Everything You Need to Know Before Traveling to Bangkok, Thailand

Everything You Need to Know Before Traveling to Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand is one of the hottest travel destinations in 2018. Just this year alone 25,886,325 people visited Thailand, and the number is predicted to grow for the following years. The cheap cost of living, exotic temples, and sandy white beaches are Thailand’s claim to fame. Movies such as Hangover II, The Man with the Golden Gun, Lost in Thailand, and The Beach all showcase Thailand’s natural beauty and unique culture.

Bangkok is a great city to visit since it caters to all types of travelers. From luxury hotels and budget hostels, excellent dining and street food, glistening malls and old street markets, Thailand is accessible to affluent influencers and broke college students alike.

Whether you are coming for a luxury vacation or backpacking trip, every traveler should arm themselves with basic knowledge of the country and city to make their trip a safe and memorable journey.

1. Weather and Best Time of Year to Travel Thailand

Thailand is next to the equator which means the country is always hot, humid, and rainy. The tropical destination typically sees three seasons a year:

Essential Thailand Travel Guide and Weather
  • Rainy: May/June - October

  • Hot: March - June

  • Dry: November - February

December through February are high season in Thailand because it is dry and just a little bit cooler (a little bit means not much, it will still be hot!). The dry season is generally the best time of year to go, but you will experience tourist influx and price increases.

Thailand is a large country and each region experience’s microclimates, especially the southern beaches and islands of Thailand which have different monsoon seasons.

Northern Thailand

The areas around Chaing Mai, Chain Rai, Pai, and Lampang, experience moderate weather changes compared to the rest of the region.

Essential Thailand Travel Guide and Weather
  • Rainy: June - October. Less overall rain than the rest of the country. Still, prepare yourselves with umbrellas and rain jackets.

  • Hot: March - June. Burning season starts end of February beginning of March. Air quality is poor from burning forests and fields.

  • Dry: November - February. Winter is much colder in Northern Thailand. Bring jackets and long pants to stay comfortable.

Central Thailand

The areas around Udon Thani, Chanthaburi, Bangkok, and Ratchaburi are generally hottest and most humid all year round.

  • Rainy: June - October. Most overall rain, especially in Bangkok. Thunderstorms and city floods are frequent.

  • Hot: March - June. Bangkok reaches peak temperatures. The three-day Thai water festival, Songkran, is very welcomed.

  • Dry: November - February. Rain and heat drop, but not by much. Still, expect hot and humid weather.

Southern Thailand

Southern islands and beaches have just two seasons - wet & dry. The east and west coastlines have different monsoon seasons. Visiting south Thailand during rainy seasons is not recommended due to strong currents, dangerous waves, and poor visibility.

Andaman (West) Coast

Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga Bay, Ko Phi Phi, and Ko Lanta dot the Andaman coast. The wet and dry seasons are:

  • Wet: April/May - October

  • Dry: November - March

Gulf of Thailand (East Coast)

Ko Samui, Ko Tao, Ko Pha Ngan, Chumphon, and Surat Thani lie on the Gulf of Thailand. The wet and dry seasons are:

  • Wet: March - November

  • Dry: December - February

Tropical weather is highly unpredictable, especially near the ocean. You will mostly experience pleasant weather in the dry season but always be prepared for random showers.

2. Packing for Thailand

Thailand is hot and humid. You want to pack lightweight and light color clothing to stay cool. Keep in mind Thais dress conservatively which means covering up your shoulders, wearing loose shirts and shorts, and covering cleavage is advised. Thais in touristy and red light areas are more comfortable with foreigners showing more skin, but women should be especially aware that covering up will draw less unwanted attention from men.

In Thailand, it is customary to take off your shoes before entering hotels, hostels, and temples. Lightweight slip-on or velcro sandals like Tevas, rubber Birkenstocks, or Toms are your best bet. Shoes that buckle or tie are a hassle to take on and off so avoid them all together. Tennis shoes, heels, and heavy hiking boots that are difficult to remove and can’t quick dry are not ideal.

