Thailand Message Board
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Money saving messages for Thailand plus live (and uncensored) Tweets can be seen below...

City-by-City advice for Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi, Koh Phangan, Pattaya, Phi Phi Island, Phuket, Udon Thani etc can be found using the 'Tags' link. Alternatively, click on the city names and logos next to each message.

Please send your tips on: Airports & Visas, Banking, Business, Hotels, Health (getting sick can be very expensive), Scams & Safety, Shopping, Transport, etc using the Message Box...
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Bangkok Airport AirAsia Fly Thru is so cool! First your luggage goes all the way to the final destination, but the biggest perk is when you connect in Bangkok you don't have to go through the normal (overcrowded) immigration queue.
Instead they take you to a special immigration area, with virtually no queue, and then you pass straight into the departure area to wait for the next flight. Also, if you miss the connection, you become AirAsia's responsibility. If you book two separate AirAsia flights yourself and the first is late and you miss the second, AirAisa won't do much to help.

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Thailand - All If you use online check-in for a flight, never trust the app or website completely. Always take a screenshot of your boarding card after you check in online, which you can use as a back-up. On most phones you do this by pressing the on/off button and home buttons at the same time.
This is especially important if connecting internationally, since even an app on your phone will often need an internet connection to show the boarding card.

Thailand - All This one is so simple, but worth remembering: If you want to leave lights on in your hotel room when you are out, but only have one key card, just insert any card you have with a magnetic strip. Usually the electric will stay on while you are out, good if you don't trust the people in your hotel and want to leave a TV going. You can also keep the air con on for a few hours to cool the room while you are out in the evening. Just remember to take your card out before the room is cleaned in the day.
Thailand - Bangkok Airport Bangkok's Don Mueang Airport has expanded to two terminals. That's great as it was desperately overcrowded after AirAsia switched to it. The only problem is that signposting between the terminals (where you are, and which is which) is non-existent.
Here is what you need to know:
* The old terminal is now only for International flights.
* The new terminal is for Domestic.
* If you arrive at the International terminal and want Domestic, turn left as you exit customs.
* If you arrive at Domestic and want International, walk to your right.

Thailand - Railay Beach, Krabi


http://www.affordasia.com/tags/udon-thani

Some notes on staying at Railay Beach, Krabi.
Getting there: First head for Ao Nang beach, which is about 600 baht for a taxi from the airport. Cheaper if you share a minibus. From Ao Nang beach there is an official ticket office to get a boat to Railay (or other places). Railay is 100 baht per person from Ao Nang.
Railay is a peninsula, the West side is the nicest (but hotels more expensive). The East is cheaper but there is no real beach, just a small (and at times dirty) port. Small boats will take you direct to the West or Railay, but anything bigger (such as Phuket or Phi Phi) arrives on the East side. However it's only about a 15-minute walk from East to West at narrowest point. Be aware that rough seas will delay or even cancel the small boat rides, so you may want to travel from Railay to Ao Nang the night before a major flight out of Thailand.
The two nice beaches on Railay itself are the West Railay beach and the Phra Nang Cave Beach, which is best of all due to the lack of beachside hotels. Unfortunately both are increasingly overcrowded with boats, especially on weekends when many take day trips from Krabi, so you'll probably want to head off to some of the many small islands near Railay for at least part of your stay.  
Hiring a small boat on Railay for a half-day trip out to 3-4 nearby Islands will cost around 1,700 baht (total). You stop off at the islands, plus some snorkeling. Note that double pricing is rife on Railay, the few Thais that visit get much better prices than tourists so send a local for any negotiations if you can.
There are no roads or motor vehicles on Railay, so expect to do a lot of walking. The main thing to be alert for is food poisoning, from washing food in unclean water, so be sensible about where and what you eat and drink. Fruit shakes seems to be the biggest cause of poisoning.
The Mangrove restaurant is one to try for good, and not over priced, sea food.  Koh I Noor, just opposite, is great for Indian food. You'll find both at the end of walking street (use Google maps).  At the front end of walking street, about 10 metres in from West Railay beach, is "1 Stop Takeaway", which is run by an Aussie and - very importantly - states that all of its food and salads are washed/cooked with bottled water.  This is a great move and helps ensure they are always busy selling wraps and kebabs.

Thailand - Udon Thani

http://www.affordasia.com/tags/udon-thani
The lake with the "Sea of Red Lotuses"in Udon Thani province is quite a sight. Not many foreigners go but easy to find. It's at a place called Kumphawapi (type "Han Kumphawapi" into Google maps).
To drive, take the main road from Udon Thani to Khon Kaen, then turn off (to the left) when you see signs (and pictures) for the lake, after about 30km. It's well signposted and you'll see the word "daeng" which means red in Thai - even though the flowers are actually pink! After turning off the main road it takes about another 20 minutes to get to the lake. Or take a taxi, which costs about 1500 baht return including several hours waiting for you at the lake.
When you arrive at the lake get a ticket for a boat (about 300 baht per small boat, up to 8 people). They'll call your number over loudspeaker, but it can take an hour of waiting after getting the ticket when busy. The boat ride takes about half an hour. They stop the boat a few times for pictures.
Don't go too early or late or the flowers will not be fully open, aim for about midday. Visit the lake between December and February.

Thailand - All
You CAN get a Thai driving licence (car or motorcycle) on a Tourist Visa. This is how:
1) Go to the local immigration office, the place where you extend your visa, and tell them you want a Thai license. They will give you a form to prove your address in Thailand, which you need your landlord to sign. Take the form back to immigration with your passport and 2 passport photos and they will give you a letter declaring you are eligible for a Thai license. 2) Get a Medical stating you are fit to drive/ride from any hospital or clinic. This will cost about 200 baht and takes five minutes.
3) Find the nearest Department of Land Transport (DLT) headquarters, the same place where Thai people do their driving/riding tests the first time. The Immigration office will tell you where it is.
4) Take the Immigration letter, Medical letter, your passport and home driving licence to the DLT. Ideally make at least two photocopies of each before you go, otherwise they will do it for you. Bring a Thai person with you as they are unlikely to speak much English at the DLT.
5) Be polite. Often the DLT people will just look at the license from your home country and allow you to have a Thai license without needing to do the full driving/riding test. Likewise, if you only have a car licence from home they will sometimes let you have a Thai motorcycle licence without doing the bike test.
6) If you don't have to do the full test, it's just an easy color blindness and reaction test to pass. That's it. You'll get your photo taken, then they give you the finished licences.
Because you only have a Tourist Visa the licences are valid for 1 year at a time, but renewing is easier than getting the first licence.
So why bother if only for 1 year? The obvious reason is for travel/health insurance. It may say you are covered to ride a motorcycle up to 125cc on your insurance, but you almost certainly still need to hold a motorcycle licence somewhere.
Car and Motorcycle Licence
Bangkok
There are numerous cheap shopping centers around Bangkok, but MBK is an easy one to get to from Sukhumvit road, where most tourists stay. Here is how to get there on the Sky Train (BTS):
Go to any of the Sky Train stations on Sukhumvit (Nana, Asok etc) and buy a ticket to the ‘National Stadium’ train stop. MBK is right next to the National Stadium station, with a short walkway directly into the shopping center.
Sky Train ticket machines each have a number next to the station name (like 23, 31). This is the amount in baht you need to pay to get to that station. Most machines only accept coins but only the bigger ticket machines handle notes as well.
You will need to change trains once, at ‘Siam’ station, but don’t be put off by this. You will literally step off the first train and walk 10 meters straight ahead to the opposite platform for the train to ‘National Stadium’. The platform will be clearly signposted as going to National Stadium. It is only one stop away from ‘Siam’ and also the end of the line, so you can’t go wrong.
Once you arrive at National Stadium just follow the signs for MBK Center. You’ll walk through one proper store at the entrance to the shopping center, then it becomes more of a market style layout. Things like handbags, purses, belts, shoes, clothes and toys are cheap here.
By the way, the Siam train stop is where the flash shopping centers are, so if you feel like a look around the top end places like Siam Paragon that is where they are.
MBK Shopping Center
Bangkok
Park Plaza Bangkok Soi 18 is a good value (not cheap) hotel just off Sukhumvit road. Here is how to get an upgrade for no 'extra' cost.
Firstly book the cheapest room you can, through Agoda for example, for around 2,000 baht. Make sure you do NOT pay for breakfast to be included to keep price down. Every time I have stayed at the hotel they have offered room upgrades on a sign at reception when you check in. So for about 600 baht per night you can upgrade to a deluxe room.
The trick is that this upgrade also includes free breakfast. As breakfast costs 300-400 baht per person, you can actually save money by buying the upgrade and getting free breakfast instead of staying in the cheaper room and buying breakfast (as long as there are at lest two of you staying)!
Free upgrade at a good hotel
Bangkok
'North East Family' restaurant on Sukhumvit road in Bangkok is a great place to go to get away from all the tourist orientated restaurants and enjoy some authentic Thai food. Som Tam etc. Authentic Thai food in Sukhumvit
Thailand - All
The Tourism Authority of Thailand have created some cheap travel insurance exclusively for tourists. Find out more and apply online here: tourismthailand.org/ThailandTravelSheild/ Cheap Official Travel Insurance
Thailand - All
Thailand is clamping down on people who make lots of consecutive visits. The main target seems to be those who have used the one month visa waiver option to repeatedly go in and out. The authorities fear people are working illegally but outcome is that if your passport has lots of these visa waiver stamps you could now attract unwanted attention from immigration.
So what to do? First of all get an official Tourist visa from an embassy in your home country (you can get up to 3 visits per visa) whenever possible. It looks much better than a visa waiver. Secondly, if your passport is full of visa waivers or lots of back-to-back Tourist visas you should consider applying for a new passport so you can start from a blank passport again. Even western countries struggle to keep a record of who is coming in and out, so Thai immigration are unlikely to do any more than look at what is stamped in the passport you are carrying when deciding to grant you entry or investigate further.

Thailand - All
Thai mobile operator AIS offers a SIM card especially for travellers. Details and prices can be found here: http://www.ais.co.th/roaming/visiting/travelersim.aspx?language=en
There seem to be more packages than listed on website - ranging from 1 week to 1 month plus. An AIS shop is located just outside arrivals on ground floor at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok. Can't miss it - big banners advertising tourist SIM at the moment. All you need is your passport, the money and your phone. They will set it all up and make sure SIM is working before you leave. Easy! You also get free access to the nationwide AIS WiFi network (available in most major shopping malls). Good way to avoid roaming costs and have internet access for apps while in Thailand.

