Thailand – A Traveler’s “Not” To Do List

One of the best countries to travel on the Eastern part of the globe is Thailand – The Land of Smiles. With its nature’s touch in the form of green forests with the surprising mangroves, national parks overloaded with wildlife flora and fauna, sparkling waters along the sandy coastal line, the karst caves and cliffs and much more, Thailand is a no less than a paradise. However to be in paradise it takes some Do’s to be followed and some Dont’s to be avoided at all cost.

This article deals with the same. It is very much important to do the homework before going for the actual class. So for a happy, enjoying and most importantly safest trip to Thailand, we have enlisted here some of the major ‘Never To Do’ things based on Thailand’s history, culture and the political traits. Read through and prepare yourself to avoid any troubles or embarrassments while you travel to this paradise.

1.   Don’t ever touch the Thai people’s head

Thai peoples’ head is an important part of their body and a sense of pride. It is not only considered rude to touch a stranger’s head in Thailand but it also makes an individual feel insulted. It also includes a head of a statue, especially the Buddha statue. So why to make anybody feel insulted while we are on an enjoying journey. Instead save your head from getting a blow by avoiding touching a Thai head.

However, close friends and family elders do touch the heads of the younger and kids as an expression of love or friendship.

2.  Don’t use feet for anything except walking

We all know that feet are for walking and so that’s the only purpose of feet in Thailand. Do not use your feet for tasks like shutting the door, dragging or pushing any object or even kicking off a stray dog. Also, never point your feet towards any person or the Godly idols. It is considered to be a bad manner and an impolite act in the eyes of Thai people.

3.  Don’t touch the monks, they are highly sacred

do not touch the thai monks
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If you are a female travelling to Thailand then maintain a safe distance from the orange robed Buddhist Monks. They are considered highly sacred and free from all the worldly desires and lust. So if a normal human especially the ‘She’ gender touches them then it will make them impure and full of sins.

So whenever a monk, by mistake touches or get touched by human, they perform special rituals and auspicious bath to cleanse themselves from the effect of the human touch.

4.  Don’t wear shoes at religious places


remove your shoes outside thai wat
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People in Thailand wear shoes only when outdoor or some places like hotels or restaurants or shopping places. Otherwise, be it a Thai home, a religious place like the ‘Wat’, the schools and even few restaurants and small shops do not allow footwear inside.

The Thai people consider it disrespectful and also unhygienic to carry your footwear inside.

So watch for pile of footwear wherever you go and save yourself from embarrassments by getting your footwear mixed with the group of sandals. Also it is recommended to wear crocs or simple sandals that are easy to remove and comfy to wear.  

5.  Don’t indulge into drugs smuggling

no drugs dealing in Thailand
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Be it Thailand or any land, it is always advisable not to indulge into any illegal practices unless you want to ruin your vacation time and spend your holiday in a foreign jail. As per the Thailand laws, not only the distribution but the possession of any drugs is illegal. So if you are found with even a pinch of a drug you are guaranteed for a best time behind the bars. Also you need to be alert and aware about such areas that are prone to such illegal activities. So be smart and avoid visiting such areas or meeting the suspicious people.  

6.  Don’t click photographs with animals

 
tigers drugged in Thailand for tourism
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One of the major attractions in Thailand is to click pictures with wild beasts like Tigers and Elephants. The tigers here are so calm and friendly that they allow people so close to them that you can not only pamper them but can also sit on them and click a selfie.  The private animal sanctuaries or animal kingdoms take the advantage of the adventurous tourists and earn money by allowing them to go much close to the tigers and click selfie with them.

But have you wonder why the wildest animal is so tame on the land of Thailand? This is possible because they drug the tigers with harmful drugs that affect their mental state and make them unable to move. These people also remove the claws and tendons of the tigers so that they cannot run or harm the people.

Many tourists also tease the animal by hanging a meat piece so above that it becomes difficult for the tigers to eat. Some cases have also been reported of tourists urinating over the tigers’ face just for fun.

