There are many articles and information online relating to the things you should do while in Thailand, but I would like to give you also a list of things to avoid while you are in this amazing place. Making a difference is important and you should try to be considerate of the Thai culture.
- Feeding or petting any wild animal, especially the monkeys!
In almost all regions of Thailand, you will find wild animals, the ones you will most likely come into contact are the monkeys that will try to get something tasty to eat from you. Feeding them is not allowed and it’s punishable by law. Not all food is good for them and you should know that they tend to become violent when not given what they want.
Trying to pet them is another huge mistake since you can be bitten or scratched by them and if this happens it is MANDATORY for you to go to the hospital and get vaccinated against rabies. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that they are not sick or that it is only superficial, rabies can kill you if you don’t get the shot in the first 24 hours.
Also, the male might get protective of its family so don’t get to close to the babies or females. I know you want that perfect shot, but trust me it’s not worth it.
- Riding the elephants, the Asian elephant became an endangered species
There is a huge debate on this topic and many think that they are actually getting close to the animals and proving that they love them, but this act of riding them it’s far from this. The metal cages are harming them and most of the time they are beaten.
Some say an alternative it visiting the elephant sanctuary, I would say you should try to avoid these too since washing elephants it’s not a natural thing and those animals do not enjoy this “special” attention.
- Buying any item made from ivory, this is also punishable by law
For this I don’t think I have to make a case, you should never engage in this illegal activity. You will see signs all over the airport and they do search your belongings for this.
- Visit the tiger temples where the tigers are beaten and sedated in order for the tourists to play with them
Same story as the ones above, the tigers are wild animals and you should never try to convert them into kittens. In most of the temples these animals are tortured and once their purpose is fulfilled are adult ones are killed and their fur sold. Loving animals means that you should respect their natural habitat.
- Destroying the reef by touching it or by taking parts of them home, also punishable by law
There are many places in Thailand where you can snorkel or scuba-dive into the reef. The beauty of the marine life is mesmerizing and I strongly advise you to see it, but under no circumstances try to touch the reef or to take any part of it as a souvenir. If you do so, the reef will die and it is a crime against nature, not to mention against the laws of the country.
- Throwing plastic in the sea, forest or beach
You will see a huge amount of plastic thrown all around the forest and the beaches, so try to be considerate about this when offered plastic bags at the supermarket. Also, only put garbage in the containers and don’t leave it behind. The problem of the plastic disposal in a major one in Thailand and millions of creatures are suffering from this.
- Being late, the Asian people are very punctual and it is a form of disrespect
When you are calling a cab, expect the driver to be there at the exact time you mentioned and try not to be late. The same goes when going on a trip if they say you have to be back at a certain time, be there is a huge sign of disrespect.
- Getting into an argument or fight with a local
You are their guest but try to follow their rules even if you are right the police will not take your side and you will get into trouble. The Thai police are known to be corrupt so try not to argue with them or give them reasons to pick up an argument with you.
- Buying the statue of Buddha
Again, you will see signs in all the public places that will notify you that buying the statue of Buddha is a sign of disrespecting their religion. You will see that they usually have the temple in their homes but never the statue. There are plenty of souvenirs you can buy, so try not to get this one.
The sun from Thailand is VERY strong so be careful with it. You can get sunburns while wearing a t-shirt or when there are clouds. Buy suns cream lotion protection with SPF 30 or 50 and stay away from the sun in the middle of the day. If you are not accustomed to the high temperature and high humidity level, try not to stay long in the sun. Even the locals are careful with this and usually have long sleeves and long pants.
- Buying souvenirs from the supermarket
Souvenirs are usually more expensive there and you should try to buy them from the locals to help them. You will have to negotiate the price on most of the places, but you can also find shops where the “last” price is on display.
- Packing huge suitcases
You won’t need a lot of things and since it is such a cheap place you can always buy them from there, they have everything you need so you can travel light and not worry about your luggage getting lost. Also, you don’t need any winter clothes, the weather is really hot, even when it rains.
- Talking in a disrespectful manner about the King or Buddha
The Thai people are very respectful of both their leader and their god, so you should do the same. Even if you don’t agree with them, you are a guest in their country so you should never talk bad these sensitive matters.
- Using the ATM machines
If you can avoid using the ATM’s machines at all even better, but if you have to use them make sure you retract as much as you needed from a single transactions since the ATM machine will take 20$ as it’s commission. If you are an US traveler make sure you don’t forget your card in the ATM since it is only release at the end of the transaction .
- Paying by credit card
Most of the places allow you to pay with a credit card but will add 3% to the bill as it is the commission of their bank. To this your own bank will add extra commission and you will lose also at the conversion rate.
- Exchanging money at the airport
If it is absolutely necessary exchange money a the airport, but only so you can get to your accommodation. The rate is really low and you can end up losing a lot of money. Also keep in mind that the rate varies on the bill, the best rate you will get for 50$ and 100$ bills and the worst for small bills.
Due to the huge amount of tourists that visited Thailand in the last years, many customs from this country changed. Locals became meaner and started to treat the tourists as “fresh meat”, but this is the direct consequence of the fact that usually, the people visiting show a huge disrespect for their culture, their people, and nature. Acting in a correct and respectful manner will make the locals act in the same way, so be the person you would like to meet and try to follow their rules.
Thailand is a gorgeous place, let’s keep it this way!