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Thread: Thailand Guide

  1. #1
    Senior Member dontpanic's Avatar
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    Thailand Guide

    Introduction

    This guide is intended to be a brief guide to the basics and essentials for visitors to the Kingdom of Thailand. It is not a comprehensive guide, if you have any specific queries after reading this please post in the forum. There are many people on this board who have visited these places a lot or who are living there so there will be someone to guide you

    General FAQ

    Getting there - Most people will get to Thailand by plane usually to Suvarnabhumi international airport (BKK)(http://www.bangkokairportonline.com/ )in Bangkok. This is a major hub in South-East Asia and you can get to several other Thai and Asian destinations from here. Be aware it is a large airport and can take some time to walk to your connecting flight. If you are connecting to another destination make sure your baggage is checked through. You will have to pass security and immigration in Bangkok before connecting to your next flight. All of these can be busy depending on how many flights are arriving when you are.

    There is another airport in Bangkok called Don Muang(DMK) ( http://www.donmuangairportonline.com/) this is known as the domestic airport but also does short haul flights around the region. Flights can be a lot cheaper leaving from here but it can take a lot of time to get here from Suvarnabhumi with traffic so best not to risk it if you are tight for time with a connecting flight. If you’re in Bangkok for a few days it’s a great option.

    Cheap flight operators in the region include, Air Asia, Nok Air, Bangkok Air, Angkor Air, Lao air.

    Skyscanner and kayak are good independent options for checking prices of flights. Anything under €700 return from Europe is pretty good value. As ever it pays to book ahead and be flexible with your dates. You may have to take two or more flights to get to Thailand, make sure to check your connection times as cheaper flights often have longer times between connections.

    Most major airlines have in seat entertainment with plenty of movies, tv shows, music and games to keep you occupied for your trip.

    A lot of western countries operate a 30 day visa on arrival. This is easily checked on the internet here http://www.thaiembassyuk.org.uk/?q=node/188 You will be given a form on the plane for arrival and departure, make sure you fill out both for inspection by an immigration officer. You must keep the departure page in your passport, it’s usually stapled in, if you lose it don’t worry just get one when you check in for your return flight. You will have your photo taken and passport stamped. Do not overstay as there is a fine for this.

    There are two immigration sections, depending on what gate you arrive at if the first one is busy then keep walking towards/away gate D6 and there’s another one up there.

    After that, collect your luggage, you may get asked to put it through an x-ray machine when you leave the luggage collection area and welcome to the Kingdom!
    To and from Airports

    Bangkok international has several options to get to your accommodation. There are regular buses and a skytrain(over-road rail link) to get you to the city fairly cheaply. Taxi’s are your best bet although there can be a bit of a scrum for your business. Lots of drivers will arrange to meet you in the airport at a designated gate usually 3 or 4 with your name on a card. These are typically unlicensed taxi drivers but there are lots of recommendations the internet to help. Or you can get an official taxi-meter, these will have a sign on top of their car and have a meter, don’t take one of a tout as it will be more expensive (he has to get his cut), simply follow the signs for public taxi in the airport which is one floor down from arrivals, get in the queue and tell the person at the top your destination. It helps if you have the address in Thai, usually available from the hotel’s website. You can use the meter or you can agree a fee and that he will pay tolls if any, there’s also a 50 baht charge for using the airport service payable to the driver upon reaching your destination. BKK-City hotels should cost 250-400 baht depending on traffic.

    The Skytrain link is now complete to downtown Bangkok and is an easy and reliable service to use, the express option costs 150 baht and runs every 30 minutes. The airport service connects to the subway station Phetchaburi and the BTS Skytrain at PhayaThai station. You will need to buy another ticket to your final destination from here. A one day Skytrain pass costs 130 baht and offers great value although it can get extremely busy at rush hours especially at the interchange stations. Maps and routes can be found at the BTS website http://www.bts.co.th/customer/en/02-route-current.aspx

    Thailand can be a difficult place to find your way around at first but addresses will usually have a Soi(street) and an area, e.g. Sukhumvit . You may also see Moo which is like a city block but knowing the soi and area should suffice. For example, the Grand Majestic hotel in Bangkok’s address is 12 Sukhumvit,Soi 2, Bangkok. This means it’s number 12 on Street number 2 in Sukhumvit. You may also see Thanon(avenue) on maps for the more major roads and thoroughfares.