Bangkok Airport
Simple yet annoying: There are no ATMs after security in the domestic part of Bangkok's Don Mueang airport.
Bangkok Airport
‘Maison’ restaurant is a decent, reasonably priced place to eat if you have time to kill before check-in at Suvarnabhumi airport, Bangkok. It’s alongside the other restaurants on floor below departures, near Boots.
Thailand - All
Use your own headphones on the plane. They will be more comfortable and of higher quality than the ones the airlines give you. Best of all you can use them right until you land, whereas some airlines collect their headlines an hour before. Planes have double pin headphone plug-ins, to stop people stealing their headlines, but the normal single headphone jack still works. Plug into one of the two holes, move the connector in and out slightly until you get the best sound.
Thailand - All


Apart from air con one of the best ways to cool down a room or house is to put an awning outside to prevent direct sunlight from reaching the walls and especially windows. They also provide shelter from rain. No need to go to shop, just look for people driving around slowly with a load of awnings on the back of a truck, or call a number on an awning you see already in place somewhere and they will come to you. Expect to pay 2-2,500 baht for each, which they will fit for you. Bit rough and ready but do the job. Awning sizes are around 3 to 4m wide by 2-3m tall. Colours are usually all bright. Green and blue are most popular. Awning prices
Hau Hin
Random notes for visiting Hua Hin. Much better alternative to Pattaya for those seeking a beach near Bangkok. More chilled out, clean and friendly, but a little further away. Expect to pay 2000-2500 baht for a taxi from Bangkok. It takes 2.5 hours if traffic is good but allow for 3.5-4 hours at peak times.
Nice clean white sand on Hua Hin beach. For Cha am beach to the north, check before booking as some areas do not have much sand.
Caution for those that like 5* hotels - there are some big rocks in the sea directly in front of the Hilton and Grand Centara. From Baan Laksasubha resort (next to Centara) southwards is most quiet area on Hau Hin beach as there is limited public access for those not staying in a beachfront hotel.
If you are on a budget and going for the bar life the City Beach hotel is located next to one of the main bar roads. The Chao Lay seafood restaurant is a favourite among the locals and those in the know. Busy every night.
You can take a tour and visit temples, floating markets just outside Hua Hin but in all honestly the beach is the best thing about Hua Hin.
 
Udon Thani
http://www.affordasia.com/tags/udon-thani
If you want something unusual in Udon Thani check out the Ice Rink on the top floor of the Central shopping mall. The new Play Port water park is worth a look if you have kids (www.playportudon.com)
Thailand - All

This is so naive but seems to be the norm in Thailand, maybe Asia. When people buy a smartphone the shop assistant checks that it’s working and, since many customers have not had a smartphone before, they set-up the necessary Google or Apple account so the phone is ready to use.
From my experience, of Thai people who have bought phones all over Thailand, the usual procedure is to use the customer’s phone number as the account password.
Most Thai customers do not really understand that someone else knowing their Google or Apple account email and password means they can access their information by logging in on the internet, without needing the actual phone, so they never bother to change the password.
Think about it. Staff working in Thai phone shops could potentially have lists of thousands of usernames and passwords for Google/Apple accounts! At the moment it’s mainly a privacy issue (reading your email, getting your pictures) but once people start linking a credit card to their accounts on a large scale the fraud potential is clear.
If you know anyone in Thailand with a smartphone, check they have their own password and NOT the one the shop gave them. To make absolutely sure, ask if their password for Google Play or Apple App Store is their phone number.
Google/Apple account identity theft
Thailand - All
Not happy about the Aeon ATM fee. Outside of using Citibank in Bangkok not much can be done except to withdraw as much cash as you can from an ATM to lower the number of times you have to pay the withdraw fee. Most Thai ATMs will pay out max 20,000 baht. Some 40,000. ATM fees
Thailand - All
Bad news. Aeon ATMs no longer provide free cash withdraws. Got charged 150baht using both Visa and Mastercard. New message warning about the charge popped up on screen. Shame. I think they were the last widespread bank in Thailand not to charge an ATM withdraw fee. Citibank ATMs usually free but hard to find outside Bangkok.
150 Baht increase
Thailand - All
In case some people don't already know this, the protests in Bangkok have caused massive delays with passport applications across Thailand. Apply in a province if you can, not BKK, and leave plenty of time.
The way things are in Thailand, you should encourage any Thai friends/relatives to have an active passport...
Passport problems
Udon Thani
http://www.affordasia.com/tags/udon-thani
This must count as a bargain: One hour each way train journey from Udon Thani to Nong Khai (border town with Laos) - total cost 16 baht! (11 baht out and 6 baht back). The journey was FREE for Thai people. I think it is subsidised by the government. The train was old but the ticket came with an allocated seat and there was even a VIP carriage for those that want more comfort. Nice view of farmland along the way. The train wasn’t exactly on time but at that price who cares. Virtually free train journey
Udon Thani
http://www.affordasia.com/tags/udon-thani
If you are in Udon Thani be sure to visit Nong Prajak Park. Nice, clean, relaxing place. Easy to find - the main government hospital is located right next to it. Some things to do: Rent a bicycle and ride around the lake (standing on the stone bridge and facing out of park, turn left and walk 100m to bike rent), feed the huge fish from the bridge in the middle, childrens play areas, fitness and sports areas. It is also a place for celebrations when any Thai festivals are on. Lots of food and drink options inside and around park. For a special meal (but not cheap) go to the "Good Everything" restaurant, just past the government hospital opposite the main gates into the park.
Thailand - All
It’s easy to lose track of how much money is going out of your bank when abroad because of the extended delay between withdrawing cash or paying for something and it actually showing on the bank statement. If you withdraw exactly the same amount of cash every single time it is even harder to know how many more payments are due to come out, meaning a risk of being overdrawn and then fined by the bank.
To help keep track, take cash from ATMs or transfer money in slightly different amounts each time.
You can link these amounts to the date by withdrawing slightly more cash as the month goes on. It’s usually easy to remember how much you got the last time you went to the ATM so just compare that amount with the most recent amount showing up on the bank statement to get an idea of how much more is going to come out.
If sending money online to thing like currency cards, just use the day of the month after the decimal point when stating the amount :-)
No overdrawn bank fees
Bangkok
It’s got an unfortunate name for western ears, but Bangkok’s Bumrungrad Hospital is the best hospital in Thailand. Period. If you have a serious illness or injury it is THE place to go, unless you plan to leave the country. Their website is www.bumrungrad.com Best Hospital in Thailand
Thailand - All
Wash clothes in your hotel room! I travelled for years before starting to do it but it’s so simple. You not only save money but have peace of mind that things are not going to go missing or damaged and you can cut down significantly on the amount of clothes you need to carry.
Just buy some washing powder from a 7-eleven and pour in the sink with warm water. Make sure the powder is fully dissolved then just squeeze, twist and dunk each item of clothing repeatedly in the soapy water for 30 seconds or so! Then I throw all the soapy clothes into the shower and turn it on to rinse all the soap out.
Next wring out the excess water and put clothes on hangers (bring a few extra from home, plus a few pegs etc) in the bathroom until the water stops dripping from them. If you can then hang the clothes in direct sunlight they will dry in just a few hours. If not leave the wet clothes inside the room with a fan going or window open and they should be done in a day.
The key is to make sure the wet clothes do not touch each other when during so leave air space between them when you hang them up. If you hang the clothes neatly ironing is also not normally required. If you are unsure just wash underwear and socks first. That alone will save on the amount you need to carry.
Try it! If you need to dry things like underwear really quickly just place them inside a towel, then wring the towel as tightly as you can and it will suck out the water from the wet clothes.
Laundry
Thailand - All
Tuk Tuks seems to have a cult following, but the reality is that an honest taxi (using a meter) is nearly always cheaper. Not to mention quicker and more comfortable. Try it and compare with a Tuk Tuk rate. You’ll be surprised. At least 30% cheaper than Tuk Tuk
Thailand - All
The post about the Samsung region lock has me worried. I want to get a Galaxy S4 next time in Thailand. (18,000 baht in Suv. Airport duty free). I’ve looked into it and I think the way around it is to make sure there is a local SIM in the phone the first time it is turned it on. After that the region lock is removed forever and any SIM will work. So I’m going to get the people in the shop to turn it on and activate it for me with one of their SIMs. Either that or buy a local SIM to take with me when I buy the phone to check it works. Samsung region lock solution?

Thailand - All

Word of caution for anyone thinking of buying one of the latest Samsung phones such as the new Note 3 and the S4 for a cheaper price in Asia. They are now region locked which means they can only be activated with a SIM from the same region as the where the phone was bought.
Read these links for for more:
http://blog.clove.co.uk/2013/09/25/samsung-galaxy-note-3-sim-limitations/
http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2297351/samsung-says-galaxy-note-3-and-galaxy-s4-are-region-locked
Don't pay for a new Samsung that won't work

Thailand - All
Emirates charge an extra £20 per adult from all UK Airports on Friday and Saturdays. They also charge an extra 75% of that fee per child and 10% per infant. The extra charge for “travel to Dubai” is listed as £35. I’m not sure if that includes connection flights, but anyway it soon adds up if you are flying with your family. Even single flyers can save the equivalent of an expensive free meal by avoiding Friday or Saturday Emirates flights. £20 per adult on Emirates flights
Thailand - All
The ATM note reminded me of an embarrassing mistake. In the UK when you withdraw money, the machine gives the card back first and then the money. In Asia it seems to be the opposite way around? Money first and card second. After a month of living in Bangkok I dropped my guard and walked off with the cash and left the card... ATM card

Thailand - All
If you try to withdraw cash from an ATM machine but it doesn't work take a picture of the message on the screen with your phone as a record. Several times I've had machines in Thailand refuse to hand over money, sometimes because the machine was out of money, or because it didn't like my card, but I've still been charged. Having a photo of the ATM message saying your request was refused should get your money back from your bank. False ATM payments

Dubai Airport

I travel frequently too and from Thailand connecting in Dubai. There is free wifi available throughout Dubai Airport called "Maxspot". It is the official free airport wifi - the landing page confirms this - but because of the weird "Maxspot" wifi name not many people know about it and go to overpriced coffee shops instead. Free WiFi
Thailand - All

Quick post for anyone with a business in Thailand that wants to get large semi-transparent stickers made for their glass shop front windows. Most print shops can do it and have reasonable photo editing and design skills with Photoshop. Just give them the images you want used. Expect to pay 1000 baht for a 3 x 6ft sticker. Get them to install the stickers as getting the air bubbles out is a torturous task.
Competitive prices
Thailand - All

I don’t leave home without a “Kensington Lock” for my laptop. Google it. Just loop the wire around a table or chair when you need to briefly leave your laptop. People say “I always keep mine with me” then leave their laptop on the table while they order a coffee or talk to people. Secure bags in the same way with a simple bicycle lock and chain. Laptop theft
Thailand - All
Hi. About alarms: A portable wood or rubber doorstop is well known as a simple way to stop anyone getting into your room while you are sleeping. Important in places where the staff can’t be trusted. Even better are the doorstops that have a built in alarm that sounds if the door is opened and touches the doorstop. Room Safety
Thailand - All
Smoke alarms are not common in Thai houses and I had a hard time finding some to put in my pad. After drawing a blank at several building stores I spotted them at ‘Global House’. Just 300 baht each for peace of mind. Website: www.globalhouse.co.th Your life?
Thailand - All
Taking of phones, girls should download one of the many free apps that plays a Police Car siren. The apps usually have lots of sirens to pick from, but the Police one is great to secretly play if there are creepy guys hanging around outside your hostel room, the Tuk Tuk driver is getting over friendly or if you are being followed when walking at night. It also works brilliantly for breaking up fights between groups of drunken guys!
Safety

