6 Ways to Experience Thailand Like a Local

Thailand is home to many expatriates (people who live in a country outside of their own) who have come to work. The country is a great place to get a teaching job, as the Thai schools will assist you until you get relocated and settled. No matter what may bring you to Thailand, the best way to experience this amazing country is to see it through the eyes of a local.

Here are six simple ways you can do that:

Eat Like a Local

Thai cuisine is globally renowned, so we suggest you eat what the locals love. You can start with the tom yum gung, which is described by CNN Travel as a masterpiece. It is made of mushroom, shrimp, tomatoes, lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. It is flavorful, and you can get the best at Tom Yum Goong Banglamphu.

But to truly eat like a local, you must venture out of Bangkok. Thailand’s northern region serves some of the most delectable som tam, or spicy papaya salad. The Taling Chang food market just outside Bangkok, meanwhile, has some of the best Pad Thai and prawn dishes in the country. Here you’ll be eating authentic Thai food with the locals themselves.

Remember, if you’re unsure about eating at a certain restaurant or street cart, judge it by how many locals are there. If there’s a line of locals, it’s probably a safe and delicious choice!

Get Soaked during Songkran

Thailand is a country of festivals, and taking part in a couple of them is a great way to experience the country. But if you can only enjoy one let it be Songkran. This Buddhist celebration welcomes the Thai New Year and is observed throughout Thailand, usually in the month of April. Here the locals douse one another with water by having massive water fights. This is because water symbolizes a clean start. Needless to say you must take part in these water fights, and get soaking wet — just like a local would (but you can’t really avoid it even if you try!).

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Catch Some Muay Thai Action

An excerpt from Thailand Thailand: Traits and Treasures describes Muay Thai as the “most favorite martial arts of the Thai,” and being “in existence for almost as long as the Thai themselves.” The sport itself is rich in history, dating back to the Ayutthaya Period.

Catching some live Muay Thai action, therefore, is like watching years of Thai history and culture unfold in front of you. Most high-level Muay Thai matches are held at the Rajadamnern Stadium and Lumpinee Stadium. As you watch we suggest you soak in everything. That includes the Wai Kru, a ritualistic dance that marks the beginning of every fight. It is a big part of the Muay Thai experience, and is both exciting and enlightening.

If you really want to feel like a local you could also make some wagers on a fight. The overall experience is heightened by Thai bookmakers who offer prizes on the outcomes of the contests. If you are unsure who to follow, this is a good way to mingle with the locals and get some insider knowledge. Watching elite level martial arts, betting on fights, and having an enjoyable time is a very common thing to do on fight nights, but you should keep in mind that gambling is technically illegal in Thailand so take precautions!

Visit the Temples

experience thailand like a local

Thais are known for their spirituality. You can experience this by visiting Thailand’s temples, notably the historic golden temple of Wat Phra. It has for years been one of Thailand’s most spiritually significant venues. That’s because according to legend it was specifically built to house a bone from Buddha himself. You ought to visit Wat Pho, too, as it is the largest and oldest temple in Bangkok. You can even get a soothing massage here, as it is home to traditional Thai massage schools.

Explore Thonburi in a Hang Yao

The hang yao is Thailand’s version of Italy’s famed gondolas. It is a popular mode of transportation among the locals of Thonburi. Here they have hang yaos for rent, along with an expert navigator. While cruising the waters of Thonburi we suggest you start a conversation with the local manning the boat. It’s a great way to learn about Thai life and culture.

Watch Local Performers

experience thailand like a local

Thailand has its own version of Broadway in the Siam Niramit. This state-of-the-art theater in Bangkok hosts various stage productions, many of which feature local artists. Then there’s the Calypso Cabaret in Asiatique. Here you can watch top performers put on a burlesque show while you have dinner. Watching such shows, whether at Siam Niramit or the Calypso Cabaret, is an excellent way to experience the popular pastimes the locals love.

We hope this list will help you see Thailand in a different way. Living like a local will open up new doors and experiences, and give you a greater appreciation of Thailand.