Thailand is a backpacker’s haven. You’ll see different people from different parts of the world running in the streets of Bangkok. It is like a United Nations nation. What’s more interesting is that, more and more independent and freelance individual choose Thailand to be their home base because of 3 reasons: It is cheap, safe for travellers and easy access. But wait, there’s more:
Food is relatively cheap and delicious in Thailand. It is literally found everywhere, from markets to food stalls, from street foods to restaurants, from malls to provinces and they are deliciously good. Unlike street foods in the Philippines, Thai street foods are considered as a meal and not just a poor man’s fast food. Locals and tourists both enjoy eating Hawker Foods at a low price like noodles, BBQ, and what have you.
When visiting small towns, visit the local market as markets tend to sell every ready to eat foods such as BBQ, fried chickens, fresh fruits in push carts and pasties such as cakes, breads and cookies. When we made a stopover somewhere at Prachaup Khiri Khan, the small sleepy town have this market that looks like a portable flea market that closes when night falls and everyone is selling in portable carts. They don’t have fish or meats for sale instead they are selling ready to eat foods, dishes and pastries. I guess they sell livestock and meats somewhere else. What made this interesting is that, at the end of the day, the location wont look like market has been put up earlier that day.
People and Language
As a Filipino, Im always mistaken to be a Thai. They talk to me in Thai and gave me discounts.
Thais are polite and courteous. They don’t speak good English so it is useful to remember some simple Thai phrases: *Remember to Use Kap if you are a man, else, Ka if you are a woman. It is equivalent to Filipinos “po”.
Khap kun Kap/Ka (Thank You)
Sawadee Kap/Ka (Hello, Good Morning, Use when Greeting somebody)
While putting your hands together and give a little bow.
In some little cafeteria or restaurants, people are encouraged to remove their shoes when entering the shop. I find this gesture really cute. We constantly do this when entering any houses in the Philippines and I was amazed that it is also practiced in Thailand even in some stores and shops.
Transportation, Airport and Taxi
Bangkok have 2 airports, so research first and know your way around.
Thailand don’t have Jeepneys but they have their own Tricycle, called Tuktuk, a much bigger and more spacious.
There are several MRT that most locals used. It’s cheap and convenient and it runs across the city of Bangkok.
Taxi’s are everywhere, but most Taxi driver if not all don’t speak English nor can read English words. Before leaving the hotel, make sure to ask a business card for the hotel to hand it to the driver for the direction to avoid delay. Once we board the taxi at one of the MRT stations and gave the driver the hotel business card but he was uttering words I cant comprehend. I told him I don’t speak Thai but he kept on and on and we were arguing for a couple of minutes until the good lady came to us and read the card and relay it to the driver. Even when you already have the card, cab drivers usually doesn’t know their way around. They know each corners of the streets by they don’t know the names. So be patient and ask around if someone can help you with the address. Oh yes, we’ve tried changing taxis and the scenario is just normal. Also, before leaving the hotel, try to ask the personnel to call a taxi and give the driver the direction of your destination to avoid hassle. As I was hanging in the receiving area, I saw a Filipino family on a vacation in the same hotel that I am staying and the lady was exasperated talking to the people at the front desk why they gave them a driver who doesn’t know their way. The hotel hire the cab and the whole day, they were just running in the streets of Bangkok and never arrived in the destination which drivers should know in the first place because it’s the tourist destination in the city if not in the whole county. The family were asking for a refund instead because they were leaving the following day and haven’t visited any spot because of that driver.
Theravada Buddhism, the official religion of Thailand, is widely used by 95% of Thai and is protected by constitution. Most houses are associated with altars which food and flowers are constantly offered. Thailand is a modern country but wearing modesty is necessary especially when visiting temples. Visiting Temple is the norm for most visitors and you’ll be literally temple hopping as each temples are unique in their own way. While Philippine cities have their own Cathedral, Thailand also have their own temple in each city if not more.
Buddhism is a compassionate and tolerant religion. Consequently, Thai people are respectful of the religious beliefs of others and are very open toward discussing their values with visitors. In fact, there are many opportunities in Thailand to visit Buddhist temples to study Buddhism or to learn how to meditate.
These are but some things to consider when visiting Thailand. If you are planning to visit the country for the first time or want to spend your first out of the country trip, then Thailand is a very good option.