Whether Thailand is on your bucket list or not, there’s many reasons you should consider visiting it. Thanks to a gap between my Indonesian summer program and my fall semester in South Africa, I made a brief stop in Thailand to explore Bangkok, hit its beaches, and create this epic list of why Thailand is the place to be:
Thai food is to die for
I consider myself a first-rate foodie, so when I say Thai food is delicious, I 100% mean it! For noodle fans, there’s pad thai at nearly every street corner. If soup’s your thing, try tom yum goong (spicy shrimp soup) or tom kha kai (chicken in coconut milk soup). I happen to love the curries as well as mango sticky rice, a slightly sweet white rice topped with sliced mangoes. Other perks of buying Thai food are its ridiculous cheapness (a decent meal can cost <$1) and tropical fruits that I can never find in the US (like rambutan, manggis, and durian).
Floating markets make American farmers’ markets look boring
Have you ever gone to a marketplace that is only accessible by boat? Go to Thailand’s floating markets, where food is sold by vendors on boats and boardwalks. I took a 30-minute boatride to reach a floating market, and was pleasantly surprised by its many marketstands and a local band playing traditional instruments.
The Grand Palace is the perfect backdrop for updating your Insta profile
Set in the heart of Bangkok, the official residence of past Thai royalty is a top-notch location for pictures due to its intricate architecture and designs. Unfortunately, since my scarf, t-shirt, and capris were not conservative enough to enter the palace, I had to make a spur-the-moment shopping trip at a side shop! See my new clothes below…
Conversations with Thai locals challenge your communication skills
Even in touristy Bangkok, taxi drivers, waiters, and vendors understand close-to-nil English. Nevertheless, close-to-nil English is still some English, so your task is to communicate using the words people would know. Gestures and Google Translate come in handy too! To me, communicating with Thai people felt like a game, and I proudly beat my travel buddy Rohan at being understandable! Haha.
Thailand’s sandy beaches are a vacay paradise
Far from a tranquil beach getaway, Bangkok is a city that never sleeps. If you want to experience genuine vacation relaxation, then take a cheap plane from Bangkok to the southern regions. Rohan and I flew to Phuket, and from there we commuted to Phang Nga Bay (home of James Bond Island), Phi Phi Islands (touristy islands with turquoise water and sandy beaches), and Bangla Road (a road famous for its food and sprawling nightlife).
Muay Thai matches are intense
If you fail miserably at cross-cultural communication, you can recover your confidence by watching a Muay Thai match. As Thailand’s official sport, Muay Thai competitors use their knees, elbows, shins, and hands to fight. Contestants come from all over the world, and as their 3-minute rounds near completion the audience claps and cheers ferociously.
- Elephants are the national animal of Thailand, so its memorabilia is everywhere, from clothing to jewelry to décor. Elephants are also rich people’s pets. Just like Americans send their horses to top-notch trainers, so too do Thai people send their elephants to be entertained and improved. Desperate to find elephants, Rohan and I drove 30-kilometers on our scooter in the pouring rain to Phang Nga Elephant Park.
Thai massages make your body feel like it’s 16 again
I’m not typically a fan of massages because I’ve had too many that are more painful than relaxing. My Thai massage experience, however, was different. After stripping down and laying on my belly, my body was massaged with special oil that made my muscles feel better than they had the last 2 months! And my 30-minute massage only cost 200 baht (about $6)!
Scooters allow you to travel like a local
My greatest joys in life include tropical fruit, Indian food, mountain hikes, and—you guessed it—bikes! Fortunately in Thailand, my friend and I were able to rent a motorized scooter. Costing a mere 200 baht per day, the scooter allowed us to enjoy areas of the countryside that Grab (Southeast Asian version of Uber) would have overcharged to see.
Night markets are Southeast Asia’s ultimate hangout spot
For anyone who has never been to Asia or particularly Southeast Asia, it’s hard to fully capture the essence of night markets. Typically set on a long street, night markets have informal vendors who sell items ranging from fresh fruit to fried quail eggs, sausages, and snacks whose ingredients you can only guess. When Rohan and I perused a Bangkok night market, we sampled an assortment of sausages, pad thai, and green tea ice cream (green tea is a very popular Southeast Asian flavor).
Of course, there’s many more pictures and memories from my 6 days of Thailand, some of which are below:
Beautiful seaside sights