Thailand Travel Tips

///Thailand Travel Tips

Thailand Travel Tips

After spending just two weeks in Thailand, I wrote dozens of notes that I saw as essential to carefree travel. This list is bullet pointed for some organization of my thought explosion to give you the best Thailand travel tips.

PHONES & WIFI

  • MAKE SURE YOU HAVE AN UNLOCKED PHONE MAKE SURE YOU HAVE AN UNLOCKED PHONE MAKE SURE YOU HAVE AN UNLOCKED PHONE.
    • If it is not unlocked, your phone becomes a pointless electronic you need to worry about not losing. Yes, it can still hook up to WiFi when it’s around, but no data unless you’re paying for an expensive international plan.

      My boyfriend brought his phone under the assumption it was unlocked, lo and behold it was not, and it was so useless he forgot it somewhere due to never needing it.

      • Side note: WiFi is everywhere in Thailand- every hostel, restaurant and café proudly advertise it. Can’t say the same for India.
  • Google Maps works like a charm. Make sure you save all important locations (like where you are staying) so you can access offline.
  • Now that I am getting some more experience traveling in developing countries, I would absolutely recommend getting set up with a SIM card AT THE AIRPORT. Take my advice and save yourself the trouble.

More elaboration on SIMs here. (coming soon!)

PRICES

  • Absolutely lock in prices before doing anything! This goes from tuk tuk rides and tours to massages and hostel prices.
  • Don’t get into the car or step into that massage until you have a concrete price the giving party settles on. If you go into a two hour massage assuming it is double the price of a single hour without locking it in, they will take advantage and stick you with a bigger bill after you have received the service.
  • I also noticed that massage parlors in particular were much cheaper a few roads down from a main, centralized road for tourism (that is filled with all the restaurants and bars. A strip, if you will.) Due to switching up hostel locations, I found 1 hour Thai massages for 150 bhat on random side streets compared to the 300-500 bhat on the main attraction roads.
  • Vendors and drivers were open to haggling, you just need to be persistent. If they wont, start walking away and many of them would ask your price, this was usually on off-market days.
  • Chiang Mai gets most of its vendor goods from Bangkok where it is cheaper to buy from there and re-sell (Shout out to Chatuchak Weekend Market.) Teaser: that market is 35 acres of over 8,000 vendors that fill your wildest consumeristic desires to the brim.

International Driver Permit

  • Renting mopeds is a huge tourist trap!! There are many scams involving mopeds such as owners having extra keys and sending employees or friends through the tourist areas to “steal” the bike then have you pay for the stolen bike. In many other occasions cops pull over tourists and ask for bribes, especially if you are not licensed to drive in Thailand (pretty much every tourist). I saw people getting pulled over daily.
  • If you do plan to rent a bike, be smart and plan ahead of time to get an international drivers permit. This will at least minimize trouble with cops. The renters don’t care if you’re licensed or not because you are money.
  • If you rent a bike, take pictures and video of every angle in front of the employee (get them in the shot if you can) so they can’t blame you for already-present damage. State the date and time to be safe.

HOSTELS

  • If you are staying for 5 days or more, switch up your hostel/hotel. This will show you different areas of town and expose you to a bigger variety of foods, locations, and temples – not to mention you will have a stronger sense of direction.
  • When picking hostels, choose ones that are more centralized to town or areas where you can find food, laundry, and markets. It may cost a little more, but it will save you money in the long run from having to catch rides everywhere.
  • I have found it essential to find a place near something easily recognizable to a local driver who may not speak English, such as temples, markets, malls, movie theaters, airports, parks, rivers, or bridges. Then, you can either direct them to the landmark and walk a block or direct them from there if possible. Otherwise, most drivers will be confused if you try to tell them a specific place you want to go unless it is highly popular, like the night market, for example.
  • Try to find somewhere that has kitchen access if at all possible then you aren’t bound to eating out every single meal (really, this depends on how long you will be in Thailand, I’m talking more longer-term stays). Even a tea kettle is helpful (we ate oatmeals/muesli mixes for breakfast using the kettle).
  • Something I have been doing which I am really happy with is at least for the first night or two FLYING into a new country or state, getting a hostel/hotel that does airport pickups. Drivers wait for tired tourists to stumble out of the airport and jack up those prices. Having a hotel pick up will save you until you’re rested and ready to haggle. Plus, less travel time to your place after you land.

