Sawasdee khaa! (Thai Greeting)
As my time in Thailand is coming to an end, I can see why Anthony Bourdain fell madly in love with this country (RIP). Thailand is a magical, vibrant, welcoming and absolutely beautiful country! From Bangkok to Phuket to the Phi Phi Islands to Koh Samui, I am loving every minute of it! The Thai islands are by far the most beautiful places I’ve ever laid eyes on. The views are breathtaking and no photo will ever do it justice. The culture is rich and the homage to tradition is very evident. Beautiful temples and jaw-dropping architecture can be found all over the country. What I found unique about Thailand was that while it has state-of-the-art cities with skyscrapers, high-speed internet, and cell service better than anything you’ll find in the States, it simultaneously retains its old world charm. Brand new top-of-the-line facilities stand alongside third world style street vendors. Both worlds are interwoven together seamlessly and somehow it all works.
The food scene here is unlike anything you’ll ever experience! Fresh food is everywhere and there’s something for every palate. I never had a bad meal here and the street food is often as good as anything you’d get in a restaurant. Everything I tried has been amazing! The attention to detail that embodies Thai cuisine is evidence of their love and dedication to great food. 🍜
The culture here is just so vibrant! Night markets are everywhere with vendors selling amazing food, clothes, souvenirs, jewelry, high-end knock-offs and anything else you can think of. Music pumps throughout the markets and each night they are bustling with tourists and locals alike. Massage parlors line every street (they’re literally everywhere) and the Thai massage is a very unique technique that will leave you feeling stretched, energized and probably a little sore the next day!😆 Buddhism is the predominant religion here, so be prepared to see absolutely exquisite temples and shrines dedicated to The Buddha almost everywhere. These temples are simply breathtaking and have been around forever! Wat Pho dates as far back as the 16th century! You’re likely to see monks walking around anywhere, and it’s customary to show them deference and respect.
Also, relatively speaking, Thailand is VERY CHEAP! With the current exchange rate and the low cost of goods and food here, you can easily survive off as little as $10-$20 a day. Lodging is unbelievably inexpensive, especially if you choose an Airbnb type option like I did. For example, my room in a very upscale high-rise building was only $39/night and now it’s down to $18/night! (I feel cheated! LOL) If you haven’t used Airbnb, I highly recommend you sign up now! It saves you a ton on lodging costs, and I like the local experience you get from staying in a home vs. a hotel. Most hosts will greet you, arrange transportation from the airport, provide you with local tips of things to do…and avoid while in their city. If you sign up using my link, you’ll get a $40 credit towards your first trip! So basically a night or two in Bangkok for free! 😀
There aren’t enough good things I can say about the people of Thailand. They accepted me and treated me like I was right where I was supposed to be. For that, I am eternally grateful. Even though there weren’t many people around who looked like me, I never felt gawked at or treated like I was different. Everyone treated me like family. They were interested to know where I was from, what brought me to Thailand and many of them were surprised and amazed that I traveled alone. Several of the locals called me very brave when they learned how long I was traveling solo and that this was my first time in the region. If I ever looked confused, someone instantly stepped in to help. They are truly a polite, warm and pleasant people.
All in all, this is the PERFECT place for a solo traveler! There is so much to do and eat that you never have time to feel lonely. I’ve had so many amazing life-changing experiences that make it feel like I’m living in a dream. If you’re lucky, you may make some new life-long friends like I did! I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of this place, and I will definitely be back. Thailand already feels like my home away from home.
Stay tuned for future posts where I will be providing city-by-city breakdowns on what to do, what to eat and my impressions of each place!
Here are some cool pics from my journey so far! I hope you enjoy.