Thailand Travel Tips

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    • Thailand is hot and wet. Even the "cool" season will feature daytime temperatures of 80 degrees Fahrenheit with high humidity. Also, during the summer monsoons you can expect very high humidity, some rain almost every day, and overcast skies. Beachgoers can take some relief in the knowledge that the monsoons are reversed in Southern Thailand: the Gulf of Thailand coast has monsoons in the summer along with the rest of the country, but the Andaman Sea coast has them in the winter.


    • Thailand is a haggling country, but it is a Buddhist haggling country. People are always friendly, polite, and wearing a smile, even when they are trying to screw you. Only a real jackass is surly in Thailand. Ask for prices first, be prepared to bargain, insist you get what you paid for, and walk away if you are not happy with the prices. Never expect to pay what the locals do and try to squeeze every last penny out of someone, but treat the whole thing as a game and be happy if you can manage a reasonable price. Also, never lose your temper in a dispute or negotiation. Losing your temper openly is very bad form in Thailand, and will cost you respect, making your bargaining harder rather than easier.


    • As a popular tourist destination, Thailand is packed with scam artists of all sorts. A common scam is for the driver of your tuk tuk (trike taxi) to want to take you to a gem or silk shop where he knows the owners and can get you a good deal, and offer to drive you somewhere for free if you make the shopping stop. The ride is only free because the driver gets a commission from the shop, he only gets that if you buy something, and all the prices are inflated accordingly. Another one is that the "temple/palace/market is closed," followed by the offer to take you somewhere else. The rule of thumb in a place like Thailand is to never accept any business proposition that you did not initiate. If you aren't out looking for silks, do not accept offers to go shopping for them.


    • One of the joys of being in Thailand is the food, especially the street food. The tropical fruits are magnificent, as are the stalls hawking pork sticks and barbecued chicken. All of this stuff is very sanitary, and also very cheap. Don't be shy about stopping to buy a yummy coconut to drink, or a bag of chopped pineapple and a few lambutans as a snack. However, you should stick to bottled water and not drink from the tap.

    Expert Insight

    • Sadly, one of Thailand's major attractions is its sex industry. However, generally speaking, you can avoid being harassed by sex workers simply by not going to certain bars or districts. The one thing to watch out for, however, is accidentally picking a naughty massage parlor when you are looking for a legitimate one. It is peculiar, since prostitution is so in the open in Thailand, but it does happen. There are some upscale cat houses posing as mid-scale massage shops, and since Thai massage is a good thing to indulge in while in Thailand, this can be an embarrassing mistake to make. When in doubt, don't go to that massage parlor. A good guide for avoiding a well-disguised cat house is to go to places that advertise employing "seeing hands" blind masseurs, or graduates of the Wat Pho massage school.


    • While they are available, drugs and drug use are illegal throughout Thailand. If that is your thing and the reason you are in Southeast Asia, you are better off taking it to neighboring Laos and Cambodia, where some of those things are legal. Nothing is worse than landing a stint in jail during your vacation.

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