20 Things to Know Before Traveling to Thailand: A Complete Guide
Thailand is a beautiful and diverse country that offers many attractions and experiences for travelers. Whether you’re looking for culture, nature, adventure, or relaxation, you’ll find something to suit your taste in Thailand. But before you pack your bags and book your flight, there are some things you need to know before traveling to Thailand. In this article, we’ll share with you the most important tips and advice on how to prepare for your trip, avoid common pitfalls, and enjoy your stay in Thailand. Read on to discover everything you need to know before traveling to Thailand.
1. The Rainy Season Varies by Region
The rainy season in the northern, central, and southwestern regions of Thailand usually lasts from June to October. On the southeastern coast and the Gulf of Thailand, the rainy season comes later, starting from October to December. If traveling in the rainy season, you will avoid overcrowding at tourist destinations and have better prices. However, bad weather may affect the operations of island ferries and hotels if you travel to the seaside.
2. Vaccines Prevent Disease
When traveling to Thailand, doctors recommend being vaccinated against tetanus, hepatitis A, and rabies caused by animals. Travelers may consider using malaria prophylaxis because malaria has reappeared in the border areas of Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Malaysia.
Besides that, traveling to Thailand does not require a COVID-19 vaccine or wearing masks.
3. Book Services in Advance
The peak tourist season in Thailand usually lasts from November to March of the following year. If you plan to visit the land of the Golden Temple at this time, you should make reservations in advance for all services such as transportation, accommodation, and entertainment activities. If you travel to Thailand during the rainy season, you should check in advance if the location is open to guests.
4. Follow Local Etiquette
The “wai” greeting, bowing slightly and clasping hands in front of the chest, is a traditional Thai greeting. It would help if you did not shake the other person’s hand unless the other person took the initiative. If you are invited into a local’s home, remember to take off your shoes before entering and avoid pointing the soles of your feet toward others.
5. Respect Religion and the Thai Royal Family
About 95% of Thai people follow Buddhism, which appears in many aspects of life. To show respect, you should take off your shoes and dress politely before entering Buddhist structures. Additionally, do not point the soles of your feet or touch the Buddha statue. You should also give way to monks when walking and do not sit next to them on public transportation. It is taboo for women to touch monks or their belongings.
Besides, Thai people highly respect the monarchy, and insulting the royal family is criminal. Therefore, don’t say anything bad about the royal family and use your feet to step on or grab the money. These are the most significant things you should know before traveling to Thailand.
Thai people avoid revealing clothes that reveal a lot of skin. Hence, you should follow dress regulations when going to religious tourist attractions such as temples, pagodas, and temples. Going topless or nude while sunbathing at the beach is also frowned upon.
7. Dining Rules
Restaurants often present dishes at the same time and place them in the middle of the table so everyone can share and enjoy. Thai dining utensils usually only include a spoon and fork without a knife. Dishes are also divided into pieces to limit the use of knives. In addition, sticky rice is usually rolled into balls and eaten by hand.
8. Not Many Options for Vegetarians
Fish sauce and oyster sauce are two main seasonings for dishes in Thailand. Therefore, to find a vegan place to eat, you can refer to Indian restaurants or ones that serve food for Buddhists. The term “mang sa wirat” refers to dishes that do not contain meat or fish but does not mean they are suitable for vegetarians. You can ask the restaurant owner about these dishes.
9. Protect Your Health
Tourists are at high risk of infection when bitten by mosquitoes in Thailand. So, you should bring mosquito repellant and other protective equipment. Rabies caused by animal bites is also one of the health risks that tourists need to pay attention to. If you feel unwell, go to private hospitals in big cities instead of being treated at a public hospital.
In Thailand, many prostitution establishments are disguised as restaurants, bars, or karaoke bars. You can recognize these locations through colorful advertising signs, with many sexy female employees and many foreign male customers.
11. Marijuana and Medicine
Thailand legalized cannabis in June 2022. However, using marijuana or smoking in public places is still discouraged and may even be punished. If you need certain medications to support your health, check in advance to see if they are allowed into Thailand.
12. Prices for Tourists may be Higher
Tourists may be charged higher prices when traveling by tuk-tuk or taxi. You should consult with local people in advance about the price when traveling between destinations by these two types of means of transportation to get a better price. Be careful of drivers who intend to entice you, taking you to souvenir shops or fake tourist offices to “get” a commission.
13. Political Protests
Thailand often experiences protests that cause chaos. In some cases, protests force flight cancellations or temporary blockade of areas. You should follow local news sites before coming to Thailand to limit trouble. If you must travel to Thailand amid political instability, don’t forget to buy travel insurance. That’s a good way to not only protect your health but your trip. You can get a refund in case of flight cancellation or luggage loss.
14. Prohibited Areas
Thailand’s southernmost region, along the Malaysian border, has been ravaged by a separatist insurgency since the 1940s. Most foreign governments advise people not to travel to Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat, and part of Songkhla.
15. Be Careful When Riding a Motorbike
When renting and riding a motorbike in Thailand, you need to bring a driver’s license and passport or copies of other identification documents. You need to wear a helmet and follow the regulations when participating in traffic to ensure your safety. Every year, Thailand records hundreds of motorbike accidents among tourists, so be careful!
16. Natural Disaster
Thailand is easily affected by natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, or landslides during the rainy season. You should pay attention to government information in the event of a disaster and contact your embassy for updates.
17. Do not Leave Your Passport
Your passport is your identity and travel document. Keep it with you. Don’t lose your passport or let someone else take or keep it, even the hotels or tour guide. If you lose it, you have to apply for a new one and contact the Thai Embassy or Consulate. Losing your passport can cause problems and delays for your trip.
18. Do not Overstay Your Visa
Thailand has different types of visas for different purposes of stay. Check the validity and duration of your visa before you travel, and plan your itinerary accordingly. If you overstay your visa, you have to pay a fine and face other consequences such as deportation or legal action.
19. English is Widely Spoken in Thailand
English is widely spoken in Thailand, especially in urban areas and tourist destinations. Being one of the world’s most visited countries, you can easily find English speakers in almost any place where there are foreigners or tourists. You can also use English as a common language to communicate with locals or other travelers.
20. Thailand is Safe to Travel
Thailand is generally a safe country to travel to for most visitors. The country has a low crime rate compared to other countries in Southeast Asia or elsewhere in the world. However, like any other country, Thailand still has some risks, dangers, and scams that you should be aware of and prepared for when traveling there.
Have a Great Trip to Thailand!
Thailand is a wonderful destination that can surprise and delight you with its charm and hospitality. However, it’s also a country that has its own rules and customs that you need to respect and follow. By knowing the things to know before traveling to Thailand, you can make your trip more enjoyable and memorable. You can also avoid any misunderstandings or conflicts that might arise from cultural differences or etiquette issues. So don’t forget to do your research, plan ahead, and be open-minded when visiting Thailand. You’ll be glad you did.
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