Living in Thailand FAQs
What was it like to travel alone to Thailand? Were you afraid?
I have a LOT to say on this topic. I think traveling solo can be one of THE MOST rewarding experience of your life, but I also think that it is rewarding at times because of the challenges you must overcome to do it happily and successfully.
When it comes to long-term travel/living abroad I really couldn’t imagine doing it with a friend or boyfriend. I think it’s almost necessary to be on your own in your new environment so you have the opportunity and mental clarity to form to new relationships, routines, etc. I don’t know that I think long-term solo backpacking (that is, not having a home-base/routine/job but instead essentially living a nomadic lifestyle on your own for upwards of 4 months or whatever) is a great idea…but you’re not doing that so we don’t have to go down that road. Also – and this is HUGE – it totally depends on the person.
I wasn’t afraid but maybe I should have been. I expected my experience moving to Thailand alone to teach would mirror my experience moving to Australia to live as an exchange student. Not the same thing. At all.
I faced a lot of loneliness, which I think is a product of both my having just graduated from university and starting a full-time working schedule in general. (I sometimes think I would have been lonely no matter where I was living, but of course living alone in a foreign country must have been a contributing factor.) Even so, I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I’m a big proponent of solo travel/moving abroad on your own. It was worth it.
Was it dangerous?
Definitely not. You have to watch your back like you would in any place when you’re on your own, but I would say with confidence that living in my hometown of Atlanta, GA is far more dangerous than living in Bangkok, Thailand.
The crux of it is: solo travel can be intense and terrifying and maybe anxiety-inducing, but it’s entirely worth it. You will do things you never thought you could do – meet people who will change your life – and it will be beautiful. My best advice is to take advantage of the fact that you are the one calling all of the shots; you don’t have to do something if you don’t want to, and you can do anything if you want to do it!
Have you met many people?
I was lucky in that I had a TON of foreign teachers at my school. Over time, my work friends became my weekend friends as well. I also had some friends from my TEFL course, plus a few random friends I met through my blog, traveling, mutual friends, etc.
Still – the first few months were really hard for me. A lot of it had to do with the fact that I had just come from college i.e. the best place in the world. I was desperately, heart-achingly lonely for my first few months in Bangkok. Here’s a post about it all…
When I got back from my holiday down south in October, I found new ways to reach out socially and became, more or less, pretty pleased with my group of friends. But here’s the thing about the social scene here: I would never say it’s ideal.
First of all, it’s a very different story being a farang (foreigner) girl versus being a farang guy. You get a lot more attention from Thais (Thai women to be specific) as a Western male than as a Western female.
It’s really hard to make Thai friends. Actually, now that I think about it, I didn’t really have any. I couldn’t speak conversational Thai, so talking to the majority of the population was not an option. You would think that since they have such a profound English-education curriculum, there would be English-speakers abound, but that’s just not the case for a variety of reasons I won’t get into. I’m sure language played a role. Maybe I didn’t try hard enough. Who knows. I think it would have been different if I were living in a smaller village as opposed to the big city.
Second of all, it’s hard to make Western friends who are going to be sticking around. I met so, so, SO many travelers, but few were in town for more than a couple of days. There’s a significant expat community, but I think they are based in and around the Sukhumvit area, and I didn’t tend to go down there very often (um hello traffic!!!). Again, it’s not ideal; making friends in Bangkok takes effort. But maybe that’s in every city?
What did you do with your weekends?
Weekends were the best. I lived for the weekends. Sometimes I would go on weekend trips to nearby towns like Kanchanaburi, Pattaya, Hua Hin, and Ayuthaya. Otherwise, I would stay in Bangkok. I was pretty consistent about going out in Bangkok; I lived near the Khao San Road area and tended to go over there quite often for dinner, drinks, and dancing.
Otherwise, I would do my laundry, work out at the gym, go for walks, watch movies in my apartment – you know, normal weekend things!
How’s the heat?
Hot! It’s hot, it’s humid, and it’s pretty much year-round, but you get used to it, I promise. I love warm weather (it was actually one of the reasons I chose to live in Thailand in the first place) so I didn’t mind the heat so much. Thailand has three seasons: rainy, “winter”, and “summer”. They are all pretty hot, but the winter season is drier and a bit cooler – it coincides with the high season for tourism. It generally rains every day in the rainy season but not for more than an hour or so. And summer is hot hot hot (if you can even imagine it getting hotter than it already is.)