Thailand: The Wayfarer
January 1, 1970
I have to start this article with a bit of honesty. As Thailand was the first place I traveled to it holds a special place in my heart. So I may be a little bias as it has completely changed my life. Since then I have never really been the same, when people mention they are going to Thailand I get little butterflies throughout my stomach with excitement.
But once you have been, you will understand the reason I am so infatuated with the land of smiles!
Infatuated with the land of smiles
The word Thailand brings so many images to my mind, a exotic wonderland with beaches of paradise, ancient Buddhist temples, heavenly food and a party culture to match. What’s not to love about the land of smiles? With a nickname like that imagery should be an inspiration to us all. Thailand is at the heart of South East Asia’s appeal with millions of visitors, of all types passing through its borders every year, especially backpackers whom it’s been a known favorite destination for decades.
The strong appeal has helped this amazing country concrete its status as a nomads paradise for multiple years, but only now becoming a mass tourism industry favorite because of its quaint charm. Although don’t let this put you off going, and having the time of your lives.
As a result of this, it is a common stop on many travelers bucket list especially those taking a gap year from school, study or work. Thailand is simply the ultimate first timer for backpackers, and that becomes a reality once you visit and see that it is worth the hype.
In various ways it is the perfect destination for the first time backpackers. It combines all the amazing aspects people love about travel, beautiful beaches, ancient cultural sites, shopping of all kinds, wild nights out, and some of the most delicious foods in the world. With a safe well traveled backpacker trail, and plenty of places for sleeping, eating and transport it makes it no effort to travel through this wonderful country. Eastern influence adds a dash of adventure and home comfort to the trip.
For the apprehensive
Despite this, many inexperienced backpackers are anxious about this adventure to this amazing country for the first time. Some of this may be due to the nerves of independent travel, this is understandable, and everyone experiences it on their first time backpacking overseas to some degree. Although Thailand itself can rid those doubts, simply by allowing you to discover the country as you please, and at your own speed. But another part of the problem is that Thailand still suffers from an unpleasant reputation because of its sex tourism and lack of safety, although this is unreasonable. What’s unfortunate is that these two things are what people latch on to as reasons not to go. A lot of this is due to stereotypes, and a lack of knowledge beyond the tourist traps, bars, and sex tourism, but this can be balanced with a open mindedness and the cultural heritage that Thailand has to offer.
Thailand is safe, although there is a seedy underbelly, but what countries don’t have this around the world. However, you can go months without venturing into this side of the country if you desire. Don’t let this put you off your trip to Thailand. If you are the slightest bit worried about choosing the Land of Smiles as your first backpacking destination, let me try to convince you otherwise.
The Perfect Infrastructure
In terms of backpacker Infrastructure Thailand is perfect, there is an extensive public and private bus, train, plane and ferry system and a variety of accommodation options available throughout every city, from basic dorms to luxury villas, first time backpackers will not have to stress when it comes to the basics. Thai’s make you feel welcome as soon as they meet you, and they are so used to tourists that the country is set up perfectly for their adventures. Thailand gives you comfort as you explore its secrets, and allows you to gain independence and confidence in your own time, while preparing you gently for independent travel.
If you are still having doubts at how easy travel in Thailand can be done, just take a look at the many first timers who are travelling solo throughout the country every single year. Easing themselves into the travelling lifestyle between a mixture of shared dorms and bungalows, to become comfortable travelling throughout the rest of South East Asia and elsewhere, with a sense of adventure, and confidence and there is no reason this cannot be taken in your stride also.
Transport can be a breeze with a variety of travel options ranging in price and luxury. Bartering for tuk tuks is an experience in itself, although taxis are easily available no matter what your budget is when used sporadically. Trains are an option as well in some cases, especially as there is alternatives when it comes to how lavish you would like to go and overnight travel is a choice. Buses are another opportunity for overnight travel, and a positive is that language is not a huge issue when it comes to these trains and bus options because it can be as simple as turning up to the station and buying a ticket to the destination of your choice. Although in all honesty my preference was budget airlines, as time was more important than the difference of cost to me. Plus a ticket to anywhere in the country costs less than a meal back home.
Accommodation is not an issue either, and there is no need to pre book unless there is a special occasion in the region. Finding any place that fits your specifications is easy, with resorts, beach huts, villas and hostels all generally being in proximity. Walk ins are common and finding beds to fit your comfort levels and budget is effortless. Hostels are common but if you are after privacy the way to go is guesthouses because they are so cheap, also it is a good break from other people if you are in need of a time out. What I liked about this is the element of choice, and there is plenty of it.
There are various different activities to do if you are wanting to learn something while abroad. Trekking, Muay Thai, Thai cooking classes, Yoga courses and Thai massage courses are all easily available if you are wanting something more educational and unforgettable. To make things easier there are plenty of tour agencies easily available for the solo traveller and this can be a great way to meet other solo travellers. So if you do want to take a class, and don’t know how to organise it, it can be easily arranged through your hostel or one of the tour agencies commonly dotted on the main streets who charge a small fee.
With the adventures and possibility easily available for solo or group backpackers. I wouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to explore the land of smiles. Simply put Thailand is the 101 for beginner backpackers, it is a easy introduction to travelling through a popular yet exotic wonderland.