|Photo by petermurray.|
Thailand is one of the most tourist-friendly countries in Asia while still remaining true to its extraordinary cultural heritage. Still, it never hurts to get travel tips that will help ease you into the “land of smiles” known as amazing Thailand, so here are the top 10.
1. Before You Go: Visas and Inoculations
For a visit that’s less than 30 days, no visa is required. Passports should be valid for at least 90 days after your departure date. Inoculations are not required so long as you’re visiting popular tourist destinations - though for visitors heading to rural areas, it may be worth consulting www.cdc.gov/travel.
2. What to Pack
As always, pack light - which is easy to do in Thailand, where even its coolest months surpass 75 degrees, making shorts and short-sleeved shirts all you really need most days. Expect to soak your clothes with sweat daily, so consider bringing travel-size detergent while you’re at it.
3. Use Sunscreen and Bug Spray
Don’t be a redneck - keep that high-SPF lotion on from the moment you leave your hotel until sundown. That’s when you can transition to a light coating of mosquito spray on exposed skin, especially in lush, humid rural areas and on Thailand’s beautiful beaches.
|Photo by snowosad.|
4. Have Patience
Remember, Thailand is home to nearly 70 million locals, and approximately 22 million international tourists. Thus, it is wise to expect crowds at popular attractions, and lines just about everywhere else—though fortunately they move quickly. Also, Thailand is starting to teach more English to its young students, but until they grow up, expect the language barrier to slow down most of your conversations, since many locals only learned English phonetically.
5. Have a Sense of Culinary Adventure
Thai cooks are remarkable. From their street-side carts and stands, they can whip up the best pad Thai, tom yum (hot and spicy soup), papaya salads, or mango sticky rice you ever tasted, usually for less than a U.S. dollar. But don’t get hung up on those familiar dishes - branch out and try some local delicacies, like fish balls, grilled squid, or even fried crickets and silk worms.
|Photo by petey.|
Undoubtedly you’ll be visiting some of Thailand’s extraordinary Buddhist temples, none of which allow footwear indoors. Consider easy-on, easy-off sandals that double as supportive walking shoes - with so much to see, your feet will thank you.
7. Partake of Thai Massages
Unbelievable as it may seem, a full-body or foot massage (which goes up to the knee) for a full hour will only set you back about $3 to $10, excluding tip. Massage salons are all over the place, sometimes even outdoors on mats or chairs, and don’t require haggling - they’re cheap enough as it is. To find the best ones, ask the locals where they go.
8. Traveling Within Thailand
Trains are not as popular in Thailand as, say, India, what with the country’s modern and efficient highway system. But if you’d still like to try some rail travel for the romance of it all, book your ticket at least a few days in advance. Otherwise, bus tickets can be purchased through all manner of travel agencies, hotels and tourist offices. Bangkok has an amazing transit system, but taxis are mysteriously just as cheap - though you could get stuck in some of the city’s legendary traffic jams. Meanwhile, in other big cities like Chiang Mai, expect to rideshare (and haggle) to catch a lift in a “red truck,” which is essentially a covered pickup with bench seats.
9. Water and Ice
As with most international travels, one of the most basic rules of thumb in Thailand is to stick with bottled water, and skip the ice in your drinks. (FYI, Thai people often drop an ice cube or two in their beers.) However, many travelers brush their teeth with Thai water; eat washed, raw foods; and sip iced drinks and never got so much as a tummy ache. So be wary, but maybe not too paranoid.
|Photo by Wonka6.|
“Are you happy?” That’s the overriding sentiment - and a common question - in this beautiful, laid-back, welcoming country. So leave your worries behind and dive into Thailand with a full sense of friendliness and enthusiasm, and expect to leave with it too.