At some point during your inbound flight to Thailand, you will be given arrival and departure cards to fill out, which will be attached to one another. These cards are simple enough to fill out, requiring your name, passport number, flight you are arriving on and flight you be departing on etc. You should have the information, as well as a pen on hand as you will be best served to fill in the form on the plane, and not at the front of the passport control queues where you will be wasting more than your own time.

If you do try to fill the cards out at the passport officer’s desk they will ask you to stand out and rejoin the back of the line once your form is completed. This is a tedious task for all involved, so be prepared and make your arrival as smooth as possible.

Keeping the departure slip will be convenient for when you leave, as forgetting it will see you stand in line to get a new one with time needed to fill it in again.


The street food in Thailand is notably amazing for its abundance, quality of flavor, and price. While there are western fast food options in Thailand, you will likely pay less than half the price for some authentic Thai from a street vendor. The change in diet may be a shock to your system, so Hello Islands recommends taking probiotics before and during your holiday to help prepare for the digestive switch.


Do not drink the tap water in Thailand, only drink bottled water. Luckily for you bottled water is available everywhere and is dirt cheap if you buy Thai branded bottles, so not much of an issue. The tap water is not guaranteed to be safe for consumption, so if you’re on the tentative side, consider brushing your teeth with bottled water as well. Ice in drinks is generally made from bottled water, so no need to worry there.


One of the essentials before your holiday starts is making sure your bank/credit card company knows you are going to be using your cards overseas while travelling  if they don’t they will block it when you try to use it in Thailand. Hello Islands recommends taking at least two cards, or a backup payment method at least, as you will need it if your card gets swallowed or lost. Keep in mind your card must be a VISA or MasterCard. SCB Bank (Purple with yellow logo) is our favourite due its reliability and affordability, never swallowing our cards once and having very low withdrawal fees.


The Thai people are incredibly composed, so raising your voice or becoming aggressive will get you nowhere. In Thai culture, the head is considered to be the most sacred part of the body while the feet are the lowest. It is considered the ultimate disrespect to touch a Thai person on their head, do not do so under any circumstance. Also, try not to point your feet towards anything of significant spiritual value, this includes monks.


Many temples have set times where you can meet the monks and ask them about Buddhism and help them improve their English while you improve your knowledge on Buddhism while on holiday. Monks are men of strict discipline and are held in extremely high regard in Thailand, as Buddhism is its dominant religion. They are happy to answer questions but do not be overly familiar or ask personal questions. Monks are also strictly forbidden to be in physical contact with any woman, so make sure you don’t accidentally brush past one and be aware of your surroundings.


Considering the abundance of awe-inspiring temples in Thailand, chances are you’ll come across one walking through the streets. For women to enter you will need to cover your shoulder, chest, and knees, so make sure you have some shawls with you so you don’t miss out. If you fail to adhere to this dress code you may be refused entry or cause offence.


Hello Islands recommends getting a sim card for your phone while you are in Thailand, as it makes communicating easier overall. You will be able to access Wi-Fi in designated hotspots but also be able to use your phone outside of them, for texts, calls, as well as a GPS. AIS sim cards are what we used and had absolutely no trouble with. The advantage of this is not having to use roaming while in the country, which saves you tonnes of money. It’s best to get a sim card at the airport or a mainstream mall so that the shop staff can also advise you about top ups and such.


Wi-Fi will most likely be available to you at every hotel, restaurant, and bar you visit in Thailand, all you have to do is ask for the password. The quality of the connection can vary, however, so remember your manners and be patient with it. Some hotels will give you a piece of paper with the login details for your room, and then the lobby for example, so select “remember me” to avoid having to log in every time you enter the same hotspot.


Tipping has become a custom in Thailand simply due to westerner’s insistence on doing so, although it is not necessary to tip everyone everywhere for every service rendered. Tipping hotel staff if you’ve been given good personal service is acceptable, but you will need to play it by ear depending on the hotel – 50 Baht is usually a good tip for your bags being brought to your room. Restaurant staff are happy with 10-15 percent, but be sure to check your bill as some places will include a service charge if you’re a large group. Small roadside places don’t generally need to be tipped. With regards to transport, metre taxi fares should be rounded up to the nearest 10, while Tuk-Tuks will charge a flat, pre-negotiated rate. Don’t tip store owners, or even necessarily settle for the asking price unless it is a “proper” store with an electronic/computerised cash register and price tags. Tour operators do, however, rely heavily on tips, so if they have done a good job, everyone pooling together a couple hundred Bhat is always greatly appreciated.


Be prepared that most public toilets in Thailand are squat toilets so it’s useful to carry some tissues or wet wipes and hand sanitizer if you’re not comfortable air drying or using a spray hose to clean afterwards. Most places will have “western” toilets, but some islands you visit while on excursions will not, and it’s best to be prepared.


We recommend that your primary footwear is the tradition flip flops and any other sort of easy on-easy off type of shoes. Breathable and perfect for slipping on and off as you enter religious sites like temples and most shops and restaurants in Thailand. They’re also ideal for wearing after a swim, easy to get the sand out of, and won’t be ruined if they get wet.


We all know that sound. The sound of a mosquito deviously humming around your head, and as your heart drops you realise it won’t stop unless you stop it. Mosquitoes are everywhere in Thailand so take a mosquito spray or lotion with from South Africa, sprays are quite overpriced once you are in Thailand and aren’t as effective. Apply before excursions and before bed.


Hello Islands suggests your take some well-worn travel bags on your holiday to Thailand, as the island hopping on ferries, bus tours, and bumpy terrain can take its toll on your luggage and show some wear and tear.


Not all travellers diarrhoea is necessarily food poisoning that causes it, but often simply your stomach reacting negatively to the change of diet. Either that or a bug you’ve picked up from someone or something you’ve been in contact with, famously called Thai tummy. It’s usually a short and symptoms will pass in 24 hours, while you need to focus on getting plenty of rest and drinking plenty of bottled water with a Rehydrate and Smecta to keep you rehydrated. In preparation, it is good to build up your immune system even before your holiday starts with a good probiotic, and it will only help to carry on taking these during your holiday too.


Open-air markets in Thailand are where you will find the most amazing goods at the best prices, and are an absolute must-do while on holiday in the country. Thailand is a mecca for counterfeit products, so keep in mind what you’re buying is not the real deal, and bargain the price down by at least one-third before agreeing on a price.


Drinking with your friends and family while holidaying in Thailand is fun, but paying for one giant cocktail and getting two creates a special kind of joy. Happy hours are generally between 6-9pm but can run later in the off-season.