    If you’ve got a connecting flight then you will have a bit of a walk/run to your transfer gate, airport staff are usually waiting when you disembark to get you to the gate for flights to Samui/Phuket. You will have to pass security again and try to ensure your bags are checked all the way through to save you some time as flight connections can be tight.

    Popular Destinations


    Bangkok – The nation’s capital, Krung Thep as the locals call it translated as the city of angels.A modern vibrant city with something to appeal to every traveller. Exotic temples, unique nightlife, an abundance of shopping, food, street stalls, markets and a modern transport system. Bangkok is an assault on your senses, most travellers to Thailand will spend some time here whether to do the whistle stop tour of the Grand palace, reclining Buddha and Chao Praya river tour or maybe spend a little longer exploring this unique city. Bangkok is Thailand’s most expensive city but it caters for all budgets and tastes

    Chiang Mai – The northern and ancient capital of the Sukothai period and a centre of Buddhism, covered in temples and national parks. Chiang Mai can be cooler than other parts of Thailand, it also has a vibrant nightlife but is sometimes the forgotten city for foreign tourists.

    Pattaya - Located on the gulf of Thailand just 150km from Bangkok Pattaya has an infamous reputation as sex city but due to an influx of Russian, Arabic and Indian families it has changed to accommodate the new sources of income, although the nightlife is still there and it’s easy to find there are lots of other things to do in Pattaya these days. Loaded with affordable hotels and over 1000 bars and gogo’s it offers a cheaper alternative with city conveniences such as large shopping malls mixed with beaches, islands and bars. If Pattaya is too much there’s some popular day trips to Koh Larn, with overnight options to Koh Chang and Koh Samet

    Phuket – For those more into a get away from it all paradise holiday then Phuket is one of the top choices, with miles of beaches it appeals to the divers and sun seekers alike. With the main nightlife area of Bangla road in Patong changing all the time Phuket still has mass appeal and only an hour’s flight from Bangkok. Popular day trips here include Phi Phi island aka James Bond island that featured in the Man with the Golden gun movie. With several off the beaten track options like Karon and Kata Phuket has a lot to offer.

    Samui – Similar to Phuket it offers a small island paradise destination with a more laid back nightlife and bar culture, also known for its full moon parties on nearby Koh Phangan it is also a popular destination for backpackers but Koh Tao offers a less intense party experience with diving and snorkelling tours.
    Last edited by LivinLOS; 4th October 2014 at 13:17.

  2. #2
    Senior Member dontpanic's Avatar
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    Hotels

    There is loads of choice of accommodation in Thailand, 4* & above hotels can be very reasonably priced so it can be a good chance to treat yourself. Location depends on what youíre looking for so, some of the plusher hotels may not be near the nightlife or the shopping or the sea so do ask for recommendations and tell us what your budget is.

    Hotel prices can vary a lot from High season to low season. High season usually runs from November to April, Low season runs from April to October, this can also be rainy season which means itís not as warm and it might rain. April is usually when Songkran(Thai new year) happens, this is always a very busy time.

    Hotels in Thailand are usually charged by the room, not by how many people stay in it, so if youíre staying alone you may be allowed bring a guest back. These hotels are called Guest Friendly or GF, other hotels usually more family oriented charge upwards of 1000 baht for a guest per night. Usually only one guest is allowed and there may be age restrictions, some hotels insist on the guest being over 20 and separate rules may apply to couples. If in doubt send the hotel an email to check, donít be shy theyíve heard it all before.

    Thereís plenty of good hotel sites on the net but booking.com usually doesnít charge you until you check in for a lot of its deals so itís good for spreading out costs. Other sites may take a deposit, others charge you when you book. Read the small print.

    If booking a holiday be aware that there are public holidays in Thailand that by law prohibit the selling of alcohol. This is strictly enforced so check these dates donít interfere with your plans. Some dates can change as they are influenced by the occurrence of lunar patterns. Bars also close on election days. This is the latest list, bar closures in BOLD but you can also check your dates online. This is Thailand so the bar closures are not exactly black and white and may vary, the official line is that they close.

