No matter how much other travelers see it as a tourist trap, Thailand is still one of my favorite countries. It has been seven months since I went home to the Philippines from living in Thailand for four months, and it always makes me nostalgic whenever I think back of the time I spent there.
I didn’t travel much when I was in Thailand; I usually stayed in Bangkok with occasional trips to Hua Hin, Chiang Mai, Chiang Dao, Sangkhlaburi, and other smaller towns.
The Incomparable Thai Food
What’s a visit to Thailand without appreciating its food? As a backpacker and budget traveler, I stuck to street food, and those are certainly the best in the world.
Three dishes stand out in my mind: som tam (papaya salad) which I usually ordered with grilled chicken, khao soy (chicken curry with dry egg noodles), and pad see ew (fried noodles). I took Thai cooking classes in Sangkhlaburi, but it really isn’t the same!
The Thais’ Rich Culture
If there’s one thing that Thais are very proud of, it’s that they have preserved their culture and have never been under foreign rule.
Most travelers to Thailand see only the Grand Palace in Bangkok, or perhaps the ones in Ayutthaya.
If I were to go back, I would definitely visit Sukhothai again, the Kingdom’s first capital. Some of its structures are in ruins, but there’s no mistaking the grandeur of this ancient city.
If you’re just traveling to Bangkok for a few days, visiting parks might not be in your itinerary. Having lived there, though, I appreciated all the more these pockets of fresh air in Bangkok, especially Lumpini Park.
Lumpini—named after the birthplace of Buddha in Nepal—is a 57-hectare park with all sorts of activities. There are outdoors sports (e.g., running, biking, gym equipment), community exercises every day (Zumba from 4pm to 6pm), and a huge lake where you can go boating or just chill around in. As a bonus, a lot of monitor lizards patrol the banks for prey!
Mostly, though, I just went to Lumpini to play with the street cats there; the well-fed tabbies are not aloof and they usually let me cuddle and kiss them. Whenever I missed my cats back home, I would just go to Lumpini Park and my homesickness would disappear.
Aside from the parks, Bangkok has Bang Krachao, too, the so-called green lung of the city where you can go biking amidst the verdant trees and vegetation made all the more amazing by its location: only the Chao Phraya River separates it from the concrete jungle that is Bangkok.
Excellent Internet Connection
Thailand has one of the best internet connections in Asia. Wherever I stayed, there was always a good connection. I remember being very surprised when I was in Thong Pa Phum when the hostel’s Wifi didn’t work; it just wasn’t usual.
I was still able to work, though, because the town itself had free Wifi. All I needed to do was sign in and I could access the internet for free.
Much as I love the Philippines, the very slow internet connection here (among many other things) make me long to stay in other countries. Hopefully someday, our population, transportation, and connectivity problems will be solved!
The Strong International Community
Sure, it can be very tiring to keep on being asked “Where are you from? How long have you been traveling? Where are you going next?” The fact is, however, I enjoyed the strong international community in Thailand, specifically in Bangkok.
In the four months I’d stayed in the country, I always stayed in hostels, except once, when I was in a homestay in Sangkhlaburi (post to be published soon!).
I have met quite a lot of people who have left an impression on me; Chad from Canada who loved the Philippines and came to visit twice, Ania from the US who impressed me with her vivacity, Lukas from Germany who took really nice wildlife photography, and many others whose friendships, no matter how brief and fleeting, managed to enrich my life.
Someday, somehow, I’ll be back in Thailand!
Have you been to Thailand? Do you miss it?
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I miss Thailand so much ! I am surprised by how much I liked Bangkok ( I focused mainly on Chiang Mai ) . I did it a very similar style to you ( hostels in Bangkok ). So enjoyable to just walk around and explore / pause for a massage / repeat !
I’m definitely coming soon. It’s the only country so far I didn’t even exchange my money back . 🙂
Just a Thai passed by. To be honest I came across your blog many times but this is the first time I reply if my memory serves me right.
For those who haven’t been here, please don’t expect too much. TH is like every country in this world. We have both good and bad things. Also good and bad people. Hope you see the first ones wherever you go.
