It’s a destination that features highly on the bucket list of anyone who’s ever had a taste of wanderlust. An exotic paradise boasting equal parts beauty, culture and atmosphere, there’s no place quite like it. But how much do you actually know about Thailand? Whether you’re planning an unforgettable two-week holiday or a trip of a lifetime exploring Southeast Asia, here are a few things you should know before travelling to Thailand.
1. Everyone will want to talk to you
The Thai people are a friendly bunch, so don’t be alarmed if complete strangers come up to you and strike up a conversation. Chances are, they’re just excited to speak to foreigners and get the chance to practise their English. But why not surprise them and try and learn the odd Thai phrase too?
2. Tuk-tuk rides are wild, but worth it
You can’t go to Thailand without experiencing the thrill of a hair-raising tuk-tuk ride. A more fun and exciting way of getting around than a taxi or the MRT; it’s perfect for weaving in and out of the busy Thai roads, making it quicker too. Just don’t forget to agree a price with the driver before you get in.
3. However, riding elephants isn’t cool
No elephant wants to be ridden, and the way they’re taught to deal with it is often cruel. It’s best not to support any of the animal tourism that you come across in Thailand, be it elephant rides or monkey photos in the street. There are plenty of places where you can encounter elephants while still taking care of their welfare, such as the Elephant Hills in Khao Sok National Park.
4. Your body’s going to thank you
One of the best things about any holiday is all the incredible food you’ll get to eat, and Thailand is no exception to the rule. The food is always made to order with the freshest ingredients, from the pad Thai dishes in the restaurant to the brightly-coloured fruit smoothies blended for you on the street stalls.
5. But…be wary of the Chang
Thai food may be good for you, but the same can’t always be said for the alcohol. The alcohol content of Chang beer has been known to vary from bottle to bottle, with an average volume of 6.4%, which can often catch tourists off guard. The same goes for the famous drink buckets; they’re best shared with friends and not drank to yourself as they can be incredibly strong.
5. You’ll need to cover up in the temples
It seems that around every corner in Thailand is another stunning temple (or wat) to explore, so it’s best to always have your shoulders and knees covered. If not, carry a lightweight shawl or similar in your bag to use when you go inside.
6. You’ll definitely come face to face with some critters
There’s no way of avoiding the creepy crawlies in Thailand, from spiders and bugs to moths the size of your hands; most of which are completely harmless. Mosquitoes can be an issue though, so use adequate protection and make sure you’ve had all the right vaccinations before you travel.
7. The beaches are as beautiful as they look in photos
Whether it’s a scene from The Beach or just a picture-perfect screensaver on your work computer, the beaches in Thailand really are as beautiful as you imagine. The only slight difference is they’ll be busier in real life, but that’s just because they’re well worth visiting.
8. Ladyboy shows are incredible
Everyone’s heard about Thai ladyboys, but they’ve got to be seen to be believed – and even then, you still might not believe your eyes! Stunningly beautiful, talented and with legs to die for, ladyboys know how to put on a fantastic show and get everyone singing and dancing along with them.
9. Don’t be afraid to splash out – it’s affordable
You’ll be amazed at how much you get for your money in Thailand. You can stay in a luxurious 5-star hotel for less than what you’d pay for a basic hotel back home, so make the most of it. But don’t get scammed just because you’ve got money – it’s okay to barter with the locals.
10. You’ll need to get used to the toilets
In all of the hotels and most of the popular tourist attractions that you’ll visit, you’ll find regular ‘western’ toilets. But it’s almost impossible to completely avoid the local squat toilets in Asia. So, take your own toilet roll, find your balance and embrace the traditional way of going to the loo.
11. It won’t be your last visit
If one thing’s for sure, you can guarantee that your first visit to Thailand certainly won’t be your last. People can’t help but fall in love with the breath-taking scenery, rich culture and friendly atmosphere that Thailand’s become know for, so you’re bound to be back before you know it.
We can tell you as much as we can before you go, but the best way to learn is to get out there and experience it for yourself. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to start planning your dream trip to Thailand.