10 tips I learned traveling Thailand for a month
Jumping off on our adventure in Thailand was probably the smoothest transition into travel life that one could ask for. That being said, Thailand is very different than anywhere else I have traveled to before, and has bestowed upon me a few nuggets of knowledge that I would like to pass down to anyone else that might be traveling to Thailand in the future.
- Learn some key Thai phrases. This one should probably go without saying, but you would be surprised at the amount of Westerners that visit that don’t know the basics. You are a guest in their country, and not at least trying to learn “Please” and “Thank you”, or how to introduce yourself is just straight up selfish. If you do attempt (even if unsuccessfully), you might find that most Thais will be warm and receptive to helping you.
- Dress more modest than you are used to. Coming from Hawaii, it’s not completely unheard of to be doing yard work in a bikini. In the Thai culture, however, people dress very modestly. It can be 95 degrees out, 100% humidity, sun blaring, and every Thai in sight is in long sleeves, pants, AND jackets! I personally don’t know how they aren’t just dying, but I do know that they make me feel like a hussy in my Hawaii clothes. So stay covered ladies!
- Take note of the Thai culture and customs. This is kind of along the lines of 1 and 2, but it is important to get a good idea of the Thai culture before visiting. There are social norms that you should follow. Women shouldn’t touch monks, don’t point the bottoms of your feet towards a Buddha statue, barter, bow your head in appreciation. Learning and blending in with the Thai culture is part of what makes traveling new and exciting.
- You will always be sweaty. I am in a constant state of sticky-sweaty disgustingness. I walk outside, and immediately am drenched. Makeup dripping off my face, hair is a frizzy mess. Accept it, and just take lots of cold showers.
- There is no “coffee.” Ok, ok there is coffee. There is amazing coffee actually, but I am hard pressed to find a café that sells a big ‘ol cup of joe that jacks me up for the next few hours. On the plus side, even the little lady on the corner with the coffee cart has amazing cappuccinos, for about 90 cents. They are usually miniature, and not as strong as my coffee back home, but they are absolutely delicious.
- Don’t order western food. There are places that have decent western food if you are absolutely dying for a slice of home, but for the most part, its terrible. The food is both overpriced, and underwhelming. You are in Thailand, a culinary capital of the world. Try new foods and embrace all the flavors out there.
- Choose your food wisely. To follow up with number 4, not all street food is created equally. Jason and I have had some pretty sketchy experiences with restaurants and food stalls that we didn’t properly vet. Last week we bit into some cooked chicken only to have blood start dripping down our faces and arms. Yuck! Yesterday, I saw what looked full like boiled chickens, just hanging out for hours in the 95 degree heat with flies circling. Pick places that are making the food fresh and hot, and have people ordering from them frequently.
- Have proper medication/toiletries. Bring bug spray. Bring motion sickness pills. Bring sunscreen. There are some places in Thailand where finding necessary items is more difficult. Try to be prepared, and take care of yourself.
- Book transportation ahead. Jason and I have learned the hard way not to wait to the last minute to book your Train or bus, or heck, airline flights. Try to do it at least a few days before. We have ended up wasting way too much of our time waiting in a bus station, or having to cut our time short on a place we wanted to stay longer at because we did not plan appropriately.
- We are lucky. Finally, traveling Thailand has given me a reality check at how fortunate I really am. Even as a “budget traveler”, Jason and I are able to eat well, buy anything we may need, and have comfortable accommodation. Some of the Thai people in the small villages, or I am sure even the big cities have never even left their province. Many of them work every single day just in order to survive. Jason and I, and many of the other westerners we have met along the way are afforded so much opportunity. We are truly lucky to have the luxuries that we have in the US, and travel and explore new places and cultures. When traveling to places like Thailand, realize this, and be thankful.
Written by Julia