Traveling to a new country can be very exciting yet anxious. You have whole new things waiting for you to discover but you have no idea of the people, culture, and laws in the country you are visiting. This is why we’ve collected some guides to traveling Southeast Asia based on our experts’ advice. Hoping they’ll give you some ideas of what to expect when you visit this beautiful region. Anything you want to know but don’t find in this article, feel free to contact us for more free advice.
We’ll start with Thailand - the country with so many things to offer for every traveler. With its exotic beaches, splendid temples, and abundant food paradises, this land is always the first stop for visitors in Southeast Asia.
At least 10 days, I would say. Once you’re here, you’ll want to visit all the places, try all the food, and absorb all the culture. Each region of Thailand offers new things to explore. In the north, there’s Lana culture, forested mountains, remarkable Buddhist temples, colorful hill tribes, thousands of years of history, and authentic Thai cuisine that millions of visitors from all over the world come to enjoy every year. In the south, there’s a deep blue sea, caves, waterfalls, tropical islands, and the most high-end resorts in the country that can bring your beach vacation to the next level. And of course, no one wants to skip Bangkok where you will see 3 days are not enough to explore this capital city.
The official language is, of course, Thai. It is spoken by the majority population. However, English is widely understood, particularly in Bangkok. English is used in most hotels, shops, and restaurants. There are Thai-English signs in tourist attractions.
The climate of Thailand is controlled by tropical monsoons so the weather is relatively hot throughout most of the year. Basically, November to early April is the best time in Thailand when it is sunny though as in other tropical destinations, unpredicted rain is possible even on the brightest days. But it won’t last for long. For beach lovers, visit from January to April. But if sightseeing and culture exploring are your main interests then visit in December, January, and February.
The official currency of Thailand is the Thai Baht (THB) in both bills and coins. The Thai baht bills range from 20 THB to 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 THB. Thai coins come in 6 denominations: 10 baht, 5 baht, 2 baht, 1 baht, 25 Satang, and 50 Satang (1 Baht is subdivided into 100 Satangs). The official exchange rate is 34.80 THB = 1 USD (March 2023).
In Thailand, people mostly pay cash, especially in local restaurants and shops. Therefore, you should always have cash on you. ATMs are everywhere in big cities to make a withdrawal.
There are 8 domestic airlines in Thailand. Flight time between cities in Thailand doesn’t take a lot of time. The longest domestic flight is from Chiang Mai to Phuket and lasts only 2 hours. The advantage of time and price make the flight the most convenient way to travel around the country. Bangkok Airways and Thai Airways are the best, but of course, they are not low-cost airlines. The best budget carrier is Air Asia. It operates great services and comprehensive routes from Bangkok to 10 different domestic airports throughout Thailand including Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Krabi at reasonable prices.
Buddhism is practiced by most Thais and plays an important role in the everyday life of people. As you might know, Buddhist temples can tell you interesting Thai history and culture so visiting temples is always a must in every itinerary when traveling Thailand. Learn some essential temple etiquette such as not touching a Buddha image or statue, not climbing on top of it, and not showing disrespect to it. Dress appropriately is also recommended.
The rate for a taxi in Bangkok begins at 35 Baht, and then it charges 5 Baht for each kilometer after that. If the taxi is stuck in a traffic jam and it just can move less than 6km/hour, the meter charge is 1.5 Baht per meter when moving under 6 km/hour.
All taxis in Bangkok are metered. Find another taxi if your driver refuses to use his meter. There are thousands of taxis in Bangkok so it isn’t difficult to find one. Taxi drivers in Bangkok don’t require a tip but it’s a common practice to round the fare off to the nearest 10 baht if you think the service is good.
In Thailand, tipping is not customary, but small gratuities for great service are always appreciated. Therefore, studying tipping etiquette when you travel to Thailand is never too much. Tip 1-2$ for the porter carrying your bags and 20 baht for the cleaner. Tip 8-10$ per day to your guide and half of that to the driver. In nice restaurants, they often include a 10% service charge in the bill so leave behind the loose change in coins. But you don’t need to tip if you aren't satisfied with the service.
Interacting with the elephant is one of the biggest attractions in Thailand. But many people have considered this experience as animal abuse. So should you see the elephant when you’re in Thailand?
