Thailand Dos & Don'ts!

Discussion in 'Thailand' started by Kalboz, Feb 6, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    Swadee ... here, according to a Khun Wilko, are some things to be aware of when visiting Thailand:

    · Bring a mobile (cell) phone. It should be “unlocked” - this can be done either at home or in Thailand - then buy a Thai SIM card for it on arrival, they’re cheap (approx. 50 baht) or even free and depending on cost include some credit already on them. International calls to US/UK/OZ are about THB 5-8/min. Phones are cheap to buy too – and unblocked. Use the cheap rate international dialing numbers – 004, 5, 6, 7 8 9 etc.
    · Money: Bring ATM cards, debit credit, etc. Check fees and tell your bank your are going abroad. Take Travelers Cheques best for back-up. Bring very little local currency (Baht) from your home country. You almost always get a better rate of exchange here than your country. You can change small amount of currency on arriving at the airport. Do most of your currency exchange in town to get better rate. Be aware that now there is a THB 150 ($5) surcharge at most ATMs for every withdrawal transactions! Keep some cash in reserve in case of flight delays/diversions etc.
    · Bring very few clothes – they are cheap here and you’ll only bring stuff that is too warm anyway. Also, bring very little luggage – this makes you more mobile if you need to be and less vulnerable to taxi touts and undesirable con people. Before you go home you can buy any extra luggage (cheap) to take souvenirs, etc.
    · Internet access is everywhere – even on the beach ... you can get all your photos copied to CD - If you have a lap-top you can connect it as there is wi-fi in many public places cafes malls etc. Almost all hotels have wifi broadband - fees very immensely.
    · Food - Thai food is very unlikely to give you food poisoning but it can contain more chilies than you ever thought possible. Street food is usually safe and most often delicious! Check for numbers of customers and general looks of the stall. Western (farang) food is much more likely to give you food poisoning. Beware of Western food that has been left out for over an hour or so. Thailand is not used to fridges/chill-serve etc. - fridges are not part of Thai cooking lore yet! Always carry a pack of tissues.
    · Drink bottled water - not tap water. Even consider not brushing your teeth with tap water. Ice is usually safe in drinks and other uses.
    · Crime - Use common safety sense as it is easy to get too relaxed here. When it comes to petty crime, the rate is certainly lower than many other countries. But as you very well know, every country has its share of cons and psychopaths. Also, beware of other travelers!
    · Don’t be afraid to go to Pattaya (or to Patong Beach, if you are in Phuket) it is the tourist-sex capital of Thailand but they don’t jump out at single women and couples and it has good, cheap hotels, shopping and food. Not a bad place to start off for “All points East” - Koh Chang, Koh Samet, Khao Yai or Cambodia.
    · Bring an international driving license: Although most national ones are accepted by motorbike and car hire companies and anyone else who wants to hire you something….you may not be insured without an IDP! In Thailand they drive on the left - cars are Right-hand-drive. However driving is really only for the experienced. Be especially careful on a motorbike - Samui has the highest accident rate in Thailand.
    · Public transportation is cheap: Planes, trains, buses, minibuses, and taxis from town to town are cheap. If you’re in a minibus or taxi, tell the driver you’ll tip him if he keeps the speed below 90/100 kph! National speed limit is 90kph (120 on motorways)
    · Around Bangkok, try to use meter taxis with the meter on...it’ll be cheaper than the tuk-tuks. Take a tuk-tuk once for the experience then use meter taxis. Don’t let the drivers take you out of your way...they’ll try to take you to some (relative’s) store where they get a commission.
    · Medical - Consult with a doctor before leaving your home country who specializes in tropical medicine. - Check out a few “jabs & medications” - Hep “A” & “B” require a long course before leaving and are a pretty good idea –unless going to remote areas, most travelers don’t bother with the malarial medication – too heavy! You can get tetanus or rabies here if you’re bitten by a dog - it’s cheap. Many medicines (including antibiotics) can be bought over the counter without prescription and are cheap. A pharmacist will give you what he considers right for your symptoms but you can just as easily see a doctor at a local clinic for a couple of hundred baht. They usually speak a good English.
    · Check up on Thai manners and customs – this will earn you more respect from the locals. - Keep up some dress sense – how you dress in Thailand is quite important. Don’t go topless without checking out if it’s acceptable where you are – usually it’s frowned upon. You’ll notice that Thai women (even sex workers) are very modest in public –they usually swim fully clothed. You may at times be expected to take off your shoes – in certain parts of Temples, entering someone's home and even the occasional shop – just keep an eye out on what others are doing – there may even be a shoe rack. Table manners – Thais tend to eat from communal dishes in the centre of the table – don’t pour everything onto your own plate!
    · Don’t knock the royal family – even in jest.
    · Body language - Don’t point your feet at people – the body is seen as hierarchical and the feet are the “lowest” part and should not be waved about (this is like a “fingers up” sign). Before entering someone’s home you must take off your shoes; this also applies to some shops and businesses. - Never take a shoe off and wave it at someone – this could lead to violence. It is also impolite to touch people on the head. Extended arm with waving hand palm down means “come here” - palm up is considered impolite.
    · The “Wai” - It’s not really necessary to “Wai” people - the Thai greeting - as you’ll probably get it wrong. If they Wai you, you might try a wai back.
    · Remember, this is the Land of Smiles and you will find everything goes much better when you have a smile on your face - whatever the situation….

