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Thailand Travel Advice: 10 Things To Avoid Doing In Thailand

Updated on May 25, 2013

Thailand

This page provides travel advice on ten things that one should not do in Thailand and why one should not do them.

Thailand is generally a laid back country where people don't get uptight about small things going wrong and daily inconveniences; this is one of the things that make it an attractive country to live in or to visit.

I have highlighted some of the best things about Thailand in other lenses, 10 Memorable Things to see/do in Bangkok and Where to Watch Birds in Thailand, however, there are a number of things which are foolish to do and will either impare your enjoyment of the country or will leave a negative influence upon it when you leave: in this lens I will attempt to give you some advice that will help you avoid those things; this advice is based on living in the Kingdom for over 15 years. Some of these things to avoid doing are cultural differences, some of these are just common sense and some of these are specific to certain scams that, unfortunately, prevail in Thailand.

Introduction image taken on Bangkok Skytrain by Nick Upton

Who Has Been To Thailand? - Let Us Know If You Have Ever Visited

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
A Handcuffed Man Raises His Hands Above His Head  - Buy on Allposters
A Handcuffed Man Raises His Hands Above His Head - Buy on Allposters

1. Do Not Get Involved With Illegal Drugs Under Any Circumstances

Thailand has a mandatory death sentences for drug smuggling and whilst this is almost always commuted to life imprisonment for foreigners, the death penalty may be the better option from what I hear of Thai prisons.

Getting involved with drugs is the number one thing that you should not do in Thailand.

"I am not a Drug Smuggler, just a Recreational User"

The Thai police won't see it like that if they catch you either at the border or within the country with any type of drug, "soft" or "hard". If you are caught with a large amount of any drug, the police will assume you are a dealer and you are in for at least 10 years of hell, locked in a cell with 30-40 other people, in blistering heat with one toilet and guards who have never heard the term "human rights". You don't want to experience that so don't touch drugs.

Even if the police were to catch you with a small amount of any drug, there would be big trouble. Most likely you would be locked up without charge and extorted out of a large amount of money in order to avoid jail. And don't expect the police to be nice to you, there is no police complaints commission so they are not answerable for their actions, in fact there have been thousands of extrajudicial killings of people allegedly involved in drugs - the police don't even need proof to shoot you dead on the street, if they have received a tip off about you buying, selling or carrying drugs they may just open fire.

Full Moon Party

I know what you are thinking - a bit of weed or some amphetamines at the full moon party can't hurt. Well, chances are that you won't end up in prison but you could easily get arrested and taken for all your money. That is not to mention that by getting involved with the dealers you are getting involved with some seriously bad people. Violence towards foreigners is very rare in Thailand but it is becoming disproportionately common on Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Samui: Murder and violence at Koh Phangan full moon party. That's the sort of thing that can happen when you get involved with drug dealers.

Have you ever been to Thailand?

See results

BBC Documentary About A Thai Prison - Bang Kwan

This BBC documentary is a feature on Bangkok's Bang Kwan prison. You don't want to end up in the dreadful place so whatever you do, do not get involved with drugs in Thailand. The video details the shocking waste of life inside this prison.

Don't Get Involved With Drugs And End Up In Prison Like These People

This is a list of web pages that provide information on specific cases of people in prison in Thailand on drug charges.

Thai Prison Life

The life of a Thai inmate convicted of drug offences in Thailand.

Eight Years in a Thai Jail

The cautionary tale of Radek Hanykovics.

British Man Sentenced to Death

Newspaper article on a British man receiving the death sentence in Thailand for drug smuggling.

Michael Connell

British teenager sentenced to 99 years in a Thai prison for drug smuggling.

Briton in jail refuses to beg for pardon

News article about the case of Julian Gilbey.

Some Interesting Books About Thai Prisons

In case you haven't quite got the message yet, don't get involved with drugs in Thailand, you don't want to end up in a Thai prison. To find out how awful life is for a foreign inmate in one of these prrisons, try any, or all, of these books.

The Damage Done: Twelve Years of Hell in a Bangkok Prison
The Damage Done: Twelve Years of Hell in a Bangkok Prison

The Damage Done is probably the most famous account of horrific conditions in a Thai prison, experienced by a foreigner serving a twelve-year sentence in a Bangkok prison. Quite frankly this is a shocking tale and if it does not persuade you to stay away from drugs in Thailand nothing will; it certainly makes me tiptoe around as I go about my daily affairs in this country.

 
Escape
Escape

This is an incredible account of a Westerner's life awaiting trial in a Bangkok prison which culminates in a successful escape attempt. This is a gripping if almost unbelievable account; just do not expect to repeat the feat if you end up in the same place for drug offences.

 
The Last Executioner: Memoirs of Thailand's Last Prison Executioner
The Last Executioner: Memoirs of Thailand's Last Prison Executioner

This is an interesting account of how the last executioner in Thailand dealt with his job. The author gives his opinion on the death sentence and how he attempted to do his job with respect for the people he was executing.

 
Rescued Gibbon
Rescued Gibbon

2. Don't Have Your Photograph Taken With Illegally Procured Wildlife

If there is one thing guaranteed to make my blood boil it is when I see foolish tourists posing for photographs with wild animals such as gibbons, monkeys, snakes, birds or other such unfortunate creatures that have been taken into captivity for this specific purpose.

Please don't end up in photos with abused wildlife like this rescued gibbon.

In a number of tourist locations such as Pattaya, Phuket, Ko Samui, Ao Nang and occasioanlly even in Bangkok wild animals, occasionally dressed in nappies to make them look even more cute (pathetic?), are offered to tourists for a hug and to have a photo taken, for which they pay the animal's "owner".

What are They Thinking?

What on earth are these people thinking? Do they think that there is some cutsie creature farm where these animals are selectively bred for a life of posing?

