Before taking a vacation to Thailand last year I knew nothing about the country except that it was a popular travel destination. I came to Bangkok with no expectations and explored as much as I could in those 5 days.
As each day went by, I began to notice a lot of differences between Thailand and home.
Today I’ll share 12 things that you can expect when you visit Bangkok, Thailand.
1. The Weather
(Monsoon season in Bangkok)
The first thing you’ll notice when you step foot outside of the airport is Thailand is hot. Not only that, but it’s humid.
It’s sunshine 90% of the time and the other 10% it’s randomly pouring rain during monsoon season (July to October).
Bring sunscreen, shorts, light t-shirts, flip flops, a hat, and an umbrella if you plan to visit during those months.
Thais don’t wear sunglasses much. I asked someone and apparently, it’s a cultural thing.
I’m used to cars stopping when you cross the streets. It’s the polite thing to do and a great way to not end lives.
Here, that’s definitely not the case. I had a few close calls, but I soon learned a trick for this:
Basically, you want to wait for a local to go first or a foreigner who seems more pro at this human Frogger thing and follow them. If you see them speeding up mid-way you better speed up too!
Be careful and alert on sidewalks. Sometimes motorbikes will drive right on it through the crowd! If you catch one of these guys and take a picture of their license plate and report it apparently you get rewarded.
3. Thai People
Image credit: Trevor
Thai people are some of the happiest, go-lucky humans I have ever met. They are one of the reasons that convinced me to start a new life here. It’s such a joy to see genuine happiness and smiles. It’s infectious and I knew I wanted to be surrounded by this.
Aside from that, they’re also very laid back, humble, and welcoming.
I’ve never got a sense of danger when I’m around Thai people.
The easy going and enjoying the simple things in life philosophy of Thai people is known as “
You’ll also hear the phrase, “
(Purple sweet potato
FOOD. Wow, I don’t even know where to begin. If you love food then come to Thailand.
The food here is delicious. Cheap. And there is such a huge variety that it will satisfy even the pickiest of taste buds.
You have street food from the mom and pop stands, you have mall food courts, and then you have the luxurious, Michelin Star restaurants.
Thailand is a food heaven.
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5. The Thai Bidet
I’ll tell you a story. Before I went to Japan back in 2015, I actually never knew what a “bidet” was. I’m used to the wipe and flush method you know what I mean?
I landed in Tokyo, got to the hotel, and sat on a toilet with a million buttons. Not sure what anything means, so I just pushed one and all of a sudden felt an unforgettable sensation.
It was a shock, but then it was like…kind of good. 😉
It’s actually not too bad and more sanitary. What have I been missing all my life?
Anyway, the bidets in Japan were built into the toilets. The ones in Thailand, well, they’re a separate mini shower head hanging nearby (Vietnam is like this too FYI).
When I first saw it I didn’t know what it was for or what I was supposed to do with it since there’s also toilet paper. Turns out, the septic systems here aren’t made to handle loads of paper effectively so this is the
How to use a Thai bidet:
1. Do #2
2. Grab the shower head.
3. Aim well and squeeze the handle gently.
4. Let it flow~ Let it flow~
5. Grab a few squares of toilet paper.
6. Dab a few times.
7. Toss paper into the bin next to the toilet.
6. The Wai
Image credit: Chris
The wai is how Thai people greet and show gratitude to one another. It’s like waving your hands to say, “hello.”
To do it you put your hands together like you’re praying and do a slight bow. The higher the hands are to the face and the lower the bow, the more respect you’re showing.
You can use it while saying, “
Foreigners usually don’t wai someone younger than them or children unless they wai first.
7. Head and Feet
In the Thai culture, the head is the holiest part of your body, whereas the feet is the least holy.
You don’t touch people on their heads and put your feet on furniture when you sit down. You don’t point with your feet, touch someone with your feet, or walk over someone and when you walk into homes and temples you’ll need to take off your shoes.
Reminding myself to be more aware of my feet took some getting used to but it’s not so bad now.
8. The Royal Family
Thailand is a monarchy. They have a king and their respect for the royal family is very apparent.
You’ll see pictures of the royal family all over the country. I read and watched a few documentaries about the previous king and all I have to say is that he was an impressive human being. Incredibly smart and humane.
If you want to win a chance to see what a Thai prison looks like for 15 years, try saying a few bad things about the royal family publically.
Yes, it’s that serious.
9. The National Anthem
At 8 am and 6 pm, the Thai National Anthem is played throughout the country. During this time everyone stops in their tracks and stands still for a few minutes.
It is a one of a kind experience. It feels like time suddenly stood still (heh).
What should you do? Like the locals of course! Just stand there and wait it out. Then move when they move.
Head to Lumphini Park just before 6 pm to see people stopping all sorts of activities mid-way. Bring a camera, it’s a pretty cool sight.
10. Straws in Bottles
I thought this was kind of amusing. When you order a bottled drink such as water or soda, you will get a straw. Every. Single. Time.
From what I heard it’s because the bottles are reused after cleaning at the factory. The other thing is it more polite to sip from straws and not chug from the bottle.
11. Skin Whitening
The porcelain white skin look is very popular in Thailand and other Asian countries. Most don’t like tan skin. In fact, they’ll do anything to prevent getting tans. Things like using beauty products with snail secretion as the active ingredient and getting medical procedures where they inject stuff into their blood cells.
In case you didn’t know, I’m not a beauty guru. So I’ll just leave this whole topic alone.
12. Cost of Living
Image credit: Peter
One of the big appeal of Thailand (besides the wonderful people) is the cost of living. It’s really, really affordable here.
Street food: $1-$
Giant bottle of water: $0.42
Rent: I had a temporary super nice condo for only $300. A similar place in Austin would’ve been $1,200!
If you want a detailed example you can head over to this site.
As of now, 100 baht is about $3.
-Augustine of Hippo
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