My regrets about Thailand and why I have to go back

18

I think travelling round southeast Asia and not going to Thailand would be considered practically a crime amongst backpackers. It’s also fair to say that people from all over the world flock there for their hard earned holiday or an exotic honeymoon . So needless to say, I was gonna go too. If you’ve been following NST and have read my round the world route, you will know that I haven’t done the whole off the beaten path thing. In fact, I very much travelled with the backpacker flow and I loved it.

However, when it came to Thailand, there were 3 main things that were springing to the front of my mind and suddenly, I wasn’t feeling it:

  • The world and his wife will be in Thailand and I just don’t want that
  • It’s just going to be full of westerners getting pissed and throwing up at 8pm because they have no control
  • Thai Full Moon parties are so overrated – there are so many beautiful beaches round the world that haven’t been ruined for the sake of tourism so why bother?

I don’t mean to sound like a travel snob as like I’ve said, it’s not like I’d ventured off elsewhere for the rest of my trip, but these thoughts really did shape my time in Thailand. It was a ‘marmite’ destination for me. But in all honesty, I don’t think I was throwing myself into things as much as I could have. I had put up my walls and they weren’t budging. I had, for all intense and purpose, turned into a travel snob – exactly what I never wanted to be.

BUT KNOWING WHAT I KNOW NOW, I SIMPLY HAVE TO GO BACK TO THAILAND!

MY FIRST STOP – BANGKOK

To start with a more positive note, I loved Bangkok! Before I knew it, I was wandering down Khao San road eating bugs, stuffing my face with Pad Thai, haggling the fakery goods and drinking till I couldn’t move. It was great! Bangkok is such a vibrant city and I was loving being swept along with the backpacker must-dos. It is incredibly touristy, but It’s an amazing city and I actually ended up starting and finishing my time in Thailand here before flying off to Australia.  There’s so much to do and it’s a great mix of city and culture.

Thailand is an amazing country, only I couldn't see it while I was there. Find out what happened and why I absolutely have to go back.

MY NEXT STOP – PHUKET

I had heard a lot of amazing things about Phuket, beautiful beaches, a great place to relax. Well, I didn’t think so. If you want all of that, don’t stay in Patong where I did. And without meaning to sound obnoxious, it felt like I was on an all-inclusive holiday somewhere in Europe surrounded by people who were not interested in the culture. The thing was, I had booked my hotel for a couple of days and now I couldn’t bring myself to move, lose the money and go somewhere else and join all those people I could see on Instagram having a blissful time. Yes, I had well and truly shot myself in the foot.

 

MY FINAL STOP – CHIANG MAI

By the time I had reached Chiang Mai I was pretty deflated. Lots of people go to Chiang Mai to see the elephants which is something I already knew I wasn’t going to do (check out Little Grey Box’s post about the realities of animal tourism) but aside from that, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and to be honest the town itself left me pretty uninspired. But once again, I found myself resisting joining in. Chiang Mai has a wealth of amazing and unique temples to visit and fantastic day trips to the mountains with stunning views or to Chiang Rai to see the famous white temple, Wat Rong Khun. But did I do this? Nope.Thailand is an amazing country, only I couldn't see it while I was there. Find out what happened and why I absolutely have to go back.

THE STOP I WOULDN’T EVEN ENTERTAIN – THE ISLANDS

You know those beautiful Islands with the Full Moon parties that so many people dream of going to? Well I didn’t even contemplate them. To me, they just screamed drunk westerners abroad, happily ruining what would be a set of beautiful spotless islands with spilt drinks, used condoms and vomit. What’s worse is I let the news of horrendous things happening to tourists scare me away. Although all of this does happen, Thailand is certainly not the only place in the world where it happens, and I can safely say that I have been to places like that before anyway! And you know what, I had a bloody good time.

But I had made my mind up and I wasn’t going. What I failed to remember, as with many places that promote this kind of tourism, that only a small portion of the area is for this and the rest is far from it. Yes, Koh Phangan is famous for the crazy Full Moon parties but it’s also home to stunning beaches and fantastic walks. The other islands like Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phi Phi are equally as beautiful and yet still dismissed them.

Thailand is an amazing country, only I couldn't see it while I was there. Find out what happened and why I absolutely have to go back.

Looks crap. Oh no wait…

WHAT ON EARTH WAS I THINKING?!?

