Thailand for Newbie’s | Thai Guide 2014
What’s So Great About Thailand? A few simple guidelines for first-timers.
Steve Williams | Co-Founder
If you’re considering coming to Thailand for your first ever visit then there’s a few things you need to keep in mind. Knowing and remembering these will only help you to have a better trip and to fit in easily to your surroundings. These suggestions are based on my seven years of living in the Kingdom and are not ‘absolute’ but more of a guide.
Thailand is an awesome country. The people, the food, the climate (well, for most of the year!), markets, living. Everything here rocks, if you’re prepared to put up with the rough! Thailand is still a developing country and away from the larger cities and tourist enclaves, it is still a very poor place to be. Every single first-time visitor to Thailand, and indeed most parts of south east Asia need to understand a few simple rules before they start getting their arse in their hands about how ‘it’s not like that where I come from!’
It’s very easy to arrive in Thailand for the first time expecting life to operate how you’re used to in your own country. Fact is, it doesn’t. Possibly the biggest difference that first-time travelers need to understand from the start is that time has very little, and in some case no, importance at all. Being from the ‘developed’ western world, this is a strange sensation as we’re used to living our lives by the hands of a clock. Remove this from our routines and it’s a strange sensation.
It’s also virtually impossible to read signs, posters, menus, watch TV or listen to the radio. Another odd feeling as you’re basically removing something that we each take for granted every single day. You need to put your trust in to random strangers to be honest with you, trust your gut (pardon the pun!) when ordering food and live without TV for a while – shock, horror!
The weather plays a significant role in your day to day here in Thailand. There are two ‘seasons’ in south east Asia; hot and wet. Hot and dry. Hot and wet runs from June to November. Hot and dry from December to May. Possibly the best time to visit Thailand is December to January when the temperatures are cooler and the humidity is barely noticeable. During the hot and wet season it’s unusual for a rainy day, however storms can appear quickly leaving street under a couple of inches of water that usually disappears in an hour or so.
The food in Thailand is amazing, plentiful, fresh and cheap. Stay away from the restaurant chains to really experience the best meals. Eat at the street carts and the smaller Thai family operated eateries. Here you’ll get excellent value for money with meals costing as low as 30 Thai Baht ($1). One good rule to remember when eating at markets or street stalls is if it’s a busy one, then the food is good. Also, try to eat at one with large numbers of Thai’s as this will mean the food’s good and it will enhance your experience of eating ‘Thai-style’. Don’t play Russian Roulette with your tummy by eating at a deserted stall where food may have been sat in the midday heat for hours!
Thai’s have an inbuilt inability to say “no”, particularly to tourists. Always bear this in mind when asking for something specific. If you’re arranging a pick-up by taxi, have a Plan B in mind, just in case the taxi doesn’t actually show up. Thai’s want tourists to feel welcome, safe and as though they’re experiencing the very best service available. Thai’s will almost always give you a beaming smile and want to chat with you. It’s easy to find a new best friend.
Do some research about the Thai people’s respect for their Royal Family. Thailand is the only remaining country on the planet where the ‘Lese Majeste’ law is in operation. Not knowing this, and making a foolish, uneducated comment at the wrong time and in the wrong place can cause you all sorts of unnecessary problems. Fact is, the Thai people love their Royal family so be warned.
Learn a little bit of the language. You’ll find that by saying even a few words or phrases in Thai will get you far more respect and assistance from a local. There are a few Thai phrases that you simply must learn such as greetings, thank you, what is your name and perhaps how to order a cold beer! Knowing these simple phrases will really help you to have a far better time throughout your stay.
The ‘Wai’ is also a very important of Thailand’s traditions and respect culture. Learn it. It’s a very simple way to show respect and it is appreciated. The easiest way to do this correctly is to clasp your hands together in front of your face in a prayer style. Then lower your face to your hand until the tips of your finger are touching the bridge of your nose whilst keeping your elbows tucked in to your sides. This isn’t the only way to Wai so a little research and the Thai’s will love you from the start!
All in all, Thailand is a very safe, interesting, fun and awesome country to travel in and around. Thai people are almost always extremely friendly, welcoming and helpful. The above suggestions, if followed, will only enhance your time in Thailand and lave you wanting more. There are many other differences between Thailand and your home country, but find them out when you’re here. Just remember to enter the Kingdom of Thailand with an open mind, a smile on your face and be ready to ‘Wai’!
It really is ‘Amazing Thailand’.