Thailand Road Rules
In short, there are no rules! Trust me, after recently travelling through Thailand I can positively state that no 'Western' rules or policies are upheld here.
For example, at a traffic light pedestrian crossing even with a green man which would normally give the impression that pedestrians are now safe to cross, one most certainly is NOT safe to cross!
Unless you literally walk in front of moving traffic, the vehicles will not come to a stop to let you cross. It is that simple! My wife and I spent nearly ten minutes trying to cross a road when we first touched down in Thailand! Our mistake it seems was patiently waiting for kind road users to stop and allow us to cross (this does not happen, ever!)
To be honest after the initial culture shock I can conclude that for some reason it actually works. There were rarely any traffic jams and we saw zero accidents in our time in the picturesque country. We did get the hang of it quickly and after a few 'buttock clenching' moments we were well on our way to becoming experienced and successful pedestrians in Thailand.
Obviously one needs to use common sense and not actually step into oncoming traffic but you do need to take the plunge and step onto the road and show your intention to cross. Take the first small gap in traffic and run for your life!!! The traffic will stop (more often than not because most road users do not have insurance and cannot afford to repair any damage caused to their vehicles)!
One other little tip when it comes to the Thai locals: they hate to 'lose face' and if asked a question that they don't understand or know the answer to, they tend to just give you some random information as they feel this is more helpful than just saying they don't understand.
For example, whilst at our hotel pool I asked a member of staff if we were able to order drinks to be brought out to the pool. The response was handing me a towel!
The same goes for directions, if you ask a local for directions to a certain location and they are not sure where you mean they will most likely give you directions to somewhere completely different. Trust me, they are not doing this to be rude it is simply their culture to be as helpful as possible and in their eyes something is better than nothing (even if it is totally unrelated to your initial query).
Only in Thailand can you get amazing views like this!
Just one of Thailand's amazing beaches.
Maya Bay Thailand (where the 'The Beach' with Leonardo Di Caprio was filmed)
The tuk-tuk is literally everywhere in Thailand and offers a great alternative to taxi's at a fraction of the cost. They are basically a modified motorbike / scooter which enables the driver to carry passengers in the open air.
They travel at low speed and are a great way to enjoy the scenery of Thailand whilst getting you to your required destination.
There are however a few points to be aware of before you choose this form of transport which I will list below to save you potentially being caught out:
Make sure you specify the end destination to the driver. If you are not sure how to pronounce the destination have it written down so you can show them this to save confusion (most hotels, restaurants and places of interest will have business cards which you can use for this purpose).
Agree on a price for the full journey before you get in and accept the fare. Some tuk-tuk drivers will not offer this and these are the ones to be aware of. If they don't give you a fare price before you get in then steer well clear as you are likely about to be heavily over charged! Most short journeys (from the beach to your hotel) should cost between 100-300 baht which is the equivalent to £2- £6.
Make sure the driver knows you want to go straight to your end destination. Many tuk-tuk drivers will try to convince you that they know a better restaurant or shop than the one you want to go to. These are usually owned by a friend of the drivers or a jewellery shop from which the driver will gain commission for taking you there. If offered to be taken to a 'nice place' which is not what you originally stated just firmly say 'no'. Although this type of thing may seem rude or 'cheeky' to you, don't be offended by it. The locals are just trying to make a living and it is part of their culture but definitely something to be aware of.