Thailand has recorded many cases of tiger abusing and tiger trafficking. So if you don’t want to be a part of this cruel sinful act and want to put an end over this crime, don’t support such tourist activities.

7.  Don’t overstay your visa period

It is obvious and understandable that you will be a guest till the host welcomes you. Same goes with the Visa concept. Make sure you book your flights in advance before your visa period gets over. In case of any emergencies or an extended stay to Thailand, you can definitely apply for your visa extension based on genuine rules. Or else you might end up in a big trouble.

It costs around 500 to 20000 THB for overstay less than 90 days. If the stay exceeds 90 days, then you will be banned for a re-entry to Thailand for 1 to 10 years along with a fine or a permanent ban may be applied.

8.  Don’t keep passport as deposit

There are many fraud travel agencies or tour operators and car rentals that will ask you to deposit your passport in exchange of the service they provide. For example they might ask you to keep your passport while renting a bile or car and then collect in return of the bike or car you rented.

However this is not essential for any rental services. And your passport is your life when you are on a foreign land. So never let your passport away from you even for a single second. The reason is that the foreign passports are highly misused in Thailand for carrying out illegal activities across the border. So don’t get into any tricks and do not hire services from such vendors.

9.  Don’t wear revealing clothes

Thailand is very conscious about its dressing and also expects its visitors to be dressed decently especially while visiting the temples. Of course you can flaunt your skin at the beaches of Thailand but while you are away from the waters, it is recommended to wear clothes that will hide your shoulders and knees at least. Also while you are in a temple, the women are supposed to cover their head with a scarf and the men are supposed to wear full sleeve shirts and full pants.

The Thai people consider it shameful to wear revealing or short clothes in public or religious places.

Also the climate here being tropical it demands its visitors to wear comfortable cotton clothes that can soak up the sweat and let you enjoy the trip.

10.  Don’t rely on English as a mode of communication 

Major cities and famous tourist destination like Bangkok, Chiang Rai, Phuket, etc. will understand your English and you will also find the Thai people who can communicate well in English and make your trip smooth. But if you visit the small towns or the villages of Thailand for an extra authentic adventure and culture sharing, then you might have to learn some simple Thai phrases and words that can make your work easy. So while in the city, make sure you learn basic Thai words from the Taxi drivers or the local food stall or restaurant owner.

11.  Do not rely on plastic money

thai baht
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There are hardly any places in Thailand that accepts your plastic money in the form of Credit cards or forex cards. And even if they accept the cards, an extra amount is charged for the cashless payment from the Thai bank as well as your bank as the exchange rate fees. So instead, get your currency converted to THB at the airport in Thailand and carry the cash with you. Most of the tourist spots and food places accept cash only.

You can also withdraw cash from the ATMs. But again to avoid paying the extra charges you can withdraw a large amount at one time. So plan your money wisely.   

12.  Do not talk any negative about the kings of Thailand or the ruling seat

The Thai people are very particular about this matter. Whenever you are in Thailand avoid talking about the Ex – Kings of Thailand or the ruling royal family. Not only a negative comment but any random talk by the tourists about them or the government of Thailand is something like a taboo in Thailand. So focus on the beauty of Thailand and forget about the politics or royal family as a topic of discussion.

Also respect the currency of Thailand as every coin and note has their kings printed on it. So do keep it carefully.   

13.  Do not ask for spicy food

Spicy thai food
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The Thailand food which is every foodie’s delight follows the special Asian style cuisine. The peculiarity of this cuisine is its spiciness. So even if you order for a normal platter, it will burn your tongue with its hot and spicy flavours. So just think of what will happen when you order for an extra spiciness in your dish. So to save your tongue from getting burnt and your stomach from sufferings like Acidity or Diarrhoea it is better to ask for a normal spicy food wherever you go in Thailand.

Tip: “Mai – Ped” in Thai language means “No Spicy”. By heart this phrase, it will help you a lot in Thailand. 

