If it’s your first time in Thailand it can feel as if you’ve been dropped into this land of sun, seas and tropical gorgeousness, where the people are easy-going and friendly and nothing can go wrong.

While there may be fewer rules compared to the west it can be too easy to get caught out when in holiday mode. Our advice to you is to do some research before travelling here. You don’t have to be an expert on the country, but it does help to have some understanding of it if you want to avoid making a mistake that will cost you money or time.

Don’t Ride a Motorbike Without Insurance

One of the most exciting things about a holiday in Thailand is the chance to rent and ride a motorbike. The daily rate is very low and gas costs next to nothing, and it’s a great way to get around independently without the need for a taxi. When visiting one of the islands, like Phuket, taxis can be pricey and public transport practically non-existent, so if you want to go exploring locally a scooter can be a viable option.
Make sure you can ride a bike, if you have a motorbike at home no problem, but if you think your first venture on a motorbike should be on holiday, please reconsider. Also make sure you wear a helmet that can potentially save your life if you come off and have adequate insurance if you do decide to rent a bike, you’ll also need to produce a driver’s license (either international or Thai license to avoid a fine) should the police stop you. Accidents are quite common in the southern islands and insurance is an absolute necessity.

Avoid Animal Tourism

There are different types of animal tourism in Thailand, and most of them should be avoided.

Animal lovers visiting the country might be excited at all the opportunities to see wild animals up close, you can take a ride on the back of an elephant, pose with an iguana, or have your photo taken with a fully-grown tiger. What you may not realise is that many of these animals have been poached from their natural habitat, abused, drugged and kept in unsanitary conditions.

You can help put an end to these cruel practices by avoiding any for-profit attraction, which includes all elephant trekking camps, any kind of animal shows, tiger petting places and zoos. Also refuse to take photos with iguanas, slow loris, baby monkeys or any other wildlife offered to you to hold, no matter how cute they might be.

Instead, visit wild elephants up close in their natural environment. Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai and Phuket Elephant Sanctuary offer an ethical experience, old, tired, and injured elephants are free to roam, bathe and play together naturally after working hard all their lives in the tourism or logging industry.

Be Wary of Tuk-Tuk and Taxi Drivers

In some areas of Thailand, particularly Bangkok, tuk-tuk drivers can be dishonest. They will either tell you the place you want to go to is closed, and then take you somewhere else where they will get a commission, or try to take you on a tour via souvenir emporiums, again receiving a commission from these places for bringing tourists.

In Bangkok, they have very good metered taxis and fares are cheap. In Phuket taxis and tuk-tuks are notorious for being expensive and overcharging visitors, so it’s always advised to check the fare before getting in. If the fare isn’t posted somewhere then you must always negotiate the price and ask your hotel for advice on pricing, often they have some trusted taxi drivers they call on, or their own transport.

Probably always best to ask the concierge at your hotel to arrange a ride for you.

Don’t Sunbathe at Midday

You’ve just arrived on one of Thailand’s tropical islands and can’t wait to swim in the shimmering ocean and sunbathe on the golden sands. Falling asleep in the hot sun, you’ll wake up as red as a lobster!

Lots of tourists are under the impression they don’t need to wear sunscreen; every visitor should wear sunscreen! The sun is very hot here and it’s easy to get heatstroke or a severe sunburn, even on a cloudy day.

Wear a high factor and reapply during the day, particularly if you go swimming. If you get a severe sunburn on day one, it will ruin your potential suntan and even your holiday! Wear a hat, and drink lots and lots of water.

Always Haggle When Shopping

In shopping centres and other stores prices are generally fixed, but at local markets bargaining is the norm, so don’t feel bad about haggling over the price.

Most touristy places will inflate their prices when they see you coming and expect you to ask for a discount, it’s all part of the fun! Just smile nicely, then offer half the price they suggested and take it from there. Some vendors won’t budge from the original price, whilst others will surprise you with how low they go.

We hope our tips don’t make you anxious about visiting our country. Generally, Thailand is a very safe, friendly place, just being aware of possible pitfalls before you arrive will guarantee you have a great holiday.


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