Thailand Tips #5: Ko Samui on a Motorbike? No.

There’s no place more dangerous on a motorbike than Ko Samui or Phuket. I’ve seen more foreigners getting in accidents on Samui than I’ve seen anywhere else.

I saw two girls destroy themselves at the top of the mountain up by the zip line attraction and the waterfalls. The hills are steep and sometimes dirt. Tourists for some reason use the front brake on the motorbike (right side) really hard – and tend to flip themselves or themselves and the bike end over end.

I’ve seen others crash into each other.

I’ve seen cars routinely cut the curve and come into my lane head on – and if I didn’t swerve out of my own lane and onto the side of the road I’d be dead.

I’ve seen the aftermath of head ons with tourists and cars and trucks.

Ko Samui is a wicked dangerous spot to rent a motorbike. If you don’t own a motorbike in your home country – don’t rent one on Samui or Phuket. Those are two really dangerous spots. Phuket I think has the highest accident rate in the country.

Thais have a unique style of driving, it’s called “madness”. Once you learn the madness you can drive on the roads just like them – being aware of the incredibly stupid stuff they’re bound to do. If you’re just here on vacation rent a tuk-tuk or something!

How can you stay safe in Thailand?

You can start by getting Thailand Survival Guide 101.

Thai Black Book.

For a current state of the country – see the ultimate Thailand Guide – Thai Black Book – your guide to staying safe in Thailand

Thai Black Book information site- >

Thailand Tips #4: Drinking with Thai Guys

There is some amount of face to be gained by a Thai inviting you to have a drink with their table full of people. There is also some amount that will be lost if you refuse.

I’ve refused, but when I do so I make it seem that I’m really in a hurry to get somewhere or that I don’t drink and drive… or something else. I usually hurry to get away if I don’t want to drink any Lao Kow (rice whisky) or whatever else they’re pouring.

It’s best just to accept, drink one and thank them profusely, smile a lot and then leave as soon as possible. If you stay one of a couple things can happen.

1. You get drunk quick, and maybe that’s your thing and you enjoy the experience. You buy some drinks, they buy some drinks – it’s a mutually symbiotic relationship.

2. Their real reason for inviting you for 1 drink is so you buy the next bottle of Johnny Walker Black. It’s a parasitic relationship. If you refuse to pay for it – they’ll take it as an insult and beat you. (Happened to a long-term expat friend of mine at a bar on Soi Bangla)

I have yet to stay more than 1 drink with any Thais I don’t know that invite me to their table. I’ve refused about 10 times. I’ve accepted about 10 times. I’ve never paid for the next bottle.

Thailand Tips #3: Is it Safe to Drink the Water

When you first arrive in Thailand I’d suggest that you drink bottled water all the time. There’s an initial adjustment period of a couple weeks or months where you’re going to get food poisoning or sick from water or something anyway – but, better to have bottled water for first couple months I think.

Later you can drink the water in the pitchers at the inexpensive restaurants you find all over the country. The water is bottled 99% of the time – Thais don’t want to drink their own tap water either. When you get ice – ensure the ice is round, like big, elongated life savers and you’ll probably be safe. That’s also filtered water.

If you’re staying long term you can buy water in 5 gallon jugs for 12 baht, but you must leave a deposit on the jug. You then take it back and replace it with a new jug of water for 12 baht. I think our jug was 60 baht.

Brushing teeth? For first couple weeks I used bottled water and then I’ve used tap ever since. Up to you, probably better to play it safe for a few months with bottled water.

I find Singha water to be the best tasting.

How can you stay safe in Thailand?

You can start by getting Thailand Survival Guide 101.

Thai Black Book.

For a current state of the country – see the ultimate Thailand Guide – Thai Black Book – your guide to staying safe in Thailand

Thai Black Book information site- >

Thailand Tips #2: Best Beer

Liquid heaven in bottled form.
Liquid heaven in bottled form.

Personally my all-time favorite beer isn’t from Thailand, it’s “Beer Lao Dark” which god must make in Laos because there’s no way such an amazing beer comes from Asia. You can find some Beer Laos regular and dark in bars in Thailand but sometimes the flavor isn’t so great because it was transported in non-air conditioned trucks. The flavor dies in the heat. Best to get it at Chong Mek Border – the Beer Laos Brewery is within a few kilometers of the border and the beer is great tasting.

Beer Lao is imported to the states in Massachusetts and California. Finding a bar that has it might be a chore. Here’s the Beer Lao website >

Thailand expats seem to drink Heineken (Thailand brewed), Singha, Leo, and Tiger beers the most. Out of these I’d say Leo is the best of the bunch.

Beer Chang draft has been exceptional on occasion and again, I guess this relates to whether it was subjected to high heat in transit from the place of origin to the bar I’m drinking it at.

Similar to Corona Light in the states… there is some that tastes heavenly, and some that tastes and smells like they used toilet water to brew it – which I think is what happens when it sits in the sun for a few hours or days. Or weeks.

Thailand Tips #1: Returning Items at a Store

If you want to return an item you bought at a store in Thailand, a street stand, or from an individual…

Probably you can’t. Understand that first and have that in mind when you go back to where you bought the item to try to return it. Also have in mind that you are not going to accomplish anything by getting angry. Nothing positive anyway. Lose your temper and you lose face in front of those at the store, the employees, but also anybody you came to the store with.

If you are trying to return CD’s that don’t work to a street vendor in Pattaya and you lose your temper you might get beat and put into intensive care. In public in Pattaya, Bangkok, or Patong Beach it’s a real good idea not to lose your temper with someone because their friends will come behind you and whack you in the head with a bottle or metal bar.

Returning items is an art if you can make it work. I’ve been successful at it and unsuccessful more times. It will help if you can speak a bit of Thai. It will likely not help if you bring a Thai friend to try to negotiate it for you because the Thai friend understands there are no returns and will accept that and tell the store owner you just didn’t understand, mai pen rai, we’ll be leaving now.

You on the other hand won’t ‘mai pen rai’ so easily and get more angry that nobody is listening.

If an outright return is out of the question – and it usually is, you can try to swap the item (if it works) for another item of equal or greater value. I’ve done this with phones at TeleWiz.

Usually in Thailand a store that just sold you a phone, tv, something else of value must give you one in working condition if the one they gave you originally is inoperable. If they refuse I think you can call the tourist police on that if you wish. Thais hate the police more than you do – and the police will work with you to resolve it.

Another tip – if you ever threaten to call the police for any reason -Thais will usually give in to whatever you want. Unless they’re absolutely sure they are in the right. Remember that, it’s handy…