Booked your flights to Thailand? Raring to go? Before you hit the shops to blow your budget on bikinis and board shorts, take care of some practical preparations.
Check out this quick-start guide for a few essential Thailand travel tips, so you can have a safe and happy vacation of a lifetime.
Read up before you go
Thailand is generally a safe and friendly place for travelers, with opportunist robberies being the biggest risk to most visitors. However, when traveling to a new country, it is important to always exercise caution and be aware of cultural differences.
Before you go, read up on the country – not just your travel guide, but news and current affairs as well. Being educated and aware of what is going on around you can sometimes be the difference between a terrific trip and a holiday from hell.
Important considerations in Thailand
Tourists must carry their passport at all times, by law. If you are stopped and cannot produce it, you may be arrested.
Although assault on travelers is rare, causing a Thai to ‘lose face’ in public may incite a very strong and violent reaction, unlike in western culture where people often express anger through offensive or aggressive language. Keep your thoughts about a rude police officer or annoying street-seller to yourself.
Thailand shares a border with four countries – Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia. Although border relations have improved enormously in recent years, tensions still arise and certain routes are not advisable for travelers. The situation is changeable at any time – keep an eye on the news and do your research before planning a trip across the border.
Thailand is a Buddhist nation. Exercise respect for local and national religious rituals and behave appropriately when visiting temples or other places of worship.
Health precautions for Thailand
Check out the World Health Organisation website for recommended vaccinations. You may have to think about these well in advance, and the vaccinations you need will depend on your travel route. For example, on entry to Thailand, proof of a yellow fever vaccination is required if you have been in South America or Africa in the past six days.
If you require any prescription medications, it’s wise to bring extra with you, since it could be difficult to find what you need in Thailand. Thai people are also very sensitive to body odors, so make sure you wash with soap every day. For more information, and a recommended medical checklist, see the Lonely Planet Thailand health information page.
Be wary of scams
Scams targeting unaware tourists are common in Thailand, particularly in Bangkok. Be on your guard and do not be lulled into a false sense of security by a stranger, whatever their nationality.
Thai police are generally unconcerned with the grievances of gullible tourists who have been ripped off. If you get into problems with consumer fraud or scams, contact the tourist police (tel: 1155).
Thailand has severe and strict penalties for drug possessionand trafficking – these are not relaxed for foreigners. Drug smuggling – that is, attempting to cross a border whilst carrying drugs – carries extremely hefty punishments, including execution.