Things I wish I had known before visiting Thailand

Thailand is known to be THE backpacking destination. And actually, that was also the reason why we were not that keen on traveling there in the first place. But after traveling 30 days through the North and another 19 days through the South, (With 28 days in between that we spent in Myanmar) we could completely relate with all the expats living in this wonderful country. We can just recommend you a trip to Thailand. Although, there are so many tourists you can still dive into the unique culture of the land of smile anyway. In the following, you can find the main information you need to know before and during your travel to Thailand.

thailand globe

Thailand Facts

  • Kingdom
  • 513.115km2 big
  • 95% of locals are Buddhist
  • Telephone +66

Bank Holidays

05.12. Birthday of the King
10.12. Day of Constitution

Important words

Thank you – Kop Kun Krup (as a male)/ Kop Kun Ka (as a female)
Hello – Sa Wat Dee Krup (as a male)/ Sa Wat Dee Ka (as a female)
Goodbye – Laa gawn krup (as a male)/ Laa gawn Ka (as a female)
Delicious – Aroi maak
How much does it cost? – Nii thao rai?
Yes – tschai
No – mai tschai

Money

Currency

The currency used in Thailand is the Thai baht. One USD equals 33,33 Thai baht and One Euro equals 39,12 Baht. (October 2017)

Withdraw Money

In every place we visited, you had the chance to withdraw money from an ATM. Usually, every withdrawal gets charged with a fee of around 5€

Prices

beach Koh Chang Thailand
Koh Chang – One of many beautiful beaches in Thailand

The prices in Thailand are compared to Western prices quite low.

Anyway, you will realize that the entrance fees can get kinda expensive. Especially, if you consider the fact that you usually pay double of what the locals are paying.

Tipping

If you eat in a locals restaurant or at a street food stall you are usually not expected to tip.

If you enjoy tourist services, you can tip by rounding up to the next 10 Baht.

Taxi drivers will most probably already give you the price rounded up to the next 10 Baht. 

Food

thailand food

The food is usually pretty cheap, as long as you are not on an island (Koh Lipe had the highest prices we experienced) or in a tourist area.
If you wanna save money you can eat street food or visit one of the many 7-eleven or Family Mart that you can find in every corner.

Saving money in Thailand & Thailand Budget

If you want to travel Thailand on a budget or just want to know how you can save some money during your trip to Thailand you might like my ultimate Thailand budget post. Learn how much we spent during 50 days in Thailand and on what we spent it.

Visa

thailand nature pai north thailand
Beautiful rice fields around Pai

As a European Citizen or US-Citizen, you usually don’t need a visa as long as you won’t be staying longer than 30 days inside the country. And yes, this is the rule now for EVERY EU Citizen since 2017. Even those who enter by land. (We had a lot of wrong information; even from the embassy in Ho-Chi-Minh that seems to haven’t had time yet to read the visa updates since 2015) Before this rule was just for the G7, but now it applies to every European Citizen. (We already thought we’d had to take an airplane to enter Thailand, as Eduardo has a Spanish Passport. But luckily, the Thai Embassy of Spain gave us finally the correct information)

And in the end, we didn’t have any problem to enter Thailand at all.
You can enter by land up to 2 times by year. So, you can leave to one of the neighbor countries and return after a few hours/ days in order to stay 60 days without a visa.

If you plan to stay longer than 60 days, you should get a visa in your nearest embassy.  (October 2017)

Author’s note: Please note that the above is just general information and can change anytime. Please make sure that this information is still valid by contacting an official source short before your trip. I can not be made responsible for any changes or exceptions.

Security

thailand pridge pai travel
Bridge near Pai

Thailand can be visited without further concern. Anyway, you should always be careful about yourself and your belongings while traveling.

General security

Bangkok skyscraper city thailand
Skyscraper mirroring view on Bangkok

I haven’t felt unsafe in Thailand at any time during my stay. Neither when I was without my partner. Therefore, I can even recommend this destination to solo female travelers without further concern. 

However, like in any other destination, you should follow some main behavior advice.
For Example, you might wanna avoid getting totally wasted when you are partying alone or with strangers. But yeah, I guess these things are self-explanatory and common sense.

Pickpockets and Scams

Thailand is famous for its scams. Especially in Bangkok, you should be careful. Better check twice before agreeing to any offers. 
Furthermore, you should take good care of your belongings. As well in your accommodation as on the street.
It might be helpful to check the accommodation reviews on booking.com or TripAdvisor before booking it. I heard and read quite a lot people being broken into their room at night and getting stolen (some of) their belongings. So better check whether there is a safe and the door is lockable.
The easiest way is to bring your own lock. This way you get additional security.

