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The Dos and Donts of Visiting Thailand!

Thailand is a beautiful country, with a rich cultural heritage, stunning natural beauty and awesome nightlife. It’s no wonder it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world! When visiting a new country, it is vital to get an understanding of social norms and cultural differences before you visit so you don’t risk offending the locals or landing yourself in some trouble abroad! We spent 2 months in Thailand last year so we’ve compiled a full list of dos and don’ts when visiting Thailand, with some added tips from other seasoned travellers! 

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Dos and Donts in Thailand: Experiences

Do…travel Off the Beaten Path

One of the best things you can do when visiting Thailand is getting off the beaten path. There’s so much to discover in this beautiful and diverse country. 

Millions of people travel to Thailand each year and, as a result, it’s one of the most touristed places on Earth. However, most people stick to a pretty well-trodden tourist trail: Phuket, Chiang Mai, Pai, Koh Phangan – you know the names. If you follow the common route, you’d be forgiven for thinking Thailand is all the same. 

Travelling off the beaten path in Thailand is a very rewarding experience. Step away from the regular trail and you’ll experience something very different. A place where English is rarely spoken and foreigners are few. Where adventure awaits at every turn!

Why should you travel off the beaten path in Thailand? 

For starters, you’ll get to experience unbelievable places without the crowds. Think of pristine islands surrounded by coral reefs where you will be the only one around. High mountain trails with no one in sight. Fun and vibrant cities where all your new friends are locals. Sounds awesome? It is. 

Further, by travelling off the beaten path in Thailand, you’ll get to experience the real Thailand. Locals will be fascinated by you, because you’ll probably be one of few, if any foreign visitors. You’ll save money, as places that see a lot of tourists are generally more expensive, while the inverse is almost always true. You’ll also spread your money around better too – lots of foreign currency goes to Krabi, but little to Nan. 

And finally, it’ll be one hell of an adventure!

Thailand dos and donts

Submitted by Dotti from Travel Oasis

Don’t…skip Bangkok!

While it might be tempting to head straight to the iconic beaches, don’t skip this bustling, vibrant city. Bangkok is one of the most exciting cities in the world as it’s super affordable and a lot of fun!

It’s a foodie’s paradise with everything from delicious and very affordable street food to Michelin Guide-approved fare. Take a tuk tuk food tour and discover the hidden culinary gems of Bangkok. Bangkok is a city steeped in history and culture. The Grand Palace and the many incredible temples like Wat Phra Kaew are a must-visit. You might enjoy a street art tour, a visit to the Floating Market or a Muay Thai boxing match.

Bangkok is a shopper’s paradise, with everything from high-end designer brands in Siam Paragon to bargain finds at MBK center. The Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of the world’s largest outdoor markets. From the red-light district in Patpong to cocktails on rooftop bars and dancing the night away at the city’s many clubs, Bangkok is also the perfect city for night owls.

Consider staying around Sukhumvit Road or on the banks of Chao Phraya River. If you’re looking for something special, stay in a hotel with a rooftop pool. If you’re backpacking, Bangkok’s Khao San Road is legendary.

Bangkok is also a great jumping off point to explore more of Thailand or other parts of Southeast Asia. You can take day trips outside the city to Ayutthaya or the River Kwai. Consider spending a night or two at The Float House River Kwai. Visit Kanchanaburi and take a dip in the Erawan waterfalls. Take the overnight train or fly to Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai for jungle adventures. 

Submitted by Kaz from The Honeymoon Guide

Do…take a Thai cooking class

Cooking classes are always a great way to learn about the local delicacies and the culture of your chosen country. Sure, you have the typical tourist attractions but cooking classes really allows you to feel like you’re a local. It’s a fantastic activity you can do with whoever you’re travelling with! So, when you come to Thailand you should look into adding this to your itinerary.

There are dozens of cooking classes scattered throughout the country. From Phuket to Chiang Mai, you can book them online, through your accommodation or a tour company. It is not just about the cooking though. Some of these classes will take you around local markets to pick your own ingredients and give you the best tips on finding the best produce for your meals. The teachers help give you a sense of everyday life and offer backstories into Thai food and some history.

It is really satisfying to put in the work in a cooking class and see your results. It’s even more satisfying eating your hard work and realizing you’re a half-decent cook! Visiting Thailand will really help open you up to all new types of possibilities. Even if it’s not for you, it’s much better to try something and not like it than having never tried it at all.

Cooking class

Submitted by Nick of The World Overload  

Do…take day trips to smaller islands when in Phuket and Krabi

Although Krabi and Phuket have stunning beaches, taking day trips to other islands is an experience you’ll not want to miss. It is relatively cheap and easy to get to smaller islands from either Krabi or Phuket. There’s no better way to spend your Southeast Asian day vacating on a tropical island!

