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A First-timer's Guide to Thailand

schedule5 Minute Read

14-Jul-2023 Karl Page

A First-timer's Guide to Thailand

Everything you need to know before visiting Thailand for the first time.

Tips for First-time Visitors to Thailand

Discover some of the most important things to consider when visiting Thailand.

Are you planning a luxury holiday to Thailand? This incredible country offers so much to travellers, with a range of stunning landscapes, amazing historical attractions and some of the best food in the world. However, travelling to a country so different from your own can be overwhelming.

If you're going to visit Thailand for the first time, this article will inform you of everything you need to know before setting off.

Embrace The Cultural Differences

Something that can surprise many first-time visitors coming to Thailand is the cultural differences. Often small things that you may not consider. Ensuring you're aware of, and following, the most significant cultural differences can make your trip a lot easier and show locals that you are respectful of their culture.

Below, we've listed some of the most important cultural norms to know before visiting Thailand for the first time:
  • Respect The Monarchy: Thailand adores its monarchy and won't take lightly to visitors being disrespectful about it or offering up any criticism; doing so is seen as a serious offence.
  • Save Face: In Thailand, it's important to 'save face'. This means trying to be harmonious and not raising your voice, disagreeing with or criticising others when out and about.
  • Keep To Yourself: Personal space is valued in Thailand, so try to keep yourself to yourself as much as possible and not touch others. Especially don't touch anyone on the head, as this is seen as the most sacred part of the body. On the other end of the scale, feet are considered the lowest part of the body and shouldn't be used to point at anything.
  • Enjoy The Local Cuisine (But Not The Water)

    Thai food is adored all over the world - and for good reason! With fresh and fragrant flavours and spices that can pack a punch, Thai food is delicious, and those visiting should be sure to sample as much as possible. It's not just restaurants you should visit though, as a lot of the best food in Thailand can be found on the streets, where street food vendors serve up beloved dishes for very low prices, such as pad thai, tom yum goong and sweet, sticky rice.

    Whilst you should definitely sample the local cuisine, you should make sure you aren't drinking the local tap water, which can be an easy way to get an upset stomach. Instead, opt for bottled water and filtered water from dispensers. It would be best if you also tried to avoid fruit and vegetables that have been washed with tap water where possible.
    Elephants in Chiang Mai, Thailand
    Elephants in Chiang Mai, Thailand

    See the Elephants with Ethical Experiences

    Thailand's wildlife is most known for one thing: elephants. Many people visiting Thailand will want to see the elephants, but when you do, make sure you're visiting a reputable sanctuary or rescue centre. It's important that travellers seek these places out, as it'll support their work in fighting harmful practices.

    If you do want to see elephants when visiting Thailand, our article below outlines some of the best places to stay to do so. It'll also tell you more about seeing tigers in India, pandas in China and snow leopards in the Himalayas.

    Make Sure To Explore Temples and Pagodas

    Yes, we know it might be tempting to spend your time in Thailand soaking up the sun on a warm beach or on a mission to find the very best mango sticky rice, but you should make sure to explore some religious attractions too. Although some people may not feel inclined to discover the religious landscape of a new place in Thailand, we urge you to make an exception. These attractions are resplendent, with amazing designs and fascinating stories.

    When visiting any religious sites, be sure to dress modestly, covering your knees and shoulders. Long, light clothing is best and nothing too tight or figure-hugging. You will also likely be asked to remove your shoes when entering but there will be a designated place to leave them.
    Ko Tapu, Phuket, Thailand
    Ko Tapu, Phuket, Thailand

    Visit Multiple Destinations

    Just like any country, Thailand isn't just one location but myriad different cultures, landscapes and lifestyles stitched into one. And if you want to see it properly, you should try to visit multiple places whilst on your trip. From the frenetic Bangkok to more relaxed locations like Chiang Rai and picture-perfect destinations like Phuket, there is plenty to see in Thailand.

    Want all the planning taken care of for you? As a leading luxury travel agency, our tailor-made itineraries are crafted by travel experts to help you make the most of your time in Thailand. Browse our selection of Thailand tours below:
    We have a large selection of travel articles on our luxury travel blog, Elegant Traveller, including a First-time Visitor's Guide to Japan and a First-time Visitor's Guide to Vietnam. If you are looking for inspiration, it's the perfect place to look for those who want to ignite their wanderlust and get to planning future holidays.
    Karl Page

    Karl Page

    Digital Experience Manager

    With a genuine love for all things travel, I love exploring new destinations and discovering something new, gaining a wealth of experience in luxury holidays along the way.

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