Even as a seasoned traveler, traveling abroad comes with its fair share of anxiety. There’s always an element of “unknown” when venturing to a new country. Did you pack appropriately? What’s the weather like? What about the local customs and traditions? Southeast Asia has its unique set of unspoken “rules”. How to dress when you visit a temple, the appropriate way to barter with locals, and so on. And Thailand is no exception to this. Although Thailand sees 30+ million people each year and is used to having foreigners, there are still plenty of things to know before traveling to Thailand to make your trip seamless, reduce some anxiety, and let you fit in with the locals as best as you can!
I remember back to my first time traveling to Asia. I was traveling solo and kicked off my Southeast Asia adventures in Bangkok, Thailand. I had no clue what to expect visiting Asia for the first time, which made me feel incredibly anxious. And to top it all off, I received a text from a friend who had been before… “You got vaccinated, right?”. (Answer: no).
Now having visited Thailand, I know the do’s and do not’s of the country. (Which can be applied to most other Southeast Asian countries as well). Below you’ll find some of the most important things to be aware of before you travel to Thailand.
Things to Know Before Traveling to Thailand
If you are coming from the US and planning on visiting Thailand for less than 30 days, you do not need a visa. However, you do need to make sure that your passport is valid for up to six months from your date of entry. If you plan on staying in Thailand for 30-60 days, you may apply for a Thai tourist visa, costing approximately $60.
You can find more information about visiting Thailand from the US here.
Aside from routine vaccines, currently, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends most travelers get their Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccines before travel. And some travelers, depending on where in Thailand you plan to visit, to get the Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis, Malaria, Rabies, and Yellow Fever vaccines.
You can find up-to-date information on which vaccines to get before travel here.
How to Dress
Dress in Thailand is similar to any western country. Shorts and tank tops are appropriate for walking around (thank goodness when you consider the heat); however, if you plan on visiting the temples you must cover your knees and shoulders. For this reason, make sure to pack longer skirts/dresses and t-shirts or scarves to wrap around your shoulders. If you happen to forget, there are vendors everywhere that sell appropriate clothes to enter the temples.
How to Get Around
Transportation in Thailand is easy to come by, just be aware of prices and always ask before agreeing to take a taxi, tuk-tuk, or motorbike. Prices can usually be negotiated and if it sounds too expensive – it probably is. Tuktuk’s will run you the most money, while motorbikes will be the cheapest. Thailand also utilizes Grab (a ride-sharing app), which is the best bang for your buck and will give you the lowest price possible.
Remember to download the app before you get to Thailand so you can easily request a ride once you arrive. It’s also important to know that your first ride has to be paid in cash, and every ride thereafter can be paid with the credit card on file.
Thailand utilizes the Thai Baht. At the time of writing 1 USD = 31.12 Thai Baht. Make sure to always have cash on hand because many bars and restaurants don’t accept credit cards.
Food and Drink
The typical food found in Thailand is Thai food, and it is delicious. The most popular dishes in Thailand are papaya salad, pad thai, fried rice, amongst other things. Street food needs to be paid for in cash, and my favorite way to find street food was to see where most of the locals were lined up. I’m telling you, you can’t go wrong!
As far as drinking goes in Thailand, you can easily drink anywhere but know that the gas stations (Seven Eleven’s) don’t sell alcohol from 2 pm – 5 pm. Also, keep in mind that it isn’t recommended to drink tap water. However, ice is made from purified water and is typically okay.
Thailand is all around a hot and humid destination. The hottest months range from March-May; rainy months June-October; and cool months November-February. Whenever you choose to visit, don’t forget to pack sunscreen!
I hope that this list eases some of your anxiety and gives you basic knowledge of things to know before traveling to Thailand.
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