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Travel tips for first Thai-mers!



Q:  “We have given our 19 year-old daughter a flight to Thailand in June/ July, as a congratulations for matric, getting into varsity and as a birthday present. She will be going with her boyfriend. She has not ever travelled overseas, alone and he is not experienced, either and I would love some suggestions for them, and advice?”

A: ” Make sure that trip from airport to hotel is part of the package. My daughter and hubby organized their trip via a train trip and bus which turned into a bit of a nightmare…all worked out in the end but they literally got dumped on the side of a highway with all their luggage in the middle of nowhere.”

” Open up an emergency PayPal account in case she loses her card or gets mugged.”

” Don’t draw cash at Phuket Airport….our card was cloned!”

” Plastic Wrap the bags at the SA airport you depart from!”

” My daughter did this last year: I gave her a second credit card linked to my card so she always had emergency cash
( and I could track it ) She had her phone, didn’t have roaming but could check in wherever there was WiFi
Bottled water and Medical insurance a must. She pre-booked accommodations and transfers so I knew they were organized.”

” We went last year and in my late 20’s backpacked south east Asia. These are my tips.
1) almost every place in Thailand has WiFi so you can connect with her.
2) download Life360 an app which you can share with family and know where she is at all times
3) Only drink bottled water
4) Eat where people are seated and you can eat off the street
5) make sure a planned pick up from the airport through the resort has been arranged as it can be overwhelming trying to decide who you are going to drive with
6) use local bakkie taxis to get around as all the locals use it and can be trusted and so much cheaper BUT they must negotiate. If they say it cost 100 baht they must offer 80 for example.
7) don’t drive the motorcycles. Traffic is dangerous and have their own rules which locals know
Take lonely planet as a guide and use trip advisor for comments about places they want to visit
9) buy drinks from the local seven eleven it is much cheaper than resorts
Hope that helps.
10) there is a safe in almost every resort. We kept all our passports and cards in there only taking one card out with us a day. ”

” Bangla Road, Patong – awesome party street with lots of eye opening action – but very important to be streetwise here. Don’t accept drinks from ANYONE, keep an eye on your own drinks, and just be aware of what is going on around you – great experience, you just need to be alert.”

I always used to make copies of all my travel docs, passport, all details of accommodation, etc. and leave a copy of them with my mom! They can also keep an electronic copy that they can retrieve from where ever they are. If you are with Discovery please tell them that you are travelling. We were in Bali when the Tsunami struck and they contacted us to see if we needed assistance. They need to get a local SIM card when they arrive so that you can keep in contact. Research which provider is recommended.”

” Cling wrap your bags, Take a extra set of clothes in your hand luggage
Take copies of your passport, medical insurance, all documents with you. Certify them.
If you hire s scooter. Be very careful and you need extra insurance for this including medical aid. You dont want to land up in an accident with no medical insurance and I think it is 3rd party insurance you need
Do not party so hard and drink that you do not know what you are doing and are not in control. I saw so many young children in Phuket barely standing and I kept thinking what a dangerous situation they are putting themselves in. Dont leave your drink unattended.
Join the Facebook page Phuket101. It has a wealth of information.”

” They should head to Koh Samui, Koh Tao & Koh Phangan side of Thailand in June / July: weather is far more reliable than Phuket side – guaranteeing snorkeling, boat excursions etc. Phuket can be really crummy this time of the year – snorkeling trips, catch ferries etc. can all be cancelled. It’s the luck of the draw. Koh Phangan is FANTASTIC for the younger crowd with tons of beach parties, night life etc. There are as many chemists as there are massage parlors on each island so they don’t have to schlep the medicine chest with all its paraphernalia along with them. All
Ice in bars is made from filtered water so should never be a problem. My biggest tip is always to tell people to carry disinfectant wipes – like the green dettol packs – some of the loos in street bars, restaurants can be a bit dodgy and aren’t western style; you also cant flush loo paper so need to wipe and fold – I found having those to wipe down surfaces, my hands, a win. Eat where the locals eat! Eat from the street carts/ food more authentic And you can see how fresh it is: big resorts are ironically pretty risky as the quantity of food is large and can be trotted out again at the next sitting. Don’t look to drink wine – outrageous prices – it’s R 380 a bottle of “Three Oceans” in a supermarket! Singa beer and cocktails all the way!”

” Do not drink on the beaches as it is again the law.”

” Follow Lipglossgirlxoxo (she’s from Cape Town), she spent 6 months over there and stayed in a number of places from airb’nb’s to youth hostels. She gave some very good tips on staying alone as a single female. It looked like she had a fabulous time.”

” Only drink bottled water , their water is pretty shocking , we also never ate on the streets , I only ate vegetarian , had some excellent meals , couldn’t face anything that came from the sea. Be prepared for the intense humidity and smells. Pataya is like the red light district a bit hectic everyone tries to entice you to something or another, in Bangkok a man wanted to pay for me for the night – even though he only took me up to my chest! Try to go to monastery, very beautiful to watch the monks – go to Jim Thompson’s magnificent home carried over the river , don’t eat the chocolate – horrendous – go to the original capital of Thailand before Bangkok, exquisite, people are sweet, gentle ..  but stay on your toes – it’s a tourist market for better or worse.”

“Stay away from hard liquor and order beers instead. Bottles you can see being opened. I have heard of alcohol poisoning from bars that put their own “moonshine” into branded bottles. You think you are ordering a JB and you get Jeyes Fluid instead.”

” I would suggest Contiki tours, for young travellers without experience.”

” Buy a local sim card at the airport – just before you go downstairs for the public taxis. The sim costs about 300baht for 7 days, which include whatsapp, email, social media. No need for talk time, as whatsapp calls pretty good from Thailand.
As for the taxi from the airport, they are very safe & inexpensive. Always ask for “meter” charge, or else ask cost of ride upfront. Negotiate if you have to.
Phuket is generally more expensive than Koh Samui , etc.
Watch out for pickpocketing & always carry your backpack on your front.”

” Take her own toiletries for the time she is there! Tampons (hard to find if she uses them), Hand sanitizer, sun screen as they are expensive and hard to find. ”

”  It is well suited to travelers, we’re just back and we basically showed up there and figured it all out once we arrived.
Download hostel world/ agoda, best apps to find accommodation on.
Also download the app called “grab” it is the Thailand uber. ”

” Boots (UK chemist chain) is everywhere in Thailand and has nearly everything.
Asian mosquitos are fierce – Tiger Balm is the best thing for bites (the white ointment).”

” Barter barter barter – my friend did Bali for her 50th and that for her was the weirdest aspect – negotiate pricing everywhere, especially at markets. They did an electric bike tour through the rice paddies and said it was lovely, it’s a full day thing but they had stacks of fun.”

” Look on Read up in their culture as they are wonderful humble people, however very particular about the traditions regarding their religion etc. Eat from the street vendors, they are awesome. Always check your bags before going to the airport to make sure no one has slipped something in there. Eat the food, it’s delicious. Have the massages! And all of the above that everyone else has suggested. Travel light as she will buy there. Bargain with them!”

” Thailand is the softest Asian country to go to as a first time visitor – so geared up, gentle people, cheap & AMAZING food, culture. Nothing beats a full body massage on the beach under the trees for R 150! A daily treat!”

” Peace villas in koh samui are idyllic very budget friendly and have a private beach! Less hawkers.”

” Many places in Thailand charge an extra 3% if you use a credit or debit card, so take cash or travelers Cheques as well as cards. Download Trip Advisor for info on how to get around,what to do, where to stay. Avoid anywhere that allows you to ride elephants and make sure she has travel insurance.”


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