Believe it or not, is already one month since we left our comfort zones, broke our habits and opened our eyes wide to discover a new life in Thailand. When you change where you have been living for a while to a place you know only from images, videos, blogs and travel guides, I guess you will feel the same – excitement and fear, happiness and anxiety all in one.

However, once you put your feet on the road, all the illusions are gone and what you face are images and situations that are not mentioned in travel guides. These are ones that you enjoy (or not) observing on your own. Simply said, all is real and relative at the same time.

one month travelling in Thailand

A fruit stall in Chiang Mai market, Thailand.

Here are our brief reflections on daily life situations we have experienced during our one month travelling in Thailand:

1. Fewer mosquitos than expected

Hold on, “fewer” means there are still some, but so far, citronella incense sticks and natural repellent have helped to keep bugs attacks under control.

2. Mind your head

If you are taller than 1.65 cm (5′ 5″), then take this warning seriously. Particularly while walking on the streets among the sunshades or roofs of the stalls and shops. Also, watch out for wooden sticks peeking out from the bottom of carton posters hanging on the street light poles.

one month travelling in Thailand

‘Watch your head’ sign in Bangkok, Thailand.

3. Honking transport is harmless

When you walk on the street and you hear from behind a car, a motorbike or a tuk-tuk honking vigorously, do not panic and jump away from the spot where you are. Here in Thailand, a sound of honk means “hey, mate, I can give a paid ride!” rather than “move out of the way, dude!” as we might be used to from western culture. Of course, if you are crossing the road at a red light and there are cars around, you had better run to save your life.

one month travelling in Thailand

A tuk-tuk in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

4. Ice is safe

Despite many warnings we found online or in guidebooks, to have a fruit shake or juice with ice is absolutely fine, with no side effects for your stomach.

5. Burning mouth  

An expression like “a bit spicy” does not exist here. When ordering your food, do not ask for “just a bit of chili”. Your “little bit” is far away from their “little bit”. To keep your mouth safe, it is better to ask “no spice, please”. Then you might use your favourite amount of chili from the jar that is always available.

one month travelling in Thailand

Chilli being sold at Chiang Mai market, Thailand.

6. Thai trees are multi-functional

Here the trees serve not just to grow fruits, sustain a bird nest or to provide oxygen, but also as a holder for fans, neon lamps or an electrical socket! No kidding. Thais use trees in all possible ways, no matter if that tree is dry and rotten. The important thing is if it can hold the weight of a piece of plastic or metal.

one month travelling in Thailand

An electric socket attached to a tree in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

7. Sugar, sugar, sugar

Thai people use sugar basically everywhere: in soups, in meat dishes, in rice dishes, in smoothies, juices, too. On the other hand, be ready to find salt in typically sweet things like ice cream and some cakes.

one month travelling in Thailand

A street food vendor using lot of sugar on food. Chiang Mai, Thailand.

8. Street food can be tedious

If selected mindfully, you can enjoy an amazing mixture of new textures, flavours and tastes. On the other hand, if eating only street food, it becomes quite repetitive after some time.

9. Smiles  

What goes around, comes around. 99% of Thai people smile back when you smile at them. 1% of non-smiling people are, strangely, the majority of Buddhist monks and some random people.

one month travelling in Thailand

Our friend Tom, a fruit vendor in Chiang Mai market, Thailand.

10. Less busier, more cheap

While doing fruits and veggies shopping at the street markets, it is always better to walk around before buying. It’s guaranteed that on a small side street next to the busier market you find cheaper stuff of the same quality, sometimes even less than half of the price of goods on the “main” street of the market.

11. Edible decoration

What we grow and care about in our vegetable gardens and fields in Europe, here they use as a decoration. We are talking about zucchini plants, which grow everywhere and produce beautiful yellow flowers to admire.

one month travelling in Thailand

Zucchini flowers growing as a decoration bush in Thailand.

12. We are all humans

Oh, yes, we are, so do not forget to close your open mouth after you see a Buddhist monk smoking or eating chips here.

