Traveling to Thailand? Here are a few tips and tricks to help you navigate:
- Download Google Translate – even in the more touristy places, many people either don’t speak English or don’t speak it very well. Google Translate will come in handy! Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it, right?
- Be wary of taxis in Bangkok; Use the Skytrain – jumping back to the last tip, none of my taxi drivers in Bangkok spoke a word of English. Taxis are extremely overpriced, and they get away with it because most tourists are clueless as to what the costs should be. If you’re going from airport to airport, use the bus. If it’s a weird hour of the night, the bus isn’t running, and a taxi is your only option, don’t pay more than 500 baht. 500 baht is even on the pricier side. If you’re navigating around the city, the Skytrain is your cheapest (and quickest) option. It’ll get you pretty much everywhere you need to go, or at least within walking distance. Depending on the length of your stay, the 1-day pass and 3-day pass are both great options.
- BARGAIN, BARGAIN, BARGAIN! – If you’re going to markets (aka the best place for souvenir shopping), BARGAIN! If there’s no prices listed, you’re usually free to barter with the seller. (Side note: If anyone’s interested, I can make a blog post specifically about this. People usually have questions about how low of a price to suggest. Comment questions below, or let me know if that’s something you’d like to see!)
- Traveling cheaply? 7-11 will be your best friend for meals. I typically stuck with the $1 ham and cheese sandwiches (that they’ll heat for you!), along with chips or fruit or candy as a side. But it’s also important to try the local delicacies, so don’t just stick with 7-11. You can usually find cheap food at the markets as well.
- Don’t buy sunscreen/skincare products. In majority of their products, they put a snail serum that has a whitening effect. This is because, as a society, they’ve been taught to believe that lighter skin is more beautiful. So unless you’re looking to be more pale, stay away from their sunscreens, lotions, and even face masks.
- Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off. Most places you’ll go, if you step inside, you’ll need to take your shoes off. This is most common in temples and homes, but I’ve seen/experienced it in small shops and hostels as well. They believe that the head is the most sacred/spiritually connected part of the body. Since you’re feet/shoes are the most distant body part from you’re head, they’re considered dirty. (Also, don’t touch anyone’s head while you’re there. It’s disrespectful, because the head is such a sacred body part.)
These are just some basic things that helped me during the few months I lived in Thailand. As always, do research before you go. Make sure you’re aware of the cultural differences, and you’ll be fine!