Planning to visit the land of the smiles? The fascinating country of Thailand is not only full of its own unique blend of culture and history, but also features thousands of idyllic islands, glorious beaches, and some of the world’s most beautiful temples.
Check out some of our best tips on what you should do and look out for when visiting Thailand.
1.A Visa is not Required
Passport holders from 57 countries are exempt from obtaining a visa to visit Thailand.
Technically, a visa is required but you will not have to worry about applying for one in advance if you are from a western country.
You will be given a VISA exemption stamp upon arrival that grants you a 30-day stay in Thailand. Also, even if you accidentally overstay a day or two, you will not get into too much trouble as a first-offender.
A small fine will have to be paid before you are sent on your way. Those of you that do wish to plan ahead and stay for a bit longer can visit any Thai embassy to apply for and be given a 60-day visa extension and pay just 1,900 THB ($60.00)
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2.Go During the Right Season
You will miss some water sports if you travel in rainy season.
There are two weather seasons in Thailand and the total cost of your trip will rely on which one you choose.
If you don’t mind some regular but short showers, then the monsoon season between May and October will be the best choice as you will make some great savings on flights, hotels, and activities. See our Travelling in Thailand during Rainy Season to get tips for planning your tours.
On the other hand, if you wanted that idyllic and exotic holiday of your dreams with sublime weather that is perfect for all kinds of activities, then the dry season (November to early March) will be for you. See our Traveling in Thailand During the High Season to get tips for planning your Thailand tours.
This season stretches between November and April and is the peak season for tourists. Your vacation will cost more but your Instagram pictures are certainly going to look better.
Further reading: The Best Time to Visit Thailand.
3.Understand the Thai Culture
Thailand Traditional Dress
Many of you will probably be aware that as part of Thai culture, you may be asked to remove your footwear before walking into homes, temples, and even some restaurants.
What we bet you didn’t know is that another aspect of Thai culture is that the head is the most sacred part of the body and touching somebody else’s is considered rude and offensive.
Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles for a reason, Thai people are among the friendliest in the world. As long as you respect their culture and their beliefs, you will not have a problem. Disrespect either and you might just bring out a less than friendly response.
Further reading: Etiquette in Thailand
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4.Experience the Wonders of Thai Street Food
Thailand Street Food
There is some great street food that can be experienced all over Asia but in the eyes of many, Thailand is the country that rules in this regard.
As well as tasting fantastic, usually costing no more than a couple of dollars, and having a large variety of authentic dishes to try out, you will also have a completely satisfied tummy.
Pad Thai, Pak Boong, Khao Pat, Kai Mun Gai, Laab, and Khao Niow Ma Muang are some of the most popular dishes among both locals and tourists.
Google is your friend to discover more about those dishes. Be warned though, Thai people like spicy food, so be sure to ask for something mild if you are not a fan.
5.Explore Weekend/Night Markets
Thailand is full of night and weekend markets and each of them offers something a little different. These markets will be able to provide you with low-cost food, handcrafted items, souvenirs, and yes, those infamous fake goods.
A great time can be had as you walk through a Thai street market enjoying the fantastic discounts and broad smiles of the locals.
Roi Fat Market in Bangkok, Rong Kluea Market in Aranyaprathet, Fisherman’s Village Walking Street in Koh Samui, and Tha Pae Sunday Walking Street in Chiang Mai are just some of the most popular street markets that can be found in Thailand.
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6.Be Prepared to Haggle
If you do plan on visiting the many markets that can be found all across Thailand, you are going to want to read this tip.
Thai people associate visitors to their country with money and therefore will generally try to charge you more than what a product is worth.
Always haggle as the price you are given could be as much as three times what they usually would be happy to sell for. Once you get good at this, you will be amazed at just how low you can get market sellers to go.
Haggling will also be required when using taxi cabs and even TukTuks. Many taxi drivers, in particular, do not like to use their meters and will instead insist on a fixed price for a journey.
Your options are to spend time finding one that does or to use your haggling skills to negotiate a fairer price.
7.Hop as Many Islands as Possible
When you are not stuffing your face with delicious street food or haggling with market sellers, you should be thinking about which islands to visit.
There are hundreds of islands in Thailand and while there is little chance you will get to see all of them during your visit, you should be doing all that you can to take in as many as possible.
For first-timers, we strongly suggest using the main hopping hubs of Phuket, Krabi, and Koh Phi Phi to get a taste of some of the magnificent islands found in the Andaman Sea.
They will offer the more touristy islands but as you get more experienced, we just know that you will be off to find some other hidden gems that can be found either in the Andaman Sea or in the Gulf of Thailand.
8.Do Not Drink Tap Water
It is never advised to drink tap water in any new country that you are visiting. This certainly goes for Thailand as well, so make sure that you always have plenty of bottled water around.
The last thing that you want is to get sick and spoil a chunk of what was meant to be a memorable vacation in Thailand.
Another tip is to always use bottled water to wash any fruits and vegetables that you may have bought from a market.
They generally use tap water to hose down their produce, so play it safe by giving it a wash down with the good stuff before you eat.
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9.Always Carry Plenty of Cash
You might have guessed it but Thailand is not really a country full of swanky restaurants, 5-star hotels, and high-class living. Sure, you will find some but in the main, Thailand is a country that you go to explore, travel, and learn the culture.
You are not going to find too many places that readily accept credit cards or other forms of payment. Cash is the way here, so always make sure that you top up your cash reserves – especially when you are planning to visit some far-flung locations.
Additionally, you will want to change up your dollars/pounds/euros where possible. When using your card in ATMs, your currency will convert automatically, but if you brought your own currency – it will need to be changed up if you want to use it.
10.Generally, Just Play it Safe
The Land of Smiles has some of the friendliest people that you will meet but this does not mean that you are safe from scams and crime.
While this is the same for most countries that you may visit, always be on your guard and keep your wits about you.
Furthermore, while it might seem like a good idea to rent a scooter, we do not recommend it for first-time visitors to Thailand.
The roads have some very poor safety records and it only takes a small accident for your vacation to be ruined. Just use public transport and TukTuks to get around where possible.
Finally, nobody can talk about Thailand without mentioning the monkeys. They are everywhere and while they may look cute, they do not always act that way.
In fact, they can sometimes come across rude, steal your sunglasses, food, and whatever else that they may fancy. There is no need to go running scared but just be on your guard and try not to approach them.
Further reading: Safety and Health in Thailand
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