The Phi Phi Islands are a group of six islands that are famous for their crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, and stunning limestone cliffs. These islands are easily accessible by speedboat or ferry from both Phuket and Krabi. For example, Phang Nga Bay is a hugely popular tourist destination and brings in hundreds of tourists each day. The bay is famous for staring in the James Bond movies and its unrivalled natural beauty!

Koh Hong is a beautiful island in Krabi that is known for its crystal clear waters and stunning limestone cliffs. You can kayak, snorkel, and swim in the island’s tranquil lagoon to your hearts content! Similarly, Koh Yao Noi is a small island located between Phuket and Krabi. This island is known for its laid-back atmosphere, stunning scenery and beautiful beaches,. This is perfect for those seeking a peaceful and relaxing day trip!

Taking day trips are the best things to do when in Krabi and Phuket and will certainly make your trip! Depending on where you visit, it can cost you between $20-$100 a day. This is great value for money especially when most baots provide you with lunch, snorkelling gear and a guide! This is a must-do when visiting southern Thailand, so hope on that boat and explore everything these islands have to offer!

Krabi

Submitted by Becca from The Travel Scrapbook

Dont…visit an un-ethical sanctuary

A visit to an ethical elephant sanctuary in Thailand should be on the majority of travellers’ bucket list! In recent years, the practice of riding elephants has slowly diminished as people become more educated. Elephants have long been subject to horrific torture at the hands of humans and forced to carry selfie-hungry visitors.

Yet with the diminishing income from riding camps and the rising costs of keeping their elephants fed, people turned to starting so-called “sanctuaries” to bring tourists back.

When looking to book a sanctuary there are a few things to keep in mind. Elephants are wild animals by nature and whilst they may have been tamed, they’re definitely not pets. As such, you should treat them with the utmost caution. Direct interaction with the animals should be kept to a minimum such as no standing around taking selfies.

An ethical sanctuary will always put the needs of its elephants above those of tourists e.g. an elephant does not need help bathing itself just so tourists can have a fun experience. Ethical sanctuaries do have mahouts that carry around a bullhook, but this is only used in case of imminent danger it is never used to merely coax the animals to walk faster, perform tourists, go left/right. If you are looking to book an ethical sanctuary look into Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary or, for a longer stay, BLES.

Contributed by Veggie Wayfarer

Do…visit some of Thailand’s National Parks

Thailand is blessed with some of the world’s most alluring coastal regions. Limestone caves and white-sand beaches are only part of the country’s natural wonders. The lush rainforest, teeming with birdsong and the aromas of exotic flowers, is at the heart of the enticement.

With 147 national parks, Thailand is full of opportunities to discover its raw beauty and let you escape the hustle of urban life. National parks will allow you to go rafting, and birdwatching and explore caves surrounded by perfect tranquillity. They also offer a unique chance to see elephants, macaques, and jackals in their natural environment.

In the summer, pay a visit to the Khao Sok National Park. This magnificent stretch of tropical forest, needled by a man-made lake and towering cliffs, will take your breath away. Begin the day by tubing down the Sok River, before trekking through the jungle and spending the night in a floating bungalow! In the winter, when the weather is at its most pleasant, there’s Doi Inthanon National Park to discover. Similarly, Erawan National Park is an excellent option for the shoulder seasons and ideal if you don’t want to step too far from the city.

Thailand is a place to enjoy some serious hiking and idyllic scenery among remote villages and faraway islands. Appreciate the beauty of the life around you before returning to your street-food-and-temple journey.

Thailand national parks

Submitted by Travel Choreography

Do…visit Khao San Road

Common travel advice is to avoid tourist traps like Khao San Road. Some say it’s “overcrowded,” “too cliché,” and “not the real Thailand.” However, whilst that can be the case, if you enjoy partying, meeting new people and making some funny memories, you absolutely should visit Khao San Road.

Khao San Road in Bangkok, a short street located one kilometre from the Grand Palace, and actually used to be a rice market. Then it became a backpacker’s haven, known for cheap deals and rowdy nightlife. What you’ll find crazy is the amount of different music being pumped out by each bar. You’ll also be approached by numerous promotors trying to get you into their club. A lot of the bars and clubs will offer the same drinks and prices so check out the atmosphere and see what you think. There is no rule saying you can’t bar hop and have a single (or couple of) drinks in each one!

It’s recently been cleaned up a bit by authorities who have limited the number and locations of vendors during the day, but it’s still a wild and unique place to visit. 

As a place where many backpackers transit through, it’s an opportunity to meet (or at least observe) other tourists. It’s a microcosm of the global travel community so visit with an open mind and stay humble and also be careful to avoid scammers and pickpockets.

Visiting Khao San Road may be the opposite of “travel like a local,” but that may be why it’s worth a visit.

Make sure to check out our Best Nightlife in Thailand guide for further information on Khao San Road!

Suggested by Melanie of Postcards & Places

Dos and Donts in Thailand: Etiquette and Culture

Don’t…point your feet at the Buddha

If you are traveling in Thailand, chances are that you will be visiting at least one of the most important Buddhist temples in the cities you visit. For example, Wat Po and its famous reclining Buddha in Bangkok or Doi Suthep, “the hill temple” in Chiang Mai. This is known as “the city of the 300 temples”.

