50 things you need to know about travel in Thailand
We traveled for 4 weeks through Thailand, from south to north, we went to the islands, Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. We met many people and observed even more. Therefore, we decided to compile everything we learned about Thailand and everything we found interesting, different or just funny.
What we learned about Thailand?
1. Thais are known be very welcoming and always smiling. We felt this to be generally true, although with the usual exceptions;
- A few times people got out of their way to help us with something we needed;
We learned that their English is very difficult to understand. Some clichés are just true 🙂 .
4. Thai women are very pretty, but they seem a little vain… We guess it comes with the territory;
- Thai seem to have a special love for Laos… Every time we said we were going to Laos their faces seem to light up, smile and say how Laos is nice.
Thai people are very fast-paced and expect you to be. When we took a little more time making up our minds in the restaurants, 7-Eleven or wherever, we could feel their despair. It was kind of embarrassing 🙂 .
Travel and Tourists
- There’s way too many tourists! The north is full of French and the islands of Russians! We would have never guessed these two… and of course, the Chinese, American, British, Australians and other westerners are everywhere…
In Thailand, everything is a tourist attraction, and some are tourist traps!
Thailand’s main attractions can be really crowded…Grand palace, Doi Suthep or the Phi Phi Islands we are looking at you! And we didn’t even mention Patong!
- Surprisingly, we found Bangkok‘s financial district fascinating! The people, the huge buildings, the monorail… We loved our stay there and even overstayed 2 more nights to rest a bit.
Maybe even more surprising, Kanchanaburi was our favorite part of Thailand!
- But the most surprising of all is that we didn’t love the islands we visited that much! We were actually disappointed by them…
13. Patong is a wild mess. Phi Phi is full of hippies and parties. Anyway most of its beauty have been ruined… Koh Lanta was our favorite. It’s calm, relaxed, with less tourists (or at least they are much more spread), but the beaches aren’t as beautiful as one would expect.
- In Thailand (and Laos and Cambodia) every hostel is a travel agency. It’s another way of them earning a little more.
And most of them a restaurant too… They are a true one stop shop!
You can find massage parlors everywhere! In the beaches, in the street, day and night… and they are very cheap… In some places 5 Euros for a 60-minute Thai massage.
- Activities are usually very far away from the cities. For example, we loved Kanchanaburi but all its attractions are at least 50 km from the city! Even in the islands we had to take transports to go to the “best part”..
18. You will never understand how many temples (Wat) exist in Thailand, unless you go there …
Food and eating
19. Thais have taken street food to a whole new level! We have never seen such diversity, quality and quantity. Bangkok’s street food is incredible;
- In general food is spicy, very spicy! Sometimes our Portuguese palate didn’t fancy it…
Thai cuisine doesn’t use salt. They use fish sauce if they want to give a salty flavor.
22. Thai cuisine is heavily influenced by other Asian countries (China, India, Korea, Japan, Laos, Cambodia)… and of course also influenced them, a lot!
23. Fruit in Thailand is sooooo good. From the usual pineapple or mango to others we had never heard before like durian, wax apple, pomelo, gac…
- If you like cooking or eating you should try a cooking class. You will understand better what you are eating and how it was made..
Oh, and don’t get us started on those fruit shakes! Mango, Pineapple, dragon fruit, banana, coconut, we have tried them all and they were always good and some were just heavenly!
In Thailand’s night markets you will see the craziest desserts you can think about. Sometimes it seems they just put every sweet ingredient in the same dish 🙂 Anyway, they were almost all yummy… very yummy!
Thais don’t really use bread. Even in supermarkets there’s few and it’s quite expensive.
28. Breakfasts are comparatively expensive and are tourist oriented. We got used to paying more for breakfast than lunch or dinner.
29. Thai people don’t have breakfast. They seem to eat a normal meal early in the morning as breakfast.
Money and expenses
- Thailand is very cheap to travel in. Overall our cost was 26 Euros per person, which included everything we spent in Thailand: food, activities, visas, hostels, transportation, bank and foreign exchange charges, etc…
Although, banks charge 200 baht (+5 Euros) in each and every withdrawal using foreign cards. The amount doesn’t matter.
And stores surcharge 3% on payments made with foreign cards.
Food and particularly, street food is unbelievably cheap.
34. Accommodation can also be inexpensive, but you get what you pay. Be aware that sometimes and in some places, they are quite bad… particularly in the islands… we wouldn’t recommend our hostel in Patong to anyone, and our most expensive night was in the Phi Phi islands.
- On the other hand, activities (Tours, trekking, rafting, snorkeling) are expensive. More than in Laos, Cambodia, or even Malaysia, sometimes similar to European prices. This made our overall price of Thailand higher than it could have been.
The Islands are much more expensive than the rest of Thailand. Somethings are almost double the price. However, that’s expected, wasn’t it?
- Ridding a motorbike or a moped is fundamental. Without a bike you will be stranded and dependent on tuk-tuks to get around; Tip: learn how to ride a mopped before going to Thailand!
38. Long haul bus services are good, very good! You are better off in those buses than in a plane or even most trains!
- However, they almost always leave you 5 – 15 km away from the city center.
Only Bangkok has an actual urban public transport system. Every other place we have been relies only on tuk tuks and alikes.
Don’t be surprised if the local bus drives with the doors open!
Local buses stop everywhere you need! You just need to ask the driver and he will let you leave; it’s very useful. 🙂
Thais drive very badly. We would even say that they are reckless, however, later we learned that Cambodian are much worse.
Other travel stuff and useful information
- Always bring toilet paper with you. Most bathrooms won’t have and sometimes even in hostels…
45. Beds are really hard. So hard that once we actually checked if it had a mattress!
- We never expected Thailand to be unsafe, but it is even safer than we imagined. We walked everywhere and went everywhere without ever feeling unsafe;
There’s way too many street dogs, but they seem to be somehow taken care of… We couldn’t figure out how exactly it works nor the relationship between Thais and the dogs…
48. Mobile data is fast and cheap. Tip: buy in the Airport and they’ll configure it in your phone.
- If you don’t want to, there’s Wi-Fi everywhere. Every restaurant, bar and hostel we went had free Wi-fi.
Besides the temples almost every place expects you to take off your shoes when coming in. Even hostels and sometimes restaurants.
We have learned a lot in Thailand, about the country, the people and their culture. But we also learned about travelers, tourists and even ourselves.