Top 25 Things I’ve Learned While Living in Thailand

Thailand is a beautiful and unique place that surprises you at every turn. It will have you gawking, laughing, and scratching your head constantly. These little tidbits I’ve found are helpful to know whether you’re staying for a few days, a few weeks, or a few years.

Here are some things I’ve learned while living in Thailand:

  • There are technically rules of the road, it’s just no one seems to know what they are. Stop lights, lanes, seat belts, vehicle occupancy limits, and crosswalks are optional.A busy crossstreet in Bangkok's China Town. Pedestrians beware. Top 20 Things Learned living in Thailand
  • Requesting “no spice” at a restaurant may still produce food that burns your lips off.
  • Everyone wears flip flops and they perform most tasks in them, including road construction, house building, and executive business transactions.
  • The world’s most amazing aromas and worst odors can occur within 5 meters of each other.
  • Freezing temps of 65-70°F (18-21°C) mean coats, hats, and gloves on all Thai people.
  • Strong legs are required as many of the toilets are of the squat variety.
  • Thai wiring is mind-boggling but I guess they have it organized as most people have working electricity. The electricians seem fearless and good at untangling knots. A perfect example of the safety practices and electrical wiring in Thailand.
  • Thailand is a giant safety hazard nightmare. Crazy driving, large holes in sidewalks, and exposed rusty metal are just few of the things to keep an eye out for.
  • Sugar is a favorite ingredient, used in abundance, and in unlikely dishes. Watch out for cavities and diabetes.
  • English translations on signs and clothing are frequently incorrect and hilarious.
  • No one drinks the water. No one.
  • Thailand loves plastic and puts everything in plastic bags. Even other bags. And iced tea or hot curry.  Iced green tea in a bag in a bag in a bag. Thai style.
  • Many Asian people want creamy white skin, rather than the western tans. Good luck finding lotion, sunscreen, or deodorant without whitening in it.
  • Bathrooms are devoid of all soap, toilet paper, and paper towels. But they all have spray guns! BYOTP
  • Anything you need can usually be found at 7-11. There’s a 7-11 on nearly every street. Sometimes two across the street from each other.
  • Hair products and makeup that worked back home may have little to no effect in the Thai heat and humidity.
  • Thai prices are so amazing, you’ll never want to pay the prices back home again! Good beer at $1-2 and a large serving of Pad Thai for $1 (USD).
  • Haggling with Thais over prices in the markets can be intimidating at first but a fun game when you get better at it.
  • The family motorbike can, and frequently does, carry as many as 4-5 people at a time. If it fits, it sits. A family out for the evening by way of moped. Photo credit - George Giles
  • Thai people put everything on sticks; pork, chicken, fish, eggs, bread, frogs, squid, scorpions.
  • There are cats and dogs running everywhere on the streets, though some are friendlier than others.
  • Thais aren’t a big fan of hugs or handshakes. They prefer the Thai “wai” as a form of greeting. Palms together and bow the head.
  • Make sure the pedicure is on point as you take your shoes off to enter most houses and temples, as well as some shops.Shoes outside shops in Thailand, where it is polite to remove your shoes before entering some homes and shops.
  • Many Thai places, like temples, require covered knees and shoulders. So no tube tops and mini skirts please.
  • Public transport includes taxi, tuk tuk, motorcycle taxi, pedicab, songtao, bus, train, ferry, longboat, and flip flop.

Every day that I live in Thailand, I discover something new. It’s one of the many reasons I love this country and all of its little quirks and mysteries.

Anything I’ve missed? Add something you’ve learned to this ever-growing list in the comments below.The family motorbike is a common sight in Thailand. Photo credit - Georgia May Goodall


Mai bpen rai!

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