In the areas of the temples that are home to the Buddha statues, you will probably notice that visitors are kneeling in contemplation in front of the statue. This is not (only) because people may feel comfortable that way. Actually, in Thai culture, feet are considered “dirty” since they are the lowest part of the body. So pointing your feet at the Buddha is considered extremely disrespectful. Thai etiquette suggests keeping your feet pointed away from any Buddha statues or images, and avoiding sitting in a way that causes the soles of your feet to face the Buddha. Kneeling or sitting with crossed legs are the easiest ways to do this.

But this is not valid only in temples. In Thai culture, showing respect through the positioning of your feet in the proper way is crucial. For example, it’s considered disrespectful to point the sole of your foot at someone. You should also not use your feet to move objects. Additionally, you should never step over someone who is lying on the floor. If you take any massage course in Thailand you will learn this is a very important rule that Westerners keep forgetting!

By following this simple rule, you’ll be showing respect for the local culture and customs, and avoiding any potential offence.

Big buddah in Phuket

Submitted by Sharon from The Roads Beyond

Do…learn a Few Phrases in Thai

When travelling to Thailand, do be sure to learn some phrases in Thai. 

Yes, English is widely spoken in the main tourist destinations in Thailand, but that’s beside the point. By learning a few handy phrases in Thai, you’re showing respect as a visitor to the country and practising responsible travel. From the busy resorts in the south to some of Northern Thailand’s hidden gems, adding a few Thai phrases to your vocabulary will go a long way. 

You’ll also have a more authentic experience. Making an effort to learn a local language is a huge part of travelling. It’s also a lot of fun! 

Need more convincing? Well, the locals will absolutely love you for it – be prepared to get a lot of big smiles and laughs when you pull out a ‘kin khao reang kah’ in Thai. And you’ll make a lot of friends too!

So what are some phrases to learn? Well, here are some of the essentials. 

But first, a note on gender. In Thai, gender markers come at the end of a sentence. If you are female, you finish your sentence with the word kah. If you are male, you finish with the word krup

Hello – Sawatdee (kah/krup)

How are you? – Sabaidee myee? 

Have you eaten rice yet? – Kin khao reang (kah / krup) 

→ Note this is a colloquial, and very popular, way to ask someone how they are doing.

Very good – Dee mak mak (kah/krup)

Thank you – Kop Khun (kah/krup)

Yes – Chai 

No – Mai chai 

No problem/ no worries – Mai pen rai (kah/krup) 

→ Note this is a very popular saying in Thailand. When saying this, you’re almost guaranteed to get a positive reaction. 

Delicious – Aroy mak 

Submitted by Dotti from Travel Oasis

Do…haggle at the markets!

When travelling to Thailand, you’ll find that the markets offer some of the best opportunities to haggle for clothes, jewellery and so much more!

In most cases, there is no fixed price for items and sellers are quite open to negotiation. When you see something you want, don’t ask for the price right away. Instead, build rapport with the seller by smiling and asking how they’re doing. You might even want to ask the price of something else in the shop before going after the product you actually want.

Assume that most prices are set at about 40% above the market price. When bargaining, start about 50% lower than the price the seller is asking for and then slowly increase your offer until you reach a deal.

Thai people are typically calm and kind. When you are bargaining, keep your emotions in check and don’t act too aggressively. If you stay polite, friendly, and reasonable throughout the process, chances are you will walk away with a good deal.

If the seller isn’t willing to come down to your price, use the walk-away technique. Say no thank you and start to walk out of the shop slowly. If the seller calls you to come back and is willing to drop the price, you’ve struck gold! However, if they let you walk away, you might not want to come back to that shop to save face.

Some of the best markets worth visiting in Thailand are the Rot Fai Market in Bangkok, Chiang Rai Night Bazaar in Chiang Rai, Phuket Walking Street in Phuket, and the Warorot Market in Chiang Mai. Wherever you decide to visit Thailand, have fun practising your haggling skills for a good deal!

Thai market

Contributed by Pafoua at Her Wanderful World

Do…know how to dress when visiting temples

Buddhism is the dominant religion in Thailand and temples are known as Wat in Thai. As it is with most religions, rules apply and as a visitor, you’ll want to show the locals the respect that they deserve.

Buddhist temples follow certain dressing rules that apply to men and women. These can be easily overlooked in a country where the sun burns down relentlessly. If you are keen to discover the beautiful temples of Thailand, such as the temples and ruins of Ayutthaya, you will have to put some thought into the clothes you pack.

Don’t wear shoulder-free T-shirts, shirts that are open at the back or anything much too open as a top. Shoulders should be covered in all temples. The same applies to knees for men and women. Don’t wear shorts that are way too short and tight or short skirts. In doubt, wear long pants such as a light pant or jeans and a simple T-shirt. Leggings with an oversized T-shirt for ladies might be a good idea too because the weather can be very hot in Thailand.

