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Thai Surprises: Five Things Travelers Should Expect in Thailand

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Thai Surprises Five Things Travelers Should Expect in Thailand min min

Thailand appeals to travelers of many sorts. Its bustling, energetic cities are a sight to behold, perfect for thrill-seeking adventurers who will be awed by the frenetic pace of life and the neon cacophony of its nightlife. Meanwhile, its beautiful, postcard-perfect beaches are a draw for more relaxation-minded vacationers looking to get away from the workaholic West. Here are five things about Thailand you should know before touching down in the Land of Smiles.

1. You may need to show some cash just to get in.

You won’t have to bribe your way into Thailand, but oddly enough, you might be asked to prove that you could. Recent visitors to the country have been asked to produce 20,000 baht (around $600 American) to prove that they have enough money to support themselves in the country. The practice is an attempt to weed out foreign nationals who are planning to work in Thailand illegally, along with so-called “begpackers” – Westerners who panhandle to fund their travels around Asia. Even if you’ve held tourist visas before, you might be asked to produce some cash.

2. And you shouldn’t plan on overstaying your welcome.

Along with asking tourists to produce money as evidence that they won’t be panhandling or taking jobs from Thai nationals, Thai customs officials also frequently ask that you give them proof of onward travel. This means you should have your flight home (or to your next destination) booked in advance, and you should be prepared to produce your tickets upon request.

3. You won’t be the only tourist.

Thailand now attracts around 35 million tourists a year. That’s more than half of the entire country’s population! This means you shouldn’t expect to be the only foreigner in a sea of Thai folk – and you should make reservations at restaurants or attractions well in advance, or risk having another, wiser tourist snag your spot. The plus side is that in addition to experiencing Thai culture, you’ll likely get to rub elbows with visitors from other countries you might not have been to yet. Particularly in the holiday season, Thailand is a real melting pot!

4. It’s not as cheap as you may have heard.

While prices for accommodations are still far less pricey than those in Japan or Hong Kong, they’re rising as the country catches up with its tourism boom. You won’t be dining like a king on a few bucks a day. But if you’re open to living like a local, you can definitely spend much less on a Thai vacation than elsewhere in Asia. Just avoid tourist trap nightclubs and stick to street food. And really, why wouldn’t you? Thai street food is legendary, and local haunts often have more character than spots targeted at Westerners.

5. Don’t drink the water.

Thai tap water is notoriously unreliable. Most locals don’t drink it, and that’s a solid hint that you shouldn’t either. Luckily, bottled water is plentiful and cheap – most street vendors sell it for around 10 cents a bottle. Or just skip the water and go for a beer – they’re similarly cheap and ubiquitous, and with the surplus of tuk-tuks and taxis, you won’t be driving anyway.

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