Last Updated: 8/31/20 | August 31st, 2020
I’ve been to Thailand more times than I can count. I’ve lived in Bangkok twice, I’ve run tours through the country, and, if I stay away for more than a year, I feel as if a piece of me is missing.
I love Thailand.
It holds a special place in my heart.
People often ask me why I return to places I’ve already visited instead of exploring somewhere new. Well, that’s an easy answer: because I feel at home when I’m visiting them.
And Thailand is probably the one place outside of the U.S. where I feel most at home.
And why do I love Thailand so much?
Here are eleven reasons why Thailand is one of the best countries – and what you can look forward to when you travel there:
1. The Delicious Food
When people say they like Thai food but haven’t been to Thailand, I can’t help but think, “You’ve never really experienced Thai food.” Thai food in Thailand is leagues better than anywhere else in the world. The spices, the fragrances, the variety of flavors. Your mouth dances with flavor when you eat here. There are dishes and styles in the country that you simply can’t get anywhere else.
All over the streets of Thailand, outdoor stalls serve up the cheapest and best meals you can find. You’ll be hunched over a bowl of noodles next to a little kid, office worker, and bank president. Street food in Thailand is the great equalizer and fundamental to Thai culture. No matter what time of the day it is, there’s always food available somewhere.
Moreover, Thailand has developed world-class international food (and a few Michelin starred restaurants) in recent years. Some of my favorite sushi restaurants are in Bangkok, and you can find amazing halal and Indian food in the downtown Sukhumvit area.
Thailand is a foodie’s dream.
2. The Weather
I love the sun (much to my mother’s and my dermatologist’s dismay). I think after shoveling snow in Boston for the vast majority of my life, I gravitate to the sun because, in the tropics, there’s no snow. The fact that it’s always hot and humid in Thailand appeals to me. It’s never “jacket” weather here.
(OK, that’s not entirely true. In January, I do wear a jacket. It gets pretty close to 20° C here. You can always tell the expats from the tourists in Bangkok because they are the ones wearing sweaters and jackets in January.)
3. The Friendly Locals
Thais are some of the nicest people I have ever met. They’re always happy, always smiling, extremely polite, and always helpful. They’ll help you out if you’re in trouble and help translate for you if you can’t speak Thai. They treat you well, and whenever I come back here, the local shop owners whose stores I frequent greet me with a warm smile and a big hug. Once a friend, always a friend.
I always feel safe in Thailand. Thailand is one of the few countries I feel comfortable leaving my laptop out while I go to the bathroom.
4. It’s the Perfect Travel Hub
Thailand is smack-dab in the middle of everything. It’s three hours to Hong Kong, two hours to Singapore, four hours to Bali, and half way between Australia and Europe.
You can get to a lot of places easily from Thailand, which, for a traveler like myself, is really appealing.
5. The Postcard-Perfect Tropical Islands
I love the beach. I can sit on the sand and go for a swim for hours upon end. While Thailand has been developed for years and many of the best beaches have been ruined through uncontrolled development, you can still find some pristine, picture-perfect islands and beaches around the country.
I particularly love Ko Chang, Ko Kood, Surin Island, Ko Adang, and Ko Lanta. The best islands are down south near the Malaysian border. They all look like the above picture.
As long as you avoid the super touristy and overdeveloped beaches (and there are many), you’ll find the postcard-perfect beaches you’ve already dreamed of!
6. The Lush Jungles
As much as I enjoy sitting on the beach, I also love to hike through jungles, and Thailand has some of the most beautiful and lush ones I’ve seen. From the jungles and elephants in Khao Yai National Park, to the famed lake of Khao Sok in the south, to the famous jungle and hill tribe treks near Chiang Mai, you can get your tropical jungle fix very easily here.
They may not be the wild and untamed jungles of some places in Borneo or the middle of Africa, but they still offer amazing views, dense forests, waterfalls to cool off in, and an interesting variety of wildlife.
7. The Global Atmosphere
Thailand is a country where you can get as local or foreign as you like. Because of all the tourists and expats who live here, the country is very cosmopolitan and international. There are global food chains, international restaurants and stores, Starbucks, and Hollywood movies.
Thailand is a melting pot of people, and you’ll find people from around the world. I’ve made friends here from France, Germany, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Israel, just to name a few.
8. It’s Convenient
Thailand is convenient. Hungry at 3:30am? There’s someone around to sell you food. Need to take a bus to Vietnam? That can be easily arranged. Need to go shopping at some strange hour? There’s a store open. Pharmacy at 2am? Got that too.
Thailand is just an easy place to live and move around in. And in Bangkok, you never have to wait for a taxi.
I hated Bangkok the first few times I traveled there. It wasn’t until I moved there that I fell in love with it.
Bangkok, it turns out, is an easy city to live in. There’s lots to do, plenty of events, great bars, and amazing food (see above), and it’s easy to get around (except during rush hour). I love cities where there’s always something to do. No matter what time of the day or day of the week, you can always find something to do in Bangkok.
I began to love Bangkok when I got to know it beyond the temples and the tourist trail. When I found hidden markets and amazing street stalls frequented only by locals, became friends with residents, and understood how it operated, I knew why people loved Bangkok so much.
Bangkok is not a city for tourists.
It’s for residents.
Take some time here and enjoy it.
10. It’s Cheap!
Thailand is cheap to visit and cheap to live in. Yesterday, I spent $4 USD for all of my food for the day, including some drinks and snacks. Most food from the street vendors costs $1. I can get a private room for $10 USD per night or a bungalow in front of the beach for $15–20 USD. An apartment in downtown Bangkok costs $300 USD a month, and it’s still bigger than what I need. Thailand simply offers incredible value for your money.
A few years back, I was telling my friend that after a month bouncing around the islands, I had spent around 40,000 baht ($1,400 USD). He was shocked! “How the hell could you spend so much money in one month!” he exclaimed.
If you’re traveling here on a backpacker’s budget, you can get by for about $30 USD a day.
11. There’s Something for Everyone
Whether you’re a travel newbie of veteran backpacker, Thailand will have something to keep you entertained. While the country is always my go-to suggestion for new travelers, I’ve been coming back for over a decade and have yet to be bored or disappointed. Whether you’re looking for hiking or partying, greasy street food or a super-healthy detox retreat, you can find it in Thailand.
Digital nomad? Head to Chiang Mai.
Looking for yoga? Head to Pai.
Want to escape the hectic cities? Go explore Isaan.
No matter what kind of trip you’re looking for, you can find it in Thailand!
When people ask me what my favorite country is, I always say Thailand. Though I wonder how you can pick a favorite country. Each one is amazing in its own right. No country is really better than another, just different.
However, Thailand has a special place in my heart. We have a long history together. I’ll always return to this country.
Get the In-Depth Budget Guide to Thailand!
My 350+ page guidebook for budget travelers cuts out the fluff found in other guides and gets straight to the practical information you need to travel and save money while in Thailand, a country I used to call home. You’ll find suggested itineraries, budgets, on and off the beaten path things to see and do, non-touristy restaurants, markets, and bars, and much more!! Click here to learn more and get it.
Book Your Trip to Thailand: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner or Momondo to find a cheap flight. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned. Start with Skyscanner first though because they have the biggest reach!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. My favorite places to stay are:
- Bloom Cafe & Hostel (Ko Lipe)
- Julie Guesthouse (Chiang Mai)
- Mad Monkey Hostel (Bangkok)
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- World Nomads (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on Thailand?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Thailand for even more planning tips!