This list of "do’s" and "don’t’s" in Thailand and Phuket represents our feelings. Some points are similar to those made on other lists which are available to readers over the Internet and elsewhere. This is only because the points are considered important - maybe for different reasons – by almost everyone who has some experience living in Thailand.
Other points might be unique to this list or may seem comical or humorous to the reader. They are included because we believe they are important to making a stay in Thailand safe, interesting, convenient or less stressful.
It should be noted that at some of these "do’s" and "don’t’s" should really be considered suggestions. Most things seem to never be always right or always wrong.
Do express appreciation of Thai food
It seems a very small thing to express appreciation to people about the food they like, but doing so will result in appreciation and acceptance of you as a person by Thai people.
One of the first thing foreigners are always asked in polite conversation is if they like Thai food, then they are asked about their favorite food. It is a good idea know the Thai names for three or four items you can sincerely say you have eaten and enjoyed and it should not be a problem to be sincere as Thai food is quite delicious.
Do study the Buddhist religion
This will provide considerable insight on the nature of Thai thinking and culture and why those Thai people are, the way they are!! The effects of Buddhism – and other religions - in a society and on people are long lasting even on those who have no religious belief.
Do show respect to the Buddhist religion
This is certainly not difficult to do. The major consideration is to dress modestly and remove shoes when entering Buddhist temples and act the way thoughful people would act in any public or religious place. Points of contact with the Buddhist religion outside of temples will be rare.
Foreigners should be aware that certain seats on public transportation are traditionally reserved for Buddhist monks and that all people are expected to give up these seats when approached by monks. However, since there is no real pulic transportation in Phuket that should not be a problem!!
Do be patient
The pace of life and doing things seems to be slower in Phuket than in many other places and it is easy to become impatient or angry. Try not to show you anger or impatience because it is simply considered bad manners even though it might seem appropriate. Getting angry or loud with people CAN be effective but it also makes future relationships more difficult.
Do not argue or show anger with tuk-tuk drivers
This is sometimes quite difficult to do, but arguments with them can frequently turn physical and result in injury and contact with the police. You should try to make your point when you disagree, but it is usually better to just pay up and forget it rather than to continue to argue.
Do rely on the Tourist Police
They can speak English reasonably well and generally have a good reputation for being helpful. Obviously, one must use judgement when asking for police help. If one has been the victim of a crime, then it is certainly appropriate. If you believe someone is threatening or trying to extort money from you, it would be appropriate.
Do be very careful in diamond and jewellery stores
The value of items in jewellery stores is often vastly inflated. This in itself need not be a terrible problem if one is buying an item because the item is considered beautiful or it is intended for wearing. However, many people buy items as investments and are usually very dissappointed latter when they discover that they made a bad deal.
Note: the Thailand Tourism Authority explicitly warms tourists about buying things in jewellery stores.
More on Scams in Thailand
Do bargain, but bargain only where it is appropriate!
Bargain patiently and with calmness. You can always write you prices on a notepad. Remember, the person you bargain with is prepared to go down to a certain price that he or she considers reasonable, but will not go down below that and will consider you a monster if you try to make them!! So, one must have some idea when just to stop and politely accept the price or decline.
More on Bargaining in Thailand
Do keep you personal items safely
Do keep you personal items, including credit cards, atm cards, bank books and passport, as safe as you reasonably can. It is best to hide your items in more than one place and not to carry more than one or two atm cards or bank books with you at any one time.
If your hotel has a safe box, it should be used but it is not completely reliable. If you work, then consider leaving some items at work. Be sure that you have lists of all important numbers, and photo copies of items such as passports.
Do open an account with a Thai bank
Many people believe that opening a bank account with a Thai bank is not possible. Sometimes it might be difficult – the rules about bank accounts are always changing – but it is usually possible as banks interpret the government rules differently. Having a local bank account will make life easier, safer and more convenient and it is usually possible to find a bank that will be happy to have you as a customer.
Do consider getting health insurance
If you stay in Thailand or Phuket for any length of time. The cost of medical care in Thailand is much less then it is in Western countries, but it is not cheap. Medical care at a private Thai hospital can be quite expensive, and receiving care at a government hospital can be quite frustrating. It costs more than most people realise. It is possible to find reputable providers of health insurance in Thailand online or through English language newspapers such as the Phuket Gazette.
Do be very careful about bringing newly met "friends" back to your hotel room or apartment
It is extremely rare that newly found friends hurt people, but it is quite common that while a host sleeps or looks the other way, the newly met friend leaves along with some of the host's belongings.
Some apartments and hotels will ask a friend to leave his or her national identity card at the desk while they stay with the host and this is actually a good idea. It is a good form of protection, although it might seem embarrassing. Certainly, all items in room should be secure or well hidden before a newly found friend is brought to the room. It is a better idea to take your friend to another, cheaper hotel if possible.
Don't operate a motor vehicle on Phuket Island
Certainly this is an item many readers will disagree with and certainly many readers have operated vehicles successfully in Phuket over a long period of time.
Since public transportation on Phuket Island is so poor, it certainly seems reasonable to argue that it is a place where it is be necessary to own and operate a motor vehicle. For a variety of reasons, however, operation of motor vehicles is much more dangerous on Phuket Island than in other places. It can result in many, many problems including serious injury and worse. Anyway, this is just a recommendation!
Do be very cautious about buying real property
Actually, foreigners are not permitted to buy real property – land - in Thailand. Some do it through various subterfuges, which is a bad idea because the person becomes completely dependent on the person "helping" him, a girl friend, wife, or Thai business partner.
Foreigners are permitted to buy condominiums but there are many reasons why this is also not recommended. Besides the fact that they are extremely difficult to resell and there are many hidden costs, it can be expected that government rules and regulations concerning foreign ownership of these properties – and visa requirements - will probably get more and more harsh in future years.
Do read the Phuket Gazette
Lastly, do read the Phuket Gazette, and other English language Thai newspapers as much as possible. There is a lot of useful information in them along with the useless information!!