We are a small family (Victoria, Chris and Liam) living mostly in Thailand and we write about it on our blog Nesting Nomads. 11 years ago, Chris and I were the 1. We have been to Thailand for the first time and after we got over the initial culture shock, the country just wouldn't let us go.
That's how we ended up returning almost every year and staying longer and longer at a time. The north of Thailand has become our home in the meantime. When our son was born, we were a little nervous about how he would handle our Thailand love. Fortunately, he got infected by our enthusiasm and then also removed our last doubts. Since 4 years we live now 6-9 months per year in Thailand.
Culture shock Thailand – yes or no?
When we first set out to see the world in 2006, our first stop was Thailand. At the beginning we found it quite hard to get used to, the heat and the foreign culture can overwhelm you a bit at first. But little by little we settled in and came back every year to this wonderful country.
Today, we find Thailand incredibly enjoyable and not only call it our adopted country, but also describe it as very easy to travel to.
Especially in the well known cities and islands there are always many people who speak English. The transportation system is very well developed, you always have the choice if you want to go by bus, train or plane to a place.
The islands can be visited by slow or fast boats, the food is extremely varied and the Thai people are simply a friendly people.
The traffic is on the “wrong” side for us, but you get used to it amazingly fast. Who like us already scooter or. If you have motorcycle experience, you will enjoy exploring the new places on your own, because you can rent scooters everywhere. Whereas in big cities you might prefer to use public transport and drive yourself in quieter areas.
Because the traffic especially in Bangkok takes some getting used to. On partly 6 lanes it goes there and we can report from experience, even with navigation it is sometimes quite difficult to find the right way. A wrong turn means a detour of 30-60 minutes.
In the 11 years we have been traveling in Thailand, we have never had anything stolen nor have we been in dangerous situations. That doesn't mean that there is no crime, in fact Thailand is one of the top countries in the world for shooting deaths. However, with a little care and caution, critical situations can usually be avoided. Of course, you should also take all other precautions that you usually use here to heart.
Thailand is not only linguistically a whole new world
Compared to Germany some things are different in Thailand. It starts with the language, Thai is a tonal language, in which a word can have up to 5 different meanings, depending on whether the voice is raised, lowered or kept constant (high, medium, low). Accordingly, it is important to have your voice under control in Thailand.
Loud scolding or clamoring is not common and unwelcome here. Many Thais have never learned to deal with open (verbal) conflicts and this puts them in very uncomfortable situations. Always remain calm and have yourself under control is therefore very important in this country, unless you like to attract negative attention.
Greeting in Thailand is done with the wai, bringing the palms together in front of the body as if praying, paired with a slightly implied bow. This should be the lower, the older or higher in the reputation of the interlocutor is.
The appropriate verbal greeting is “Sawadee Ka” for women and “Sawadee Krap” for men, “Thank you” translates as “Kop Khun Ka” or. “Kop Khun Krap”.
The “Ka” resp. “Krap” is a courtesy phrase that should be added after each sentence, women always “Ka” and men in “Krap”.
It is still common in Thailand to take off your shoes before entering a house. This is also often the case in stores or other businesses. Logically, one should not walk barefoot in Thailand, because the dirt of the street hangs on the feet, although this is, in addition to physical dirt, mainly a spiritual gesture.
If you want to dive even more into the customs and habits of the country, we have written a Thailand Etiquetteer, which covers many topics.
One of the best country cuisines in the world
It comes as no surprise that the food in Thailand is one of the great highlights of the country. Thai cuisine in itself is very diverse, plus there is a strong interest in good food in general, which is why you will find a large number of international dishes.
This of course does not mean the ubiquitous “English Breakfast”, but mainly the specialized restaurants found in the cities, which often hire foreign chefs and thus bring a lot of knowledge into the country. If you only spend a few weeks in Thailand, you certainly don't need lasagna, but after a few months it's nice to know that this option is available.
Vegetarians and vegans can also look forward to Thailand, the abundance of fresh fruit, coconuts and plenty of green vegetables will not let them starve either. Even specialized vegan restaurants already exist in many places, even on remote islands you can often find them.
The variety of Thai cuisine varies depending on the geographical region and special dishes like “Khao Soi” in the north or “Khua Kling” in the south as well as different degrees of spiciness and dominant flavors provide a huge choice. Although Thai cuisine is extremely spicy, there are also people who do not like spicy food and therefore many dishes are prepared mildly.
We have summarized a selection of some favorites in a post with photos:
Holidays in Thailand
The predominant religion in Thailand is Buddhism, there are temples all over the country (thailand). Wats), which can be visited and ceremonies are held regularly.
If you stay longer in the country, you can even celebrate a New Year three times. On the one hand, “our” New Year is celebrated on 1. The Chinese New Year is celebrated in January, then the Chinese New Year in early February and the Thai New Year in April. While the Chinese New Year usually lasts 3 days and is characterized by a lot of fireworks, the Thai New Year (Songkran) is quite different. It lasts depending on the region between 3 and 10 days and is also called water festival. Besides prayers and offerings in the temples, it is an old custom to wash the elders and loved ones with water, originally only the hands and feet.
However, from the cities this custom has evolved and every year there are real water fights. People move around with water pistols and buckets and get wet by everything and everyone. In the right place with the right people this can be a lot of fun. However, some tourists are a bit overwhelmed when they just arrive and suddenly find themselves in the middle of the hustle and bustle. Because a “no” doesn't count here anymore, you get wet whether you want to or not.
We are actually big fans of this holiday, however we still exercise some caution and sprinkle small children and elderly people with just a little water instead of recklessly getting them wet.
Another very beautiful holiday is the Festival of Lights in October. To commemorate the deceased, the famous lanterns are let loose into the sky and elaborate boats are made from banana leaves and flowers. Together with some hair, fingernails some coins and candles you bring this to a river and then let them sail with good wishes.
This is a wonderfully atmospheric moment when thousands and thousands of these boats pass along the rivers and just as many lanterns light up the sky.
Visa for Thailand
As a German you can easily get a residence permit for 30 days (Visa Exemption or Visa Exception). If these 30 days are enough for you, you don't need to think about anything else. For all others who want to stay a little longer in the country, there are several options.
You can choose between a 60 day visa, a 6 month visa, an education visa or from the age of 51 the pensioner visa. Since we also have to deal with this topic again and again, we have compiled a very detailed article (with infographic), which is constantly updated.
Our personal tip for Thailand
For those who know our blog, this is not very surprising. We are big fans of Pai, a small town in the north of Thailand, approx. 3 hours by car from Chiang Mai. It is a very relaxed place, picturesquely situated in the middle of the jungle and therefore very green most of the year. Apart from recreation, you will find many nice people and there is a lot to experience.
Whether waterfalls, jungle trekking, yoga classes or cooking classes – you will not get bored so quickly. Pai attracts young and old people and almost everyone who lands for the first time stays longer than planned. Although far from the sea, the climate is pleasant most of the time. Thanks to the many rice and garlic fields, it is incredibly green and idyllic, especially after the rainy season from September to early January.
We have written a guide for Pai, if we have now made you curious.