    1 January : New Yearís Day*
    14 February : Makha Bucha Day
    7 April : Chakri Day
    13-16 April : Songkran festival
    1 May : National Labour Day
    6 May : Coronation Day
    13 May : Visakha Bucha Day
    11 July : Asarnha Bucha Day
    12 July : Wan Khao Phansa (Start of Buddhist Lent)

    12 August : Queenís Birthday
    23 October : Chulalongkorn Day
    5 December : King's Birthday
    10 December : Constitution Day
    31 December : New Yearís Eve

    Thailand information

    Thailand (formerly called 'Siam') is a country that lies in the heart of Southeast Asia. It is bordered by Burma,Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia. It is a constitutional monarchy with a King who is very revered and elected government. Prime minister at time of writing is Ms. Yingluck Sinawatra. The Thai King Bhumipol Adulyahdej is the longest reigning monarch in the world having ascended to the throne in 1946. The population is about 65 million and about 8-10 million live in the capital Bangkok.

    There is no way we can over emphasize how much Thaiís revere their King, never ever do anything that could be possibly construed as insulting the King or royal family, in fact itís illegal in Thailand to do so and people are in prison for violating this law. There will be pictures of the royal family absolutely everywhere from roadside advertising boards to the bars. The walkways in the airport are adorned with banners stating Long live the King. Always stand and show respect for the Thai national anthem which is played before any films are shown in the cinema.

    Weather Ė Thailand enjoys a typical tropical climate where it is warm all year around with temperatures rarely dropping below 20įc and usually around 30įc, itís a big country so temperatures can vary quite a bit from north to south. There are 3 main seasons, Hot from March to June, rainy from July to October and cool from November to February. Few things to note here, these are general guidelines, the seasons can vary from coast to coast, rainy season just means it might rain but when it does it buckets down and can get quite humid as it will still be warm. The rain goes away usually quite quickly.

    Electricity Ė 220volts at 50 cycles which is UK compatible but not American, the outlets are usually made for 2 pronged flat plugs. Adapters are widely available and much cheaper in Asia.

    Religion - Thailand is 95% Buddhist, it is adorned with temples and shrines everywhere. Temples are nice peaceful places to visit but people must dress and act respectfully when visiting. This means dressing modestly, covering your shoulders, chest and legs. A t-shirt and jeans will suffice, ladies may consider wearing a small silk scarf in addition to this. You will be told in no uncertain terms if you are dressed inappropriately and wonít be allowed inside temples. When entering temples you will be required to take your shoes off, youíll see shoes piled up outside so take the hint. If youíre worried about an expensive pair of shoes then bring a bag to put them into when entering the temple. Also shouting and horseplay are definitely a no-no. Buddhists are happy for other people of other religions to visit their temples, if you talk to a monk or receive a blessing you may consider a small donation or gift which can be bought on site. Thais are very religious and devout so respect their beliefs and youíll enjoy your temple visit a lot more.

    Respect to other people in Thai society is also very important, this is most often seen with the famous Thai greeting called the Wai. This youtube video gives a good explanation of it, have a go, the Thais will be happy to show you and help.


    Keeping face is an important but often confusing part of Thai culture. You should never lose your cool especially in public, if you start shouting or accusing someone of something it will go down very badly. Youíll notice that Thais smile and laugh a lot even when something is going wrong, this is all part of saving face. A smile will go a long way in a lot of situations, thatís why Thailand is called the Land of Smiles.

    The timezone for Thailand is GMT+7
    Last edited by LivinLOS; 4th October 2014 at 13:26.

  3. #3
    Senior Member dontpanic's Avatar
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    Dangers and annoyances

    Thailand is a very safe society but like all countries it comes with its fair share of scammers, opportunists and criminals looking to take advantage of a naÔve or drunk tourist. But apart from of the usual precautions you should take anywhere it’s easy to be safe in Thailand, a lot of the stuff below never happens to most visitors but it’s no harm to be aware of things.