Orphaned, Abducted, Tormented & Drugged

This subtitle gives readers a clear picture of what life has been like for these animals. All of them have been taken from the wild. Birds are usually taken from the nest and gibbons are obtained by shooting the adults and collecting the falling babies.

Many of the animals offered for photo opportunities are potentially very dangerous; an adult gibbon is very strong and could do real damage. To make sure tourists are not harmed, these animals are heavily drugged and also often have their teeth and claws removed.

On top of all this, when they are not being hawked around the streets, these animals are poorly treated by their owners, usually kept in totally inappropriate accommodation and fed substandard food; ultimately they die young through neglect and incorrect care.

If you don't wish to contribute to wildlife crime, trade in endangered species and cruelty to animals then do not pose for photos with these animals. If their owners cannot make money from this trade it will stop.

A Word of Warning

If you see such activities do not intervene yourself, these people are violent criminals and will not take kindly to interferance. Equally, do not ask any nearby police to intervene, they are usually taking part of the proceeds in order to turn a blind eye, and they are also likely to cause you trouble. If you are able to, take a secret photo with your mobile phone and send it to an appropriate campaign group and write a letter of disgust to your local Thai ambassador.

Here is a list of adresses for Thai Embassies around the world.

Contact Wildlife Conservation Society about wildlife crime in Thailand.

Please remember, these animals are protected under CITES and by having your photo taken with them you are taking part in the international trade in endangered species, which, not surprisingly, is a criminal activity.

Animal Adoptions
Animal Adoptions

Help Wildlife Rather Than Contribute To Its Persecution

Adopt A Wild Animal for Conservation

For those that want to do more than simply not contributing to wildlife crime and animal cruelty, adopting a wild animal to help pay for its conservation is a good way to easily help in wildlife conservation programs.

On the page I have linked to above you can find a large number of links to charities that offer animal adoptions in order to finance a wide range of wildlife conservation projects such as habitat protection, educational programs, rescue centers, scientific study and political lobbying.

Cuddly Animal Toys - Now THESE Animals Are Made For Holding

Gibbons, Slow Loris and Snakes are often offered to tourists for photos in Thailand. It is ridiculous to indulge in this practice; please consider these cuddly alternatives and leave the real animals to live in the wild.

Remember, cuddle soft toys not real animals.

Aurora Plush Gibbon Flopsie - 12"
Aurora Plush Gibbon Flopsie - 12"

Gibbons are highly persecuted by the photographic gangs that operate in tourist locations in Thailand as they are exceptionally cute. Baby gibbons are procured by shooting whole families and catching the falling baby. Cuddling this plush gibbon is a far better option as it is far less likely to bite you and will allow the real thing to remain in the forest where they belong.

 
TY BB 2.0 Slithery-Snake
TY BB 2.0 Slithery-Snake

A soft slithery snake is a far better thing to embrace than the real thing which can be horribly abused when kept for photographs with tourists. Snakes are easily kept docile by feeding them, but they often get thrown around and locked up in dreadful conditions. Do not have your photo taken with these animals, just buy yourself a soft snake toy; much nicer indeed.

 
Elephants in the traffic in Bangkok - Buy at Allposters.com
Elephants in the traffic in Bangkok - Buy at Allposters.com

3. Don't Feed Street Elephants, You Are Not Helping Them

Unscrupulous elephant owners in Thailand are constantly bring their beasts into Bangkok and other cities and using them as tools for begging. Whilst they tend to hang around tourist areas such as Sukhumvit Road, Silom Road and Khao San Road, they can be found all over Bangkok, wandering around with their owners waiting for foolish people to buy a bag of food to give to the elephant.

Many of these elephants have been obtained by shooting adult female elephants in the wild and kidnapping their young.

Please do not join the legion of foolish people who help perpetuate this life of torment for elephants in Thailand. Really, are the busy, polluted streets of Bangkok any place for a beautiful creature like an elephant? Just one look at the picture here should tell you that it is not. Each year a number of street elephants are mortally wounded in collisions with cars; if tourists were not financing the elephants' stay in Bangkok then their owners would take them somewhere else.

Once again, please do not feed the elephants on Bangkok's streets, you are contributing to their misery, not helping them.

In recent times the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority seems to have managed to stop elephants coming into central Bangkok, but you will still come across this problem in surrounding areas and in the past this decision has been reversed; it only takes a change of Governor for this problem to spiral out of control again.

If you really want to help elephants in Thailand please don't feed them in the streets. Instead think about volunteering for the Elephant Nature Foundation, they are a respected organization which helps elephants properly.

Bangkok Street Elephant Video Clips

These video clips show elephants in the streets of the Thai capital. You can see how inappropriate a place it is for them. I know they look cute and tourists want to see elephants but feeding these begging elephants really only contributes to their suffering and just imagine the carnage if one of these animals went berserk! Go and see elephants in Thailand somewhere reputable.

Cute Cuddly Elephant Plush Toy

Webkinz Velvety Elephant
Webkinz Velvety Elephant

If you love elephants it is better to have a small, soft, cuddly one than the real thing which is a whole lot harder to look after. This plush elephant is a really nice one for kids to hug in bed and helps parents pass on the message of keeping elephants in the wild where they can go about their natural business and not have to beg for food on Bangkok's busy streets.

 
Elephants Being Washed in the river near Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand - Buy at Allposters.com
Elephants Being Washed in the river near Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand - Buy at Allposters.com

Elephants bathing in a river near Chiang Mai, Thailand

This photograph shows domesticated elephants being taken care of properly in a forest sanctuary in northern Thailand where they are given tasks to do which keep them fit and mentally active as well as receive proper medical care and nourishment.

Here are some links to elephant organizations.

ChangThai.com - Thai Elephant Conservation Center, Lampang

Elephant Nature Foundation.com - Elephant conservation.

Elephant Nature Park - Elephant rescue and rehabilitation center in Northern Thailand.

