Helpful hints and tips "to do & not to do" for a Safe, Comfortable & Fun Visit to Thailand
Never Travel Alone: Please travel in groups of two or more people.
Stay in the Tourist Areas: Make sure you travel in the most populated tourist areas, where the lighting is good and their is a strong police presence.
Avoid Walking On the Beach at Night: This is one area where their is not a strong police presence and lighting is very poor.
Don't Leave Your Drink Unattended: Drinks in the bars and discos can be tampered with and I would recommend taking your drink with you or having a buddy hold it for you.
Pay Your Bar Bill: Check your bill and pay each time you are served. This prevents being overcharged with a "cup" filled with bills.
Lady Boys or Katoeys: Thailand has many 'Third-Sex-Gender' people, better known as Lady Boys or Katoeys". The Katoeys have fully integrated into the Thai culture and are respected in the work place. There can be some confusion experienced, as katoey's can be very beautiful, making them difficult to identify. If your not sure, please ask and always be respectful to the Katoeys, which will help prevent creating any problems for yourself. If you're not sure if you're with a katoey, ask.
Taxi & Tuk-Tuk: When traveling by taxi or "Tuk-Tuk" make sure you negotiate the price before you get in, and make sure the price is for the vehicle, not per person. Although you may get a better price by visiting several drivers the price is usually set by the group of drivers. From liberty dock to Patong is between 500 and 1,000 baht, but may be more late at night.
The Royal Monarchy: Criticizing or acting disrespectful to the Royal family in any way is not only frowned upon, it is against the law. Defacing the currency with the Kings picture is against the law and can put you in prison. Do not raise your hand in any defiant manner in the presence of a picture of the King.
Culture and Religion: Buddhism asserts the most influence on how the Thai people see their world and live their lives. The difference between the Thai culture and so many others is that when you've done something foolish, and maybe even insulting, most people here will simply smile and laugh it off.
Buddhist Monks: Never underestimate the importance of the monk in Thai culture. The best guideline for men is to not touch a monk, and it is forbidden for a woman to touch a monk. If seated, never point your feet toward a monk. Remove your shoes before entering a temple or shrine, and dress politely.
The Human Head: Thais consider the head as the most important part of the body. Please refrain from touching the head of any Thai person. In the presence of an elder please keep your head below the level of their's.
The Feet: The feet are the lowest part of the body and when pointed at a Thai can often be taken as a sign of disrespect.
NEVER BE CONFRONTATIONAL!: The Thai culture is non-confrontational, in all situations. This means you should always hold a smile and be polite in every situation, and this is especially important when you're 100% upset. You can be technically in the "right" but without a smile and displaying courteous manners you will lose. On the other hand, you can be quite wrong, but maintaining a smile and being polite will win every Thai's respect and assistance. Even the police will stand by while people in conflict remain gentle, hold a smile and politely find a solution.
Thailand's currency is the Baht
Bills come in denominations of 1000-, 500-, 100-, 50- and 20-Baht.
Coins are 10-, 5-, 2-, and 1-Baht and satang. Satangs are very small brass-colored coins with a value of 25- or 50-Satang (100 Satang = 1 Baht). The use of satang will very by location and may or may not be returned to you as change even if owed.
more information about Thailand currency, coinage & Banks in Thailand.
Phuket, Krabi, Bangkok & Samui Weather
Click weather map for more details and forecasts
Phuket is an island and has a maritime environment without temperature extremes. Day and night temperatures often vary only by a few degrees. Rain showers can be torrential but seldom last more than an hour.
The Thai Language
Speaking a few words in Thai makes a huge difference.
Although the Thai language is considered by some to be one of the more difficult languages for a westerner to learn you will be well-received by all Thais for making an effort to speak even a few polite words like "hello, goodbye, thank you and never mind". There are many Thai language websites that can help you see words written phonetically in English and other websites that will even speak words so you can listen to the proper sounds and tones. Learning a few basic words will bring smiles from the Thais and enrich your experience.
Male speakers: Khrup is the polite particle for men and can be said as a stand alone sound while listening to someone speaking as a sign of understanding or (and mainly) as the final word at the end of a phrase or word to express politeness.
Female speakers: Kha is the polite particle for women and can be said as a stand alone sound while listening to someone speaking as as a sign of understanding or (and mainly) as the final word at the end of a phrase or word to express politeness.
Sawatdee Khrup: Hello or goodbye for a male, commonly spoken while making a traditional wei with your hands.
Sawatdee Kha: Hello or goodbye for a female, also commonly spoken while making a traditional wei with your hands. (more information about the wei)
The Thais can turn a word, a phrase or a sentence into a question by speaking the word mei at the end, just as we would write a question mark.
