure they are officially qualified to lead you. Often, tourists are duped by the offer of cheap costs and are then effectively led into dangerous territory by a guide that doesn’t actually have a clue.
Embrace the culture
Thailand’s culture is perhaps surprisingly rich if you haven’t been before. For example, you’ll witness the twice-daily occurrence of locals stopping to pay their respects to the national anthem at 8am and 6pm in public areas. There are many cultural norms here that you should respect and embrace.
One particular rule that you’ll be required to follow is the taking off of shoes before entering certain buildings – especially if they are of religious importance. The feet are considered the least important part of the body, bringing bad energy with them, and taking your shoes off helps preserve the good spirits.
Try some street food
If there’s one thing you truly shouldn’t miss when in Thailand, it’s the street food. Some of the most delectable dishes in the country are cooked fresh upon stalls, offering up a massive variety of food – satay is one of the most popular choices, with meat threaded on a bamboo stick served with the renowned peanut sauce.
And, if you’re brave enough, trying Thailand’s street food opens up a perfect opportunity to attempt a taste of the stranger dishes. Whether it’s a fried insect or some raw beef you fancy, you’re going to need a strong stomach – even balut, the fertilized duck egg from the Philippines, has reached Bangkok with growing popularity.
Haggle the costs
If you’re a seasoned traveller you’ve likely had to haggle your way around the world a few times. Thailand is no different – whether it’s in a marketplace or in a taxi, expect to have to negotiate your prices. Vendors often hike the costs up if they know you’re a tourist, so it’s necessary to haggle if you want to save money.
As mentioned, taxis are one place you’ll notice a significant rise in costs. The Secret Traveller details how you’ll be expected to haggle with the driver – you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable, as they will actually want you to negotiate a price with them.
Don’t brave the traffic alone
And perhaps the most important tip of all when travelling in Thailand is to avoid the roads at all costs. If you’re being driven by a local it will without a doubt be much safer, but many tourists think they’ve got what it takes – with dire consequences awaiting them. Thailand’s roads are actually the second most dangerous in the world, so it really isn’t worth it.
So long as you keep your wits about you and don’t do anything you feel unsure about, you’ll be able to embrace Thailand as the beautiful tropic haven it truly is. Stay safe, sensible and protected, and you’ll be sure to have the Thai adventure of a lifetime.
Do you have any of your own suggestions for those making a first time visit to Thailand? Let us know in the comments below.
About the Author
James Anderson is a fitness buff and is a weekend traveler. He is currently finishing his masters degree in Forestry and Environmental Studies in the UK. He also works as a freelance writer for a few travel and pro-environment websites. He’s been to South and North American countries though he’s planning to tour around Asia once he’s done with his studies.