From fast-paced cities to stunning beaches, and unique landscapes, there is nowhere quite like Thailand. It comes as no surprise that people flock to the Indochinese country each year. As a global tourist hotspot, there is a world of discovery awaiting those who decide to make the trip to Thailand.
Thanks to the beguiling mixture of beauty, culture, history and simple verve, it is also not surprising that it is a wildly popular destination for students, too. There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy Thailand’s heady blend for yourself, but there are few things to keep in mind first.
Top 6 tips for students travelling to Thailand
Most visitors to Thailand land in Bangkok. The Thai capital is a mesmerising (and sometimes bewildering) city that can take a little while to get to grips with. The city rewards those who take their time to get to know it. Even if you only have a day or two, you can get a taste of the city. Spend a late night on the bars of the famous Khao San Road, and wander round the immaculate grounds of the Grand Palace.
Thai cuisine is undoubtedly one of the tastiest in the world, and the street food is delicious, abundant and cheap. It is a good way to open yourself to food poisoning as well. Take the right precautions, like washing your hands before and after you eat, only drinking bottled water, and only choosing stalls or vendors that are popular with locals and have a high footfall.
You will most likely have an incident-free trip to the country, but there are some important precautions to take before you go. If you are planning to travel to the Thai countryside then you should consider malaria tablets. Thailand’s cities aren’t home to malaria, but there is a low risk of the disease in areas like Phuket and Phang Nga. You should also get vaccinations for Hepatitis A and Tetanus before travelling.
Unfortunately, Western tourists are the prime target for one of the many scammers operating in Thailand. While the overwhelming majority of Thais are decent law-abiding folks, a small minority have given the country a bit of a reputation for tourist scams. With a little forethought, you can avoid being a victim. The main way to avoid scammers is to not trust or accept any unsolicited or unwelcome advice or help. Get your tourist info from official sources and always get a price before you get in a tuk tuk or order a drink. Also, make sure that any valuables are well hidden in internal pockets, and try to avoid any ostentatious displays of wealth.
Thai people are some of the friendliest and most helpful people out there, and this is especially true for visitors who respect their culture. Be prepared to smile a lot, and greet locals with the wai – where you press your hands together and bow. Wearing neat and relatively conservative clothes will help you fair well. Other customs to bear in mind include not touching a Thai on their head (the head is the most sacred part of the body), refraining from talking about the royal family, and being respectful of any monks you encounter. By respecting their culture, you will find that the locals can be some of the most helpful, welcoming and friendly people around.
Thais are very much defined by the sanuk. Loosely translated as “fun”, it refers to Thai’s unfailing belief that you should be enjoying everything you do. Almost a national ethos, you will be regularly asked, “sanuk mai?” – which translates to “are you having fun?”. Don’t be afraid to keep your smile beaming. Whether negotiating a tuk tuk fair, bartering, ordering drinks, or just lazing by the beach, inject a little fun into it, and the locals will love you for it!
Have you been to Thailand? What was your experience like with the locals?