City Outfits

In bustling Bangkok, Pattaya, Chaing Mai, and Chaing Rai Thai people dress in business attire and casual clothes. Remember to cover shoulders and cleavage.

What to Wear:

  • Linen - light and easy to dry

  • Merino Wool - Does not absorb odor or moisture, breathes.

  • Nice linen slacks

  • Loose blouses and tees

  • Button down shirts

  • Loose shorts

  • Long skirts and dresses

  • Strappy sandals

  • Lightweight shoes

  • Lightweight jacket (for cold malls, airports, train stations, restaurants, and movie theaters)

What not to wear:

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  • Tank tops or spaghetti straps

  • Minidresses

  • Low cut tees

  • Short shorts

  • Jeans

  • Sweaters

  • Elephant pants - You will not see a single Thai wearing them. You will immediately look like a foreigner.

  • Polyester - Does not breath. You will melt.

  • 100% Cotten - Absorbs moister and hard to dry

Thais like to dress nice and cover up despite the unbearable humidity outside. Thais associate dress with class and respect. If you want to be respected more in Thailand, make sure to wear clean clothes, cover up, and avoid elephant pants. Prevent the stereotypical grungy backpacker look, and you will go far.

Temple Outfits

Thailand’s dominant religion is Buddhism, and you will see temples scatter the country everywhere. Temples are a place of worship, and like churches or mosques, you want to wear your Sunday best. Sunday best includes your nicest conservative clothing despite the weather.

Temples have a strict dress code which you must adhere to enter:

  • Women and men must cover their shoulders - no tank tops, spaghetti strap shirts or dresses.

  • Women must cover their cleavage - High necklines are required.

  • Women and men must cover their knees - long pants, dresses, and skirts are acceptable.

  • Women must cover their bellies - no crop tops.

What to Wear:

  • Thai silk

  • Lace or Chiffon

  • Fancy blouses

  • Collared shirts

  • Long dresses & skirts

  • High necklines

  • Linen slacks in black, blue, or grey

  • Closed toed shoes (especially for men)

  • Cute sandals with a heel strap

  • Silk, lace, or chiffon shoulder wraps

What not to wear:

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  • Spaghetti straps, tank tops, halter tops, or backless tops

  • Shorts or mini skirts

  • Plunging necklines

  • Baggy clothing

  • Thai elephant or fisherman pants

  • Hawaiian shirts

  • Workout clothes or leggings

  • Flip flops

Do your best to wear clothes made out of beautiful materials. You would not wear long boho Thai pants, leggings, work out clothes, tight sexy clothes, Hawaiian shirts, or beach sarongs to church or weddings. Consider visiting a Thai temple a formal event and respect the dress code.

Beach Outfits

At the beach, its ok to wear more revealing clothing and show more skin in your bikini or trunks. We still advise wearing tasteful, classy bikinis and one pieces to the beach. Avoid showing too much cleavage or booty. A cover-up is a must and should cover your shoulders merely to protect your skin from the aggressive sun. Men are advised to wear swim trunks over speedos.

What to wear:

  • Tasteful one-pieces and bikinis

  • Cover up that covers shoulders

  • Flip flops or beach sandals

  • Sarong

What not to wear:

  • Scandalous revealing swimwear

  • Speedos

Word of caution: Never go topless or nude at Thai beaches. Public nudity is taboo and frowned on.

3. Thai Currency

Thailand uses the Baht (฿, THB).

Baht currency comes in coins and bills. Denominations are in increments of 1, 2, 5, and 10.

Essential Thailand Travel Guide

The baht is strengthening, but you will find most currency is still stronger. Current exchange rates are:

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4. Transportation and Getting Around Thailand

Thailand’s traffic and road conditions are terrible. Tourists are not recommended to rent cars or motorbikes in Bangkok due to the high risk of being in an accident. Thai traffic is very congested, motorcycles are abundant and weave like madmen, everyone drives fast, and nobody seems to look over their shoulder when lane changing. For those of you who are comfortable driving on the right, Thais drive on the left, which makes learning to handle traffic even scarier.