Consider that certain temples follow stricter rules, such as the Wat Phra Kaew temple in Bangkok. In this temple, men and women have to wear long pants and long sleeve shirts to enter the temple. Moreover, keep in mind that shoes need to be removed when entering temples. So, don’t walk around with shoes on in sacred areas. I recommend wearing slippers/flip-flops or sneakers with socks, and you can walk with socks in temples.

Thailand temple

submitted by Paul D’Souza from Paulmarina

Do…get A Local Thai Massage!

Traveling is fun, but you can be pretty tired if it’s a long trip. What better way to relax than with a Thai massage?

Thai massages is very affordable and comes with excellent quality. If you have never tried a massage by a professional, we recommend starting with the neck massage at the local market to try it. If you prefer somewhere more luxurious, you can visit the SPA center where the price is also very reasonable.

Unlike other forms of massage, the Thai Massage technique focuses heavily on the invisible energy line system that runs through the body. Massage therapists are good at giving the right strength at the right spots. Your body is much more relaxed after the treatment. In addition, Thai massage has been a technique used for hundreds of years. If you want a unique experience, we highly recommend Luk Pra Kob. This herbal compressed ball massage will level up your experience in Thailand.

We like Thai massage at the SPA center more since it comes with full service and the therapists great you right after you walk into the center. The atmosphere and interior are so calming whilst the Thai dessert afterwards really tops it off!

Want to try Thai massage at a reasonable price? We recommend Let’s Relax Spa. They have more than 20 centers across Thailand, and it’s cheaper if you buy the coupon and reserve your time slot in advance.

Spa in Thailand

Submitted by Min from Amsterdam Travel Blog

Do…eat the Street Food

Eating street food in Thailand offers a unique culinary experience that can’t be replicated anywhere else in the world. From spicy curries to amazing noodle dishes, you’ll have plenty of options when it comes to exploring all the amazing flavors that Thailand has to offer.

If you’re traveling through the country on a budget, then eating street food is the way to go. Most meals cost between $1-$3 and the portion size is large enough to fill you up. Because the pricing is so reasonable, it’s fun to get a few dishes for each meal and have your own taste-testing experience.

There are so many dishes that you must try during your trip to Thailand. Pad Thai is a rice noodle dish mixed with chicken/shrimp, eggs, and sporuts and one of the most popular street foods. Another favorite is Som Tum, a spicy green papaya salad that is served with sticky rice. You can find both of these dishes almost anywhere in Thailand.

In Northern Thailand, one of the most beloved dishes is Khao Soi. This is a delicious and flavorful egg noodle curry made with chicken that is easily one of our favorite Thai dishes! Additionally, Khao Kha Moo, a braised pork dish served with rice, pickled greens, and an egg, is another local favorite up north in Chiang Mai.

Wanting to try Masaman curry in Thailand? Then you’ll have to head down south to try this Thai staple. Surprisingly, a lot of the popular curries are from Southern Thailand even though it’s one of the warmest parts of the country.

Street food is such an integral part of Thai culture and eating your way through the country is one of the best ways to experience this incredible country. 

Submitted by Jenoa from The Travel Folk 

Dont…disrespect the Thai royal family

In Thailand, the royal family is very very highly respected, and any kind of disrespect towards them can to lead to severe consequences.

The Thai monarchy has a long history that dates back over 700 years and the current King of Thailand is King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who ascended the throne after his father’s death in 2016. Thai people hold their monarch in high regard and treat him with deep respect.

The laws in Thailand prohibit defaming or insulting the monarchy. Any individual caught doing so may face up to 15 years imprisonment. Any criticism or negative comments made against the monarch on social media platforms can result in criminal charges.

It is essential to note that this law applies not only to citizens but also to foreigners living or visiting Thailand. It is therefore crucial for visitors to be mindful of their actions and words when discussing topics related to the royal family.

We were very surprised when we went to the cinema in Bangkok that before the movie starts there is a whole video about the king!

Dos and Donts in Thailand: Transport

Do check out our full guide on Getting Around Thailand for some handy tips on navigating the country!

Dont…be afraid to use the rail service in Thailand

We travelled extensively through Southeast Asia as part of a three-month sabbatical, spending a month traversing Thailand.

One thing we found surprising was how good the rail system was and used it to get right the way across the country. From small trips out of Bangkok to Ayutthaya and Khao Yai National Park or country-crossing trips up to Chiang Mai.

The rail system in Thailand is one of the best you can experience outside of Europe, being both far-reaching and efficient. The history of rail in Thailand dates back to 1890 when the first railway line was constructed between Bangkok and Ayutthaya. This then expanded in the 20th century, connecting major cities such as Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima, and Surat Thani. It has been significantly upgraded since, partly our of necessity due to damage during the Second World War, and partly to modernise it.