14.  Do not live on street food 

Thai street food
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Street foods in any country are one of the major attractions and a must to try thing. Same is when you travel to Thailand. Every streets and corners in Thailand are flooded with ambrosial food stalls offering scrumptious delicacies. You will so fall in love with these dishes that your taste – buds will demand it every now and then. But be careful, as these food platers have high amount of MSG (Mono Sodium Glutamate) that is used for quick cooking and delicious taste. The MSG is a toxic substance and harmful for one’s health causing headache, mood changes, chest pain, asthma, etc. 

So keep a balance, a try out some fresh fruits of Thailand like Mangoes and keep yourself healthy.    

15.  Do not trust the local tuktuks or auto

tuktuks in Thailand
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The most common and local transport of Thailand is the Auto-rickshaws or the ‘TukTuks’. These are quite friendly and being local knows what a tourist wants. However, it is not advisable to hire such local transports especially when you are drunk. Because, the Auto men take advantage of your hangover and may charge you higher amounts to pay by opting for a long route to your hotel. Chances are also there that you might end up with a fight with them if entered into critical discussions by mistake.  

16.  Don’t get scammed with fake price for rent vehicles

These Tuktuks and Auto-rickshaws do not use any meter to count the travel rent. They charge a lump-sum amount based on distance. But they do know that foreign tourists do not know this rule and also ignorant of the shortest route. So they charge you with much higher amounts. To avoid this trouble and save your pocket from loot then either option is to use the Uber or the Grab Taxi ride that comes with pre booking facility at nominal charges that are standard throughout the country. Or else you can ask the Auto drivers to ride on meter and not on lump sum basis.

17.  Don’t take the monkeys for granted

mischievous monkeys in Thailand
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These naughty little immediate relatives of humans are no doubt exciting to watch in their playful dramatic avatar. But mind it they are not as friendly as they seem. These mischievous beast will create havoc if you even think of teasing them. Whenever you spot a monkey in Thailand (or any other tourist place) first of all make sure to hide all such things you have like sunglasses, hat, camera, food packets, water bottle or even your favourite scarf or bag from their little witty eyes, as they are fond of snatching such tourist stuff. So be alert, avoid teasing them and swiftly make your way out from their zone.

18.  Do not ride elephants

elephants in Thailand
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Elephants are the beauty of Thailand and that is why the name, “Land of Elephants”. You will surely spot elephants on Thailand roads will the Mahout riding on it. This will definitely tempt us to ride the giant. However think once before doing so. The reason is that the Land of Elephants is now facing a sever shortage of elephants and the government has recorded just 2000 elephants left in natural habitat. This does not mean that if you ride an elephant you will kill him. But the issue here is that such activities of tourists promote the illegal and inhumane capturing of the elephants from forest which is their natural habitat and brought to the city area. Also for making the Elephants tourist friendly they are trained to be tame by beating and other cruel behaviour. 

Instead you can visit local elephant sanctuary and feed these elephants, give them a bath and make it a memorable trip.

19.  Don’t risk your health with tap water

 
wtaer vending machine in Thailand
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Though the tap water in Thailand is potable and it is consumed by the entire country, however don’t take risk while you are on a holiday here. Also you will find lots of vending machines for potable water in Thailand on the road to quench your thirst while roaming around. Though this water is considered safe but it is advisable to spend some cents to buy the filtered bottled water to consume during your stay in Thailand for your good health. The reason is that the climatic condition and the geographical status of the country is such that you are prone to many water borne diseases like Malaria, Hepatitis, Diarrhoea, etc.

So be particular in the matter of drinking water or else you may have a hospital bed in the Thailand trip memory album.

20.  Don’t point your fingers

do not point fingers
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Pointing your fingers at any object or a person in particular is considered disrespectful and a bad manner in Thailand cultural etiquettes. Instead to show something or someone to a Thai people one can use their entire hand in a polite manner extended towards that object or person. This will show your respect and values for Thai culture.

