Thailand is a country that has been rated to be one of the safest places to visit, especially as a solo woman traveler. Despite having a sense of safety relief when you’re traveling there, that doesn’t eliminate the possibility of someone local wanting to take advantage of you or you experiencing culture shock.
For my trip to Thailand, I felt pretty confident about transportation, accommodation, safety, and where to go. Though, at times, there were small surprises here and there, making me wish I knew about before leaving for Thailand.
Nonetheless, if you plan to visit the beautiful and cultural Southeast Asia country, take out a notepad and pen because I am going to highlight some key points you should keep in mind before traveling to Thailand.
What You Need To Know Before Visiting Thailand
You won’t be the only tourist there! There are tons of other travelers who visit Thailand all year round. When I arrived at Bangkok Airport, I seriously felt that I transported back to LAX (Los Angeles Airport). Even though it was a bit overwhelming to see so many other people from all parts of the world, it felt reassuring that I wasn’t in such a far-far land all alone.
Thailand locals are indeed almost too friendly. One of my favorite elements of travel is to be able to meet other travelers and connect with the local community. The locals will say hello to you randomly on the streets or strike up a conversation with you. When precious moments like those happen, don’t be afraid and talk with them. Not only is it exciting for you to be in a different or strange place, but it’s also ecstatic for them to meet travelers visiting their home.
When in Bangkok, take the Skytrain. Not only do you want to take the Skytrain to get to different parts of the city, but you also might want to look at accommodations that are walking distance to the train station. A one-way ticket is only 10 cents. How could you not take advantage of that? The Skytrain goes mostly everywhere in Bangkok so you can be reassured that when using Google Maps, it’ll be simple to understand the navigation.
If you are going to the South of Thailand, keep in mind that there are different types of islands: ones for partying and others for tranquility. The islands are indeed breathtaking, but there are a few that are necessarily only meant for the younger folks to go party, and it can get a bit nasty. If you are looking to have peace and quiet by the islands, then make sure you stay away from islands like Phuket.
Always be dress ready to explore a temple. Not only will you continuously run into a new temple(s) to explore, but respectively, you’re also going to be required to dress appropriately. Since the weather in Thailand stays on the warmer side and remains humid, it’s reasonable to wear shorts and tank tops. However, when you’re visiting a temple, you will be asked to cover up. The employees or volunteers of the temple will give you a shawl to tie around your waist or allow you to use your cloak to cover your shoulders. To avoid any obstacles, I recommend always be temple ready by carrying something with you that you can use to cover up.
The more South you travel in Thailand, the more you will need to carry bug repellent and sunscreen. As I mentioned before, the weather in Thailand tends to be hot and humid. If you’re like most travelers, you’ll find yourself consistently walking to one place and another or always taking tuk-tuks (cabs) that don’t have a lot of shade or have car doors. In those scenarios, the sun will be beating on you so as to avoid skin damage, have sunscreen readily available. Not only that, but the closer to you get to the water, the more mosquitoes you will notice. Spray bug repellent on your skin after you apply sunscreen to ensure you don’t run the risk of horrific mosquito bites.
Bargain, Bargain, Bargain! Anytime you decide to take a tuk-tuk or go to the flea market, don’t ever accept the initial price. When it comes to taking tuk-tuk (cab) rides, the drivers tend to quote an outrageous amount because you’re a tourist. I tend to quote back a lesser number, and they usually deny it until we meet in the middle. One of the tactics that’s worked best for me is walking away because they won’t lower their fare and that’s when they give in and offer a better deal. You can use this same method when shopping at flea markets. Note though, that most of the time, the prices at flea markets are already at the lowest price, so sometimes they won’t give in to lowering the amount already listed.
Do not be afraid of trying the street food; trust me, you won’t get sick. If you overall take care of yourself, continue to stay hydrated, and use your common sense when choosing what to eat from street food, you should be fine. I’ve always have heard of people claiming to stay away from street food because you could get food poisoning, and yes, that can be true. When I was in Thailand, I ate a lot of street food, but when it came to deciding which one to go for, I always reviewed and analyzed if their cart and food looked clean. If you notice that flies are roaming around the prepared food and you have a strong feeling that it’s not sanitary, then don’t eat there. You’re going to run into various markets around Thailand, and food is the primary source of the visit. If you don’t allow yourself to have street food, then you’re going to be missing out on some authentic cuisines.
PS: If you’re terrified of eating street food because you’re going to get sick, don’t hesitate to purchase Vitamin C so you can take it every day and boost your immune system. That way, if you do come across something that might be dangerous to your stomach, your immune will be ready to fight against it, and you will have less risk of getting sick.
Everything is cheap, minus the exclusive tours. Not only because you can bargain prices when it comes to tuk-tuks and shopping, but accommodation and food are also very cheap. If you decide to take tours that include things like visiting different islands or partake in scuba diving, that’s when you’ll spend a bit more. Some of the tours are worth it because they take you to see the elephants or lions and to visit the islands that are only accessible with a tour guide. However, don’t be afraid to shop around when it comes to choosing tours. Some of them don’t offer various activities in one trip when others do for a lower rate.
Get a sim card; it’s only two bucks. Well, at least the one I got. There are sim cards that are a bit pricier, but having a sim card for your phone so you can have service everywhere is ideal. Don’t worry, though, if you don’t get one, you will notice most of all the restaurants, hotels, hostels, or cafes have wifi. The only time I ran into service issues is when I didn’t have a sim card and I was in the wilderness on a tour. If you want to avoid the hassle of having to find wifi everywhere you go, get a sim card and put your mind to ease.
Carry toilet wipes with you! When you end up having to use a public restroom, you’re going to notice the lack of toilet paper available. Always have some wipes with you just in case. You can bring a roll of toilet paper, but that tends to take up a lot of space. You can buy wipes that are tiny enough to fit in your pocket or wallet.
If you want to avoid the crowds, go to the northern part of Thailand. The north is where you can get away from the city, enjoy jungles, and village tranquility. Places like Pai and Chiang-Mai welcomes folks who wish to find a quieter time in their trip. You will notice as well crowds are less rowdy, and you’ll find yourself more in a more meditative headspace.