Everything You Need to Know for your trip to Thailand.
By Chidi Ashley Travels
Mai pen rai
You will hear this phrase very often while on your travels. It literally translates as “everything is OK” or “don’t worry” and is the go-to saying when something goes wrong. But there is more to it than that. Mai pen rai is a perfect representation of Thailand as whole. People here are very easygoing, and they are resilient in the face of adversity. While you are here, why not try and adopt the mai pen rai attitude yourself?
Tips for Navigating the airport
Once you land at the international terminal, this is how you get through the airport:
Move reasonably quickly towards the arrival hall and maybe go to the toilet after the immigration check. This will avoid you being last in the queue - which can be quite long.
Keep your passports ready (6 months valid, enough space for the stamp)
Fill in immigration forms on the flight so that you have it ready before you get to the immigration hall (stewardess will give them to you or pick one up in the arrival hall)
If you do not need Visa or if you have already obtained a visa abroad you can queue directly at the immigration counters.
It is always advisable to stay calm and polite, do not try to raise your voice or get aggressive with immigration officials. Be sure to have all your documents ready and prepared, including proof of onward travel (i.e.: photo of your roundtrip ticket).
Once you get your bags, grab a trolley and collect your luggage, the trolleys are free and if you get a porter be prepared to pay them a tip.
Go through customs towards the exit sign and give them the tax card. You will only need ONE for PER family. Make sure you do not bring more than IDR 100,000,000 (7500 US$ in cash) and of course...no drugs. You could end up enjoying an all-inclusive holiday in Thailand's prison for a very long time.
When you arrive in Thailand, you may also have to wait a longer time for your luggage. So be sure to go through the nothing to declare line when leaving the airport to save time by avoiding having all your bags checked.
There are official money changers (rates are OK) just when you get out, I would suggest avoiding those as the fees are generally much higher than in the rest of Thailand.
You will see many drivers and hotel staff holding up name signs as they wait for their guests, many people will come up to you and ask if you need a driver, simply say no (you will have to say no multiple times as some can be pushy), appear confident and look for our driver who will be holding a “Chidi Ashley Travels” sign.
Must Have Apps
Grab: Uber for Thailand - Order taxis on the go
Thai Nemo: Thai language learning app, learn a few key phrases to communicate with locals
Xe currency- Fast currency converter with reliable exchange rates and charts. Doesn’t require internet access.
Food panda- Order from nearby restaurants, just like Uber Eats!
Amazing Thailand: Provides wonderful information about what to see, do and learn while here
Bangkok Post: current news, photos, commentaries, tops stories, weather reports and more
Always carry a bit of cash with you. It will come in handy when you decide to buy a coconut, grilled corn on the cob or a sarong on the beach. Tipping the staff at the tour guides, spa and restaurant is also usually done in cash.
Your cash is king at markets, food stalls and small shops. Do not expect to be able to use your credit cards there.
This is a common fee that is charged in addition to your ATM purchase is 200Baht. Thai banks take the 200THB for themselves as a charge, but it will not show on your bank statement as an additional charge, rather just 200THB more than what you withdrew. Charged to all foreign cards.
This fee is the same no matter how much money you take out, so we suggest taking larger sums rather than smaller ones.
PLEASE NOTE: The card comes out of the ATM after the money (opposite than Europe) so many people forget there card and it get swallowed in the machine.
(You can usually get it back 24 to 48h later by contacting the bank).
Keep in mind that very often there will be a 3 to sometimes even 5% surcharge on credit card transactions. This is because the credit card companies keep that percentage for themselves, and the vendors in Thailand will charge that fee back to their customers.
There is no additional charge to use your CC, rather the Thai store has to cover it themselves. Depending on your CC company, there may be no to minimal fees for using the card.
Plugs and Sockets
Thailand uses 220V AC electricity. Power outlets most commonly feature two-prong round or flat sockets. (Pictured below)
Important Thai Phrases
Thank you: Kawpkoon
Excuse Me: Kaw to-ht
Goodbye: Laa gawn
No: Mai Chai
Haawng Naam Yuu Thee Nai? (hong-nam-you–tee–nye): Where Is The Bathroom?
Leo Sai / Leo Kwaa (lee-yo-sigh/lee-yo-kwa) — Turn Left / Turn Right
A Nee Tao Rai? (a-nee–tow–rye) / How Much Is This?
Thai is the national and official language of Thailand. Most Thai people can also speak basic English due to the school curriculum and/or interacting with foreigners in a work/tourist capacity. We encourage you to download Google Translate or Thai Nemo.