    Any additional items, corrections, or comments are welcomed!
     
  2. Although clothes are very cheap, I've had Western friends who ahve not been able to find large enough sizes. Particularily for shoes and sports clothes, you might want to bring your own!

    Buying a prepaid international calling card from the state telecom company can be even cheaper for international calls.

    Make sure to bring something to cover legs and shoulders for many temples. In general, covering more skin is better and will be appreciated.

    Don't be afraid to get off the typical backpacker trail and explore areas in Northeastern and Central Thailand that often missed by tourists. The beaches off of Trat near Cambodia are lovely!
     
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  3. get a 1-2-Call sim card and get FREE incoming calls from anywhere.. Have people call you.
     
  4. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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  5. I have found that for men's clothes it is always best to take your normal size then up it by 1 or 2 levels. So a North American medium would probably be a Thai XL. Not too good for the ego :)
     
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  6. Sasa
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    Sasa Silver Member

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    The ATM fees in Thailand are some of the highest I've seen anywhere. Especially when combined with fees from your home bank, the costs to use an ATM can be prohibitively expensive. While ATMs typically give the best rate, if you are on a quick trip, it can be more cost effective to change $20 or $50 at an exchange desk.
     
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  7. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    Agreed Sasa ... however, you get a better rate by exchanging a $100 bill/note, for example:
    • THB 30 per dollar when exchanging $100 bill
    • THB 29.75 per dollar when exchanging $50 bill
    • THB 29.50 per dollar when exchanging $20 bill
    • THB 29.00 per dollar when exchanging $10, $5, or $1 bills
    Also, please note that not all ATMs charge the above mentioned THB 150 ($5) fee. AEON and Government Savings Bank (GSB) ATM machines don't charge the dreaded fee. AEON machines are usually found by the elevators at BigC stores and the only GSB one I found was at Asok BTS Station near the MRT escalator. But who has time to run around town looking for AMTs that saves few dollars! :)

    Further, if you have a Citibank debit card, you can use it at ATMs found at Citibank branches in Bangkok. One such branch is located at the Asok intersection and another at Sathorn, with a walking distance from Chong Nonsi BTS Station. http://www.flickr.com/photos/kalboz/5243534082/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/roogeri/3221837557/

    Beware of the TMB Bank's ATM as their exchange rates are not as good as other banks. YMMV! http://www.flickr.com/photos/armandmegawe/2158028639/
     
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  8. YVR-Flyer
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    YVR-Flyer Silver Member

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    Any recommendations for a prepaid cell phone service that includes data?
     
  9. I've used DTAC in the past without problems; data coverage nationwide seems pretty good, although Thailand still doesn't have 3G.
     
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  10. restlessinRNO
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    restlessinRNO Silver Member

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    Kalboz - Thank you for your excellent summary.
     
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  11. Good work Kalboz!

    I agree - Street food is better tasting, fresher and cheaper than farang food. In several trips over the past few years I have never had any problem with food hygiene in Thailand. You are more likely to contract alcohol poisoning if hanging out with backpackers.


    For beach goers, I would add:
    Do Bring Sun block
    Do Not forget to put it on

    NB: I may be speaking from bitter experience here
     
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  12. And there may be exceptions that prove the rule, but I've been disappointed every time I've had anything tailored in Bangkok. Quality is way below what you find in HK or Singapore, and you'll get similar quality in China for a fraction of the price. I've stopped having any clothes made in Bangkok at all.
     
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  13. TrueBlueFlyer
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    TrueBlueFlyer Silver Member

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    Great suggestions, thanks a lot!
     
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  14. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    I also use DTAC (for the past 3 or so years) and it's all good ... recommended! :)
     
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  15. ddrewboy
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    This may also be because many of the cloths have yet to be shrunk as many thais still dont use/have a cloth dryer. Even when the shopkeepers tell you that the cloths are "preshrunk," they usually will go a size under once you put them in the dryer.
     
