BEFORE YOU GO
WHEN YOU'RE THERE
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)
• 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.
• 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).