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Visiting Thailand | A Brief Guide

Travel Tips
Thailand has been a traveler’s top choice for decades. From gorgeous beaches to a welcoming and exotic culture, there is plenty to love about this destination. As you prepare to travel, keep in mind the cultural expectations that will influence your trip. Here's all you need to know while traveling in Thailand. 

Language Spoken in Thailand

Thai is the national language and consists of two major dialects: Central Thai and Southern Thai. Northern Thai is a language spoken by natives in the northern provinces that were once part of the kingdom of Lan Na. English is a widely spoken language in Thailand as well.

What Not to Do in Thailand

  • Do not engage in tourist activities that involve elephants. Many elephants have been abused and are housed in miserable conditions. If you are interested in seeing the elephants, you can do so humanely by visiting an elephant sanctuary.
  • Do not touch another person's head. In Thailand, the head is considered a sacred part of the body.
  • Don't be disrespectful of the monarch or anything related to the king. Open disrespect can result in a prison sentence, even when voiced on social media.
  • Do not toss anything over to someone else. Taking the time to walk over to someone is basic politeness in Thailand.

How To Dress in Thailand

You may wish to carry a sarong with you to cover up your waist or shoulders when you are near places of worship and rural areas. Dressing modestly is an essential part of the Thai culture so remember to stay covered. Many locals dress in silk and lightweight fabrics to keep cool while remaining covered in long-sleeves. Flip-flops are a completely excepted footwear option given the etiquette of taking your shoes off before entering places of worship. 

How To Eat in Thailand

When you're eating, be like the locals and use a spoon as your utensil of choice. In most places, you will dine with a fork and a spoon. The fork is used to guide the food onto the spoon gently. You are not to stab any meat or veggies using the fork. Don't use your left hand to put food in your mouth as it is seen as uncleanly. Do be patient as slow food service is expected at most restaurants. It is unlikely that everyone's food will come out at the same time.

Transportation in Thailand

Thailand has some of the most congested traffic in the world, and accidents occur frequently. Be sure to take a ride in a tuk-tuk at least once to get the true Thai experience. Just make sure you can agree on a price with the driver before your ride starts. If you are limited on time, rely on flights to travel. Trains are also a quick way to get around, as are the first-class sleeper buses. You can also use GrabTaxi, a ride-sharing service like Uber.

The Do’s of Traveling in Thailand

  • Do invest in a DEET-based bug repellent as Dengue fever is relatively common from mosquitoes in Asia. You might also consider bringing a mosquito net to protect yourself at night.
  • Do stick to bottled water only. Most restaurants use purified ice so there are no worries there.
  • Do dress appropriately, and that goes for both sexes: keep your shoulders and knees covered to show respect inside temples and palaces.
  • Do keep your feet on the floor. Feet are considered uncleanly in Thailand.
  • Do take off your shoes before entering any establishment.
  • Do return a wai, or the compassionate gesture of hands together and a slight head bow.
  • Do carry toilet paper with you. Although toilet paper is becoming more commonplace in high-end restaurants, toilet paper is not common.
  • Do extend a smile whenever you can. Smiling is social etiquette in Thailand.

Things to Take with You

Be sure that your passport is valid for a minimum of six months prior to leaving your home state. If your passport expires over the upcoming few months or weeks, Customs may refuse to let you in. Be sure to take a compatible adapter with you. In Thailand, you can find plug types A, B, and C.

Where to Stay in Thailand

Although it can be pricey in general, Thailand offers five-star hotel stays at relatively affordable rates for most middle-class Americans. Backpacker hostels go for $8 to $25 per night. If you can pay more, pay around $50-$80 for a hotel with amenities. For luxurious hotels, pay between $100-$300 per night. Popular areas are Chiang Mai, a busy city, and Phuket, a beachy area with attractions.

Read what kind of visa is needed for Thailand.

Illegal Acts in Thailand

It is illegal to bring a Buddha statue home with you. Buying a Buddha image and taking it outside of Thailand is illegal without a license. Most buy elephant statues instead. You will see Buddha statues for sale everywhere, so this law can be confusing for tourists. 

The Weather in Thailand

As a tropical country, Thailand is hot and humid and experiences both a rainy and dry season. The best time to visit Thailand is between November and the start of April, during the cooler season. Average temperatures go between 84 and 97 degrees. The cheapest flights are available in September. 

Areas to Avoid

Avoid Full Moon parties in Ko Pha-ngan. Although it can be fun to socialize, these parties can get out of control and are best avoided by tourists who are unfamiliar them. Avoid Khao San Road, as it has a negative reputation for being too touristy and run-down.

Elevation of Thailand

Most land in Thailand rests at an average elevation of about 942 feet above sea level. The highest peak reaches an altitude of 8415 feet above sea level.

Currency of Thailand

The official currency of Thailand is Thailand Baht. One Thai Baht is equal to 0.031 USD.

There are many things to experience while visiting Thailand. From tropical beaches, authentic cuisine, and festivals, there is never a dull moment. Go with the flow and follow these suggestions for a successful trip.  

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