It has been a while since traveling for leisure was restricted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Years passed, and the world is slowly healing. However, now with lesser travel restrictions, countries opened their doors to tourists again, and one of them is Thailand. Coincidentally, my friends set up a reunion in the Land of Smiles.
And all for old-time’s sake, I packed my backpack and made my way to this foreign land for the second time. English is not an official language in this country. In this blog, we’ll answer the question “Is Thailand English beginner friendly?” In addition, I will be giving some of my personal recommendations if ever you decide to visit the country.
Flight and Weather
The flight from Manila (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) to Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi Airport) takes around three to four hours. It’s early October and it’s a bit warm when I arrived in Bangkok, Thailand’s Capital city. There are two main accessible international airports in Bangkok, namely Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Mueang International Airport.
Yet, the travel time will differ; it will depend on where you will come from. Additionally, it will also depend on what kind of flight you will take. Nonetheless, you wouldn’t really mind how far it is once you get to the country.
Thailand is located in Southeast Asia. Just like other countries found near the equator, it is considered a tropical country which means the weather is warm and humid most of the year. I travelled during the first week of October. Hence, it’s still considered the rainy season in most parts of Southeast Asia. Though I personally recommend going during April. It’s the time when Thais celebrate their new year called Songkran which includes a lot of water splashing. However, this topic is for another day.
One of my friends works in Bangkok and he let us stay at his apartment. However, there are a lot of varied accommodations to choose from such as hotels and short-term apartments. I personally recommend choosing a backpacker’s inn, especially the dormitory types. A night usually costs 3$ and you won’t feel lonely if you travel alone. Despite of the fact that getting nice roommates is surely a hit or miss, you can surely have the opportunity to make foreign friends and practice your English skills.
The Central Base Pattaya where we booked our rooms. The location is great as it's near the beach and the city center. It doesn't cost an arm and a leg to stay here. The accommodation is also filled with foreign guests.
The best way to stay connected online is to purchase a Tourist sim which offers various data connection packages. Moreover, most of the public places such as the malls and bus stops in the city has also Wi-Fi connections. All you need is to register with some personal details such as your name and passport number or Thai phone number to enjoy the Wi-Fi connection.
Using Wi-Fi connection at a Bus Stop.
Shop till You Drop!
The local currency in Thailand is called the baht and is equivalent to 0.026$. Anywhere you go in the city, you will surely find somewhere to spend your money on. Whether inside a lavish mall such as the Central Plaza Mall, Terminal 21, Icon Siam and Fortune Mall, or street markets such as Chatuchak Weekend Market or Jodds Fair. There is an assortment of stuff you can shop, ranging from local food, and home decor to bags and clothes.
On top of that, most of them are affordable. In fact, you can even buy some Thai pants which cost 100 baht (2.62$). But of course, items in the mall would be much more expensive than those found in the street market. At the same time, believe me when I say that the quality is high especially from the shops at the Chatuchak Market.
Places around Thailand are really accessible. There are a couple of transportation methods you can use to go around. For example, there is the BTS (Bangkok Train Station) and the MRT which are usually connected to major landmarks and malls around the city. The fare is also reasonable.
I also find it easy to communicate with the staff particularly when I need to ask for directions. You can also use the city bus to go around.
Though you have to be really familiar with where you will go. Each bus has a designated number and each number corresponds to a certain route and destination. The bus is the cheapest way to get to some places in Bangkok. In terms of convenience, the Grab app is often used. You can book a taxi, or a car to get you somewhere. The only downside of this is it’s expensive.
Riding the Bus, the train, and a fancy van to get around.
If you are a foodie, oh, boy! You are sure on the ride of your life. It’s what I enjoyed the best during this trip. The food is great and most of them are really cheap! I can’t recall any food that I didn’t like. Pad Thai (Thai Dry Noodles), Tom Yum (Seafood Stew), Som Tum (Papaya Salad), Tum Khao Pod (Spicy Corn Salad), and Khao Niaow Ma Muang (Mango Sticky Rice) are my favorites. There are some dishes that are also interesting such as desserts that look like glossy miniature fruits and vegetables called Look Choob. They have an interesting texture and aren’t very sweet.
If you are more adventurous, you can perhaps try some seasoned fried bugs. The exotic food consists of locusts, silkworms, scorpions, etc. For the sake of experience, I tried some. And surprisingly, they’re not bad!
If you are a fan of Lakorn or Thai Drama, you would see some youngsters drinking a particular drink. Believe it or not, there’s a beverage called Pink Milk! And yes, it is what it sounds. You need to try it along with the classic Thai Milk tea.
Some of the Thai food I have eaten in the country.
The infamous Thai Pink Milk. The only thing I dislike about beverages in Thailand is the amount of ice in the cup. It takes at least 70 percent of the space. My friend explained though that the beverages are meant for cooling down since the weather is hot and not really for thirst.
Besides shopping and eating, there are a couple of things you can do in the country.
- Temples: There are a lot of beautiful temples to visit around Thailand but if you don’t have much time, you can visit Samut Prakan Ancient City. It’s a museum park and is dubbed the world’s largest outdoor museum. It features 116 structures of Thailand’s famous monuments and architectural attractions. You can hire a golf cart, or a bicycle to go around the park.
Some of the memorable replicas built in Ancient Siam. The stay was all worth it and each one is breathtaking.
- Water Activities: One of the tourist attractions in Thailand is Pattaya Beach so I didn’t miss the chance to visit the place. Filled with travelers from other countries, you won’t lose an opportunity to practice your English Skills. In Pattaya, you can go island hopping and water activities like jet skis, banana boats, and parasailing.
You can try parasailing in between island hopping.
Banana boat is also a must try!
- Dinner Cruise: This is an enchanting experience that every traveler in Bangkok should do at least once. It feels romantic dining outside with the stars twinkling in the sky. Inside the ship, you can enjoy watching Thai classical dances and live performances from drag queens and live singers.
Thailand is not known as the Land of Smiles for nothing. Anywhere you go, you will be greeted with a warm smile. English is not one of the official languages of this nation. So, the question is… is it a problem? The answer is no. If you intend to stay in places with a lot of tourists, most Thai people can communicate in English. In places where locals go though, you might need a translator or better yet, hand gestures! And that’s how I communicated with some of the people there.
Overall, Thailand is a beautiful country. From the sunsets to the busy streets, it is both spiritually and emotionally refreshing. It’s a nice experience to learn about other cultures, too. I may come from another Southeast Asian country but I realized that there’s still so much to learn and to see.
A lot of people say that the world is small. However, I learned that there is a myriad of places to go and countless number of faces to meet. It was also a delight to learn some of the basic Thai expressions like Sawatdee for “Hello” and Khubkhun for “Thank You.”
It is also interesting to say that the best language that you can use is your smile. Of course, traveling to a distant land is somehow terrifying. New experiences make us uncomfortable but we need to do things we are uncomfortable with. It’s how we grow! Learning English is also scary but new things help us gain confidence.
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