TOURS

  • Watch out for corrupt tours. Don’t fall into those traps! Riding an elephant may seem like fun but those poor things are beaten into training and submission in order to please you. Instead, go to a natural reserve where instead of riding, you can have mud baths with them. Watch out for those “painting elephants,” too. Morals should always be above personal experience. It’s not all about you, ya know.
    • Oh, cuddling a baby tiger sounds like fun? It may look chic on your Instagram, but any kind of big cat tour is serious nonsense in my book. These tours are advertised with people practically lying on a fully grown tiger and the cat is just chillin’ there. Really? Does that seem like a normal tiger’s behavior? The Tiger Temple outside of Bangkok has been ruthlessly accused of drugging the cats and illegally trafficking adults and cubs. Hundreds of tourists state that something is just not right about visiting the overly-calm tigers. Many state that they have to be propped up for photos, with hundreds of people approaching them daily. I’ll pass, thanks. Same goes for snake charming and performing monkeys – they look like fun but don’t be that type of tourist. Go on a tiger safari in Kerala, or Rajasthan, India, if you want to see real tigers.
  • When you go see monkeys (like the Lopburi monkey temple for example) make sure you monkey-proof everything!   My theft-proof bags sure came in handy!
    • Take off your glasses and jewelry. Seal all of your bags and secure your camera. They will try to bite into your bags to get food or just because they are curious. Girls, they will literally pull hair out of your head -they like to actually eat it for some reason. My partner lasted longer with them than I did after I got a headache from all the hair yanking.

-If you’re trying to get them off you, get good footing and make like a bottle of salad dressing and shake vigorously (don’t worry, monkeys know how to land on their feet gracefully).

CLOTHING

  • Wear anything you like. This is not a country where you should think about needing to cover up more.
  • Temples, however, have some rules for attire. Ladies should cover their shoulders and not wear mini skirts or yoga type pants while at a temple. Carrying around a scarf comes in handy if you are wearing a tank top but need to temporarily cover yourself. Many temples have large signs with these guidelines posted before entering.
  • Rubber or synthetic shoes/sandals are great because they are easy to wash. Your shoes will get dirty daily and you will want to be able to wash them off with ease. I would not recommend cloth, leather, or shoes you care about.
  • Don’t fall for the tourist getup of THAI/ ELEPHANT PANTS!
    • Yes, I know they are comfy and breezy but seriously, wearing those things around Thailand is like a tourist in Hawai’i wearing a screaming Hawaiian floral print shirt (and yes, there is a difference between a local-style aloha print and those that are catered specifically for visitors). By all means, buy some pants to wear back home where your people don’t know the difference, but after spending two weeks cruising in Chiang Mai, I started laughing at how predictable everyone’s outfits were. I can’t imagine how nauseating those patterns are to locals. Luckily, I found some cute handmade skirts that were pretty simple (the handwashing type) that I just wore with tank tops. Yes, I obviously am still a tourist but at least I don’t look like everyone else.

FOOD & BEVERAGES

  • Point to what you want on menus to ensure the right order, because you are probably mispronouncing.
    • Take it a step further and repeat the order once your party has all ordered. From my observations they would rather you repeat than having to send back a plate; looks like they may get in trouble for misunderstanding and wasting food.
  • Ice in drinks and smoothies were okay as far as I could tell.
    • Tap water was okay for toothbrushes and such.
  • Bottled water and beer are everywhere. The 7/11 stores open beer for you when you purchase.