I can only imagine trying to drive in Thailand like having an anxiety attack - on edge and afraid of hitting someone the entire journey.

Thai law states the most affluent, local and foreigner alike, must pay for the accident despite who’s at fault. As a tourist, you will always be the most affluent party, so its best to avoid driving period.

Opt-in for the safer and cheaper alternative - public transportation. Public transportation is abundant, affordable, and easy to use (everything is in Thai and English). Domestic flights, buses, trains, and vans are available daily to take you across the country.

Car: Taxi & Grab Car

Getting around by car is the fastest way to tour the city. You have the option of hailing a taxi or hiring a Grab car through the app.

Taxis

There are thousands of taxis ready to take you to your next city destination. Hailing one is just like any another country - put your hand up and say “taxi!” Make sure taxi drivers use the meter before you enter the car. If the driver tries to ask for a set price shake your head and say "meter." If the driver refuses, get out of the car. Meters should start at 35 baht. No need to make small talk with your drivers just tell them your destination.

Protip: Have your destination written down in Thai. Ask your hotel or hostel front desk to help you.

No need to tip taxi drivers. However, it's common practice to round up fairs. For instance, if a taxi costs you ฿ 73, it is appropriate to round up to ฿ 75.

Grab Car

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Grab Car is the Thai version of Uber. You use Grab Car just like you would Uber; however, you will need a Thai sim card. The benefit of Grab car is you know exactly the cost of your transportation and that the driver will take you to your correct location. We are not saying a taxi is not safe or unpredictable, it generally is. Grab car only removes any doubt or insecurity you may have about taking a cab.

Tuk Tuk

Tuk-tuks are three-wheeled motorbikes with a large seat in the back. You must haggle with a Tuk Tuk driver to pay for your transportation. Always agree on a price BEFORE you get in the Tuk Tuk.

Overall, we would not recommend taking Tuk Tuks simply for safety concerns. The motorbikes are on three wheels making them more unstable and likely to tip over while turning hard. Tuk-tuks lack protection and seat belts so an accident in a Tuk-tuk could mean serious injury or death.

Tuk-tuks are known to scam tourist by taking them to undiscussed destinations like temples, tailor shops, jewelry shops, and food stands where they receive commissions or gas stamps. These stops are typically involved in scamming tourists out of their money by overcharging on food or knock-off items.

Tuk-tuks are incredibly touristy but extremely risky. Proceed with caution and keep your wits about you in a tuk-tuk.

 
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Train: Metro & BTS

The train is the most popular mode of transportation in Thailand, especially in Bangkok. In Bangkok, you can take the Metro or the BTS.

Metro

The metro or Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT) has two lines, the blue and purple lines. The blue line, the Chaloem Ratchamongkhon line, was the first rail constructed. It runs from Hua Lampong to Bang Sue. You can catch the purple Chalong Ratchadham line as a connecting train at Bang Sue. The line will take you further to Khlong Bang Phai. The trains run every 5 minutes during peak hours and every 10 minutes during low hours. Fair cost between 20 - 35 Baht depending on how far you are traveling.

Essential Travel Guide to Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS)

The BTS or Skytrain is a fast elevated train in Bangkok. Around 900,000 people ride the BTS making it the most popular transportation in Thailand. There are two lines, the Sukhumvit line which travels from Mo Chit to Samrong and the Silom line which moves from the National Stadium to Bang Wa. The lines interchange at Siam. The BTS costs from 20 - 44 baht a ticket, depending on where you are going.

Boat Taxi

If your staying riverside in Bangkok (which we highly recommend) the easiest way to get around is by boat taxi or the “hop on hop off boats.” We also recommend taking the boat even if you're not close to the river for a chance to explore Bangkok from the water. You can also cross the river via large river ferries.

