If Southeast Asia is on your bucket list, Thailand is (still, after all these years) your perfect place to start. The tourism-boosted nation is a friend to all foreigners but particularly the young. Low prices and laid-back hospitality make it a natural destination of easygoing backpackers and a prime spot to hit in your 20s.
The tropical beaches, ornate temples, elephants, and full moon parties will never go out of style, but we’ve got five more reasons you should put this country on your itinerary ASAP.
Thailand is cheap. Like, eat on $4 a day cheap. Only unlike your budget-conscious Europe backpacking trip, you won’t be living off kabobs while gazing through the windows of Michelin star restaurants like Oliver Twist. If you’ve seen Anthony Bourdain and Andy Ricker do Chiang Mai you already know that you’ll eat your best meals in a plastic chair on a street corner. Also, Thailand is one of the best countries in Asia to live that hostel life.
Also, the flights can be incredibly cheap with a little planning. Right now the US dollar is strong. Book it!
If you’ve ever walked into a room and felt underdressed, it probably wasn’t in Thailand. The humidity doesn’t care how chic you are, so get comfortable with being sweaty and leave the hair dryer at home. Dress codes are relaxed and since most places with request the removal of your shoes upon entrance, there’s no reason not to wear sandals.
Do bring some modest clothes, though.
Pad thai, curry, mango sticky rice and thai iced tea all live up to the hype in Thailand but be sure to stray from your favorite take-out order to take full advantage of your meals. Khao Soi, a traditional Laos dish popular in Northern Thailand, is not to be missed and drunk food hits its peak perfection with “pancakes” made from roti dough in sweet options like bananas and nutella or savory ham and cheese.
Food is the ultimate opportunity to get off the beaten path so when possible, have a local order for you and don’t ask what kind of meat it is until after you’ve eaten! Try things, experiment, take a class!