Going to a new country can be daunting, we get it! There’s actually a lot to think about and because we are very experienced travellers, we usually wing it as we go.
But for anyone who likes to be a bit more prepared here are our top traveller tips for Thailand:
1. Most places deal in cash only so make sure you have plenty! ATMs are readily available in big cities & tourist areas. If you have large notes to break go and grab a snack in 7/11 to get change. Taxis and market stalls aren’t going to be very happy with you showing up with 1000 TB notes.
2. In big cities use ‘Grab’ taxis. They are like the Asian version of Uber and are much cheaper & convenient than flagging taxis & negotiating prices!
3. In remote areas hire a scooter! We honestly have so much fun scooting around and discovering local spots. It gives you a lot of freedom. We have hired them for as little as 100 TB (£2.56) per day. Always wear a helmet!
4. Hygiene. More for the ladies but from experience Lucy would advise carrying a small pocket size pack of tissues & hand sanitiser just in case you get caught out with facilities that are less than desirable!
5. Use insect repellent. We actually met a traveller from the UK who had come down with dengue fever which sounded so awful. It had wiped out 2 weeks of her trip but luckily, she was fine. Just be vigilant about applying and reapplying especially at night. We currently use a deet free brand (better for you & better for the environment) called Incognito. We brought it on Amazon before we left as the reviews were great, but you can buy it at most Boots branches etc
Bonus top tip – pure essential lavender oil is amazing for sting relief. It’s also great to help you sleep on long flights / bus journeys / uncomfortable beds. Super small & easy to pack in carry-on luggage too!
6. Photocopies of your passport. Your passport details are often needed when booking scooters, excursions etc so it’s best to have a few copies so you don’t always have to have or passport on you and can keep it safe locked up in your hotel.
7. Dress for the heat & the culture! Be respectful & cover up when visiting temples. You are expected to cover your shoulders and legs below the knee. Some of the larger temples have sarongs and tops for hire but we personally think it’s best to go prepared. It is extremely hot and sticky here, so you really need light, loose breathable clothing. In some parts it can get cooler at night & if you’re planning on bus travel the A/C can get very chilly so pack a hoody but other than that; cool clothes only!
You can get your laundry done super cheap in all the main tourist spots so don’t overpack. You don’t want to be carrying loads of sweaty clothes around in your luggage anyway, so pack less & just get it washed once a week or so.
8. Food. The food here is just AMAZING. Try it all! At night markets we have found huge variety and options. When we first arrived, we did initially think as vegetarians we were going to be limited to Pad Thai & spring rolls (not that it would have been an issue as we love both!)
Papaya salad & sticky mango rice are new favourites of ours! But when we’ve wanted a break from Thai food, we’ve found delicious falafel stands & even an American diner in Chang Mai for a huge breakfast!
We were so impressed in Chang Mai with the amount of Vegan & veggie offerings (you can use an app called Happy Cow to locate specific ones but we just wandered around and stumbled on many).
9. Water. As we all know plastic pollution is a global problem. It can be so tempting to keep buying bottled water out & about, but we would encourage everyone to travel with a reusable bottle. We have one stainless steel one which keeps the water really nice & cool and one “Waterwell” bottle which has an inbuilt water filter so you can use tap water with it. Let’s all make that small difference imagine how much plastic could be saved if we all did this.
10. Local SIM cards. To be honest this tip applies to all countries! One of the first things we do when we touch down in a new country is head to the phone counter in the airport and buy a local SIM card. We’ve learnt the hard way;
a) not to use your home country SIM abroad = very expensive phone bill and…
b) not to rely on WiFi. Whilst WiFi is available in many hotels, hostels, restaurants & cafes you just never know. Our more expensive hotel in Bangkok had terrible WiFi whilst our £5 a night hostel in Chang Mai was great!
Local SIMs are usually very inexpensive and will get you sorted with data, which is essential for using apps like Grab, Google maps, Google Translate & staying connected on social! We paid 599 TB (£15) for 15 days, 6GB data with 100 mins of local calls. There may well be cheaper deals outside of the airport, but we like to get up & running right away!
Let us know in the comments if you found this useful and if you have any more top tips to add to the list.