Cigna's top travel tips: Thailand
Thailand is one of the most popular destinations for Kiwis looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. From the incredible and diverse array of food to the unbeatable beaches, Thailand is one of those magical countries that has something for everybody whether you’re looking for a transformative cultural experience or simply a good time. Getting away to Thailand is easier than ever from New Zealand, but before you go it’s worth brushing up on some of our top tips – knowing what you’re in for during a Thai holiday will go a long way to keeping you safe and sound, and ensuring that you have the experience of a lifetime.
Respect the Culture
Whether you’re heading out to party on Bangkok’s notorious Khao San Road or slurping noodles with the best of them in Chiang Mai, you’ve got to be respectful of Thai culture. Saving face is vital to all Thai people, so do not raise your voice or get angry in public. In Thailand, the most sacred part of the body is the head, while the feet are the lowest. You should never touch a Thai person on the head or point your feet towards them or any sacred images, such as Buddha or the King. Thai people have a deep respect and admiration for the monarchy and even if you don’t agree, it’s important to show respect for the King, the Queen and the Royal Children. Remember that each Buddha in Thailand is sacred to the Thai people. Don’t make the mistake of using the image disrespectfully
Let your Stomach Guide You
Let’s not kid ourselves: half of the reason why we travel in the first place is to experience the different cuisines of the world. Thai street food is plentiful, delicious and surprisingly cheap! Just thinking about the grilled prawns with chilli lime and coriander makes my mouth water! That said, this delicious Thai food is also a potential danger. Food poisoning in Thailand is common, so you’ve got to take sensible precautions to avoid getting sick on your holiday. Always eat where there are crowds because this ensures fresher food. When it comes to water, stay hydrated at all times, but don’t drink the tap water! That goes for gargling and brushing your teeth too! Safe bottled drinking water is everywhere and it’s cold and cheap to boot. Keep a stash in your hotel room too
This Little Piggy Went to the Market
The open-air markets in Thailand are all part of the experience, and that includes the haggling that goes with buying the best counterfeit products in the world! The best markets are Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok, Tha Kha Floating Market and Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar. When you’re shopping in Thailand the feeling of being ripped off or swindled is pretty common. Keeping your wits about you is a must, and if you feel uncomfortable about paying a certain price you can always walk away. Also, If a deal seems too good to be true, it oftenis.
If you’re checking out the markets with a backpack or handbag, be aware that bag snatchers and pick pockets are everywhere. In crowded markets clutch your bags tightly and watch out for people bumping into you accidently.
While travellers cheques are annoying, carrying cash is still common and certainly easier when you’re shopping in the Thai markets. Be discreet with your money, to the point of being secretive! Splitting up you money is always a good idea – keep some in your wallet, another stash in a money belt, and even a secret pocket or shoes! You can never be too safe when travelling in Thailand.
It’s Party Time
A Thailand vacation often goes hand in hand with a good party or two! The Full Moon Party is always popular for Kiwis, and while it’s an incredible experience, it can be even better if you take precautions. For instance, never leave your drink unattended and don’t accept drinks from strangers. Be aware of your alcohol consumption and always travel in groups
Safety Comes First
Overall, Thailand is a safe holiday destination. Physical attacks and other crimes against tourists are far less likely than in many other places. Being safe in Thailand entails following many of the same safety precautions you take in New Zealand. Common sense and intuition will get you far during your Thailand travels, but just in case, we’ve put together a list of potential threats.
1. Accommodation: When you check into your hotel check to see that the locks on your room are robust. Check for smoke alarms and windows that open and note how far your room is from any emergency exits.
2. Do not leave valuables in your room. In fact, don’t travel with your valuables at all! Your passport, cash and electronics should be kept in a safe in your room or at the front desk. Keep your door locked at all times and use the spy-hole and safety door chain before opening the door to anyone.
3. Don’t go to deserted beach areas, especially at night. Don’t risk putting yourself in a position where you can't be seen or heard by others. It’s worth noting that Thai beaches don’t have lifeguards, so be aware of signs indicating no swimming areas and dangerous undertows. Don’t even think about swimming alone or while drinking!
4. The Thai sun is just as powerful as the Kiwi one so wear sunscreen between the hours of 10 and 3 when the UV rays are at their best! Pack a good hat, sunglasses and water resistant sunscreen so you don’t burn.
5. Transport in Thailand is one of the best parts of the experience, especially the tuk-tuks and motorcycles. It’s also the fastest way to get seriously injured! Taxis are always a safer option, but if you must take a tuk-tuk, negotiate the fare to your destination first and try not to travel alone.
Happy Travels in Thailand
Thailand is a literal paradise, but with all of that beauty and culture comes a very real on-going threat of terrorism. Over the year there have been incidents in Bangkok and other cities, so exercising a high degree of personal security awareness is paramount. Certain areas in Thai cities require more care than others, such as:
- public transport
- tourist resorts
- shopping areas
Before you head overseas register yourself with New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Department so that your whereabouts and contact information are known in case you’re involved in an accident or natural disaster. While earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons aren’t necessarily common in Thailand, you’ve got to be prepared for the worst.
It’s also a good idea to familiarise yourself with the emergency contact details of the New Zealand Embassy in Bangkok. And another thing, Thai law requires you to carry proper identification on you at all times – so make copies of your passport just in case. Leave your itinerary with your family and friends at home, just in case.
Of course, the best precaution to take before travelling to Thailand for the ultimate holiday is to have the right travel insurance. No matter how much you plan in advance, things can go wrong while you’re travelling. Think of how much better your vacation will be without the worry of wondering what you’d do if you run into some bad luck. Cigna travel insurance is a small price for a big piece of peace of mind. You don’t want to spend your Thailand holiday stressing about potential pitfalls, do you? Didn’t think so.