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A Few last pieces of advice for first time Thailand Visitors

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Feb 17th, 2018, 07:21 PM
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A Few last pieces of advice for first time Thailand Visitors

If you are interested feel free to read my longer trip report "Laura and Steve amongst the Wats and Elephants" - here are a few takeaways from our trip in terms of advice for anyone who has never been to Thailand before:
1. (I say this after all our trips) if you are at all linguistically inclined take time to learn a little bit of Thai - the effort you put in will return a thousandfold in the way that people appreciate your attempts to speak their language. Unfortunately this was one of my harder language learning adventures as the only option I could find was Pimsleur which I did not like and which seemed to focus on such phrases as "how much does it cost" and "where is your husband" which made me a little suspicious of their intended audience
2. Some novels to read ahead of time to get in the mood: I really enjoyed the John Burdett detective series that starts with Bangkok 8. It's sardonic and humorous and I have no idea how accurate its depiction of Thai culture/corruption etc is, but it is enjoyable. For a more serious taste there is a great book of short stories (all about young people struggling with coming of age issues) called Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap
3. The traffic and heat are every bit as intense as people say they are so be prepared
4. I anxsted about the whole don't eat uncooked vegatables and only drink bottled water issue before I left - no worries - the hotels fall all over themselves to make sure you have enough bottled water, and although I was careful with the fruit and vegetables we never had a problem, and the produce is all incredibly fresh over there.
5. ok - bathrooms. On one of our first trips abroad a friend shared his 5 point bathroom rating system:
1. has a toilet
2. has a door
3. has a place to wash hands

Last edited by lauramsgarden; Feb 17th, 2018 at 07:33 PM. Reason: didn't select country
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Feb 17th, 2018, 07:32 PM
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a few last pieces of advice cont

oops wasn't done there
4. has toilet paper
5. has soap.

So in Thailand you can have everything from 0 to 5 on the scale. We only encountered two of the dreaded "squat " toilets - both while on the road between towns. Advice to ladies - skirts are really hard to manage in those circumstances. The real challenge is not getting your clothing wet because the method of "flushing" is to take a dipper of water from a large barrel and slosh it on the whole in the ground - meaning the ground gets quite wet.
Most places had doors, most had toilets, a few were missing toilet paper and soap, often they had no way to dry your hands other than a very dirty piece of cloth. While out and about we always took our own toilet paper and soap with us. Having said that, most of the toilets were quite decent, and in the hotels and restaurants (in the cities) they were usually extremely nice, even elegant.

6. While we did use mass transit in Bangkok, we found the streets hard to cross, and with the heat it was often exhausting, so in retrospect I might have used taxis more just to conserve energy even though I know you risk the dreaded traffic jams.
7. I loved getting out of the cities and into the countryside, but that is me no matter where I go.
8. for high end restaurants (of which there are a plethora) it is worth it to do your research and make reservations before you go.
9. It took us a while to get used to the money and realize that 1000 baht is not that much money (from an American's point of view) - easiest way to keep perspective - 100 baht is $3, 2000 baht is approx $70 - don't stress it.

I'm probably forgetting something important but feel free to ask questions and have a great time.
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Feb 21st, 2018, 03:15 AM
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For squat toilets I always worry about dropping my wallet down the hole!

Yeah, out and about on a tour or away from hotel for several hours don't go anywhere without toilet paper in your walk-around bag. Also some moist tissues, like Wet Wipes, can come in handy too. Always good to clean your hands off just before eating too!

I like pockets on my trousers that can be secured by button, zipper or velcro. I avoid reaching for a wallet all the time to buy something by keeping smaller bills in a shirt pocket or side pocket. For Thailand coins are handy for me.

Good luck.
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Feb 25th, 2018, 05:57 PM
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Indeed Sir Halberd, and good advice re pockets. I've taken to bringing my own soap as well as toilet paper.but a few squat toilets are a small price to pay for the glory of travel
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Feb 25th, 2018, 07:16 PM
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I enjoyed reading your trip report, Laura. There is indeed a fine line between getting down and dirty with the locals, and getting grossed out.

During my 2015 trip to Malaysia, two of my hotels, probably ranked about three stars, in Miri and Kuching, had no hot water in the bathroom sink. After using the "facilities," I turned on the shower, and washed my hands with hot water. I tried not to think about about the staff's hands touching food, while I was eating breakfast at these two hotels. Yuck.
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