If you are a health nut:

  • Ask for no sugar in items from smoothies and tea to pad thai (when in doubt, say no sugar)
  • Cheap fruit smoothies are everywhere, just ask for no sugar.
  • On a harsher note, practically everything is fried or stir fried besides curries and even veg plates are predominantly noodles. After a few days I was seriously missing fiber. Being in India for the next three months, I am missing fiber even more.
    This is definitely a side of long term travel I had not considered.
  • If you are vegan/vegetarian, many vendors still consider fish sauce as vegetarian. If you get any salads, emphasize no fish sauce.
  • The app Happy Cow is great for vegans/veg where like people can add places that are friendly for this type of lifestyle.
    • If you are in Chiang Mai, I cannot recommend Vegan Heaven enough! Seriously ate here two days in a row for multiple meals after discovering it and still went back for probably one meal a day. Their menu is huge, everything is delicious, and the majority of their food is still Thai so you are getting the alluring food you go to Thailand for.

 Miscellaneous

  • Vegans: If you are in transit (by train for example) through smaller towns the 7/11 nut selections are a life saver! Those plus market fruits should hold you over on a train. Or, find a restaurant that does take-out and bring yourself a meal.

  • I noticed that food “to go” is not really a thing in Thailand as it is not seen as fresh.
      • Some places with a lot of tourism will offer this however, probably because the demand was high enough. Vegan Heaven does this as well as deliver, however I did not utilize this option as it was always fun to walk around. If you think you could benefit from a to go container, these collapsible ones are great space savers.

        We did, however, get a big meal to go from Vegan Heaven our last day in Chiang Mai to take on the plane with us. We thanked ourselves for that one later.

  • Since my trip is a total of 4 months, I have been doing a bit of shopping. Obviously, I am not going to pack this stuff around with me the whole time, so once I could not fit anything else in my bag by the time I was leaving Kolkata, India, I sent out a parcel. Shipping prices for Thailand and India are embedded within this sentence. It can be pricey so it’s for you to decide what is worth it. India’s got some interesting packing methods that should be considered before shipping. More info about my India observations can be found here, (coming soon).
  • Thai plumbing systems cannot handle any amount of toilet paper flushed down the toilets. All bathrooms have warnings and many hostels will charge you for plumbing if you back it up (at whatever cost they name).
    • Every bathroom has bidets. You basically use the bidet, clean up with the tp then throw in the trash. In many rural areas of India, there is no tp or bidet, so be thankful for bidets. After getting into this habit of bidets I actually want one now.
  • Don’t be afraid to walk! You’ll get to know the area and shops much better, plus get some exercise in because let’s face it, a major part of travel is pigging out. You never know what you will stumble upon when you’re perusing about the roads. Catching rides everywhere also quickly adds up; walking can help you save some money.
  • L A D I E S— I was able to find tampons at one 7/11 store in Chiang Mai and they were almost out. Bring your own! Conservative countries are not likely to sell these (I was not able to find them in smaller areas of Mexico a few years back either). Or, do as I have done and get the IUD which in more cases than not eliminates your monthly flow altogether (yes, it is worth it).

-I also had quite a difficult time finding hair ties, so don’t forget to pack your own. The ones I did find had all these crazy bedazzlings on them that if I tried to rip off would’ve destroyed the band. I brought my own stash of bobby pins (unruly hair over here).

  • Thailand has beauty products galore. Anything you need, and everything you didn’t know existed, you will find in this country. They even have quite a bit of all-natural, whole-ingredient products.
  • Mannerisms: Bow for greetings and goodbyes with hands in front of chest. This practice is known as Wai. Not returning a wai is considered rude.
    • Learn basic phrases such as hello, thank you, excuse me, how much, and dietary restrictions both verbal and written to ensure comprehension.
  • NEVER SET ANYTHING DOWN ABSENTMINDEDLY

-Travel is a flurry of thoughts and if you walk away for a second your item will already be gone. Too many people around to even think it will still be there, especially if you’re a tourist. Keep everything important in your bag or safe space immediately after use.

  • Many people speak English so don’t worry about not being able to communicate.

These are all tips I have learned along the way and I am sharing these tidbits with you, as random as they may be, so you can hopefully be a stress-free, prepared traveler.

If all of these tips sound like nonsense, events leading up to this info were happening frequently enough for me to write them down soooo…

Let’s get down to the most bottom bitch of travel essentials:

Traveler SIM cards (coming soon)

 

By | 2017-11-15T19:10:45+00:00 November 15th, 2017|Thailand, Travels|
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