Thailand is indeed a popular destination for a lot, and we can’t blame them, Thailand is indeed an awesome place to explore from its vast jungles, stunning beaches, and beautiful temples – it got it all on top of the locals who would welcome you warmly with a smile.
Famous for many other things, there is still a lot of information you must know before planning a visit to Thailand. From all the necessary documents you might need to some of the epic activities you can do, in this post, we’ll cover all the things that may tickle your wanderlust to explore some of the off the beaten path Thailand can offer.
Top 31 Things You Should Know Before Visiting Thailand
Before coming to Thailand
Acquire the correct visa
Most countries in Europe, the US, Canada, Central, and South America, and most SEA countries can enter Thailand, which can vary depending on which country you’re from, enables you to stay in Thailand between fifteen to ninety days on visa exemption. This means you do not need to acquire a visa before arriving in the country.
That said, if you’re planning to stay in Thailand for longer than thirty to sixty days, you might want to enter the country on a correct visa, which you can apply in the closest Thai embassy or consulate.
Thailand visa rules are getting stricter year after year, so make sure to check this before you book everything!
Medications to bring
Granted, Thailand most likely has all the proper over the counter medication one might need, but since everything is going to be in Thai, you might want to bring the medicines you know and trust with you. We recommend bringing paracetamol, ibuprofen, diarrhea medicines, motion sickness medicines, melatonin (they don’t sell this in Thailand), cold and flu tablets, and other things you think you might potentially need.
That said, most of these medicines except for melatonin, you can definitely get it in Thailand. We only recommend bringing this because if you’re traveling alone and got sick, it is perhaps a wise thing to have it in case you’re bedridden and too sick to get out of bed.
Thailand uses 230V types A, B, and C sockets. If you’re coming from Europe, the UK, US, and some parts of Asia – it is wise to bring a global adapter, so you don’t need to waste time looking for one once you’re in the country.
International motorcycle drivers license
If you’re planning on renting a scooter or a motorcycle in Thailand, it is wise to acquire a motorcycle license and apply for an international driver’s license from your home country or country of residence.
We highly recommend you to have this if you want to rent a scooter as there are several police checkpoints around big cities. Although the fine is not a lot (200 to 500 Baht), it eventually will add up in the end.
Also, most insurance companies will not cover a motorcycle accident if you do not have the correct license in the first place, so be wary of this!
The currency in Thailand is called Baht, and the current exchange at the moment is 30 Baht per 1 USD and 33 Baht per 1 Euro.
All shops in the country do not accept anything else but the local currency, but there are a lot of money exchange booths in most big cities.
Also, be aware of the fact that they charge 220 Baht per money withdrawal form all ATM machines and that it is very rare to pay by credit or bank cards. Everything is paid by cash in Thailand, so keep this in mind.
When to come to Thailand
We have a really good post detailing the best time to visit Thailand – you can read it here. In a nutshell, however, the best time to visit is between November to April.
If you’re worried about vaccinations and would like to have the right ones or make sure you’re updated with your shots, here are the ones you should have before you come: tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella, typhoid, hepatitis A and B, yellow fever, cholera, rabies, meningitis, Japanese encephalitis, polio, chickenpox, pneumonia, shingles, and influenza.
Avoid animal tourism
It has been widespread news all over the wold how Thailand has been using animals as a tool for some part of its tourism that includes elephant riding, tiger shows, and so on.
Yes, these are still happening until now and the best way to make sure that tourist does not contribute to this part of the local tourism, so it eventually becomes obsolete one day and for the animals to be free is by not participating in any animal-related activities.
That said, there are still a lot of really good ethical sanctuaries in the country where you can closely observe elephants in its natural habitat, such as the Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai.
Invest in good SPF and sun protection
If you’re planning to vacation in southern Thailand where all the awesome beaches are, then make sure to invest in really good sun protection lotions. Especially if you’re planning to lounge and walk around during the day. It is always good to stay properly protected than not!
Thailand is generally safe, with lovely locals always willing to help you beyond the language barrier. However, it is still good to be wary of your surroundings and be alert at all times! In our honest opinion, your biggest challenge in the country would be the traffic, so in order to be safe, make sure to always look for pedestrian lanes and keep a good lookout before crossing busy roads and walk on the sidewalk when trotting around.
Thailand culture that is good to know
They don’t really use chopsticks
This may shock some people, but Thai’s do not use chopstick as a daily utensil to eat food. In fact, traditionally, they eat with their hands until the introduction of spoons and forks, which is what they presently use.
Chopsticks, however, is introduced to the Thai’s by Chinese settlers and is used to eat noodles such as Pad Thai, Pad See Ew, and soups with noodles.
Do not touch people’s head.
The head is considered the cleanest and most sacred part of the body, so it is rude to touch it, especially in Thailand. That said, regardless of which culture you come from, touching a stranger’s head is anyways quite odd, and most people won’t really do it without the other person’s consent.
Take off your shoes
In most Asian cultures, it is necessary to take your shoes off before entering someone’s home as the shoes are something we use to keep our feet off the grime that comes with the streets when walking outside. Thailand is not an exception, and it is important to remember this before entering a local’s home or sacred places such as temples.
There are other premises also that ask people to remove their shoes before entering, such as massage places, spas, and some restaurants.
Thai people love their King, and it is rude to ignore this fact. Also, it is worth noting that saying ill things towards any member of the Thai Royal family is punishable up to fifteen years in prison.
Do not point with your feet
As mentioned above, in Thailand, the feet are considered the dirtiest part of the body, so pointing it to someone is deemed rude. It is also frowned upon to face the soles of your feet towards any religious relics such as any statues or paintings of Buddha.