What about your “lessons” from being on the road? Have you experienced any unexpected cultural situations?  Please leave a comment below.

25 Responses

  1. Michele

    love the advice especially about smiling it breaks down so many barriers….counting down the days to be back in Thailand :-) can’t wait to enjoy my first fruit shake.

    Reply
    • Ivana

      Smile is an universal greeting, that’s for sure :) Oh, yes, fruits shakes are the best ever you can have here :) Enjoy Thailand, Michele!!

      Reply
  2. marinela

    No. 3 -Honking transport- reminded me that in India it has another meaning “I’M here !!!”. There, because it’s so crowdy, drivers close their side mirrors and concentrate only in front, and on the sides and back they count on the comming drivers to honk theit presence .
    Funny rules though :)

    Enjoy !!!!

    Reply
    • Ivana

      Good to know, Marinela :) Thank you a lot and have a great time in India!!!

      Reply
    • Ivana

      Thanks for commenting, Gabriel. We are curious how it will be in other countries of SE Asia :)

      Reply
      • Magnesia

        It is the same like in India – a bit spicy in India is not the same what for me.

      • Ivana

        Hopefully we will have a chance to try it out there :)

  3. Elena

    Yes, yes, yes :) Absolutely agree about everything, and especially about sugar. One other thing that surprised me in Chiang Mai in winter: the weather. It is way more colder than I expected and some nights were positively freezing. I guess while reading/researching I just could not believe that it could be true and dismissed any mentioning as an exaggeration of those who lived in tropics all their lives – it can not be cold anywhere in Thailand, right?, but it is.

    Reply
    • Ivana

      Hi, Elena,
      thanks for commenting. You are very right, one could really freeze last weeks in Chiang Mai. Especially in the morning and early eve it was pretty cold.
      From what we have heard, this “winter” season was very unusual for the area. Anyway, it is definitely coming back to hot days so let’s enjoy!
      Have safe trips, guys

      Reply
  4. Martin

    Lovely blog BUT, a blanket statement that ice “fine” is dangerous. Ice will only be “fine” if the drinking water is fine. Freezing does not kill bacteria, protozoa or viruses(it does kill some parasites)

    Reply
    • Ivana

      Hi Martin,
      Sure, quality of water determines the safety. But speaking about Thailand in the post, and also after having been in Thailand for five months now, we can say that we never had an issue with that :)

      Reply
  5. Lesh @ NOMADasaurus

    Great post Ivana. Great advice. We never saw the power points on the trees. I learnt about the spicy part very early in our travels. Jarryd loves spicy food so he had 2 dishes that day. We are a big fan of the fruit and veggies everywhere there too. We do miss that. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      I know what you mean by passing a meal to your other half, Gianni can tell you about it :) We do love Thai fruits and cannot imagine other breakfast than a plate of fresh fruits. Hope you can have some fruit delicacies in Vietnam, too!

      Reply
  6. Jane M

    Our biggest surprise in Thailand was how hard it was to find Pad Thai! I loved the smiles though, especially since Thai people rarely smile first, but after you do, their faces just glow.

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Hi Jane! Hmmm, we have quite different experience with both. I guess it depends on which area of Thailand you travel to. We usually got pad thai in the north, west, BKK and southern islands without any problem. And smile from the locals too :)

      Reply
  7. Fred YummyPlanet

    Thanks for sharing those first impressions. We traveled to Thailand 2 years ago and I can totally relate to everything you describe. Beautiful pics as well!

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Thanks much! I’m curious how will be the country in a few years and how many of these points travellers to Thailand would be able to relate to. Happy travels!

      Reply
  8. Rossi

    I’m really looking forward to being in Thailand next week. Thanks for the chilli and height tip!

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Thanks for reading, Rossi, and have a great time in Thailand!

      Reply
  9. Robert

    My wife and I were in Thailand 2 years ago and loved the people and food! As you mentioned, a smile goes a long way! They love having their picture taken as well! :)

    Reply
    • Ivana Greslikova

      Thanks so much for reading and sharing, Robert! Any plans to get back to Thailand in the future?

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.