Top 10 Things to Know before visiting Thailand

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Thai Sojourn: Top 10 things to keep in Mind

There were many times when Thailand came in our vacation plans but somehow we always thought of it as a mere overcrowded beach destination. This time though as we were planning one of my friends said Thailand and I thought well let’s explore the place. And boy oh Boy (not the Bangkok one.. ahem ) was I in for a surprise. Quite unknown to most of the tourists especially from Indian sub-continent Thailand is a land of Temples dotted all along the northern side. Nature has endowed the place with pristine beaches on southern side but has also provided amazing hillocks up north much like India. The place is suited for all kind of budget travellers and can be customized to suit all. Every travel website thus is full of a variety of packages to Thailand. But having gone through all of them and after completing this trip I can guarantee about one thing, the best part of our vacation were places which were not part of any such packages.

Let me take you to Top 10 things you must know while planning for a Thai Vacation

Item 1: Visa

Standard visa cost for Thailand Entry is 2000 Baht. Once you land in Bangkok airport you will see a big line for On-Arrival visa processing, I will recommend walking some more time as there is a second shorter line ahead and it will save you quite some time as during peak season rush is huge.


1. Make sure you have Thai Baht before you get in line as that is the only accepted mode for visa fees
2. Make sure to carry 2 passport size photographs for everyone
3. There is a separate line for ladies with kids, use that.

Item 2: Transportation

Thailand has a pretty decent availability in terms of various modes of transport. All major cities like Bangkok, Phuket have a long supply of colourful taxis, which although have a meter but may or may not use them. So either bargain or clearly ask for using them. In general, I have found that for short distances they will tend to charge you around 200 baht fixed amount. All of them come up with AC which seems a must in most of the daytime travels. There is a more adventurous way of commute in terms of open TukTuk’s which at majority places will charge you in terms of per seat share. There will be a lot of stories of overcharging in blogs but what we saw was that only happens if you do not ask before you sit. We always fixed our rates before we entered and didn’t face any major issues. A rather alternate


1. Google Maps work like charm in Thailand to ensure your driver is sticking to the correct route.
2. In Bangkok Only, there are additional toll charges if you take Highway which does save time during peak hours.
3. Always keep a buffer time whenever you are travelling on the road as the traffic is really bad and prone to long jams.
4. Always carry your hotel address in the local language as many cab drivers do not respond to the English addresses.
5. Prefer moving cabs to the standing ones, the standing ones will always have some story so as to not using their meters.
6. Thai Baht is the only mode of payment for any cab/TukTuk.
7. Only for Airport extra charge of 50 Baht for sedan class and 100 baht for SUV class Taxi is applied. The booking counter is at L1.

Item 3: City hopping

Although all the major cities have international connectivity but an equally impressive is connectivity amongst the cities. For easy travelling, there are a plethora of flights and it easy to plan ahead and save a lot in air travel. Major cities are also connected via Trains and make a great companion especially if you are travelling towards the northern Hill area of Chiang Mai and Rai. Selection of flight was a bit of challenge with the majority being low-cost carriers with one or another. For ease of reference see the following list -

  • There are two airports in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang. All the domestic carriers flow from Don Mueang.

Item 4: Food

Food options are limited only if you are a vegetarian as fish oil is kind of mandatory ingredient in anything which you order on local stalls. Even if you ask them for a Meat-Free option chance are you will get food made with fish oil. Bigger hotels have an option that they will prepare food for you without Meat. Rice is available in all the restaurants and could well be one of the last resorts. If you are into seafood then you are in for a treat, but beware Thai like their food spicy so be clear in what level you want. There will be street stalls on almost all market areas selling all varieties of roasted meat which are really yummy and cheap. I had chicken wings in one of them for only 5 THB and it was spicy and moist just the way I like it.
The one item not to be missed here are pancakes, keep looking for the stalls where they have an unlimited variety of fillings ranging from Nutella, chocolate, banana, coconut etc. They are literally mouthwatering and cost only 50 Baht or less. Another dish to try on is Mango sticky rice costing around 50 Baht and is made of sweetened rice and served with fresh mango slices on top of it. I bet you can’t eat just one.
Noodle Curry

  • Be very clear in using No-Meat while ordering if you are vegetarian.
  • Try all fruit options here they are really very juicy and sweet.
  • Must try local Thai cuisine there are some absolutely wonderful, they also have cooking classes for visitors.

