While we would never want to scare anyone off from visiting the Land of Smiles, we do want to ensure you are prepared for everything so you can spend time enjoying the country instead of being scared or scammed during your trip. The majority of locals rely on tourists and as such want you to have a great time so you return again and again. However, as with everywhere in the world, there is a small minority who are out to make a quick buck or to take advantage. Read on to find out our top Thailand travel tips so you can avoid any nasties and make the most of your time abroad.
Drink Plenty of Water
Although it is annoying that you shouldn’t drink the tap water here in Thailand, it is still vital that you drink plenty of bottled water throughout your trip. This is obviously the case wherever you travel in the world but it’s even more important in a country where the temperatures soar and getting carried away with booze and daytime drinking is all too easy! Not only will drinking plenty of water keep you hydrated, but you’ll avoid getting a dodgy tummy or something worse like typhoid or hepatitis A that can be contracted through contaminated water.
Wear Sun Cream
Of course, we all want to get a great tan that we can show off to friends at home, but the best way to do this is to regularly apply sun cream. The sun in Thailand can be super strong and there’s nothing worse than being caught without sunscreen and ending up like a lobster! It is especially important when you’re lounging around in shallow waters or swimming pools where you can’t feel the heat and so assume you’re fine – let’s be honest you’re probably not and will be frazzling more and more each minute!
If you’re taking malaria medication it’s also worth being aware that you may be more susceptible to sunburn or sunstroke.
Bring Insect Repellent
Bring, and more importantly, wear, insect repellent. A strong one! Don’t be fooled into thinking you’re hard and can survive a few measly insect bites. While many of the insects here are completely harmless, there are others that carry life-threatening diseases such as Dengue Fever and the Zika virus. It’s just not worth the risk not wearing it.
Wear a Cross-Body Bag or Use a Money Belt
Having your valuable possessions and money close to you is the easiest way to avoid theft when traveling. Plus, if you have money in a money belt or inside zipper you’re likely to be able to retain some of your valuables in the event of a serious theft or mugging incident.
It is a law in Thailand that travelers must have at least one form of identification on them at all times. Therefore, it is worth bringing an ID card and driving license as well as your passport so that you have various options. If possible, give your less-valuable forms of ID over to hostels or rental companies when they require documentation so your passport is the last resort. Having copies of your ID in each of your bags is also a great idea.
Be Prepared for Overnight Buses
Many of the journeys overland in Thailand require you to take a long overnight bus. These can be interesting experiences but it’s worth being prepared beforehand so you’re ready for everything:
- Bring water and snacks (while you will stop off en route it’s worth having some drinks and snacks on board in the event of a break down)
- Bring both a fan and a jumper (you never know what the temperature will be!)
- Take your valuables on the bus (this includes money, electronics, and documentation)
- Padlock your bag if possible (although backpacks can be hard to padlock – if they open in more than one place – having a padlock may deter any potential thieves from even trying)
Eat Street Food (but do be choosy!)
Street food is one of the best things about Thailand, with fresh, tasty, cheap dishes being rustled up on the side of the road everywhere you go. However, it is worth being wise about what dishes you choose to eat on the street.
Here are our top tips:
- Choose vendors that are popular and have loads of people eating there
- Choose food that is being freshly cooked in front of you
- Opt for vegetarian dishes for extra safety
- Do a quick cleanliness/fly check before choosing somewhere
- Go for fruits with skins rather than ones that will have been washed in tap water
Check Your Moped Before Hiring
Before you drive away with your rental bike check, check and check again for scratches, dents and any other issues that might be visible on the bike, as well as giving it a quick spin to make sure everything is working. To avoid being stung by the ‘you made this dent’ scam, take photo evidence and make sure the rental company sees you doing this at the time!
Also, don’t just hire a moped because everyone else does – if you don’t feel comfortable driving a moped it’s not worth the risk. The roads can be fairly treacherous and the drivers a little crazy so it’s easier to run into a problem than you think. Instead, hire a bicycle for shorter journeys or use a tuk-tuk to support the friendly locals.
Try to Avoid Scams
Of course, most scammers are professional con artists so have fine-tuned their scams to make them sound legit. However, if you do plenty of research into common scams before you go to Thailand you should be able to avoid the most common cons. Make sure you know when the public holidays fall during your trip so you know if someone starts the conversation with ‘where are you going?’ and then continues with ‘Oh no, that’s closed today because of a holiday’ you’ll know to walk away!
These are some of the top scams we think you should watch out for:
- The ‘Palace is closed’ scam
- Non-metered taxis (or rigged meters)
- Sex Show scams
- Family gem shop
- The littering fine cam
- The ‘just one drink’ scam
- Airport Security scam
- Moped/jet ski damage scam
Hopefully, you still want to come to Thailand after reading this but now feel more prepared for all eventualities. As with any trip, the ups and downs are all part of the experience and help you grow as a person, but if we can help you not lose money or feel taken advantage of during the process then all the better!
Cover photo: Source