Travel Tips: Thailand Edition
This focuses on solo travel but can be applied to traveling with friends or in groups. Everything in here are things I do, learned along the way or from reading other travel blogs. What works for me may not work for you, but it’s better to have an idea than to find out the hard way. I’ve had moments of complete panic, confusion, fear, happiness and many other emotions. But one thing is for sure, I have always been mentally prepared.
Before your trip
·Fly into Suvarnabhumi airport (flight code: BKK) it’s the main international airport in Thailand, from here you can go into Bangkok and spend a few days there to explore.
For US citizens, you can get a Visa on Arrival for a free 30 day stay. Longer than 30 days you will have to apply for a visa beforehand.
Download GRAB It’s the Thailand version of Uber, you can link your card so that you don’t use any of your cash. I use this app every time I go out, it’s easy to use and you can earn points for your next ride.
Tip: I recommend linking your card as a backup in case of an emergency. Pick pocketing is real, the last thing you want is to have no money to pay for a ride to your hotel/hostel.
Exchange at least half your money before landing in Thailand, the airport has the worst exchange rates. Super Rich Thailand is one of the best companies to exchange with and they are common in Bangkok.
Tip: Bring your passport, when exchanging.
Leave room in your suitcase, over packing is a common mistake as things are cheap here if you need something.
As a safety measure sign up with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). It’s a free service and it allows the US embassy to contact you in case of an emergency. I do this for every country I visit.
Don’t forget to call your bank and let them know you’re traveling, it’s a hassle to do it abroad.
Ask your mobile carrier about their international plans, I used a Thai sim card the entire time and it was cheaper than my mobile carriers’ option. 1 month unlimited data was $15 as opposed to Verizon’s $10 a day plan.
Tip: to use a sim card, your phone needs to be ‘unlocked’ or sim lock free.
During your trip
1. If you're not using Grab, never get in a taxi without telling the driver to use the meter, some will try to up charge you with a farang (foreigner) tax (get used to this word). Tuk Tuks are the exception, bargain with the driver for a lower price than what they give you. This applies each time you want to buy something in general.
2. Ping Pong shows are disgusting forms of entertainment. Women are exploited and made to stuff their vaginas with odd items, then pull them out in front of a crowd. Men will heckle you to buy tickets, ignore them.
3. Walk with confidence, it’s easy to spot a tourist, the last thing you want is to also look alone.
4. Bring wipes everywhere you go, some bathrooms have squatty potties and there is no toilet paper in those, except a bucket of water for the toilet.
5. Keep your purse in front of you, when I talk I sling it across my body and place one hand on my purse. I wear fannies if i’m going outdoors. I feel more secure, but this is a personal preference.
6. Learn the currency and do the math quickly. The 1,000 BAHT is the biggest bill and local vendors might not have the change for you. I keep my bills and coins separate for a faster transaction.
Tip: 20, 50, 100 bills I keep together, they are different colors which make things easier to count quickly. 500 & 1,000 bills I keep together in a different part of my fanny or purse. Separating my money is a way to avoid pulling out a wad of cash to pay for something small, you never know whose looking over your shoulder. Buy a coin bag to keep things organized.
7. Avoid posting in real time, by this I mean location tags. Sometimes i’ll post in the moment, but I always try to keep my location a secret to strangers around me.
8. Bring water because the Thailand heat is not a joke.
9. Carry a battery backup charger just in case, a dead phone is useless in an emergency.
10. The Google Translate app is your best friend, you can take pictures to translate in case there are no English translations. I mainly do this at local restaurants that only have a Thai menu.
11. Be aware of your surroundings, I make it a habit to check who's around me and who has been walking in my same direction. It’s easy to let your guard down once you feel comfortable, don’t do this even when you’re traveling with other people.
12. Be careful with the beer, it’s not regulated as strictly as in America and the alcohol content is different with each can/bottle.
13. Pay attention to your intuition and if it feels wrong don’t do it. Knowing your limits is important when you only have yourself to depend on.