    Road safety : Thai’s do drive a bit crazy, traffic lights and the usual rules of the road are very much at the discretion of the driver, also right of way is usually determined by the size of your vehicle, one way streets and footpaths are all fair game for motorbikes and helmets are generally optional although not legally. Even crossing the road as a pedestrian can be very daunting at first. In short wear a helmet on a bike, take it easy, get a local to do the driving, don’t drink and drive and cross the road in well-lit areas at night and if in doubt follow a Thai across the road, they know what to do.

    Taxis & Tuk-tuks : Licensed metered taxis are plentiful and cheap in the main tourist areas, some may agree a price up front, they are supposed to use the meter especially if you say so, if they don’t want to then just get out. Tuk-tuks vary from city to city and they can range from 3 wheeled open air vehicles in Bangkok to small converted pickups in Phuket, the drivers can be in your face and do try tricks to bring you places to buy things where they’ll get a commission. They may tell you your hotel is full or closed or bring you to a gem shop on the way to where you really want to go but they are mostly fine, simply agree the price up front, tell them no stops and know where you’re going(even if you don’t act confident).

    Baht Bus : Similar to tuk-tuks these converted pickups drive around Pattaya on set loops and cost 10 baht payable to the driver when you get off, you just flag one down and jump on. Even if one is empty the price is still 10 baht for your journey with one exception – That you don’t talk to the driver, if you do he/she will ask you where you are going and all of a sudden a baht bus is now a taxi and you’ll be charged accordingly. So just jump on, if they’re not going to where you want get off, pay and flag down another.

    Bill padding : This typically happens in bars and gogo’s. See the nightlife section for running up tabs, if you’re buying drinks for a few ladies and getting a bit drunk yourself you may get a slip or two put into your tab bin without you noticing. It’s worth checking every so often and being firm with the ladies about buying drinks.

    Agree prices up front : This goes for a lot of things but for taxis, tours, tuk-tuks, ladies, massage, haggling etc, a deals a deal.

    Drugs : Don’t go near them, the penalties are severe in Thailand and being foreign won’t make it any easier.

    Jet-skis : A common beach scam, you rent a jet-ski, have some fun, bring it back and they guy you rented it from says you’ve damaged it and have to pay. You disagree and before you know it a few of his friends are there to back him up. So easiest way around this is to inspect and take photos of the jet-ski before, get some ex-pats to recommend some reputable dealers or just avoid. Also a common scam for renting motorbikes. Any reputable dealer won’t mind you taking photos and fully inspecting the equipment

    Water : Tap water is generally unsafe to drink so stick to the bottled stuff, it’s cheap and the cheapest place to buy them is convenience shops like 7/11 or family mart which are located everywhere in the tourist spots. Some hotels will give complimentary bottled water every day. Ice cubes tend to be safer than chipped ice blocks too.

    Food : Western food is easily available in the major tourist destinations, Thai food comes in a lot of varieties and isn’t all just spicy, some of the seafood is spectacular and it’s very reasonably priced, be careful with the hot stuff though as it can be very hot. A lot of places will make something more foreigner friendly as in less spicy if you as. In the major tourist destinations a lot of the familiar fast food chains are open 24 hours. Thailand has some of the best food in the world with some especially great fruit so try it out.

    STI : In short bag up if you’re going to engage with prostitutes. STI’s can be transmitted even when protection is used so get to a pharmacy or clinic if you suspect, it’ll be cheaper and less embarrassing then waiting till you get home. If you don’t like the look of your new friends bits or get an odd smell don’t risk it, make an excuse, pay up and leave. They won’t care so long as they get paid.

    Pharmacies : Not an annoyance but a good convenience, in case you run into difficulty with a lot of the above there are loads of pharmacies in the tourist spots which will be happy to supply you with something to cure you, drugs that need a prescription in the west are usually available over the counter in Thailand at a reduced cost. There will also be street sellers usually of Viagra and the likes but these are very much at your own risk.

    Police : The boys in brown don’t have a great reputation and there have been reports of them picking on foreigners for made up fines, the general advice is to pay especially if it’s a relatively small amount, remember they hold most if not all of the cards. Follow the rules especially where driving in concerned, mostly the police will leave you alone. If you do run into trouble you can ask to see the tourist police, if you are required to pay a large fine hold your ground and get a receipt. Most people will never have any trouble with the Royal Thai police but the monkey house(jail) is not a place you want to be in Thailand.

