Value for Money:
Personality Types that Like it Best
Greatest appeal to Mid-Venturers and Centric-Venturers, and some Venturers
Did You Know…?
- More than 1,200 butterfly species flutter in Thailand.
- Thai waters are home to more than 200 species of coral.
- Thailand is the only Southeast Asian nation never ruled by a Western power.
- Thai paper money is really plastic.
- The word Thailand means land of freedom.
Thailand came to the world stage, literally, with the 1951 Broadway musical, “The King and I,” an entertaining confection set in Siam and based loosely on a true story. In reality, Thailand is a modern nation with modern problems — and a modern tourism infrastructure. Despite Bangkok’s traffic, tourists enjoy mobility in the country, fine hotels and the full complement of tourist services.
The Thai word sanuk translates loosely as getting pleasure from carefree amusement, and it’s what locals share with visitors to this exotic Southeast Asian country.
Flying to Thailand may make transportation expensive, but once there, thrifty travelers can find bargains in lodging, food and shopping. And, for those seeking new experiences, it’s hard to beat the elaborately beautiful shrines and temples, the distinctive cuisine and the ancient culture of a gracious, handsome people. Never colonized, Thailand is better able than most to be true to its roots.
The shopping is good, especially for locally produced goods like silks and colorful cotton fabrics, gold and silver jewelry, lacquerware, baskets made of rattan and bamboo. And, for a little R&R, sunny beaches beckon.
Thailand is described as a land of smiles because genuine smiles come so readily to the Thais, which quickly charms visitors who don’t encounter a warm welcome everywhere.
However, there are hassles — the smog and incredible traffic jams in Bangkok, for example — and a downright seamy underside to this story. Such a charming and accommodating destination attracts some of the worst sorts of people including tourists on the hunt for cheap sex, and the incidence of AIDS is high. Ironically, Thailand is one of the world’s major hubs for medical tourism, with services provided by internationally accredited hospitals.
A late 2006 military coup, overthrowing a democratically elected government, further tarnished the image of what has been — and still can be — a very attractive destination for mainstream tourists, but especially those with a venturous bent. Elections have since been held.
Thailand is hot and humid all year, but less so in the prime travel months of November through February. The best approach is to not let the heat interfere with your sanuk.
Things to do for Venturers
- Scuba dive, or snorkel, around islands in the Gulf of Thailand (May to September) or, to the west, in the Andaman Sea (October to April).
- Take the home stay option in the countryside. This can be seen as similar to staying at a working ranch. You can work in the fields, herd cows, toss a net for fish — only if you wish — as well as visit local attractions.
- Walk — with a guide — across Thailand in a day. That is, you will walk its narrowest piece, the seven-mile stretch from Wang Duan, a railway station on the Gulf of Thailand, to the Myanmar border. Camp on the beach the night before; there are no comfort facilities on the walking route, either.
- Bicycle into the hill country of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces.
- Get married while seated on an elephant.
- Participate in a voluntourism trip to Thailand which would involve lending a helping hand in some way, based on need and your skills.
Things to do for Centrics
- Take a boat trip on the gentle Mekong River, exploring the towns and villages along the way. The best time for this is November to February.
- Watch some uniquely Thai sports. Kick boxing may be the best known, but you also can watch kite fighting where players strive to push each other’s colorful kites out of the sky. Or, watch takraw matches, in which players use heads, legs and feet to keep a rattan ball in the air. See fighting fish in action — this is not for the children.
- Attend Thailand’s Songkran New Year celebrations at which revelers drench each other with water. They are washing away evil and sorrow.
- Tour Trang by tuk tuk, a small roofed and motorized tricycle accommodating five passengers. The Trang municipality assisted in developing three sightseeing routes in the small city in southern Thailand.
- Visit a few villages of Thailand’s well-known hill tribes. Also, at Mae Hong Son, arrange a trip to see the “giraffe women,” women who wear brass bands that appear to stretch their necks. They are the Karen people and are Myanmar refugees.
- See elephant shows and sports played by elephants at the Surin Elephant Roundup in the fall in Surin.
Things to do for Authentics
- Play golf any time of the year. Thailand counts more than 100 international-standard golf courses, clustered in or near major tourist destinations of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket and others.
- Be a butterfly watcher at Thung Yai Naresuan and Huai Kha Khaeng sanctuaries, both World Heritage Sites, or in the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park.
- Have a Thai-style massage involving deep pressure, stretches and rhythmic movements. Or, opt for a full-blown spa experience at a destination spa.
- See a long boat race, in October or November. The best known is the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta, but there are many others.
- Shop along the so-called Handicraft Highway between Chiang Mai and San Kamphaeng for carvings, weavings and the work of potters and silversmiths.
- Eat one or more delightful Thai chicken dishes: mieng gai (chicken with ginger); gai manao (chicken and pork with lemon), or yam somo (pomelo salad). The pomelo salad includes the pomelo fruit (somewhat like grapefruit), finely chopped peanuts and chicken.
For more information, consult the Tourism Authority of Thailand at www.tourismthailand.org