10 Things you should Know Before Travelling to Thailand

From hilarious laws to more serious customs, 10 things you should know before travelling to Thailand.

10 Things you should Know Before Travelling to Thailand

25 February 2015

Thailand, elephant road sign

Thailand is a fantastic and vibrant country that has been attracting gap year travellers and backpackers alike for years. The county is home to an amazing culture that is very different to most countries in the world, so there are a few things that you should know before travelling here for the first time. From the hilarious laws, to the more serious customs, here’s our list of 10 things you should know before travelling to Thailand, so you can avoid becoming the worst tourist ever.


Don’t go commando

Underwear on washing line

Thailand’s strange law #1…

Thailand has a bunch of unusual laws to follow, but this one is perhaps the funniest – it’s illegal to leave the house without any underwear on. To avoid any awkward conversations back home about why you got in trouble over this, make sure you pack enough underwear to last for your whole trip. The only question we’re left pondering is, how do they enforce this law? We don’t fancy finding out…


Wear a top whilst driving


Thailand’s strange law #2…

Don’t let the Thai police get shirty with you over this one, it’s illegal to drive in Thailand if you are shirtless. It’s probably unlikely that you’ll be driving during your stay, but if you do, make sure you’re wearing a top.


Don’t talk about the Thai King

King's temple

Seriously now, just don’t talk negatively about the Thai King...

Though this Thai law may seem strange like the others above, it is also very important that you abide by it. It is a punishable offence of up to 10 years in jail to criticise the King and Monarchy or deface any images of them, so unless you like being behind bars, make sure that you don’t make any negative remarks.


Avoid stepping on Thai money

Thai Baht

Why is your money on the floor we ask? Either way, it is actually illegal to step on any of the Thai currency, the Baht. This is because, you guessed it, the King’s face is printed and engraved on the Thai notes and coins. However, unless someone throws a bunch of notes and coins at you mid-walk, then I don’t think you’ll have much trouble abiding by this unusual law.


Don’t throw used gum on the floor

Stepping on gum

Unless you want to face a pretty hefty fine of nearly £400, or a possible jail sentence if you don’t pay up, (yes, they take it that seriously), then don’t throw your gum on the floor in Thailand. In some countries you might not bat an eyelid to chucking your used gum on the floor, but in Thailand this will be a littering that you never forget.


Never point with your feet

Feet by poolside

Pointing your feet at Buddha statues or a person, raising your feet higher than someone’s head or placing your feet on chairs or tables is considered very rude in Thailand. This unusual custom originates from Buddhist culture, where feet are regarded to be the lowest and dirtiest part of the body. Try to be respectful of this vibrant culture and avoid upsetting the locals by placing your feet in places where it’s not wanted.


Pack your flip-flops


Trust us, you will find a pair of flip-flops invaluable during your stay in Thailand. Not only will flip-flops take you comfortably to the beach, round the town and along the poolside, they will also come in handy when visiting places that ask you to take your shoes off before going inside. In Thailand before entering most temples and religious places, hotels and Thai homes, you will be asked to take off your shoes as a sign of politeness. With your flip-flops you’ll be able to easy and quickly whip off your shoes, and will be laughing at your friend struggling with their sandal straps or trainers.


Don’t touch a Thai persons head

Monk's head

As Thai people consider the feet to be the dirtiest part of the body, it probably comes as no surprise that the head is the holiest and most important part of the body. Unless the person is a very close friend or child, then don’t touch a Thai persons head or ruffle their hair, as it is seen as disrespectful.


Watch out for dodgy deals

Tuk tuk

It’s okay to barter prices with your Tuk Tuk driver, as being a tourist there will be people in Thailand who will try to take advantage of this. It is also important to remember that some drivers work on commission, so might try to convince you to travel to a different attraction or shop. If you are ever in doubt or are feeling uncomfortable about a situation then just walk away.


Gain some brownie points…greet with the Wai

Tuk tuk

Admittedly this isn’t something that you should know before travelling to Thailand, but it’s something that Thai locals will really appreciate. As soon as you arrive in Thailand, you will notice that locals will greet you with the Wai, which is a polite greeting involving putting your hands together and bowing slightly. You shouldn’t feel like you have to do this greeting when you travel here, but it’s a nice way of respecting the local culture.


These are just 10 serious and very silly things we think you should know before travelling to Thailand. If you are planning your next travelling expedition and want to explore Thailand, check out our volunteer opportunities now.

 Written by Alissa Johnson