Thailand is one of our favorite destinations here at Pickleball Trips. The land of smiles never disappoints; the food is delicious, the beaches are beautiful, and the players love pickleball. We highly recommend joining a Pickleball Trip to Thailand sometime, especially because our past participants love it so much. Knowing a few things about Thailand before you go will help you plan and enhance your enjoyment of this fantastic country even more. Here are 9 things to know before you go.
1. Bring Cash
Some established businesses in Thailand take credit cards. However, most smaller local restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, massage places, and taxis only accept cash in Thai Baht. Exchange some money at the airport when you arrive (enough for the taxi ride to the hotel). Don’t exchange everything at the airport, though, because the rate is typically better in the city. You will need a passport to exchange money in Thailand, so bring it whenever you need to visit an exchange.
2. Ask For a Metered Taxi
Upon arrival in Thailand, a line of taxis is waiting at the airport to take you into the city. Ask the information desk at the airport about the taxi system. The taxi will try to tell you a fixed rate. Tell them to run the meter (every taxi has one) because the meter is almost always cheaper.
3. Get a SIM Card
SIM cards in Thailand are cheap and easy to install. Although getting away with just wifi is possible, having a SIM card is better if you need seamless internet service throughout the trip. It’s also great for using apps like Google Maps and translation tools like Google Translate. You never know when you need internet access, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
4. It’s Super Affordable
One of the best aspects of Thailand is its affordability. Beers are $2-3, and massages only cost $10-15 an hour. It won’t break the bank even if you splurge and have a massage every day.
5. Thai Food is Amazing, but Take it Easy on the Spicy
Thai food has so much variety; it is absolutely delicious and never gets old. Our favorites include curry, fried rice, papaya salad, stir-fries, and mango sticky rice. If you like spicy food, try it out but proceed cautiously. It tastes great at the time, but you don’t want to miss out on anything on a Pickleball Trip because of a stomach ache. Definitely order “tourist spicy” rather than “Thai spicy,” especially at first.
6. Outdoor Markets
There are night markets in almost every city in Thailand selling everything from fresh fruit, fried chicken, Pad Thai, and desserts. Because nighttime is cooler, locals and tourists gather to hang out, drink, and feast. It’s a uniquely Thai experience, and we will visit at least a few markets on the tour. Most food prepared fresh in front of you is OK to eat. However, you should stay away if anything has been sitting there for a while or contains ice.
7. It’s Hot
Thailand is very hot, which is both a pro and a con. We visit in the cooler “Winter” months of December to January to avoid the heat and rain. However, it often still reaches the high 80s during the day. Drink plenty of fluids, including electrolytes and water. If you feel overheated, taking a break and resting is essential. No one wants to visit a hospital on vacation.
8. Don’t Talk About the King
Thailand has a long and storied history, and the king is a beloved figure. It’s a big no-no to talk badly about the king, even as a tourist. I find it’s best to play it safe by avoiding the subject entirely. Still, it’s interesting to ask local players about politics, religion, Thai culture, etc., because it’s such a fascinating country.
9. You Might Get Addicted
Just like pickleball, Thailand is addictive. Many of our participants fall in love and don’t want to leave. Suppose you’re retired and not in a huge rush to return home. Consider adding a week or two to the itinerary afterward to explore a different part of the country or having the flexibility to return somewhere you enjoyed. One of the great aspects of Pickleball Trips is our ability to connect with local players. You might want to use those connections to stay longer and get more games in.