Going to Thailand is without any doubt an excellent experience! This country has so much to offer no matter what type of traveller you are. Whether you seek for spiritual and cultural experience, meeting new people, discovering wild, exotic nature, searching for adrenaline, partying or maybe simply hoping for relax and good weather, it’s guaranteed you will find that in Thailand! But yet, we have found some tips how you can manage to spoil your trip to this welcoming and wonderful country
Staying in one place
Ok, so you travel at least a couple of thousands kilometers, spend hours and hours in the planes and arrive to Thailand. Then you get to your resort, or wherever it is that you plan on staying in and remain there for 2-3 weeks!
You may have chosen a very interesting area and all, but do you really go through so much struggle to get here not to see much of Thailand at all?
It’s true that running from one place to another can be exhausting and I would never recommend you to do so, but doing a couple of days in one destination, then heading to another is a different story. Obviously, it’s up to your preferences, but, for us, the average time we stay in one place is 3-4 nights, depending on the destination. It should give you some time to relax after the journey, enjoy your stay and see a bit of the place.
Even if you do only southern Thailand during your travel, each place here is truly different, with its own atmosphere, wild life and landscapes. It would be a true shame to miss all of that!
You may feel stressed at the beginning about moving around here, but it’s super easy. Lately, Thailand has become extremely tourist oriented and going from one place to another is something that almost everyone does me. People here have it all very well organized and the chances you’ll get lost are minimal. You can generally choose between taking a flight (for longer distances), a ferry, a speed boat, a long boat (for short distances), a minivan, a bus, a taxi or a tuk-tuk. The last two are the only ones that I would strongly discourage you from considering, as they are the most likely ways of getting scammed here.
Not exploring the places you end up in
Another great way not to enjoy your stay here is not getting out from the beach and your resort. Even if you pick up a 5 star hotel with an impeccable service situated next to a wonderful beach, why on earth would you fly to Thailand? I’m pretty sure that you have plenty of nice and warm places around where you live that offer you pretty much the same experience, presumably for less money!
Even if you’re not an explorer type and have little craving for adventure and discovering, I’m sure that the place you stay in can offer you many attractions. From hikes through the jungle, boat trips to the nearby island, visiting temples, admiring wild nature, climbing or diving classes to such things as Thai massage or cooking classes. A friend of mine even got herself locked in a Buddhist sanctuary for almost a week for meditation.
Try to explore as much as you can from your even closest neighborhood, you may be surprised! If you lack ideas as to what you can do where you are, take a look at the ads on the local tourist agencies, they generally cover some of the most popular attractions. The best way to find information is, however, the Internet. Contrary to some opinions I’ve heard before coming here, it is NOT a wild country and you can get Wi-Fi pretty much everywhere.
Getting stressed about culture differences and possible problems
If it’s your first trip to Asia, then you’re probably going to worry about the cultural differences here. This is an extremely broad subject and covers every aspect, from the casual day to day talks, to the approach towards money making, the assumptions you may make about treating tourists here etc…
You probably have seen the countless videos about scamming tourists in Thailand, other manuals what you should or should not do when you come here. After an overload of such materials, you get so stressed with your every step, that you stop enjoying your stay here!
So, first of all, do your homework! Making some research about the general rules of conduct here is a good start. You’re a tourist therefore you’ll be forgiven most of your faux-pas, however it’s always better to be respectful to the people and culture you go to. Second, it’s good to be aware of the most popular scams here. In general, there are a few of most popular of them, but, except of the taxi scam, that you’ll probably get into sooner or later (everybody does!), they are also easily avoidable.
But remember, Thai people are truly friendly. Of course, they will try to sell you things, it’s how they make money! The will offer you trips, massages and other things, but this is just their job. But they are respectful with you in the same time. And it’s not merely as annoying as the way you get treated for instance in Egypt, or other African destinations. Apart from that, they are extremely helpful and open. Many times children and women were waving at me when I went out running. Quite contrarily to Europe and definitely to some other cultures, I didn’t have a single stupid comment or strange propositions and I was running alone a lot before the sunrise.
What’s more, when you pay for a service here, you’re well taken care of from the beginning to the end, not only until you pay 😉 I wrote our experience from the Phi Phi islands about the Maya Bay tour and our reception in the hotel there in one of my previous articles, but I stress here as well: Thai people take a good care of the clients.
Sticking to European food
Before coming here, you have probably read about the „small” inconveniences that you may encounter here, such as the Ton Sai Tummy, the Bangkok Belly etc. It’s all true, as we’re not familiar with the indigenous bacterial flora here. However, it’s not as common as you may think!
In some or the tourist-oriented towns, there are typical western facilities as McDonalds, Burger Kings, Steak houses etc. I can understand that you may fancy a break from the Asian food, but getting here and not even trying would truly be a great loss! Thai cuisine offers a variety of delicious meals for vegetarians as well as the meat-eaters. It’s well known for being extremely spicy, but I actually happen to disagree with that point. You can find many sweet and only slightly spicy food here, if getting hot from inside is not really your thing. We picked up some snacks from street food spots as well as the restaurants, and almost everything we’ve tried was delicious. You can start with the most famous Pad Thai, the spring rolls, hundreds of ways of serving chicken, the roties/Thai pancakes, soups and many more.
As far as the beverages are concerned, all types of shakes are extremely popular here. the prices vary depending on the place: we got our first coffee shake for 20 baht in Phuket Pier, but in more popular places you can pay 50-60 baht for tasty fresh fruit ones. Ok, I know that there’s a lot of ice inside it and you were probably warned against having it here, but it’s hard to avoid, as you’ll really need to cool down once in a while.
