Five Things First Time Travellers To Thailand Should Know
- Don't talk about the king. Disrespecting the King of Thailand by insulting him could land you in prison for up to 15 years. To avoid causing any offence, it's best not to talk about the monarchy at all.
- Show good dinner etiquette by eating off your spoon, not your fork. In Thailand, it's considered rude to eat your food off a fork. Rather use it to push your food onto your spoon.
- Respect the dress code for temples. You need to cover up your elbows, shoulders and knees before entering a wat. Keep a light jacket on your back just in case you stumble across a beautiful temple you want to explore.
- Don't touch a Thai person on the head or point your feet to anyone. In Buddhism, this is considered rude as the head is the most sacred part of the body and the feet are the lowest.
- The tap water in Thailand is not safe to drink. Luckily, bottles of clean water are available at all convenience stores such as 7 Eleven. Plus you can even fill up your water bottle for less than THB 5 at public dispensers around town.
Best Time To Visit Thailand
The best time to go to Thailand is from December to March right after the monsoons. The dry season means temperatures will be lower and the country's landscapes will be lush and green.
But the more favourable weather conditions means you'll have to contend with higher prices. Visitors flock to Thailand during this time for Christmas holidays and the country's legendary New Year parties. If you're planning on visiting during this period, book your hotel and flights a few months in advance to lock in better prices.
If you're travelling on a budget, Thailand's shoulder seasons are the best time to visit. From April to June and September to October, temperatures are higher, but monsoon downpours have yet to begin.
April is also Songkran, one of Thailand's most popular festivals and September is the ideal time to head north or explore the gulf coast.
Thailand's low season is from July to October. But while monsoon season does cause flooding in cities like Bangkok, travelling during this time shouldn't be avoided. You'll be rewarded with fewer crowds, cheap airfare and lower prices on accommodation. Plus the downpours don't last long so you won't lose a day of sightseeing to bad weather.
Bangkok is Thailand's capital city and a sprawling metropolis with something to offer every kind of traveller. From its intricate temples to its infamous party scene on Khao San road, you won't be short of options while exploring this city.
To see as much as possible of Bangkok, skip hiring a car as you'll spend more time trying to navigate the streets than taking in what the city has to offer.
Instead, hop on board the Skytrain and shop for souvenirs at the Chatuchak market, visit the art museums and indulge your taste buds at some of the best restaurants in the country.
Chiang Mai is the ultimate destination for digital nomads and travellers who love nature. The city is famous for its jungles, elephant sanctuaries and ornate Buddhist temples in the hills.
While the city has seen an explosion of Western-style restaurants and expats in recent years, it hasn't lost any of its culture. Chiang Mai is full of incredible food markets, temples that date back to 1402 and is home to the famous Long Neck Karen Hill tribe.
Phuket is the gateway to Thailand's notorious party scene and island hopping day trips. It's home to over 33 beaches, and travellers flock from near and far to snorkel or dive in Phuket's emerald waters.
One of its most famous sights is Phang Nga Bay. It's home to some of the best beaches in Thailand and shot to stardom after Koh Ping-gan appeared in the James Bond movie "The Man With The Golden Gun".
Once you've had enough sun, there's plenty to explore back on land. Visit the many beautiful temples, national parks or delicious restaurants.
Top Attractions in Thailand
Koh Phi Phi
Catapulted to fame in Leonardo DiCaprio's movie "The Beach", Koh Phi Phi is now one of Thailand's biggest destinations.
While much of the island was destroyed by the 2004 tsunami, its infrastructure has been rebuilt, and Koh Phi Phi is once again thriving.
Every year, this small island in the Andaman Sea attracts thousands of visitors. From young backpackers looking for the ultimate beach party to divers and luxury travellers looking to unwind.
Get your adventure fix by climbing up the limestone cliffs, visiting the famous Maya Bay or finding a spot on Long Beach to simply relax.
The Grand Palace
No visit to Bangkok would be complete without a stop at The Grand Palace. It's been the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782, and within its walls, you'll find some of Thailand's most sacred sites.
It's easy to spend a whole afternoon getting lost in the maze of royal halls, visiting the temples and marvelling at the ancient relics. But the palace's most famous landmark is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
It's believed to be home to a piece of hair from Buddha and is considered the most important Buddhist temple in the country.
Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai National Park is home to Thailand's largest herd of wild elephants. Located only a short train ride away from Bangkok, it's one of the best day trips from the capital city.
Hire a guide and spend the day trekking through the jungle searching for its famous inhabitants. If you're lucky, you may even spot a tiger or two visiting the salt pans.
If one day is not enough, Khao Yai has excellent camping facilities. Tents, sleeping bags and blankets can all be rented out from the visitor's centre at affordable prices. Just be sure to keep your food locked in your tent, as the resident deer population has a penchant for helping themselves to some snacks.
Historic City of Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya is Thailand's Angkor Wat. The ancient city used to be the capital of the Siam Kingdom before the Burmese ransacked it. At the height of its power in the sixteenth century, it was one of the biggest and wealthiest cities in the East.
Today, the former capital is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and only a short bus trip from Bangkok. The summer palace and many other temples are still standing making it one of Thailand's most unique historical sites.
While many group tours organise trips to Ayutthaya, it's easy enough to do by yourself. All you need to do once there is rent a bike to take you around the various ruins of Thailand's past.
Doi Suthep is Chiang Mai's most popular attraction and northern Thailand's most sacred temple. Located high up on a mountain overlooking the city, it attracts thousands of devout Buddhist followers and tourists each year.
To reach the wat, you'll need to ascend a 306 step staircase. The steep climb is intended to help Buddhist followers earn merit, but if you aren't able to do the climb, there is a funicular-style lift as well.
Once at the top, you'll see the panoramic views of Chiang Mai below and beautiful examples of northern Thai architecture where almost everything is decked out in gold.
Major International Airports in Thailand
- Suvarnabhumi Airport
- Don Mueang International Airport
- Chiang Mai International Airport
- Phuket International Airport
- Hat Yai International Airport