We read a lot of things about Thailand before visiting. This was really a trip 5 years in the planning until we could afford to go. Now that we have traveled around different areas of Thailand (Bangkok, Kata, Rawai, Chiang Mai), I’ve accumulated a list (in no particular order) of things we noticed:
– Metered Taxi drivers will inevitably try to avoid using their meter and charge you a flat rate that will be considerably higher.
When we arrived in Bangkok, for example, the taxi driver offered to drive us to our hotel for 200 Baht. I insisted on the meter, and the ride ended up costing only 100 Baht.
– Chartered taxis and tuk tuk’s alike will make an extra stop at a jewelry shop because they get a commission for bringing people. The drivers collect stamps and get paid when they fill the card. This happened to us a couple of times. We went in to look around and didn’t buy anything. The driver was thankful. We’ve been told the jewelry is a scam, but not all the shops had terrible prices. The shops were clean and air conditioned, so not too bad.
– Thai people love babies. It is a daily occurence that we walk down the street and people get excited and run over to say ‘hi’ to Evey and smile at her. If my daughter has learned nothing else on this trip, she is awesome and worthy of worship 😉
– Bartering is expected for shopping, taxis, boat rides, etc. We found it best practice to not barter at the food stalls or places with small prices, because it’s so cheap already. Also, it seems like restaurants are set prices, too. Canadians are not known for bartering well, apparently, but we did our best. Ultimately, you pay what you feel comfortable paying and what it’s worth to you.
– The image of Buddha should be respected: you can photograph it, but don’t use it as decor, get it as a tattoo, or deface it in any way
– The Thai national anthem is played once a day. It’s respectful to stop what you are doing and stand.
– Papaya salad is way hotter than you would think. Way.
– Most places we encountered took cash, not Visa. But there are ATM’s everywhere, and especially in front of 7/11’s, which are equally everywhere. We take out cash every few days so that we aren’t carrying large amounts around.
– A lot of products like soap have ‘whitening agents’ in them. This is because Thai people see white skin as esthetically pleasing. As a result, we had difficulty finding soaps without these ‘agents’ at small shops.
– There are tons of places to get your laundry done. They charge by the Kg, and a load costs only a couple of bucks. I will begrudgingly do our own laundry now that we are back in Canada.
– There are tons of places to eat, and so cheap there is no point cooking yourself. For even cheaper meals, street meat abounds. We had this wonderful kitchenette and used it to make instant coffee and store our empty beer bottles 😉
-People are very entrepreneurial. This may be by necessity (few jobs available). Many places are family-run businesses, and it’s easy to support local. Many places provide several services to pay the bills (tattoo shop/currency exchange, tour agency/ laundry/gas sales, restaurant/internet cafe/ motorcycle rental).
– Quite recently (within the last 5 years), it has become very easy to fly all around Thailand to the major cities. We are told that prior to this, there were not many flights and you had to take the train (slower, but enjoyable), or drive. The opportunity to fly allowed us to get all over Thailand in very little time, and this was the easiest and most convenient method when travelling with a baby.
– There is a saying about the ‘Thai Smile’ in Thailand. It refers to how friendly Thai people are. We truly found this to be right. Everyone was welcoming, kind, and helpful. We always felt comfortable chatting with folks and getting around. When we came back to Canada, we missed that warmth! (and not just the weather)
That’s all I can think of for now. Reading through this list, I can’t wait to go back!