Wednesday, 14 May 2014

7 Ways to Keep Cool in Thailand

Tourists and Expats come to Thailand for a magnitude of different reasons and all have their own stories and experiences to share, however there is one single experience that everyone who has ever entered the kingdom (or neighbouring SEA country) has had. That experience is the first time you emerge from the comfortable climate artificially maintained at the airport. Emerging from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport you are faced with not only an extreme heat but a heat that is intensified further by the humidity and pollution in Bangkok's air. I for one find the climate in Bangkok nearly unliveable but once you leave the capital you will soon start to see the difference not only in the air quality but a drop in real time temperatures as well. These are my top seven tips for keeping cool in Thailand

1. Water
Everybody knows that you should drink enough water especially when in hot weather and keeping rehydrated really in the best way to stay cool in this climate. Forget about targeting yourself to drink 8 pints of water today because this just isn't enough. It is true that you get a large percentage of your fluid intake from foods but the amount of sweating that you're going to do in Thailand is soon going to ware this pretty thin. Most Thai people will reach straight for plain water when they feel thirsty and this is exactly what you should do to. It is of course always tempting to have an ice cold beer at lunchtime as you lounge on the beach but what's not so nice is the dehydrating effects of alcohol which are intensified by the extreme heat. Being a Brit I would never advocate being teetotal just recommend that you do your drinking in the evening by which time the temperatures will have dropped dramatically.

2. Fruit
The importance of getting enough water really cannot be overstated which is why eating fruit is also a great way to keep cool in Thailand. Fresh fruit is found in abundance all over Thailand and best of all it is really cheap. I make sure that I always follow my lunch off with a small bag of either pineapple or watermelon which costs 10 baht. The fruit vendors can normally be seen at the side of the road and always have an abundance of different fruits to choose from. They also make for great snacks and for those on a diet the combination of readily available cheap fruit and a climate which encourages continuous sweating makes Thailand an ideal place for weight loss! (if you don't get to engrossed in delicious Thai food that is) 

3. Spicy Food
It really isn't a coincidence that most of the world hottest countries also have the hottest foods. The fact is that the spice from the ingredients commonly used in Thai cuisine promote perspiration. While this doesn't sound like the most desirable effect the spicy Thai food in combination with the magnitude of water you should be drinking will help you sweat off the heat in no time and also get rid of those unwanted toxins from the night before a little quicker. Be careful not to get to fond of the delicious Thai food though because even though you'll be shedding the pounds through sweat it's easy to pile them back on with rice!

4. Light Clothes
This is another obvious tip and even though some of the locals like to go out in the midday sun in their skinny jeans and tight shirts I really wouldn't recommend it for us. The best advice is to keep the clothes as light as you can and don't wear anything which is too slim fitting. That tight fitting designer t-shirt might look great back in London but here you'll be walking around a sweaty mess which isn't a great look for anyone. You really can't go wrong with shorts and a light t-shirt and remember unless you're at the beach ALWAYS wear a shirt, it is considered extremely rude to go topless in a public place (worse so if you're a women!) 

5. Shower
The cold shower will soon become one of your greatest pleasures in life. Unless you've had the air conditioning blasting out at 18 degrees all day a cold shower is always going to feel more refreshing then a hot one. I would recommend taking multiple showers a day depending on your activity levels even if it' only a simple rinse off. One of the great things about the south of Thailand is that when it gets too hot we can just head over to the beach and jump into the sea, that really is a great way to cool down. 

6. Air Conditioning (Use Sparingly) 
The air conditioner really is a useful piece of technology because it allows us to artificially simulate any climate we want (within reason). If you are visiting Thailand on a short holiday of course it's fine to be liberal with your use of air conditioning. I can see no reason why you would want to subject yourself to uncomfortable temperatures on your holiday, so just try to stay in the air conditioning when it's really hot and enjoy yourself. If you are travelling in Thailand and you find you are getting too hot you can easily jump into an air conditioned place to cool down (7-11 is a great place for this). I would guess that most people in the malls of Bangkok have no intension of actually buying anything and are merely lapping up the free air conditioning before they head off on their merry way.  Those of us who either live here or are here for an extended period of time really should try to avoid an over reliance on air conditioning and instead use it as either a quick cool down technique or use it at a higher temperature (28+). A quick blast of the air conditioning on the lowest setting for 10 minutes should be enough to cool you down from even the most intense heat. 

7. Adapt
The reason I said that people living here long term shouldn't overly rely on air condition is because they will fail to adapt to the climate. If you never embrace the heat and only spend your time in artificially temperate conditions then the moment you are forced out of that comfort you are going to suffer. I recently wrote an article on living in Thailand without air conditioning and while that may be a little extreme for some rationing your consumption even if only a little will help you to adapt to the climate better. I think that if you follow the first six tips then the seventh will come naturally and you will adapt to the climate very quickly. Adapting to the climate means that you will have far greater freedom and save money in the progress, surely a win win all round?

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