It’s no secret that Thailand is one of my favorite places in the world. There is just something about that country, the people, and the culture that feels absolutely magical. I could definitely see myself living there someday, teaching English by day and relaxing on the beach by night. I highly recommend putting it on your travel to-do list, and here are my top ten reasons why:
1. The people – Out of the 38 countries I’ve traveled to so far, Thailand has some of the friendliest people I have ever met. You would think that the language barrier would be a significant issue when it comes to connecting with locals, but it’s really not. Many people there can speak a little English and, even if they can’t, they will try to communicate with you any way that they can.
The true kindness and love shown to me by my good friend who lives in Bangkok is not the only example of how wonderful many of the Thai people are.
My dear friend, Fai, feeding me bugs on Khao San Road in Bangkok (yep, that’s what I said – bugs!)
When I was trekking through the Thai jungle, my friend and I stayed the night in a native village. Immediately upon arriving there, the natives were smiling at us and happy to see us. It wasn’t just because we were tourists who would potentially bring in money (they had a little shop); it was more than that. There were a number of children there and I spent the evening running around with the kids, playing with random old toys (things like toy guns and baby dolls – I have no idea how they got ahold of these toys), petting the pig, and chasing chickens until we caught them. These children didn’t speak English, but it didn’t matter – the connection could be felt beyond the need for spoken language.
Fun with the kids in the Thai jungle
That night we sat around a bonfire (there were a total of five of us in the trekking group) and chatted with a couple of the natives who did speak some English. They taught us about their customs (which are different from traditional Thai customs; their group has their own) and asked us about ours, and it was an incredibly enriching experience. (One of them even hit on me and gave me his number on a piece of wood, haha!)
Our group at the bonfire
On the way out the next morning, we passed by the local schoolhouse, which was a beautiful blue building, and all of the little children ran up to me and gave me a huge hug goodbye. It was one of the best moments of my life.
The schoolhouse in the Thai jungle village
2. The fascinating culture – The country of Thailand is rich with culture. Thais tend to be very traditional people. As a history buff, I really enjoyed how interesting the Thai culture is. I traveled there in November 2016, about a month after their highly-revered king passed away, and the country was still in mourning. They absolutely worshiped him and it was heartbreaking to see the pain the people were feeling due to this loss.
One of the many memorials dedicated to the late king
When I was sightseeing in Bangkok, my Thai friend and I saw many people gathering together, wearing all black, to give their respects to their fallen monarch. Thai culture revolves around passion, loyalty, and dedication, and it was a beautiful and humbling scene to witness.
Mourners gathered in the streets of Bangkok to remember their fallen leader
3. The architecture – Thailand has some of the most beautiful buildings and structures I have ever seen. The temples (called a “wat” in Thai) in particular are stunning. Many Thai people are dedicated to the Buddhist religion and the temples are obviously a sacred place for them. They can be found throughout the country and often have some of the best architectural designs you will ever see (I’m no expert on architecture, but I can tell when something is beautiful and well made!).
Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok
4. It’s cheap – Traveling on a budget? Low on spending money? No problem! Thailand is one of the most low-cost destinations you can find. Most meals cost only a few dollars in restaurants. There are certain areas that are a bit more expensive because they are so touristy (Koh Phi Phi Island, for example), but even in those places it’s still quite cheap compared to American standards (around $8 to $10 for a meal in a restaurant).
5. It’s easy to meet people – Traveling solo and worried about finding people to hang out with? Not an issue when traveling to Thailand. This is a huge backpacker destination and many people travel from all over the world to go there. You will find many other people traveling alone who want to sightsee and party with you. Be sure to stay in a hostel if you are really keen on meeting a lot of people.
6. It’s safe – Of course in any foreign country you should practice caution, but I never felt particularly unsafe in Thailand. There is political unrest but the chances of anything happening to you are no higher than anywhere else, in my opinion. Most Thai people are kind and will help you with directions if you are lost, etc.