Sabaidee mai, khrup: Polite way for a man to ask another person how they are doing. This is a very common greeting used in the same way as we would ask "how are you doing?"
Sabaidee mai, kha: Polite way for a woman to ask another person how they are doing. This is a very common greeting used in the same way as we would ask "how are you doing?"
Talrai khrup (man) / Talrai kha (woman): How much does this cost? (point to what you are asking about)
Hiew khaow: I'm hungry (literally, I'm hungry for rice)
Hiew khaw mai: Are you hungry?
Returning to your Ship: Your ship is at the Phuket Port in Ao Makham (Ao means 'bay' and Makam means 'tamarind'. Speaking "pai Ao Makam" works for "go Makam Bay".
Kawtowet khrup (kha): Excuse me, I am sorry
Mai pen rai khrup (kha): Never mind, don't worry. (This is a universal solution for any situation. Thais do not like serious and mai pen rai affirms that whatever just happened is not being taken seriously. THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PHRASES TO LEARN.
Chai Laeow: That is correct, I agree.
Mai Chai: That is not correct. (Note we've written "mai" for negation, and not for a question. Remember, Thai is a tonal language and they may look the same, but they don't sound the same.)
Chai Mai: Is that correct? (Remember that speaking "mai" as a final word turns the word into a question.)
The Wai is used throughout the Thai culture as a measure of respect.
The wai is a physical way of showing respect by placing your hands together, palm to palm, and holding them in a praying-like position with your fingertips at about your chin, lower, or higher. The higher your hands are placed relative to your head (remember the importance of respecting the head) the higher the level of respect you are showing.
In general a wai is given while speaking the greeting sawatdee khrup (man) or sawatdee kha (woman) or during a departing sawatdee khrup or sawatdee kha
A wai is initiated by a younger person and returned by the more senior. When in doubt, smile and politely nod your head.
Welcome greeting wai
by hotel staff.
Same age or equal social status greeting.
Giving respect to a monk by man & woman.
for parents & teachers.
Children greeting everyone.
These sites are invaluable for learning the words and phrases listed above, as well as how to use them, and to hear them sounded properly.
Survival Thai Phrases and Pronunciation Guide with audio
Thai2English.com has a comprehensive Thai to English dictionary available to search, with over 30,000 entries. The dictionary can be searched either in English, Thai script or by transliterated Thai. The search results are given in both Thai script and transliterated phonetics
Thai-Language.com is a free online Thai language Internet dictionary of over 44457 Thai words and phrases with English definitions, and 13139 audio clips.
Resource and Interesting Information Sites
Phuket Directory a comprehensive list of businesses and services, government offices, and useful information for Phuket. If you're looking for small restaurants and guesthouses, or an activity like elephant trekking this is a great place to start.
Krabi Directory provides similar information for the areas on the mainland north of Phuket.
Siamese Royalty site This is a personal interest website containing interesting information about the history of the Royal Family of Thailand, especially the siblings and descendants of HM King Rama V who had 77 children from some of his 153 wives,
Lions Club of Patong Beach Established in 2008 the Lions Club of Patong Beach provides partnership and assistance to some of the COMSERV projects in Phuket.
International Business Association of Phuket Established in 1998 the International Business Association of Phuket holds monthly meetings open to the public. This association provides partnership and assistance to some of the COMSERV projects in Phuket.
Rotary Club of Patong Beach Being the only English speaking Rotary Club in Phuket means that the Club is visited often by visiting Rotarians from other countries. The Club's meeting room at the Aloha Villa Hotel is already adorned with many banners from far-away clubs. It will surely become one of Thailand's best-known Rotary Clubs.
Retire to Thailand This site is filled with highly useful information & tips on what it takes, and what you gain with a retirement to Thailand. Also on this site are many links to highly useful information/resource websites about health, language, etc.
Birds in Thailand Experience the thrill of sighting some of the beautiful tropical birds in and around Phuket and southern Thailand.
Navy League Phuket "To Do" Suggestions
Some recommendations for different activities that we consider some of the "Best things to do" here in Phuket...
Our Navy League members live here, some for 20-years or more. We've studied, learned, explored and shared our experiences with many of our friends like you. We highly suggest that you make your visit to Phuket rich and rewarding by experiencing some of what this great island has to offer. Go exploring, you'll love it. For many tour activities you can sign up directly from your ship. For other activities you can inquire from any tour agent along the streets or through some of resource websites like those listed on this page. This list can help give you some ideas we already think are great.
A common way to visit the island is to hire a tuk-tuk open-sided taxi to drive a small group around for several hours or the whole day. Most tuk-tuk drivers carry enough literature, maps and brochures for you to just choose and point the way. Make sure you settle the price, return time and location before you depart, and make sure the price is per vehicle not per passenger and you'll have a great time.