Thailand - All
Ditch your mobile/cell phone contract if you are going to be in Asia for more than a few months. All the free minutes, texts and data you get with your contract at home count for nothing here. You will pay for every text, call or download at massively inflated prices.
Two choices: Either get a local sim or, better idea, change to a Pay As You Go sim card with your home operator before you leave for Asia.
People can still contact you on your usual number (call them back on Skype), but you won’t have to pay a monthly fee for 'free' stuff you cannot use and best of all you will have no nasty surprises by running up a huge phone bill without realizing. That is so easy to do in Asia (yes I’ve done it) especially with data downloads and automatic app updates on smartphones. The worst that will happen with PAYG is you will drain the pre-pay credit. Credit can be topped up online.
Phone bill
Thailand - All
Many people send money to Thailand or elsewhere overseas with Western Union, for a girlfriend/wife, or sons/daughters traveling. Western Union should be a last resort because the fees are so high. Instead take out a pre-paid currency ATM card (in your name) and give it to the person you want to have the money, along with the PIN code.
Top the card up online whenever they need to withdraw money, which can be done at most Visa/Mastercard ATMs worldwide. Full exchange rate given and lowest fees you can get.
Because it’s pre-paid the banks running the cards don’t really care it is not you withdrawing. Just don’t tell them! The maximum that can be withdrawn is the amount you put onto the card. No credit allowed. Travelex was a good currency card but they’ve recently stopped it for US customers. Lots of others available.
Money transfer fees
Thailand - All
Double pricing exists throughout much of Thailand. There is nearly always a local price and a foreigner price. Sometimes the difference is small but it can be significant. Fair enough in IMO for temples but beyond that it’s plain discrimination. Certainly wouldn’t be allowed in the West. If you spot two sets of prices, try saying you live in Thailand and are not a tourist or hide out of view and let a Thai person pay! Sometimes works. Pay 'local' price if you can
Thailand - All
Before moving into a Thai property check all the drains work. Most Thai houses have exit pipes only half the diameter of what we would use at home and so block very easily. Check the toilets and shower drains. Make sure the bathroom floor drains also have covers not only to stop them getting blocked but to stop wildlife from getting in the house.
To have a blocked toilet system pumped out is about 500 baht. To then have the toilet removed and replaced to clear a blockage - toothpaste tube flushed inside! - about 1000 baht.
Avoid problems
Thailand - All
Please think very carefully when buying a Condo in Thailand that is not yet built. The discounts are very tempting and there are always people with stories about how they doubled their money but it is just so risky.
Many of the Condo developments need to get pre-orders of 50% to afford to actually start building and it can end up with a ‘Ponzi’ style situation where pre-sales from one Condo development are used to fund the construction of an earlier development.
In Asia unless you are a property expert or can afford to lose your deposit it is just not worth the risk. There is so little protection for the buyer. To avoid being stung, only buy in a Condo block that is finished and already being lived in. The occupancy rates will also indicate how desirable it is.
Condo deposit
Thailand - All
My two cents for the talk about room and house deposits: Decide what you want to pay for before you move in and then explain that you will pay for that work to be done instead of paying the full deposit. There is nearly always some sort of work to do on private Thai properties, even if just locks and paint.
The other thing is to be very careful of moving into a new place that has never been lived in before. In Europe it is well known for people to buy a new property, offer if for rent for a year so the tenant pays for all the work needed inside. Then they are told to leave and the property owner moves in!
Room or Home deposits

Udon Thani

Phil from Udon again. I’ve already listed a proven electrician and plumber and here is my recommendation for Air Conditioning. I didn’t buy the original air con unit from them but from Makro. Makro farm-out the installation work and it was really rough.
I called in ‘Charoen Chai Air Con’ to tidy it up. They looked at the original work and laughed. They did a good job of improving it so when I moved house recently I called them again to take the air con to the new place.
They went the ‘extra mile’ without being asked by running the wiring into the loft space so as much of it was hidden as possible and all of the switches were high quality. They also painted the loft hatch when they had finished. And to top it all they turned up early!
Cost, including an air con service, was about 500 baht but I always tip them on top as it seems to put you on their priority list.
I have no connection with them and couldn’t even tell you their names. The phone numbers given on their business card are: 042 324946, 086 8533311, 086 8159302.
Good service, good price

Chiang Mai
This is just to say thank you to the people warning about room deposits.
I paid a 10,000 baht deposit to a private landlord, two months of rent. When I wanted to move out I followed the information about asking him to take the last month rent (5000) and any outstanding utility bills (around 2000) out of the deposit and give me whatever is left.
Long story short I never got any change from the deposit and when a drove by today, I see he hasn’t paid any of the utility bills either! The bills are all stuffed in the door.
So it seems he’s pocketed the remaining 5000 from the deposit, but at least I’ve only lost 2-3000 baht, taking the bills into account, rather than 7-8000 if I’d paid the last month of rent as well. So thanks!
5000 baht
Udon Thani
Just a note to say that there has been a shake-up at the Udon Thani immigration office since my post after last visit. They now seem to have a new boss and it is much better.
Don’t be surprised if they still try their luck with a small photocopying fee - ‘pay what you want’ - but they actually told me I didn’t need to fill in one form, confirming my residence (not needed for tourist visa extension), that they told me was required last time!
I now suspect even more that the endless list of forms last time was to clear the way for a nice tip when I inevitably didn’t have something filled in correctly. Thankfully that practice looks to have been stopped by the new boss.
Beware the office was quite busy and that they shut for lunch at 12pm.
Visa extension update

Thailand - All
For anyone, like the comments below, who have partners running businesses in Thailand please be 100% certain about your visa status.
Most Thai visas will not allow you to work in any shape or form. This doesn’t just mean doing something where you are paid a wage, but covers paying the bills or running costs for a wife/girlfriend’s business or doing anything where you get something back in return (such as free rent).
It’s OTT and in the past immigration seemed to turn a blind eye to the many situations where foreigners were effectively bankrolling a business. Even though, if it was a big business like a hotel, some of the profits were going to make their way back to the foreigner in some shape or form.
Now they are cracking down. What’s changed is that the Eastern Europeans took things too far and, rather than employing Thai people and putting money into the community, they only employing their own and also pushing Thais out of business in areas like taxis and hotels.
As a result the police are checking up on everyone. There have even been unconfirmed reports of foreigners on a tourist visa being deported because they were spotted doing a bit of minor DIY building work (unpaid) on a wife’s restaurant.
Remember other jealous foreigners/business rivals will often tip off the police. So be ready for a spot-check just in case. For those without a work visa:
• Do not sit behind a desk or in an office at the premises.
• Do not walk around in a suit or uniform, or clearly be supervising/instructing the staff. If you are on a tourist visa, look like a tourist.
• Make sure that any staff understand that you are not the boss. A common question police ask them “Who is the boss here?” Guess who most of them will point to...
• Never handle money in public.
• Never get involved in businesses like English teaching without the right visas.
• Do not hang pictures that include you in the public part of the business.
• Never transfer money to the business bank account or the official owner’s account (wife/girlfriend) directly from your bank. That’s clear evidence. Withdraw cash instead. Same for any money flowing in the other direction (profit).
• Get clued up on Thai tax law if you are making reasonable money. Most Thai small business simply don’t bother to pay any, but that’s a risky game...
Avoid deportation!
Thailand - All

My Thai girlfriend has a nail salon (nail painting). Her customers are all Thai, which is great as the new Thai middle class is expanding all the time.
The *problem* is this. It used to happen every 2 weeks. She would do the work and then the customer would say they can only pay half and will bring the rest later. Imagine trying that at Tesco Lotus!
But when offering a service (nail painting) rather than a product, what can you do short of removing the customer’s nail paint that has taken over an hour to do? That wouldn’t happen anyway due to the Thai aversion to public arguments.
End result is she feels she has little choice but to let the customers go and hope they bring the rest of the money later. They rarely do - even though they often come back to have their nails painted again! The previous non-payment is just wiped from their memory.
Girlfriend and I finally had enough after a customer, with a brand new iPhone, paid only half of the 2000 Baht bill for her and her family for over 5 hours work. That’s the point. These “half pay” customers are not short of money (the people short of money always double check the price first). Instead in Thailand some of the “new rich” have no shame in using their wealth as leverage to get away with paying less.
They think that because small businesses need the richer customers, they will not kick up a fuss when asked to “wait” for the money.
Our solution has been to put up a sign effectively saying “no credit” (in Thai obviously) and when a customer asks they are told it's too complicated to keep track of and can they just call their friend to bring the money?
If that also doesn’t work, the final move is to give them a paper form to fill in detailing their name, address, phone number, money to be paid and when, plus a copy of their ID card. Effectively all the information needed to hire a motorcycle or car.
These measures have almost completely solved our problem and hope it will help others.
Less non-paying customers