However, those are just preventions. We traveled through Thailand for more than 1 1/2 months without getting scammed or stolen anything.

Taxis

taxi

When taking a taxi there are also two ways to prevent being scammed. After our taxi driver in Vietnam has stolen us around 40€ we also have learned our lesson.

Ask for the Taximeter

taxi thailand

A popular opportunity to take even more of the tourist’s money is by not using the taximeter. 

Every estimated price the taxi drivers have told us before entering the taxi was way lower in the end when being charged by the taximeter.

Therefore, you should stay true to the principle: No Taximeter-No Ride! Many taxi drivers might tell you “Sorry, the taximeter is broken”. But you have to insist on them switching it on. And if they refuse, the next taxi is right around the corner waiting for passengers. 😉
Always ask for the taximeter before entering the taxi.

Use Grab

While in Western Countries most people use Uber, in Asia Grab is more implemented. The operating principle is the same though.

For everyone that doesn’t know it: Grab is like a taxi App. You can just enter where you are and where you want to go. Afterwards, you will be given a fixed price. If you agree to that price, the app is gonna find you a matching driver which is near by. Therefore, usually, you will have your driver picking you up within a few minutes.
The payment can be done either by paying the driver directly or by credit card through the app. Super easy and fast! 

And since the price is fixed by the app you only pay what the trip is really worth.

The big drawback of the Grab application is indeed that you need a working internet connection.

No Accommodation yet?

Find my post on the best accommodation in Thailand for every budget by clicking here.

Infrastructure

The infrastructure in Thailand is compared to its neighbors Cambodia and Myanmar far ahead and of much better quality in most places. Especially, Bangkok stands out. (They even have a Metro)

Renting cars and motorcycles

If you feel like renting a car or motorcycle to get around please keep in mind that left-hand-traffic is standard in Thailand.

Moreover, please be careful when renting a motorcycle. Especially around Koh Chang and Pai, the roads can get really dangerous. In Pai, you will find at least one wounded person per group walking around the night market.

Thailand – Land of Smiles

bangkok friends international thailand
We met my friend Masreeya in Bangkok that I got to know seven years ago in Ohio

Thailand got its nickname Land of Smiles for a reason. The locals are super friendly and helpful and never hesitate to give you their greatest smile.

You will immediately feel welcome in their country and culture.

But don’t take for granted that everyone is understanding you, just because they say yes or smile. Especially, staff in hotels often just try to be polite. So, always make sure they actually understood your question. 😉

Already packed for Thailand?

Find out what you should bring and what to leave at home in my ultimate Female Packing List. Go to the post and get a free printable by clicking here.

Thailand and its King

Thai just love their king. Everywhere you will find pictures of him and hear people telling you nice stories about his life.

Unfortunately, the king passed away in October 2016 after being on the throne since June 1946. He was the longest ruling head of the state in the world. 

Now his son is the new king of Thailand.

The king is extremely popular in Thailand and deserves the highest respect. Therefore, you must not talk bad about or criticize the king or the royal family in any way while being in Thailand.

Did I miss anything or do you have any further questions? Let me know in the comments below.

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Things I wish I had known before visiting Thailand I Thailand travel I Interesting Facts I Thailand Culture and Locals I Southeast Asia I @vickiviaja

Things I wish I had known before visiting Thailand I Thailand travel I Interesting Facts I Thailand Culture and Locals I Southeast Asia I @vickiviaja

Things I wish I had known before visiting Thailand I Thailand travel I Interesting Facts I Thailand Culture and Locals I Southeast Asia I @vickiviaja

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About me

Vicki

Hi, my name is Vicki. Here you can accompany my boyfriend Eduardo and me on our way through different countries of this world. Let's travel together!

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8 thoughts on Things I wish I had known before visiting Thailand

  1. I have never been to Thailand but I found your post really useful. Especially when traveling to a new country facts like that are really important, Thanks for sharing.

  2. Whatever you do, don’t ride elephants. Elephants are not meant to be ridden and it is harmful to their spine. Most elephants in captivity are not treated well by their owners. You don’t see what happens behind the scenes but they are beaten and chained up. If you want to see elephants and interact with them, there are some elephant sanctuaries that protect them and have programs where tourists can come to interact with elephants.

    • Hello Sara,
      you are totally right! I forgot to mention this here as I have written about it in other posts and will add it to this post as well. Thank you!

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