Traveling to Thailand 🇹🇭? Here are 5 Rules to Live By.

Advice from a local Thai-American Bangkok resident

Songtham Tung
Sep 15 · Unlisted
Photo by Dan Freeman on Unsplash

Thailand. The land of smiles, tuk tuks, backpackers, ancient temples, tropical beaches, traffic jams, floating markets, delicious food, and more. There is much to do and see here — from the city to the mountains to the beaches, and everywhere else in between. Whether you are traveling on a tight budget or balling out of control, here are 5 simple rules to live by.

Disclaimer: I am a Thai American who is currently residing in Bangkok. I’ve been back and forth since I was young, so my perspective of this country is a mixture of both local and Westerner.

1. Carry Tissue Paper

Photo by Daniël Maas on Unsplash

The first rule when traveling to Thailand is: Always carry tissue paper. This is especially true in the country side— where many buildings do not have napkins for guests to use. Moreover, it’s quite normal to find bathrooms without toilet paper. Do this or else you might have to resort to using the spray, which can take foreigners back by surprise 💦. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

2. Break Your Bill @ Convenience Store

Photo by Songtham Tungkitkancharoen

1000 baht ($30~ USD) is the biggest bill in Thailand. Most common businesses like street food hawkers, vendors, and taxis do not accept this bill. If you need smaller bills, head to the nearest convenience store (7-eleven, family mart, max value, etc) and purchase something. They’ll gladly accept your money. No questions asked.

That feeling when you get your change back after breaking a 1000 baht on a 10 baht candy bar is just 😌.

3. Use Lemongrass as a Natural Mosquito Repellent

Lemongrass is in the middle. Photo by daniel64 from Pixabay

Mosquitoes are no joke. They are found everywhere in tropical climates, can carry diseases, and love to bite tourists. In Thai, there’s a saying that farangs have sweet blood. Seriously. Step into any building in shorts and flip flops and you’ll be like a walking magnet.

To avoid getting bit by these notorious pests, use lemongrass. Lemongrass is a type of grass with a distinct smell that is native to South East Asia and mosquitoes hate it. Drink it, eat it, spray it, and rub it all over your body. If you’ve had Tom Yum soup before, then you’ve had lemongrass. When you’re at the bar, order something with lemongrass. When you’re buying soap and/or lotion, buy one that has lemongrass. When you’re looking for a bug spray, find one that contains lemongrass 🍋 🌱.

4. Buy a Nose Inhaler

Photo by Songtham Tungkitkancharoen

If you’ve ever been to Thailand you must have seen at least one person using a nose inhaler a.k.a. “Ya Dom”. This magical all natural item can be found at any convenience store for roughly 30 baht ($1 USD). It serves as something to ‘wake’ you up, protection against unwanted odors, and as an ointment for bug bites. I never leave my house without my keys, wallet, phone, and nose inhaler 👃.

5. Avoid Drinking Tap Water

Photo by Imani on Unsplash

Last but not least, avoid drinking tap water. This includes ice and the ‘free tea’ found on the table of most restaurants. Coming from San Francisco, where our tap water is cleaner than bottled water (*), I was not prepared. Unless you’ve been staying here for several weeks, your body did not build enough immunity. Stick to bottled water. Trust me. It’s not fun ending up in the hospital from food poisoning 🚱.

When in Thailand..

Thanks for reading! If you have another tip for people traveling to Thailand, drop a comment below to let future readers know.


Songtham Tung

Written by

Technical Product Director @ Geddit | SF ✈️ BKK

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