Thailand - All
My wife runs a small restaurant for Thais so I get to hear lots of stories from the locals about what to look out for. This is a typical story from a customer this week and with Songkran coming up and people going away I thought I’d share:
Lady says: “We went away for 3 days and when we came back someone had broken into the apartment and stolen everything, about 100,000 baht’s worth.”
When you ask a few more questions you find out why it happened.
Mistake 1: She told her neighbours she was going away. They have since vanished. So no surprise she suspects it was them. The neighbours knew what was in her room, including a nice new LCD TV, because they could see inside as they walked past.
Mistake 2: The robbers got in by unscrewing the window guards at night. Instead of rivets that would need cutting or drilling to remove, the window guards were fixed with normal screws.
We hear these stories all the time. Please, if you are going away, DO NOT tell anyone your room or house will be empty. This is the biggest reason properties get burgled. Thais are quite naïve at times.
The best way to avoid having your house robbed is if the robbers think people are still inside. Even if you have great neighbours, they might innocently mention to someone else that you are gone.
So leave lights on. Maybe even a radio and draw the curtains on any windows that people can see inside with. Leave the other curtains (upstairs) slightly open. If you live in a busy area and cannot make a sly exit, do fake waves back at the house or apartment as you go, as if saying goodbye to people inside.
Don’t forget about Taxi drivers. If you all jump into a Taxi with suitcases and go to an airport. Or worse still ask the same Taxi driver to bring you home in a few days that’s a safe bet the house is empty until then.
Fix this with the fake waves back to the house as you leave and then a fake phone call, speaking in Thai, when you are in the Taxi. Pretend to talk to someone in the house and tell them there is food in the fridge and to be careful of the dog :-)
For the window guards, if they are held on with screws and you can’t get them riveted. Loosen the screws and put some heavy duty glue on before re-tightening. Then scratch off the centre of the head, so the screw cannot be undone again.
Home Theft Prevention
Thailand - All
Reports in Phuket based newspapers are causing a stir among the Expat community. The police have warned that they will start to enforce the rule that says anyone who has foreign guests (Hotels/Guesthouse/Private Villas/Residences) must report the details of each foreigner when they arrive. The penalty for not reporting is 8000 baht per day.
Such laws are common in Vietnam and other communist countries but seem a little extreme for a so-called Land Of Smiles. It is down to the owner or manager to file these reports, and they receive the fine (not the guest), so most guests on holiday need not worry.
But the concern for Expats is that a new report will need to be filed on their behalf each time they return ‘home’ after more than a day away, or their wife/girlfriend - whoever the home is registered with - will be hit with the fine. The same applies if an Expat friend comes to stay in the house and is not reported by them.
Also, many Expats rent from private Thai landlords. Do these landlords declare the income to the tax authorities? If not, they are going to find it hard to hide if they must now file reports that foreigners are staying with them. End result: Rent will go up.
Will the crackdown really happen? Probably not outside of the main tourist areas, but be aware, especially if you plan to extend your visa whilst in Thailand. The form to fill in a report is 'TM.30' and can be downloaded from the Immigration Website.
Potential fine for not reporting address
Thailand - All

For those that want to cut down on the heat inside the room without ‘hardware’ changes outside the building, there are ‘UV’ curtains for sale in stores such as Home Pro (www.homepro.co.th). These claim to cut the UV entering the room by 90%.
There are also UV films with decorative designs that fix to the inside of the window - no glue, you just spray water on the window and apply the film - that do the same.
They won’t replace AC, but if you have a big window with direct sunlight they certainly help keep the room a few degrees cooler.
Prices: Regular size UV curtain 2-3,000 Baht, Blackout curtain 5-700 Baht. UV film 500 Baht per metre square.
Reduce room heat
Thailand - All
The strong Baht is really hurting expats in Thailand. The best way to protect yourself is to open a Thai bank account and transfer money into it whenever the exchange rate is favourable to your home currency. Then whenever the baht is strong, as now, you should spend from the Thai account for as long as you can.
The big thing to check is what fees you will be charged by your bank to do a money transfer from your home account to the Thai account. These fees are unavoidable, but different banks charge different rates. Also check who will give you the best (full) exchange rate, your home bank or the Thai bank. You can usually decide which of them you want to convert the currency.
The advantage of a Thai account is that you won’t have to pay a fee when you withdraw from a Thai ATM.
In theory you cannot open a Thai bank account with a tourist visa. In reality it’s up to each branch. If you are on a tourist visa and get turned down in one bank, just go to another branch and chances are they will open it for you. Dress smart and a decent amount of cash to start the account helps.
Currency protection
Thailand - All
Always read these pages to stay ahead of the game on scams, but have never had one of my own to share until now.
My Thai wife got a call on her phone from a company claiming that someone had used her ID to buy items on credit in Bangkok. We have not been to Bangkok for years. They were able to quote her ID number and said they wanted her address so that they could send her a form to take to the Police station.
It didn't add up to me - how did they get her phone number? It’s not on an ID card. And the number they called from looked like a normal mobile number and the company name wasn’t clear.
Plus I never trust shops and banks with identity fraud. They just care about getting their money from someone. If you are not careful you end up getting the bill and then having to try and prove it wasn’t you. Not easy.
Fortunately she didn't give away any address details and the more we thought about it the more suspicious it was.
She reported the phone call to the Police here, who said the person probably got a photocopy of her ID card from when we had filled out a form (including telephone number) to stay in a hotel or rent a car. They were now 'fishing' for enough information to try and get a loan from a bank or credit, in my wife's name. Classic identity fraud.
The tale about a letter to take to the Police was just to try and find out my wife’s address. Once they got the address they’d probably try for more. Date of birth and other details.
Despite having the phone number of this person, it doesn't sound like the Police will follow it up. Their advice? "As long as you don't pay for something you did not buy it's ok." Genius!
Identity fraud
Thailand - All
Everyone knows to be careful when walking with your bags, but a lot of people (locals and tourists) drop their guard when they are riding motorcycles.
In many places in Asia, including Vietnam and Thailand, a well-known tactic by bag snatch thieves is to ride around (two of them on a bike) looking for victims on other motorcycles.
The person on the back grabs your bag as you are riding. Because your main concern is not to crash the motorcycle it’s easier to get the bag from you. Avoid badly lit roads, put your rucksack on both shoulders and keep handbags hidden when riding.
Bag Snatch Safety
Thailand - All
Mosquitos annoy the hell out of me. I come out in huge bumps if I’m bitten. Sealing the doors and windows all the time is fine, but it will pump up the air conditioning costs or leave you sweating. I don’t think inhaling conditioned air all the time is good either.
So I’ve had metal mosquito mesh fitted to a simple wooden frame, hinged so it opens like a second door inside the other main door. That means I can get air flow from outside while still keeping the mossies and bugs out, especially in the evening. Local tradesmen will knock this sort of frame up and fit if for you for under 1000 baht.
Added to this I’ve found you can buy special bulbs that have a yellow light for use outside the house. These bulbs don’t attract bugs like the normal white bulbs do, but still provide plenty of light.
If mossies still get through, sit or sleep with a fan blowing air over you. Mossies are not strong flyers and will be blown away.
Beat the mossies!
Thailand - All
I’m in the process of moving into my new house in Thailand. Here are three stores to check out for anyone needing white goods on a tight budget.
1. “Makro” is a good discount superstore with branches across Thailand. They are hardtop beat on prices for electrical goods such as TVs, Air Con, Fridges and Washing Machines. They also sell food and smaller consumables in bulk. They are no frills, just big warehouses. Their website, where you can find the nearest store by changing the zone box, is www.siammakro.co.th
2. “Big C” www.bigc.co.th is another alternative to try for cheap goods. It’s more of traditional Supermarket than Makro, but also stocks electrical goods and clothes.
3. For electronics and white goods, “Power Buy” www.powerbuy.co.th is worth a look and has better reputation than the others for after sales service.
Best prices
Bangkok
This is well known among regular Bangkok visitors, but I saw a distraught couple new to Thailand in my condo block who had been scammed the other day. Please do not trust anyone who talks to you about Gems or other Jewellery. The goods are fake. Just junk. Usually they tout for business at popular tourist areas. Sometimes they say there is a special jewellery sale on nearby, other times they claim to offer a normal taxi service but then drive you to a jewellery shop ‘on the way’. Gem Scam
Thailand - All
To the fella below talking about air-con doubling his electric bill, there are 2 main ways to reduce the amount of air conditioning you need.
The first is to keep as much direct sunlight off the walls of the house as possible. The walls heat up and make the house like an oven and are why walls stay hot even at night. Trees are the natural way of doing this but if you can’t wait you can put screens up outside (wood slats with spaces in between for the air and some light to pass) to take the brunt of the afternoon sunlight.
You see these kinds of slat designs on the outside of lots of modern Thai buildings. You can get them made to fit your requirements or just buy some free standings screens from a garden or woodwork shop.
Thai people hang those big sheets of mesh sacking to do a similar thing. That is cheaper but not as effective and looks ugly, but you could combine with the slats.
Those things won’t help with direct sunlight on the roof though, so the second thing is to get some insulation in the loft to stop the heat coming downwards. Go to a home DIY store to find this.
Use less air conditioning
Thailand - All
As foreigners cannot buy land in Thailand most will rent. The alternative is to buy in the name of your Thai wife/partner, but still renting might be the best option if you are starting a business.
Trouble is, once landlords see you have piled lots of money into a place some of them assume it’ won't leave and thus think they can name their price when rent is reviewed.
This, and landlords selling the land from under you at short notice, are the two main things to watch out for. Protect yourself by getting the following in writing in your rental lease:
* Go for a multi-year contract, with an option (you have the option) of an extension for the same amount of time at the end of the first contract period.
* Agree to make a decision to extend or leave with 6 months of the first contract left to run. Never put yourself in a situation where the landlord can keep you guessing about a rental renewal. The closer it gets to the expiry date of your contract, the harder it is for you to leave if they decide to raise the price.
* Try and fix the rent price for the whole term of the first contract and insist on a maximum rent increase should you agree to the extension - such as no more than a 30-50% rise (use inflation rates as a guide).
* Circumstances do change, and with the best will in the world your landlord might have to sell your property before the lease is up. Include a clause that allows the landlord to buy you out of your contract for a certain (high) price and length of notice to leave. It’s better than nothing.
* Should you want to leave early, write that you can transfer the lease agreement to another person at any time without penalty and that all terms of the original lease will continue unchanged for the new occupant, who takes over full responsibility for payments.
One of the best deals I had was rent fixed for 10 years, option to extend for another 10 years and maximum increase of 45% rent for the second contract.
I sold the lease on to another expat after 5 years (allowed under the contract) and it sold quickly, thanks partly to the clear and secure rent contract.
I’ve seen too many people get shafted, especially if it’s a business (Thai people see customers, assume you are making loads of money, and decide to hike the rent).
Use the points above and you can’t go far wrong. They probably apply to other countries as well.
Best to rent from a rich/successful landlord, they are less likely to be banging on the door for rent and those that own their own business (most rich Thai people do) will understand better the costs you face rather than think they are missing out.
Business/Rent contracts
Thailand - All
If you need to go to an Aeon ATM, the brand that doesn’t charge for withdraws, steer clear of the end of the month unless you like queuing…. Lot of Thais use Aeon to borrow money and have to pay back each instalment at the end of the month. Can easily be 10 people queues for each ATM and it seems to take them ages to pay the money in. A lot of time
Thailand - All
I don’t think this has been posted already so here goes. This is for people self-catering in Thailand. It won’t be any use if you stay in a hotel!
This is how local Thai people buy purified water in bulk, instead of buying bottled water from a supermarket (expensive) or drinking unclean water straight out of the tap.
Instead normal Thai people buy purified water in large (usually white) plastic barrels, the size and shape that you get in Water Coolers (15 liter?) from pick-up trucks that drive by throughout the day.
The top of the containers are sealed with plastic wrap to prove they have not been opened and the purification places they come from need certificates.
That is not enough for me to be completely confident so I still buy bottled water from the supermarket to drink raw, BUT I use these cheap barrels for all kettle water and cooking.
It saves a decent amount of money, is very convenient (they bring to your door) and means you don’t have to keep going out to buy and carry home lots of heavy water bottles!
How to get them:
The pick-up trucks are easy to spot as they drive slowly around with rows of water containers in the back. Some will beep the horn to alert people.
If you want water just wave at them to stop.
If you do not already have an empty water barrel to swap you’ll need to buy one (the first time) which will cost about 100 baht for one.
Thereafter, all you need to do is swap your empty container for a new full one - as and when you wish - for a cost of around 10 BAHT per refill!!
The genius part is that you do not have to use the same truck that you bought the container from. Any truck will swap your empty container for a new one.
You do not need to speak Thai. Just point to a container to buy the first time and once you already have a container they will know you want a refill without any talking at all, just have some small change ready.
100-300 baht a week in water

Chiang Mai
They are not the cheapest but there are some nice riverside restaurants not far from center of Chiang Mai. Head away from the old city in the direction of the night market (east) then keep going until you get to the river.
Go over the river using the main bridge and then turn left. You’ll see a series of restaurants to choose from. It is too far to walk if your hotel is city centre, but an easy scooter ride.

