Spirit of Thailand

Spirit of Thailand

Culture, Relationships,
Thai Massage, Traveling

10 Reasons Why Thailand Is A Great Destination

Thailand scenery on Ko Phi Phi island

Did you ever daydream about being in a place where everything is perfect, where you feel totally at ease and happy? I have not found such a perfect place on planet earth, and to my best knowledge it does not exist.

But some places come much closer than others, and Thailand is in this category. No country is perfect, and neither is Thailand. But there is a good reason why tens of thousands of expatriates have decided on settling here.

Actually there are ten good reasons I can think of.

1. Thailand is quite a safe place

I am not saying there is no crime here – there is. But it hardly ever touches expatriates. Did you notice I did not say “tourists”? Expatriates know their way around. They know what things cost, which situations to avoid, and what to do.

Tourists are a little more exposed to petty crimes like overcharging or some scams that target the ignorant like buying fake jewelry. Or they might fall for the story of a bar girl who is a past master in making you part with your money and giving it to her.

Expats don’t generally fall for those games. They know them and just avoid them. But despite the inherent vulnerability of tourists, there is hardly any violent crime directed towards them in Thailand, and  you are generally perfectly safe walking around in any Thai city at 2 am in the morning. You can’t say that about a lot of cities on this planet.

2. Thais are naturally polite

thai peopleDid you ever travel to some country, and found people aggressive or even rude? I certainly have.

I don’t have to go very far – in my own home country, the USA, if I make a little mistake in traffic, people get easily upset, give me the finger or yell at me.

In Thailand this almost never happens. People cut each other off in traffic all day long, they park in bizarre places, and they disrupt traffic by doing the wrong thing, but nobody gets upset, nobody honks their horn, and nobody yells at you.

This is not typical for all Asian countries. In India or Vietnam you can go deaf from all the  horn honking, but in Thailand you hardly ever hear a car horn.

3. Thais are friendly 

I mean really friendly, and they smile at you all the time, even if you do something stupid.

Friendly Thai people
Thais are generally friendly by nature

I am not saying that the famous Thai smile always comes straight from the heart, but wouldn’t you rather have someone smile at you if you do something stupid rather than frowning, lecturing you or shaking their fist at you?

And many times the Thai smile really does come from the heart. Being impolite or rude is simply not acceptable in the Thai culture.

4. Price stability

Most prices in Thailand are fairly fixed, at least compared to many other Asian countries.

Why is that a big deal? Did you ever travel to a country where you have to bargain for every little thing, even a 10 cent sweet, for about 10 minutes? Try Vietnam or some middle eastern countries. It can be exasperating.

Many tourists argue that they don’t mind paying a little more since it is so cheap anyway. That’s not a good idea, since you will end up paying twice as much for your vacation, and you help drive prices up even more. The vendor will try to charge the next tourist even more.

Fruits in Thai Market
Fruits in Thai Market. Prices are generally fixed and clearly displayed.

In Thailand prices for public transportation are mostly fixed, and in the markets the vendors sell their goods at fairly fixed prices that are mostly displayed in writing.

Even if there is some bargaining going on, it is more along the lines of a polite “can you make a little discount?” They almost always agree. There is no vicious drawn out bargaining going on. It is such a relief, as I can tell you from experience.

However there are areas where you have to be careful. If you try to buy property in Thailand, you will be taken to the cleaners if you don’t know what you are doing. But in everyday life, I know that I am paying the same as the Thais in almost all areas, and I don’t have to fight for it.

5. Thailand is an easy place to be

Things work here, buses leave exactly on time, the infrastructure is good, you can find anything you want including all western goods.

Hua Hin train station
The train station in Hua Hin in southern Thailand

Thailand is a relatively organized place compared to some other Asian countries. It is clean, easy to travel around, pretty stress free and uncomplicated. Nobody is pushing and shoving, people even stay in line at counters (most of them at least).

Many times I heard the same comments from travelers – they were relieved to be in Thailand after coming from a more chaotic place like India for example.

6. The cost of living is quite low in Thailand

But – not for everything. Thai food is quite cheap, but prices for western food can be much higher than in the West. Simple accommodation is a bargain, but a western style condo  is not.

Cars and electronics can be expensive too. If you live simply and comfortably, the cost of living is lower than in most other parts of Asia and much lower than in the West.

7. Cultural diversity

If you travel in North America, there is not much of a difference between big towns and small towns.

But in Thailand there is not only more of a difference, but it feels like you are being transported back 100 years in time.

There are gleaming malls in modern cities, but the villages in the country appear to look like they must have looked forever without much change.

Huts in rice fields of Thailand
These houses in the middle of rice fields in Thailand are as simple as it can get.

Charming teakwood houses on stilts, dogs sleeping in the middle of the road, colorful flowers, plants and trees everywhere, and ‘hurry’ is not even in the vocabulary of the people there.

8. Warm climate

Ok, I admit it, sometimes it’s a little too warm. But if the alternative is shoveling snow in the winter in Minnesota or Canada, the hot season in Thailand seems quite tolerable. You only need one kind of wardrobe here: shorts, T-shirts, and sandals.

9. Sabai sabai and maipenrai

Thailand is quite a relaxed and laid back place which is not the case in all Asian countries. Thais don’t stress out easily like the Japanese for example, and they don’t get upset over little things that would cause waves in other countries.

Tricycle taxi driver in Chiang Mai
Tricycle taxi driver in Chiang Mai relaxing in between fares

Thais like to enjoy life and they have a word for it: “sabai sabai”, which means it’s fun, enjoyable, pleasant, or relaxing.