Thailand Elephant.org - Thai Elephant Conservation Center, under Royal patronage.

Elephant Stay - Elephants at the Royal Kraal, Ayuthaya.

Footprint stickers - $5.95 for twenty
Footprint stickers - $5.95 for twenty

4. Don't Point Your Feet At People Or Use Your Feet To Point With

Showing the soles of your feet to a Thai is just about the most offensive gesture one could make and if you were to do it in an argument, violence would almost certainly result.

Luckily, Thai people are used to "silly foreigners" not understanding their culture very well and any accidental "foot incident" such as crossing ones legs while reading and showing the sole of your feet will be dismissed as a faux pas by an ignorant and vulgar foreigner. Most of us do not want to be thought of in such a way so it is good to think of local customs and to be careful what we do with our feet in Thailand.

What is the Problem with Feet?

Thai Buddhist culture considers the feet the most unclean part of the body and therefore pointing them at people is undesirable. Actually this extends to using the feet to point at things, push things around or to support things. Whilst Thais usually will forgive foreigners any transgression like this, it remains that they will feel uncomfortable and do their best to get out of your company as quickly as possible.

There are other things, such as touching the head, which should be avoided, but in my experience it is the feet which causes most offense and my wife has really exploded at me a couple of times when I have stepped over her whilst she was lying on the floor!

Learn More About The Cultural Nuances

Thai Language and Culture for Beginners Book 1
Thai Language and Culture for Beginners Book 1

There are lots of cultural no-nos in Thailand such as not touching people's heads, not making prolonged eye contact etc. This book will make you aware of such things as well as introduce you to the Thai language.

 

5. Don't Let Tuk-tuk Drivers Take You To A Dodgy Gem Shop

This is a widespread and long-running scam whereby a tuk-tuk driver (or other passer-by) tells potential customers that their intended destination is closed because of renovations or some such similar bogus excuse and offers to take the unsuspecting tourists to an alternative tourist destination that happens to be open, via a gem shop.

When in the gem shop the victims are harassed, possibly drugged, into thinking that they can buy cut prices jewels and sell them at home for a vast profit and finally are cheated out of a lot of money in exchange for costume jewellery.

I have never experienced this myself so maybe the perpetrators of this crime are very good at their trick, but I just wonder why people who have no experience in the gem trade would suddenly think that they could be international jewellery traders.

The MO of these scammers is described here;

"She cautioned us against going to the Grand Palace area and instead recommended us to go to Lucky Buddha which she said was open only once a year. She then said that we should go to Yindee Export which is having sales for the last day. She called up a Tuk-Tuk to bring us to the hotel for check in before bringing us to Lucky Buddha and Yindee Export. At that time, I did not know that Yindee is selling jewellery and we duly obliged feeling lucky to come across a friendly person. "

The full story is described here: Bangkok gem scam.

Don't be stupid enough to jump into this remarkable career change when on holiday in Bangkok.

Here is a variant of this scam, from Chiang Mai: Gem Scam.

How to Avoid the Gem Scam

1. If a tuk-tuk driver offers to take you somewhere for less than 30-40 baht, it is too good to be true.

2. Don't talk to random people who strike up conversation in tourist areas such as Wat Pra Kaew, Siam Square, Wat Po etc.

3. Don't believe people if they say that your intended destination is closed.

4. Don't get into tuk-tuks or taxis with people you only just met.

5. If you do end up at a gem shop, just walk out, don't get engaged in conversation and definitely don't drink anything.

Bangkokscams.com
Bangkokscams.com

For up-to-date information on all types of scams that are in operation check out this specialist website devoted to the subject: Bangkokscams.com

Avoiding Scams

Outsmarting the Scam Artists: How to Protect Yourself From the Most Clever Cons
Outsmarting the Scam Artists: How to Protect Yourself From the Most Clever Cons

If you think that you are vulnerable to scammers this book is for you. Details of a large variety of frauds and scams including how con artists choose their victims and the tactics they employ.

 

6. Don't Get Angry, It Will Always Make The Situation Worse

Quite often situations can get very frustrating for foreigners not used to the Thai way. Often service is not how one expects it from home, rules are applied infrequently and inconsistently, the system can be VERY slow and the heat can make your temper short.

However, DON'T GET ANGRY.

There are some situations that can only be resolved by a show of anger, but not in Thailand. The satisfaction you will receive from a Thai will be indirectly proportional to your anger levels.

If you become red-faced and angry you will be seen as a coarse and vulgar person who cannot control themselves and you will be treated with disdain. At its worst, a show of anger may be replied with extreme violence or arrest.

As difficult as it may be, whatever the situation, please just take a moment to relax and try again with a smile and polite words, this will get you much further than getting angry.

Anger Management - Calm down, just calm down!

Anger Management (Widescreen Edition)
Anger Management (Widescreen Edition)

This comedy movie feattures a mild-mannered businessman who is forced by the courts to take an anger management course. Unfortunately the therapist causes more anger than he calms!

Anger management is a fun movie which reminds us of how not to behave in a situations that require a calm approach.

 
Bangkok Sex Show Funny Greeting Card on Zazzle.com
Bangkok Sex Show Funny Greeting Card on Zazzle.com

7. Don't Go To An Upstairs Bar In Patpong Road - This Can Be Trouble

Patpong Road is possibly the most famous of Bangkok's naughty nightlife locations, if not in the whole of Thailand. Patpong road is quite strange in that amongst the gogo bars and other girly bars there are banks, pharmacies, restaurants and a tourist night market along the street.

Generally, this makes Patpong road a safe place to be and many of the bars are used to groups of tourists coming in to have a quick look along with those, of course, who are interested in doing some serious shopping!

But Don't Go In The Upstairs Bars

However, the upstairs bars are to be avoided at all costs. A large number of touts walk along Patpong with "menus" that detail items in the "free sex show" that they provide. These items are quite unbelievable and it is tempting to go in just to witness these extraordinary feats just once. BE WARNED, nothing is free and there are gangs of thugs to make sure it remains that way.

