When visiting Thailand you might feel relieved knowing it’s rated as one of the safest places to visit, especially as a solo traveler. Despite having a sense of safety, that doesn’t eliminate the possibility of a local wanting to take advantage of you or perhaps you experiencing culture shock.
When I was on my Thailand trip, I felt confident about transportation, accommodation, and where to visit. Though there were small surprises here and there, making me wish I knew beforehand. You can do all the research in the world, but you won’t know the real deal until you are actually there.
Thankfully, if you are like me, sometimes you don’t have the patience to read tons of articles when planning your trip. After thinking through my experience, I accumulated key things you should know before setting foot into Southeast Asia. So, grab a pen and paper fellow travelers because we are about to get down to business.
You won’t be the only tourist! There are tons of other travelers who visit Thailand all year round. When I arrived at the Bangkok Airport, I seriously felt as if they transported me back to LAX (Los Angeles Airport). Even though it was 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 feeling all alone.
Don’t be too afraid of the rainy season. The rainy season in Thailand is between August – October. There are several ways we can look at it: an advantage or a disadvantage. The rainy season is the best time to visit Thailand for cheaper prices in hostels and booking travel guides. However, the downside is more rain when compared to the dry season. When visiting Thailand during the dry season, expect higher priced expenses.
Thailand locals are almost too friendly. One of my favorite elements of travel is to meet other travelers and connect with the local community. Thai people 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 new place, but it’s also ecstatic for them to meet travelers visiting their home.
When in Bangkok, take the
Keep in mind, some islands offer to party and others for relaxation. The islands are breathtaking, but there are a few that are only meant for the younger folks to go party. Islands like Phuket attract wild folks, and then there are islands like Phi Phi that are pristine. It’s important to do your research before visiting Thailand specifically regarding islands, so it does not surprise you. You can click here to learn about the islands that best fit you.
Always be appropriately dressed to explore a temple. 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, they will ask you 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 to cover when necessary.
The more south you travel in Thailand, the more reason to carry bug repellent and sunscreen. As I mentioned before, the weather in Thailand is hot and humid. Most travelers like to walk or ride tuk-tuks (cabs) that do not have shade or car doors. In those scenarios, the sun will continuously beat on you. To avoid skin damage, have sunscreen readily available. And, 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 risk horrific mosquito bites.
Bargain, Bargain, Bargain! Anytime you are looking for a taxi driver (tuk-tuk) or when you are at the flea market, never accept the initial price. The tuk-tuk drivers quote an outrageous amount because you’re a tourist. I reply with a lesser number, and they usually deny it until we meet in the middle. One tactic that’s worked best for me is walking away because they won’t lower their fare and they give in by offering a better deal. You can use this same method when shopping at flea markets. Please note, 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 Thai food, trust me, you won’t get sick as long as you use your common sense. If you take care of yourself, continue to stay hydrated when choosing what to eat from street food, you should be fine. I constantly hear people claiming to stay away from street food because you might get food poisoning. Annnndddd… yes, that can be true. Though in my experience, when I would eat street food, I reviewed their cart to see how clean it looked. When you are hunting for street food and notice flies roaming around, it’s better to skip it. You will run into various markets around Thailand, and food is the primary reason for the visit. If you don’t allow yourself to have street food, then you will miss out on some amazing authentic cuisines.
Everything is cheap, minus the exclusive tours. Not only because you can bargain prices with tuk-tuks and shopping, but accommodation and food are also very cheap. If you take tours that include visiting different islands or partake in scuba diving, that’s when you’ll spend more. Some tours are worth it because they take you the elephant sanctuary or to see the lions, and islands that are only accessible with a tour guide. Thus, don’t be afraid to shop around when choosing tours. There are a few tours offering multiple activities at a lower rate compared to others.
Get a sim card, it’s only two bucks! Well, at least the one I got. There are pricier sim cards, but having one to ensure service everywhere is ideal. If you choose not to get one, don’t worry. You will notice most restaurants, hotels, hostels, or cafes have WIFI when visiting Thailand. 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 will notice the lack of toilet paper available. Always have some wipes, just in case. You can bring a roll of toilet paper, but that takes 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 welcome 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.