Have you ever dreamed of seeing the crystal blue waters of Thailand in person but never knew where to start planning or what to expect? Well, we got you covered! From the best time of year to visit, to what to wear, to how much to budget, to manners and customs, we got you covered on everything to help your travels to and in Thailand easier, stress-free, and hassle-free.
Table of Contents:
Below you will find answers to the most commonly asked questions when traveling overseas. You can read through all of them or click to the questions you want answered. Either way, you will be 100% prepared when visiting Thailand.
- Generally monsoon season
2. Cool & Dry: November to February
- Cooler and more bearable temperatures than hot season
- More dry than rainy (monsoon) season
- More expensive during November and December (peak season)3. Hot: March to May
3. Hot: March to May
- These months are considered summer time and it gets HUMID
- Temperatures start to reach 90 degrees fahrenheit
- Good when visiting Thai islands but Bangkok will get humid
- Prices may be more reasonable
- Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country to have never been colonized by a European nation. In fact, Thailand’s name in Thai is Prathet Thai, which means “Land of the Free.”
- Bangkok is the #1 most visited city in the world, drawing in over 20 million visitors annually. This explains the TERRIBLE traffic in Bangkok!!
- Speaking of Bangkok, the full city’s name was actually listed by the Guinness World Records as the world’s longest place name: Krungthep Maha Nakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit. The name translates to a string of superlatives but it roughly means:‘City of angels, great city of immortals, magnificent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Visvakarman at Indra’s behest.’
- Thailand has over 1,400 islands! The most popular are Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lipe, and Koh Samui.
- Eating insects such as crickets, cockroaches, and grasshoppers is very common in Thailand, and you will see them being sold in street vendors. The demand is so high that they have to import insects from Laos, China, and Myanmar.
- Thailand’s main religion is Buddhism. Over 95% of the population practice the religion.
The media is a double-edge sword. It is a great source of information but simultaneously has been increasingly creating sensational headlines, headlines meant to spark anger, outrage, and shock. The worst of the worst news gets reported in the media about countries in the world that you begin to think that it’s unsafe step your pinky toe out the front door. But please don’t let this happen to you. Yes, some countries are more dangerous than others. Yes, there are bombings happening in London and Paris, but they can also happen in YOUR hometown to when you least expect it. The fact is is that anything dangerous can happen anywhere in the world. That is, unfortunately, a shitty reality that we have to face but please don’t let that deter you from exploring the beautiful world around you.
With that being said, it is not to say Thailand is without its fault. There are scammers, pickpockets, thieves, dangerous drivers, etc, just like with any other country in the world. As always, exercise caution when traveling. Heck, I exercise caution every single day on my way to work! This is mostly because I work in the ghettos of San Francisco but even when I’m in what is considered a safer area of San Francisco, I am always vigilant. Take these same precautions with you when traveling.
In general, like any other advice you would hear from your friends, friend, or online (and should apply when you travel anywhere, at home or abroad) – Always be vigilant of your surroundings. Do not venture off to the shady parts of town, especially late at night and don’t carry all of your money, passports, etc. on your person. In crowded areas, pickpocketing is common, so keep your belongings within sight of you. That means if you’re wearing a messenger bag, make sure it hangs in front of your body and not on the side or back. If you’re wearing a backpack, wear it on the front of you.
As long as you’re not being stupid, getting drunk to the point of blacking out, being cautious of drink spiking at bars and clubs, and being in the possession of drugs, you will just be a-okay. If you didn’t already know Thailand has extremely strict laws for drug possession and it’s worse for drug smuggling, so don’t be stupid and bring drugs into the country or purchase them from shady characters off the streets or your new “friends” that you just met at a bar.
As for traffic, pedestrians do not have the right of way as they do in the United States. Motorcycles, the most common mode of transportation in Thailand, weave in and out of lanes. Lanes of 2 suddenly become 5, so the rules of the roads are not respected in Thailand, so be careful whenever you decide to cross the streets. Sometimes there are no crosswalk signs, even in big intersections and it can be overwhelming to figure out how to cross the road.
FYI: Bangkok is NOT walkable. There are little to no sidewalks and where there is, it suddenly comes to a dead end and you’re left trying to figure out how to cross an incredibly busy street. Cars, motorcycles, and tuk tuks do not slow down for you even if they see you crossing the street! However, this is just the culture of Asia and depending on the person, he or she might find this exhilarating or straight up overwhelming.
All in all, we felt completely safe in Thailand. We traveled to 4 different cities and in each, we never felt endangered. We walked around a lot, took plenty of taxis, ubers, and tuk tuks, visited the most popular and least popular spots, and exchanged USD for baht at several currency exchange stands – and in each one of those interactions and explorations, we felt safe.
If you in possession of a U.S. passport and are staying less than 30 days in Thailand, you do NOT need a visa to visit Thailand. However, this time limit may be extended by an additional 30 days by paying 1, 900 baht to the Thai Immigration Bureau office in Bangkok. Please note that tourist visas are capped at 90 days. For more information, please visit the Thai Immigration Bureau website.
The currency is Thai baht.
Yes, but in very few select shops and restaurants. The ones that accept credit card are generally the larger ones but in most cases, if not all, there will be a minimum spend and/or a 3% surcharge. In addition, if you don’t have a credit card with no foreign transaction fee, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Amazon Rewards Visa Card, there will also be a 1-3% foreign transaction fee per transaction. This can quickly add up, especially if you use credit card frequently. For those credit cards that do have a foreign transaction fee, theFidelity Rewards Visa Signature Cardis the lowest with a 1% fee.
