Sitting on the beach, cocktail in hand, and wondering what to do? Why not spend those free hours reading a couple of the best books about Thailand?
Whether it’s non-fiction or fiction, reading while on-location gives you a better perspective of the country and culture you’re visiting. Make your journey more magical – or plan your upcoming trip – with the settings of these titles.
From “man-reads” to chick lit, from historical fiction to memoirs, we’ve got you covered.
By: Alex Garland
Of course, you have seen the movie. You have to believe, however, that the book is way better than the movie. From Khao San Road to the Gulf of Thailand, this is a good read for anyone who is thinking of visiting these areas. FYI, the story is about a British backpacker, not an American one.
THE BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI
By: Pierre Boulle
A classical, historical read that can be quite intense as it does give you an account of the struggles of a prisoner of war during World War II as he toiled on the railway that will eventually join Burma and Thailand. If you have plans of setting off to Kanchanaburi where the River Kwai can be found, then this is a good book to pick up before you head to Thailand.
JIM THOMPSON: THE UNSOLVED MYSTERY
By: William Warren
One of the attractions in Bangkok is Jim Thompson’s House. Read about the story of the silk king and his mysterious disappearance in Malaysia in 1967.
By: Stephen Leather
Take a good look at Bangkok, the City of Angels, from the eyes of a traveler and its locals, giving you a good glimpse of the cultural differences that play out between locals and tourists. A story about a traveller who falls in love with a pole dancer, this “should be compulsory reading for all first-timers to Thailand.” (Pattaya Mail)
By: Rattawut Lapcharoensap
If you are not a fan of long reads, Sightseeing is a collection of short stories set in modern-day Thailand, the newly published Thai-American writer gives you an endearing and humorous view of life in Thailand as it adjusts to the effects of Westernization brought about by a flock of Farangs that visit Thailand each year.
LETTERS OF THAILAND
By: Botan, Translated by: Susan Fulop Kepner
Awarded the SEATO Prize for Thai Literature when it first appeared in Bangkok in 1969, the book tells the story of a young Chinese immigrant in Thailand through the letters he wrote to his mother. When you take a walk through Bangkok’s Chinatown, the story from this book gives you an insight into how the Chinese immigrants have integrated themselves into the Thai culture.
VERY THAI: EVERYDAY POPULAR CULTURE
By: Philip Cornwel-Smith, John Goss
Throughout the ages, Thai culture has thrived despite the influences of globalization and Westernization as it is regularly visited by tourists and called home by the multitude of expats that live there. This book gives you a good insight into Thailand’s colour-coded days, lucky number pricings, taxi altars, and other quirks of the Land of Smiles.
THAILAND ESCAPE: MY COLORFUL TRIP THROUGH EXOTIC LANDS
By: Jade Gedeon
Perhaps you are not the vacation reader type and would prefer to change the colours of Thailand. Graceful dancers, exotic religious relics, bathing elephants, and cheeky monkeys, bring Thailand to life by colouring the beautiful illustrations in this book.
By: Kukrit Pramoj, Translated By: Tulchandra
If you are a bit of a history buff or would like to have the tidbits of the things that happen within the Royal Palace grounds, then this is the perfect read for your Thai holidays. The novel takes you through the social and political issues from the 1890s to World War II. Think of it as the Thai’s version of The Crown.
LET US KNOW ABOUT YOUR FAVOURITE READ
With all the books on the list, you have more to read than the usual travel guide. As award-winning Thai literature pieces are slowly being translated, this list would soon have a sequel. Let us know about your favourite Thailand vacation read.