It didn’t occur to me until I arrived in Beijing just how different countries are even for the basics. I thought I’d write a few notes to help myth and stereotype bust. My experience to date of Thailand consist of Bangkok and Chiang Mai, so bare this in mind but here are my pearls of wisdom.
If you can hop on a Sky Train or the Metro (Train). The stations and trains are immaculate and so simple to navigate. When you buy tickets you can do so from a machine, which has a map on the screen and can display in English. I paid 20 Baht (under 50p) to travel 4 stops. You get a token which you use much the same as our tickets/oyster cards.
Sleeper trains are pretty luxurious. I travelled in the Boogie train (or in places it was misspelt and called the Bogie train), which means there’s a disco carriage – be warned it ends at 10pm and if you don’t get back to your carriage at 10ish you’ll get turned into a pumpkin… no really, you get shut out your carriage so have no where to kip! Opt for the bottom bunk if you can, they tend to be larger beds and generally much more comfy.
Taxis are a good way to get around too, but try and ask them to run the meter. Generally I found them to be fair. Try and have your destination written in Thai though as the majority don’t speak or read English.
The toilets tend to be squat toilets but you will find western toilets dotted around. Even in parks they have lots of public toilets, all clean and well looked after. Carry loo roll at all times but never flush it, use the bin next to the loo.
Wifi can be found everywhere! Oh and it’s nearly always free. Cafes, hotels, restaurants and shops lure you in with their free wifi and it tends to be reliable.
The tipping culture tends to be around 10% but it’s not expected. I never felt pressured into tipping but when you do you are rewarded with big smiles.
There are beggars, fortune tellers etc on the streets but if you say no they don’t take too much persuading to move onto the next person. They often smile and wish you a happy day too.
I ate street food and survived!
I guess on average I paid around 250 Baht for a big meal, plus drink and often a cheeky ice-cream (at time of writing there are 44 baht to the pound).
Thai people are lovely, trustworthy, smiley and helpful. In my experience they are honest open people who wear their hearts on their sleeves and are interested to learn more about the people they meet. They’ll go out of their way to help and if you look lost (like I often do) they stop and try and assist.