We followed only two rules here: do not drink the current water. Ever. We didn’t use it even for tooth brushing. And the second one is: use your common sense. If the place seems shade and the sanitary conditions appear really poor, you see the flies over your pieces of fish that probably lies there all day, just don’t eat there. Try to stick to the popular bars or restaurants, as with the larger amount of clients, the food is not lying for a long time.
Apart from that we ate absolutely everything we wanted and nothing bad happened. You may be a bit less fortunate, but, luckily, the local sickness takes only about 1 day and, may I repeat it again, is far less common that for instance the Pharaoh’s curse in Egypt.
Not visiting Phi Phi islands
Coming to Phuket and not going to the Phi Phi Islands is another great way to spoil your stay. You’ll probably think, it’s overrated and so touristic that it’s probably not worth it. Well, first and foremost, you are a tourist here and these places got famous for a reason!
The Phi Phi landscape differs enormously from the one you may get on the continent. Outstanding rocks, unforgettable sunsets, pristine turquois water, fabulous wild life are only just a tip of an iceberg! However, if you’re a party animal, don’t think you’ll get bored here! Phi Phi Don’s center is famous for its nightlife! (make sure you remember that as getting a hotel or hostel in the center will spoil your holiday as well… unless you don’t need to sleep 😉 )
Not visiting Maya Bay while staying on the Phi Phi Island
Ok, say you got to Phi Phi, get out of the ferry or boat and just get the party started! Although Phi Phi Don is marvelous, it really is, and in itself will provide you with the whole set of attractions, from hiking, diving, sunbathing, admiring the beauty of nature to partying, don’t fall for the impression that this is ALL that the Islands have to offer! Make a small research! Whether you’re snorkeling, diving, you want to take a kayak, it’s all there for you to discover even better places! And most importantly: if you’re on the Phi Phi Islands, don’t, for any reason, miss going to Phi Phi Lee and seeing the Maya Bay!
I know, it’s ridiculously popular and may seem so overrated and tourist-oriented that it seems discouraging, but this is the major reason that people come here for! And it’s so famous for a reason!!!
A little tip: try to make a very early trip if possible. There are several places, where they offer tours starting around 6.30. If only you find it possible, it’s a go-to approach. First, it’s not going to be so unbearably hot on the beach. Second, most important, at 6.30 people are still sleeping and there’s only going to be just a few of you fanatics on the beach! If getting up in the middle of the night isn’t really your thing, than you can use the opposite approach: go after 2 PM. That way, the shade start showing up in Maya Bay and people tend to go back. And, as it’s going to be your driver’s last trip that day, he may show you much more than just the beach. We got a tour around the nearest bays, had time for snorkeling and were offered to wait for the sunset- a wonderful trip.
Sleeping out the days
Before coming here, we’ve came across the opinion that Asia wakes up extremely early. And indeed it does! I tend to run a lot, while travelling and prefer to do so in the early morning, as, otherwise, it’s hard to fit in the schedule. Going out at around 6 o’clock, I expected the places to be secluded and completely empty, but a day to day life starts very early here.
I would never recommend to you converting to the Asian-like itinerary, however the days here are very short (the sunset is around 6.30 PM). Therefore, if you want to see as much as possible, or plan on doing some time consuming activities, which work better with a daylight, then getting up early is a way to go.
If you came to Thailand to party, at least try not to sleep out your entire stay here. It gets dark very soon and it would definitely be a great loss, as the views are amazing.
I think that’s what happen to most travellers, especially the more rookie ones. We unfortunately did it ourselves this time, as the way we got our accommodation here sort of forced us. I probably didn’t mention it before, but we only had to pay for like 3 nights in Thailand and the rest was covered by our company. However, to get it, we had to pre-book the accommodation long time before coming.
And it was a true shame… Had we had a possibility, we would have definitely stayed on the Phi Phi Islands for 2 more days… But that’s the price you pay for pre-planning.
I can sort of understand, if you’re a solo traveler, going for the first time. You probably get scared and prefer to have it all already organized. Or, in the most popular places, as the Phi Phi Islands, the best places are probably long gone before you arrive and staying in a hostel can result in you not sleeping and not enjoying your trip at all. But in all other cases, getting an accommodation here is extremely easy and you cannot predict what’s going to happen on your way, so being flexible in this matter is the best way to follow!
Staying in Patong!
This paragraph is dedicated to non-partying people, as if you come to Thailand for this kind of entertainment that, sure, it’s a place to go.
Imagine you go for your long- awaited family or couple holiday, or you just need to take a rest and relax after work. You’ve heard so much about breathtaking views and general beauty of Thailand. You book 2 weeks in a resort and… end up in Patong Beach O_O. The overwhelming crowds, thousands of young people, party atmosphere even during the day, no place to lay down on the beach, the omnipresent smell of… well different things… these are just a few characteristics of this incredibly popular town. If you’re there with your partner or children, I’m pretty sure the young Thai strippers or prostitutes aren’t exactly the scenery you’re looking for. So, unless you’re that kind of guy… stay out of Patong. There are several other beaches around: Karon, Kata, make a research and choose wisely!
These are our 8 major “what not to do” tips if you happen to visit Southern Thailand. Although, honestly, spoiling your trip here would be a challenge. If you have more suggestions, please leave them in the comments below.