When people ask me why I love Thailand, it’s hard to think of reasons why not to love Thailand. I mean, what’s not to love about a tropical paradise with some of the friendliest people in the world? What’s not to love about hot pink taxicabs and colorful tuk tuks? About delicious cuisine and a relaxed lifestyle?
After living in Thailand for nearly one year, I still yearn to return again and again. It’s as if I want to crawl every corner, just to see if I can find something I don’t quite love about it…but something tells me I’m out of luck.
Here are my top 10 reasons, of many more, to fall madly in love with Thailand:
1. The People
Thailand is popularly known as the “Land of Smiles”, and for good reason. People here don’t just put on a pretty face, they’re genuinely happy to see you and their smiles reflect that. It’s the people that make your stay enjoyable. Almost always eager to help, whether it’s with directions when you’re lost or encouragement when you’re learning their language – “You speak Thai good!” you’re likely to hear after saying only one word – the people remind you that the world is kind.
2. The Security
Outside of Bangkok, it’s rare to hear a horn honking, or to witness theft. When I lived in the rural northeast, I left my wooden hut unlocked and the key in my motorbike on many occasions, and never worried about anything. Not once did I feel unsafe, and I would honestly deem it one of the safest countries in the world.
3. The Culture
More than 95% of Thais practice Buddhism, which means, in short, that people treat others as they wish to be treated. The culture is laid back. At first, it may seem too laid back, but with time you’ll come to respect a complete disregard for time, an attitude about things, a belief that getting upset or angry about something miniscule is utterly pointless. Life should be savored, and with every break and every celebration, there should be good food.
4. The Food
A variety of rice and vegetable dishes, coupled with noodle soups and fresh fruits in varieties you didn’t know exist, the food in Thailand will leave your mouth watering for days, even without the extra chili spice locals love. Then again, with food on every corner and at every turn throughout the day, it’s unlikely your mouth will have time to water.
5. The Temples
Buddhist wats, or temples, dot the countryside both in and outside of every city and village. From simple, stick-built edifices standing on stilts in a pond covered with lily pads, to elaborately detailed gold and silver buildings still in progress, the temples are beautiful attractions anyone can appreciate, Buddhist or not.
6. The Wai
The traditional greeting in Thailand is called a wai, where one begins by placing both her palms together in front of her face, and then bows from the waist down. It’s customary for the younger or less prestigious of the two in greeting to bow first, as a sign of respect, and then the wai will be returned. The lower the bow, the more respect is shown. For the king and other highly revered people, often times a bow will reach the ground. Try it! You’re sure to feel like a queen every time you say hello.
7. The Transportation
Thailand boasts a variety of public transport, from planes, trains and buses to motorcycle taxis, three-wheeled auto rickshaws call tuk tuks, or the not so plain regular taxicabs in neon pink, yellow, green and orange. Not only is the transportation plentiful, but also it’s cheap, convenient and well connected throughout the country, making it possible for you to see every corner of this diverse country in just a short stay.
8. The Beaches
Hop on a bus and head down south, where you’ll find some of the most beautiful, white sand beaches your eyes have ever seen. From the famed Phuket and Koh Pi Pi off the western shore, to the lesser-known Koh Kood just off the southeastern peninsula, you’re sure to find a beach to suit your style, and you won’t leave disappointed. With beach hut rentals for cheaper than a roadway hotel in the States, you can stay for a week, or maybe even a month.
9. The Activities
Whether you want to ride an elephant or rent a scooter, go rock climbing or scuba diving, attend a Full Moon Party (every full moon is reason for one of the world’s largest beach parties), go caving or kayaking, Thailand has it all and more.
10. The holidays
Thais have lots of reasons to celebrate, or sometimes no reason at all, but holidays are usually a pretty good excuse. From the Thai New Year in April (Songkran), which is a nationwide water fight for grownups and kids alike, to the Loi Krathong and Lanna in November, where locals release floating lanterns into the sky to celebrate the goddess of light, Thai holidays are unique and entertaining, and locals are always happy to share them with visitors.
Whether you have a two-week holiday or a couple years to travel, Thailand should definitely be at the top of your bucket list. With all these reasons to love Thailand, what are you waiting for? Book your ticket today, and be prepared to find love in the Land of Smiles.