Every travel destination is subject to some unfortunate, and often untrue, myths or stereotypes that seem to make their way to would-be tourists. Depending on what rumors are being passed off as factual information or even warnings about visiting a certain country, it can literally hamper the tourism business of that place.
Thailand is a land full of passion, loyalty, and determination. And among the opulent temples and dramatic skylines are the people. People who are among the friendliest in South East Asia. But popularity can come with a price, so as with all top tourist destinations, Thailand has developed a reputation of its own. Great in certain spheres, but also troublesome in some regards, and depending on who’s wielding these tourism myths.
It would be foolish to say that crime does not exist in Thailand, as this would only lead to a false sense of security. However, there are many myths that circulate the internet, many of which are just plain false, and they shouldn’t keep you from checking out some wonderful Thai tourist destinations including our scenic national parks. This article is going to run through some of the biggest myths to surround tourism in Thailand.
1- Everyone Is Out To Take Your Money
The truth of the matter is that Thai people tend to earn much less than their western counterparts. Asking for a tip, or a little extra on top of the price is not uncommon in Thailand. However, Thais are not out to empty your bank accounts or rip you off at every turn. Things are done differently among different cultures, and you may simply see their practices as alien or pushy. Go with the flow, and if you feel you are being scammed, there is nothing to stop you from walking away from the situation.
2- Ladyboys Are All Criminals
An oft-maligned group, there are many ladyboys or Kathoey who just want to be accepted as a part of society. It is a common myth that ladyboys have an easy life in Thailand. In fact, they are not allowed to work in many types of professions and are treated with derision. Unfortunately, this forces many of them onto the street and into the bars where alcohol and miscommunication can go horribly wrong. If you have an aversion to their lifestyle, you certainly don’t need to hang out in places they frequent. Anytime you are out drinking and partying in a foreign country you need to be vigilant – there are criminals from all walks of life that may look at a tourist as an easy mark so keep your head and don’t think only one societal subgroup is eying you up.
3- All Tuk-Tuks Are Out to Rip You Off
No visit to Thailand will be complete without a ride on a tuk-tuk. Yes, there are some drivers who earn a commission from taking you to a tailors or gem shop, but these are few and far between. The majority of tuk-tuk drivers are looking for short rides, which is where they make their money. In Bangkok, a 2 km Tuk-Tuk ride should cost you around 70 Baht. Any more than this is too much.
4- Places Don’t Close On Public Holidays
Wherever did the prominence of this myth come from? Yes, they do. In fact, many of the top tourist hotspots will be closed on Songkran, Loykratong, and New Year. It is a common misconception that many taxi drivers will lie and say a place is not open due to public holidays. Chances are that they may well be telling the truth. If you are in doubt, use your smartphone to check the Google business page and check whether it is open or not. Many temples won’t close on public holidays, but they may be busy during Buddhist holidays. If you are not Buddhist and arrive at a temple during a ceremony, try not to get in the way or create a disturbance.
5- Street Food Will Make You Sick
If this were true, then nearly the entire population would be constantly ill. Thai street food is the best local cuisine you will ever try. It outshines food that is sold in boutique restaurants and 5-star eateries. Thai street food is generally very safe to eat. The standard you’ll find is that ingredients are prepared in front of your very eyes, freshly handled, and wrapped hygienically. The only thing to be wary of is salad leaves that have been rinsed in cold water, as the water may not be the best quality – but here, food poisoning is still quite rare. There really is nothing to worry about when it comes to street food. Once you try it you will be back time and time again.