Whilst some of the trains were busy, they were generally clean and well looked after, especially the overnight trains with their sleeper bunks. There is often food sold on the trains as well by vendors who move through the carriages.

Don’t be afraid to use the rail service in Thailand and save yourself big money by not getting everywhere by plane.

Train in Thailand

Submitted by Ben Reeve, Founder of The Sabbatical Guide.

Do…download the Grab app!

If you’re planning a trip to Thailand anytime soon, you should definitely consider downloading Grab – the Thai version of Uber

Grab is an incredibly important app to have when you’re traveling around Thailand, especially if you’re not familiar with the local transportation options.

To make things even easier, I highly recommend that you download Grab before you leave your home country. This way, you can hit the ground running as soon as you arrive and stop you having to deal with any language barriers when you land.

When you sign up for Grab, you can use your Whatsapp account tied to your home phone number. This means that you can use the same Grab account throughout all of your South East Asian travels, making it even more convenient to use.

Grab is one of the best of getting around other places in South East Asia, such as Bali, not just Thailand where traffic in the larger cities can be quite congested. With Grab, you can easily book a ride from your current location to wherever you need to go. This means you don’t have to deal with the stress of navigating complicated public transportation systems.

If you’re flying into Bangkok, you’ll be happy to know that Grab works great for getting to and from the airport. Simply book a ride through the app and your driver will meet you at the designated pick-up point. It’s quick, easy, and convenient!

One of the biggest advantages of using Grab over traditional taxis in Thailand is that it’s a tracked ride service. This means your ride is always monitored and provides an added layer of safety and security in a foreign country.

Submitted by Katie from KatieCafTravel.com 

Do…watch out for Bangkok’s traffic!

Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and it is the most visited travel destination in the world for international travelers. It is Thailand’s transportation hub with its world-class Suvarnabhumi Airport. In 2022, Bangkok welcomed 22.78 million visitors, encompassing Paris, London, and Singapore. Together with the city’s population of over 5 million people. It is not surprising that the city is also suffered from serious congestion all day long. 

There are so many wonderful things to see and do in Bangkok. If you are an art buff, visit the many art center and museums that showcase contemporary artworks created by regional artists. Shop until you drop is the many mega malls in Siam, or in Night Bazaars. Take a cultural tour and explore the historic heritage monuments, temples, and landmarks along the river. Unwind in a massage parlor, rooftop bar, or resort spa scattered in the city. Feast yourself on local Thai food from the streets to many top Asia Best Restaurants.

The best way to get around Bangkok effectively is by using the metro system. There are two systems in the city of Bangkok, the underground MRT and the Skytrain BTS. The systems have expanded over the years with a total of five lines and 117 stations covering most of the areas in Bangkok. It is one of the most used public transportation systems with a ridership of over 90 million annually. 

Plot your point of interest on the map and plan your day according to the stations of the metro lines. It’s typical that you get to your destination faster than a taxi if your destinations are connected by the metro. Finding accommodation in close proximity to the metro will also help save a lot of time commuting each day.  

Bangkok

Submitted by Kenny from Knycx Journeying 

Don’t…travel on a train in 3rd class

Chiang Mai is the second biggest city in Thailand and the capital of the inland north of the country. It will be probably on your list after Bangkok.

It is almost 700km between these cities and there are multiple methods of transport to get between the two. An airplane would take you there in little more than an hour for less than $55. Make sure to factor in the time and money it takes you to get to the airports as well. With the bus, you would need around 12 hours and it would cost you between $16 and $32. The last option is a train that would need 10 to 14 hours and it would cost as little as $7.60 for a 3rd class seat and up to $55 for a sleeper with AC.

We planned to take the train overnight with 2nd class sleeper for around $27. A day before at the train station we couldn’t buy tickets. Only available were those in the 3rd class. So we said to ourselves how bad can it be and bought them for $7.60. The next day we paid more for a taxi to the station.

Now it was time for a ride from hell. 14 hours on small uncomfortable seats that gave me horrible backache. I would try to lie on the floor but gave up on that idea because of cockroaches. Windows were open and during the night it was freezing and loud. On arrival, I was tired and in pain. Please don’t make the same mistake and take any other option.

Submitted by Džangir from Dr Jam Travels

Do…ride the Hop on Hop off Ferry

Hop-on Hop-off services are often not the first choice of experienced travelers and may not be the most effective way of spending money. However the Hop-on Hop-off tourist boat that plies the Chao Phraya river is an exception.

Firstly, a one day ticket for the boat will only set you back about 150 Thai Baht ($4.40). Secondly, its large open roof deck is perfect for taking in the city’s major sites like Wat Arun and the Icon Siam shopping centre. The local express boats are cheaper but they don’t give you the same open deck view.  

Riding one full loop on the Chao Phraya tourist boat, also known as the Hop-on Hop-off ferry will help you get the lay of the land and where the main sites sit in relation to each other. 