    Tailors : A lot of tourists come to Thailand to get a nice hand-made suit or two, most tailor shops won’t make anything but are there just for you to pick out the fabric, colours, style etc and to get measured, it then goes off to a factory where it’s made and you come back a few days later to try it on and maybe get some more adjustments. Tailors(usually Indian) will stand outside their shop and grab your hand to shake it and won’t let go until you are in their shop, they don’t like taking no for an answer either. Recommendations are don’t shake their hand(yes at first it’s a bit weird), if you are going to make a purchase do some research before you go, the Thai tailors in general are more the real thing.

    Beggars : They aren’t a massive problem although you will see them around, they tend to be more aggressive around the outdoor beer bars, a simple nod of the head will get rid of most of them. You will see children selling trinkets and landmine victims doing this so be prepared. It is not advised to give children or beggers with children money – not easy to do but the reality is you’re not helping them.

    Sellers : Again at the outdoor bars and cafes you will be offered all sorts of stuff for knockdown special prices like jewellery, dvd’s, watches and clothes usually of questionable quality, again a nod of the head and get back to your beer will suffice.

    Gems & precious metals : You’ll see a lot of these shops about the place, sometimes jewellery can be cheaper in Thailand as the labour costs aren’t as expensive but the price of gems and precious metals tend to be the same the world over. Common sense applies, if something seems too good to be true it usually is. By the way just to confuse you even more Thai’s use the baht as a unit for selling gold(15.244 grams). As mentioned earlier some drivers may take you to a gold shop as part of a “tour” to gain some commission – Buyer beware.
    Last edited by LivinLOS; 4th October 2014 at 13:22.

  4. #4
    Senior Member dontpanic's Avatar
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    Phones

    Dial code for Thailand is +66, mobile phones are widely available as are Thai sims in most convenience stores, There are prepay options but if you’re a regular visitor it may be worth signing up to a plan. Dtac offer a 300 baht “Happy tourist” sim offer which you can buy at the airport when you land which includes 7 days unlimited internet, don’t worry if there’s a queue the offer is available in 7 Eleven & family mart shops.

    Useful numbers
    Police 191
    Tourist Police 1155
    Fire 199
    Check your embassy’s number too!

    Thai money

    The currency of Thailand is the Thai Baht which at time of writing is floating about 45Baht to the Euro, the weakest it has been for a few years, the best exchange rates are offered in Thailand at the numerous exchange booths found scattered around the place, they are legit and open long hours, all rates are clearly posted and can change daily. Changing money when you arrive at the airport will get you a low rate and all booths in the airport offer the same rate. No commission is charged they make money on the rates.

    Coins – keep 5 baht coins handy for the public toilets, keep 10 baht coins handy for the baht buses, there are 1 and 2 baht coins but don’t bother with them or give them to beggars.

    Notes – There are 5 denominations of notes, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 with 20’s 100’s and 1000’s being the most numerous. If you are due 50 baht change you will usually get 2 20’s and 10 baht coin to encourage you to leave a little tip, saving up the 20’s for sitting at the stage in a gogo is good advice although the staff will usually break a couple of hundreds for you. Hotels will usually break notes for you too.

    Thailand is a cash society, you will be charged 3% extra for using your credit card. There is about 150 baht charge for withdrawing cash at an atm on your credit card, don’t forget at a Thai ATM you are given the cash first then your card, many tourists have been caught out with this particularly after a few beers.
    It’s also advisable to inform your home bank that you will be travelling to Thailand in case they disable your card when they see Thai transactions appearing, not a good thing to happen if you’re short on cash.

    It is always convenient to have local currency on arrival, but not necessary.*You are going to arrive at an airport and you can be certain that money changers or ATM machines are going to be open at any hour. They are fast and efficient and don’t charge commission but check you have been given the right amount. Do bring some cash from your home country (or a major currency). On the streets the rates can vary and change almost daily so shop around.