The Chao Phraya express boat has five boat lines total denoted by the boat's or flag's color, but tourists need to only worry about two:

Blue Flag Tourist Boat

The tourist boat operates daily between 9 am - 7 pm and makes stops from Nonthaburi to Sathorn Pier. The double-decker boat is larger and more comfortable. The boat stops if there are passengers who want to get on and off and the English speaking staff announce stops at docks. In addition, a tour guide talks about the sights along the river in between docks. Rides are 40 baht per person or 100 baht for an unlimited day pass.

Orange Flag Local Boat

The local boat is the primary mode of boat transportation for local Thais. It operates daily between 5:50 - 7 pm and stops at every pier from Wat Rajsinkorn and Nonthaburi. You can purchase tickets at dock kiosks or on the boat itself. The smaller boat is much more cramped especially at peak hours and has limited seating. The cost is 15 baht per person, a much better deal for budget travelers.

If you're interested in learning about the rest of the commuter boats in Thailand for faster river transport, Bangkok.com put together a wonderfully comprehensive list with timetables, fares, and hours.

River Ferries

River ferries are large boats with flat roofs that transport people across each side of the river. Thirty-two ferries run across the Chao Phraya. The cost varies but averages around 4 baht per person.

7. Thai Street Food

You are not genuinely experiencing Thailand if you are eating all your meals indoors. Some of the most authentic flavors and aromas can be found right on the street for a fraction of the cost of eating at a restaurant. Watching your meal being made in a large wok, frying pan, or grill only adds to the delightful experience.

Eating street food is generally safe, but there are some general precautions to take:

  • Eat at busy stalls - If the locals are lining up so should you.

  • Avoid pre-made meals - Eat at stalls that cook meals to order to ensure freshness.

  • Watch for flies - If there are more flies than locals, probably not your best bet.

  • Go for cooked - Salads washed in unpurified water can make you sick.

  • Follow your nose - If something does not smell right best avoid it.

  • Opt for bottled water - The water served at stands is not always purified.

  • Ice is safe - All street vendors buy purified ice because it's cheaper than making their own.

Follow these guidelines, and we believe you will have a positive street food experience in Thailand! We compiled a list of some of our favorite street food dishes to try. Bon appetit!

Salads

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Som Tam - Papaya Salad

Yam Mu - Pork Sausage Salad

Yum Yoon Sen - Glass Noodle Salad

Soups

Tom Gai - Chicken Noodle Soup

Tom Yum - Sweet & Spicy Soup

Tom Kha Gai - Coconut Chicken Soup

Curries

Kaeng Massaman - Mild Curry

Kaeng Pa Talay - Spicy Watery Seafood Curry

Kaeng Keow Wan - Thai Green Curry

Noodle Dishes

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Pad Thai - Stir Fried Noodles

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Pad See Yu - Stir Fried Soy Sauce Noodles

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Boat Noodles - Pork & Beef Broth Noodle Soup

Desserts

Khao Neow Mamuang - Mango Sticky Rice

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Nam Kheng Sai - Shave Ice

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Khanom Buang - Coconut Crepes

Drinks

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Fresh Coconut Water

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Cha Yen - Thai Iced Tea

Chang - Thai Domestic Beer

8. Learning Thai

Knowing a handful of Thai will get you far on your trip. Don’t let this tonal language intimidate you! Even if you sound terrible, just trying will be appreciated, plus you get to practice.

Basic Essential Words

There is not a word for please in Thai. Instead, you add “Ka” for females and “Kap” for males at the end of sentences. Combining them makes sentences polite. Manners are everything in Thailand.

 
English Thai
Hello Swa dee ka/kap
Thank you Kob koon ka/kap
I'm sorry Khaw toad ka/kap
 

Food Words

Necessary words will help you order street food and in restaurants. Even if you don’t speak Thai or forget words, ordering food is still easy. Just point at the image and hold up how many you want. Thais understand what you mean.