If you were so foolish as to find yourself in an upstairs bar you would witness a disgusting and brief show, you would be charged 300-400 baht per bottle of beer and there would be all sorts of surcharges added to the bill to make it reach thousands of baht within about 10 minutes of entering. You would also be harrased for expensive drinks by ugly and aggressive girls and would have heavy thugs looming over you in order to make sure you didn't argue about the price.

Don't go.

Three Things Not To Do In A Gogo Bar

1. Take photos - For obvious reasons both staff and customers do not appreciate this.

2. Dance on the bar - You will look like an utter fool and regret it; I am talking from experience here.

3. Leave your mobile phone behind - Probably the most frequent item of lost property in these bars.

Once Again: Don't Go To Upstairs Bars In Patpong Road

Just to reiterate, no matter what you are told, this IS a scam. Here is the introduction to one person's experience;

"After getting hassles from touts, wife lost interest in bars and insisted on going back. We decided to have dinner in Patpong area. After dinner, a tout approached us. He showed us a menu, Shigha 60 Baht, Coke 50 Baht etc, no cover charge. I thought its good deal. I asked him where it is. He pointed us to a bar on ground floor. We followed him, when we reached bar, he changed his mind and took us to another bar (second floor). I think it's called "Wild Cat". Some girls were dancing lazily on stage."

Please read the full account (careful it contains sexual reference) on the excellent Bangkok Scams website.

Patpong Night Market - Now This Is Perfectly Safe

Whilst going into the upstairs bars is a foolish idea, shopping in the night market is a perfectly safe option that everyone can enjoy.

Below are some photos I took in Patpong night market, just select the thumbnails to see larger images.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Bangkok Taxi by Nick Upton
Bangkok Taxi by Nick Upton

8. Don't Negotiate A Fare With A Taxi Driver

ALL taxis in Bangkok are required to have a meter. Any taxi without a meter is an unlicensed taxi and the safety of the vehicle or the driver cannot be trusted. In other words only get into taxis with meters and only if the driver turns on the meter.

As hinted at above, many taxi drivers that do have meters will try to negotiate fares rather than put the meter on. Hmmmmm, why are they doing this? Are Thai taxi drivers the most saintly in the world and enjoy sacrificing their fares to give tourists a more cost-friendly ride?

Or are they trying to rip you off?

A negotiated fare will never be cheaper than the real fare, so there is only one person going to benefit, and that is the taxi driver.

BEWARE, because there are an ever-increasing number of taxi drivers who specialise in the negotiated fare and will simply not take customers using the meter. These drivers are often found around Sukhumvit Road, Soi Asoke and Silom Road. As a rule, these drivers hang around in the street waiting for unaware tourists who they can trick into paying negotiated fares.

If you are approached by one of these drivers, simply ignore them and walk past.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

To find a taxi driver who will use the meter, simply walk to a busy road where taxis are passing and flag down a taxi that has its light on. Tell the driver where you want to go and if he says yes, ask for the meter; he should say that it is okay.

A passing taxi driver is much more likely to put the meter on than one who is hanging around targeting uninformed tourists who don't know what is what.

If the taxi driver that you have flagged down begins to negotiate a fare, do not say another word to him. Politely close the door and walk a little down the road to flag down the next taxi.

NEVER get involved in fare negotiations; if the driver wants to, simply walk away without saying anything

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Apart from the fact that drivers who try to negotiate fares are attempting to rip off their customers, it is also possible that will be dishonest in other ways, perhaps attempting a theft or taking you to another type of scammer.

Bangkok Transport

Transport options around the capital city.

Stuck In A Bangkok Traffic Jam

My account of being caught in one of the worst traffic jams I have ever experienced.

Bangkok Skytrain

A guide to using the Skytrain system; the quickest and easiest way to get around Bangkok.

Bangkok Taxi Fare Scam

Have you been the victim of an expensive negotiated fare in Bangkok?

See results

9. Don't Expect To Be Treated With Respect If You Are Dressed Untidily

Thai people have a great amount of respect for those that look respectfully dressed; this means wearing clean and pressed clothes, wearing clean shoes and having tidy hair. Whatever others may think of this it remains that this is what Thais like to see.

This sign at immigration on the Malaysain border says a lot about the way Thais view untidy people. You really can save a lot of time and anguish by dressing in a tidy fashion at the appropriate time in Thailand.

Particularly if dealing with officialdom wearing shorts, scruffy clothes or having unkempt hair can mean being dealt with slowly, disrespectfully and shabbily. In fact one would be really foolish to deal with immigration, police or any other formal situation whilst dressed over-casually as you will be looked down on and treated with disdain.

Like it or not, this is a fact in Thailand and by playing by their rules you will be treated respectfully and properly and whatever you are trying to do will progress far more smoothly than if you present yourself in an "uncouth" fashion.

It really doesn't take much to look tidy when travelling in Thailand. Dressing in scruffy shorts, billowing trousers, dirty sandals and Bob Marley bedecked t-shirts will see you treated like scum if dealing with officials such as police or immigration, and you will receive poor service elsewhere.

A simple clean pair of trousers or jeans, a pressed, plain t-shirt or shirt and clean shoes will mean that your experience of dealing with Thais will be a whole lot nicer.

Crown - Allposters.com
Crown - Allposters.com

10. Don't Commit Lese Majeste Or Anything That Could Be Interpreted As Such

Lese Majeste is the crime of defaming the monarchy.

This really is a touchy subject and one I don't want to elaborate on here; it is sufficient to say that this is a subject taken very seriously in Thailand and the topics concerned should be avoided; foreigners have been jailed for what would seem insignificant remarks in other countries - don't be tempted to be a loudmouth with principals on this subject.

