Things to know before visiting Thailand for the first time

Things to know before visiting Thailand
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The Land of Smiles is one of the most visited countries in the world and for good reason! When planning a trip there are important things to know before visiting Thailand for the first time like customs, laws and interesting facts.

With many provinces to explore, from white sandy beaches to historic temples, stunning hotels, and mouthwatering food, there’s simply too much on offer in this tropical paradise for visitors!

Thailand’s affordability also makes it one of the best cities to live in Asia for digital nomads, families and even retirees!

There are many things to do in Bangkok as the city is the capital of Thailand and also serves as a gateway for many travelers from other continents.

Where is Thailand

There are many things to know before visiting Thailand for the first time, but the location is probably the most important. Thailand is located in the center of Southeast Asia.

Thailand is bordered by Myanmar and Laos to the north, Laos, and Cambodia to the east, Thailand and Malaysia to the south, and Myanmar’s the Andaman Sea to the west.

Best time to visit Thailand

Knowing when to visit Thailand

Best Month to visit ThailandSeasonCrowdsVacation in Thailand Cost
Visiting Thailand in January There is little chance of rain and temperatures are cooler.HighHigh
Traveling to Thailand in February Hot and dry.ModerateHigh
Visiting Thailand in March Temperatures rising into the mid 30°C.High High
Visiting Thailand in April Great weather! Celebration of Thai New Year (Songkran).HighHigh
Visiting Thailand in MayA little rain is expected.ModerateModerate
Visiting Thailand in June The last of the dry weather.ModerateModerate
Visiting Thailand in JulyStart of rainy season temperatures start to drop.HighHigh
Visiting Thailand in August The rain is widespread across the country.LowModerate
Visiting Thailand in September The wettest month of the year.LowLow
Visiting Thailand in October Rain with cooler temperatures and lower humidity.ModerateModerate
Traveling to Thailand in NovemberThe sun returns.ModerateHigh
Visiting Thailand in December Good weather all round.HighHigh. Be aware of hotel surcharges over Christmas.

Interesting facts about Thailand

Before going to Thailand for the first time, Here are some interesting facts about the country.

1. Thailand was never colonized by Europeans

Thailand was allied with Japan, so technically it was never conquered.

2. The world’s #2 rice exporter

Thailand is the world’s second-largest rice exporter, with Jasmine Rice being the country’s most coveted.

Like in most Asian countries, Rice is a staple in every meal including breakfast and dessert.

3. The Tuk Tuk originates from Thailand

Tuk Tuks are three-wheeled motorized vehicles used as taxis.

The name comes from the sound made by their small-capacity, two-cycle engines, tuk-tuks are often found in tourist areas in Thailand.

4. The world’s #1 orchid exporter

Thailand is the largest world exporter of tropical orchids!

China is the largest consumer of orchid cut flowers (7,493 tons from Thailand) followed by Japan, the USA, Italy, India, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Netherlands.

5. Thailand is home to 1430 islands

Thailand is home to many stunning beaches and islands!

There’s an island for everyone whether you’re a solo female traveler, first-timer in Thailand, honeymooners and yoga bunnies.

Some of the popular islands include Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Koh Pha Ngan, Phuket, Koh Lanta, Koh Lipe, and Koh Chang.

6. Don’t disrespect the King

This is probably one of the most important things to know before visiting Thailand for the first time!

Disrespecting the King of Thailand by saying something negative about him or defacing monarchy images or symbols (such as accidentally stepping on banknotes) could lead to a prison term of up to 15 years.

7. The government funds Thai restaurants in other countries

Ever wondered why there are so many Thai restaurants around the world?

Thailand’s Department of Export Promotion sends representatives from Thai cooking institutes abroad to train chefs at foreign restaurants.

The Export-Import Bank of Thailand also offers loans to Thai nationals hoping to open restaurants abroad, and the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand set up an infrastructure for loans of up to $3 million for enterprise in the food industry, including foreign Thai restaurants.

8. Bangkok is the world’s most visited city

Bangkok topped the cities index with the most international overnight visitors for the fourth consecutive year – with 22 million in 2019.

Paris was second and London was third, with around 19 million international overnight visitors each!

There are many things to do in Bangkok, whether you choose to explore Bangkok in one day or even two weeks. There is something for everyone

9. Thailand is home to 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

  • The city of Ayutthaya – The capital of the Kingdom of Siam from the mid 14th century until it was destroyed by the Burmese in the 18th century.
  • Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries – Home to a vast array of fauna, including several endangered species.
  • Ban Chiang Archaeological Site – The prehistoric settlement with evidence of human evolution in Southeast Asia.
  • Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns – The first capital of the Kingdom of Siam during the 13th and 14th centuries.
  • Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex – The first official national park in the country and today its a protected tropical forest located on the border with Cambodia.

10. #2 highest road traffic accidents in the world

Be careful when you cross the road in Thailand. The country has the world’s second-highest rate of road traffic fatalities, with an annual figure of more than 24,000 deaths – about 66 per day.