The answer is Yes, but you should choose the elephant camp wisely. The captive elephants after being rescued can’t be released back into nature. They need food to be fed and land to roam around. Ethical sanctuaries are the best option for captive elephants so far and your visit will contribute to the elephant’s living cost. Feel free to ask us if you want to find information about trustful elephant sanctuaries in Thailand.
Sampling street food is the ultimate joy of being in Thailand. Just Bangkok, there are over 12,000 vendors selling sweet, salty, and spicy flavors making Thailand one of the most vibrant food scenes in the world. From the famous salad Som Tam to the delicious Khao Soi, Thailand is a must-visit destination for every foodie. One thing is for sure, once you taste Thai street food, it will be your favorite food.
But Thailand is not all about the food sold at night markets by street vendors. Michelin Guide arrived in Thailand in 2018. Firstly in Bangkok, then the guide has expanded to cover other cities such as Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Pattaya. Those who are looking for a unique flavor of Thailand in an upscale experience can try Michelin-starred restaurants.
Thailand’s floating markets never cease to amaze visitors. They are loud and chaotic but full of life. Thai women wearing ngob (a palm leaves traditional hat), row longtail boats filling up with food, fruits, souvenirs, and snacks on the water. From the untouched floating market of Bang Nam Pheung to the charming Bang Khla floating market, you can easy to sample the best taste while enjoying a true, authentic travel experience.
Here are 5 authentic floating markets in Thailand if you don't know where to start.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Thailand has some of the best beaches in the world. Most of them come with clean water, white sand, beautiful sunsets, and iconic longtail boats that dot the shore. Even though Thailand has plenty of beaches to go to, Phuket - the pearl of the Andaman is always on the top list due to its perfect turquoise water and multicultural history. Let the longtail boat brings you to one of its remote islands on a day where you can sunbathe and enjoy a picnic lunch under the shade of a tree.
- Songkran: Songkran is the biggest festival in Thailand and is considered the biggest water fight in the world when locals and visitors rush down the streets and splash water on each other. The official festival takes place in 3 days in April but it often prolongs as long as 6 days. The epicenter of Songkran is Chiangmai but Bangkok and Phuket are also popular places to get wet in the water battle.
- Yi Peng: This is one of the most beautiful lantern festivals in the world. Every November, thousands of people flock to northern Thailand to witness it. Group of family, friends, and couples sharing a moment when their lanterns fly up, illuminating the sky, letting go of the past and sadness.
- Loy Krathong: The festival of Light is celebrated at the same time as Yi Peng. When the rivers are filled to their fullest and the moon is at its brightest, Thai people gather at the rivers to make merit. They set their banana leaf baskets (Krathong) off on the water. A candle will be lit up and a coin will be put into the Krathong as an offering to the river spirit.
- Phuket Vegetarian Festival: Excellent vegetarian foods are served in the street stalls. But what draws visitors to the festival is not the food but the parade of devotees who wear white and pierce their faces with everything from hooks and knives to spears. This festival is not for faint-hearts.
- Chiang Mai Flower Festival: Celebrated in February, this festival is the colorful displays of flowers, miniature trees, and local orchids. The main attractions of the 3-day festival are the Flower Parade and Flower Queen Beauty Pageant.
Thailand is considered a safe country to visit but it’s smart to exercise caution. Overloaded and speeding vehicles in big cities like Bangkok can make the road dangerous. Respect for pedestrians is very low. Possession of drugs can result in prison. Buying and selling opium, heroin, amphetamines, hallucinogenic mushrooms, and marijuana is illegal.
For women: Don’t wear anything too sexy if you don’t want Thai men staring at you. Carry a button shirt with you to wear outside your dress if you’re going to catch a taxi. Seek out a service that supplies female taxi drivers if it makes you feel more comfortable.
- Passport: Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months before the expiry date. Check with your doctor about the vaccinations and medicines needed.
- Clothes: Clothing should be lightweight and of the drip-dry variety. You will be in the sun a lot so long sleeves and a wide hat would be more suitable. Don’t forget smart casual clothes for the evenings and visiting up-scale restaurants.
- Footwear: Bring comfortable boots for trekking and for walking. They will need to support your ankles as well as have a non-slip sole. Waterproof sandals for those short trips and boating are necessary too.
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