The Wikiepdia entry here Monarchy is worth a thourough read to elaborate on this topic.

Before getting on your high horse about freedom of speech in Thailand, think about how freedom of expression, speech or information are stifled in your own country; if you do a little research you will be surprised. A good place to start is the press freedom index - see where your country is on that.

Which Do You Think Is The Worst Thing To Do In Thailand?

What is the number 1 thing to avoid doing?

See results
Five Great Things About Thailand
Five Great Things About Thailand

Now for some nice stuff about Thailand

Thailand is a great country to visit or to live in. The relaxed pace of life and low cost of living make it both a pleasant place to be and a cheap one too. Here I will highlight just 5 things that make the Kingdom a great place.

5 Great Things About Thailand

What Is Being Said About The Kingdom Of Thailand On The Internet

Thailand Temples
Thailand Temples
Picture of Thailand
Picture of Thailand

My Thailand Travel Picture Collection - "A Picture Of Thailand"

Picture of Thailand

On this page I present a collection of travel photographs that I have taken on my frequent trips around Thailand. Here I have tried to select photographs that illustrate a wide variety of scenery, temples, cultural scenes and various other things of interest that together create an overall picture of Thailand that will give potential visitors an idea of what to expect.

As well as photos of some things that Thailand is well-known for, I have included a number of photos that should give readers a few surprises.

You can also read about a photography tour of Thailand here: Thailand Photography Tour of the North & Central Regions.

Things Not To Do In Thailand - A Summary And A Response

I will summarize this article by replying to a comment that was posted on this page. The comment is reproduced first (with link removed), followed by my answer.

"please advise people that this is your personal opinion and not fact we have been told the complete opposite to what you have written here in some places you have good advise but overall this is not all fact, advise people if they want to know 10 things not to do in Thailand to go to ************ website and read all the facts."

Indeed this is my opinion. It is based on living in Thailand since 1996 and travelling to every province of the country and living with a Thai family for the last 5 years and being able to speak, read and write Thai. This is not the opinion of a backpacker who has spent a few months doing the things prescribed in Lonely Planet. At the same time I do not claim to know everything about Thailand. I am a foreigner in the Kingdom and always will be.

You have been told the complete opposite? Really? I suggest that you have been given very bad information or have not read this page properly and/or have commented with the sole aim of leaving your link here. Doing the opposite?

1. You have been told that doing drugs in Thailand is okay? That you will not end up with the death sentence or a 15 year stay in a Thai prison? Well, you could put it to the test and let us know.

2. You have been told that you should have your photos taken with wild animals? If you are okay supporting the illegal trade in endangered species and abuse of formerly wild animals then I suppose you should.

3. You have been told that you should feed street elephants? The Bangkok Metropolitan Authority does not agree with that - Bangkok Governor vows to remove street elephants.

4. People have said that you should point your feet at Thais? If you want to disrespect Thai people then yes, go ahead.

5. You have heard that you should let tuk tuk drivers take you to gem shops? Okay, just try not to let them take you to these ones known to take part in the gem scam - Bangkok Scams Stores

6. You have been told that you should get angry? I think these people are mistaking being firm with getting angry. Often you need to be firm but polite with Thai people. Getting angry will get you nowhere that you want to go.

7. People are saying that you should go to the upstairs bars in Patpong Road? Well, you should if you want to see ugly sex acts for 2 minutes and be charged $20 for a small bottle of beer. Treat yourself!

8. People ARE saying that you should negotiate taxi fares. I have read this advice myself. It is bad advice. I take taxis in Bangkok on an almost daily basis and the fares people are quoting that have been negotiated are always around 1.5 to 2 times the metered fares.

9. Have you been told that you should dress untidily? These people are probably basing their experience on backpacker hangouts where this sort of thing is normal. Dressing untidily certainly is not the worst thing you can do on this list, but dressing tidily most certainly will be to your advantage in terms of the service you receive, particularly in places like banks or government departments (such as immigration).

10. You have been told that you should commit lese majeste????? This is terrible advice. This guy got 20 years for forwarding a text message - Uncle SMS. I repeat, don't commit lese majeste.

Bangkok Dangerous - A Hollywood Take On Thailand's Capital City

Bangkok Dangerous 2-Disc Special Edition [DVD]
Bangkok Dangerous 2-Disc Special Edition [DVD]

Bangkok dangerous? Oh come on! It really isn't that bad. In fact Bangkok, and Thailand in general, is a really safe country to live and travel in. I come from London and feel far safer anywhere in Thailand than I do in my hometown. In Thailand, random muggings, robbery or other acts of random violence are very very rare and punishment for these types of crimes are extremely harsh; it is really very safe.

 

Please Take A Look At Some Of My Other Thailand Lenses

Thailand Travel Advice: 10 Memorable Things To Do In Bangkok
Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand and is famously polluted, congested and hectic. However, one thing Bangkok cannot be accused of is being boring. Here are ten things to do in Bangkok that are quite memorable.

Thailand Travel Advice: Visiting Wat Suthat
Wat Suthat is one of the oldest and largest temples in Bangkok but one which receives relatively few foreign tourists making it a nice place to see a majestic Thai temple without the crowds.

How To Make Thai Green Curry
Thai Green Curry is probably the most popular of Thai dishes with foreigners. Here is my wife's recipe for Thai green curry.

Birdwatching in Thailand - My Favourite Birds
I have been birdwatching in Thailand since 1996 and it can be a most amazing experience due to the huge variety of species.

Thailand Travel Advice: Lopburi, A Town of Temples and Monkeys
Lopburi, in central Thailand, is a typical Thai provincial city with two exceptions; ancient ruins and a huge population of monkeys. Few foreign tourists pass through Lopburi making it an interesting place to experience a typical Thai city (warts an' all) and see something of interest at the same time.