Item 5: Money Exchange

Money exchange is everywhere in Thailand making THB one of the most bought currencies in the world. Airport exchanges are a bit costly as expected but you will need them to pay for your taxi bills so exchange around 100 USD at max from the airport. There are banks all along which will give you better rates. In case of emergency look for local counters that display exchange rate in electronic boards, they are standard ones and their rates change daily. We saw a difference of 300 baht for an exchange of 100 USD amongst normal and electronic counters situated at a distance of a few meters.

Item 6: Thai Massage

Everyone who comes here would have definitely heard about Thai massage and they are really dirt cheap here. But the issue is the problem of plenty. They are so many here that to decide which is good and which is better is a real matter of luck. The prices for authentic Thai Dry massage is around 300-500 THB and well even though it is painful at the start you will really feel relaxed once it is over. The good thing is you can always try the next one if your current one is not great.

Item 7: Dressing

Thailand is a Buddhist state and the first warning you will see once you land will be “Buddha is our father and any show of disrespect will be bound to criminal charges”. So if you have some tattoo with the only head of Buddha you better keep it covered as that is also considered disrespectful here. Over any place in Thai land any dress is alright but if you are planning to visit any Temple or Grand Palace be sure to have your knees covered along with your sleeves. One of my friends who was wearing a sleeveless dress was forced to buy and wear a T-shirt over the dress just to enter the premises. Bikinis and shorts on beaches are absolutely not a problem until you decide to let them go in public.

Item 8: Shopping

Thailand has 7-eleven stores spread all around and if you don’t see any ask your hotel guys they will be more than willing to guide you to one. There are other markets as well but I found 7-eleven and Tesco to be the cheapest and best organized. They even do Mobile recharges and accept all major credit cards without any fees.
For souvenirs, you can always visit Night markets of Bangkok, Krabi, Chiang Mai which have an amazing collection of clothes and accessories as well to really make it a great place to buy things. Bangkok on other hand has proper shopping malls like Siam Paragon etc. which suits the brand-conscious crowd as well.

  • Must try Chatuchak Weekend Market which is the largest street market of Thailand and has an amazing collection. Do go with a full stomach as it is huge and does not have proper eateries.
  • If going on weekday visit Pratunam Market which is open every day till 7 pm.
  • The much publicized Khlong Lad Mayom Floating Market is good only if you have free time and for the experience of it only. You will be taken in a boat where vendors will have wooden boats filled with goods & souvenirs for sale.
  • Do bargain in street markets, everything is open to your negotiation skills.

Item 9: Kids

Thai people, in general, love kids very much and will not grimace even if your kid is having a bad day. I loved the hospitality of Northern Thailand (Chiang Mai) more than Southern beach (Krabi, Phuket) locations. But nevertheless, it will be a smooth ride with your kids here.

The only problem is Medicine for kids, for most of the pharmacy here will sell you across the counter drugs but only for adults and not for Kids. 

Item 10: Beaches

Mind it if you really want to enjoy the beaches do not go on a package tour because that will mean thousands of boats all at the same time spoiling the beauty of the place. There are two types of boats which ply here one is Speedboat which will be bigger and faster and another will be Long Tail boats which will be slower. Depending upon your budget try booking the entire boat so as to enjoy beaches or snorkelling joints without the crowd.

If that is too much to ask then look for boats to lesser-known islands like Koh-Mood, Koh-Tao, Hong Island, Ko Nagai, Koh Chang, Koh Lanta etc. Most of these places have hotels to stay as well and will be really worth the time and effort in getting there. The difference will be clear when you see the colour of the water at these places as compared to Ao Nang or Phi Phi Island. 

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