Backpacking Europe is so 2012. Southeast Asia is having a big moment right now, probs because it’s way easier to book a flight than find a job. If you want to maybe run into an old college hookup halfway across the world, definitely have an on fleek new prof picm and experience the whole new level of hangover that a bucket can provide, then Thailand is the place for you.
On Surviving the Flight
Flying to Thailand from America is not casual. We’re talking a good 20 hours of airtime. Luckily, international flights are all about free booze, moist towelettes and why-is-this-actually-kind-of-good meals, even in the povo section. Combined with your Mom’s “it’s just because I’m going through menopause” sleeping pills, the 20-hours becomes as unmemorable as any other intense 20-hour Netflix and chill comatose you’ve been in.
When to Go
Thailand’s basically got two seasons–rainy and dry–and they are not to be fucked with. Their rainy season is less ‘pack your rain boots’ and more ‘pack your monsoon natural disaster kit’. It runs July to October. November to early April is the best time to go, when it’s dry, hot, beachy and boozey. If you must go during the summer, just say no to Thailand and head to Bali, where their dry season runs May to September. I promise you’ll get just as many Insta likes on your subtle-not-so-subtle bikini pics.
Where to Go
Spend a couple of days in Bangkok when you land, then get the fuck out of there before you see anymore porn in cabs and head to the North. Chiang Mai is the epicenter of hippie backpackers, so try to fit in for a few days drinking spiked tea and maybe even sign up for a trek. After you’ve gotten ‘cultured’, spend the rest of your time partying in the Southern Islands. Phi Phi Islands, Koh Samui, Phuket, and Krabi are all the most beautiful things you’ve ever seen and are what make Thailand incredible. If a full moon party is on, go to Ko Pha Nang, but don’t tell your mom.
Just like European castles, once you’ve seen one you’ve seen ‘em all, so make sure to see the best one: The Grand Palace in Bangkok. Proper temple attire is those flowy pants sold on every goddamn corner of Thailand and anything that covers your shoulders. You’ll take your shoes off at the door so you can wear whatevs. Don’t point your toes towards an image of Buddha, and do bow whenever you feel like you’re doing something wrong.
Overpriced drinks that’re still cheap AF, South Korean chicks that’re waaaay too interested in hanging out with you, club hits from 2010, and the UK high school gap year students are all the ingredients for a great night out. Oh, and buckets. A lot of buckets. If you’re 21+ the nightlife in Thailand might be too young and immature for you, and in that case, there’s a lot of actually expensive rooftop bars and live music beach venues that you can act mature at.
The Bathroom Bar Line
You know that joke about pissing in a hole in Asia? Yeah, jokes on you. Paying 30 baht to squat over a peehole in an alley while your we-just-met-hostel friend holds your thong may be a very real moment. Way to prove your parents wrong when they claim that immersing yourself in foreign alcohol isn’t getting you cultured.
Actually being able to ride an elephant in 2015 is one of those things we’ll look back on at our Tucson retirement home and be like “back in my day, that shit happened.” It’s obviously inhumane, and if you’re going to do it anyway, make sure you go with a more expensive company that has people ride bareback and is an ‘elephant sanctuary’. Patara Elephant Farm near Chiang Mai is the best and most humane one in Thailand. You can also get the elephant selfie and hang with them all day without jumping on at several elephant sanctuaries, like Elephant Nature Park, which is also near Chiang Mai.
The tuk-tuk is the Uber of SE Asia, if Uber was totally sketchy, didn’t have a motor, and was sans the actual app. Opt for a taxi arranged by your hotel in Bangkok, but everywhere else, tuk-tuks are safe enough and make for great snapstory moments. Just make sure to agree on what price you’ll be ripped off at with the biker before you get crusin’.
Causal SE Asia Food Poisoning
Going to Thailand and not eating the street food is like going to Ibiza and not trying the drugs. You have to do it. There just may be dire consequences. At least losing your pad thai in an all-nighter with the porcelain throne makes for a great bikini day the next day.
You know Thailand is trendy from the pure fact that they were trumping the trans movement before Caitlyn even became Caitlyn. Go to a lady boy show, hit clubs with lady boys, do a lady boy. Whatever feels right. You’re on vacation, God dammit.
No matter how hungover, there is always a Singha you can pop open to start your day again. Don’t waste a single day in Thailand–sign up for all the stupid touristy shit because it always is incredible. Take a longboat to remote islands, sign up for a cooking class, paddle through floating markets, go on every booze cruise offered, 4-wheel in the jungle, try rock climbing, scuba, snorkel, repeat. Develop a deep fear for monkeys at Monkey Temple. You only Thailand once or twice or maybe three times.