So you’ve just landed in Thailand on your first trip overseas and you’re pumped! And so you should be, Thailand is a hub of excitement along the backpacking trail and a perfect place for backpacking newbies and seasoned veterans alike.
It’s a country full of adventure, cultural experiences and other travelers, so naturally you’re chomping at the bit to get stuck into it. But before you hit the road you should have a think about how you want to be perceived along the way. Are you going to be the culturally aware traveler, or the tourist who treats this new country like your own personal playground?!
To hell with all that, you’ll do what you want! You’ve earned this trip, so no one is about to tell you what to do. Forget the local’s advice, here’s the only tips for Thailand travel you need!
Treat the Whole Country Like a Beach Resort
You’ve been lazing about the beach for the last week, working on your tan and now it’s time to show it off. Board shorts or bikinis have been your main go-to since you arrived, and you’re not about to change that for anyone. Rock up to that Wat or sacred temple baring more skin than a Miley Cyrus video clip, the Thai people won’t mind. Surely they’re used it by now.
Ride a Scooter Like It’s a Toy
Back home your country works tirelessly to reduce the road toll by enforcing strict rules like drink driving, wearing a helmet and such. But hey, you’re on holidays and in Thailand now, none of that matters anymore. It’s not like Thailand has the highest road tolls in the world anyway (actually it’s ranked 2nd), so why should you worry.
Forget about protecting that head with a helmet, you know how to handle the chaotic roads of Bangkok or the anarchic give-way system at roundabouts. Take the scooter to a bar, down a dozen shots and then drive home. Surely all those other bandaged travelers just don’t know how to ride as good as you!
Assume No One Speaks English
You’re in a foreign country, so naturally no one is going to understand English. Forget the fact that English speaking tourism has dominated the country for decades and the business savvy Thai are surprisingly handy with their English. If you get to a restaurant and it looks a bit different or funny compared to back home, feel free to bad mouth it willy nilly. Comment on the weird food that the locals are eating while you chow down on some French fries and a Starbucks coffee. If you do need to communicate with Thai people, make sure you speak really loudly. They only understand English at an extremely high volume. Just yell and they’ll understand you.
Skip the Cultural Crap and Get Drunk Everyday
Forget the fact that you’ve come half-way around the world and that you could get drunk everyday back home if you wanted. Now beers and shots are so much cheaper, so what else are you going to spend your money on? A visit to the Grand Palace in Bangkok costs 500 baht, that’s at least 8 beers at Happy Hour! Besides, walking around in the sun when you’re hungover sucks, you’d be better off staying in that cool bar and nursing your head with a few extra brews.
If you can’t tell, this article was written in jest, based off some of the outrageous things we saw while traveling through Thailand. Even though this article is a joke (and we ourselves have had our fair share of cheap beers and scooter rides) it’s important to remember that when you come to a foreign country you should be respectful of local customs and laws. After you’ve come and gone, real people with real lives are still here. Do your part and travel responsibly 🙂
30 thoughts on “4 Tips for Being a Tool in Thailand (What Not To Do)”
I actually love this post! Sadly you get people that are all four! Yes lets get drunk all day, who wants to see any of the cool things this country has to offer, because we cannot get drunk all day at home!
And of course no one speaks English so lets shout and wave our arms at them. My friends at home are guilty of this. They talk to my French boyfriend like he is a deaf, 5 year old, when in reality, his pronunciation and grammar is better than theirs!
Thanks Sally, we’re really glad you enjoyed the article. Unfortunately this is the reality of some travelers at the moment, and it only feels like it has been getting worse over the last 5-6 years…
Well said, and thanks for posting this it’s about time someone said it!
Thanks Hannah, the response has been very positive so far. Glad you agree 🙂
That was a funny article and so true of some of the “tourists” that Thailand has vacating there. The worst I find are the polyester football shirt types in walking around in 35c plus temperatures and also the walking down the soi with no shirt on brigade, put the gut away man!
Thanks Graham, I’m glad you thought it was a pretty true reflection, but also funny 🙂
great article! an important message to be said. Whilst I too had rode a scooter and drunk a bit too much whilst in Thailand, there were still some people that just made you cringe at the way they treated the country. What a bad rep that gives to all “tourist” or “westerners”
Thanks Rebecca! We must admit we’ve had the odd bender here and there, but it’s all about moderation and remaining respectful. Nobody is perfect, but some people don’t even try, let along care. Hopefully responsible travelers like ourselves can salvage a good rep for us.