Thailand Guidebooks - Help For Travelers To Thailand

Here are two of the premier guidebooks for travelers to Thailand. Both of these books (Lonely Planet and Rough Guide) have their strengths and weaknesses. It is up to you to decide which to go for.

Lonely Planet Thailand (Travel Guide)
Lonely Planet Thailand (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet has been the longstanding favorite travel guide for backpackers. These guides are strong on maps and information on towns but not so good for anything else. I find this book rather too obsessed by obscure temples and bowls of noodles.

 
The Rough Guide to Thailand
The Rough Guide to Thailand

The Rough Guide to Thailand contains far better general information on Thailand than most guides and does a good job of including a variety of interests (not just temples) but is quite poorly organized.

 

Portrait of Thailand by Rob Emmons - A Beautiful Collection Of Photos

Portrait of Thailand: Portrait of Series
Portrait of Thailand: Portrait of Series

This is a beautiful book full of wonderfully colorful photos depicting many aspects of Thai culture and landscape. Thailand is a country of color and extremes and the photographs in this book reflect the diversity of wonderful sights to be seen in the Kingdom. This is a perfect book for those that want to gaze at Thailand at its best to plan a trip or reminisce.

 

If you have any comments on ten things one should not do in Thailand, this is the place for them.

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    • profile image

      Paul Rowe 2 years ago

      This is good advice for many countries.

      I live in southeast asia, and have lived in many countries for extended periods of time.

      When overseas I make a point of being on my best behaviour. It has stood me in good stead.

      One mistake can put you in jail in a strange country.

      Expats are at their weakest when overseas; we don't know how various systems (including the judicial system) works.

    • profile image

      me_glenrose 3 years ago

      good one..i'll remember all these when I visit Thailand :)

    • profile image

      worawoot-sookosot 4 years ago

      Thailand Very Good

    • profile image

      mastholiday 4 years ago

      You've shown great work to share this useful lense. it will be a subsidiary for anyones future trip of Thailand.

    • kingandy profile image

      kingandy 4 years ago

      Thanks for this helpful lens. There's so much advice about what to see and where to go but you're rarely given the advice about what not to do.

    • newage74 profile image

      newage74 4 years ago

      Some very good advice and points in this lens. I have been living Thailand for 3 years now, this is an amazing country if treated with respect.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      Outstanding lens. These tips also work well anywhere that you go. Really. Thank you for publishing this lens. I'm sure it will help (maybe save) many who travel.

    • profile image

      RennyCross 4 years ago

      Insightful info on things not to do in Thailand. Thailand is unbelievably beautiful and had it's own charm. Diversity from Bangkok to Phuket or Pathaya. It's simple is the place of dreams. You have covered almost every bit to convey what not to do. Discovering thailand is an amazing experience itself.

    • Dashot profile image

      Dashot 4 years ago

      Excellent! Even I went to Thailand before but there are still a lot of things that I don't know. Now I know what i should avoid when I travel to Thailand. Thanks for sharing!

    • PetSquid profile image

      PetSquid 4 years ago

      Good tips. Some of the not-to-do in this list applies to other places too

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I think your most informative commentary is valuable stuff. Thanks so much for compiling the your lists. Especially about the poached street animals. I will abide and take heed for sure. Happy days friend.

    • nickupton lm profile image
      Author

      nickupton lm 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Who are they? They are the Thai immigration authorities, the people who decide who is allowed to enter the Kingdom of Thailand.

      To say that every person in Thailand is wearing clothes with holes and ragged shorts is ridiculous, you must be in a different Thailand to me. I am looking out of my window right now and even the factory workers taking lunch in the restaurant next door are wearing smartly pressed shirts and trousers. Most Thai people fall into the middle income bracket these days and they take great care over the way they look, in fact one might say they put rather too much emphasis on looks and not enough on substance, but the fact remains; dress tidily and you will find that Thai people look upon you more favorably and the service you receive, particularly in banks, government departments and suchlike, will be better.

    • profile image

      adolzeon 4 years ago

      Thailand is awesome, perphaps I'll travel to Chiengmai next week.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Who are they to say what is untidy looking every person from Thailand I see is wearing some clothing with holes and sandals and ragged shorts, are they suggesting a foreigner has to be better dressed than the general populace?

    • profile image

      travellersguide 4 years ago

      Very helpful lens! Keep it up! :)

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Thanks for the info. It would upset me to see people abusing animals for profit. Thanks for the heads up.

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      I never leave the British Isles but I found this splendid lens very interesting. Fascinated by what the Thais think about feet. Blessed.

    • profile image

      chickie99 4 years ago

      finally, squid friend with critical advice.

      thanks!

    • BabysownRoom LM profile image

      BabysownRoom LM 4 years ago

      Thailand is so beautiful spent about 6 weeks there in 2011

    • SmokeybonesJr profile image

      SmokeybonesJr 4 years ago

      Excellent site, excellent advice, great lens. Thank You

    • Alessandro Zambon profile image

      Alessandro Zamboni 4 years ago from Italy

      I really appreciated to read this lens before my travel, because I didn't knew many things who are avoided or better to forgot in Thailand. I'm a kind person, but it's always better to be informed!

    • profile image

      kulla 4 years ago

      Highly informative lens.

    • James1978 profile image

      James1978 4 years ago

      Excellent advice. I needed to blow my nose once after a particular spicy curry, but apparently that's a big no-no as well.

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 4 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      Terrific advice, thanks!

    • profile image

      saleemawan 4 years ago

      great information i surly wana visit to thiland

    • profile image

      Eugene9184 4 years ago

      Great information on Thailand !

    • profile image

      chattersharon 4 years ago

      Great information! i took a tour through thailand and they advised us against many of the same things.

    • profile image

      xtianfriborg13 4 years ago

      That's a lot of information there! Thanks for this lens! It's hard travelling to places you don't know, their culture, their regulations. This is such a nice lens.

