Women nowadays are braver and more independent than ever before. Lots of us take up travels as our escape from jobs and everyday life and treat it as an opportunity to spend some time alone. Others travel with their friends, or partners, enjoying a company and a safety net that it brings. But all of us, regardless what our travel style is, wonder about countries we are about to travel to: is it safe, what facilities do they have, what clothes should I take – these are just the most common ones.
Women travelling to Thailand for the first time always ask me similar questions, so I wrote this short post to help them with their preparation for their visit in the Land of Smiles.
Thailand is safe, but…
Thailand might be one of the safest country to travel for women in South East Asia. During my 2 years there I felt completely safe.
However, you should remember about some basic things.
Try not to wander into small, dark streets at night, stick to the main parts of the area you are staying at. Don’t walk alone at night if you are visiting for the first time and you are unsure about your safety.
I have experienced nothing but honesty and kindness from Thai people, but thefts sometimes happen, so watch your belongings, especially in crowded places.
Thai men are normally respectable towards women, but it is true that western women have a reputation of being ‘easy’. Thailand is still an old – fashioned and hierarchical country. Behaving in an overly flirtatious way, or dressing too provocatively, can be misunderstood and taken as an invitation to something more than just a chat.
Religion is extremely important in Thailand
Always cover your shoulders and legs when visiting temples in Thailand. Thais are very strict when it comes to dress code in places of worship. Most of the time a longer dress or a skirt and a scarf covering your shoulders is enough. However, at some places, like the Grand Palace in Bangkok, you need to have at least a t-shirt on, otherwise you will be forced to rent an outfit at the site.
Do not touch monks. If you want to hand them something, put it on the ground before them, or give it to a man to pass it on. Do not sit in places restricted for monks. You will see them in public places and on public transport. If you pass them on a street, stand aside and let them pass through first.
Hygiene standards are not as bad as you may think
The street stalls and cheaper eateries in Thailand might seem a bit dirty to you, but most of them sell cheap, fresh and delicious food. Check if the place is popular with locals and don’t be afraid to try something new. If you get an upset stomach, don’t worry. There are lots of pharmacies in Thailand that sell western and Thai medications. Also, remember that upset stomach most of the time is caused by change of water, food and too much chilli. You just need some time to get used to it.
Be prepared to use squat toilets, which are common in Thailand. The ones in public places and at some more popular bars and clubs can be a little bit dirty and stinky. Remember to wash your hands after using facilities. Normally, there is no need for carrying antibacterial gels, but if you are really concerned then take one with you, or buy one at the nearest 7-11.
Finding toilet paper in Thai toilets might prove almost impossible. Usually you will get it in hostels and hotels, but it is always better to carry some tissues with you when going out.
Thai people use the famous ‘bum – guns’ instead of toilet paper after doing their business. It is a special hose, which you will find next to every toilet seat in Thailand and almost everywhere in Asia.
Tampons and pads are widely available
Where to find tampons and pads? – might be one of the main concerns of women travelling to Thailand for the first time. Fear not, dear ladies! Female hygiene products can be found at every 7-11 or Tesco Lotus. There are also a lot of small, independent shops around where you can get them for a very affordable price.
So are condoms and contraception
If you are in for a little romance, remember about protection. You can buy condoms at 7-11, Tesco, and any other grocery shop, or a pharmacy.
Contraception here can be purchased without a prescription, and without a previous visit to a doctor. The names of the pills are different from the ones in the West, but the quality and content is exactly the same. Bring your regular pills from home and show the packaging and leaflet to a pharmacist and they will be able to give you what you need. Contraceptives cost from around 100 Baht for a box of 21 pills.
Don’t pack too much – shopping in Thailand is great!
If you are thinking of what to take with you then I would advise you to take as little as possible. A pair of shorts, a couple of tops and flip flops will be enough. The rest you can buy at any market in Thailand. Usually streets are lined with small shops, too. In Chiang Mai, Bangkok and other tourist destinations the choice of clothes is so wide that your head will spin. On top of it all, everything is very cheap and prices start from 100 Baht for a top and 200 Baht for some nice sandals.
Beauty treatments are cheap but not every hairdresser can cut your hair
Thailand is a paradise when it comes to beauty treatments. Here you can indulge yourself in a massage (200- 250 Baht for 1 hour), or a manicure and pedicure for exactly the same price. There are plenty of beauty salons in every city, offering affordable treatments.
During my 2 year stay in Chiang Mai I had my favourite beauty place and my favourite hairdresser. However, you can’t get a good hair cut everywhere. Some hairdressers will simply tell you that they don’t cut ‘farang hair’ (foreigner’s hair). If you are looking for a simple solution and are a little afraid to give your beautiful curls up to someone who looks unsure of what to do, then hairdressers that you will find at shopping malls in Chiang Mai, or Bangkok, will be your safest bet.
I always encourage women to travel. There’s nothing more beautiful than waking up in an unknown place and having a whole day of exploration ahead of you. Thailand is and always will be a special place for me. I think that every woman, who is considering travelling to South-East Asia should choose Thailand as her first destination. It is a fascinating and beautiful country and it is a place, where women can travel safely.
So, my dear girls, if you are visiting Thailand soon, I hope I have helped you out a little with preparations and answered a few of your questions. If you want to know more, don’t hesitate to contact me: [email protected]