It was a goal of mine to visit a new continent this year and I decided on Asia. I went with a friend I met when solo traveling to Barcelona. Thailand is definitely different from the usual European destinations I’ve gone to and I learned a lot of new things that I think might be helpful for anyone going to Thailand for the first time.
1. Beware of the Tap Water
Thailand’s sewer system isn’t like the states, or other countries, making their tap water unsafe to drink. This also means that you shouldn’t use it when brushing your teeth. I made the mistake of brushing my teeth with their tap water on the first night and instantly had stomach problems 😳. I was jet-lagged and hadn’t brushed my teeth in 24 hours. I’d advise using bottled water when brushing your teeth. All of the accommodations I stayed in provided two fresh water bottles a day, which I utilized for drinking and brushing my teeth. If you’re at a restaurant, always ask for bottled water, and beverages with no ice.
2. Pack/Buy Medicine for Stomach Problems
This may be TMI, but travelers diarrhea is a real thing ya’ll. You have no idea how your body will handle new food, and a new environment overall. Since most of my previous travels were within Europe, the Caribbean and the states, I didn’t really have to deal with stomach problems prior to this trip. To avoid feeling like s**t, pun intended, pack medicine that’ll help with stomach problems. You can also buy medicine in Thailand as there are 7-Eleven’s on every corner.
3. Don’t Book Things in Advance
This tip makes me cringe as I like to have EVERYTHING booked and solidified before leaving home. But as I learned through research and insight from others, it’s best to hold on booking things until you arrive in Thailand as prices online can be more than what you’d pay once there. The only thing I booked in advance was my accommodations and the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, as I wanted to make sure I had a spot on their tour. But, I technically didn’t pay for the tour until I arrived at their office.
4. Bring Toilet Paper & Dispose in Trash Can
Going back to Thailand’s plumbing, it’s advised that you dispose toilet paper in the trash can after use and not in the toilet. I ain’t gonna lie, I slipped up a few times and accidentally threw some in the toilet, but just try to be mindful. My first hotel in Bangkok didn’t ask for us to dispose of toilet paper in the trash can, but my other accommodations did. I would also have some toilet paper with you as there could be the possibility of some restaurants, etc. not supplying any.
5. Be Prepared to Take Your Shoes Off
It’s common in Thai culture to take your shoes off before entering certain locations. If you’re a slight germaphobe, like I am, I’d advise bringing wipes so you feel somewhat cleaner. I’d also suggest bringing shoes that are easy to slide on and off for convenience.
6. Don’t Lose Your Departure Card
You’ll receive a departure card when arriving in Thailand that asks basic questions (see image below). DON’T lose this card as you’ll have to show it at your accommodation. If you’re visiting more than one place in Thailand, you’ll have to show it multiple times. You’ll also need to present it when leaving Thailand and going through customs. I slid my departure card in my passport and never touched it, unless necessary.
7. Drive Safely
If you’ll be renting a car, or motorbike, I’d advise driving carefully. Unfortunately, Thailand has the world’s second highest rating on road accident deaths by the World Health Organization. I thought this might be an exaggeration, until I got on the road in Thailand. It felt like everyone was speeding and cutting each other off. I saw, and was somewhat part of, an accident en route to Phuket from Krabi. Someone on a motorbike tried to cut off my van but lost control, hit the back of my van, and fell off his bike onto his back. Of course, he wasn’t wearing a helmet either – making his impact on the concrete that much harder to witness. There were people around to aid him, but it was a definite wake-up call.
Have you been to Thailand? What useful tips do you have to add to the list? Let me know in the comments!