Thailand — one of Asia’s most beautiful countries to visit. Indeed, a vacation in Thailand means being able to visit historical destinations, trying out exotic and spice-filled food, and meeting some of the nicest people in the world. But while there are countries in which you can easily immerse yourself in local life and enjoy experiencing their culture, there are dos and don’ts you should be aware of in places like Thailand. To guide you on your trip, here are some of the things you should know beforehand.
Thai eating etiquette
In Thailand, people eat with a spoon and fork rather than a knife and fork. You use the fork to stab the food and keep it in place, but you eat only with the spoon. It is considered crude or shows a lack table manners if you eat with your fork. When you are finished eating, always put your fork and spoon at the 6:30 position. The wait staff will take this as a signal to take your plate away.
Additionally, use chopsticks when you are eating noodles. But do not ask for them if it is obvious that chopsticks are not available.
English is widely understood
It would be nice to learn a couple of phrases in Thai sà wàt dii for Hello or Kob kun krub/Kob kun ka for Thank You. But remember that most Thais can understand English, so do not hesitate to ask locals about directions or suggestions on where to go.
Bring a jacket or a cover-up when visiting temples
Whether it is for temples, monasteries, and palaces, always make sure that your elbows and knees are covered up. You can do this by bringing along a jacket, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, or using a long cover-up. So that it is convenient for you, schedule your visits to these places in one day if it is possible. Additionally, if you see that the locals are removing their shoes, make sure to follow suit.
Carry wet wipes, tissues, and hand sanitizers
There are countries in Asia where squat toilets are widely used than sitting toilets, and Thailand is one of them. Do not worry, there are establishments which has the sitting toilet, but just in case you are not near one, squat toilets are the most accessible. If you are uncomfortable with using them but have to go to the toilet, just use your own tissue, wet wipes, and hand sanitizers. And try not to wear shoes which easily slips on wet surfaces so that you will not have a problem when you are squatting.
Do not talk about the king
Thai people have a deep respect for their King. In fact, if there is a scene in a film where the King is shown, they would all stand up, as you should too when you are in the cinema with them. But you are also not allowed to talk about the Kind, you should not even mention them even if it is just in passing. So to adhere to this rule and to show respect, avoid mentioning the King in conversations with the locals.
Be mindful of your body language
You know that in some cultures, there are some gestures that you are not allowed to do. For instance, in Italy you are not allowed to use the horns sign — a common hand gesture used in rock concerts — because it is offensive. In Thailand, you should not point your finger to people. This is seen as a sign of aggression, so if you are calling on someone like a tuk-tuk or a taxi, you should make sure that your palm is down and that your fingers are directed to the ground.
Public transportation is pretty straightforward
If you are worried about the traffic, you would be glad to know that the Subway (BTS) and the Light Rail (MRT) are pretty efficient ways to go around the country. They are also fast and cheap, so you do not have to worry about putting a dent on your budget.
Ride a tuk-tuk during the day
Of course, riding the tuk-tuk will always be part of the Thai experience. However, to fully appreciate the city view it gives you, ride the tuk-tuk during the day. Then you can just go back to your hotel riding the BTS, the MRT, or even a taxi.
Local beer brands also produce bottled water
In Thailand, there are brands who make both beer and water. So do not get confused when you order a Singha and the water asks if it is a Singha beer or Singha water.
Experience hot and humid days in April
If you are planning to travel in April, you should know that it is one of the most humid months in Thailand, in fact, the whole of Asia. It is when you can expect rain or drizzles, but there is no cold wind, instead it will remain hot. You can choose to reschedule your trip on a much less humid month, but if you can take it, then just bring comfortable clothes. In any case, it makes traveling in Thailand cheaper and less crowded in April.
Do not compare local food with their Western versions
We all love a good helping of Pad Thai, but you should know that it might taste different from the usual dish we enjoy at home. Local food is delicious, but it is made with Thai taste buds in mind. Watch out for restaurants or stalls which is packed with locals, because those definitely serve the best local fare.
Eat as many mangoes as you possibly can
Seriously, Thailand has the sweetest mangoes in the world, so do not miss an opportunity to eat them. There is a dessert that has slices of mangoes, sticky rice, and coconut milk — it tastes heavenly, do try that.
These are some of the most important things you need to know before your trip to Thailand. Keep these reminders in mind and your Thai trip will surely go without a hitch.