Thailand is a great place to backpack, independent travel around this country is easy, and there is plenty of cheap accommodation that’s easy to find. The country is very westernized and that means that most of the things you’re likely to need, you can easily buy there particularly in the south of the country.
One location that is often used as a starting point for backpackers is Khao San Road in Bangkok. The area has many travel agents and cheap guest houses, and you can also find very cheap internet cafes, bars, and restaurants. From here, you can arrange travel to many other destinations in Thailand. The option is there to use ordinary busses or tourist busses. These tourist busses travel at night and are just for the use of tourists, not locals. They generally work out cheaper than ordinary busses, but they won’t allow you to see or experience Thailand much.
If you’re traveling into the north of Thailand, it’s worth remembering that there are some things that are harder to buy here, particularly in the more remote areas. Tampons for example are something that women will want to carry a supply of as they tend to only be available in the main towns and tourist areas. Another useful but possibly unusual thing to carry with you is a plug for a sink or basin – these do unfortunately go missing often in cheaper accommodation, so carry your own just in case. Condoms are another item that some westerners prefer to carry for themselves. They are available here, but they’re designed for the local market, and some westerners find them a little on the small side.
Travel light if you can, but remember to take the basics such as penknife, sunscreen, emergency medical kit, insect repellent, mosquito net, torch, and good quality walking boots if you intend to do any walking or hiking.
Although Thailand is quite westernized in some ways, it is very worthwhile to make a point of learning some of the local customs and traditions.
- Greet people with a ‘wai’ the hands together gesture made when praying in some cultures, is used in Thailand as a greeting instead of a handshake. Do not however use this gesture towards a child, even if they use it to you first.
- If you see a pile of shoes outside a shop or other building, then it’s because taking off your shoes when you enter a building is a tradition. It is a good idea to do the same. In some quieter less touristy areas, not doing so may be taken as a sign of disrespect.
- If you visit a temple, cover-up! Men should wear long trousers and sleeves, and women should cover themselves as much as possible.
Remember the more respect you show for local customs and traditions, the more the local people are likely to treat you with respect and friendliness.