I live In Chiang Mai and you have visited here. Glad that you like my hometown and my country.
Welcome and be our guest again anytime.
I have not been to Thailand but your article makes me want to go. I love thai food and feel that the food of a country is a huge part of getting to know the culture. Just the pictures make me want to visit!
Hi Aleah, there’s a lot of things to be missed in Thailand. One thing I miss most is the glorious food! I also miss my favorite indulgence – Thai massage!
Like you I enjoy the parks in Bangkok, too. I stayed at one of the hotel across Lumpini Park during my last visit. It was a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Lucky you got to live there for several months
I loved the massage too, but to tell you a secret, I much prefer the Thai massages here in the Philippines haha It’s just so difficult to tell the Thai masseuses when you want it harder or softer! And they always talk to each other during the massage 😀
I really enjoyed walking around Lumpini Park when I was in Thailand and checking out the interesting birds, monitor lizards, and the cats too. I have yet to make it to Ayutthaya. That is my first stop next time I come to Thailand.
Prepare for the heat when you go to Ayutthaya!
Thailand sounds amazing. Sounds like you’d be keen to relocate there more permanently?
Hi Matthew. Naw, I still would want to live in the Philippines despite everything haha
I was also amazed at how fast the internet connection in Thailand. I think this is the usual reaction of someone (like us) who comes from a country with a very slow and EXPENSIVE internet connection (Hello Globe Telecom? LOL!)
I also love Thai food. delicious and most importantly, healthy! Thailand has a very minimal number of international brand fast-food chains because they really patronize their own food.
I would love to go back to Thailand (maybe alone) to experience more of the strong international community, meet other backpackers hehe
Love your post kabayan. Keep writing and keep inspiring!
Thanks so much, Jon. As a freelancer, I really loved Thailand’s internet connection. No matter where I went, it was always good! I wonder when the Philippines would reach that kind of progress??
I think what I liked best about this post is your food recommendation. Som Tam, Khao Soy and Phad See Ey sounds like a great combination. I can’t get enough of Phad Thai, they are really an explosion to my mouth, a perfect combination of sweet, spicy, chewy and crunchy. But I think I should try those 3 dishes you mentioned when I go back to Bangkok, 3rd time.
Hi Vanessa! There’s so much more about Thai food than pad thai hahaha You would love the ones I mentioned here, plus so many more. I should write soon about Thai streetfood.
All I ever hear is positive things about Thailand, I imagine it’s an easy place to miss once you leave. Thailand is on the top of my bucket list, I’ll make it there someday soon. Great post!
And I would love to visit Barcelona someday, Craig! All those works by Gaudi are waiting for me!
I miss the cheap delicious Thai food too!
Someday, we’ll be back 😉
What I missed about Thailand 1. Food (Gai Yang + Pad Thai + Tom Yum) 2. People 3. Their soft spoken voice and how they speak in Thai language.
For some reason, I wasn’t much into pad thai or tom yum. But I really really miss som tam and khao soy. Wish I can find that here, or know how to make it.!
I’m sure it’s wonderful and your points are well taken. I haven’t been and the country is not at the top of my list to visit. Must be lack of exposure but Thai food is not the first thing I think of when I go out to eat. But with the kitties everywhere and friendly to boot, I might be persuaded to visit 🙂 After all, my friend’s brother lives and works there so we have connection and contact at least.
When you come visit in Asia again, drop by Thailand for a few days. You would love it 🙂
I miss how free I feel in Thailand… Like anything is possible! Nice to not be so restricted like I am in the UK
It’s funny you said that. I felt so free in Thailand too!
Fun post – I loved reading it and reminiscing:) I visited Thailand for five weeks last spring and I miss it everyday. You totally hit on all of my favorites, except for the parks since sadly, I didn’t see any Bangkok. I also miss the people who were so friendly, the beautiful landscapes and 7-11!
Hi Emiko. I was also going to include 7-11 haha Those are so much better in Thailand than the ones here in the Philippines! Too bad you didn’t get to visit any park in BKK.