Nong Khai
The cool season in North Thailand really has been quite cool for the past month, at night anyways, which has allowed me to see how much air con costs me in electricity.
Usually I turn on the air con every night (it’s only in the bedroom) and off in the morning but for most of the last month I haven’t needed it at all.
The electricity bill arrived today and it was 50% lower than normal - at least 1000 baht cheaper. I was quite surprised air con was costing me so much. The air con unit is newish, less than a year old.
The electricity saving for air con itself is probably more like 1200-1400 baht because the cooler weather means I have had the shower on hotter, which uses more electricity.
Maybe knowing that saving is useful for people... Definitely think I need to work out how to cool the house down better without so much air con in future.
1000-1400 baht

Phuket
For those thinking of emigrating to Phuket and especially starting a business, be aware that Phuket is not what it used to be.
Maybe this won't get published, but it's true. Phuket and especially Patong are increasingly dominated by Russians, like Pattaya.
Why does that matter? After all they bring money like everyone else?
The difference is that Russians only seem to like socialising and dealing with other Russians - hotels, tours, taxis, nightclubs, even the girls! Did you ever see Australians, English or American girls dancing in Bangla Road?? Well there are lots of Russian girls doing it now.
Did you ever hear of foreigners saying they wouldn’t stay at a hotel because there were too many Swedish/Aussies/Brits/Yanks? Many hotels and apartments are now becoming seen as Russian or non-Russian.
Buy an apartment in a Russian area and you’ll have a hard time selling it to anyone other than a Russian, but they will only buy from Russian real estate brokers.
Phuket used to be a great melting pot of nationalities and incomes - backpackers to businessmen - who could sit side by side in a bar or restaurant.
Russian culture seems to be different and is causing increasing tension with other foreign cultures and, more importantly (it’s not our country after all), the local Thais.
So from a business perspective, which is why I’m writing, you also have to understand that the customer base in Phuket has changed massively.
Add in the uncontrolled development of endless hotels, leading to polluted water and you can understand why many expats are leaving Phuket for pastures new and not coming back....
If you are Russian or perhaps Chinese, invest in Phuket, if not look elsewhere. If you insist on being near Patong, look at staying in the areas further inland from the beach.
Business

Udon Thani
Udon Thani has an immigration office where you can extend your visa. It used to be at the airport but has now moved to #95 Phosi Road, near the fairground area. Same road that leads to the government hospital.
It’s classic Thai bureaucracy to extend the visa - to get the original (tourist) visa you filled out1 side of A4 paper, but to extend it (one month per entry) you need to go through handfuls of forms, photocopies and signatures.
The reason I’m posting is you should expect to pay an extra ‘tip’ if something is not correct and with that many forms, in Thai, something will not be if they look hard enough. A missing signature from your landlord? They’ll hint at 1000 baht, but from experience they will settle for 500.
Do some subtle negotiating - look surprised, apologise, saying you really need this sorted today and you’ll see from their reaction if they are actually serious about making you go away and get whatever is ‘missing’..
Don’t hand the immigration guy money, they’ll probably just point to a jar on the desk and you subtly pop it in there. They also sometimes ask for some tea or biscuits for their staff, so perhaps best to come bearing gifts if you don’t want to hand over cash. Maybe that has been my mistake.
I’m not sure if having a Thai person with you helps or not. Many times I’ve escaped Police attempts for backhanders (‘water money’) by shrugging that I don’t understand what they are saying.
Visa info

Bangkok - Don Muang Airport
Directions posted for the Children’s play area at Suvarnabhumi airport have been a life saver for us, several times! We’ve just taken our first journey through Don Muang (DMK) with Air Asia and for anyone travelling with young children there is a play area in domestic departures at Don Muang, between gates 32-33.
Chiang Mai
If you are planning to travel around Thailand, north and south, save the majority of your shopping for the northern areas (such as Chiang Mai).
Prices are much lower in the north than the south and the goods for sale, such as beach clothes - branded t-shirts and shorts - are exactly the same as in Phuket and Koh Samui, but the prices are 30-50% lower.
In fact, pretty much everything is cheaper in the north.
30-50%
Thailand - All
One of the simplest ways to save noticeable money travelling is to make your own meal once a day.
It’s not always easy to do, depending on what facilities you have where you are staying, but if you carry a bowl and spoon then it’s easy to put cereal and milk together for breakfast.
Many shops sell cereal with a disposable bowl and sometimes a spoon included, so just buy some fresh milk to go with it.
When you do eat out, try to buy your own drinks beforehand - a bottle of water for example - from places like 7-Elevens. Drinks are often where prices are inflated the most.
If you can save 100 baht a day this way, that’s 700 a week and 2,800 baht a month with very little effort.
(Tony)
My Tip: Check out Subway's "sub of the day" offer. That, combined with a drink from 7-Eleven, is a great cheap meal.
2,800 baht a month
North Thailand
Happy New Year all. Having overeaten at xmas one of my tooth crowns finally gave up on me. After spending the past week traipsing around recommended dentists, here is a typical price list for those interested:
Filling - 500 baht.
Tooth out - 750 baht.
Root canal treatment (and crown?) - 9,000 baht.
Prices for good dental work
All
On the subject of hiring motorbikes in the Land of Smiles, I’d advise to take pics of the rental bike before you use it (same applies to jet skis). This is also to show the people you hire from that you are ‘street smart’ to the scams, where they try to make you pay for previous damage.
Other thing is I would not ever hand over my passport as a deposit, which many places ask you to do. Just say that your hotel insisted on keeping it and hand over a photocopy instead. Also offer to pay a slightly higher deposit if you have to.
Bottom line is without a passport you can't do anything in Thailand - get on a flight (domestic or international), check into a hotel and certainly not leave the country, so if there is a dispute and they have your passport you are pretty much helpless.
For those without motorbike experience, hire an automatic (twist and go), get used to it on a quiet road or car park first, and use the rear brake to do most of the stopping.
Use the front brake only if the bike is fully upright. If you pull the front brake on hard while leant over you will crash.
Scams/Safety
Thailand - All
Further to your Tweet about motorcycle safety, I'd add that people riding bikes need to check the small print of their travel insurance.
Many companies do not cover motorcycle accidents as standard, you have to select it as an add-on, and if you are riding without a helmet, drunk or without owning a motorcycle license (sometimes a CBT license is enough, other companies will want a full license) then they will not pay out for any hospital fees.
Motorcycle Insurance
Thailand - All
There have been a string of motorcycle accident fatalities involving foreigners in Phuket lately - be careful guys and girls...
Here are our top 3 motorcycle safety tips:
1. Do not ride directly behind cars/trucks. If they stop quickly you will hit the back of them. Ride slightly to one side. Can see more too.
2. Wear a helmet. You might not think it's cool but it really could make the difference between walking away and 'game over'.
3. Remember that many of the road accident victims in Thailand did nothing wrong. Expect bad driving and be on the lookout for it.
(AffordAsia.com via Twitter).
Motorcycle Safety
Bangkok
If you are looking for shopping bargains in Bangkok and especially if you have a business you need stock for the place to go is “Chatuchak weekend market” (see www.chatuchak.org).
This is where many businesses in Thailand bulk buy their stock to sell in Bangkok and other parts of the country, not to mention Malaysia and other neighbours.
If you are into import and export this is also the place to look for products you could send to your home country.
Beware the place is huge (200,000 visitors per day!) so plan ahead or you will feel overwhelmed.
Best Shopping Market in Bangkok
Thailand - All
If you need urgent medical treatment it's best to head to a government (public) hospital.
There are loads of private hospitals in Thailand, but you need to make sure your insurance is water tight or you'll end up with a massive bill/no treatment. If you have no insurance, you MUST go to a public hospital or you'll be destroyed financially!
Best to use the private hospitals for planned treatment, where you can check all the costs first and have time to shop around. I've heard less complaints about public hospitals in Thailand than I have private ones, which may look great and have all the equipment, but if the staff don't know what the are doing it's not much use.
Tip: Look out for 'Army' or 'Military' hospitals, they are also public (government) run, so costs are low, but are often less busy. Despite the name they are open to anyone, including tourists.
Medical costs
Thailand - All
Quickly compare currency exchange rates being offered by each bank brand worldwide by using this website: http://bankexchangerates.daytodaydata.net/default.aspx
You just say which currency you want to change from and to, then it lists the rates for the banks in the country whose currency you want.
The rates are accurate to within a few hours and it saves having to walk from bank to bank to find who will give you the best rate on that day.
Best currency exchange banks
Thailand - All
Golden rule for long-term accommodation deposits: Use the deposit to pay off the last month(s) of your rent. So if you've paid a one month deposit, say ‘Just keep my deposit’ when it is time to pay for the final month of your stay.
As others below have said here (v. good info on this site) getting anything near a full deposit back from a private landlord is next to impossible in most places in Thailand. There is always some reason why they don’t have it - sometimes they just seem to act as if you never even paid a deposit!
Don't lose room/house deposit
Bangkok Airport
This isn't a life changer, but I admit to having been pleased when I found out you can buy a bottle of drinking water from Boots in Suvarnabumi airport for 8 baht.
Yes 8 baht for a 500ml bottle of Boot's branded drinking water. Not the usual 70-80 baht for Evian type water and its cheaper than even the Thai brands.
You can find Boots on the third floor (the floor under the check-in desks) about 50 metres to the right of Starbucks. Starbucks sells water bottles for 75 baht.
You can't take fluids past security anyway and I was always throwing away the overpriced bottles when they were still half full. Now even if I only have chance for a sip or two it doesn't really matter.
Save 70 baht a bottle
Thailand - All
You can save about 10-20% on the price of your Thai visa by checking which embassy to apply at.
Australia is one of the most expensive places, with each entry costing 45 Australian dollars. So if you went for the maximum 3 entries you’d pay 135 AUD, which works out at 140 US dollars.
But the same 3 entry Thai visa would cost you 120 USD if you applied for it in Vietnam, or around 108 USD in Malaysia. So you’d save 30 dollars if you applied for exactly the same visa in Malaysia instead of Australia. The application form is exactly the same, the only difference is the fee.
Even the UK is cheaper for a Thai visa than Australia at 121 USD. The more expensive the visa the more you can save by shopping around in this way.
You can check the Visa fee at Thai embassies around the world at this official link: www.thaiembassy.org.
10-20% of visa fee
Thailand - All
I’ve noticed some travel insurance companies only have their cheapest deals on comparison sites. If you look for those same deals on the official websites of the insurance companies they are not there.
The special deals are to make sure they appear near the top of comparison websites, but they have worked out they can charge more if you go straight to their website because their prices are not being directly compared with their rivals.
Example: Insureandgo does a very cheap ‘Backpacker Light’ on comparison sites that cannot be found on their website (I can't anyway)! I once phoned them to extend it and they said they couldn’t even do that and I had to book at their normal rate as shown on the website. But ‘Backpacker Light’ is still for sale if you book it through comparison sites.
Note that you need to have been a resident in the UK for six of the previous 12 months.
Half-price travel insurance
Thailand - All
If you are staying at a locally run guesthouse or renting a place rather than in a hotel, haggle to keep the deposit as low as possible and always ask for a receipt, because in my experience landlords in Thailand will rarely pay it back in full.
Some will act like they have forgotten about how much was paid, others will say come back another day (the Thai way of avoiding confrontation, but it means forget it), some will come up with a technicality (usually a minimum length of stay they didn't mention before) as to why you can't have it back and even large guesthouses or apartments often take out a massive "cleaning fee" from your deposit even if you leave the place spotless.
Deposit scams
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Be really careful when opening a bank account in Thailand. Sometimes you have to have one for a non-tourist visa or just to try and lower the currency exchange costs, but my advice is not to put money in an account which has an ATM card linked to it.
ATM card theft is much easier in Thailand than the west - no 'chip and pin' in Thailand - and to make things worse the banks don't seem to compensate you for any loss that occurs from people cloning your card (and using hidden cameras at ATMs to get the pin code).
So check carefully for any theft compensation when you open an account, or better still open an account which does not have a card if you will be keeping significant amounts of money.
You will have to go to the bank in person to extract your money each time, but at least it's secure.
Banking Theft
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If you are renting somewhere for at least a few months and want some home improvements made, for example better security (new doors or window guards), it's perfectly acceptable to tell the landlord what you want done and - if they are not keen on paying themselves - offer to pay for it in return for getting the same amount of money taken off your future rent bill.
I can't see what the landlord has to gain by saying yes to that idea, but a landlord with quite a few buildings told me it is seen as a good compromise in Thailand.
Thai landlords prefer not to get future rent than to pay for things up front themselves - perhaps using borrowed money - and then have to wait for the rent money to come in.
"Free" home improvements
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In Thailand when a driver flashes his lights they usually mean 'look out I'm coming' or 'stop', unlike in Britain where when you flash your lights it is to tell someone you are letting them out or that they can cross in front of you.
I had a few near misses before I worked that one out :-)
Road safety
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If you are buying something electrical or mechanical check it works as much as possible before you leave the shop. So test drives/rides for cars/bikes or getting them to turn the product on in the case of TVs and Phones.
Many places will do this without you asking, but if not ask them to do so because, even with a receipt, after sales service in Thailand is poor.
If you bring something back which does not work the best you will get is an offer to fix it, which could mean waiting for parts that never arrive... getting your money back is rare even for expensive items.
The poor after sales service is part of the reason why so many people borrow to buy brand new trucks and motorcycles and there is such a small second hand market. People just don't want to risk a big purchase going bad.
I've heard of a local person paying 500,000 baht for a second hand truck that developed a fault a few days later, but the garage they purchased from still refused to fix it for free.
Whatever you paid
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If you buy products which have a factory in the country you are visiting then that's about the cheapest you can normally get them anywhere.
That's because they are not subject to any import tax or shipping fees.
Samsung, LG, Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Sharp are a few of the brands with factories in Thailand.
Exporting goods from Thailand is easy enough... It's importing them that is difficult.