Drink bottled water only, and brush your teeth in it too. It's advisable not to have ice in your drinks either, unless it's a reputable hotel, restaurant or bar. Ice factories are required to go through rigorous measures to purify the water, so you should not be to worrisome about having ice in your drinks. However, we encourage you to be safe than suffer the diarrhea consequences.
Shopping rule no.1 - There is always a cheaper price!
Haggle to get the price down whenever buying things in Thailand. Before I barter, I usually have a price in my head that’s how much I expect to pay. So if I want to pay 900THB and they come in at say 1000THB (they will always start at the most ridiculous price), I would counter with 500THB and work my way towards my goal. If they don’t agree with your price, fake like you are walking away and then they will generally say okay okay and give you the item at the price you haggled for.
It also helps to have the correct cash on you. If you hold out the exact amount you want to pay, they are more inclined to accept your price. But sometimes shop owners won’t budge, which is okay. You’ll find the same products at hundreds of stalls across Thailand. Try your luck somewhere else.
The only place you wouldn’t barter is in a fixed price shop. This is either a clothing store behind glass doors (like Billabong), or a street shop that specifies it’s fixed price.
Most Thai service providers are comparatively lowly paid , and yet extremely generous and hospitable. If you receive good service, a small tip goes a long way. If you're with a group throw in a couple of bucks each, and learn to say thank you: "Kawpkoon.”
Do not feed the monkeys
You’ll come across plenty of monkey-filled beaches in Thailand. These animals are cute, clever, and are definitely cool to see up close. That does not mean you should feed them. Feeding the monkeys means they become less able to find food on their own, making them vulnerable in the wild. 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 and there’s a hospital nearby, an enjoyable experience could quickly turn into something very dangerous.
BYOT (Bring your own toilet paper)
While traveling around Thailand, it is always a good idea to keep a small container of tissues or toilet paper with you, just in case. You never know when you will be caught short! Many bathrooms in Thailand have squat toilets and “bum guns” (essentially hoses used in place of toilet paper), which Westerners may not be accustomed to.
How to Dress
What to Pack for Thailand!
When entering temples and royal buildings, always make sure your shoulders and knees are covered. That means no singlets for guys or gals. Keep a sarong in your bag should you need a quick wardrobe change, and don't forget to remove your shoes and socks when entering a temple.
Bug spray - This especially for Chiang Mai be sure to be prepared for the bugs that will inevitably make your acquaintance at some point during your trip.
Sunscreen: Never underestimate the power of the Thai sun, regardless of the raining season Thailand is known to get quite hot so be prepared with sunscreen.
Keep it casual: Although you can get ‘dressed up’ in Thailand, most people wear casual clothes from day to night in Phuket and Chiang Mai especially. So embrace your relaxed side. Only the very expensive and swanky restaurants have dress codes.
Other items to bring:
Water proof phone pouch
Closed shoes/sneakers for hiking
Hats & Sunglasses
Slip-on shoes - You’ll find signs that request you to take off your shoes in some places (like temples), so save more fancy shoes for other days.
Travel Diarrhea (or Diarrhea) Treatment – There’s no getting away from it – at some point on your travels, you might be struck with a case of Bad Guts. While you should heed timeless advice about avoiding drinking non-bottled water and eating anything that hasn’t been cooked, a lot of travel toilet troubles are simply caused by the change of diet that you’re going through while traveling, coupled with the extra exertion of being probably more active than usual. Most symptoms pass (ahem) in 24 hours and it’s best just to rest and drink plenty of bottled water. If you absolutely have to move on, then something like Imodium or another travel diarrhea remedy is a good stopgap (sorry) but it’s not something you should rely on for days on end.
While you are traveling in Thailand, you are subject to its laws. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. Persons violating Thai laws, even unknowingly, may be arrested, or imprisoned. The Thai legal process is very slow, and cases can take months to be resolved. Suspects can be held without charges for up to 80 days, and in some cases longer, during pre-trial investigation.
Penalties for possession or use of, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Thailand are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. A life sentence or the death penalty can be imposed in cases of drug trafficking. Several foreigners have been sentenced to death in recent years.
Most Thai prisons are harsh and do not meet Western standards.
I don’t want to scare you (maybe just a little) but this is a very serious topic.
Forget about drugs when you are partying in Thailand as a foreigner you are a prized target for the police and therefore you are more at risk.