Out of 193 possible countries to inhabit, why live in Thailand? A good question. Check out these 5 reasons why I left America to live in the “Land of Smiles.”
1. It’s cheap
The U.S. dollar carries a lot of weight in “The Land of Smiles.” If you’re low on dough, come live here to stretch your meager dollar further. Not only will you get the opportunity to experience a new, friendly culture, but you’ll be able to eat like a king and try new foods every day without breaking the bank. Food is extraordinarily cheap and diverse, but I’ll touch more on that later.
2. It’s beautiful
If you’re into beaches, Phuket is a hub of the most incredible beaches and islands in the world. If you’re into mountains, the northern regions of Thailand surrounding Chiang Mai abound with scenic mountain ranges and national parks. If you’re into temples, Thailand has over 30,000 of them you can visit! Transport to and from these various locales is made easy thanks to Thailand’s excellent public transport system.
When I left America, I wanted to get my TESOL certification so I could teach abroad. I hopped onboard with the American TESOL Institute (ATI) and took part in ATI’s “Special Thai Project” in Phuket, Thailand. It’s easily the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited in my life.
3. It’s filled with employment opportunity
After a month of living in lush Phuket, I began teaching ESL (English as a second language) in far north Pua, Nan, Thailand. Essentially, an ESL teacher is a full-time game show host. I show up to work, walk into the classroom, then orchestrate some new exciting game every day to get my students learning. It’s truly been the most rewarding experience of my life creating games and watching my classroom get so enthusiastic about learning English.
You can teach english anywhere in the world outside of the U.S. but few places offer opportunity like Asia. Thailand, China, Korea and Taiwan (just to name a few) are practically begging for educated English speakers to live and teach there. But of all these countries, Thailand is the friendliest of all. The people here are so laid back. I mean, c’mon, it’s called the “Land of Smiles” for a reason!
4. It’s got a wild night life
“One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble,” according to Murray Head from the musical Chess. So what kind of self-respecting young American expat would I be if I didn’t indulge in Thailand’s finer things? The nightlife in Bangkok and Phuket is a worldwide attraction and I’m drawn to it like a moth to flame. If you’re like me, then you’ll dig the Thai nightlife that’s available. I’ve had my share of wild nights out in Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai.
If you’re not into the bar scene, you can still admire Thailand’s vibrant nightlife in other ways. The night markets in Chiang Mai and Bangkok are a sight to behold. Thousands of vendors, street chefs and artisans selling their foods and wares at stunningly cheap prices. If you’re like me, after a few beers you’ve gotta have a late night snack. Thailand’s streets are always open, and there’s always food available.
5. It’s got food – Lots of it
Thai street food is plentiful, diverse, and the best part: it’s cheap. Thailand truly has some of the best cuisine in the world, and it’s available to anyone and everyone. The freshest tropical fruits and Thai delicacies are available around the clock. For adventurous foodies out there, Thailand is a hub of flavor and texture experimentation. If you’ve never tried durian, you’ve got to come to Thailand and sample the world’s smelliest fruit!
Hungry, I walk to the market. A street fruit stand intercepts my path. Freshly picked bananas and mangoes. Lots of ’em. I hesitate for a moment, then point at the bananas. The woman behind the stand smiles at me and says something in Thai. I nod. She grabs at the yellow pile of fruit and stuffs more than a dozen bananas in a bag. She hands the bag to me. “Sip baht!” she says. She wants 10 baht (34 US cents) for the bag of bananas. I only wanted one banana, but I got fourteen. I sit down on a bench nearby and pluck a banana out of the bunch. I peel it, take a bite. It’s sinfully sweet. I reflect for a moment. This single banana would’ve costed more than 34 cents in the States. Thai street food: 1, American food: 0.
After a couple years living an unfulfilling work life after college, I left for Thailand and haven’t looked back. Today, I’m very happy to be living in here and teaching English full-time. As they say in Thailand, “Mai pen rai” – It’s all good!