    Travellers’ cheques are also accepted but these will typically need to be changed at banks. Remember to bring your passport.
    Last edited by LivinLOS; 4th October 2014 at 13:23.

  5. #5
    Senior Member dontpanic's Avatar
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    Nightlife

    Thailand has an (in)famous nightlife, no amount of research will prepare you for the atmosphere in the nightlife hotspots of Bangkok, Bangla & Pattaya but we can give you some pointers to have a basic understanding of the scene.

    Before all that the local beers are Chang, Singha and Leo which are cheaper than the western imports, best to drink bottled beers, draft is usually quite lame and cheap. Thai whiskey is also popular even though technically it’s rum, Sangsom is the market leader here. Happy hours can run for many hours during the day and early evening.

    Most bars will have a Mamasan, an older Thai lady who’s worked the bar business and knows the game, she’s there to make sure the girls do what they’re told, organise the dance shifts and they usually speak decent English so you can discuss any problems with them or if you like a particular type of girl buy the mamasan a drink and she can recommend. In addition there will be a manager, some bars and gogo’s have foreign managers who can deal with any grievances.
    Firstly all bars aren’t brothels, all women(and men) that work in bars aren’t prostitutes. This is a popular misconception. Prostitution is in fact illegal in Thailand but they’ve come up with a Thai solution to a Thai problem – The bar fine.

    There are 5 types of bars/clubs in Thailand – The first is regular bars like what you have at home with food, drink, live music and sport on the TV. Definitely family friendly, uniformed staff, no dancers and the menu won’t have a “ladydrink” on it!

    The second is the beer bar, these are usually open air bars in complexes that have ladies(called bargirls)available but they are more relaxed and not as in your face as some gogo bars. There’ll be no problem with couples here, the bargirls love chatting to foreign women. There’ll usually be lots of girls crammed into the bar, maybe a dance pole but no nudity.

    You pull up a seat, order a drink, a bargirl will usually come up and engage you in small talk after putting a little bin with a paper slip in front of you. This is your bill. You are under no obligation to run up a tab and can pay for your drink there and then, but in Thailand it’s customary to pay when you leave. It’s no harm to check your bin regularly just to make sure you’re only paying for what you’ve agreed and there’s no bill padding going on.

    There’s about 5 standard questions the bargirl will ask to break the ice:

    What your name?
    Where do you come from?
    How long you stay in Thailand?
    Where you stay in Thailand?(your hotel)
    How many times have you been in Thailand?

    By the end of your trip you’ll be answering these in your sleep! The bargirl may ask if you want to play a game like connect 4, jenga or a dice game called jackpot. After a while if you’re getting on she may ask you to buy her a ladydrink. If you do another slip will go into your bin and you’ll notice that her drink is a little more expensive than yours. This is because the bargirl gets a little commission(about 40 baht) on the drink you’ve just bought her. Officially the bargirls act as hostesses and you pay for their company by buying them a ladydrink.

    Keep an eye on how quickly she drinks, it’s usually a good indicator of how long she’s worked the bar(as his how good her English is) and whether she’s trying to squeeze you for every baht.

    So you’ve had a few drinks and you’re getting on great but maybe feel like moving on and getting to know your new friend a little better but she has to work. Well you can pay the bar to let her leave work early – This is called a barfine and it can vary how much but in beer bars it’s typically around 3-500 baht. The logic behind this is that the income the bar would have generated had the bargirl stayed working needs to be made up, hence the barfine, a unique solution. What you and your new friend get up to when she leaves the bar is between two consenting adults. But…..

    If you decide you’d like to barfine a bargirl then you need to discuss some things with her beforehand. Mainly if you would like her to go with you for a “Short time”(typically a couple of hours) or “Long time(overnight). Be aware some bargirls will leave at dawn, some will stay till well after noon. If you’re heading back to your hotel make sure she has her ID with her. She’ll need to leave it at reception in most reputable hotels. When she leaves the next day reception should ring you to ask if everything is ok and your guest can leave. You’ll hear all sorts of claims about how much short time and long time cost but it’s between you and your bargirl and if you’re happy with it then fine. Bargirls who work beer bars will probably look for 1000-1500 short time and 2000 upwards for long time. If you really like your new friend and want her to stay for a few days the barfine will have to paid her bar every day she doesn’t work. Thai ladies love to sleep, shop and the cinema, when you take a bargirl for a few days like this it’s called a GFE or girlfriend experience.