The hardest thing is deciding where to get off and explore. You’re given a small brochure when you buy your ticket but it’s worth taking a look at this self guided tour that uses the boat and includes a mini walking map and detailed ideas for each stop. This way you can plan which stops to get off at which time of the day for the best experience. 

Whether you plan to spend the whole day jumping on and off the boat or just decide to ride the full loop and enjoy the breeze off the water, we highly recommend buying a ticket and jumping onboard next time you visit Bangkok. 

Tourist boat

Submitted by Monique and Paula from Thailand Awaits

Dont…be scared to rent a scooter

Thailand is a country that offers a unique blend of bustling cities, beautiful landscapes, and unrivaled cultural heritage. One of the best ways to explore Thailand is by riding a scooter where traversing this beautiful country on two wheels creates a sense of ultimate freedom.

Renting a scooter in Thailand allows you to travel at your own pace, pause and admire the scenery, and explore hidden gems that you wouldn’t normally enjoy. This is especially the case if you were traveling by car or public transport. With a scooter, you can ride through the winding roads of mountainous regions like the Mae Hong Son loop and hop between the idyllic beaches of southern Thailand in a way that would not be possible otherwise.

Despite the independence that comes with riding a motorbike, it is important to be aware of the potential risks and take precautions to ensure your safety.

Firstly, always wear a helmet. Thailand has a high rate of accidents on the roads, and in case of an accident, a helmet can save your life. Secondly, keep to the left side of the road and pay attention to other motorcyclists, cars, and trucks around you. Lastly, make sure you have a valid international driver’s license, travel insurance, and all the necessary paperwork before taking off on your adventure!

Submitted by Catherine from Nomadicated

Dos and Donts in Thailand: Extra tips!

Do…wear bug spray!

Thailand is a popular destination for travelers around the world thanks to its beautiful beaches, laid-back culture, and world-class cuisine. While Thailand offers many amazing experiences, it’s important to be aware of the potential bugs and insects that can cause harm.

One of the biggest things you will learn about Thailand is that everything comes alive at night. The street vendors, markets, beaches, and especially the bugs. You do not want to be caught out at night without bug repellent. The worst of it comes when you are at one of the beaches after sunset and the sand bugs are attacking you from under the table. 

The best bug repellent to get is the pink and white Thai brand and you can easily find it all over Thailand. You can buy single pouches to throw in your day bag, or grab the 100oz bottle if you are planning to spend a few weeks exploring Thailand. 

The mosquitoes are much worse in the Northern cities like Chiang Mai and Pai, but they are a problem all over the country. They are most prevalent during the rainy season of the year too. The rainy season lasts from November to October and then again from May to June. If you’re in Thailand during these times of the year you will want to stock up and keep yourself safe. 

Submitted by Abbey from Tripsonabbeyroad.com

Do…be patient

Having lived in Thailand for six years, the best advice I can share for visitors is to have patience. T

Travelling in Thailand is an experience that is completely unique and things will probably work very differently from anywhere else. It’s the perfect opportunity to practise your patience and to slow down while on holiday or travelling here.

One example of where you may need patience is in restaurants. Service is very slow in Thailand, particularly when compared to places, such as the USA, which has a huge emphasis on fast and efficient service. In Thailand, your food may take a while to arrive and your waiter may pay you very little attention. Additionally, your meal will sometimes not arrive at the same time as the other people you’re eating with. Many Thai people share dishes rather than ordering individually so that is why this often happens.

My recommendation is don’t wait until you are really starving to go to a restaurant! The same kind of patience will be needed for public transport.

Transport in Thailand is generally great but it will be slow and sometimes delayed. Night trains, in particular, are known for not arriving on time so make sure to give yourself time at the other end. Here are more tips for Travel Around Thailand.

Island Thailand

Written by Steffi from Beach Bum Adventure

Dont…overstay your visa!

One thing you absolutely don’t want to do when visiting Thailand is to overstay your visa. Anyone who overstays their visa can expect to pay a hefty fine of around 500 baht ($15) per day, with a maximum fine of 20,000 baht ($585). Those who overstay and do not come forward can face prosecution and end up being banned from Thailand for up to 10 years

Of course, it’s common for people to forget how long they have left on their visa when there are so amazing things to do in Thailand. If you do end up overstaying for a few days you pay the fine to immigration authorities when you leave border control and there’s no harm done.

However, if you overstay for 90 days or more it’s a big problem. If you hand yourself in, you can avoid prosecution and will end up paying a fine and a banned from entering Thailand again for a while. If you don’t hand yourself in and you’re caught, you can face prosecution. You can avoid doing this by visiting an immigration center and applying for a visa extension.

You will find these in most major cities such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Chiang Rai etc. If you’re ever unsure, a top tip is to check with your accommodation about how to make an appointment and what you need.

It’s very easy and common to extend your visa, so most hotels or hostels are familiar with the process. You can also find information about it via the Thai immigration website.