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  16. That's if they even survive repeated washing and drying! Be careful with bright colors that tend to bleed a lot. I've had to adopt a very Buddhist mindset with clothing I've purchased in Asia- it's helped me practice detachment :)
     
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  17. I have heard many similar horror stories, about buttons falling off, fabrics fading, etc. However my personal experience has been quite the opposite.

    I have only ever used 2 tailors in Bangkok, both on personal recommendations. They have both been very good, and I am a repeat customer.

    However I will be the first to admit that their range of fabrics is less than HK or Singapore, especially with nicer "high end" fabrics. I have purchased my own fabrics elsewhere and brought them to a tailor in Bangkok on one occasion, and that worked very well. I had a new suit made in a genuine fabric just in time for my return from a quick business trip.


    BEWARE: many of the shops offering 'bargain' tailoring in tourist areas will often sell unsuspecting buyers cheap inferior-quality fabrics (and if they have a brand name, they are often counterfeit).


    YMMV
     
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  18. ddrewboy
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    So very true, especially the bright colored shirts. My trick is to soak them in water and a little bit of detergent overnight to pre-bleed them. If they do, I would wash them separately for a couple of times. Otherwise, be prepared for those pink underwears [​IMG]
     
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  19. sagefemme52
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    sagefemme52 Silver Member

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    I would add, that bringing an antibiotic with you, that can treat the dreaded "funny tummy" or whatever you want to call gastroenteritis, is definitely recommended. I am partial to Cipro for this. It is most likely possible to get it locally at a pharmacy in Thailand, but if I am sick enough, I don't even want to have to deal with finding a pharmacy, better to just have it on me.
     
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  20. This is a good tip for just about any destination.

    Your local doctor at home should be able to recommend appropriate drugs(s) to carry. If carrying pharmaceuticals when travelling it is a very good idea to carry a doctor's letter saying you have been prescribed XXX. Normally it is fine, but every now and then someone can question what's in your bag.
     
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  21. shane
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    shane Silver Member

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    Don't: Leave your wallet in a conspicuous place on your person.

    I was pick pocketed at Wat Pho by a team of at least 2 Spanish folks. One handed me a DSLR to take a picture of two of them. One of those two, or another that I might not have seen, picked my wallet out of my shorts when I was taking a picture.

    Right next to the "Watch out for Pickpockets" and "Beware of non-thai pickpocket gangs" signs.

    Do: Separate out some cash and credit cards so they aren't all in your wallet.

    learn from my mistake :) These are good tips for any travel, but be aware at some of BKK's more popular tourist destinations.
     
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  22. CrankyScott
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    CrankyScott Silver Member

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    By law tourists must carry their passports with them at all times in Thailand. There have been reports where tourists have been arrested because they were unable to produce their passport.

    While 99% of us will not fall into a situation of having to show a passport, there are circumstances where it could happen:
    • Traffic accident
    • Police doing random searches (typical late night hours when looking for drugs)
    • Being caught in an area where there is a sudden lock down – it happens when again they are searching for drugs and you could just be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
    • You are reporting a crime
    • You have been stopped for a petty crime (tossing a cigarette)
    Most people leave the passport in the hotel safe and carry a photo copy. In Thailand this does not work as it doesn’t show the entry stamp. And this is mega important to show you are in the country legally. Lots of foreigners over stay their visa.

    I carry mine under my pants with one of those belt loop things. Works very nicely and also a safe place to stash extra cash.

    Never give your passport to anyone unless they are a Thai official. Not just say they are an official, but have proof.
     
  23. Junca
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    Junca Silver Member

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    Happy to be going to BKK this Spring for the 1st time so thanks for all the advice.

    Questions: What are the "conservative/religious" sites to be particularly concscious of clothes-wise? I don't wear short shorts or tanks anyway, but was wondering about the sites to be most aware of.

    I've also read that it is not appropriate to wear "sandals" to some sites. This is a really silly question - but what exactly does "sandals" mean? I have some that are almost full coverage, very sturdy, that I pretty much wear for all travel, everyday, for travel in warm climates. They are "rugged" so to speak. Would this fall under caution on sandals or is that more for flip-flops or shoes baring most of the footsies? Hope this is a "no question is too stupid" thread. [​IMG]
     
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  24. kwai
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    kwai Gold Member

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    The only location I'm aware of (other than nice restaurants etc) with a shoe restriction is Wat Phra Kaew/Palace. There you will need, at the least, sandals with a strap behind the ankle.

    Otherwise you'll be fine since you will need to remove your shoes before going inside revered places.
     
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  25. Junca
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    Junca Silver Member

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    very good. thanks~!
     
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