Why Is Thailand So Popular?
This year, millions of tourists from different countries around the world will flock to Thailand for vacation or even to retire there forever. Some are old and some are young. There is no standard type of visitor, and they all come for different reasons. But what is it about Thailand that brings so many people each year? What separates it from other popular tropical destinations such as Hawaii, The Bahamas, or Mexico? There's a number of different reasons why someone would travel to Thailand, and some of those reasons may come as a surprise to you if you don't know much about this beautiful country.
Where else in the world could you rent a beach house in a relatively safe area for $300 a month? You'll be hard-pressed to find a place that is as cheap as Thailand, while boasting itself as being safe for tourists. Sure, I bet you could rent a shack on the beach in Somalia for much less, but you probably wouldn't live long enough there to get a chance to enjoy it. One of Thailand's main draws for tourists is the cheap costs of everything. Since the country experienced a financial meltdown in the 90's, their currency has been very cheap for western tourists, which makes everything more fun. A person can easily live well in Thailand on a monthly income of only $500. If you really wanted to rough it, you could stay in a private hostel room for as little as $3 a night, or $90 a month. Street food can be had for as little as $1.50 a meal, and beers in bars are around $1-$2 each. Those types of things would all cost 5 to 10 times as much if you were in the U.S., Australia, or England. Cheap prices means less stress for many people who just want to get away from life for awhile.
Thailand's nightlife is unparalleled, and it's earned a reputation in traveler's circles over the years as a party mecca. With endless opportunities to get into some trouble and party, it's no wonder why the movie The Hangover 2 will be based on Thailand this time around instead of Las Vegas. For sex tourists or those just looking to explore something different, there are seedy areas all over Thailand such as the 3 main centers in Bangkok: Nana Plaza, Patpong, and Soi Cowboy. But if you're looking for more of a clean but urban place to party, there are more dance clubs than you can keep track of. Since Thai culture puts a lot of importance on fun (known to Thais as "sanuk"), you can rest assured that thai people definitely know how to party and can show you a good time.
Since Thailand is so cheap for tourists, when it comes to fun things to do, the possibilities are endless. Anybody who is looking to have their own Indiana Jones type adventure can easily find it in the Land of Smiles and at an affordable cost. You can hike through the jungles in the northern regions of the country, or take an overnight train for less than $30 down to the islands and beaches in the southern region. Every area in Thailand is accessible, no matter how far, for less than $50. If your thing is jetskiing or climbing mountains, Thailand can offer all of this to traveler's at extremely cheap prices. For this reason, Thailand has become the most popular country on earth for backpackers, those who are looking to have memorable life experiences without it costing them an arm and a leg. If you've ever seen the movie The Beach with Leonardo Dicaprio, you might recall that he went on an adventure through Thailand and traveled by bus, train, and boat throughout his trip. He did all of this for less than $50 total.
Beaches and Islands
As mentioned above, one thing Thailand has plenty of is it's islands and beaches. The water in many parts off the coast is crystal clear, so you can see all the fish and marine life that are swimming below the surface, just as easily as you can see your own hand when holding it out in front of you. Plus there are over 1400 islands in Thailand, with a large portion of them being uninhabited. Although the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami caused many small islands and beaches to be destroyed, most of these places have been cleaned up since then and are just as beautiful as they were in 2003. Renting a jetski or boat for the day or doing other ocean and beach activities is about 5 times cheaper than it would be in Hawaii, so it's very easy to explore the islands and travel to many different beaches.
When it comes to big cities, Thailand isn't really well-known internationally as a place with big cities. People sometimes only think of jungles and huts when they think of Thailand, because many people in western countries think of it as a typical third-world country. But Bangkok is definitely one of the largest cities on earth, and Thailand has many other ones as well such as Chiang Mai, though they are not as urban as Bangkok. Travel and Leisure magazine runs a poll every year called "World's Best" in which their readers vote for the best places to travel. Bangkok has won #1 best city to travel to a couple times now, and in addition to being #1 for 2010, Chiang Mai was voted as #2. So when people who subscribe to travel magazines vote on good cities to travel to, you should probably take their advice and check those places out. Who knows traveling better than those types of people? So if Bangkok is too polluted or too busy for your style, you should still check out Chiang Mai in the north, as it's sort of like a quieter and cleaner version of Thailand's most infamous city.
Combine Thailand's cheap prices with a huge variety of places to shop, and you got yourself one of the best tourist destinations for shoppers. When many people think of Thailand, they picture dirt roads, poor villages, and people living in huts or in the jungle. But many forget about Bangkok or may not be aware of how large and industrialized it is. Bangkok has at least 5 major shopping malls, including MBK mall, which has 8 floors for people to shop on. In addition to air conditioned indoor markets, Thailand has thousands of lively outdoor markets as well. Chatuchak market in Bangkok, is the larget outdoor market in the entire world. You can find everything there, from food, to electronics, to clothing, and most of it is at bargain or wholesale prices.
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