If you have decided to make of 2017 a year of new and enriching horizons, visiting Thailand is probably one of the best things that you could do to fulfill this dream. Indeed, Thailand is a complex country of history. The word Thai itself means free man and is a perfect reflection of the spirit of the population. Its culture is not only rich but also an eye-opening experience for the Western mind and approach, and if you ask Thai monks, they will be pleased to share their wisdom with you. Thailand is also the only Southeast Asian nation that has never been colonized by the European empires, so maybe you can better understand why the Thai is a free man indeed. But before you get ready to pack and discover a world of wonders, here are ten essential rules to survive your trip to Thailand.
#1. Pack The Essentials
For a start make sure to pack a phrase book, as some regions will not speak a very good English. You will also need to order malaria tablets online as some areas of Thailand are still at risk, even more, if you want to cross the border. Remember to take a mosquito spray as you will need one, and a bottle of sanitizing hand gel.
#2. Don’t Make A Foot Of Yourself
Feet have a special importance in Thailand, so remember never to point with your feet, cross your legs or put your feet up. Additionally, you should pay close attention to the currency, as it is very inappropriate to stand on it. People will consider it an insult to the royal family, who you can see on the currency.
#3. The Holy Head
The head is sacred in Thailand so be careful never to touch people’s heads, especially as you might come across young children. Do not pat their heads as this is very disrespectful.
#4. Hi Wai
The wai is the common and polite greeting in Thailand. This is done by joining your hands in front of your face like a prayer gesture and bowing your head. It is polite to return the greeting when you see people. Always remember to bend forward as well if you are greeting a monk.
#6. Respect The Monks
You will find that the monks in Thailand are very pleased to discuss their religion with you and to practice their English. You will come across temples that hold open sessions with the monks. If you wish to join, make sure to avoid any personal question and contact. You should also only visit temples with your shoulders and chest covered up as a sign of respect.
#7. Don’t Point
It is difficult not to point, as this is very common in the western world. However in Thailand, pointing with your finger is seen as sexually suggestive. Instead use your chin to indicate attention to a specific object, for example. You can use the wai as an apology if you are caught pointing!
#8. Try The Street Food
The street food in Thailand is very cheap and extremely yummy. However, there are a few health rules that you want to respect for your safety: Do wash your hands before and after eating. You should choose places where there is a crowd, as this means that the food will be cooked freshly and regularly. Finally, only drink bottled water, and avoid tap water at all cost!
#9. Visit The Open Markets
You should visit at least one open-air market in Thailand, such as the Chatuchak Weekend Market that sits in Bangkok. Markets is where you will always find the best products and the best prices, especially if you know how to haggle the price. In general, you can cut a good third off the price that sellers first ask. Beware however of counterfeit products on open-air markets, as these could be causing you much trouble when you come back.
#10. Narrow It Down To A Few Temples
Finally, the architecture in Thailand is beautiful, and you may be tempted to visit the various temples that you see, from small ones to magnificent ones. Save your energy: There are too many for you to see them all! Focus on some big names, such as the Wat Pho in Bangkok which is the oldest temple in Thailand, and even older than the city itself. If you are using local maps, you will find that the temple is referred to as the Wat Phra Chetuphon, which is its new name. Tourists tend to prefer its original name, Wat Pho!