• Jack Gayer

How To Make The Most Out Of Visiting Thailand

Updated: Jun 2

Visiting a new country is similar to navigating the dynamics of a party where you only know one or two people; and the people that you "know," you don't even know that well. You have a rough idea of these friends, who they are, where they stand politically, what they do for a job.

On the Thai beach of Hua Hin
On the Thai beach of Hua Hin

You like them but you don't have an intimate idea of who they are as a person. The rest of the people at the party are an unknown quantity. You don't know what is taboo to them, what egregious opinions they hold, and how they will act after a few drinks.


Thus, it is always more enjoyable when you have context and prepared insights and knowledge before you step into a largely unknown environment.

Me, teaching in Thailand
Me, teaching in Thailand

Teaching

It is widely known that if you are a native English speaker with a degree you can teach English in many places across the globe. However, depending on your background, you may have other teaching opportunities in Thailand.


You might be able to teach math, science, literature, swimming, or even art. While some people turn their noses up at teaching or view it as too cliché, their dismissiveness should be ignored. The more teachers you meet the more you realize that people who teach in Thailand come from all walks of life.


Further, what everyone realizes is that teaching in Thailand will probably be one of the wildest, most interesting, and surprising experiences of your life. It will give you a profound inside look at the country's culture that many forms of traveling will not afford you.

Leave Your Values At The Door

It is no secret that every country has different social values among other aspects of their cultural identity. The longer you live (and especially if you teach) in Thailand, the more often you will see indignant foreigners try to let Thais, or their company, know how they think things should be run differently.


This advice, while usually well-meaning, is not often well-received and is more likely ignored. It won't win you any favors even if you happen to be right and is like telling a parent how they should raise their child.

Striking a pose on Thailand's Pak Meng Beach
Striking a pose on Thailand's Pak Meng Beach

Visit Tourist Hot Spots But Travel Around The Lesser-Known Areas

Most people who want to go to Thailand know about the islands and Bangkok. You'll often hear that people were inspired to visit this Southeast Asian country after they saw the movie The Beach. Yes, many of these spots will live up to the expectations of being party meccas or scenes of natural beauty.


However, if you take the time to travel around through more provincial areas, you'll learn one of the many ironies from the film: there are tons of gorgeous, largely empty, and isolated beaches throughout the country. They are also quieter and less expensive than the more commonly known areas with just as much gorgeous scenery.

Learning to speak Thai
Learning to speak Thai

Learn Some/Any Thai

This is an obvious bit of advice but a skill that not many people bother to even attempt before or while staying in Thailand. You can "get by" without studying Thai. You will pretty quickly learn how to say hello, thank you, and basic numbers in Thai just by listening.


However, every extra bit of Thai you learn (and outside of the aforementioned bits, you're not going to "pick up" Thai like you might pick up Spanish living in Mexico or Spain) will make your stay easier and will open your world up to new experiences.


When Thais hear you speaking more than the most rudimentary Thai, they are not shy about expressing their surprise and delight. It will also make getting around much easier as English is not widely spoken. You can learn it for free on YouTube where there is an abundance of videos, but there is no substitute for speaking with someone.


For this, you can use Italki, where for a nominal fee you can speak with native speakers who are more than happy to assist you. Two exemplary teachers are Jan (Thai name Suthida) and Pam (Thai name Pimmas Singtham).

A gorgeous sunset on Thailand's Koh Phangan Beach
A gorgeous sunset on Thailand's Koh Phangan Beach

Learn About The Country Before You Visit

Another bit of advice that may seem eye-roll worthy. It isn't. There are social laws that govern the country that you can ignore and incur disapproving looks and disapproval.


There are more literal laws, like the ones concerning "cybercrimes," which are sometimes associated with leaving reviews, that can land you in more trouble than you expect. Ignorance is bliss until it’s a nightmare.

 

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