LEARNING A LESSON THE HARD WAY

So let’s fast forward a few years to today. Looking back at the time in Thailand I know I went in with the wrong mind set and over exaggerated views of this amazing country. I was so hell bent on not being another Brit abroad that I forget to open my eyes and really look at what is has to offer and realise that I AM that Brit Abroad! After all, there are reasons for things being so popular, and it’s not because it’s shit. I forgot I was a backpacker and it’s ok to do backpacker things! I don’t usually care about clichés or what people think of me in general, but Thailand changed that which is crazy.

The problem was, I took Thailand for granted and now I regret it. So if you’re going to Thailand and wondering whether it’s for you, my answer would be go for it! There’s only one way you will find out, and trust me, you won’t regret doing it even if you find it’s not for you, half as much as I regret not even trying!

Ever been somewhere and let your mind talk you out of really going for it? That was me in Thailand. It's a country full of adventures only I wouldn't let myself see it at the time. Find out what happened and why I have to go back.

18 Comments

  1. Aw so glad you are willing to give Thailand another chance! Nothing wrong with joining in with the dirty backpackers every now and then! I’ve been living here for 3 years now and there’s much more to Thailand and still so much for me to explore! Give my blog a read before you come back next time and maybe you’ll find some places better suited to you! 🙂

  2. A very thought provoking post! The great thing about regretting not doing something, though, is that now you have a reason to go back. 🙂

  3. Love this post. I went years ago but I feel it has changed so much. I don’t know if I would go back again because I have such lovely memories. I would like to go to the elelphant sanctuary in chaing mai as want to see how that has changed. Hope you get to visit again soon

  4. This is such a great perspective on keeping an open mind while we travel! I totally agree. There were some destinations that I’ve been to and most of the time I try to keep an open mind, but there were definitely moments on a trip where I didn’t snap a photo or do something because I thought it was overrated and I was “too good” to be caught doing those touristy things. I do regret not doing those and wish I was able to experience some activities!

  5. All your words resonated with me. I felt the same about that Full Moon Party which is why I didn’t go either – but I did cover a few islands. I think it’s so easy to cover our grounds when we are there and then regret so many places when we leave (and no idea when we have a chance to go back!) I definitely can count so many regrets as well but it’s okay! At least we recognize them and we can do better next time!

    • That’s so true! It made me realise that I need to just go for it rather than fight it. Better to do it and perhaps not like it than rather never do it. Hope we both get to go back soon!

  6. All your words resonated with me. I felt the same about that Full Moon Party which is why I didn’t go either – but I did cover a few islands. I think it’s so easy to cover our grounds when we are there and then regret so many places when we leave (and no idea when we have a chance to go back!) I definitely can count so many regrets as well but it’s okay! At least we recognize them and we can do better next time! 😀

  7. I feel you. When I went to Thailand I completely ignored the islands for the same reason (plus I had limited time there and was more interested in other things). When I do go back I do want to check out Koh Tao bc I heard it’s a great place to get a scuba cert.

  8. There are many responsible elephant sanctuaries around Chiang Mai as well. One in particular I visited only a few weeks ago, Elephant Nature Park whose mission is to rescue one elephant at a time from logging, street begging and elephant riding parks. They have over 70 elephants and a strict no ride policy. The mahouts don’t carry hooks and the elephants are so happy. If you get back there, I cannot recommend them more highly.

    • So glad you found a responsible sanctuary. I think I was so worried about booking a trip to a place that was advertised and a sanctuary only to get there and find out that it isn’t at all. I would have just been so upset and annoyed at myself that I didn’t want to risk it. What was it called? I would love to see them up close when I get a chance to go back where I know they are being looked after!

  9. A really thought provoking article!

    I really enjoyed Ko Phangan. I hired a moped and explored the whole island, which was beautiful and easy to remove yourself from the pace of Haad Rin. I also didn’t go for a full moon party either, totally not my scene!

    I think it’s easy to get wrapped up in your own head when it comes to forming impressions about a place; whether you think it’s ‘worth’ a visit or will suit you. I reckon you can find enjoyable elements to almost all places that compliment you and your travel style. I’m willing to be open minded and give places a go.

  10. Travel Thailand left me with mixed feelings too and I was unsure whether to visit a lot of the places due to the influx of tourism. I decided to anyway and ended up realising the same as you: that only pockets are like this. I would definitely recommend going back and exploring Koh Samui and Koh Tao — I loved these islands once you get away from the party strips 🙂

    Lucy x

    • That’s exactly what I want to do! I can’t wait to get back there when I can and really thrown myself into seeing it all

  11. Pingback: A GUIDE TO VISITNG THE AMAZING CITY OF BANGKOK | No Shoes Today

Leave a Reply