Thailand is a perennially popular tourist destination and, after spending months in India, a few weeks break in Thailand was just what I needed. Here’s what I loved about Thailand; from temples and queuing to street stalls, smiles and errmm 7/11!
5 Things I Love about Thailand
Beauty – There is beauty everywhere in Thailand, from mesmerizing golden glittering temples, colourful flower garlands on long tail boats and the pretty shrines and spirit houses that are found outside every house and business and not to mention the immaculate presentation of everything from food to the people themselves. Thailand is a beautiful country.
Street Food – Snacking on the go is really a way of life in Thailand. Every evening the streets come alive with quick, cheap and tasty meals from the ubiquitous Pad Thai to spicy soups, Chinese noodles and rice dishes to mango sticky rice and of course not forgetting food on sticks. There is a huge variety of food in Thailand, not all of it is spicy and western favourites are also easy to find. At least half of my daily food intake when in Thailand seems to come on a stick and I love the convenience of snacking on the go and the communal dining atmosphere at the street stalls and,unlike in India, hygiene is usually pretty good – I haven’t been sick yet!
Shopping – From the ultra modern malls (one of my favourites is the airport themed Terminal 21 in Bangkok) to the street stalls. Thailand is a shopper;s paradise, there is just so much to buy here, I’m not a big shopper but it’s hard to resist. Every town seems to have a Night Bazaar or Walking Street and even though I’m not a big shopper it’s hard to resist as haggling with the vendors is so much easier than in India and it’s much easier to get a bargain price. I also love surfing the snack stalls at the same time and if there’s not a night market going on then you are never far away from the air conditioned bliss of 7/11 which sells everything you could imagine with the highlight being the toasties that they warm up for your convenience.
Travel is Easy – I can see why Thailand is called the land of smiles, Thai people are so polite and welcoming and traveling in Thailand does not have the same difficulties and frustrations that traveling in India brings. Thailand is modern and well developed making it easy to get around, things like wifi and hot showers actually work and there are not daily powercuts. I can wear what I want, grab a beer or a burger, get a sim card in less than 5 mins (instead of 5 days in India) I had to give less information to enter the country (visa free!) than to simply check into a hotel in India. I’m invisible amongst crowds of other tourists and farang so I can simply walk down the street, wearing whatever I want, at any time and not get hassled and as there are so many other travellers its easy to met people and make new friends. Bangkok has great, air conditioned, public transport and people even queue to get onto the skytrain! How civilized!
Amazing Beaches – With so many islands to choose from Thailand is a paradise for island hopping from and although some of the most popular and famous islands have become very commercialized and over developed there are still some undeveloped tropical hideaways for intrepid explorers to discover. The white sands and clear turquoise seas are world class – I still love the Goan vibe but sorry Goa, Thailand beaches beat Goa’s in the beauty stakes.
And things that I don’t love about Thailand.
But I have to admit that for some reason I have never fallen in love with Thailand the way I was captivated by India. I don’t know why really – from the countryside in the north, to buzzing Bangkok, to glittering temples and turquoise oceans, Thailand is a great place to travel and makes a perfect first time backpacking destination for sure. But despite visiting Thailand 3 times now, and spending over 2 months all over the country, I never seem to really fall in love with the country like many others seem to do.
Thailand has been a great respite from India, it always surprises me just how different these two countries are but despite the frustrations of traveling in India after only 2 weeks in Thailand I’m eager to return to India.
Why don’t I love Thailand? I don’t really know – I feel like I should but I guess I left my heart in India. The expense of traveling here is one reason ( don’t get me wrong Thailand is still good value, especially compared to the rest of the world, but most things cost double compared to what I would pay in India) and the blatant sex industry also makes me feel uncomfortable.
But still, I’m sure this won’t be my last visit to the land of smiles. Thailand is a perfect respite from the sometimes overwhelming chaos traveling of India but for some reason I just can’t connect with Thailand in the way that I do with India.
India may be frustrating but it’s also probably the most fascinating place on earth. It’s surprising, rewarding and simply captivating, there’s nowhere else like it and aren’t the hardest things the ones most worth doing?