Thailand - All
This is an extension of an idea I read on the Malaysia page re. Apple goods. As the guy pointed out, you can buy official Apple products (in official Apple stores) much cheaper in Asia than in the west. He recommended the Apple shop in the KLCC shopping centre and I second that.But I would also add that if you travel regularly in Asia you can guarantee the absolute best (official product) price by getting a heads up on all the local prices from the apple website!
This is how you do it:Go to apple.com and then use the 'choose your country or region' option at the bottom of the homepage to select an Asian country you will visiting.Once in the homepage for that country, click on the 'store' link or a 'shop in the apple online store' link.
That will take you to a page such as this (for Thailand): http://store.apple.com/th/ where the prices of all official apple products for sale in Thailand can be seen. Use a currency converter to work out the price in your currency.Because Apple is quite strict on setting prices, the price you see will be an almost exact match for an in-store price at an official apple shop in that country.
Now change the country to another location, click on the store link and convert the currency again to see how much you would pay for the same product. It is rarely exactly the same.Due to differences in currency, import tax and shipping it is possible to easily save $100 USD (versus Western price) on a new iPad, iPhone, Mac by price-checking in this way.
The price difference between west/asia means I usually get an Apple shopping list from friends each time I'm coming back home. If you want to do that don't bring more than one of the same item and get rid of the packaging, so you can claim they are not new and personal use, or you could get hit with import tax at the airport.Happy saving!
$100 (estimate)
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ATM machines run by the Aeon Bank do not charge a fee for withdraw. They are the only brand I know that do not charge a 100 baht fee just to use the ATM machine. They have never charged me for use of any of my English debit or credit cards.
To find any Aeon ATM in Thailand, copy and paste this link into your browser: www.aeon.co.th/en/customerservices_servicelocation_atm_depositor.php
100 baht per atm withdraw
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The sure-fire way to get the best price in Thailand is to send a local to ask how much!
Most shops never have prices displayed as they price by (your) appearance. If you are a 'farang' (foreigner) that can mean paying double.
Even if you negotiate the price down you'll still be above what the starting price for a local would be.
So send a Thai person that you trust to ask the price while remaining out of sight. When the price has been stated and a bit of bargaining done they can call you over to pay.
If you don't know anyone you can ask the price yourself and then ask the staff from your hotel or a taxi driver to try and get the same thing for less, and offer them a decent tip if they can do it. Just make sure they understand what you want!
25-50 percent
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This is for Expats or long term renters. It is much cheaper to use gas to cook rather than electric. A gas bottle refill only costs 300 baht and will last about 3-4 months.
There is always a local shop nearby that will bring gas bottles to you and connect the bottle up using the necessary piping and safety valve. Just ask around. Then you just phone them when the gas bottle is empty and they will come and change it over for you.
You can get a decent two hob gas cooker for 500-900 baht.
I also trust gas more for safety (use in a ventilated area) as I've been shocked a few times from electric cookers. The comments on here about Thai electrics are true!
Gas cheaper and safer than electric
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I could never work out why taps are always dripping water into buckets in Thai homes. I finally asked and was told the water meter doesn't spin if you just take water slowly - drip, drip, drip. The meter only gets triggered once the flow rate reaches a certain level.
On a side note, they said that in Thailand electric companies let you have the first part of electric free each month. This is so that even poor people have access to some electric free of charge.
Cheaper Water bills
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The absolute cheapest city transport you can get in Thailand is to catch one of the many small bus/trucks that circle around. They are basically converted 4x4 trucks, as you would see builders use, but with an enclosed passenger seating area in the back.
They charge a flat rate and in some northern cities it's as low as 10 baht to go anywhere in a city!
They carry numbers like a bus to tell you where they are going and locals use them all the time to get to school and work. This is how you use them:
Flag them down as they approach or just get on if they are waiting. You normally pay when you get OFF not when you get on, but you can always ask where they are going before you get on if unsure. Then just press the buzzer inside the passenger area to alert the driver when you want him to stop, Then get out and pay the driver/passenger (usually through the passenger window).
You can save hundreds a day compared with taxis or even tuk tuks and you'll meet lots of locals.
Save 100-500 baht daily
Thailand - All
This is a interesting idea worth checking out. It's long been known that airlines show a different price depending on where you access their website from. It seems Air Asia does this depending on which location you select when it asks you to pick a country on airasia.com.
As there is an English option for most countries you can test it out by checking the price of the same flight when selecting Thailand, Malaysia or Philippines as your 'location'. You can book air asia flights from outside Asia anyway, so picking your real location is not important.
Best to do this from a different computer or browser each time as airasia.com probably saves cookies so they know what flights you have already looked at and will make sure you see the same price. Also make sure you log-in after you have selected the flight you want. Logged-in users sometimes get charged higher prices because they are less likely to shop around.
I was skeptical about there being an AA difference based on country until I was sat on a flight next to someone from the Philippines who had also booked online, after me, but paid significantly less! I saw their ticket to be sure. They seemed to know all about it and told me as the Philippines is one of the poorest Asian countries (with an English language option) its the best one to select as your location when trying to get the cheapest Air Asia price online.
Currency variations could also be behind the price differences, but either way there seems to be a saving to be made.
Air Asia price differences
Thailand - All
One of the cheapest shop business you can start is to buy/rent a shop in the local markets. These markets are basically like a large warehouse - one big steel roof - covering lots of small shops.
Prices for a shop in Northern Thailand vary from 35,000 baht (normal size, normal location) to 100,000 baht (front location or double size). Be aware that if you 'buy' you still have to pay a monthly maintenance/cleaning/security fee of several thousand baht. You also naturally have to pay for electric. So factor those in to your profit margin.
You can rent a market shop from around 5000 baht a month upwards. Try to sell something without too much competition or where you have a competitive edge in terms of your product supply.
Business prices
Thailand - All
Starting a business in Thailand is really tricky. Most westerners seem to open a bar, but that's seems to be a great way to lose a lot of money.
Okay some bars make decent profits, but most don't and are constantly changing hands. And if you do start to make money you'll attract attention from the Police/mafia that you'll have to pay off. Better to come up with something that allows you to stay under the radar.
Good idea is to find something cheap or special to Thailand that you can import/sell to customers in your home country, where you understand the market.
Business
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Attention Air Asia flyers: They are moving ALL their flights from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport to the old Don Mueang airport by Oct. 1st (2012)! So if you fly into Bangkok from Europe, USA, Australia you will probably land at Suv. but now need to travel to Don Mueang to fly on to Phuket, Koh Samui, Chiang Mai and other places with Air Asia. I'd estimate travel time between the airports at around 1 hour, but varies depending on traffic. Air Asia are offering the chance to change flights or a credit. It's not been made clear if the flight changes will start from Oct 1 or be finished by Oct 1 so check your ticket carefully from now on to be sure where you should be/are going.
Air Asia airport change
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If you have asthma, or just value breathing cleaner air, it's worth flicking open the front cover on the air con in your hostel room and checking the dust filters are clean. They are often heavily blocked. Just slide them out and wash the dust off under the tap then dry and replace. The air con will work better and any dust circulating in the room should get caught in the filter. Health
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If you are a westerner you can arrive in Thailand without a visa and get a 30-day visa stamp on arrival. Just go straight to immigration as normal. If you plan to stay longer you can get a tourist visa before you go, which allows 3 x two-month visits.
So you stay two months then have to go out of Thailand for a day or two before returning. But when you get within one month of each stay finishing, you can then apply for a one-month visa extension, while inside Thailand, at a cost of 1900 baht. That gives you a total of nearly nine months in Thailand on one tourist visa.
Visa info.
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Some potentially money saving info for Air Asia flyers. First, if you are connecting between two AA flights and there is at least 3 hrs between each then you will get money back if the first flight is delayed and you miss the second. Less than 3 hrs and they won't help. Second tip is that AA flights tend to get later as the day goes on. I know this from countless BKK to KUL flights. If you fly early you have a 10-20% chance of being delayed. By the end of the day (when all the delays accumulate) this rises to around 40-50% chance of some delay, in my experience. Air Asia refund policy
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Small advice but can be quite a saver. If you pay your own electric, and are running air con (who doesn't?) if you combine it with a fan (stand up type, for sale everywhere) you can get the same cooling effect for a much higher air con temp. And as we all know air con eats electric. Lower electric bill
Thailand - All
For Brits wanting to watch Euro 2012. The feud between the Thai TV stations means it's not being broadcast free to air. You need to pay 1500 baht for a set top box by GMM.
But this is much better. Just use an IP proxy (search on google fro 'hide ip') to select a UK IP address then watch the games live on the BBC or ITV player. Hook your laptop up to a TV using a HDMI cable (just plug and play with Windows 7) and plug some speakers into the laptop and you have a full effect.
I watched the England France game like this on ITV player and the picture didn't freeze once. Quality was fine even on 32" TV and other people using same internet. ITV player was impressive. The BBC one might need more signal so hope all games are on ITV live.
Free UK TV
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Use currency cards to withdraw from ATMs. It's cheaper (you get better exchange rate) and safer (if someone steals the card they cannot withdraw from your bank account, only whatever cash you have preloaded onto the card).
You just top the card up online a few hours before going to the ATM. Best ones (cheapest) are 'Fair FX' and 'Travelex Cash Passport'. They use visa or mastercard, so work in just about any ATM.
Save 200-300 baht for every 5000 baht withdrawn.
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A good way to cut the price of a hotel (if you are not going to be waking up early) is to ask if breakfast is included in the price. It almost always is. Then just say how much without breakfast?
Lower hotel price
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Remember to book at least a month in advance to get the cheapest air asia tickets and have a pair of travel scales to weigh your baggage as if you go more than 1kg over for check-in weight they charge you big time.
You are only supposed to have one hand luggage of 7.5kg max. My advice is if you think you'll be over, take some things out and put in your pockets during check-in (laptop charger in back pocket is my favorite!) After checked in they rarely re-check the weight.
Avoid Air Asia extra charges
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Be aware that if you hire a scooter you'll be fined by the police if you are not wearing a helmet. They'll also check the bike has tax and you have a license (driving license will do, most can't read English well). If you get caught up in anything more major (drink riding/driving) and the police offer a 'financial' way out, take it.
Most fines seem to go straight in the back pocket. That's the way it is.
Police Fines
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If you are worried that your hotel might not be the safest hang the 'Do Not Disturb' sign outside the door when you go out. That way people will think you are in the room and also the room will only be cleaned when you are present.
Cleaners often leave the doors open when they clean to show they are not stealing, but when they clean the bathrooms etc it's easy for other guests or staff passing to grab anything you might have left in easy reach of the door. I was told by a hotel manager about that.
Avoid hotel room theft
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I never trust hotel safes when they are at the lobby. Heard too many stories about things going missing. If no room safe, I prefer to lock my valuables inside my suitcase and I also carry a small bike lock, which I can loop through the suitcase handle and lock to a bed post when I'm out. That stops anyone running off with the suitcase. Theft Prevention
Thailand - All
If you use online banking (and who doesn't) it's worth paying for a virtual IP (software that allows you to change your IP once online). That helps stop people hacking in to your login data over the internet. Online security
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Changing IP software will also allow you to watch TV from other countries over the internet. So if you want to watch US TV select a US IP address from the list provided by the software. Only downside is that internet speed will be lower than usual, but sometimes you can log-out of the change IP software after the initial connection is made and it'll still work at full speed. Use cnet.com to find the best IP changing software. How to watch online TV
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If you are renting an apartment make sure you check which bills you will need to pay for and the price per unit of things like water and electricity. You can then check online to see if that is the usual rate.
As you are not being billed directly by the utility companies you are at the mercy of the landlord to charge the real rate and some will double the price per unit to make a tidy profit.
Potentially 50% of utilities bill
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If long-term renting you shouldn't have to pay more than one month as a deposit and watch out for any small print catches, such as 'minimum stay 4 months' which are used by landlords to keep the deposit. Great idea when you check out is to give the cleaner a nice tip, because 99% of the time it is the cleaner that the management ask to confirm the room has no damage/problems to come out of your deposit. Get deposit back
Thailand - All
Never, ever, ever, ever tell taxi drivers or any locals you don't trust that it is your first time in Thailand or in that city. You will just be asking to be ripped off. Just say you 'came here a few years ago' Avoid scams
Thailand - All
If you are exploring a new area on foot wear sunglasses and walk confidently, like you've been there loads of times. The sunglasses will allow you to scan around to see where you are and will stop undesirables trying to lead you astray. Likewise don't walk around holding a map!! = new tourist = easy money.
Safety
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I've heard this works and it may help someone so here it is. If your card gets jammed in an ATM, get another card out but hold it really tightly and just put 1cm into the machine (not enough for the machine to grip onto). The machine, being unable to read the card, should then spit out the original card. If ATM card stuck
Thailand - All
If you are going out at night just take cash and your room key. Take a phone only if you really need it, or just a cheap one. That way if worst comes to worst you haven't lost much. Likewise keep one card in a different place to the rest so you will still be able to access money if you wallet is stolen. Theft advice
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Be careful about getting into an argument with the locals. Thai society values being soft-spoken and laid back, but when they lose it, they lose it! Try to smile and state your case firmly, but never look like you are getting angry. Safety
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No matter how big a guy you are, don't push or shove a local (even if he is annoying you like hell trying to sell something). I've seen drunk westerners do just that and end up badly beaten up. The local guys all work in a gang. If one is attacked they all pile-in. You can't win. (Jan) Safety
Thailand - All
You only have to look at all the wires hanging down from the poles to know electricity standards are poor in Thailand. For those of us that say in cheap hostels it's a particular worry, although I've heard some upper class hotels are not much safer.
Normal buildings rarely have an earth and biggest risk for westerners is the shower. If you're not an electrician there's not much you can do other than have a close look and, if in any doubt, just have cold showers. This is what the locals do anyway, which is why more of them are not electrocuted.
Electrical safety
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Taking one of the many cheap buses from Bangkok to the north (Chiang Mai, Laos etc) or south (Phuket, Koh Samui) may seem tempting but its at least an 8-10 hour drive. The drivers are overworked and so often fall asleep or take 'enhancements' (legal or otherwise) to stay awake. Better to take a cheap flight and only 1000-2000 baht more.
Road safety
Thailand - All
Unlike many other places in Asia, Thai car drivers are general quite careful (barring some boy racers). They usually give motorbikes plenty of space, show patience and drive quite slowly in built up areas. But where they go to pieces is when it rains.
I've seen three cars spin off in one 3 hour road trip. They just don't appreciate you can't go the same speed in the wet. Also beware of motorcycles when it rains. It sounds crazy, but because a lot of young people don't wear helmets they drive like mad when it rains because they are worried about getting wet and ruining their hairstyles. Go figure.
Road safety
Bangkok
This is a time saver rather than a money saver. Many Taxis in Bangkok get paid to bring tourists to certain shops, usually things like Jewelry shops. The driver either gets paid a commission on any sale or gets a petrol voucher for bringing you.
This is why you will often hear a driver pressure you to visit a certain shop. It is also why when you tell a driver you want to go shopping and expect to end up at one of the big shopping malls he 'misunderstands' and takes you to one of these smaller outlets first. Then after you've had a look (and he's got his money for bringing you) he will suddenly understand where you want to go.
Some drivers will be upfront about it when you get in and some will actually refuse to take you if you are not prepared to stop off at one of these places along the way. Best tactic is just to say you have no time and be really clear 'no shopping' if they start bringing the subject up.
Time
Bangkok
NEVER take a taxi unless it is labelled 'Taxi Meter'. A taxi meter, as the name says, will run on a meter and is cheap to go pretty much anywhere in Bangkok or surrounding areas. They are usually bright coloured (sometimes pink!) and have Taxi Meter written clearly on top. Other types of taxis are more like private cabs and will quote you a fee.
50% of private taxi price
Bangkok
This is a convenient hotel if you need to stay by the main airport (Suvarnabhumi). Name is "SP Powerlodge".  5mins from airport and transfers too and from are free . It's no frills and there is nothing to do nearby, but fine if you just want somewhere close, clean and safe to crash out. I book it through the tour operator with the big green sign located on the ground floor, on the right hand side of the building (if looking out of the airport). Affordable!
Bangkok
Use the train to get around. It's cheap and reliable. Also traffic is terrible in the city center.
Bangkok Airport
For those that haven't been to Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport before it can be a bit daunting when you walk out and have all these people shouting "taxi?, taxi?" But don't give in to these touts as they will rip you off. Instead wave the touts away and follow the signs for "Taxi". The airport has an official taxi rank where you pay a fixed rate at a desk and then they hand the ticket to the driver. It's safe, the driver knows where you are going and you won't get ripped off. Cheapest and safest airport taxi
Bangkok Airport
Zone F in international departures at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport has a free children's play area. Your sanity, if travelling with young kids
Bangkok
Backpackers and people with luggage, please find first a safe hotel or guesthouse to leave your belongings, especially after flying long distance (Bru - BKK or London - BKK...) Even you think you are in a hurry and do not have time enough to see everything of Thailand, never go around full packed and totally tired of long haul flights, on the moment you arrive on very crowded touristical places with luggage you'll be an easy victim of Tuk tuk drivers who say they know a cheap hotel nearby and who will come over with stories to make you use them.
These days, 20 August 2012, Bangkok has a very good BTS system that reaches directly from Suvarnabhumi to the most city places tourist places (Like Sukhumvit - Phatpong - ...) they are always cheaper then taxi fares and the chance to meet people from western countries is also here bigger.People like me who live in BKK, we know well all the tricks of Tuk TuK drivers and Taxi fares (If you use taxi, look first if the MRT is not possible, discuss first if meter will be used and try to guess the distance, follow well the roadmap, many tricks exist to change the road and to turn around just so that you pay higher prices).
At this moment only the Kaoh San Area, King Palace area is not reachable by MRT, probably in 1 year it will be, because there will be a line of BTS between Charoenkrung to King Palace. Most easy way from Sukhumvit to go Kaoh San seems to me by MRT till Saphan Thaksin (Nearby Chao Praya river) and there you can take a cheap boat to King Palace. Other possibilities are taking MRT till victory Monument and then a bus, but show well the ticket vender where you want to go and make sure the bus goes there.But this you always do better without luggage and if you are relaxed. I got the experience of a girl who back packed to Kao San, She knows now what I mean. (Van Welde Bruno)
Safety / Getting Around
Bangkok Airports
Just a quick note for those that don't know but Bangkok has two main airports - Suvarnabhumi (new big one) and Don Muang (old main airport). They are about 30mins apart depending on traffic. Just about all international flights use Suvarnabumi but some regional flights use Don Muang including 'Nok Air'. Air Asia only flies from Suvarnabhumi. (Miss M)
UPDATE: AirAsia has moved to Don Muang Airport - AffordAsia.
You'll be at the right airport!
Chiang Mai
This hotel is in a good location (near the moat) and priced well: "Montri Hotel". Has wifi decent breakfast etc. Good value
Chiang Mai
If you want a bit of luxury in Chiang Mai at a competitive price - and can get over the weird name - the 'Maninarakorn' hotel is worth a look. Market and old town within easy walking distance. Tip, if you want to keep the price down stay in the rooms in the building opposite the lobby. Those are cheaper than in the main building.
Chiang Mai
Eat at the night market for a good choice of cheap food. Cheapest food in Chiang Mai
Koh Phangan
Not sure if I've spelt the Island name right but its the island with the full moon party. My advice is actually not to go when a party is on, or near, as you can get massive savings outside of the full moon party. The island has loads of other beaches and the best areas are all away from the full moon beach anyway IMO.
I stayed at a gorgeous place called the Grand Sea Resort just around the corner from the harbour, right by the sea with its own swimming pool and individual bungalows.
Just hire a motorcycle (all main hotels/resorts have them) and explore a different beach each day. One warning though, try to head back before nightfall unless you're in a group as some of the remote areas are pretty remote! Also some roads in the centre of the island are a real challenge to ride - steep and washed away. Don't attempt unless you are experienced rider.

