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First time to Thailand, info greatly appreciated.

Travel Forums Asia First time to Thailand, info greatly appreciated.

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1. Posted by bigundies (Budding Member 3 posts) 7y


I'm travelling to thailand with my 3 friends at the beginning of Feb for approx 4 weeks, all first timers... I'm basically after some tips what not/to do. I Kinda have a route in my head of firstly Bangkok for 1-2 nights, then pretty open from there but i want to try an fit in Phuket and a few of the islands down that way for eg, Ko Phangan, Ko Tao, Phi Phi!! Then i want to move over to Vietnam and Laos but haven't a clue to where's best to visit in these places????. So... im just after some good recommendations of the best plan of attack for this kind of trip.



2. Posted by wildfk (Respected Member 459 posts) 7y

Here's a checklist I devised........

Here are 20 things to think about when visiting Thailand…

1.Bring a cell phone “unblocked” and buy a Thai SIM card for it on arrival, they’re cheap (apprx. 50 baht) and include some credit already on them - e.g. - International calls to Oz/UK are about 5 - 8baht per min…Phones are cheap too – and unblocked

2.Money - Bring ATM and/or credit cards. - check fees and tell your bank your are going abroad. - Take Travellers cheques only as back-up. Bring very little cash (Baht) – you tend to get a better rate of exchange here than any home country. You can change money on arriving at the airport...(keep some cash in reserve in case of flight delays/diversions etc) – there is now a 150 baht surcharge for all foreign cards used in ATMs!

3.Booking – there is usually no need to book rooms before you come as there is plenty of cheap accommodation. Exceptions would be in high season if you want a particular place and maybe for your first one or two nights just to get orientated.

4.Bring very few clothes – they are cheap here and you’ll only bring stuff that is too warm anyway.

5.Very little luggage – this makes you more mobile if you need to be and less vulnerable to taxi touts and undesirable men….Before you go home you can buy any extra luggage (cheap) to take souvenirs etc.

6.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 (broadband even wi-fi) at most cafes.

7.Food - Thai food is very unlikely to give you food poisoning but can contain more chillies than you ever thought possible….Street food is usually safe (and delicious!), check for numbers of customers and general looks of the stall. Western (“farang”) food is much more likely to give you food poisoning – fridges are not part of Thai cooking lore yet…beware of Western Fast Food outlets and hotel buffets - food that has been out for over an hour or so. Thailand is not used to fridges/chill-serve etc.

8.Always carry a pack of tissues - they don’t supply free tissues (if there is a vending machine at all!) – learn to use a “bum-gun” !!

9.Drink bottled water - not tap water. Even consider not brushing your teeth with tap water. Ice is usually safe in drinks and for anything else.

10.Use common safety sense – it is easy to relax too much here…when it comes to petty crime the rate is certainly lower than in places like the US/Europe etc…but every country has its share of con-men and psychopaths…..beware of fellow travellers!

11.Don’t be afraid to go to Pattaya – 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.

12.Bring an international driving permit – 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.

13.Public transport is cheap. Planes, Trains, Buses, Minibuses, Taxis, from town to town. 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)

14.Around Bkk try to use meter taxis with the meter’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 commission.

15.Medical - Firstly it is best when you can, to consult with a doctor at home who specialises 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 you are going to remote areas, don’t bother with the malaria ones – 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 little English.

16.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. Table manners – Thais tend to eat from communal dishes in the centre of the table – don’t pour everything onto your own plate!

17.Don’t knock the royal family – even in jest.

18.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.
On the other hand it is impolite to touch people on the head.

19.It’s not necessary to “Wai” people - the Thai greeting - as you’ll probably get it wrong. If they Wai you, you might try a wai back.

20.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….

NB – Occasionally, in some circumstances, the wearing of yellow or red could be construed as showing support for political factions most frequently engaged in public protests.. Avoid any political demonstrations etc.

3. Posted by opospa (Travel Guru 1837 posts) 7y

Try to say NO to them (vendors, tuk tuk drivers etc.) in a polite or nice way.;)

4. Posted by opospa (Travel Guru 1837 posts) 7y

Quoting wildfk

You’ll notice that Thai women (even sex workers) are very modest in public –they usually swim fully clothed.