 
English Thai
Spicy Ped
Really spicy Ped ped
A little spicy Ped nid noi
Not spicy Mai sai ped
Chili Prick
Chili paste Nam prick
Water Nam
Ice Nam keng
Coffee Cafe
Tea Nam cha
Rice Khao
Fried egg Kai dao
Chicken Gai
Pork Moo
Fish Plaa
Shrimp Goong
Seafood Talay
Beef Neua
Vegetarian Kin jay
Soups Tom
Curry Gaeng
Fried Tod
Stir fry Pad
Without Mai sai
Delicious A roi
Very delicious A roi mak (silent K)
Check please Check bin ka/kap
 

Pro Tip: If you are allergic to specific food or have special diet restrictions, we recommend having your hotel or hostel front desk staff write them down in Thai so you can it give to restaurant staff.

Shopping & Numbers

 
English Thai
How much Tao rai
Expensive Pang
Cheap Took
10 Sip
20 Yi sip
30 Saam sip
40 See sip
50 Haa sip
60 Hox sip (silent H)
70 Jet sip
80 Bpaet sip
90 Gao sip
100 Roi
 

We recommend watching Youtube videos or practicing with someone who is fluent in Thai to get familiar with the language. We watched tons of videos online and found that Pailin of Pailin’s Kitchen had some of the best, especially for food.

Other Useful Phrases

 
English Thai
Excuse me Kaaw tood
It's ok Mai ben rai
Do you speak English? Puut pha saa ang-grit daai mai
Bathroom Hong nam
 

Using your basic Thai in Thailand can’t hurt. You will amuse or even impress some Thai people!

9. Staying Safe in Thailand

According to Safearound Thailand has a safety index of 49%. Thailand is a relatively safe country, but there are general precautions you should take to protect your belongings, health, and safety.

Get Your Documents Ready

Squaring away your paperwork is step one to being safe in Thailand. You will need a visa, copies of your passport, and copies of receipts for personal belongings and electronics for travel insurance purposes.

Thai Visa

American tourists are allotted 30 days to travel to Thailand without a visa as long as they have an entry and departure ticket. Anything over 30 days you must apply for a 60-day tourist visa or multiple entry visa.

There are two ways you can apply for a Thai visa:

  • In person drop off

  • Mail-in

Finding your nearest Thai consulate is easy - do a quick Google search with “Thai Consulate” + [Your Location]. Our nearest embassy was in LA, and their website is here. Regardless of the consulates location, the paperwork you need to apply is all the same. For a 60-day visa you will need:

  • Your passport which must not expire within 6 months.

  • A copy of your passport

  • The application form

  • 2 passport photos

  • Copy of airline ticket showing arrival and departure

  • Your bank statement showing at least $700 in the account

  • Cashier’s check for $40

Essential Thailand Travel Guide
Essential Thailand Travel Guide

If you do drop in service, expect your visa completion within a few hours. If you do mail-in service, expect your visa to arrive in a few weeks.

Respect your visa limitations. You do not want to be caught up with the Thai police or pay the over stay fines.

Make Copies of Your Important Documents

Copies are for emergencies like losing your passport, credit cards, or luggage. You will need copies to apply for a new passport, cancel your cards, and make insurance claims. Stick all your copies in a ziplock baggie and hide them in your luggage.

We also recommend bringing extra copies of your passport photo just in case you need a new passport made on your trip.

Organize your Receipts

If you plan on taking valuable electronics like a laptop, smartphone, or camera gear you should buy travel insurance. To make a claim for your belongings in the case of theft or damage, you will need to provide proof of ownership. Receipts and images of your gear will suffice to make a claim. Take pictures of all your gear and put all your receipts in a folder on your computer and upload them to the cloud for backup.

The more prepared you are for emergency situations on your trips the less stress and anxiety you will experience.

Buy Travel Insurance

Working while traveling is great, but carrying your laptops, phone, camera gear, hard drives, and other electronics means you need more coverage compared to the typical traveler. You need all the primary coverage for medical and flight cancelation but will need the best coverage for stolen property.

