Friday, 1 August 2014

Advice for first time visitors

Advice for first time visitors

Some general advice (five years of travelling condensed in four points!):

Always have enough small change to avoid delays when paying with large notes (i.e. pay with 1000 Baht notes in 7/11, there is no problem with giving you change; but do not pay with 1000 Baht notes in taxis or small shops unless you want to wait for the driver or salesperson to run around with your note to change it into small notes elsewhere).

If a driver of a standing taxi or tuk tuk approaches you, he is most likely to overcharge you. It's not even worth arguing about using the meter, I tried a few times for research purposes, it leads nowhere. Always hail down a driving empty taxi. Best to avoid tuk-tuks at all, cost the same as taxi and are less comfortable. Avoid motorcycles as well (unless there is traffic jam or you want to go less than 1 km).

Public toilets in Thailand often don't have toilet paper. Bring your own.

If someone addresses you "my friend", he is not your friend.

Copyright 2014 ChristianPFC


  1. Best way to get a change in Bangkok are change counters at BTS stations.
    Another advantage of having change is that you can pay exact amount and it reduces chance of being shortchanged.

    This apply to most countries

  2. This august I realized, that taxi sell not only transportation, but an air con too :)
    Why you advice against motorcys?
    (Love the piece about "my friend" :) )

  3. Mocy is dangerous, my knees and head are the outmost points. I walk short distances and take BTS, MRT, bus or taxi for long distances, so I don't need mocy (or only about once per month).

  4. One more point. Split your money and store it in different locations.

    Recently I met an inexperienced tourist who had all his money in an envelope (from a letter; his wallet was broken, he was going to buy a new one) in his pocket. When I travel, I keep half of my money in hotel room, half in wallet and have 300 Baht elsewhere on my body. If my wallet is lost and stolen, I have those 300 Baht to buy food and get back to hotel.

  5. When travel I use only two pocket shirts and multipocket cargo pants/shorts. This allows me to distribute money on me between various pockets reducing possible loss from theft.
    Never had anything stolen from hotel room but possibly 500 baht lifted from one on my pockets on crowded BTS.

  6. Before crossing a road, look in all directions. Sometimes people drive against the sense of traffic to avoid detours.

    Keep a picture of yourself in your wallet. If it's lost, finder knows what you look like. Put name card in your passport, if it's lost, finder can call you. Similarly, I had a large paper with my name and phone number and travel itinerary in my suitcase and backpack when I was coming to Thailand for holiday.

    1. having paper with your name and address in your luggage is also good idea in case your luggage is lost by the airline, they make track you that way

  7. MRT decoy bag. When entering MRT (but not for BTS and ARL), you have to pass a metal detector and staff will look into your luggage. When I carry a bag pack, I don't want to take it off, open it, close it, put it on again. But I usually have a tote bag over my shoulder, and opening this for inspection is sufficient. (This shows as well that the security check at MRT is useless.)

  8. If I am carrying a significant sum of cash, it is in specially modified trousers that have an extra pocket sewn onto the inside.

  9. I usually buy at places where prices are displayed (7/11, supermarket, restaurants, local markets, taxi meter: everywhere price is displayed).

    If no price is displayed (markets for tourists) this is a pretty sure sign the seller will try to overcharge by quoting a high price and see if you bite. Asking for a price is already a sign of interest. If he/she hammers numbers into a pocket calculator, then you can be absolutely sure it's a tourist price.

    I consider it inconvenient and a waste of time to haggle every time I want to buy something. Money is an improvement over barter, and price displays are an improvement over haggling!

    I guess this whole haggling business is not Thai culture, but set up to scam unsuspecting tourists!

  10. Food at festivals: don't! I eat before or after I go to a festival, after having suffered the following inconveniences twice. First you have to queue to order. Then the food will be served with single use cutlery and crookery (produces waste and unpleasant to eat with). Then you have to look or wait for an empty seat or rather eat while standing or sitting on the curbstone because there are no empty seats.

    Food at 7/11 is good. They have a range of standard dishes in the fridge for about 40 Baht and warm it up for you in the microwave. I eat this several times per year when nothing else is available.

    Put your passport in a watertight plastic bag when you carry it with you. I once had a vision of a drink being spilled on my trousers, soaking my passport.

  11. Shopping malls, trains and cinemas with aircon are too cold for my taste. In a shopping mall I am in motion and out soon, but when I go to cinema or take aircon train I have to wear long trousers and long shirts to avoid getting cold. On train, I even wear socks and wrap a shirt around my feet to keep them warm.

    When I stay in hotel, I get their name card with address and put it with my emergency money.

    I write down addresses on paper (instead of showing them on phone to mocy or taxi driver). In January in Saigon I had an encounter with a mocy taxi driver, showed him the address on my phone, the contrast was poor and he seemed to be night blind, he had to look at in the headlight of his mocy, then under a streetlight. Furthermore, he could pass the phone around for others to have a look, drop it, steal it, there could be a call or message incoming, orientation (portrait/landscape) could change, the screen can switch off after a set time. Whenever I see tourists holding their mobile through the open passenger door window of a taxi so the driver can read the address or even map (futile, most Thais I met can't read maps), I cringe.

    If you are looking for love in Thailand, rent it.

    If you lend money to a friend, you will lose both.


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