Road trip to Big Buddha & Wat Chalong, Lem Phromthep viewpoint and lighthouse - This is a good combination as they are located close together. Big Buddha [website] is 45 meters high, sets on top of one of Phuket's highest mountains and has a great surround view of the island. Wat Chalong is one of the most visited temples in southern Thailand. Visiting wats and temple shrines in Phuket (more than 40) is free and a great way to spend all or part of your day. Be aware that you should not wear revealing clothing or beachwear and that you will be asked to remove your shoes for visiting certain parts of the wat or shrine. The Lem Phromthep viewpoint is on the must list for most Thais visiting Phuket. From here you have a wide-angle view of the sunset and access to a great lighthouse filled with historical items and a promenade deck with visible islands marked and described.
Laem (laem means cape in Thai) Phromthep View Point and Kanchanapisek Lighthouse (same location) - This is one of the great view scapes on Phuket Island and a very popular place to be for watching our tropical sunsets. Thai people have this location on their "must do" list. At this same location is the beautiful gold-topped Kanchanapisek lighthouse built in 1996 to honor the 50th anniversary of the reign of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The lighthouse is open for tours until sunset and within the structure is an interesting display of lighthouse "operational gear" with explanations in English. From the upper observation deck there is a great view of the outer islands off the coast of Phuket with notation plaques to island names and distances. On the ground outside the lighthouse is a huge collections of wooden elephants displayed around a Thai "spirit house" where you'll see many people offering spiritual gifts and lighting incense. There's even a great restaurant, with local pricing, where you can watch the tropical sunset while dining. Visit the Phromthep Cape Restaurant for more information.
Shopping - Phuket is a shopper's paradise, and it's everywhere from main shopping centers like Central Festival near Phuket Town and JungCeylon in Phuket to the many thousands of local shops in every town. Phuket Town has an array of shops carrying tools, fabrics, handicrafts, cooking utensils, Chinese herbs and other items far to extensive to list. Some family-owned shops are well over a century old. Patong is a riot of shopping. Look for collections of shops under the name OTOP near the Hard Rock Cafe, or simply walk down any street and soi (alley). You'll be amazed at the selections, and the prices. Don't be afraid to barter a bit, it's an art and a lot of fun. Keep that smile and you'll do just fine.
Phuket FantaSea Theme Shows - This is a cultural experience not to be missed. The theme park presents great displays of the different regions of Thailand, complete with great souvenirs. The main show is 1.5 hours, depicts the history of Phuket and has up to 32 elephants on stage at the same time. The Thai buffet is a very good bargain and a hit for those with big appetites. Hotel pick-up and return is part of the ticketing. For more information visit the Phuket FantaSea website.
Gibbon Rehab Center - Visit the Gibbon Center website.
Phi Phi Island - Day trip or overnight. See any tour company to arrange this tour. The movie The Beach was filmed here. Most of these tours provide the time and equipment for some fantastic tropical coral reef snorkeling.
Phang Nga Bay Boat Trip - Any tour company can arrange this. Visit James Bond Island and other "karst" formation islands with sea caves, deserted beaches and great tropical vegetation. Many tours of Phang Nga bay include klong (canal) exploring in the mangroves and a stop at a "floating" sea-gypsy village.
Elephant Trekking - Any local company can offer a fun time and this is a great activity for small groups. One of the elephant trekking companies that this author enjoys is Camp Chang Kalim conveniently located on the north shore of Patong Beach. In the picture is Phuket Navy League member Steve Lantz visiting from Seattle, WA.
Simon Cabaret - Tastefully done "lady-boy katoey" show. See the Simon Cabaret website for details.
Bird Watching - If you're looking for a small group birding tours to remote and/or unspoiled destinations in southern Thailand, look no further. We have developed birding programs that allow you to experience the birding destination to its fullest. We are dedicated birders with extensive knowledge of southern Thailand's best bird watching spots. See the Birding in Southern Thailand website for details.
Sea Canoe - Visit the incredible karst "hong" (room) caves by day or starlight. The best company by far is that of the American internationally recognized eco-naturalist John Gray. Visit his website John Gray Seacanoe website where you can easily make arrangements online.
Hash House Harriers - High energy, the Hash House Harriers are described as a drinking club with a running problem. Visit the Phuket Hash House Harriers website for details.
Similans Diving/snorkeling - November-April only, during the SW monsoon period. Any tour company can arrange this.
Phuket Aquarium - We have a very good aquarium here in Phuket only 10 minutes from the deep water port. Visit the Phuket Aquarium website for information.