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10 Misconceptions of Thailand

What's Behind the Curtain...

Chiang Mai, Thailand ©Samantha Seitz

Thailand is full of amazing sights and interesting experiences. It's often a culture shock, but one that will open your eyes. Some people have an amazing time and find that it's the perfect getaway. Others on the other hand, might find just the opposite. Here are some things I found out living in Thailand. Bare in mind, it is a bit different for some people; especially, if you are only visiting. 

1. Thailand is the land of smiles.

Bangkok, Thailand ©Samantha Seitz

For many traveling through, it is the land of smiles in the tourist spots. They put on a good face because some are genuinely friendly and others know they can get money from you.

If you visit a small province, you will be less likely to meet as many smiles. They tend to see foreigners as a strange concept. They don't trust them, but they know they can get some good money out of them. 

2. Guns are illegal.

Guns aren't illegal in Thailand. This is a misconception a lot of people have. They are perfectly legal if you have a license to hold one. A lot of Thais have guns, especially if they are farmers or live in small provinces. 

3. Drugs are easy to get and okay to do.

This depends a lot on who you are. Drugs can be easy to get, but you don't necessarily know what you're getting. Thailand is known for concocting new synthetic drugs. Each person will react differently so it's a luck of the draw.

As for doing drugs in Thailand, they're technically illegal. Thailand has made drug sweeps of people and prosecuted all dealers and some partakers. There are shops in tourist places which sell shrooms, weed, and other unique drugs. It's not always cheap and it's not legal.  

4. Thais use the bum gun instead of toilet paper.

Toilet paper in Thailand is a sensitive issue. The plumbing systems aren't up to date and, therefore, can't handle toilet paper. Foreigners will use toilet paper, and then be forced to put it in a trash can. Many places will have signs reminding people and some will even warn you of a fine.

Thais stuck in the older ways or even some new ways don't bother with toilet paper. Instead, most use the bum gun to clean off, but, even then, some still use their left hands to wipe their butts. On top of this, there is no hand soap in restrooms, and people generally don't wash their hands.

Makes you wonder if this is why the "Wai" is used for greeting. 

5. Foreigners are welcomed and find the same great prices as Thais.

Lop Buri, Thailand ©Samantha Seitz 

Foreigners aren't always welcome in Thailand. Some places frankly could care less about them. They see them as a nuisance. Seeing as some are already in a bad mood and others love money, they will sell things to you at a different price.

Most foreigners won't know that they're getting ripped off; especially, at markets. It's an easy way for Thais to get a little more money. Also, sometimes when you visit main attractions, there will be a foreigner's price and a Thai's price. It can be as little as a 100 baht difference or even a 1,000 baht difference. 

6. Thais don't care about your weight.

Thais care about weight a lot. They are generally accepting, but they will make comments about your weight. If you are heavier, expect to be called fat. It's how they are. They're used to commenting on weight. It's not seen as taboo, and people talk about it openly. They're just as obsessed with being thin as we are.

Bare in mind, if you do have a few extra pounds people at markets will love you! 

7. They love when you take photos with their tigers or ride elephants.

Thailand is known for its tigers and elephants. People come here to take photos or ride the animals. Some foreigners will see it as an experience of a lifetime, and, in a sense, it is, but the reality is that there's a darker side they don't see.

Many Thais know that the animals are often sedated or overworked to provide entertainment for the tourists. Populations are declining, and the need for preservation rises.

This is why Thais understand you wanting to see the animals, but they would prefer if you went about it in a safe way. Make sure when you visit you check out true conservation sites. These allow you to see animals in a less harmful way and get an amazing experience. 

8. You can find secluded beaches.

Koh Samed, Thailand ©Samantha Seitz 

So many people visit Thailand! You will be lucky to find a secluded beach. Thais will lure you in saying they know the best secluded beach and they can take you for a great price. One, that price may not be great. Two, others will be pitching the same story. Three, often those beaches are the most crowded.

Everyone loves beaches in Thailand, even the Thais. There's no way of getting around this, but you will be able to find some beaches with fewer people at certain times of the year.

9. The floating markets are always packed with boats.

Pattaya, Thailand ©Samantha Seitz

This is sometimes a disappointment. It depends on which floating market you go to, but some of them aren't like what you see in photos. The water tends to be dirty, and there may be only a few boats.

If you go to the floating market in Pattaya, expect to see maybe a couple of boats selling items and the others taking tourists around. It's still a great experience, but now you have a heads up what to expect.

10. It's so easy to get around.

Bangkok, Thailand ©Samantha Seitz 

Thailand isn't always easy to get around. You do have a lot of availabilities for transportation including buses, vans, planes, and taxis. If you want to save money, the buses are generally the go to.

Depending on where you're going, it can sometimes take up to 12 or 16 hours to get there. On top of that, buses are often cramped unless you get VP seats. It's a long journey but sometimes it saves some money. Once you're at your destination you'll often have to spend several minutes trying to translate where you want to go to the Tuk Tuk or taxi driver.

When you're in a city, it is generally easy to get around. You have more Tuk Tuks, taxis, and buses available. Sometimes you might even be able to rent a moped! 

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10 Misconceptions of Thailand
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