7. The food – If you’ve ever had Thai cuisine before then you already know that it’s the bomb. What’s even better than your favorite Thai restaurant in the U.S.? Authentic Thai food from a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Thailand, or even from a food truck. The best Pad Thai I’ve had in my life cost $1.00 and was from a food truck on the streets of Bangkok.
You will never run out of tasty, interesting dishes to try in this country. And if you like spicy food? Even better. Tom Yum soup, among the many other spicy options there, is one of the spiciest dishes in the world. (But if you don’t like spicy food, like me, be sure to remember these words – “my pit.” That means “not spicy” in Thai and came in handy to me at every restaurant!).
8. Awesome tattoos – Thailand is well known for its unique bamboo tattoos. In a nutshell, bamboo tattoos are performed using bamboo instead of a machine. There is less risk for infection and you can swim immediately afterward. I have no idea why they aren’t available in the U.S., but it is a great way to symbolize your connection to Thailand (or to whatever you want) for the rest of your life. I am in love with the bamboo tattoo I got on Koh Phi Phi Island, and it was very affordable. Most tattoo places in Thailand are clean, but be sure to ask the front desk at your hostel or the local with whom you are couchsurfing where they recommend getting it done. I found my place by meeting a friend at the hostel who had just gotten a bamboo tattoo there the night before.
My bamboo tattoo of the world to represent my passion for traveling
9. The beaches – What do most people think of when they imagine Thailand? Probably a gorgeous beach with a blue sky and the sun shining, maybe even one of those boats that are in pretty much everyone’s social media pictures from Thailand (don’t feel bad; I’m guilty of it as well!).
Typical Thailand pic
There’s a reason why this image is commonly associated with my beloved Thailand. This country has some of the most beautiful beaches in the entire world, and that is not an exaggeration. Koh Phi Phi Island is the most popular tourist destination for beach life, and it definitely does not disappoint. My friend and I didn’t get the best weather when we were there, but it was still gorgeous and we had an absolute blast and made so many friends. (That’s the thing about traveling – you can’t control the weather!)
The amazing view from Koh Phi Phi Viewpoint
Due to time constraints, we only went to a few of the islands, but I am planning to go back soon to explore some of the many other incredible islands in the south. You could easily spend a week just island hopping over there.
10. The nightlife – You were waiting for this one, weren’t you? 😉 Yes, the rumors are true – Thailand has some of the best nightlife in the world. Okay, so I haven’t exactly been everywhere in the world, but I’ve been around enough to know that this country is a huge party destination for many travelers, and for good reason. Each city has its own unique nightlife. In Chiang Mai, the bars close at midnight so, after they closed, we ended up meeting a group of locals who invited us to a bar that stays open after hours, illegally. It felt like we were living during Prohibition and sneaking into a speakeasy. It was SO much fun!
In Bangkok, bars stay open much later, and we had a great time dancing the night away on Khao San Road with a mixture of tourists and locals.
Night out in Bangkok
On Koh Phi Phi Island, the bars are on the beach and you literally dance while your legs are half submerged in the water. If you get one of their famous buckets (it’s pretty much just a huge bucket of liquor), you might not even remember what club you went to the night before, haha!
Dancing at a beach club on Koh Phi Phi Island (no need for shoes, lol!)
In Phuket, the real depravity comes out. The famous Bangla Road is full of prostitutes, ping pong and live sex shows, and clubs where you can dance until your feet can no longer hold you upright. It’s funny how different the cities are – in Chiang Mai, you go out around 9:00 PM because everything closes at midnight, whereas in Phuket, the party doesn’t even begin to start until midnight.
New friends and me enjoying the nightlife in Phuket
I honestly learned a lot about myself during my brief two weeks of adventures in Thailand, and I believe you will as well. Now that you have been thoroughly convinced that you need to start planning a trip there, my next post is going to be a guide to help you do just that. I will include tips and recommendations for all the things you need to do and see while in this beautiful, enchanting country. Stay tuned, and feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on this post and/or your own experiences in Thailand, or to ask me a question! 🙂