NB – Occasionally, in some circumstances, the wearing of yellow or red could be construed as showing support for political factions most frequently engaged in public protests.. Avoid any political demonstrations etc.

I noticed that nowadays, Thai women are wearing bikini to swim but saw some of women in countryside like Ubon still swim with fully clothed.

If you are a Farang, then you should be fine if you wear either red or yellow.

5. Posted by wildfk (Respected Member 459 posts) 7y

you well overestimate a Thai woman's preparedness to wear a bikini.

just about the only places I ever see bikini-ed thai women in any numbers at all is on Samui, Phuket or other westernised Andaman resorts.

On NYE - I was on a beach near Pattaya with severalThai women (18 to 35) in the group - ALL swam in t-shirts and shorts - "too many Thai people for bikini" was their unanimous reply.......

I must say I still believe it is culturally very insensitive when I see Europeans going topless on beaches.

just look at what others are wearing and dress accordingly.


As for the colours Red and Yellow - if you are in proximity to a demo I think it is worth bearing inn mind the political significance of these colours.

It is unlikely that you would be in danger in normal circumstances but Thailand is prone to bouts of political unrest.

colour is very significant in thai day to day life too - the days of the week each have a colour - (yellow is Monday and red Sunday)

[ Edit: Edited on 05-Jan-2010, at 05:18 by wildfk ]

6. Posted by bigundies (Budding Member 3 posts) 7y

Thanks for taking the time to reply to my thread, very useful information indeed.

however has anyone got info on best places to visit in laos & vietnam as im very keen on visiting this to areas in particular?


7. Posted by Curt1591 (Respected Member 230 posts) 7y

Quoting wildfk

Here's a checklist I devised........

4.Bring very few clothes – they are cheap here and you’ll only bring stuff that is too warm anyway.

Depending on how big "bigundies'" undies are, this might not be the best suggestion!

8. Posted by wildfk (Respected Member 459 posts) 7y

Sorry I don't understand - where do you think I say "bigundies"?

If you are worried about size and from a cooler clime -there are plenty of "obese"people in Thailand and if you shop around you will get clothing that does not encourage perspiration. rather than try to get away with the stuff you wear at home try buying clothing that is suitable for a hot , humid, tropical climate.

you ca always go to one of the thousands of tailor's shops and get fitted out very cheaply there.

I might suggest that linen is extremely good in a hot climate - it seems to be even cooler than cotton.

9. Posted by cat.n. (Budding Member 32 posts) 7y


Thailand, chiang mai is a must, get the over night train from bangkok, its an awesome place with some amazing things to do!! Juiles is a good place to stay (although there are better), it has a travel agency with it and the owners are really honest and will give you a really good deal!!

Then get a plane down to phuket, I would bother with it personally, i wasn't keen on the place,

PHI PHI, you HAVE to go here, it is amazing, i went for 3 nights and spent a week, you wont want to leave!! When you get off the boat don't be tempted by touts, look for a place yourself, if you do stay for a while you might be able to get some discount off you room so make sure to ask! Phi phi princess is nice, cheap, and right on the beach (other side to the pier)!

Ko phangan is only good for full moon (which is why i assume your going) - coral, pricey but right in the center of all the action, sooooooooo much fun! Dont get in the pool after pool parties though (most mornings)!!

Only go to Ko tao if you wanna dive, otherwise i wasn't too impressed, the fact that the weather wasn't too amazing prob didn't help!

Try and fit in Raile (my spelling of thai places is rubbish, sorry) you gan get a boat there from Pii pii, it is beasutiful!

Onlu saw the north of vietnam and did the obvious, halong bay, sapa, ect but see all you can in the north, is beautiful!!

Its all about the tubing, well, not really it is an amazing place, but the tubing is awesome fun! Be careful though, its dodgy as hell only jump, swing of zip tie in to water you know is deep enough other wise you WILL hurt yourself. Def pace yourself too the whiskey is teathal!!!

Have an amazing time!!!

10. Posted by cat.n. (Budding Member 32 posts) 7y

P.s you will work things out as you go, don't make too much of a plan cos you'll be told different things everyday when your out there, go with the flow and enjoy! its an easy place to travel