I recently went to Thailand for the first time and it was almost immediately one of my favorite places I’ve traveled. Here are 5 tips for your first trip to Thailand.
1) Negotiate EVERYTHING
First and foremost, just about every price you see in Thailand is negotiable. Some things even surprisingly so, such as medical care at hospitals. Practice your bargaining skills at all the markets. Be firm, but friendly when negotiating. A smile goes a long way.
Note that the initial price a vendor will tell you WILL be outrageous. For example, I needed a new pair of sunglasses and Chiang Mai has the best selection of knock-off sunglasses I’ve ever seen. I saw a pair I kind of liked and asked how much. The guy told me 1,200 baht (about $40). I told him that was ridiculous and started to walk away. Almost immediately he dropped to 600 baht without me saying much of anything. Long story short, after trying them on several times, threatening to walk away a few more, and some hard bargaining, I got the sunglasses for 150 baht (about $5). Honestly, I think I still overpaid for cheap sunglasses but I was having more fun negotiating than anything.
2) Eat a ton of street food
Before I left, a lot of people (including my doctor) warned me not to eat local street food. However, I knew from a lot of friends that the street food is amazing and I knew I was going to eat as much as humanly possible. When I got to Thailand, it turned out that the street food was even tastier (and cheaper) than I expected. A plate of Pad Thai made fresh was around $1. Various seafood grilled on the spot were 3 for $1 usually. At least you know it’s fresh as it’s made right in front of you and it’s significantly cheaper than going to a restaurant. For under $5, I could walk through a night market and sample several different treats. So to recap, eat a ton of street food!
3) Scooters are the best way to get around
Scooter rentals (including insurance) cost around $5 per day and are the best way to get around in Thailand. The exception to this might be in Bangkok because I think you’d be taking your life into your hands with all the crazy traffic. In Chiang Mai and other cities, the pace is a bit slower and more suitable to not dying on a scooter. You will have to adjust to the driving style, though, because there aren’t too many rules of the road and you just go with the flow. Riding up through the mountains was great because I could always just stop on the side of the road and snap pictures.
4) Learn to Scuba Dive
Learning to scuba dive was my favorite thing I did in Thailand. I learned on the island of Koh Tao and would recommend it to anybody. There are lots of colorful fish, a whale shark if you’re really lucky, corals, shipwrecks, and a multitude of other underwater life.
Do be warned. Once you start scuba diving, you might get addicted and want to do it all the time. I guess there are worse things to be addicted to.
5) Take a Thai Cooking Class
While in Pai, my friends and I took a half day cooking class to learn how to prepare some of the delicious dishes we’d been eating. Let me just say that they are a lot tougher than they appear. From grinding the curry paste to all the little ingredients that go into them, there is a lot more than meets the eye with many Thai specialties.
So here are 5 tips for your first trip to Thailand. I could (and I will) give many more tips on visiting Thailand, but this should be enough to get you started. What are some of your tips for someone going to Thailand for the first time? Let me know below.