I’ve worked in the travel industry for more than 15 years. I’ve seen a lot of wonderful places – and so has my friends and colleagues from the industry. Most of us have already been to Thailand quite a few times. Still; I’ll bet you that asked the question; “What is the perfect destination if you want good food, good beached, interesting culture, nice people and reasonable prices” they all say Thailand (well, most of them would anyway..).
My first visit to Thailand was in 1994. A lot has changed since then! But; people are still nice, food is still very tasty, culture is interesting, beaches are great and prices still reasonably.
I often hear that Thailand is overrun by tourists. This may be the case in some place. But dare to go off the beaten track and I promise you you’ll be rewarded. More on that later….
For now here’s a few tips that might be good to know before you go to Thailand.
Please do feel free to add your own tips in the comments!
1) Learn to say “hello”:
Women say “sawadee ka” (pronounced more like swadee kaaaa)
Men say “sawadee krap” (pronounced swadee krap)
2) Learn to say “thank you”:
For women that’s “kop khun ka”
For men it’s “kop khun krap”
– Pronounced pretty much the way it’s written.
3) Smile. Thai people are really nice. You’ll get a long way with a smile!
4) Remember though that because they’re nice they will rather lead you astray than admitting they have no idea where you’re going. So if you ask for directions: start by asking if they know this-and-this-place. You can usually judge by their reaction whether they actually know it or not.
5) Remember to bargain. Always bargain – and always smile while you do it! Ask your hotel about tuk tuk prices before you go anywhere – that’ll help you estimate how much you should actually pay. Markets are tricky. More than often that not you should probably pay less than half the price they give you at first.
6) Respect that – compared to a lady in a night market – you’re a millionaire. Bargain is part of it – but don’t be rude and respect that this might be the only income for an entire family. It’s a balance.
7) Take off your shoes before you enter temples or private homes and smaller local shops. In temples you’re kindly asked to. In private homes and locals shops you’re not necessarily expected to (most thais know this is not the “western way”) – but you might just get a few free points if you do remove your shoes.
8) Don’t put your fork in the mouth. The fork is used to shuffle food onto your spoon – and spoon goes in the mouth.
9) Don’t loose your temper. Things sometimes go wrong. It’s nobody’s fault. Smile and stay calm. That’ll get you a lot further than getting upset.
10) Check up on religious etiquettes. Women don’t talk to monks. Don’t point your feet at Buddha images. Dress properly in temples. That kind of thing. Check out this site for more tips: http://www.thaizer.com/buddhism/visiting-thai-temples/