Here are five things you need to know, gathered from our friends in the travel industry - the ones who really know Thailand.
Being a tourist hotspot, you have to keep your wits about you as there are people who will try to take advantage of you. From tuk tuk drivers who offer you city tours at an amazingly low price (or more like a ride to their friends shops!), to retailers switching a high quality product for a cheap version at point of purchase. The best option if you‘re ever in a situation where you‘re not comfortable is to simply leave.
– Clem Robin, i-to-i
WorldNomads: Most scams are easily avoided if you know what to look for, so improve your street smarts and learn how to avoid getting fooled.
Thai language has adopted many words and phrases from English (and some from other languages). They call those words 'tap sap'. So, if a person learns those tap sap (they're similar to English, but with odd pronunciations), then there are effectively a lot of 'Thai' words that an English speaker already knows. Here are some examples: guest house, hotel, computer, taxi, disco, clinic, same (or as they say 'same same). Many useful Thai words are repeats or couplets, similar to the 'same same'. If you're getting a massage that's too deep, you can say 'bow bow' which means, 'go easier,' or 'softly softly.' The Thai word for 'often' is; 'boi boi'(sounds like boy boy).
– Ken Albertson, thailandrocks.com
WorldNomads:If you want to impress everyone and blend in a bit more with the locals, then you should download our free Thai language guide. Its available as an iPhone app or as an MP3.
Lined up in neat rows, filled with shiny bottles of Thai whiskey, vodka, gin and M150 (The Thai equivalent of Red Bull), they sit innocently gleaming at street stalls waiting for you to buy them. Backpackers be warned! The bucket is the deadliest of all concoctions in South East Asia and a drink that is not to be taken lightly - particularly at a full moon party! After just one, heaven forbid two of these notorious buckets - chances are you won't remember what happened during the course of the evening, never mind your name or where you come from! Get a load of straws and share one between friends if you must. Take it easy that's all we're saying!
– Nikki Scott, southeastasiabackpacker.com
In general, the driving skill level here of both locals and tourists alike is rather appalling. There are more accidents here than there needs to be. Also, pedestrians are often ignored, the rules of the road seemingly being: the largest vehicle wins. Thai people, though lovely and generous, are not very disciplined (but it's part of their charm!) Watch what people around you are doing and mimic their movements and actions. Use pedestrian crossings whenever possible, but do not assume that they are pedestrian safe. Use overpasses where they exist.
– John Williams, Siam Dive n Sail
WorldNomads: If you are thinking about hiring a motorbike or scooter then check out our Thailand motorbike guide for tips on how to avoid injury, fines, and hefty hospital bills.
If you feel you feel like you are unfairly treated by authorities (or people who masquerade as authorities), it's ok to make a big fuss. Many tourists to Thailand are fed the idea that Thais never complain or make a fuss in public. For the most part that's true, but even Thais have a saturation point - beyond which they go ballistic. Also know that anything can be bargained. Even in the heat of an extortionist's shakedown, a bargain can be struck.
– Ken Albertson, thailandrocks.com
WorldNomads: A good case in point is the argument that erupts when you're accused of handing over fake currency. The shopkeeper might be trying to scam you, so make sure you don't let them get away with it.