So true, yeah, unfortunately many young travelers, miss out on opportunities to learn more about the culture of Thailand, or making Thai friends. It’s so easy to spend all of your time with fellow backpacking party goers who are drinking their way through their vacation. I suppose if its a short vacation live it up.(with respect) But if you are going to spend a significant amount of time in any foreign country, it’s so much more rewarding to attempt and acclimate to the culture. I see many expats, living in Thailand, that have no regard for the culture or people they are living with and ruminate on the way things are done “back in their country” Anyways, nice post and funny to see that many others have noticed the same behaviors!
Thanks Brian, completely agree with your comments. It’s nice to know a lot of people agree with us.
Really appreciate you guys bringing this to light. We hope to see more people travel intentionally and realize that, like it or not, our actions abroad impact others!
Thanks Michelle 🙂 We’re glad so many people agree!
Very amusing post that highlights real issues. Impressive! It still surprises me how many backpackers becomes experts the minute their flip-flops hits Khaosan Road in Bangkok.
Thanks 🙂 It started as a satirical look and turned into something much bigger haha. Couldn’t agree more about your example!
Awesome tips! 😉 You forgot to mention that due to some particularity in the constitution of the daylight in Thailand, you’re invisible unless you’re wearing bright baggy elephant pants and fluorescent tank tops with inane messages written in shouty letters… (Sorry, personal pet peeve!)
Haha would that be messages like ‘Six Pack Coming Soon’? Thanks for the additional tips, I feel like I should write a Part 2 🙂
I totally agree with these tips. Looking forward to planning a trip soon 🙂 😉
Thanks Issac! Hope your trip is awesome 🙂
LOVE this! As an Australian I get cultural cringe every time I go to Thailand and see people acting like tools! I think we are most guilty of the second and fourth points you’ve made and it’s really sad. Thailand has become our most deadly destination with an Aussie dying every 3 days while holidaying there. I started a blog recently that looks at cultural etiquette and travel advice and did a post specific to Thailand.
Yeah I know what you mean with the cultural cringe, it can get pretty embarrassing. Aussie’s are definitely more prevalent around Bali/Thailand area, but you’ll find them from every country around the world. Good luck with the blogging 🙂
There’s nothing like drinking off a Changover by smashing more Chang with all your bros in Chang tank tops. If that isn’t the zenith of a Thai cultural experience, than I don’t know what is
Haha, best comment ever! Seriously though, Chang tank-tops are a dead giveaway!
Well said! I can’t believe the way some people dress around here! I’m in Chiang Mai and saw a guy walking down the street in swim trunks and no shoes and a girl actually showed up the the immigration office with her butt cheeks hanging out of her shorts. I was hoping they wouldn’t give her an extension. My biggest thing is the people talking about riding elephants and going to the tiger temple. Needless to say they don’t really want to be my friend once I tell them my thoughts.
Haha the classic butt cheek shorts. Funny coincidence, we were also at the Chiang Mai immigration office not long ago and saw some pretty scantly dressed ladies. Here I was with my shirt buttoned high and hair brushed to ensure a good impression haha. Also, sounds like we’d be putting off the same people in the same conversations. Good to hear another from another responsible tourism advocate. Glad you enjoyed the article 🙂
Funny but true.
I go to Thailand every year, and have seen many people acting like disrespectful idiots while there.
I was on a dinner cruise down the river in Bangkok with a Thai lady. I dressed in a shirt and tie, something I never do, but did for this occasion. There were other guys on the cruise wearing shorts, flip flop and a tank top. I watched the workers make fun of those guys.
Happy Thai travels my friends.
It’s unfortunate that it’s true, but you’ll always get those types of idiots everywhere. At least the workers had some fun haha.
Great post guys. Had to be said! lol Hope you guys are well.
Good tips. I always try to at the very least respect the local culture as a visitor, not as someone who thinks the locals are here to serve them. Great point on the scooter drivers. I’m actually planning on getting a motorcycle license before I travel not only because some countries won’t let me rent a scooter without the USA motorcycle classification, but safety as well.
Really amusing post and so true! When we just on Koh Phangan we were terrified to get mopeds to go exploring due to the amounts of pissed up westerners on the roads. Sx
Loved the satire! This is a great lesson whether visiting some exotic remote island, or traveling within the U.S., or across the border into Mexico or Canada. It’s just common courtesy, to understand, and learn about the other culture.