Things to Take to Thailand
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Things to Take to Thailand
Although travelling half-way round the world to go on holiday is fairly commonplace these days it still pays to go well prepared.
Thailand caters for huge numbers of western tourists so most things you forget to pack can be purchased when you get there. However, there are some things that are are essential to remember before you leave home. Some are obvious such as your passport and plane tickets but there are other things that are specific to Thailand travel that you may not already have on your list.
The following is a list of some suggestions for things that are particularly useful in Thailand that you may not already have thought of.
Your Hotel Map
Finding Your Hotel
If you are staying at one of the small hotels it pays to keep a map from the hotel's brochure or website on you at all times so you can show it to the taxi driver who may not speak a word of english or simply has never heard of it. Failing this, keep the hotel phone number handy as the cabbies will happily ring them for directions. Taking the time to do this will ensure you are relaxing after your long journey in the quickest possible time.
Some useful tips on good areas to stay in the major tourist locations can be found on the Best Locations Guide page.
Photocopy of Passport
Carrying Photo ID
In Thailand you are required by law to carry your passport on you at all times though many people prefer to carry a photocopy of it instead which usually satisfies any official who requests it. If you don't have either of these things on you when you are requested to show it then a photo driver's license may be accepted in some situations. This, of course, does not apply to border or immigration matters where only a passport will do.
Converters and Adapters
Thailand's power supply is 220 volts at 50 hertz. If your electrical devices can't accept this then you will need a voltage convertor. You will quite likely also need a plug adaptor to cater for the two types of electrical outlet that accept plugs with two round pins or perpendicular flat pins. Most, but not all, outlets will accept both pin formats. Plug adaptors for most countries are easy to come by in the main tourist towns and are very cheap but it would still be worth buying at least one adaptor before you leave home to keep you going until you find a thai shop that sells them.
A Pen For Immigration
Save Stress at the Border
About an hour before you land in Bangkok you will be given your arrival card to fill in for presentation at Thai customs. If you've not got a pen handy you might have a job finding one as often most of the plane wants to borrow one. Save yourself a little bit of stress and keep one in your pocket. The details required on the card are straight forward name and address stuff but you will need to know your passport number so maybe write it down somewhere to save you rummaging through your bag.
Multiple Cash Cards
Carry Backup Sources of Cash
If you are depending on using ATMs for your spending money in Thailand then its wise to have more than one card you can use. Naturally they need to be kept safe at all times but its best to store them in different places so that if you find your purse or wallet stolen then the thieves do not get both cards.
It is not unheard of for banks to stop cards as a "security measure" when they notice you withdrawing large amounts of cash in a country known to have a lot of credit card fraud. A quick phone call will usually solve the problem but if you are rushing to catch a flight this situation can be disastrous.
Best to Keep Handy at All Times
This is one of the easiest things to find in thai shops but its a good idea to have some on you (literally on-your-skin) when you arrive in Bangkok as mosquitoes just love soft un-tanned skin for some reason which means your first day there could be the day you need it most. The repellent you use needs to contain DEET and the higher the percentage the more effective it is.
Take particular care to check your room for mosquitoes before you sleep and NEVER sleep with an open window unless it is screened. You will sometimes see a very unfortunate tourist who has a huge number of red welts on their back or face. Attacks of this severity nearly always happen while sleeping and can be caused by one mosquito ! If you see any at all in your hotel room call reception and ask for it to be sprayed - its a common request so the staff will usually be happy oblige but often people visiting the country for the first time don't think of asking for this until its too late.
If you do get bitten then any pharmacy will immediately hand over the standard ointment to help you stop scratching. You may want to get some strong anti-itch ointment before you go (containing Hydrocortisone) as the Thai antidote does not seem to be very effective possibly because Thais seem to be almost immune to the problem.
Avoid a Painful Stiff Neck
By the time you decide that it would be a good idea to have one of these you'll probably either already be suffering on a plane or in an airport. Airport shops must love these things given the prices they manage to sell them at. Get one before you go to avoid being fleeced by the airport retailers. To get to Thailand you'll probably have to spend at least 10 hours flying and if so, you'll find one of these pillows that are shaped to fit around your neck can can really improve your chances of getting a decent sleep.
Good For Emergencies or Just making Conversation
In the main tourist areas of Thailand you can easily get by without knowing a word of Thai as most Thais in these areas have at least a limited command of english. However, its likely that you will make friends with some Thai people and a dictionary can be a great help when communication breaks down. Thai is very contextual so it would pay to choose one that has a good selection of stock phrases as well as straight word translations. There are quite a few to choose from in the book store . Note : Take care to buy one that is designed for english speakers which will have the phonetic pronunciation of thai words rather than just the word in thai script which would be useless to you.
Vitamins and Travel Medicine
Possibly Best to Buy at Home
Thailand has an abundance of pharmacies but its often hard to be sure of what you are buying as many drugs that are prescription-only in western countries are sold freely over the counter in Thailand with no english on the packaging. Unless you are a doctor or at least read thai, medicinal items are more safely purchased before you go on holiday.
Some things you may wish to take are : vitamins, immodium, headache pills, antacids (thai food is spicy!) and, especially if you plan on sea trips, make sure you add motion sickness pills to the list. A good example of why is: - on most dive boats everybody is offered "sea-sick" pills at the start of the day. They are big and incredibly effective but try asking the dive guides whats in them and they very likely won't be able to tell you - take your own!
Quality suntan lotion is available just about everywhere at reasonable prices so its best to buy it when you get there. It might save you money and a bit of precious weight in your luggage at the same time.
Clothing for a Hot Climate
Dress for a Hot Climate
Light cotton clothing such as t-shirts and shorts are ideal but you probably won't need to take much as this sort of clothing is for sale all over the country at prices that most visitors find irresistable. Its a good idea to pack at least one pair of trousers as wearing shorts to some areas in the evening can be a great invitation to mosquitoes. It is also considered respectful to wear these when entering temples but the thais are usually quite tolerant towards tourists in this area (it largely depends on which temple you are entering). If you are heading to the north of Thailand (eg Chiang Mai) it would also be wise to take a warm top or lighweight jacket as it can actually get quite chilly at night.
Leave Room for Your Shopping
Many people like to shop when on holiday and go prepared with extra room in their bags. However, Thailand is such a paradise for cheap clothing that you're probably going to need a lot of extra space - like maybe a couple of extra suitcases worth of it !! If you find you do not have enough spare room for your purchases then fear not as, in the tourist hot spots, there are many market stalls selling suitcases and bags at good prices.The large number of sellers is, in itself, a good indication of how many people underestimate the amount of shopping they will do in Thailand ! The quality varies quite a bit so if you do buy luggage when you get there make sure you examine the zips, locks and general construction of it carefully.