Survival Tips for ThailandAndrew Mason
Generally, Thailand is a very friendly place to visit, however a few precautions and a measure of common sense can go a long way to making your experience smooth and enjoyable.
It is a good idea to carry a selection of change such as 20 baht notes and coins as many people cannot change large notes, especially in small towns and villages. If you are stuck for change, buying an inexpensive item at 7/11 or a similar shop usually does the trick.
Touts at airports and other tourist areas are there for one reason only: to make money. Unfortunately, this usually involves parting unwary travelers from their cash. You should always question any offer that seems ‘too good’, and get a good idea of average hotel prices before agreeing to go with someone.
Always use the meter in taxis or, if taking a tuk-tuk or motorbike taxi, makes sure you agree the price before hopping on board.
Young, fresh coconuts are much more refreshing than water, great if you are spending the day on the beach or suffering from a hangover.
Although the tap water is drinkable in large cities, it is best to stick to bottled water. The larger bottles of UV treated water are the cheapest, although not the healthiest. It is worth paying a few baht more for brands such as Singha or IO.
In Bangkok, the entire city becomes gridlocked during peak commuting hours of 8-10 am and 5-7 pm. It is best to try to avoid travelling at these times.
Essentials such as suntan lotion and mosquito spray tend to be a little bit more expensive on the islands, so it is a good idea to stock up before you go. Internet access is often much more expensive as well.
Guesthouse owners a generally a good source of local information, it is worth getting to know them.
Make sure you check the expiry date of your visa carefully as there is an overstay fine of 500 baht per day.
Many bathrooms do not provide toilet tissue, so it is a good idea to carry some with you. Remember to throw it into the bucket provided rather than into the toilet.
Sarongs are an essential item as they dry much quicker than towels and can also be used as a blanket, a privacy screen and an item of clothing.
Learning a few words in Thai can go a long way to getting what you want and forming friendships. Compliments and jokes are always effective.
It is a good idea to carry a photocopy of your passport, especially when going out drinking as police perform random checks and may ask to see it.
It’s easy to become dehydrated, make sure you carry water and drink small sips frequently.
If you need to get away from the heat for a while, cinemas, expensive hotels and even 7/11 shops provide sanctuary.
A small dab of perfume or aftershave under your nose is a great way to avoid suffering from bad smells.