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© Courtesy of Kelly Iverson
© Courtesy of Kelly Iverson

8 Things To Know Before You Go to Thailand

Picture of Kelly Iverson
Updated: 6 October 2016
In comparison to other Southeast Asian countries, Thailand seems like one of the less jarring ones to visit. Millions of people flock to the Kingdom each year and the number of visitors continues to grow. Thailand is more developed in some areas than its neighbors. This is reflected in the number of visitors Thailand receives, but the country still has room for growth. Undrinkable tap water, inefficient electrical systems, the stray dogs: these are just a few problems the country faces each day. That being said, there is a reason tourists continue to make Thailand a destination on their travel trails. Having a basic knowledge of what to expect before visiting is more than helpful. Here are eight things you should know about Thailand before visiting to make your trip go smoother.

There are Lots of Stray Soi Dogs

There are about 300,000 strays roaming the streets of Thailand’s capital city alone. While the number of street dogs is unclear, one thing remains certain: you’re going to run into at least a handful of these homeless dogs. Lesions, fleas, rashes: these are just some of the things conditions street dog are suffering from. Caring locals provide food and water for a great number of these dogs, but many are still neglected. Help out when you can, but also be vigilant.


Street Dog Outside A Convenient Store In Bangkok | © Courtesy of Kelly Iverson

Avoid Animal Tourism

Getting up close and personal with some of Thailand’s most exotic animals has become a must-do activity on many tourists’ itineraries. Elephant trekking, tiger temples, and photo ops with monkeys are a few activities you may come across while visiting Thailand. While one of these attractions may be an item on your bucket list, we suggest crossing it out. Many travelers are unaware of how these animals are mistreated and neglected. Search for a more ethical way to interact with these same animals. If you’re dying to see elephants, see elephants! Just do not ride them. If you want to take a photo of a monkey, visit a temple where monkeys live or one of the many beaches they occupy down south.


Elephant Nature Park In Chiang Mai | © Courtesy of Kelly Iverson

Bargain Responsibly

Bartering in Thailand can be fun. There are few places in the Western world that allow you exchange numbers back and forth with a merchant until you both agree on a price. That being said, there is always a time and a place to fight for a discount. If you’re visiting Chatuchak Weekend Market, barter away! If something doesn’t have a visible price tag, you should definitely suggest a merchant go lower for an item than what they originally say. If you’re blatantly making a merchant uncomfortable or bartering is no longer friendly banter, move onto the next shop. Don’t be the tourist fighting to save a dollar at a Thai market.


Chatuchak Weekend Market In Bangkok | © Courtesy of Kelly Iverson

Invest In Bug Spray

One too many trips to Thailand have been cut short by an unfortunate encounter with one too many bug bites. Whether you are left confined to your hotel room because the itching is simply unbearable, or you contract one of a few viruses that are prevalent in Thailand, you’re better safe than sorry. Bug spray should replace your perfume or cologne while in Thailand. Be sure to have a travel-size spray with you at all times. You never know when a bloodthirsty, dengue virus-carrying mosquito is going to be out for dinner.


Mosquito | © Courtesy of Pixabay

Be Wary Of Good Deals

If something seems too good to be true, chances are, it is. If a taxi driver tells you a particular temple is closed but is more than happy to take you to another, chances are, this is a lie. If they tell you they cannot use a meter, they are lying. Oftentimes, foreigners and tourists are seen as gullible, never-ending wads of cash and taken advantage of because of this. The best way to avoid getting ripped off is to do your research. Know the entrance fees to some of the top tourist attractions you want to visit. Invest in a map. Know a handful of Thai words. These are all ways you can avoid getting ripped off while traveling.


The Grand Palace In Bangkok | © Courtesy of Kelly Iverson

Do Not Feed The Monkeys

You’ll come across plenty of monkey-riddled beaches if you travel the south of Thailand. They are seemingly cute, witty, and are definitely cool to see up close and personal. That does not mean you should feed them. Feeding the monkeys makes them less able to find food on their own. It also means that they’ll associate people with food. It’s not uncommon to see monkeys steal bags, clothing, and more from tourists in hopes of finding food. These monkeys become less cute when they are tearing your purse apart. Remember these are wild animals. Monkeys bite, and unless you had your rabies shot previous to visiting and there’s a hospital nearby, this will make for an unpleasant experience.


Monkey Beach On Koh Phi Phi | © Courtesy of Kelly Iverson

BYOT (Bring Your Own Toilet Paper)

Toilet paper is a rare thing in most of the bathrooms in Thailand. Soap is hard to come by as well, but that’s a whole other issue. Many of the bathrooms in Thailand consist of only squat toilets, which essentially are tiny holes in the ground you must aim for when using the bathroom. While many restrooms have bum guns (essentially hoses used in place of toilet paper), many bathrooms will offer its visitors nothing in replacement of toilet paper. Buy a small container of tissues or carry around a wad of toilet paper, just in case.

Toilet Paper/Courtesy of Pixabay

Toilet Paper | © Courtesy of Pixabay

Mai Pen Rai

You will hear this phrase often. It’s essentially the go-to phrase for when things go south, which is inevitably bound to happen at some point in everyone’s travels. Thais are incredibly wary of losing face. Many Thais will say or do anything to avoid being embarrassed. You might notice some people avoiding losing face in conversation. If a Thai person doesn’t understand what you’re saying, they’ll oftentimes laugh or just nod in agreement. The reality is, they don’t understand any of it and don’t want to lose face by admitting it. Whether you agree with this idea or not, you’re bound to run into it at some point in your travels.


By Kelly Iverson