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Tips for First-time Visitors to Krabi and Thailand in 2024

Thailand is a very forgiving place. Locals understand that your culture is vastly different from theirs and they tend to forgive and forget quickly. I’m reminded of a Russian tourist standing at the top of Tiger Cave Temple at midday in nothing but his bikini underwear. He was clueless. Thais didn’t say anything, but I did. He quickly put his shorts and shirt back on.

Krabi, Thailand gets a lot of first-time visitors to the province and to Thailand. There are direct flights coming from Krabi’s International Airport daily and it isn’t uncommon to see tourists doing something that goes against Thai culture in Krabi.

Here are some tips about how to get long better in Krabi, without causing any problems by offending Thais because of culture, and some other tips that will just help you enjoy the place better!

  1. SMALL MONEY! Try not to always be handing small merchants 1,000 Thai baht notes. Yes, it’s their responsibility to have change but I can’t tell you the number of times that Thais have had a problem with it. They just don’t prepare by getting proper change every day! Buy something small at 7-11 and get small money before going to small stores and restaurants to buy something small.
  2. The WAI. In the south of Thailand, many people don’t bother to Wai. The vast majority of the population (85%?) is Muslim and they don’t wai. It’s hard to tell (impossibly most times) whether a man is Muslim. Women sometimes wear burkas, but not always. We typically try the wai and see if it’s returned. If not, you know they’re Muslim and you need not do it again.
  3. GETTING LOUD. Thais only get loud when they are just about ready to fight. So, if you get loud, they figure you are ready to fight and you might get a punch in the head from behind. Don’t get loud. Don’t talk loud. Don’t yell.
  4. TIPPING. We rarely do it anymore, but there are certain places we eat meals that we tip all the time. These are good restaurants with exceptional service. Thais don’t expect tips. Most Thais don’t tip either. Do it if you feel grateful for the service. 10-15% is great.
  5. The ROYAL FAMILY. Though the country has become somewhat more open in criticism about some things that irk them, the Royal Family – all members – should not be spoken of. You never know when someone will get angry about it. Just like politics in your country, but even worse.
  6. FOREIGNER TAX. We’re calling the extra money Thais charge some foreigners a ‘foreigner tax’. It happens most often in a Krabi Night Market or any Market. Some Thais (30%?) will try to charge a foreigner more for the same items. You are free to negotiate if you think it’s too much, or just walk away if you know it is too much. If you speak Thai it happens less often because they assume you’re local and know the prices.
  7. RETURNING ITEMS. If you buy something and get home and it’s broken. The store you bought it from may not offer a refund. They might offer to send it to get fixed or tell you where to go to get it fixed, but they may not pay for it. This is Thailand. Bigger stores do give you a short time to refund if broken when you bought it.
  8. RIGHT HAND ONLY PLEASE. Hand money and things to Thais with your right hand. The reason is because the left hand is for wiping the bum in the restroom and it’s considered dirty.
  9. FEET POINTING. Don’t point with your feet to items on the floor or toward anyone. Grandma at home here can’t stand it. It’s an old tradition because the feet are also considered dirty and you can’t touch anyone with them.
  10. PICKING TEETH, BLOWING NOSE. These things are frowned upon in Thailand in public. If you pick your teeth, hold your other hand up in front of your mouth to cover it so people cannot see you pick. Don’t blow your nose loudly. Some Thais go a lifetime without blowing their nose. The noise is rude and they’d rather let it drip and they dab it with a tissue if absolutely necessary!