If it is your first time in Asia and especially in Thailand, it can be a bit overwhelming in the beginning. During my first days in Thailand I was lost and had no idea how to act, what to eat and how much to pay…
Luckily I spent one month there, so I know it much better now. Here are my 10 tips to survive Thailand in case you don’t want to be as lost as I was in the beginning.
1. Bargain the prices
First of all, you have to know that you can get a cheaper price most of the time, because they expect you to bargain or the higher price is a tourist trap. You can compare different companies and shops, because they offer the same products, but for different prices.
If you buy something at a market or in a shop, they usually give you a discount or you can ask them for one.
Most Thais are willing to give you a cheaper price.
It’s the same when you drive a taxi or a tuk tuk. You can ALWAYS get a cheaper price.
Don’t be shy, just ask for a lower price. If they don’t accept it, just ask again or look for another taxi.
2. Take local transport
That’s always the cheapest way to get around. You usually don’t have to pay more than 100 Baht, so you can save so much money. You also don’t have to book something in advance, which makes it really easy.
One time I arrived at the bus station in Phuket with the night bus. There were only taxi companies to get to Phuket Town, but they charged 500 Baht or more. When I asked them, if there is any local bus, they said no. Even when I went to the information center they told me, that there is no local bus.
I went outside and looked for a local bus on my own. After a couple of minutes I found it and I only paid 45 Baht in total to get to Phuket Town and then to Patong Beach.
Everything is better when you smile. Oftentimes locals or children smile back and it just makes you happy. Just smile at shop owners when you walk by or waitresses when you eat in a restaurant. You’ll see, it’s not that hard to get a smile back.
4. Don’t eat everything
Don’t be too worried about what to eat in Thailand, just be careful. I never had a bad experience in the whole month and I always ate street food, when it was possible. That’s the cheapest option and it’s just a different feeling compared to eating in a restaurant.
The only thing you should note, is that you shouldn’t eat everything. Sometimes the meat doesn’t look good or like it has been in the sun all day. Then just take vegetables or tofu instead to make sure that you don’t get sick. Eat at places, where the food is fresh made and not just heated up.
But besides that, go and enjoy Thai food!
5. Don’t drink tap water
The tap water in Thailand is no drinking water. So don’t refill your bottle with it. You can get a 1,5 liter bottle with drinking water at every seven eleven for 14 Baht. Sometimes hostels/guesthouses/hotels offer free drinking water, where you can refill you bottle.
But you can use tap water for brushing your teeth or washing your face. That’s no problem.
6. Be respectful at temples
Buddhism is really important in Thailand. There are so many temples and many tourists are interested in visiting them. In most temples you have to take off your shoes (also in some shops, restaurants and guest houses).
Especially women, but sometimes also men have to cover their shoulders and knees before they enter a temple. Usually you can borrow something at the entry. Be respectful and just do it even if it looks stupid.
7. Withdraw bigger amounts of money
When you want to withdraw money at an Atm, they usually charge you 200 Baht. But the currency exchange rate is usually really bad too, so you loose a lot of money there.
It makes more sence to withdraw a bigger amount of money, than loosing so much money each time you withdraw a smaller amount of money. You can separate the money and hide it in different places of your backpack/suitcase.
8. Buy a sim card
Buying a Sim card is not really expensive in Thailand, but so worth it. In most places such as restaurants or your accommodation, you get free wifi. But I always used Google Maps to get around or data to text my friends when I had no wifi.
9. Dress appropriately
The culture in Thailand is different compared to western cultures and so is their dressing. It’s not really a rule you have to follow, but sometimes I just felt more comfortable, when I wore more covered clothes. It’s more respectful and you don’t get too many looks from locals.
In the southern areas it’s a bit different, because there are so many tourists. The place is really beach orientated, so you wear less anyways. But out of respect, I still would not go to a restaurant wearing only a bikini.
10. Pay attention to the traffic
The traffic in Thailand is crazy! Of course it depends on the areas you visit, but especially Bangkok can be a dangerous place.
First of all, they drive on the lefthand side, so be prepared for that, when you want to cross the street. Furthermore they don’t really pay attention to rules, such as traffic lights or anything you can think of.
There are also many scooters and motorbikes, that are trying to find their way through the cars. And they literally can come from every corner. Pay attention to that! I think the only rule, that really matters is: the biggest vehicle wins!
If you stay focused, you won’t get in trouble and survive the crazy traffic in Thailand.