The second country I visited during my year of travel was Thailand, and arriving here almost felt like an oasis of calm after the sensory overload of India. Thailand is such a popular place to visit that I felt I had a good idea in mind of what to expect: idyllic beaches, wild nightlife, beautiful temples and delicious food. In a way I think it’s hard to shed new light on Thailand because it’s such a tourism hub and a haven for backpackers. But having said that, there were many things about this beautiful country that surprised me.
Bangkok, for example. I’ve heard several people say they weren’t big fans of Thailand’s capital, mainly because of its notorious nightlife. However, I absolutely loved this city. There were definitely certain things that I had no interest in seeing and stayed far away from (more on that later), but I found Bangkok to be a really exciting cosmopolitan experience.
Visiting temples was one of my favourite things to do throughout Asia and Thailand does not disappoint in this regard. From Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok to the hundreds of temples in and around Chiang Mai, and the very unique Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai, there are so many beautiful temples to explore.
I was also ready for some beaches by the time I reached Thailand and there’s a seemingly never-ending list of gorgeous beaches to visit on the many islands surrounding the mainland. One of the most well-known is Haad Rin Beach, where the famous Full Moon Party takes place.
And as for Thai food…I was expecting to love it, but it exceeded all of my expectations. The pounds I shed in India went straight back on in the form of endless spring rolls, noodles, curries and rice dishes.
I visited Thailand for the first time fairly recently, but I believe I’m right in saying that the travel experience there has changed massively in the last 20-30 years. I was quite surprised by how westernised Bangkok and some of the islands were, particularly Koh Samui. On the plus side, I think this helps to make Thailand the perfect place to head to if you want to backpack in Asia for the first time. You get to experience the excitement of a new culture while still being surrounded by familiar comforts.