My first time visiting Asia, I kicked off my Southeast Asia travels in Thailand’s capitol – Bangkok. Being from the US and having visited Europe on many occasions, the idea of visiting a different country felt foreign. I didn’t know what to expect, which made me incredibly anxious. And to top it off, before I boarded my flight I received a text from a good friend… “You got vaccinated, right?” I in fact did not get vaccinated, and the thought never crossed my mind to. Out of all of the Google searches I did, not once did anything come up about recommended vaccines for visiting Thailand. There was information on beaches, and elephants, and monkeys, and more! But the important stuff? Nada. That one question began a whole set of new questions… can I drink the water? Was I supposed to get a visa? Can I dress how I normally dress or are their certain rules? I was at a complete loss!
Now having visited, I know the do’s and do not’s of the country. Which can be applied to most other Southeast Asian countries as well.
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.
Dress in Thailand is the same as any western country. However, if you plan on visiting the temples you must cover your knees and shoulders. For this reason make sure to pack appropriately, but if you forget know that there are vendors everywhere selling clothes required to enter the temples.
Transportation in Thailand is easy to come by, just be aware of prices and always ask before agreeing to take a taxi, tuktuk, motorbike, etc. 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, which is the best bang for your buck and will give you the lowest price possible.
Grab operates like Uber. Download the app beforehand to request a ride upon arrival to Thailand. Know that the first ride you pay 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 time of writing 1 USD = 31 Baht. Make sure to carry cash with you, a lot of restaurants and bars don’t accept credit cards.
Food and Drink
The typical food found in Thailand is Thai food! Street food is incredibly popular, and while its no guarantee, typically the food is cooked appropriately and you shouldn’t have any issues. The most popular dishes include papaya salad, pad thai, and fried rice.
While street food is safe, tap water is not. Make sure to avoid it at all costs. Ice, however, is safe. It’s made from purified water.
If you plan on indulging in adult beverages, be aware that the Seven Eleven’s in Thailand don’t sell alcohol from 1400-1700.
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. Don’t forget to pack sunscreen!
If you plan on visiting Thailand, make sure to check out 14 Items to Add to Your Thailand Bucket List