We’re perfectly aware that you wouldn’t like your trip to be mediocre, just another couple of tourist, just like the other couples of tourists, who come and go. We know you love going off the beaten path because it’s the only way trips can be inspiring, hen you’ve got the opportunity to notice the small differences that make us so beautiful, the ones that you’ll see in the distinct accents from a region to another, in the way people dress, speak or address you. It’s exactly why we love Thailand, because it has lots of things to offer if you’re not the kind of tourist who travel just to take other 200 selfies with new cultural monuments.
Their language. But if you’ve decided to go off the beaten path in Thailand, as much as we DO agree with this decision of yours, you should really learn some Thai first – no, no, don’t unpack! You don’t have to be a proficient, fluent, native speaker, no. But the basic words are always welcome. Plus, what you’ll be more than glad to know is that even though the locals don’t always speak English, there are lots of similarities with English and lots of words that you’ll clearly recognize while they’ll talk to you. ‘Tap Sap’ is what the locals call the words that are borrowed from English, but with odd pronunciations. If you learn those ones, you’re ready to take your trip!
It’s funny how the locals here would always, without exception, be so kind whenever given the opportunity, but most of the times they don’t know how to address you, so they just prefer to leave the tourist alone. It’s kind of sad, at the same time, how you can lose some culturally meaningful conversation because of this barrier: our advice, have a dictionary with you and don’t get on the plane until you’ve learned the basic stuff: how to say hi, how to thank, ask for directions, compliment etc.
Thailand’s the kind of country where what’s most impressive is in the subtle things. However, if there’s one thing you should keep in mind during your entire trip, that’s not to show any signs of aggressiveness, anger or disgust in public – they’ll think you despise their country and they will immediately become reluctant to everything you’ve got to say. Otherwise, if you’ll be polite and respectful – so will they.
Their transport. Don’t forget that business is business, and as circular as this cliché sounds, it does apply. Taxis, retailers, tuk-tuk (oh, you’ll love those little devils!) drivers, people will try to take advantage of your gullibility. One you’re in this kind of situation, the first (and best) thing to do is leave, and avoid any possible misunderstanding. The other thing you can totally do in Thailand without anyone being too surprised is get mad. And show your madness: yell at the ones who are harming you! Of course, there’s a good chance they won’t like you afterwards, but the good thing is you’ll still have your money. Plus, it’s how they solve disputes themselves. Many tourists were fooled, thinking that’s it’s nice to be polite when you’re in a foreign country. And while we totally agree with that, you can’t accept being mocked just for being a stranger. Show some attitude, whenever it’s necessary (there’s a good chance if there’s some witness at the conflict to make him a friend this way). People here appreciate standing for themselves a lot.
Concerning the tuk-tuk drivers, the most intelligent to do is not believe anything of what they’ll tell you. There’s a good chance you’ll hear about how the place where you ant to go is closed, but there’s another one, way better, which just opened; that the ho(s)tel that you’ve booked doesn’t really exist, but he knows where to take you to be safe, that X location is ugly and you’d better visit some other place. Ignore this advice. So if you don’t make them the most reliable source of information while you’re in Thailand, you’re just safe.
Extra tip: Always specify the exact place where you want to arrive, and – if possible – you can ask them to hurry just so they know that you’ve already got a program and you’re decided.
While shopping, you’ll notice that people here will claim that the money is counterfeit. Especially the 1000 baht note is popular for being the subject of such social presumptions. It’s just safe to pay by credit card whenever possible and simply refuse to buy something if the salesman/seller has some special comments to make.
First things first. There’s a free two-months visa that you can get for traveling and you’ll be able to extend it for another month if you’ll decide that you’ve fallen in love with this place. And there’s a good chance you will, if you go of the beaten path. This means that you won’t stay in a special hotel with all kinds of resorts and facilities, no. The best experience in Thailand is living with a family for a week or two, try stay at their house if they rent rooms. They’re not only very friendly and polite, but they’ll to the best to make you feel not like just another tourist. Nothaburi (north of Bangkok) is where these home-stays are believed to be heavenly good to experience.
You may think this is boring at first, but trying to take place at their day by day life will make you understand their culture and internalize – even for a few days – their values and beliefs. Ayutthaya is another great place for home-staying with people, it’s even norther from Nothaburi.
And if you’re in love with the seaside but you’ve never had the opportunity to go to the beach and feel like home, Ko Chang is over toward Cambodia and it’s stunning. Hammocks are pretty famous, especially if you get one with a view – the kind of accessory that turns everything into heaven right away, and if you’re lucky enough to find one at your home-stay, you’ll be the happiest tourist in Thailand.
Chiang Mai has always been pretty famous in the country and it’s worth seeing, but it’s a place where you can find Coca-Cola vending machines – which makes it not quite reliable for an off the beaten path destination. This means that you should only visit it for a day or two. Try and experience new things, go until there’s no one to understand English or to even know what language you’re speaking.
If you’re a good diver, you should forget about searching corals in your trips. In Thailand you can go to Shangkhlaburi, where you can dive the ruins and have some wild swimming in the old temple – how fun is this? Sok National Park is stunning, the people you’ll find here are all fun and mad. The good kind, the ones who have a spirit for adventure and love trying new things all the time. You shouldn’t miss it for the world if you’re a fan of diving.
Elephants are awesome, they’re as friendly as the people who take care of them. And you’re not reading something wrong, you haven’t jumped a line or something. They’re all happy in Chian Mai, where there’s an elephant natural park like a sanctuary of these gorgeously friendly animals. Hugs and kisses is what you’ll get from these animals and you can visit the park for a day or you can even come and volunteer here for an entire week – that’s some pretty, hippie time you’ll have here. You shouldn’t hesitate, it’s really helping recharge your batteries!