Going to Thailand for the first time? This is what you need to know



Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 23/04/2024, 08:00

Hi, I'm Joanna, the author of The Blond Travels. In the worlds of Thailand and Portugal, I feel like a fish in water - and it's no coincidence! I've been exploring Thailand for over a decade, and I've settled in Portugal for 6 years now. My mission is to support Dreamers - just like you - in discovering these fascinating countries and helping those in love with them find their own place on Earth, preferably for good! Let's uncover these unique corners of the world together.

Travellers who go to Thailand for the first time might be a bit anxious about how to prepare. It’s not as complicated as you may think. In this post I will tell you all you need to know and how to get ready for your dream holiday in the Land of Smiles.

When I first went to Thailand I was really stressed. This was my first trip to Asia and I had no idea what to expect. I remember I took a backpack that was packed to the rim and I took things I really didn’t need. To make it easier for you I have put together a short post, which I hope will put your mind at ease.

A few things for the start

You might have read some things about Thailand and I won’t repeat myself too much here, but I’d like to draw your attention to a few things.

Having a rough plan helps

A lot of travellers to Thailand like to go and see different places. You don’t need to have an exact plan, but if you are there for 2-3 weeks, then having one helps a lot, so you don’t need to waste your time looking for transportation or accommodation. Here you will find my suggested plan for visiting Thailand.

Read about the culture

Thai culture is totally different from cultures in other countries. Read about it, find out as much as you can and follow the general rules. Thais usually forgive foreigners if they do something that is not accepted, but some of the cultural norms are very strict. It’s really worth reading up on it.

Your plan for your first trip to Thailand

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    Thailand is safe. Don’t stress.

    Thailand is a really safe country. Of course, bad things might happen, like everywhere, but in general it’s a very tourist-friendly place. So, don’t worry. Just pay attention to your surroundings and don’t stress too much.

    It’s a tourist paradise

    Thailand is a really great country to travel around. The transportation is easy to find and very affordable. You can find hotels, hostels and guesthouses everywhere you go. People are really friendly and always eager to help out.
    Don’t worry that you won’t know how to get somewhere, or how to find your destination.

    What to do before you go to Thailand for the first time?

    Let’s make a short plan for you, so you don’t need to worry about travelling.

    Buy your ticket, book your first hotel and prepare a plan

    You can buy tickets to Thailand online. I normally use Skyscanner. I have flown with many different airlines. My favourite is definitely Emirates, but I usually prefer to choose something cheaper, if there’s an option like that.

    It’s good to book your hotel for the first couple of days. This will be helpful on your arrival.

    Again, I encourage to make a plan for your visit. If you prefer to be spontaneous, just draw a plan of destinations and assume everything will change.

    Think about your visa

    For many countries there is no visa requirements. At the moment (end of 2022) you can arrive in Thailand and get a stamp at the airport that allows you to stay for 45 days (before it was 30 days).

    If you’re planning to stay long, you’ll need a visa. Have a look here to find out more.

    Buy insurance

    Having travel insurance is not required, but I’d encourage you to buy it. This will protect you in case your flight is cancelled, delayed, or something happened to your luggage. It will also be useful if you have an accident.

    I always use Safetywing as it suits my needs and the customer service is great.

    One month before – get vaccinated

    There are no requirements for people to get vaccinated. From 1.10.22 you don’t even need the Covid certificate. However, you are going to a place where you haven’t been before and your body might not be immune to certain things. Have a look at my advice on vaccinations to Thailand.

    You don’t really need malaria tablets

    Thailand doesn’t have a huge problem with malaria. It only occurs in less developed areas. I was told my a nurse that if I don’t go there, I won’t need the tablets and as they cause some side effects, I chose not to take them.
    I’m not a doctor, so I will can’t give you a medical advice. If you’re not sure, ask your GP about it. Here you will find some more information about malaria.

    Prepare your first aid kit

    Hospitals and pharmacies in Thailand are very developed and well-stocked. You really don’t need to take all medications with you. I usually take:

    • painkillers like Ibuprofen
    • plasters
    • something to disinfect
    • diarrhoea medication

    When I’m in Thailand I buy tiger balm, which helps with mosquito bites. I sometimes buy antihistamine tablets as well, if I come up with an allergy.
    You really don’t need anything else and if you do, you can always buy it there.

    Pack light

    Some people like to take their whole wardrobe. If that’s something you like, go ahead, but I think there’s no need to pack a lot of things. I normally take:

    • 2 bikinis
    • 2 pair of shorts
    • a few tops
    • flip-flops
    • trainers
    • long jeans
    • 2 long-sleeved jumpers

    The last two things I take because I normally go to Chiang Mai in the cold season.
    If you’re going in the rainy season, then pack a waterproof jacket and an umbrella.

    Remember that Thailand is a great place for shopping and you can get a lot of things there for a good price.

    There you go – these are the most important thing to think about when going to Thailand for the first time. I hope I helped and you’re a bit less anxious and more excited about the trip. Go and enjoy it. I’m sure you’ll have an unforgettable time!