21.  Don’t keep feet up

Thai people don’t like if you keep your feet up on table or any other object not meant for keeping your feet. They consider it rude and impolite behaviour. Also spreading out a leg while sitting creates a bad impression and not appreciated by the Thais. So while you sit, make sure your legs are within your reach and not pointing towards another person.

22.  Don’t indulge in gambling on any normal day

Under the Gambling Act 1935 of the Thai government, all sorts of gambling activities and games have been banned in Thailand. The two exceptions to this law are the government sponsored Thai lottery and Horse racing. So if you are a gamble person, you can legally gamble the horse racing or the Thai lottery. However if you have made up the plans to visit the Thai jail, other illegal gambling options like casino are also open to the tourists.

23.  Don’t believe the taxi drivers

The Taxi drivers in Thailand as a means to earn money will misguide you by saying that a particular tourist spot is close today. This way they will offer you another tourist place to visit for which they get commission to bring more tourists.

Also, the thai people don’t like to say a ‘No’ even if they don’t know something. So if you ask any driver or any local stranger here about any route then do double check by asking atleast 2 to 3 people. Because if somebody doesn’t know a route they will simply tell random things misleading you to wrong directions. But they would not say a No if they don’t know it.

24.  Do not call waiter or any stranger with a snap or whistle

A waiter or a stranger is also a human and holds respect for himself. Calling a person with a snap of your finger or whistling is considered impolite and disrespectful behaviour by the Thai people. So learn some good polite word to call some stranger or the waiter in a Thai restaurant.

25.  Don’t say a No straight away

As mentioned earlier, Thai people don’t like to say a direct ‘No’ to anybody, similarly they also don’t like to hear a direct ‘No’ from anyone. So while you are on a trip to Thailand and if you are offered a visit or a lunch or dinner by Thai people, please don’t say a direct ‘No’ even though it is impossible for you to turn out. This will dishearten them if you do so. So make sure your ‘No’ does not break a Thai heart.

26.  Don’t pay the amount asked for while shopping from local markets.

Bargaining in thailand
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The Thai local markets are a good place to buy the local Thai souvenirs and traditional Thai stuff. However being the tourist market, the vendors here will tell you almost double the actual price of a particular product. So sharp up your bargaining skills and reduce the price to almost half for what is asked to pay. This way you will end up with more shopping at less expense.  

27.  Don’t get scammed by the glamorous world or the Thai massage

Thailand also famous for the Go-Go bars and Thai massage are a real scam to loot you. One of the things to do in the traveller’s list is obviously visiting these places for lusty pleasures. But the hidden truth is something else. You might end up with a lady - boy which you haven’t dreamt of being with in Thailand or even if it is a girl, she will ask you for a huge amount almost bankrupting you for that day.

So choose standard and good quality bars and restaurant or authentic Thai massage parlours for being safe and a happy journey to Thailand.

28.  Don’t explore Thailand in the month from May to October as it is too hot in summers and rains in monsoon making it little inconvenient to travel

Thailand being a tropical country, it experience very hot summers in the month from May to July and then onwards, the heavy rains till October. So for a perfect climate trip to Thailand, plan your visit in the month from November to April.

29.  Don’t buy alcohol during the illegal hours

Buying alcohol is restricted to some hours in Thailand. You can buy alcohol only between these prescribed hours that is from 11 AM to 2 PM and again from 5 PM till midnight. Also serving alcohol is legal in these hours only. So keep yourself alert about the time and be punctual at the alcohol store to buy one for you. 

30. Bonus tip:

Thailand lady smiling
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Don’t forget to smile on the ‘Land of Smiles’. After all, smile is the only universal language that is understandable in every corner of the world. So keep smiling.

These simple Dont’s will definitely help you to be on the safer side and enjoy your trip to the Land of Smiles without any trouble.

This post was published by Monali Dholakia

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