Get the best beds
If you’re on a budget and planning to stay in hostels and guesthouses, simply turning up and requesting a room is the cheapest way to go, and thanks to Thailand’s flourishing tourism industry you’re unlikely to have trouble finding a bed. Bear in mind though that air conditioning often costs extra and is worth every penny during the hottest months. If you’re willing to spend a little more on your accommodation, book mid-range or luxury hotels in advance to secure the best deals.
At times, it can feel a little like there is someone trying to rip you off on every corner in Thailand and it pays to keep your wits about you. Don’t trust randomly helpful strangers who come up to you in the street with information about public holidays and closed temples; check with your hostel or hotel instead. Always agree a price before getting in a tuk tuk and insist on any taxi you use being metered. Keep your belongings as close to you as possible, ideally strung around you in a zipped up bag.
Respect the culture
Keeping face is of paramount important to all Thai people so raising your voice and getting angry will get you nowhere. The head is considered the most sacred part of the body, while the feet are the lowest; don’t touch a Thai person on the head under any circumstances, or point your feet (especially the soles) towards anyone – or any sacred image, particularly of the Buddha or the King. Smiling will always get you a long way. Thais tend to smile far more than the average westerner so get ready to beam.
Drink it in
Beer is the alcoholic drink of choice in Thailand and you’ll find local brew Singha almost everywhere. Be aware that it is 6% abv – and that the almost-as-popular Chang is a whopping 7%. You have to be 20 to buy alcohol, though only nightclubs generally ask for ID. Unless you’re feeling flush, you won’t want to order wine; thanks to hefty import taxes you’ll pay at least four times what you would at home.
Yes, the sex industry is everywhere in Thailand, but no, prostitution is not legal here. As well as potential trouble from the police, there are numerous ethical issues involved, not to mention issues of health and safety. So don’t even think about it.