    The third type of bar is a gogo bar, easily recognisable as they usually have the word agogo after their own name, there are 100’s of gogo bars in Thailand but they’re usually squashed into small areas like Nana entertainment plaza in Bangkok, Bangla road in Phuket and Walking street and LK Metro in Pattaya. Loud music behind closed doors, lots of dancers and shows, all with varying degrees of skin showing. Gogo bars are more intense and some of the more extreme ones are pretty much anything goes with audience participation. There’s no cover charge but they’re more expensive for drinks and barfines. Outside will be what are called “hello girls”, they’ll have signs with happy hours and drink prices etc and will try and entice you to their gogo. Competition is fierce so they’ll follow you right in to the bar to make sure you get to their bar. Some touts may claim commission for bringing you to a gogo so keep an eye for someone following you in, you will be charged extra for this.

    Although usually a male stronghold it’s not unusual to see Russian couples sitting in a gogo. If you’re sitting at the stage you will get asked for tips so keep those 20baht notes handy, if you’ve no change there’ll be a small army of service staff there to assist you some of whom will be barfine-able. Gogo bars aren’t for everyone but they do vary a lot in what they do so it’s worthwhile checking out a few different ones to find one that suits your tastes in music, atmosphere and ladies. The same bill bin system and barfine system applies here just for a higher price.

    The fourth type of bar is the disco bars, similar to discos and nightclubs in your own country this is where you can do the dancing and also where you’re likely to encounter the freelancer(FL). Discos will be full of Thai ladies who won’t be shy about showing their affection for you, you’ll be thinking I’ve pulled a freebie but odds are she’s a working girl working for herself, there’ll be no barfine but there’s a little more risk as if anything goes wrong she’ll be hard to find the next night and the management at the disco won’t take any responsibility for freelancers. That said, lots of guys rave about FL’s so each to his own.

    The fifth type of bar is the Thai nightclub which is where regular Thai men and women go to let their hair down, no pay for play goes on here but it can be an interesting experience, they’ll be naturally curious about the falang and it may help to speak a little Thai but no good Thai lady is going to stay the night just after meeting her, you may get a number or two and maybe a date but the most you can expect is a new friend.

    Ladyboys

    Thailand is famous for its third gender – The ladyboy or Katoey, there’s no real concrete reason as to why this phenomenon started but surgeons in Thailand have developed an expertise in gender reassignment procedures so people from all over the world go there to get surgery much cheaper than at home. There are bars which consist entirely of Ladyboys, they’re pretty easy to spot – tell- tale signs are an Adam’s Apple, deeper voice, usually taller, bulges in the wrong places, no curves in the right places. Do your research and know where the ladyboy bars are. There are countless stories of guys getting drunk and going back to the room only to find out they’ve made a mistake. You could always ask but if she isn’t a ladybody you’ve just made a big mistake! If in doubt don’t barfine unless you’re curious 555. Some bars may have one or two working there, get friendly with the other girls and they’ll tell you.

    Most ladyboys are pre-op which means they still have male genitals which they tape down so they fit their clothes better. They can be more prone to mood swings which comes from taking female hormones whilst still having naturally producing male hormones, not a good combination. Ladyboys tend to hunt in packs too so it’s not for the weak of heart. As usual buying a few drinks and being polite will go a long way. If you’re not interested a simple “mai ow kap”(no thanks in Thai) and smile will suffice
    Last edited by LivinLOS; 4th October 2014 at 13:24.

  6. #6
    Senior Member dontpanic's Avatar
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    Other things to note

    Some random general things that are just different in Thailand.

    When eating Thai food you will be given a spoon and fork, no knife. The food is already cut into bite size portions, for western food you will get a knife. Chopsticks are rare too.

