7 Myths about Thailand you’ve heard, but are simply not true
At some point in our lives, we are all victim of hearsay, rumors, or gossip, which, a lot of times, turns out to be complete nonsense. In that regard, traveling is no different. Before our upcoming departure, we ask friends for advice and scour the internet for country-related details. And that is when we often fall prey to common myths and misconceptions. The origins of these myths about Thailand vary from people being misinformed, tales that are meant to “scare” travelers, or outdated information.
But we ain’t havin’ any of it! We love Thailand and we are not putting up with that bullshit. So, today we will bust some myths and afterward we will bust some moves. Hit it!
Myth #1 – “The Ice in The Drinks is Baaaaaaad!” (Ice Ice Belly)
This myth belongs to the category of outdated information. Thailand belongs to the more developed countries in south-east Asia and, thus, things like ice doesn’t pose any real threat. Most of the ice is produced in factories that use filtered water and this is what you will find in restaurants, bars, and cafés. You know if it comes from this source when it has the shape of a cylinder with a hole through the middle.
Some of the bars also use crushed ice from the next 7-Eleven or Family Mart, which is safe to drink as well. So, when you feel particularly ill after a night that consisted of four Sangsom buckets, then let me tell you: It wasn’t the ice.
Myth #2 – “Everyone Wants to Scam You!”
Yes, when you walk along the Grand Palace in Bangkok or the White Temple in Chiang Rai, someone will inevitably try to scam you. It’s an unfortunate side effect of tourism that is a global problem. However, this doesn’t mean that everyone in Thailand is out to scam you, which is why we have dedicated an entire post to the most infamous scams. The majority of the Thai people are incredibly friendly and forthcoming – hence the title “Land of Smiles”. Instead of seeing a potential scammer in everyone, do your homework, and everyone will live happily ever after. Leave the paranoid part to Black Sabbath.
It’s also worth noting that getting ripped off at a market is different than being scammed. In the former case you mostly just need to step up your negotiation game. See it as a valuable lesson for a successful life.
Myth #3 – “Don’t Do Any Activities with Elephants!”
This is partially true because many elephant-related tours involve a whole lot of pain and suffering that happens behind the scenes. You think that these majestic animals simply let you ride on top of them due to their Nature? Unfortunately, that’s not the case as several years of mistreatment – to put it lightly – goes into transforming them into the subdued creatures we often see.
However, to put a positive spin on this sad story, there are organizations and sanctuaries out there that legitimately try to save and help elephants as best as they can. The Elephant Nature Park outside of Chiang Mai is the most famous example. The best thing about those places is that you, too, can help! It even is highly encouraged with homestay and volunteer programs, and day tours. A simple donation can help a lot as well.
Check out some of the websites to find out that not all activities concerning elephants are terrible.
- Elephant Nature Park (Chiang Mai)
- Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (near Sukhothai)
- Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (2 ½ – 3 hours south-east of Bangkok)
Myth #4 – “Koh Phangan is Just Good for Partying.”
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Koh Phangan? It’s the Full Moon Party, of course. Who are we kidding? It’s synonymous with the island. But do fun activities like diving, wakeboarding, hiking up mountains, and exploring national parks come to mind as well? No? Well, that is a shame, because those are only a few examples of what this island has in store. And this is the part where we shamelessly plug our own article about five amazing things to do on Koh Phangan. We are so brazen sometimes.
Come for the party (at Slumber Party, since we are already shamelessly plugging away) and stay a little longer for the gorgeous scenery and exciting activities.
Myth #5 – “Thailand is so dangerous!”
Honestly, every single country on this planet is dangerous. You just have to be at the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong person. But in most cases, common sense and proper research go a long way. As we mentioned earlier on, the Thai Kingdom is one of the more developed countries in south-east Asia with a working infrastructure, a wide-ranging railroad network, and an armada of great hostels. After all, Thailand is the best country to start your backpacking adventures.
Heck, only yesterday it was announced that the shady spots in Bangkok will soon become better protected thanks to monitoring and improved lighting! As you can see, there are good people here who make a conscious effort towards a safer Thailand.
Myth #6 – “Rainy Season? Yeah, It Will Rain All The Time…”
We are in the midst of the rainy season right now and based on the last few days, we are doing quite fine. There are rain showers happening throughout the days, sure, but they are often sporadic and short-lived. It does not rain 24/7 from June all the way through October as many people like to believe and/or claim. The savvy and budget-conscious backpacker actually prefers to travel during this season because she/he can save mucho dinero.
Another positive side effect, at least for the coastal areas, is that the rain and the corresponding wind cool the air down significantly. A more than welcome change to the humidity. If the heat gets too stifling in big cities like Bangkok then just come down to the South. Grab yourself a rain poncho from 7-Eleven and join us when we are singing “It’s Raining Men” out on the streets.
Myth #7 – “The Whole of Thailand is Completely Touristy.”
Very true, when you stick to the beaten path. But you remember what Robert Frost’s famous poem said? Something along the lines of two roads diverging in a wood, then taking the road less traveled by, which made all the difference. Exactly. There are enough places to escape the touristic spots. If you are looking for peace and serenity then there are a number of national parks, where you can find just that. Or why not go on a meditation retreat?
Hell, the entire province of Isan in the north-east of Thailand is like stepping back in time! It’s a rural area where not many locals speak English, that is true. However, when you have such stunning sceneries that are unadulterated by the turmoil of modern civilization then you will surely find a way to make yourself understood.
The More You Know…
Alright, that’s enough mythbustin’ for today! We deliberately left out other misconceptions and myths that exist about Thailand. Why is that? Well, so you can tell us in the comments, silly you! You might call it laziness on our part, but we call it teamwork. And that’s what makes the dream work. But before that, as promised in the beginning, we need to bust some moves now!