Krabi
If you want to stay on Railay Island the "Sand Sea Resort" is a reasonable balance between cost and comfort. They have a main hotel and also lots of individual bungalows. I would stay there again.
Krabi
Wanna's Place on Ao Nang beach is a Swiss-run hotel by the seafront. It has it's own swimming pool etc and is competitively priced.
Pattaya
Most dangerous place in Thailand IMHO yet strangely attractive in a Wild West kind of way. If you go stay in a decent (safe) hotel and lock everything in a safe/suitcase. If you drink at the bars and bring anyone back be aware that spiking of drinks or chocolate is common. You'll wake up 12 hours later minus your valuables, if you wake up.. Laptop, camera, passport...
Pattaya
Jontiem Beach is a good alternative to Pattaya. Just around the corner, more relaxed, cleaner beach. Not quite so crazy, but you are still near enough to the action. You can get a Taxi direct from Bangkok airport. If you don't have a hotel booked the taxi driver will take you to some hotels until you are happy. This is often much cheaper than booking at the airport or even internet. However if you are alone do not get out of the taxi with all of your bags inside... maybe they will drive off. Like when they fake a breakdown and ask you to get out and push.
Instead get the driver to ask the hotel the price etc. If you are a couple, send your girlfriend to look at the rooms while you wait in the taxi with your luggage. If you are alone take out your bags before going to look. You should be able to get reasonable seafront rooms for 500-600 baht a night with breakfast.