    • NushH32 profile image

      NushH32 4 years ago

      Great lens - especially like your advice about the animals as I hate people who do this, those poor creatures are so poorly abused.

    • financesurvival profile image

      financesurvival 4 years ago

      Beautiful photos and you advice on things to avoid are sound.

    • waihou profile image

      waihou 4 years ago

      Thanks for your great tips. If I visit to Thailand, I will follow all of the tips. Great lens.

    • profile image

      Nightlife-Author 4 years ago

      thanks for this lovely lens on thailand

    • HomeDecorKnight profile image

      HomeDecorKnight 4 years ago

      Good advice for travelling, nice lens.

    • OrlandoTipster profile image

      OrlandoTipster 4 years ago

      Great tips!

      Using them is going to save people from getting into a pinch

    • HuggsX3 LM profile image

      HuggsX3 LM 4 years ago

      Well, if I ever go I definitely will not do these things!

    • molhambakir lm profile image

      molhambakir lm 4 years ago

      very informative lens! thanks for sharing :)

    • montanatravel52 profile image

      montanatravel52 4 years ago

      Great tips and ideas! I have heard awesome things about Thailand, and it is definitely on my bucket list, so these tips will come in handy when the dream day comes:)

    • CircusRunaway profile image

      CircusRunaway 5 years ago

      Thank you for such an amazing lens! I really enjoyed reading it all. I have spent time in China, Vietnam and a number of other non-western countries, everywhere in the world is so different and yet so similar. Great to read someones travel tips, I shall remember your lenses when I find myself in Thailand!

    • profile image

      carhireassistant 5 years ago

      Thailand is a beautiful country and yet there are so many people that have not considered it as a possible destination. It is good to see a lens promoting the virtues of this country.

    • alidabdul profile image

      alidabdul 5 years ago

      sawadikrap, I love Thailand, I was in Phuket and I'd like to visit Bangkok :)

    • Alenkita1 profile image

      Alenkita1 5 years ago from Slovenia

      Actually i wanted to visit Thailand, but after reading this, I most surely will not. Maybe if they grow up as a nation one day.

    • profile image

      endel19 5 years ago

      Really cool tips. I have never been to Thailand but I am definitely going soon and is good to know useful thinks :-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thank you so much for this excellent awareness intro! :)

    • poorwendy lm profile image

      poorwendy lm 5 years ago

      Great tips. In case, we get a chance to visit Thailand. From what I hear, it is a beautiful country.

    • Rossouw Coetzee profile image

      Anonymous 5 years ago from Stellenbosch, South Africa

      Very good lens. I never knew about the Tuk-tuk Drivers. I think anyone that wants to travel to Thailand should first see this page.

    • Aster56 profile image

      Aster56 5 years ago

      Very helpful lens. Thanks.

    • Diva2Mom profile image

      Diva2Mom 5 years ago

      Wow, what an awesome lens! I enjoyed reading everything about this lens. Fabulous! I've just learned something new. Thank you so much and God bless.

    • profile image

      gareth-tucker3 5 years ago

      More helpful and entertaining stuff! Thanks :)

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      There are indeed many risks to traveling to foreign cultures and you have detailed many in Thailand. Excellent advice.

    • profile image

      RondreisThailand 5 years ago

      Very interesting all! Thanks very much.

    • profile image

      Phuket-Holiday 5 years ago

      This lens is awesome! The information is priceless. I live in Thailand and daily I see so many people doing many things the opposite of what is written above.

    • YogaAngel profile image

      YogaAngel 5 years ago

      So informative!!!

    • profile image

      david-grace-39 5 years ago

      Yes a very imformative and helpful read! I have no plans to visit Thailand in the near future, but it's nice to know if I ever found myself there, I'd have an insight into what to look out for.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      After living in Thailand for several years I would wholeheartedly agree on almost all of the points above. The only one I would dispute is no. 6 "Don't get Angry, It will always make things worse." Even though this is true in principal, doing the complete opposite will almost undoubtedly earn the same result. Do not "bend over and take it" just because some Thai person has a superiority complex (which is not uncommon). It is better do be stern and let them know that there is no room for negotiation or discussion. If you concede every point to a certain neanderthal then there is nothing to stop them from continuing these practices with all other foreigners they may encounter. I say go ahead and raise your voice. Let them know you are serious. If it makes them "lose face" which is what they are soooooo concerned about, then maybe it will make them think twice about taking the same action the next time.

    • uneasywriter lm profile image

      uneasywriter lm 5 years ago

      Very good information. It surprises me how many tourists enter countries such as Thailand without bothering to do some homework on the customs of the country they will be entering. Always always know where you are going and research the customs. It will save yourself and others going there a lot of grief.

    • profile image

      motobidia 5 years ago

      Very frank and informative! I think the advice given here applies in a lot of other countries.

    • hessa johnson profile image

      hessa johnson 5 years ago

      I'll be going to Bangkok next year. Thanks for all the helpful information - it's best to know all this before going there!

    • profile image

      pauli46 5 years ago

      This is a very informative lens, itâs very helpful! Thank you for sharing, I learned something today.

    • LittleLindaPinda profile image

      Little Linda Pinda 5 years ago from Florida

      Great list. It is sad you need to inform people not to get involved with drugs. I would not have know about some of these tips if you didn't mention them.

    • rt8ca profile image

      rt8ca 5 years ago

      Great lens and excellent tips! Just returned from Thailand and was amazed by how respectfully and friendly Thai people are.

    • profile image

      coolmon2009 lm 5 years ago

      Beautiful country would love to visit someday

    • biggking lm profile image

      biggking lm 5 years ago

      Never been to Thailand. Is it a nice place?

    • profile image

      kmyangel 5 years ago

      I really love all animals but especially Elephants, but they are so bad treated in Thailand :(

    • JohnTannahill profile image

      John Tannahill 5 years ago from Somewhere in England

      Great advice.

