You’ve booked your ticket, made your hotel reservations and you’re ready to enjoy the glorious combination of tropical beauty, lively cities, and cultural history that await the fortunate travelers to Thailand. However, before packing your suitcase and jetting off to this stunning, vibrant country, there are a few things that you should know to ensure a smooth trip. Here are the 10 things you should know before taking off for your trip to Thailand:
In Thailand, the currency used is the Thai bhat (pronounced ‘bot’) which is symbolized as ฿. One Thai bhat is equal to approximately $0.03 USD, or the inverse, $1 USD is equal to about 36 bhat. Also, be wary of street people who offer to exchange money for you, chances are you’ll end up getting ripped of.
One of the most common and frequent questions while traveling is deciding when and how to tip. As a rule, tipping is NOT customary or required in Thailand, although small monetary gestures are appreciated when great service is received. Tipping at the amount common for North America (around 15%) would be considered extremely generous and. The places where tipping is most common would be high end restaurants, massage parlors and at regular restaurants you may leave your loose change as a sign of appreciation.
8. Power Conversion
Throughout Thailand, the standard outlet used is 220 volts, though some hotel properties (especially in Bangkok) are wired with the 110-volt outlets common throughout North America. Either way, it is a good idea to purchase a power converter so that you can use your own electronics like chargers and personal appliances without risking damaging them or even risking fire.
7. Visa Requirements
Generally, anyone entering Thailand will need to obtain a valid visa before hand. However the regulations are different depending on your country of origin. Some travelers are permitted to enter Thailand and stay for a period of up to 30 days as long as they are visiting for tourism purposes and have at least 6 months of validity remaining on their passport. To determine the regulations applicable to you and your passport, it’s best to visit the Thailand Immigration Bureau website.
6. Don’t Talk About the King
Once in Thailand you’ll very quickly realize that the King is highly regarded, as made clear by the pictures of him displayed just about everywhere. Thai people are very sensitive to anything that could be taken as a sign of disrespect so to avoid this, it is best not to mention the King in any way shape or form. Also, never stomp on a coin rolling away or a banknote blowing away as it has the Kings image and stomping on it with your foot would be extremely offensive.
5. Mind Your Head, and Feet
Never ever touch anyone in Thailand on the head. This is probably something you weren’t planning on doing anyway but it’s worth mentioning that the head is considered sacred in this country and should not be touched. Similarly, try to avoid pointing your feet at other people. This is considered disrespectful, so if sitting directly across from someone on public transit, try to point your feet just off to the side a little bit.
4. Cover Up
When visiting any temples, monasteries, wats, palaces or other religious places, it’s important to cover up past your knees and elbows as a sign of respect. Long sleeves and pants are the safest bet to avoid any cultural ignorance. You probably appreciate when visitors respect the traditions of your own country so showing the same level of respect is a good idea. Also, when entering a building check to see if others have removed their shoes, if so better take yours off as well.
3. Squat Toilets Are Real
The squat toilet was originally used throughout Japan but is also common in other Asian countries like China and of course, Thailand. Always carry your own tissues or toiler paper and some hand sanitizer unless you’re prepared to use the air dryers and spray hoses offered at some squat toilets. If you think about it, they’re much more sanitary than regular toilet anyway since you’re not actually sitting on anything.
2. Massages are Cheap and Plentiful
It’s a great idea to take advantage of the abundance of cheap massages available in Thailand, so don’t hesitate to get a few (or more) during your trip. But beware of any massage parlors that post signs saying ‘happy girls’ or anything mentioning girls or women, it’s almost a sure thing that you’re walking into a brothel.
1. Pad Thai Will be Different
Don’t worry, you’ll definitely find this staple noodle dish in Thailand but be prepared for some different flavors. The pad thai here won’t taste like the westernized versions you get back home but it’s going to be fresh, delicious, and full of flavor none the less. You might even end up liking the authentic versions even more!