Thailand is known for its breathtaking tropical landscapes, mouth-watering cuisine, and ancient temples. The meaning of Thailand is as peaceful as it sounds, translating to the “land of the free”. So, if you are looking for a spontaneous adventure (because who isn’t dying to leave their house these days) this Southeast Asian destination might be your best bet. Here are some tips you should keep in mind before going to Thailand.
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English is more common than you think
If it’s your first trip to Thailand, you may be surprised to learn that English is widely spoken, more specifically in Bangkok and other tourist hotspots. English is one of the most common immigrant-spoken languages, followed by Japanese, Korean, Hindi, French, and German. That being said, Thai is still the country’s national language and the most spoken, so here are some Thai words to know when traveling. Saying “hello” is sà-wàt-dii, “How are you?” is said as sà-baai-dii mâi and the magic word “thank you” translates to Khàawp-khun.
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Bargaining is allowed
It’s time to roll up your sleeves and venture into some good old fashion bargaining. If something doesn’t have a visible price on it, go to the merchant and suggest a lower price than what you intend on paying. It’s important to not go overboard. If the vendor seems persistent, the price is not worth an argument. When it comes to travelling around in Thailand, buses and trains are fixed prices, so no point in asking. The only wiggle room for bargaining is with tuk-tuks (a three-wheeled rickshaw) specifically if there is no meter. However, be wary of the drivers as they can easily spot tourists and try to take advantage of you. If the driver refuses to bump the price, try to find another tuk-tuk, as they are pretty easy to spot.
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The bugs will bite
Chances are you will be bugged by all types of insects like mosquitoes, ticks, bees, hornets, and more. Some of which can be completely harmless, while others can cause illness. A tiny bite can appear like nothing, but can have major impact on your health. Be sure you get the necessary shots and medications before-hand. For mosquito bites, use insect repellent, wear breathable layers to cover up as much skin as possible. If possible, sleep in an air-conditioned facility or under a screened bed net.
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Don’t drink the tap water
This one may be obvious but the tap water is not safe to drink. The water itself is just as clean as it would be in London or Los Angeles, but the pipes are older and could be contaminated by the time it reaches you. Carry bottled water with you and if you are travelling to Bangkok, there are plenty of refilling stations and/or convenience stores where you can replenish your supply.
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It’s a good idea to take the train
The train is the best and cheapest way to travel around Thailand. According to one blogger, the trains are spacious, air-conditioned and there is always food and drinks available for purchase. Apparently, the scenery of the tropics is “out of this world.” However, trains don’t take you everywhere, so the next best option is to catch a bus for short destinations.
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Stay away from stray dogs
Thailand has 8.5 million dogs and about 730,000 are stray. While you may feel an urge to feed them, it’s best to stay clear. These dogs tend to be territorial and aggressive because they are used to fighting for food. Be aware of your surroundings and make sure not to run away from them, as it will only entice them to chase you.
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What you need to enter
As of October 2021, Canadians are allowed to enter Thailand as long as they present their proof of vaccination. You will also need to have a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken 72 hours before your flight. Canadian citizens can enter Thailand without a visa for up to 30 days, and make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity remaining from your date of entry into Thailand.
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Mango-eating is a priority
Mangos are seen as the king of fruits, and in Thailand their sweet and unique flavour draws many tourists to South Asia. Thailand is the third largest exporter of mango in the world. Mangos are common in the “hot season” between March and May, when the country grows over 200 varieties of mangos. If you prefer to eat your fruit in a dish, no need to panic. Thailand has got your covered. Be sure to diversify your palette with Thailand’s traditional mango sticky rice – a mash of green mango topped off with chicken, ginger, and coconut. In other words, you’ll enjoy a party of Thailand’s most celebrated flavours in your mouth.
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Keep an eye on your wallet
Like in several popular tourist destinations across the globe, street crimes in Thailand are high. Canadians should be mindful of where they keep their phones and wallets, as theft and robbery are extremely common, especially if you look like a tourist. To avoid being a victim, carry important items in a cross-body bag or fanny pack.
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Pack breathable clothing
For the most part, Thailand’s climate is tropical and humid, which means you want to avoid wearing clothes that make you hot and sticky. Wearing lightweight clothing that hangs off your body allows your body to breathe out any sweat and heat that has built up overtime. You can also cool down by wearing light colours, as darker tones tend to absorb the sun.