Thailand remains one of the first ports of call for backpackers going on the road for the first time. But do not be fooled: if traveling here means following a well-beaten tourist trail, you can not deny that this attractive country may take some time to get acquainted with it. To make things easier for you on your first visit to Thailand, follow these tips for your first trip to Thailand.
Go slowly : do not try to do too much. You are almost certain to starvt in Bangkok and I recommend you do not rush. Instead, stay a few days to absorb the bustling capital of the city, including at least one night on the famous Khaosan Road , before heading south to the islands, or north to Thailand’s second largest city, Chiang May. To do both, you will need at least two weeks; if you have three, add Kanchanaburi and the infamous Kwai River Bridge to your itinerary.
What is a wat? In everyday language in Thailand, a wat refers to any place of worship (except a mosque or synagogue). Thailand is a country of temples, from the most beautiful to the smallest, but if you try to visit them all, you will quickly tire yourself. Instead, reduce your visits to the must-sees like Wat Pho and Wat Phra Kaeo in Bangkok and Wat Phra Si Sanphet in Ayutthaya. Remember that Thailand is much more than an architectural splendor, the street and the beach are just as much a part of the experience.
Food : street food is plentiful, of high quality and surprisingly cheap. But it can also be the fast track for food poisoning. Take reasonable precautions such as washing your hands before and after, and most importantly: eating where there are people; a faster turnover means the freshness of the food. And do not drink tap water.
Defeat the enemy : mosquitoes are everywhere, but that does not mean resigning to being bitten. Use a repellent spray with at least 50% DEET during the day (100% at night) and treat your clothes with a permethrin spray as soon as you arrive in the country. Do it outside and let it sit for a while to dry.
At the market : a visit to an outdoor market is a must and it is often here that you will find the best prices and the best products. Thailand is a haven for counterfeit goods, so be aware that what you buy is unlikely to be genuine, and never forget to haggle: the first price you are given can drop by at least a third . Some of the best markets are Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok, Tha Kha Floating Market near Samut Songkhram and the Bazaar in Chiang Mai (night market).
The best beds : if you have a small budget and intend to stay in hostels and bed and breakfasts, simply explore and ask for a room is the best way, and thanks to the flourishing of the tourist industry of Thailand, you are unlikely to have trouble finding a bed. Keep in mind that air conditioning often costs more and is worth every penny during the hottest months (May to October).
Beware of scams : At times, you may feel like someone is trying to rip you off at every corner of Thailand and it is helpful to stay alert. Do not trust the people who come to you in the street with information on public holidays and closed temples; check with your hotel or hostel instead. Always agree on a price before getting into a tuk-tuk and insist that the length of a taxi should be measured. Keep your belongings as close to you as possible, ideally on you in a zipped bag.
Respect culture : keeping calm is paramount for all Thai people, raising your voice and getting angry will not get you anywhere. The head is considered the most sacred part of the body, while the feet are the worst; do not touch a Thai person on the head, under any circumstances, and do not point your feet (especially the soles) towards anyone or any sacred image, especially that of the Buddha or the King. The smile will always take you far. Thais tend to smile a lot more than the average western so get ready to shine.
Alcohol : Beer is the alcoholic beverage of choice in Thailand and you will find the local Singha beer almost everywhere. Be aware that it has a 6% alcohol level, and that the popular Chang beer has a whopping 7%. You must be over 20 to buy alcohol, but only discos usually require an ID card. Unless you really miss it, do not order wine: with heavy import taxes, you pay at least four times what it costs in France.
Sex : yes, the sex industry is everywhere in Thailand, but no, prostitution is not legal. As well as potential problems with the police, there are many ethical issues, not to mention health and safety issues. So, do not even think about it
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