25 Facts I Didn’t Know About Thailand
Whatever you buy, you have to pay cash. It would have been totally fine for me if the banks weren’t charging 220 baht (6€) for every withdrawal. The only places you can pay by card are the good hotels. For the rest, you pay cash (7 eleven, day trips on islands, souvenirs) so I recommend withdrawing several thousand baht at once.
I thought that taking off your shoes was a Buddhist tradition and that it applied only when entering temples. But I was surprised to see that in Thailand, you take off your shoes most of the time: in local food shops, travel agencies, souvenirs shops… Basically, take a look at what Thais do if you hesitate but most of the time, you’ll see shoes outside of a shop.
Thai people believe that eating spicy food repels mosquitos.
There is no state religion which gives religious freedom to Thais but Southern Thailand is primarily Muslim (I thought they were Buddhists).
Thais are more likely to be nice to you if you make an effort to say “hello” and “thank you” in Thai. (Hello is pronounced “Sawadikaa” and thank you is “Kodpunkaa”).
Thais eat rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Most of Thai coffee is undrinkable.
Thais do not like to negotiate prices. If you suggest a price that they consider too low, they often get angry and start ignoring you. They know that other tourists will accept their price so they prefer to wait than to sell something at a reduced price.
Local food is full of sugar; they put it in every meal and drink (if you order a fruit shake, I recommend you ask for no sugar).
Thais love to make fun of tourists. I’ve never felt insulted but if you are in any kind of trouble, they’ll laugh at you before helping.
In big cities like Bangkok, you will pay local prices for transports (bus, sky train, subway, songtoe). But in touristic areas, everyone pays a different price. Thais will quote you a very high price and test if you’re fine with it or not. Before flying to Thailand, it’s good to know the approximate prices for transports and other essentials (soon on the blog).
Thai people don’t walk, they drive. It’s actually impressive to see how every local has a scooter, especially on the islands. Also, in the smaller cities, there are no sidewalks so walking is difficult.
I don’t recommend looking at the road while on a local bus or in a tuktuk. I’ve never felt unsafe but locals drive a bit dangerously.
Thais are known for their hospitality and I was impressed by it. Unfortunately, when it comes to money, most Thais won’t hesitate to overcharge you.
I know I said that Thais do not like to negotiate prices but there is one thing you need to know before visiting the country. If the price is written it is supposedly fixed. But since it’s very rare and prices are almost never written, there is always a possibility of negotiation.
This fact may seem ridiculous and some people may not agree but classic thai dishes are often better in the streets than at the restaurant. You may pay 40 baht (about 1€) for a pad thai in the street and it’ll taste at least as good as the ones served in restaurants (for 100 to 200 baht)! We actually had some bad experiences in Thai restaurants: we ordered a sweet and sour chicken to see how “it really tastes” but we ended up with a sauce tasting like ketchup…
The more remote you go, the less likely you’ll find public transports. That’s why most tourists rent a motorbike. Sadly, they often don’t know how to drive it (no one asks for a driving license). There are a lot of motorbike accidents on the islands so be careful if you drive one.
Street food has no time: it starts at dawn and ends at night. You can even find something to eat at midnight. If not, there are night markets in almost every city.
Never raise your voice in Thailand. It is very disrespectful and a shame for both you and the local.
Sadly, most Thais don’t know what “ecology” means. However, all of the beaches are clean.
There are traffic laws in Thailand, but no-one respects them. Basically, you never know when to cross the street because drivers don’t want to stop.
Thais love chicken, and especially fried chicken like KFC.
There are very few trash cans in Thailand and some street food vendors will only take trash back from food you bought at their place.
I knew that there was a national mourning in Thailand for several months but I was still surprised to see how much Thais loved their king.
Thai people are very silent. If you take the sky train or the subway or any bus, the atmosphere is very quiet. I don’t know if it is because of their culture or of the fact that they are constantly on their smartphones but it is actually very pleasant not to hear people screaming on public transports.