This all depends on length of stay in Thailand, what kind of lodging accommodations you prefer, what activities you like to do, etc. For us, we like to keep expenses as low as possible so that means opting for Airbnbs instead of hotels, eating cheaper meals, etc. However, food in Thailand is cheap so you don’t need to worry about this. However, lodging accommodations will vary depending on time of year and whether you’re staying in a hotel or an Airbnb. Check out our cost breakdown of two weeks in Thailand.
Thailand is a conservative country. There are no actual rules about dress code. However, staying more covered than not will be greatly appreciated by the citizens of Thailand. This means that you should leave your Coachella outfits at home. To learn more about what to pack for Thailand, check out our essential packing list!
- Tuk tuk
In Bangkok, you also have 3 options for public transit: BTS Skytrain, the MRT and the Airport Rail Link. We got around by mostly taxi, uber, or walking. We didn’t bother trying to figure out the public transit system, so we, unfortunately, do not have advice for you there. However, this is a great resource to help you figure out how public transit works in Bangkok.
Below is a breakdown of options by the cities we visited:
Below are some tips and advice for getting around Thailand:
- Traffic in Bangkok is HORRENDOUS. No one ever warned me of this and I’m like wth?! We googled it and Bangkok is listed as the top city for the worst traffic congestion. 1 mile = 25-30 minutes in traffic. We made the mistake of booking an Airbnb further away from the city centre thinking that it was only a short couple miles into the city. Had we had known about the traffic we would’ve paid more to be closer to the city center. Keep the traffic in mind when trying to go from point A to point B.
- Traffic to the Bangkok Airport (BKK or DMK) is horrendous, even at 5:30am. So leave way earlier to get to the airport on time. We had a 7:30am flight from DMK to Krabi and left our Airbnb at 5am. After airport traffic, checking in our baggage, and security lines, we got to our gate by 7am…
- Uber vs.Taxi.They can be very similar in price. Because of that I would recommend getting a taxi because you can get one pretty immediately whereas with Uber you can be waiting up to 30 minutes for them to come to you due to traffic congestion. Metered taxi is the best bet for your money because it is cheaper than flat rate. However, finding a metered one was more rare than finding a flat rate. You can always negotiate with the driver if he gives you a flat rate.Note:Ubers are generally cheaper than taxis in Chiang Mai, so go with that option if you can. Traffic isn’t bad in Chiang Mai like it in Bangkok, so you won’t be waiting a long time for the driver to pick you up.
- Take a tuk tuk for short rides only. Taking a tuk tuk is quintessential when in Thailand! It was scary at first because the drivers are ruthless and constantly weave in an out of traffic. Our first (and last!) tuk tuk driver was watching YouTube videos and web camming while driving us!! Regardless, it became fun after adjusting to the craziness of Bangkok traffic. However, you only want to ride in a tuk tuk for a short amount of time due to poor air quality control and congestion. We made the mistake of riding in a tuk tuk for longer than 30 minutes and later that day, we thought we were getting sick but realized it was all the smog we inhaled. No wonder people in Asia wear masks all the time! Pollution is terrible and there’s no strong regulation on that.
- Ask Airbnb host for address in Thai. If you booked all hotels you can ignore this since most taxi drivers know where the hotels are. We booked airbnbs so a lot of our taxi drivers didn’t know where the complex was since the name was given to us in English. If you’re saying at an Airbnb, ask the host for the name and the address in Thai and just show it to your driver. Most of the drivers didn’t know English which was surprising to us since everyone told us that most people speak English in Thailand…
The electricity socket is 220V AC/50Hz electricity. Power outlets are usually two-prong round or two flat blades, so most of your chargers will work if you’re coming from the U.S., Canada, and parts of Europe. However, you can always bring a universal travel adapterjust in case. We did but never used it.
Depending on what city you’re in, some bathrooms are better than others. If you’re visiting any of the national parks, they are downright disgusting. Surprisingly, most bathrooms do NOT have toilet paper, so be sure to carry around a roll with you everywhere you go. We did, and we were GLAD to have it during poop times 🙂
There are a ton of manners and customs in Thailand that may differ drastically from your home country. It is definitely very different than in the States. While you may Google and find hundred of different things to consider when it comes manners and customs in Thailand, there is no need to follow 100% of them. As foreigners, most Thais understand that we can’t all know and remember to adhere to their customs. However, you should try to adhere to the most basic and common manners and customs when visiting their home country.
- Respect the Royal Family. Thai people idolize their king, and Thailand has some of the strictest laws in the world when it comes to defaming or insulting The King. This is actually considered a criminal offense and you can risk imprisonment under the law.
- Stay calm and collect. Thai people are gentle, polite people. Acting out or aggressively will most likely be viewed as threatening.
- Don’t show the bottom of your feet. The feet is considered to be the dirtiest part of the body, so it is considered rude to point them directly at the Buddha or show them if you’re crossing your legs while sitting.
- Remove your shoes. It is customary to remove your shoes when entering a temple, shrine, or someone’s home.
- Don’t touch or pass anything over someone’s head. Many people in Southeast Asia believe that the head is inhabited by the kawn, the spiritual force of life. Therefore, the head is considered sacred and should be respected as so.
- Return a wai. The wai is demonstrated by the pressing your palms together at chest height and bowing your head so it meets the thumb of both hands. This denotes a sign of respect and courtesy as well as a hello, goodbye, or thank you. Foreigners are not expected to initiate the wai but it should be returned if given first. If you hands are not free, a bow will suffice. When greeting someone, men say “Sawatdee-krap” and women say “Sawatdee-kah”.
- Showing public displays of affection is frowned upon. Even holding hands. It is considered taboo.
- Dress modestly. Thailand is a conservative country, so it would be appreciated to respect their way of dressing, especially at temple.
Have any other burning questions about Thailand?
Just drop us a note in the comment section below and we’ll respond with an answer! If we don’t know the answers ourselves, we’ll do our best to find the answer for you.