    Toilets particularly public ones, at bars etc, there’s usually no toilet paper, ladies are given a bowl with some water, don’t be surprised if there’s a gogo dancer getting changed while you’re in the toilet, it may be the only place there’s room. Thai people do not use toilet paper the way we do. They use a bum gun, which is a water hose next to the toilet, to clean themselves, and they use the toilet paper to wipe off the water. They do not flush the toilet paper as the pipes in many older buildings cannot take it, instead they put it in a bin beside the toilet. In newer buildings plumbing is better, thus you can flush the toilet paper. If in doubt, do as the Thais and use the bum gun instead of throwing dirty toilet paper in the bin.

    Sewerage in Thailand isn’t good, you will experience a lot of bad smells just walking down the road and in public toilets.

    If you’re out with your Thai lady you pay for everything, this may include some gifts or bring back some food for her friends. This will gain face for her and don’t forget you’re a foreigner so are therefore rich! Thais love to eat and you’ll be surprised how much they can put away.

    Don’t be surprised to see street carts selling all sorts of fried insects, they’re very popular in Thailand.

    Although a lot of stuff is cheaper in Thailand electronics tend not to be even though there is a huge selection of IT stuff and phones.

    Haggling is expected in markets but not shops, the usual excuse is the price is fixed on the computer. General rule of thumb with haggling is to cut the first offer by a third to a half and work from there, buying more will get you more of a discount, also treat haggling as fun and don’t get too stressed about it. That would involve losing face.

    Thais don’t do punctuality, expect them to be late and don’t moan when they are.

    It’s easy to travel light in Thailand, in the main tourist spots convenience shops will sell everything you need 24/7 and there’s loads of them, clothes and laundry are all cheap.

    It’s ok for Thai’s to tell little lies to save face, this covers a lot of things like lying about their age and how long they’ve worked in the bar to having a boyfriend who’s sending them money from abroad.

    Thai ladies will tell you every phone call is their brother or father – it’s their Thai boyfriend most likely, also they’ve a habit of calling all their female friends sisters so don’t worry if you think they don’t look anything like each other.

    Sponsorship from a foreigner is like winning the lotto to a lot of Thai ladies. A sob story is usually supplied to get you to part with your hard earned cash, these are called sick buffalo stories as a lot of bargirls come from rural backgrounds so tell the new love of their life their family back home needs money as their buffalo has become sick.

    Buying property in Thailand can be a daunting experience, technically foreigners aren’t allowed own property but as with a lot of things there’s ways and means around this, get yourself a good lawyer recommended by someone you trust who’s been through the experience. You could of course just put it in your new girlfriends name but that’s not a good idea.

    Shopping centres and cinemas tend to be quite cold so you may want to change from the beachwear if you want to watch a movie. Also cheaper accommodation only comes with a fan and not proper aircon which for many is a must in the Thai climate.

    Dentistry tends to be cheap and of very good quality so if you’ve some spare time it could be time to get the smile upgraded.

    Most bars don’t open until the evening and don’t get going fully till 10pm so keep an eye out for happy hours(which last longer than 1 hour) for early openers.
    Massage come in a lot of varieties, the legit massage shops are great value and a nice way to pass an hour or two during the day for between 100-200 baht an hour. Be aware that Thai massage can be quite vigorous. The legit places will usually have open plan and lots of windows, also the ladies will be well covered up. The “special” massage places will be more behind closed doors, a curtain pulled around you and your masseuse, she’ll be showing a bit more skin and usually make it obvious she’s willing to go further. Some ladies will just ask if you want a special, others will wait for you. Then it’s up to you to negotiate.

    Soapies are a body to body massage most definitely of the special variety, there are specialist places where you pick from a wide variety of ladies who are sitting in what is called the fishbowl, they’ll wave and smile and try and grab your attention, each lady has a number and when you decide on one tell the papas an(men seem to be in charge in soapies) who will call her out. You can have a drink and bring it to your room. Soapies are like hotels and are for a more upmarket experience and the price reflects this. Typically 2000-3000 baht + the lady will expect a tip. The usual routine in the room is shower, bath, move onto an air mattress where you lie down and she grinds and slips her way around you until it’s time to shower again and move onto the bed. The while experience takes about 90 minutes.
    Last edited by LivinLOS; 4th October 2014 at 13:25.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator LivinLOS's Avatar
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    Any additions, corrections or suggestions gladly received.

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