Most insurance companies only covered up to $500-1,000 worth of lost property, but you should have at least triple that amount. After scouring the web looking for travel insurance, we believe World Nomads has the best bang for your buck. World Nomads provides the most substantial reimbursement for lost or stolen personal effects, ideal for digital nomads.

Essential Travel Guide to Thailand
Essential Guide to Traveling in Thailand

Keep in mind travelers insurance is not cheap, especially when you are on an extended trip, but you never want to be in a situation where something goes wrong, and you have to pay out of pocket for medical expenses, replace all your items yourself, or cancel your trip due to an emergency back home.

Before you invest in an insurance company, read through the fine print and make sure you know what exactly they do and do not cover. Also, look into how to make claims so you have the best chance at a successful reimbursement.

Buy a VPN

A virtual private network, or VPN, allows you to protect your information and removes website censorship depending on your location. Protection is the biggest reason why you should have a VPN. A VPN encrypts sensitive personal information from hackers or people snooping around on the same wifi network. You can connect to your domestic servers, key if your clients are from your home country.

To use a VPN, you connect to the wifi and then link to any servers available provided by your VPN client. Typically, you will want to join a server in your home country, but you may use a different location based on your needs.

Essential Guide to Traveling Thailand

There are both free and paid options for VPN clients, but we recommend shelling out a few bucks for the paid options. Private VPN costs are inexpensive ($5-12 a month) and are more secure. We decided to go with NordVPN and so far it's excellent. Nord connects at rapid speeds and has no problems with servers dropping or disconnecting.

Areas to avoid - slums and seedy areas

Bangkok is generally a safe city. Areas around the river, BTS, and Metro are more reliable and accessible for tourist to navigate. However, unsafe districts and regions include:

Slums

  • Khlong Toei - Largest slum in Bangkok

  • Lat Krabang - Airport district

Red Light Districts

  • Nana Plaza

  • Asok

  • Patpong

Like any large city, do most of your travels during the day. Walk in well-lit areas and stay away from dark allies and areas under bridges.

Pickpockets - How to protect belongings

Thailand is a crowded country. In Bangkok alone, there are 10.6 million people! Everywhere you go, you will experience crowds especially in shopping malls, airports, train stations, and markets. Pickpockets take advantage of crowded settings to snatch bags, phones, and wallets completely unnoticed. To beat thieves and pickpockets at their own game:

  • Always be aware of your belongings at train stations, bus stops, and airports

  • Wear bags across your body and in front of you.

  • Wear bags that zip instead of button close.

  • Always close and lock your bags in transit.

  • Wear backpacks on your chest instead of your back.

  • Wear a money belt to protect essential docs and money.

  • Don’t go into your money belt in public.

  • Be inconspicuous about money. Don’t flash large bills.

Pickpockets look to take advantage of situations where you are not paying attention or are too lax. Be on high alert in crowded places, close your bags, wear them in front of you, and you should be fine.

Common Scams

The scam risk in Thailand is high. Con artists are unsavory people trying to trick tourist out of their money or belongings. There are a few scams in Thailand you should be aware of:

Taxi Meter Scam

Some taxi drivers will try to negotiate a set price for transportation. Say no and insist they use the meter for your ride. Meters should start at 35 baht.

Tuk-Tuk Scams

You always have to negotiate with a tuk-tuk for your fare. Once you’ve agreed on a price, a tuk-tuk driver may tell you the temple you are visiting is closed adn try to take you to other destination likw restaurants, tailor shops, or jewelry shops. At all these places prices are inflated to rip off tourists/

If a tuk-tuk driver offers you a free ride or ridiculously cheap ride, it is too good to be true and probably a scam.

Gem Scams

Always say no to people who are willing to help you hail a taxi or tuk-tuk. These people are usually part of a scam route that involves gem shops. For a free or cheap ride, you must stop and shop at a gem shop where you will be pressured to buy overpriced fake jewels.

