BEFORE YOU GO

READ THIS

Unflinching portrayal of POW life (and death) working on the Thai–Burma Railway

WATCH THIS

Leonardo DiCaprio seeks adventure on a secret island in southern Thailand

BUY THIS

Extensive guide to Thai cooking and its role in Thai culture


WHEN YOU'RE THERE

EAT THESE

Five foods and drinks to try on your trip round Thailand

PAD THAI You’re never far from a stall selling Thailand’s national dish: rice noodles fried with bean sprouts, tofu and egg and topped with crushed peanuts and a squirt of lime.

KHAO SOI Chiang Mai is the place to try this spicy coconut soup, made with boiled and dried egg noodles and a chicken leg.

MANGO & STICKY RICE Khaw niaw mamuang is the classic Thai desert of glutinous rice cooked in salty-sweet coconut cream and served with slices of mango.

COCONUT WATER Nam maprao is perfect on a hot day – choose your coconut (a green one; brown ones are used for cooking) and the stallholder will cleave off the top and serve it to you with a straw.

DRAGON FRUIT A dramatic-looking fruit, gaew mang-gon has pink scaly skin and a soft white flesh that is dotted with crunchy, nutty-tasting seeds.

DO THIS (AND DON’T DO THAT)

DO...

• Make sure you have enough cash on you. Most places in Khao Sok can’t accept card payments and you’ll need it for taxis and tuk-tuks, laundry and some transfers. Also, the majority of accessible ATMs charge a hefty 220bh per withdrawal.

• Respect temple etiquette – dress appropriately (which, for adults and older children, means wearing trousers or over-the-knee-length skirt; though note that some temples rent out or sell sarongs), remove your shoes when entering the temple itself, and sit with your feet point away from the Buddha image.

• Buy a local SIM card at the airport. It takes less than a minute to set up and could save you a small fortune in data charges from your service provider.

DON’T…

• Listen to opportunist scamsters in Bangkok, who will tell you that the temple you’re trying to find is closed and then offer to take you to an alternative – which will actually be a gem shop with vastly inflated prices and a hard-sell sales attendant.

• Go elephant trekking or take elephant-back rides. Elephants need to be “broken in” and controlled in order for them to give people rides, and sitting on an elephant’s back, especially in a heavy chair, causes them physical harm.

• Mention the monarchy. Or at least in a derogatory way. Most Thais will be deeply offended (and it’s actually a criminal offence to do so).