THAILAND – Well technically, you could never, ever spend too much time in Thailand. The country is chock-full of intricate temples, pristine islands, and mysterious caverns. Here’s how to tell if you’re turning the corner from Thai tourist to Thai local.
1. You prefer motorbikes to minivans.
In Thailand, you don’t have soccer moms: you have fearless and intrepid moto-moms who fit their entire families (babies included!) onto one gas-powered bike. No seatbelts? No problem.
2. You’re counting the days till the next full moon.
On the island of Ko Phangan, “full moon parties” are fire-throwing, trance-music-playing ragers that last till the sun comes up. …you’ve never seen a country watch the sky this hard, just waiting for the next full moon.
3. The menu is your new favorite guessing game.
What’s a “grilled carb meat?” Or “fried spaghetti?” You’ll usually only halfway know what you ordered — but oh, that’s what makes it fun.
4. Fish sauce is simultaneously the grossest and best condiment on Earth.
Technically, fish sauce is made from the runoff of fermented anchovies. But it’s best to just shove that idea out of your head and savor the deliciously enhanced flavor of your fried rice.
5. “Fun” on vacation now consists of watching tourists jump over (and run through, and limbo-dance under) flaming ropes of fire.
At the “fire shows” on Thailand’s party islands, skilled fire dancers perform tricks and then invite tourists to imitate them. People work up the courage to (sloppily) jump into the flames after a few drinks — it’s like watching an intoxicated parade. Or a train wreck.
6. You freak out when you find sunscreen without “whitening” compounds.
Thais favor fair skin, so naturally almost every bottle of sunblock on the shelf is designed to both block the sun and bleach you a desirable shade of pasty, milky white. Want a tan? You’re gonna have to pay more for regular sunblock.
7. American malls seem tiny.
In Thailand, “the mall” is not a big room full of stores. It’s a 10-floor, four-million-square-foot paradise with its own aquarium and fitness center.
8. Your favorite drink comes in a bucket.
At a typical Thai bar, you can get beach buckets filled with alcohol and mixer for the price of a normal cocktail in America. The more straws, the merrier.
9. You avoid tuk tuks at all costs.
They might sound like they’d be authentic, but they’re overpriced, and they’re not how real Thais get around. Locals ride motorbikes or take songtaos, open-back taxis where you mingle with other humans who are headed your way.
10. Your drunk food comes from 7-Eleven.
And no, we’re not just talking about the rack of seaweed-flavored Pringles. Thai 7-Elevens also carry toasties, which are flakey little pockets of ham-and-cheese heaven that the kindly 7-Eleven manager will grill for you right on the spot, any hour of the night. Mmm.
12. You can’t imagine a movie without the Thai royal anthem.
“Thais revere their king almost like a god,” and his image can be seen during the musical montage that plays before every film in Thai movie theaters. Disrespecting the king is a serious offense — in 2008, a woman was arrested when she didn’t stand up from her movie theater seat during the song.
13. You know a good dinner should never cost more than four U.S. dollars.
Thanks to Thailand’s favorable exchange rate and amazing food, you can order a totally delicious drink/appetizer/entree experience for less money than the typical American Happy Meal.
14. It’s no longer shocking to see small children boxing each other in a bar at 1 a.m.
There’s a serious concern that kids who do muay Thai, a violent martial art, might be exposed to exploitation. That doesn’t mean, however, that you won’t see some cuties fighting in a more playful fashion in the ring at your local bar.
15. Bangkok Airways has once saved your life.
When you’re stuck in a musty regional airport with nowhere to take solace, this fancy little airline will be there with its magical blend of incredibly low ticket prices and incredibly luxurious terminal lounges. The excitement continues when they pass out free hand towelettes and sticker books before takeoff.
16. Playing footsie is not okay.
Buddhist tradition says the foot is the lowliest, dirtiest part of the body. Pointing your feet at someone or nudging them with your foot/leg is a hugely disrespectful.
17. Rotis are waaay better than crepes.
Sometimes referred to on street carts as a “Thai pancake,” these folded flaps of doughy deliciousness are thicker, cheaper versions of those pretentious French crepe wraps.
18. A “fruit shake” is your go-to on a hot day.
They’re icy, frosty, and made with fresh fruit — and sold right on the street where you need them. Why can’t America take a hint?
19. Wearing shoes inside seems so last hemisphere.
Thais are into cleanliness, so be prepared to strip your sandals at local businesses and such.
20. Temples seem as common to you as parking lots.
…but way prettier. They’re everywhere, and each has its own intricate style.
21. You’ve realized that no humans on Earth are as nice as Thais.
They’re the sweetest, nicest, politest bunch you’ll ever find. Thanks for letting us explore your land, Thais!