Drug Scams

Drugs are not only illegal in Thailand but have very harsh jail penalties. Never do or buy drugs in Thailand. You become a target for scams and risk getting into serious trouble. The scam goes something like this - you agree to purchase drugs from a seller, the seller tells a fake policeman about your purchase. The policeman approaches you and threatens to take you to jail unless you pay a massive fine. You lose out on a few hundred dollars. End of story.

Avoid doing drugs and run away from people trying to sell you drugs in Thailand.

Motorbike & Jet Ski Scams

Motobike and jet ski rentals are known for requiring your passport as collateral for the rental only for tourists to come back and find their passport is “missing.” NEVER use your passport as collateral for anything while you are abroad!

Rental agencies will also say you have damaged the rental after use and charge ridicules fees. You can try to avoid this scam by taking meticulous photos and images of your rental. However, if the agency insists, it may be better to avoid confrontation and pay the fine. Don't rent anything and you will prevent this scam altogether.

Bus Scams

While you are traveling by bus be aware of drivers that tell you that you must get off mid-trip because they no longer go to your destination. Tourist that get off the bus become stranded in the middle of nowhere. A taxi driver involved in the scam will pick up the stranded tourists for a high price and take them to a hostel instead of a bus station.

Do not get off your bus! Insist that you will be going to the destination printed on your ticket.

Drink Responsibly - Drink Spiking, Muggins, Sex trafficking

Thailand is one of the most significant players in the world sex tourism industry. Bangkok is known for its infamous red light districts with ping pong shows and ladyboys. The allure draws in many tourists who want to party. Yet these are the areas where most tourists fall victim to the ugly side of Thailand - drink spiking.

Date rape drugs like Rohypnol (roofies) are over the counter drugs in Thailand. They are easy to access, tasteless, and odorless which makes their use popular for taking advantage of tourists. Once drugged, perpetrators take tourists back to their rooms and mug them. Scarier instances include kidnapped women sold into underground sex traffic rings.

Be very careful partying in Thailand. Watch your drink like a hawk. Never leave your drink unattended. Watch the bartender as they make your cocktail. Put your thumb over your beer. Drink responsibly. The last thing you want is to be so drunk that you are not aware of your surroundings or actions. When you are out of control, you make yourself a vulnerable, easy target.

Police Corruption

In 2014 Thailands government collapsed under a military coup. As a result, Thailand suffers from mostly corrupt police who look to take advantage of tourists and locals alike. Thai police are known for looking for ways to pull over tourists on motorbikes and ticketing them. Police are also known for raiding nightclubs and having the partiers take on the spot drug tests.

Police bribing is common knowledge in Thailand but also illegal. People are working around the illegality and asking if they can pay tickets “on-the-spot,” or if there was some way they could “help” the official. If ticketed you may be asked by the police for a bribe or you must go to the police station, fill out paperwork, and pay the ticket.

Mix-ups with the police are generally easy to avoid in Thailand - don’t party hard, don’t rent motorbikes, and don’t attend political gatherings.

10. Staying Healthy in Thailand

Nothing ruins a trip more than excessive traveler’s diarrhea or a trip to the hospital. Thailand’s heat, unpurified water, and bugs are the biggest dangers for tourist. Call your travel nurse for information on the health risks associated with a trip to Thailand.

Vaccinations

Before heading to any foreign country, it’s a good idea to check into what vaccinations you may need before you go. If you can, check at least a month ahead as some vaccinations are multi-injections and will take multiple shots over a period.

For Thailand, get vaccinated for polio, measles/chickenpox, tetanus, hepatitis B, and typhoid. Most Americans are given polio vaccinations as babies and have either contracted or gotten vaccinations for measles and chickenpox as children. You will need to check if you have had a tetanus shot within the last five years and the complete course of hepatitis B vaccinations with your doctor.