The other important word in the Thai vocabulary is “maipenrai”, which means it’s ok, no problem, don’t worry, no big deal, forget about it. These two expressions nicely encapsulate the essence of the Thai attitude to life.

10. The availability of good and cheap massage

Thai foot massage shop
A Thai Foot Massage shop in Chiang Rai, Thailand

In the western world, massage is a luxury. A one-hour session can set you back between $50 and $120, depending on where you are. In Thailand there are massage shops everywhere, and you can treat yourself to Thai Massage, foot massage, or oil massage for $7-$10 per hour.

This is one of the great pleasures of being in Thailand. You can pamper yourself without breaking the bank. And you might even do your health a whole lot of good in this way.

image of the the author, Shama KernThe author, Shama Kern, has been living in Thailand for close to two decades with his Thai wife. They have traveled all over Thailand together. You can reach Shama at [email protected] 

16 thoughts on “10 Reasons Why Thailand Is A Great Destination

  1. Thank you for this very warm, helpful understanding of what a visit to Thailand might be. We have been invited to visit from the U. S. and it is not a place that I know at all. I appreciate your insights.
    Best,
    Mary-Jo Knight

  2. Your articles are so helpful for me. I am going to Thailand soon. I am also learning English and I like your English very much. It is easy and pleasure to read your notes

  3. This blog of yours is extremely useful. I find it very true and accurate. Thanks to you for writing all of this. If there’s anything more about Thailand, please be encouraged to write more! Thank you again, I really enjoy reading your blog about Thailand!

  4. Thanks for the positive commentary on Thailand. I will be going for a visit there this coming February with my filipino wife. I hope that we will find our simple beach town that we can call home and move there full time on a retirement visa. I will be turning 50 this fall. I’m concerned that my wife who is younger than me will be able to also stay with me and how that all works with the retirement visa requirements. Do you know if this is possible?
    thanks,
    Rick

    • Rick, As long as you are over 50 and can put 800,000 Thai baht in a bank account, you will get your retirement visa no problem. Regarding your wife, in general being married to you won’t give her any legal rights in Thailand.

      The problem is that immigration and visa laws are often interpreted or applied differently in various parts of Thailand. There are regional inconsistencies depending on where you are. It might be your best bet to get her a non immigrant type O visa which is good for one year. The only thing is that she will have to leave the country every three months to get a new entry stamp.

      The non immigrant visas are very difficult to get once you are in South East Asia, but they are much easier to get in some Thai consulates in the US, Australia or Europe. I don’t know where you are in the world, and what exactly your situation is. But if you tell me the specifics, maybe I can give you some tips.

      Once you decide on where you want to settle, you can get your local interpretation of the visa situation from your regional immigration office. Maybe you can work something out.

  5. Shama, thanks for your reply. I do meet the requirements for the retirement visa. I have been told that my wife can get a dependent visa. I am now in Canada and my wife is in The Philippines. My work here ends at the end of this year. The consulate here in Vancouver told me that there isn’t a way that she can stay with me. It seems confusing because I hear a different answer from everyone I talk to on blogs, etc. A Place called Siam Legal has told me they can hook me up with the dependant visa no problem. They charge quite a bit but are they legitimate?

    We would like to travel to a few places to see which place we like the best. I have a sinus condition and I believe that Chiang Mai and it’s air pollution would be too much for me. The Krabi area or Hua Hin are other places I would like to look at.

    Thanks,

    Rick

    • Rick, that’s always the problem, everyone tells you a different story. Once I tried to get a non immigrant visa in Houston, Texas. I was in contact with the consulate over a period of several weeks. I supplied them all kinds of papers, bank statements etc. In the end they refused to give it to me, without any good reason. Then I went to the consulate in Dallas, Texas, just around the corner, so to speak, and I got my visa without any hassle at all within two days.

      Even here in Thailand, the Chiang Mai immigration might tell you one story, and the Phuket immigration office has another story. That’s why there is often not one easy, clear answer. But with persistence and enough research you will certainly come up with a way how your wife can stay with you. Lots of people are in similar situations here in Thailand. I can assure you that there is a way, even if it will take you a while to figure it out.

      By the way, the air pollution in Chiang Mai is very bad during the burning season, from mid February through April. Right now during the rainy season it is quite pleasant in Chiang Mai. Actually the rainy season is my favorite time of the year here, mostly because the clouds keep the heat down and the rain keeps the air clean.

      Hua Hin is well known for a good climate which is a big reason why the Thai king built a palace there. The downside of Hua Hin is that the town does not have much to offer (at least compared to Chiang Mai) and the beaches are not nice – murky water, lots of jelly fish.

      The beaches on the Krabi side are much better, and the scenery is nicer as well.

      I am sure you will find a place that fits you.

  6. Very good article. Yeah I noticed that Thai people are calm, polite and also helpful. They are not violent and don’t yell in the roads.They are very religious. The country is very rich in culture.

  7. Shama thanks for all your great points and different opinions on Thai life… I find them helpful and some quite amusing. My question to you is learning the Thai langue which I find very difficult to pick up. I know some of the basic words but really like to speak and understand the langue better. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated, thanks again…

    • I understand – it’s the tonal language which is causing the problem. Also the sentence structure is often the opposite of how it’s done in the English language. In the big cities and well known tourists centers there are plenty of Thais who teach foreigners how to speak Thai. There are also some apps for learning English, and some of them are free.

  8. I am enjoying your site because of your clear writing and answering the questions of your readers. Your selection of informational choices for the reader to pursue is are easy to follow suggestions .

Leave a Comment