Thailand is undeniably one of the most popular places to visit (and one of my favorite countries!). Despite its long-standing history as a travel hotspot, it remains one of the world’s most wondrous destinations.
With that being said, there are a few things to know before you go so you can make the most of your time there. Here are just some of the dos and don’ts of traveling in Thailand.
DO: Eat the street food
One thing you simply have to do in Thailand is try the street food. It’s plentiful, affordable and diverse—whether you’re grabbing a bowl of the hearty and traditional pad thai or trying a dish from Bangkok’s Chinatown, it’s no secret that Thailand is perhaps the world’s best country for street food. You can also take a cooking class or tour the markets.
Some of the most popular dishes to try include:
- Mango sticky rice, a dessert dish that you’ll often find in busier areas (Bangkok has it in spades);
- Pad see ew, known for its wide rice noodles stir-fried with various vegetables and served in a unique, flavorful sauce;
- Noodle soup, a very diverse dish that can basically include any ingredients you wish—it’s the perfect choice for a cheap and filling dinner.
DON’T: Don’t drive if you don’t have to
You may not realize it, but Thailand’s roads are notoriously some of the world’s deadliest. Traffic is a nightmare and there are different types of vehicles vying for lanes from buses to scooters (dodging tuk tuks is a fun game). With that being said, it’s important you don’t get overconfident and try to navigate the roads without experience. There are plenty of other alternatives from private transfers to metro tours.
If you must drive, it’s recommended to opt for rental car insurance. But even if you have coverage, it isn’t worth the risk in my opinion as public transportation and taxis are cheap and accessible. That being said, travel insurance is always a good idea in case of any emergency or setback.
DO: Visit multiple regions
Thailand has so much more to offer than Bangkok and Phuket. Sure, its cities are energetic and full of culture, but escaping to the quieter regions is just as rewarding. Consider visiting one of the country’s gorgeous beaches like Koh Samui or Krabi. Elsewhere, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are gorgeous mountain towns offering immense amounts of history in the form of temples and religious sites.
To truly make the most of your visit, try to spend at least a few weeks exploring. Here is a sample three-week Thailand itinerary.
DON’T: Fall victim to scams
Since Thailand is such a popular tourist destination, scams are common in popular areas, such as city marketplaces and major attractions. Watch out for a few common tricks, including:
- People saying a landmark is closed, and offering to take you elsewhere for a fee
- Vendors in marketplaces raising prices, in which case you should be prepared to haggle
- Taxi drivers claiming a meter is broken or taking an unnecessarily long route to hike up the fare
Stay vigilant and cautious while exploring Thailand—scams are one of the fastest ways to ruin a trip.
DO: Adhere to cultural norms
There are plenty of cultural traditions to be observed in Thailand, and although tourists and visitors aren’t expected to follow them all, you should make an effort to be respectful.
Be prepared to take your shoes off when entering certain buildings and cover your shoulders and shoulders. Feet are considered the dirtiest part of the body. Be sure to pause for the national anthem (it’s played twice a day_ and never talk badly or make disparaging remarks about the King.
Pro Tip: Here’s a full Thailand packing list to help you assimilate.
DON’T: Disrespect the Buddha
Another cultural norm to watch out for is how you treat the Buddha. Whether it’s a small figurine or a huge statue, they are shown the same respect. Do not climb upon any sculpture for a photograph, as it won’t go down well with the locals—and be sure not to take any pictures of the Buddha out of the country without permission, as it’s actually illegal to do so.