You may want to get malaria pills in case you are going to more remote or rural locations in Thailand. Mosquitos are everywhere, and even with all the bug-repellent in the world, you will probably still get bitten. It’s best to take every precaution and stay on the safe side.

Traveler’s Diarrhea

At one point or another, every traveler will encounter an upset stomach followed by sudden, uncontrollable, diarrhea. I know, its gross, but shit happens to the best of us. In a foreign country, the food is different, water may be unpurified, and your body will encounter new germs every day.

Be prepared for these situations and know what to do. We recommend always packing antidiarrheals like Immodium and inquiring about prescribed antibiotics from your physician. Antibiotics are only for times when regular Imodium is not helping, and your condition is getting severe.

Drink lots of fluids with electrolytes and allow your body to rest.

Hydration & Sun Protection

In humid climates, you will sweat and expend more water compared to drier climates, so staying hydrated is very important. Doctors suggest you drink at least half a gallon (two liters) of water a day. Do your best to consume half a gallon or more especially when you are active. Remember to replenish your electrolytes too!

Note: drinking cold water is refreshing, but room temperature water is more accessible to absorb.

Do delicious alcoholic and sugary drinks keep you hydrated? Unfortunately, no. Coffee, smoothies, and alcoholic beverages all cause dehydration because they stimulate urination. Excessive peeing causes quick dehydration. Enjoy your special drinks, but remember to rehydrate after. Your body will thank you.

In Thailand, not all water is made equal. Tap water is unpurified and not safe for foreign guts. Though some tourists have no problem drinking tap water, others spend their day near a restroom. Don’t take the risk and figure out if you’re one or the other. Be safe and drink purified or bottled water. Bottled water is abundant and easily found on the street or in 7-11 for as little as 13 baht (~$0.43) per liter.

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In Thailand, you’re bound to explore temples, walk through markets, and enjoy the beaches under the intense sunlight. Pack these items to survive the harsh sun:

  • Wide-brimmed hat

  • Long-sleeve cover up

  • Light pants

  • Sunscreen

  • Sunglasses

  • Lots of water

Wearing long sleeves or pants in the tropical heat can seem crazy. Shorts and tank tops allow your body to get the most airflow but do not protect your skin from UV rays. Apply high SPF sunscreen throughout the day especially at the pool or beach. Try to relax in the shade when possible.

Protect your body from UV rays to avoid sunburns and dehydration. A sunburn here and there can seem like a short-term nuisance but can lead to skin cancer in the future.

Getting sunburn, just once every two years can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer. Sunburn is a clear sign that the DNA in your skin cells has been damaged by too much UV radiation. Getting sunburn, just once every two years, can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer.

Bug Protection

Abundant rivers, lakes, and puddles are breeding grounds for mosquitos. No matter where you are the little bloodsuckers will find and leave you with a kiss that irritates you for the next couple of days.

In southeast Asia, those itchy bites can carry diseases such as malaria, dengue, and chikungunya. A bite containing these diseases can be fatal if not treated. Address any other side effects other than the typical bite ASAP.

Before you come to Thailand, bring lots of bug repellent. Find sprays that contain DEET, like OFF with DEET or Sawyer’s Picaridin Spray and apply them in exposed areas whenever you venture out. To go a step further, spray some permethrin on your clothes ahead of time to add an extra layer of protection.

In Conclusion, Have Fun!

Thailand is a an exotic country to explore and should definitely be on your bucket list. There is something for everyone, delicious food, street markets, glistening beaches, luxury hotels, and boutique hostels. By no means is this a complete guide to Thai culture and lifestyle. You will never completely know how to prepare yourself until you just go!

You can and should arm yourselves with basic tips for surviving and enjoying your trip, but you will never be able to 100% prepare yourself for completely understanding the land and people. But thats why you travel to experience new places first hand and learn on the go.

The final thought we leave you with,

Do not let the fear of the unknown stop you.



Any other recommendations for Bangkok, Thailand that we missed out on? Let us know in the comments!




Brenden Togioka