Phi Phi Island
There are lots of 'package' type boat tours to take you around Phi Phi but a much better experience is to get one of the small boats to take you. You will go to all the same places and whereas the package tour boats literally blow whistles when they are about to move from one location to the next (all a bit club med) the driver of the small boat will take you to all the same places and it's up to you when you want to move on and where you want to go. The small boats also have snorkel kit, life jacket etc for you to use. Price is also cheaper than the package tours, although ask a few different small boats and barter a bit to get the best price.
30% cheaper
Phuket
The taxi scam also operates at Phuket airport - make sure you buy a ticket from the official booth with prices fixed for each area and clearly visible. I saw a booth saying taxi and it ended up being one of the private taxi firms. You know you're being ripped off as the 'receipt' if you get one has no price etc. Later found out they charged me double what it should have been. Scam warning
Phuket
All the restaurants selling western food in Patong are expensive so a good way to save money is find a hotel with a good buffet breakfast - and make sure you make the most of it! Baan Laimai hotel on beachfront is one, although rooms are pricey. One meal less a day to pay for
Phuket
There is night market selling cheap, mainly local food towards the southern end of Patong beach. In a bit from the beachfront. You sit in the middle and chose from various restaurants around  outside. Big savings compared with going to a normal restaurant. Always busy. Cheapest food in Patong
Phuket
Be wary of taking a mini bus or bus from the airport. The price is really cheap, but they are known to stop off at tour shops and try to do a hard sell. In the daytime that is annoying. At night it can be scary. As others here have said take an official taxi by buying a ticket inside the terminal. Taxis also try and sell you tours though, but just say you've already booked your tours or better still that you are meeting friends who have everything arranged already. Scam warning
Phuket
This is the cheapest hotel I've found on the Patong beachfront. Name is "Quality Resort" and its located at the south end of the beach (near where the small boats park). So if you are looking out to sea it's the left side. I paid 1400 baht per night. Good staff. They will always offer some discount so never accept the first price.
Phuket
Be careful of jet-ski scams, when they claim you have damaged the jet ski. Always check it over carefully before you go out and even if you don't know what you're looking for pretend you do! (Dave-o). Scam warning
Phuket
A guy was telling me he had a go on one of those boat parachutes (parasol?) that go up and down the beach. Once he got up to full height the local guy that went up with him to operate the parachute starting pestering him about a tip! Hard to say no when you're life is in his hands!! Scam warning
Phuket
Be very careful of the ladyboys on Bangla road. One wrong look and they can descend on you in a pack. Especially late at night. They use their high heels as weapons and will beat you up and rob you just like a bunch of guys. Never take the piss out of them, no matter how tempting. if you take a picture they will want money. If they start approaching, move away swiftly into the crowd. With less westerners and more asians visiting Phuket now the ladyboys are making less money - and getting more violent as a result Safety
Udon Thani
First a massive thank you to whoever posted about Aeon ATM machines not charging a withdraw fee.
I tried it and it definitely works for me too. No fee (100 baht) for using the ATM with my British Credit or Debit cards, which are Visa and Mastercard.
So after some research this is where some Aeon ATMs can be found in Udon Thani:
1. In the UD Town nightmarket. The Aeon branch and ATM is outside Tesco. Also at big Tesco store on other side of town.
2. In the Big C complex. Aeon ATM is at the top of the escalator on the right hand side.
3. Central Plaza. Not easy to describe where this ATM is. Best thing is go the Aeon branch inside Central and ask them to show you.
100 baht saving each time you withdraw
Udon Thani
Hi. Steven again. There is not a lot to do in Udon Thani in terms of leisure but I finally visited the Water Park in the Nakhaburi Resort. Swimming pools are hard to find in Udon, even in hotels, and this one has two including water slides. Good for a family day out. It's located on the main road between Udon and Nong Khai. Price to go swimming for a day is around 100 baht. The resorts has rooms from 800 baht upwards. Taxi from Udon takes about 20mins and was 200 baht each way. Food and drink can be ordered poolside. Pool is open from 10am with water slides (for kids) open from midday. You can find out more info on www.nakhaburi.com Good value day out
Udon Thani
NT Apartments has just opened. Rooms not huge but has all mod cons, inc wifi, lcd TV. Four floors, the top two of which are for long term rent - cost is 4500 baht a month excluding bills. Much cheaper than most places in city centre. Also do nightly rates. I think around 350 baht. It's located in Adunyadet road (same road as Ruy Suk). 5000 baht a month cheaper than most apartments in area
Udon Thani
Cheap apartment block located opposite Big C Supermarket. It's called "Ruan Nara Apartment". Turn left off the main road to Big C just before the esso petrol station and its about 100 metres down the road. Ask a tuk tuk to take you. Price 3500 baht for a month. You can get your washing done as well and has wi fi. However no cooking facilities and there is a school near which blasts out loud music at 8am so ask to stay on the far side. You'll need your own transport, but at that price who cares! Cheap apartment
Udon Thani
Having had to pay to get most work done twice (to correct initial shoddy work) in my experience these Tradesmen in Udon Thani area are reliable, work to a high standard and price fairly. Note their English is limited so have a Thai speaker handy.
Electrician (and TV): 0834538543 (has worked abroad so understands proper standards)
Plumber: 0862185637 / 042347410 (no-nonsense grafter who gets work done and gives itemised bill).
Udon Tradesmen
Udon Thani
The food court area of the UD Town night market has a good selection of cheap food and drink, although naturally most is local based food. There is also a smaller food court located in the older market on the other side of the train station (with the green roof). These areas are where most locals eat so you can't find better value. You can also buy food to take home. Cheap quality food in Udon
Udon Thani
Local steak restaurant opposite Ruy Suk hotel offers decent meat steaks (Beef/Pork/Chicken/Fish) with a few fries and a drink for less than 100 baht. Their English is ok and you can eat there or ask them to deliver if you're staying nearby. Location is opposite side of road from Ruy Suk and about 50m towards city center. Look for the 'steak' sign.
Good value
Udon Thani
All western food is highly priced in Udon, but best value is the Chern Chim pub/restaurant/food store. As well as pub type meals (inc. English breakfast) at reasonable prices they also import western food and drink. I've seen other western restaurant owners in Udon coming to buy their stock from here when I've been eating which says it all. Run by a nice British/Thai couple. For directions and more info: www.ChernChim.com Best priced western food in Udon
Udon Thani

I've never thought of using the bus from Udon to Bangkok before, as I assumed they'd be the usual local standard buses - old, shoddy and uncomfortable for what would be a 7 hour journey. But I went to the Udon bus station today and inside some of the luxury buses looks better than most planes! Two stories with big seats, lots of leg room, TV, WiFi, food and drink all provided. Price (one way) 560 baht! That's about 1000 baht cheaper than Air Asia's best deal to BKK. Worth a look if you want to save money. You can also get one of these luxury buses at 10:45pm from Udon so you'd sleep most of the way and wake up in Bangkok. 1000 baht cheaper than Air Asia
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