Know what you’re bargaining for
Alright, we come to a part of this article a lot of westerns think is wise when dealing at local markets – bargaining. Yes, it is fun to haggle with prices, but a lot of you should also understand if whatever you’re bargaining for is worth it or not. We must understand that these locals selling goods at the market have to break backs just to sell something, and yes, some of them do inflate the prices if they see you’re a foreigner, but honestly, it is not by much.
Here’re some situations you might face where you’ll possibly find haggling necessary:
- Sunday or weekend markets – if you walk around aimlessly, you’ll find many stores selling pretty much the same products. If you fancy something, do some research and ask different stalls for prices and buy from the ones that sell the cheapest. If you want to haggle, you can do it here.
- Tuktuk’s – first of all, you don’t need to ride a tuk-tuk to get around places. You can use the Grab app, which has a fixed price, but if you want to experience tuk-tuk, you can quickly check the price on Grab first and then haggle your way down to about the same price.
- Wet markets – Thai people do enjoy a good bargain; hence they tend to haggle their price down at markets. For most foreigners, products from the wet markets are cheap enough and speak little to no Thai to even bother bargaining.
- Touristic places – anywhere near the beach or any famous attractions, you can almost expect already how the prices will go. If you know what is the actual worth of the product their selling and would like to buy it at that moment, you can always try to haggle with the vendors.
Here are some places you should not haggle:
- If the place is airconditioned, expect no haggling happens there.
- Restaurants – most of their prices are fixed, and even if their menu has no prices, there’s little chance you can haggle your prices down.
- Massage places – again, prices are fixed.
Things to expect when you get to Thailand
It is honestly easy to get around Thailand. All buses, trains, and ferries head out on time, and you can easily and timely plan your travels around accordingly. That said, in big cities such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai, you can use the Grab app, and Song Taew’s to get around.
Plastic-free from January 2020!
It might be wise to bring a reusable bag with you when you come to Thailand or buy one when you get here as most big supermarkets and chains no longer hands out plastic bags to its consumers. This is great news, and it became viral worldwide as Thai people showed creativity in how to deal with this newly passed law.
Water refill vending machines
When you come to Thailand, you’ll see a lot of water vending machines all over cities and towns where you can fill up your bottles with clean water for 1 Baht per liter. It is absolutely much cheaper than buying bottles of treated and filtered water from stores, and you also reduce plastic waste!
Do not pet stray dogs (or soi dogs)
One thing that is evident in most big cities and beach towns in Thailand is the number of streets and stray dogs that are set loose. Most of it has had rabies shots, but not all. That said, a lot of foreigners tend to pet these dogs, and we advise you to avoid it doing this for your own safety. There has been a lot of reports of people being hospitalized from dog bites.
Bug sprays are your best friend
There are a lot of natural alternatives to buying sprays you can find in Thailand, and you’ll find these everywhere from 7/11 to any grocery stores. Even though Thailand does not have a big problem with malaria, there are, however, a lot of dengue cases, especially during the rainy season. The way to avoid this is by prevention, and getting a small bottle of bug spray to carry around is absolutely worth it.
Food in Thailand
World-renowned for its authentic flavors and has been in the top spots in the culinary world, Thailand’s local cuisine is sought after by a lot and is known for its unique flavors. It is only natural to include this bit in this list even though, for sure, you’ve heard of Thai cuisine before.
We have written about the top dishes you must try during your visit, you can read it here.
Cool things to look forward to
There are so many cool festivals in Thailand you can look forward to! Watch out for their dates and plan your visits around it.
Here are some of the notable festivals you can check out:
- Songkran (water festival) in April
- Loy Krathong (lantern festival) in November
- Full moon parties – this happens every, well, moon cycle
White sand, clear blue waters, and amazing activities to do – beaches in Thailand are some of its stunning attractions on top of many other things. If you’re planning your holiday to Thailand and is wondering what awesome things you can do in the country, visiting some of its stunning beaches would be one of our top answers!
A topical country located in South East Asia, there are a lot of jungles in Thailand you can explore. There are a lot of tours you can participate in that will take you adventuring around its thick and diverse flora and fauna.
If you do decide to explore Thailand’s unique jungles, there are also chances you get to stumble upon beautiful waterfalls during your hike, so make sure to bring some swimsuits with you! In Northern Thailand, you can simply rent a scooter and drive yourself around, and along the way, you’ll definitely find a waterfall you can dip in and relax.
If you come to Thailand during its peak season between November to April, you’ll certainly witness a lot of amazing parties you can join in. In Chiang Mai, for example, there are plenty of parties like the Synergy, Dreamscape (by the canyon waterpark usually), and Jai Thep (music festival). Just keep a lookout on Facebook events as they tend to post everything there months ahead of time.
The best time to come for scuba diving is between March to September or November to April in some islands. If you visit around these times of the year, the water is good with clear vision. Avoid visiting around the rainy season as the water will be cloudy and there are chances you won’t see much.
Known all over the world, Thai massage is as relaxing as it gets. Just make sure you go to a really good one who knows what they are doing (simply check the reviews online). On top of all this, it is really affordable!
Unique experiences you might be interested
If you visit Northern Thailand, there are few temples in Chiang Mai where you can talk to Monks. The whole idea is for Monks to practice their English and for tourists to have a better understanding of what they are doing. Ideally, you can ask and talk about whatever you want but, of course, be discreet about your topics.
If you want to learn about the fundamentals of meditation and the benefits it has for us, you can check out some of the many meditation retreats in Thailand where you can experience and learn about this first hand. There are few different ones, and the most intensive one, a lot of people say, gave them a different perspective in life is called the Silent Retreat (yes, you do not talk for an X amount of time).
Holidays should include relaxation, and if you’re interested in yoga, there are tons of retreats in Thailand, you can participate in that are all-inclusive.