Part of travelling is dreaming of your upcoming departure, but also planning so that you can relax and confidently explore the islands & cities of Thailand. So I developed a Thailand Cheat Sheet – a comprehensive guide with cultural/practical info, including packing suggestions, that assist my clients in their pre-planning and also while navigating the country and its customs. These are just a few of my fave Thailand Travel Tips – I hope that you enjoy dreaming of your Thailand adventure! And when you are ready to start planning, slide right into my 3 min Trip Planner below.
From most major US or European airports you will find more direct flights into Bangkok than Phuket: a wider selection and more competitive prices. I would strongly suggest that you consider Asia-based (or even Middle East-based) airlines. They are generally more highly rated, with superior service and food/beverages – and typically a decent wine, beer or even mixed drinks are included even in economy. Some airlines that I have flown many times, including recently, and continually recommend are:
All Nippon (ANA)
I’m sure that you have eaten Thai cuisine outside of Thailand…it does not compare to food in-country, trust. And much of the best food is found on the street – Bangkok is amazing for street food. So if you see something that looks yummy, stop and buy it. It will probably cost under US$2! And we don’t worry about possible stomach ailments – the only times I’ve had food poisoning in my 15 years of visiting/living in LOS was from a 5 star hotel and a beach restaurant. This doesn’t mean that food poisoning can’t happen, only that it is just as likely in a posh place as a humble one. Travel with antacid + tummy fixers…be bold!
Weather / Clothing
Thailand has two temps: hot or hotter. It’s always humid – it can be 1am in Bangkok and 85 degrees with 83% humidity. The daytime temps are typically in mid to high 90s. Bear this in mind when choosing your wardrobe.
For Bangkok, the vibe is definitely city gear and for the islands, resort/tropical. You may want to have a light jacket (like denim or cotton) and a scarf to carry with you. When going from the intense heat to the sub zero air conditioning in most places (including taxis) you will need it. Also consider bringing hats/scarves to protect hair under the super strong daytime sun.”
When visiting temples and palaces, “polite” attire is mandatory. Polite attire means: no shorts, no mini skirts, no tanks or shoulders/arms uncovered, no form-fitting pants (leggings or skinny jeans) and no pants with rips or fashionable tears. Also you may need to remove and leave your shoes at an outside location before entering the building, opt for inexpensive sandals or shoes – this is not the time to stunt in the latest designer footwear.
Cultural Taboos: Confrontation/Yelling
Thailand is called Land of Smiles for a reason – everyone smiles at you. A warm smile will take you far in any situation. The important thing to remember is that scowling/frowning, raising your voice or outright yelling will never help in any situation. It will only make it harder to do whatever it is you’re trying to do. Practice patience and keeping a neutral/tranquil expression while repeating yourself slowly. A seemingly normal argument can escalate very quickly to violence in some situations – especially when dealing with taxis and other drivers.
It is imperative that you have medical/travel insurance. Accidents (car, motorbike, passenger vans, boats etc) are common and there is not the same expectation of liability (as in the USA, for example). Typically I use Allianz, but feel free to use whomever will provide the best value..