23 Things I’ve Learned in Thailand

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 02/01/10 •  3 min read

Over the past three weeks of traveling through Thailand, I’ve learned more about myself and the culture here than I ever thought I would.  Here’s just a sampling of some of the more interesting things I’ve learned while traveling through Thailand.

1)      In Thailand it doesn’t matter where you’re from, these terms are universal:

  • “Tuk-Tuk!”
  • “My Friend, you want suit?”
  • “Hello, Welcome!”
  • “Massaaage?”

2)      America got it all wrong when it comes to fruit drinks.  I have to pay $4.95 to get a freaking fruit smoothie at Jamba Juce back home, and here I can have an entire mango in liquid form for less than a buck.  America, are you taking notes?

3)      Don’t go to the islands of Thailand unless you are looking to acquire a drinking problem.

The view at my place in Phuket

The view at my place in Phuket

4)      It doesn’t matter where you go, or what time you get there, you can always find a room for the night at a reasonable price.  Planning in that regard is over rated.

5)      Motorbikes are dangerous.  When riding ALWAYS have money on you, you never know when it’s going to break down after you’ve been going 10km in the wrong direction.  I didn’t bring my wallet that day…

6)      Thai street food is way better than anything you’ll find in a restaurant…and a quarter of the price.

7)      There are more Swedish people on Koh Phi Phi than Thai people.

8)      Stressing about packing isn’t necessary. A month into the trip you will have gotten rid of anything you don’t need, and added the things you do.

9)      American airlines really are that bad.

10)   Thai Baht is not play money. If you treat it as such, you will go broke very quickly.

Long tail back from Railay

Long tail back from Railay

11)   Buckets are never a good idea.

12)   The Thai language isn’t as difficult to learn as it seems, assuming you’re willing to work at it.

13)   Venturing to where the locals go is never a bad idea.  Night Market/carnival in Patong is an excellent example of this.

14)   Good friends are good friends, regardless of what country you live in.

15)   Traveling and being location independent are two VERY different things.

16)   Not nearly as many people as I thought are interested in working remotely and being location independent.

17)   Phi Phi is where you go when you are 20ish. Phuket is where you go when you are 60ish.

18)   There should be a training manual at every Thai massage parlor.

19)   Being comfortable is great, but usually unnecessary.

20)   Do not ever accept a bet from a prostitute in Thailand over a game of Connect 4.  You will lose.  And if you win? You still lose.

21)   You will meet more interesting people in one week abroad, than you will in a year at home.

22)   Just because a place has wifi, does NOT mean they want you sitting there working for 4 hours.

23)   Even with all the sacrifices, this has been the best decision I’ve ever made.  AND I think it sufficiently meets the criteria for #31 on my bucket list: Make at least one terrifying decision that gets me closer to my goals.  Done.

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Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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20 comments on "23 Things I’ve Learned in Thailand"

  1. Andrew says:

    America is taking notes. I’m taking #2 to the higher-ups.

  2. Excellent list. Perhaps you can switch in a new goal for #31 (which was my favorite): Do something terrifying every (year/month/day/whatever.)

  3. David Damron says:

    Congrats man!!! I enjoyed #3 the most….However, I think Cody has that probably whether on the islands or mainland.

    David Damron

  4. #21: Interesting people are everywhere. It helps sometimes to be abroad, it opens your eyes, that is good. Good luck man!


  5. Martin says:

    In regards to universal comments, don’t forget “same-same, but different.”

  6. Awesome list! I am excited for you. Looks like you are staying where the 60ish stay. Why is that?

  7. Nate says:

    Awesome. I’d enjoy a little more of an explanation about number 20! Haha, or maybe I don’t want to know any more?

  8. unbjames says:

    Great list … gets me more pumped for my arrival in Thailand later this year! 🙂

  9. Sharon says:

    Hmm. #20…something Mom probably doesn’t want to know about…

  10. Earl says:

    #10 is a sure way to end any overseas adventure a bit prematurely. We often go to places with excellent exchange rates but then it is much easier to spend five times the money!

    1. Sean says:

      @Ms. Freeman – Yep at the time I was, that was on Kata Beach in Phuket. We were there for a couple of days to get work done, and frankly knew nothing about the area, so its just kind of what we ended up with. We were in Phi Phi the 5 days before that, which was much more targeted to my demographic!

      As for #20, no no no, its not what you think. But when you are at certain bars in Thailand, the bar girls will just walk up and start a game of connect 4. Usually they want you to buy them a drink, and then, well you know the rest. So I’ve heard stories of guys that didnt really understand the drill and ended up at the very least with a bunch of drinks on their tab that they didnt know they were paying for…

      @Martin Oooh good call, that one should DEFINITELY be added to the list!

  11. Lisa says:

    Make sure you get some mangosteens and pomelos (with chili sugar) with those mangos. Some of my best memories of Thailand. Keep savoring the experience.

    1. Sean says:

      @Lisa I had BOTH for the first time while in Phuket, very very good. I’d never even heard of them til I was getting a fruit shake and was surrounded by funny looking fruit haha

  12. Good stuff. Good to see more Americans travel and experience new cultures!

  13. Erik says:

    Great list.
    I’m actually in Thailand right now too, been here for 2 weeks so far. And this list is dead on. Something I might add would be you’ll never go hungry in Thailand. There is food EVERYWHERE and it’s all soo good. And bartering with street vendors is more tricky than you think. And well never get the price a thai person will no matter what we do.

    Sounds like you’re having a great time here in Thailand. I’m having an amazing time myself. I’m currently in chiang Mai and will be travling around for the next month. What are your future plans in Thailand.

    Big fan of your blog by the way. First comment but I’ve been reading for a while. Keep up the good work with location 180.

  14. Hey Sean!
    Totally awesome man! Pity I didnt go to Thailand, I opted for a bit of a eurotrip. I’m in Paris right now. I must say it’s very expensive! I’m also going to do a post soon about useful tips when travelling because nothing is indicated very clearly and I wasted hours and lots of money doing things that could have been avoided in the first place. Phuket looks beautiful man!

    Keep well!

  15. Lewro says:

    Great stuff! Specially for someone like me who is planning to spend a month there pretty soon. I would also like to do some work during that time, hope I will have a luck with wifi even I do not have to be on for hours. Thanks a lot for all these info.
    Good luck!

  16. Mate awesome post. Having loved out in Bangkok for 3 months I can relate to everyone of those points – even the connect four bet one.

    Glad you having a wicked time.

  17. nomadic matt says:

    Buckets are ALWAYS a good idea….i’m with u on all of them, esp 3, 6, 7

  18. Aimee says:

    So true about the interesting people you meet so quickly while travelling, they are interesting and willing to go outside their comfort zone. I plan to make it to Thailand later this year so thanks for the tips:-) Cheers

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