Engaging with Thai People on your Backpacking Adventures

Royal Guard Changing Ceremonies at Gyeongbokgung Palace
Royal Guard Changing Ceremonies at Gyeongbokgung Palace
March 3, 2016
legacy hotel otres beach
Legacy Hotel & Resort – Otres Beach, Sihanoukville, Cambodia
May 14, 2016
Backpacking Adventures


You will never forget the time you spend engaging with Thai people while you are enjoying backpacking adventures! Backpacking through Thailand you will find them to be very social and fun! Don’t miss out on the opportunity to enjoy their culture and their friendliness. They tend to be well educated and they can provide you with stories about the area as well as information about where to stay, where to explore, and so much more.

It is going to be exciting when you have plans in place to hang out with the. It doesn’t matter if you took the incentive and set something up or you were invited to join a group of them. Don’t give in to social anxiety that may be going on in your mind. Of course you want to be mindful of their customs and their culture. The information here will help you to engage with Thai people successfully and to avoid common mistakes.

Eating and Drinking are Part of the Socializing

Be ready to eat and drink when you go out with Thai people. This is a group activity and part of the overall social element involved. In fact, eating alone or going to the bar alone gives the impression you don’t have any friends. This is why you won’t see people engaged in such behaviors in public alone.

Celebrations for birthdays are just one of the many reasons why you will find Thai people going out. However, the bars are typically full every night of the week. This culture doesn’t reserve such events for the weekends like many other cultures do. You will find as much action taking place on a Wednesday night as you do on a Saturday night! The events do get underway early though since the following day is typically going to include work for most of them.

What to Wear

Deciding what to wear for any occasion takes some thought. When you are planning to go out with Thai people, what you will wear depends on where you are going. If you aren’t sure what is appropriate, ask when you make the plans with them. They will be happy to give you some pointers for that given venue. Many of them are accepting of casual dress but others require something a bit more upscale – completely depends where you are going. Remember, often times if you are Backpacking in Thailand you don’t have a big clothes selection, so it my be difficult for variety.

If you aren’t sure if the attire, wear long pants, an ironed shirt, and closed toed shoes. If you aren’t sure, dress nicer. Some of the venues won’t let you in if you have on shorts and open toed shoes. It will be quite disappointing to be turned away at the door. Make sure you take your ID with you too. Most of the venues won’t ask for it, but it is best to have it ready in case they do. The age to get into the various clubs is 20, and the bouncer may ask for ID to let you enter.

Types of Venues

Many of the venues Thai people take you to are the typical bar scene. There will be food, drinks, music, and plenty of interacting. Thai pop and rock music is very common. The music may be in a language you aren’t familiar with, but you will enjoy the beat. Many of the venues have live music and that helps to vamp up the overall energy in the place. There will be songs the crowd knows well and they will join in singing them. Just smile and enjoy it!

Bars typically have tables with chairs while clubs tend to have islands or tables but not any chairs. There aren’t usually dance floor areas but you will see people moving around and dancing anyway, especially in the club settings.

It isn’t customary to bar hop or club hop here, and that is a cultural difference. The location where you meet up is going to be where you stay for the duration of your time spent together. The downside to this is it does limit your exposure to various bars and clubs in the area. It is also customary for everyone to leave at the same time. This can be a set time established by the group or when the venue closes down (typically 1 am or 2 am is closing time).

Ordering Drinks

In this culture, you typically won’t be trying various drinks to sample them. Instead, you will typically order a bottle of some type of liquor as a group. Thai rum called Sang Som is very common as is various whiskeys. The taste preferences, cost, and more determine what will be ordered. Deciding what to get can be a group effort, but you may be inclined to let them decide for you since you aren’t familiar with the options.

Typically, the group will all split the cost of the alcohol, unless someone in the group has made the offer to pay for it. Each alcohol setting will be complete with a bucket of ice, water, and soda. These are your mixers and you can create your drink the way you want. Start out with a glass of ice, 1 part alcohol, and 2 parts soda. Some of the upscale locations will have a waiter at the tables to mix drinks for you. Otherwise, it is up to you and the others in your group to do so.

What if you don’t like the taste of whiskey? Give it a try and see if mixing it different ways grows on you. Reduce the amount of alcohol and increase the soda so the taste is better for you. It is acceptable for you to order beer too, but you need to order more than one, and be willing to share with the group. You don’t drink it from the bottle – you always pour it into a glass.

If your group doesn’t finish the bottles of alcohol ordered and paid for, they will be saved! They can write the name on it and then come back for the next visit. That could be the very next night or it can be several weeks down the road.


There will be plenty of choices of food on the table at bars and clubs. This is your chance to experience a variety of Thai foods. Your group will decide what to order, and again, everyone will share what is brought. This gives all of you the chance to sample a variety of items and to share the experience. Backpacking Thailand you’ll get a lot of chances to try different types of food throughout your travels.

Paying the Bill

As mentioned, the bill will typically be shared among the entire group. However, there are times when someone will offer to pay for all of it or to pay a portion of it. Seniors often pay more than younger individuals in the group. Men may pay more than women or the women may not pay at all if it is all couples.

Typically, there is no dividing the bill based on who ordered what or who consumed more than the others. Don’t get caught up in any anxiety about the payment. There may be one person in the group who tells each of you what is owed. If that information isn’t shared, politely ask how much is your share and they will tell you.

Safely getting to your Accommodations

When the evening out comes to an end, everyone may be going in different directions to get to their accommodations. Keep in mind, drinking and driving in Thai doesn’t have the same repercussions that it often does in other areas. Watch out for other drivers if you are walking. Don’t ride with anyone who has been drinking – either walk, take a bus, or get a taxi. You may have a long wait for a taxi if you stay at the venue until closing time. You will also pay more as there is a huge demand for them at that given time.

Extended Party Option

There is the option you will be invited to an after party, at the accommodations of one or more of the group members. They will typically stop along the way to get more alcohol and snacks unless they have a stock at home. People can decide to leave the after party at various times, it isn’t necessary to all go at the same time.

You may be invited to stay for the night. They can even offer you pajamas so you can get more comfortable. If you aren’t comfortable with staying in the home of someone you don’t know well, it may be best to decline the invite to the after party.


It isn’t out of the ordinary for something to hold up Thai people, just like anyone else. It could be due to working late, problems getting a sitter, traffic, feeling ill, etc. The biggest challenge though is they don’t do well with letting others know. In fact, it is part of this culture not to say anything so they don’t have to give you the bad news. It is an understood part of this culture when they don’t show up that it is a silent cancellation. This can be hard to swallow if you are from another culture and make you upset or angry. Try to understand if this occurs and don’t take it personally.

It may make you feel better to follow up with them as it gets closer to the time to meet and then to reach out to them. They will likely confirm if they are going to show up but they may not reply at all if their plans to attend have changed. If they do cancel, and you see them a few days later, don’t be surprised if they don’t bring it up and they act like nothing happened! Again, it is just a part of the culture, but hopefully they will make it and you can have a delightful experience!


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