    • RhondaTrapp profile image

      RhondaTrapp 5 years ago

      I like Thailand....

    • RhondaTrapp profile image

      RhondaTrapp 5 years ago

      Awesome presentation !

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      very helpful... thanks for this lens

    • ChenB profile image

      ChenB 5 years ago

      Very informative lens! Thailand is a beautiful place to visit; and this lens is packed with valuable information on to best enjoy the country.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      informative and helpful ..i am planning to go soon..

    • profile image

      djcrue 5 years ago

      this is one of the helpful lens that i have read till now..!!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is one of the best lens I have read yet. Great job.

    • profile image

      fayenoman 5 years ago

      I'm also dreaming of visiting Thailand. I've seen a lot of wonderful places in movies.

    • profile image

      RuralFloridaLiving 5 years ago

      Very helpful. Thank you for the tips. I'm going to continue reading on. Your lenses look very interesting.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Never, ever, step on money that you have dropped; even if it is blowing away. The King's image is on all money in Thailand. The King is greatly loved and admired. This is the greatest insult you could make to the King. You might not survive the incident. And, in all households, there is a picture of the King and many have the Royal family at the Highest point in most rooms. Always keep your head lower than these pictures. When walking behind or around a seated person, always walk with your head bowed low to signal respect.

    • profile image

      grannysage 5 years ago

      I heard about some of these things from my husband who was stationed in Thailand during the Vietnam conflict. He particularly mentions that pointing your feet at someone is very insulting. Very interesting look at another culture.

    • tymaster profile image

      tymaster 5 years ago

      This lens that you created really excites me.. I am an avid traveler and love to see new places. By reading your lens, I know now that my next trip pretty much has to be going to Thailand :) There is a lot of wonderful information and very useful advice on here. Could you check out my travel website and let me know what you think?

      Thanks for posting!

    • profile image

      Kate_love 5 years ago

      Great information to travel in Thailand. Thanks a lot

    • JoyfulReviewer profile image

      JoyfulReviewer 5 years ago

      Great advice for potential travelers to Thailand. Best to be well-informed to avoid trouble. ~~Blessed~~

    • tcorbs profile image

      tcorbs 5 years ago

      Great advice for traveling in Thailand!

    • falling lakes profile image

      falling lakes 5 years ago

      Great info! Bookmarked!

    • Timewarp profile image

      Paul 5 years ago from Montreal

      I love Thailand but travelers should always be informed of potential dangers.

    • thetraveldiary profile image

      thetraveldiary 5 years ago

      We love Thailand - we've just done a big chunk of SE Asia from Vietnam to Cambodia then finally back to our favourite spot in Asia... Thailand.

      Highly recommend it to anyone considering traveling to Asia.

    • SciTechEditorDave profile image

      David Gardner 5 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area, California

      Great lens! I've traveled a lot in Asia (and my daughter has been to Thailand and India--two countries I've yet to visit). I have similar lenses on the Philippines, Hong Kong, Japan, and Guam (my old stomping grounds). Congratulations on a Squidoo masterpiece!

    • DailyRogue profile image

      DailyRogue 5 years ago

      Great pics. I've thought about traveling to Thailand, and this lens really opened my eyes about being prepared for a completely different culture.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Excellent guide for visitors! Thanks for sharing! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • aksem profile image

      aksem 5 years ago

      Your stay in any country will be comfortable, if you will take into account local customs and habits. Thank you for such a detailed warning of undesirable behavior.

    • profile image

      fish-oil-expert 5 years ago

      Wow, interesting lens idea. Usually people give you the top 10 things TO do, not the top things NOT to do. Great idea. Very helpful. :)

    • nickupton lm profile image
      Author

      nickupton lm 5 years ago

      @rt8ca: You may think you bartered successfully but think about this; why would they take you for less than is on the meter? Do they want to make less money? No, you certainly got overcharged.

    • rt8ca profile image

      rt8ca 5 years ago

      Some good points here, just returned from Thailand. I did barter with cab drivers quite successfully and they were happy to do so,even from the airport. I guess it depends on the driver.You might enjoy my article on Bangkok Airport Transfers. Thanks again

    • peggygallyot profile image

      peggygallyot 5 years ago

      most asian countries have the same rules and regulations

    • allenwebstarme profile image

      allenwebstarme 5 years ago

      Your information is really eye opening, but this kind of people you will find all around the world. Stay good and stay warned. Thanks!

    • profile image

      xphiltre 5 years ago

      I went to Thailand a few times, and all your advices are all terribly true. Very informative lens, anyone traveling to Thailand will definitely find this lens very helpful!

    • victoriuh profile image

      victoriuh 5 years ago

      I am unlikely to ever go to Thailand but I found your lens fascinating! Cheers :)

    • ContentbyCasey LM profile image

      ContentbyCasey LM 5 years ago

      Nice lens

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 5 years ago

      Great information!

    • profile image

      jibbajab 5 years ago

      Great Lens! I totally agree with the street elephants thing! Anyone going to thailand should look into Elephant Nature Park - it's a refuge for mistreated elephants. I mentioned it briefly in one of my lenses

    • profile image

      candleandblue 5 years ago

      Very, would still be nervous about going there.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      a comment on the elephants, they are a 'hot topic' in news this month; the young elephant you may see being walked in the street has not been 'saved' - its mother will have been slaughtered and the poachers, according to today's news, get paid over 900,000 baht (US$29,600 - huge money locally) for a baby. Dead female adults are found regularly inside National Parks, cut up for ivory and baby taken away.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I was wondering what the tuk-tuk driver is up to when he wanted to drive me for 20 Baht for one hour. It sounded too strange. He complained that he hadn't eaten anything yet this day. So, I gave him 20 and promised to come some other day. And I did. But I never went with him. Is it really only about the gem shop?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      thank you for the information. you have moved Thailand down my list of places to visit. Sorry but true....