Things I wish I knew before going to Thailand

International Adaptor for Thailand

Electricity in Thailand is 220 volts at 50hz. They commonly feature two-prong round or flat sockets.

Can you drink the water in Thailand

No, tap water in Thailand is not safe, and you should avoid it by any means! I highly recommend buying bottled water or packing a reusable bottle to save money!

Does skincare in Thailand have bleaching properties

In Asia, skin whitening is a cultural phenomenon and very common. Some products, even sunscreen have bleaching properties so always read the labels or bring skincare from home.

Best Books About Thailand

Thailand: The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide

The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide shows you…

  • What to Pack
  • The Best Islands, Beaches, and Hotels for your Budget
  • Local Places to Eat, Shop, and Explore along the way
  • Sights & Temples you MUST See (and which sights are a waste of time)
  • Hidden Bars where you can make friends with Locals & Expats
  • How to Take Public Transportation around the City
  • And the nerve-racking stuff like how to get to your hotel from the airport without getting scammed

Frommer’s Thailand (Complete Guides)

Frommer’s shows you Thailand like a local. Frommer’s takes you to the experiences that only locals know about!

  • Insider advice on how to best experience the historic and natural wonders of Thailand, and little-known secrets about where to eat and drink
  • Where to find the best beaches, resorts, markets, hiking trails, scenic vistas, from the jungles of the north to the sugar-sand beaches of the south.
  • Insightful commentary on Thailand’s stunning national parks, ruins, historic sites, and architectural highlights, plus an in-depth discussion of its rich cultural history so you’ll appreciate what you’re seeing. Frommer’s has been to all of them!
  • Opinionated reviews. No bland descriptions and lukewarm recommendations. Our expert writers are passionate about their destinations―they tell it like it is in an engaging and helpful way.
  • Exact prices listed for every establishment and activity―no other guides offer such detailed, candid reviews of hotels and restaurants. We include the very best, but also emphasize moderately priced choices for real people.

Lonely Planet Thailand (Travel Guide)

Inside Lonely Planet’s Thailand:

  • Colour maps and images throughout
  • Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests
  • Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots
  • Essential info at your fingertips – hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices
  • Honest reviews for all budgets – eating, sleeping, sightseeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss
  • Cultural insights provide a richer, more rewarding travel experience – covering history, people, music, landscapes, wildlife, cuisine, politics
  • Covers Bangkok, Central Thailand, Ko Chang, Chiang Mai Province, Northern Thailand, Hua Hin, Southern Gulf, Ko Samui, Lower Gulf, Phuket, Andaman Coast

Best Apps to Download Before Visiting Thailand

Sometimes it’s great to get lost in the streets while exploring, other times you just want to know where you’re going and what you’re doing with a minimum of hassle. Thailand is no exception, and despite its popularity with international tourists, the country isn’t always easy to get around. Fortunately, there are plenty of apps that can help out, whether you’re ordering a dish, navigating the metro system, or even waiting for your flight.

Here’s a list of the best Android and iOS travel apps for Thailand, all of which will help you make the most of your time in the Land of Smiles.

For your smartphone to work, you must have a SIM card. To know which SIM card to use when you’re in Thailand, check HERE.

Grab

Grab App, allows you to order a car with a driver whenever you want, 24/7.

So you won’t have to worry about train times or finding a parking spot. In a few minutes, you will have ordered a ride. On the app, you will get a picture of your driver and all the information you need.

In addition to rides, Grab also has the feature Grab Bike, which is a delivery service. Whatever it is you need, a driver on Grab Bike can get it for you.

BTS Skytrain

Navigating the city can be tricky, but the BTS SkyTrain app makes getting around easier.

This app comes equipped with a fare calculator, so travelers know exactly how much coinage they will need to get from point A to point B.

There is also a feature on the app called What’s Around, which shows users different businesses around a particular station

Map Me

Without wi-fi, it is sometimes hard to find your way in Thailand.

If you don’t want to carry a physical map of Thailand and look like an old-fashioned explorer, the best option is to download the “Maps Me” app.

This map is highly detailed so it can be displayed and easily read on both smartphones and tablets. The different available maps track you, and it is even possible to look up street names and directions in offline mode, which is really convenient.

Line

Communications app that lets you make calls and chat for free. Asia’s alternative for WhatsApp.

Google Translate

Not understanding instructions or written indications in a foreign language can lead to embarrassing, even dangerous, situations. Thankfully, we do live in an era where technology can help us break this barrier. With the Google Translate App, in addition to being able to type text in to have it translated instantly in offline mode in 59 languages, it is now possible to take a picture and having it translated in two clicks!


More Asia Travel Guides


Get Insurance before visiting Thailand

Got travel insurance for your trip to Thailand yet? A good policy can cover you for all kinds of sticky situations, from medical emergencies to canceled flights, theft, lost luggage, and more. We’ve been using World Nomads for over a decade.

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Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a booking after clicking on a link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you!

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