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Culture Shock | 8 Things to Know Before Going to Thailand

Don’t you feel like EVERYONE is going to Thailand these days? And who could blame them? The vibrant culture, exotic beaches, delicious food, and friendly locals should be enough to have everyone packing their bags. But before you go, know there are some things that can get you into trouble. Here are the 8 things to know before going to Thailand:

1. Be Polite.

Thailand takes courtesy to the next level, so don’t be that rude tourist that doesn’t say please and thank you. That being said, know how to say useful phrases—like please and thank you—and be aware that you place your hands in a prayer and bow slightly when saying hello. Also, take your shoes off before you go inside. This applies at the temples too.

2. Do some language research before you go.

It’s not as difficult as you might think. The Thai language has incorporated many English words and phrases, and with the right pronunciation you shouldn’t have any trouble getting your point across during your trip. Words like “hotel,” “taxi,” “disco,” and “same,” are the same in Thai as they are in English.

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3. Take taxis at night, but take tuk-tuks during the day. Be weary of both.

Though taxis are definitely more comfortable, Tuk-tuks give you a better view of the city. Taxis are also known to rip off tourists—in fact, they actually favor driving tourists over locals because they can make more money. Tuk-tuks aren’t perfect either: Make sure to agree on the cost before you take the ride.

4. Don’t visit the Long Neck Tribes.

First of all, they aren’t even from Thailand—they’re refugees from Myanmar that the Thai government is totally exploiting. Most tourists who visit generally find the experience sort of sad, and question whether the excursion is more of a cultural zoo than a cultural experience.

5. NEVER say anything bad about the King and Queen.

The King is the most beloved person in all of Thailand—and it’s illegal to mock him in any way. The people don’t mind: He, and the entire Royal Family, are genuinely loved, and most Thai people view the king as a symbol of righteousness and a sort of father figure to the community. The Thai are extremely patriotic. In fact, they play the national anthem every day at 8am and 6pm in public places, on the radio, and TV broadcasts. Everyone stops what they’re doing to listen, and you should too.

6. Watch out for scammers.

Overcharging foreigners is the common—in fact, it’s a well-developed network that’s been thriving off of naïve tourists for years. The most common trick is getting you agree to add-ons or upgrades without knowing it costs extra. Also, even if jewelry stores look like they’re selling the real deal, do some research or ask a local before you make your purchase.

7. Hang out with the ladyboys.

Thailand has a huge trans culture, and you’ll more than likely run into their Kathoey, or in English, “ladyboys.” Though you may hear the Thai people make jokes about them, they’re a recognized subculture and considered an important part of society. If you get the opportunity, go to a ladyboy cabaret show!

8. Carry toilet paper and hand sanitizer with you everywhere.

Because sometimes the word “bathroom” is up for interpretation.