Individuals boasting a tally of 45 countries visited in their lifetime, truly have the experience and knowledge necessary to reasonably answer the question “Where is the best place in the world?” Now while this is not exactly an easy question with so many fabulous places in the world, loved in many different ways, it is inevitable for well-traveled souls to develop a favorite. Individuals who travel to Thailand often find it to be a favorite destination for a multitude of reasons.
1. Thai food.
From the cheapest street cart to the best restaurant, the taste sensation that is Thai food is second to none. Pad Thai noodles, Tom Yum soup, spicy papaya salad, chilli fish, mango with sticky rice, watermelon shake ….once you taste Thai food you may find your top ten favorite foods are all Thai!
2. The Songkran festival.
Songkran is Thai New year, the festival of water held in mid April. It may actually be the most fun a person can have. The entire country takes part in a two to three day water fight, with buckets, hoses, and super-soaker guns. Old ladies may nail you with water pistols and monks may even push passers-by into a fountain. All to wash away sins and worries of the old year away so you can start anew.
3. Thai massage.
Addictive masochism that will make you walk like Mr Soft, all for just a few bucks an hour. Thai people have regular massages, considered important for their health and unlike western-style serenity retreats can be chatty, sociable group affairs. Two hours is NOT too long, and be prepared to be walked upon.
4. Thai people.
Even after the boxing day tsunami in Thailand, locals continued to illustrate their generosity, hospitality, and sense of humour when they had so little and lost so much. Lone female travelers should never feel intimidated. Outside of tourist areas the locals are still always interested in talking to visitors and sharing a smile.
5. Buddhist Monks.
In Thailand, most males will spend at least a year or two as a monk, identified by their orange robes. Serving in the temples is considered to help your family in the afterlife, so it is strongly encouraged. Unlike monks in other religions who are very committed, Thai monks are regular guys. Look out for monks smoking and chatting on mobile phones. Ladies shouldn’t sit next to or touch a monk, because they are practicing abstinence and it doesn’t help!
To experience the REAL Thailand, you should get out there and volunteer with the locals. Kaya Responsible Travel, Experiential Learning International, and GeoVisions all provide programs in Thailand. Kaya specifically has community initiatives helping victims of human trafficking, teaching English and helping hill tribe communities, and environmental projects working on the island reefs or with elephants.