Written by Louisa Smith, Co-Founder of Travel Thailand Together

Don’t…plan too far in advance

One of the top things to avoid when traveling to Thailand is to plan too much in advance.

There are a lot of places to visit in Thailand for first-timers, and whilst many should be on your list, make sure to leave time to uncover hidden gems and places you did not know about with people you just met.

Thailand is a wonderful place to meet other travelers and once you talk with others, you will suddenly hear about new places. Maybe you make new friends and decide to go with them to do a hike or visit a secluded island. Maybe you like a place so much that you would love to spend an extra day or two! It’d be extremely annoying to have everything booked for the next weeks and stop you from being spontaneous.

Thailand is so well organized for tourists that there is no need to overthink it. When you decide to go somewhere, all you have to do is to book the bus, train, or boat tickets and the trip will be perfectly organized for you to reach your destination.

The beauty of traveling in Thailand is that your bucket list will grow each day. You might not tick off all the places you had planned for at first, but you sure will get experiences of a lifetime that a planned itinerary could not have given you.

Railay beach in Thailand

Contributed by Linn Haglund of Brainy Backpackers

Do…try the toasties!

Travellers in Thailand should definitely check out the popular convenience store chain 7-Eleven, and try some of their famous toasties. These toasted sandwiches are a must-try for anyone visiting Thailand, as they offer a unique and delicious snack that is affordable and convenient.

7-Eleven has an incredibly important presence in Thailand, with over 13,000 stores throughout the country and even on many of Thailand’s islands. This includes the Phi Phi islands and Koh Tao. The chain offers a wide range of products, from snacks and drinks to household items and personal care products. However, one of the most popular items on their menu is toasties.

These toasties come in various flavors, such as ham and cheese, tuna, chicken, and egg. They are made fresh in-store and are served hot and crispy, making them the perfect snack for people on the go.

One of the reasons why travellers in Thailand should try 7-Eleven toasties is that they are incredibly affordable. Prices vary depending on the flavor, but they generally cost between 10 and 30 baht (30¢ to 80¢). This makes them an excellent option for budget-conscious travellers who want a tasty and filling snack that won’t break the bank.

Submitted by www.guideyourtravel.com

Don’t…travel to Thailand without Health Insurance

While traveling with health insurance is a universal piece of advice for trips anywhere around the globe, in Thailand it becomes apparent the longer time you spend there.

Whether you head to the islands in the South or chill in the mountains in the North, travel insurance is vital for having you covered. It should be as automatic as having a passport on you. Unfortunately, young backpackers sometimes forget that. While living in Koh Phangan, I’ve heard numerous stories of foreigners having accidents and not being covered by insurance.

You never know what may happen. Even if you’re the most cautious person on Earth, accidents fully out of your control can occur. Renting a scooter can be a challenge on its own, and then add to it the often reckless driving habits of locals and stray dogs getting in your way. It’s a recipe for many sticky situations, to say the least.

Even a little scratch can take weeks to heal in the tropical climate. It hurts like hell, and needs redressing every single day or you may contract a nasty infection. Even if you have it treated at a cheaper Thai hospital, you’ll still be charged more as a foreigner.

My experience was also at the onset of Covid when SafetyWing travel insurance covered my husband’s and my flight back home to Europe. It was at a time when flights were becoming expensive so the cost would hurt our finances substantially. 

Thailand hospital

Submitted by Travel Geekery

Do…be careful of Thai buckets

Originally served at the Koh Phangan Full Moon Parties, bucket drinks are now popular at parties all over Thailand. This devilish concoction is essentially a bucket of fun with a kick. It includes ice, your 300ml spirit of choice, and a whole lot of energy in the form of the ever-so-popular Thai version of Red Bull. Thai buckets seem too good to be true, and there are many reasons why you should avoid this type of drink.

Here’s the problem: rumours say such buckets are often laced with speed! Judging by how wild and crazy these buckets make people go, there are good reasons to believe it. While they are good in theory and promise the thrill of a wild night out, you may later wake up in a hazy state without any recollection of the fun that was had. Countless partygoers have fallen victim to the spellbinding Thai buckets.

Should you resign from drinking them altogether? They can be dangerous if you don’t know the origin of the drinks, but with a few simple precautions, you can still enjoy them. Be your own bartender and make sure you know all the ingredients going into your bucket. Open the bottles and pour them yourself! Don’t venture out alone, and always stay with your friends on a night out. Drink plenty of water throughout the night. And when nature calls, make sure your friends keep an eye on your trusty bucket, because it’s not worth risking a spiked drink. With a little vigilance, you can enjoy the Thai buckets with peace of mind!

Thai buckets

Submitted by Leslie from Backpackers Thailand

Don’t…feed wild monkeys (and wildlife in general!)

If you visit Thailand, it is important to travel as responsibly as possible. One of the reasons you might visit Thailand is for the chance to spot wildlife, like elephants and monkeys. While many people are getting aware of the fact that elephant rides are cruel, there are still a lot of misconceptions about feeding monkeys.

