Update: After my first blog entry below about Thailand, I continued traveling and returned back home (in New York City) at the end of an amazing 13 months. Even though I was back in the US in summer, the most fun time to be in the city, I wasn’t able to live in-between four walls in my Brooklyn apartment. It was great to reunite with my pup Latte but that was it. I felt like suffocating every time I woke up with the bus and garbage truck noises. The lack of bird noises, lush greens and sunsets was a void I couldn’t accept physically or emotionally. It was truly a shock to be back in my old life in the matrix.
So I packed everything and started traveling again. This time for an indefinite period of time… At least until the end of the Trump era 😉
Why I fell in love with Thailand?
- It is gorgeous! From the islands to the mountains, rivers, jungles, even the chaotic cities, it’s hands down on the top of the list of the places that kept amazing me every day (including everywhere I have seen in South America, Amazonian jungles, Hawaii, Bali… )
- Best quality for little money. My beach bungalow cost me $380/month (9000 THB) and I know there are places for $150/month with everything you need in them. Life is so basic in Thailand and you don’t need much. I lived without a coffee maker and had only one pot to test my Thai cooking skills. My rental scooter cost $73/month (2500 baht – you need to negotiate) and it takes me everywhere on the island.
- Food is delicious and cheap. Traditional Thai cuisine which you can find easily at a stand on the side of the street is beyond this world. I am vegetarian and didn’t have any difficulty finding good food. I am a huge fan of curries, tom yummmmmm soup, fried rice, papaya salad, delicious juicy colorful fresh fruits…even Durian. I am feeling much leaner and healthier since I arrived in Thailand.
- Life is sweet and easy!
- It is easy to get a visa before arriving to Thailand. Or for many countries, you get a one month tourist visa stamp at the airport, which you can extend an additional month without leaving the country.
- It is easy to communicate with locals. You can get by even if you don’t speak Thai since people are so used to tourists. Some Thais are super friendly, some are not but who cares, we are the guests, not them 😉
- There’s no presence of police (at least in Koh Phangan and Pai) who breath down your neck. I didn’t see police stop points nor tickets given because of driving without a helmet, speeding, smoking ganja, you name all other simple things we’d get a ticket for in the civilized world.
- It is inspiring! The expats who discovered all of the above and made Thailand their home are coming from all over the world with their own skills and talent. The people I met had been so generous to accept me into their world and sharing their knowledge. I have learnt so much from the spiritual community I was fortunate to become a part of in Sri Thanu, Koh Phangan. To give an idea, some of the workshops happening were: Tantra Courses (at Agama), various kinds of meditation, yoga (all kinds from ashtanga, hatha, vinyasa, therapeutic/restorative, nidra..), rebirthing, ayahuasca, hoolahoop, reiki, therapy dance, fire dancing, yoni massage (here’s an online resource to understand what that is), dreamcatcher making, meditative drawing, macramé jewelery making, raw vegan cooking, and so on… Taking most of these workshops and learning about these mind opening practices was totally a unique and great experience.
- They treat their animals GOOD. As Gandhi said “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Lastly, it’s easy to get a visa: you get a 30 day stamp at the airport upon arrival (some countries are excluded, pls see the full list here). If you are planning a longer stay, there are several type of visa options from 6 month tourist visa to education, to volunteer to retirement visa, which also allow you to stay in Thailand longer than most of the other countries.
How to backpack in Thailand solo?
How to travel in/to Thailand?
I use Skyscanner to book all my trips. In Asia, it’s super cheap to travel between other Asian countries, I am talking about $50 flight tickets! and Kuala Lumpur is the best/cheapest hub for transfers. Air Asia, Lion Air, Nok Airlines, Thai Airlines and Bangkok Airlines are the local airlines but the first 3 offer the most economic options within Thailand.
You can also choose the bus, train, ferry and minivan combinations as a cheaper alternative from Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia. But I highly recommend flying to save time and save your patience for other things.
Sadly, traffic rules are not followed in Thailand and it’s not uncommon to to hear terrible van or bus crashes every day. So after a couple of personal experiences, I am no longer traveling on minivans making 120 kmh to get to/from places. It is too big of a risk to take to save a few dollars.
Visiting Thailand for the first time was awesome and I’ve been spending a lot of time in Thailand since then. So far, I’ve traveled in Chiang Mai, Pai, Koh Samui, Koh Tao and I’m currently based in Koh Phangan. You can find my individual posts about these beautiful pieces of earth here!