As you travel to Thailand, chances are you will see many troops of macaques swinging through the jungle or frolicking on the beach. While they may look cute and huggable, don’t feed the monkeys. Many tourists who travel to Thailand engage in these practices but it is wrong and doesn’t benefit the monkeys in any way.

Contrary to what you might think, monkeys can forage for food for themselves and don’t need your food. The jungle offers everything they need in terms of nutrients. When you feed a monkey, this can have serious consequences.

Firstly, the monkey will get lazy and stop foraging for food himself. By feeding them, monkeys will stop showing natural behaviours and turn to people to find food. Random people were attacked by monkeys on the street when carrying food whilst breakfast buffets in guesthouses were raided by monkey troops. In Khao Sok, a young backpacker even died from rabies after he got bitten by a monkey.

Secondly, feeding monkeys cause serious threats to their well-being. Not only will this change in diet influence their health in a bad way but, the food that you hand to them, will also carry bacteria they are not used to. They can catch a disease and maybe not survive. Moreover, dozens of monkeys get killed in Thailand every year due to car accidents because they leave their natural habitats to come looking for food.

Contributed by Annelies from Travelers & Dreamers

Do…wear reef-safe sunscreen

If you’re traveling to southern Thailand, chances are you’ll be getting into the ocean. The Andaman Sea is incredibly beautiful, with its bright turquoise water and amazing marine life. You’ll experience this gorgeous sea from Ko Lanta, Phang Nga Bay, the Phi Phi Islands, Khao Lak, Coral Island Phuket and many more sea-side locations.

For travelers visiting the Andaman Sea (and other oceans around the world), it’s imperative to wear reef-safe, mineral sunscreen. The chemicals in traditional sunblock kills coral reefs and eliminate massive habitats for thousands of species of marine life. It does this by bleaching the coral, leaving it uninhabitable for sea creatures.

You can actually see the difference in dull coral reefs that have been heavily snorkeled for decades, versus more hidden spots that are off the beaten path of tourists, which are still vibrant and lively with sea life.

Mineral sunscreen is made from natural ingredients and is typically a bit thicker than traditional sunscreens. This means you’ll need to use smaller amounts and rub it in really well. The bonus is that it doesn’t come off as easily so you’ll get better sun protection. As an alternative, you can wear sun hats and long-sleeve rash guards to reduce the amount of mineral sunscreen to apply.

Keep in mind while snorkeling or diving that you also shouldn’t touch any marine life, especially sea turtles and coral. Oils from human fingerprints can hurt and damage them. Be mindful not to step on coral as you’re snorkeling, such as when you’re adjusting your mask.

Be kind to marine life by following these best practices when traveling to Thailand!

Recommended by Nikki of She Saves She Travels 

There you have it, our dos and donts when travelling in Thailand! Outlining all the top things to do and not to do in Thailand to ensure you stay safe whilst still having an incredible experience! Thailand is one of the most beautiful countries you can ever visit as there is so much to do and see. What we enjoyed most was the Thai culture and all the people we met along the way!

Have you recently visited Thailand or wish to in the near future? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Planning a full Southeast Asia trip? Check out some of our other posts on Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia!

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10 Comments

  1. What great tips. It pays to spend some time in an area to pick up on the cultures and ways of people, but this is a great resource for those travelling for a short vacation. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This was a great post for people visiting Thailand for the first time. Or for those like me who have not been in a while. It is important to remember the dos and don’t to ensure you have a great time on your visit. We are sad we did not do a Thai cooking class when we visited. But we did know not to point our feet at the Buddha when we visited. And luckily David does a great job haggling or I would never save a penny!

    1. Thanks so much Linda. We absolutely loved our Thai cooking class and had the best time in Chiang Mai.

  3. Hahaha, I LOVE your warning about the Thai bucket! Reading your article makes me want to go back, I have not visited Thailand for years! I can almost smell the street food, and feel the heat I remember from my long-term stay years ago. One of my favorite places was Kho Phi Phi, and doing scuba diving liveaboard waaay out to sea at Richelieu Rock. One of my best experiences ever!

    1. You really should Hege, it was SO much fun and would definitely go back in a heartbeat! Yes we loved the Phi Phi islands too!

  4. I just learned so much from this! I mean, I had no idea toasties were famous in Thailand, and now I reeeally want to visit the national parks. (I already wanted to do a cooking class and visit the beeeautiful temples, feet not facing the buddha, of course!)

    I love that the way to ask how someone is doing translates as did you eat rice yet! That is my kind of culture!

    1. Thanks so much Josy, so pleased this guides been helpful! Yes the toasties in Thailand were amazing and the cooking class was incredible!

  5. I haven’t had the chance to visit Thailand yet so this is really useful to know for future trip planning. Love the sound of a Thai cooking class!

    1. Yes the Thai cooking class was one of our highlights! So pleased this guides been helpful for your future travels.. Thailand is amazing and you’ll love it!

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