So I finish uni next month, and i'm all booked up to fly off to Thailand! The thing is, I went when I was eighteen, and loved it. Of course I loved the culture...but I loved the drinking culture more. It was brilliant, just following the crowd, round all the parties, like the dumb farang that I am...
Now i'm a little bit older, a LOT wiser, and I don't want to go anywhere near places that serve you booze in buckets. But being a girl by herself and all, it's going to be a little bit hard and slightly daunting for me to get off the tourist track. I do want to go where the crowds will be and I can easily make friends and things...but then I don't just want to be in places where getting drunk every night is the only form of entertainment. Any advise on this? Where should I plan on my route that has a nice balance - not too many drunken farang, but still enough people to have a chat over some pad thai with, a nice bit of culture, a little bit harder to get to than just hopping on a tourist bus, maybe...
Any advise would be much appreciated - either in regards to the north or south!!! Cheers!
#1 Scarletttttt has been a member since 29/2/2012. Posts: 2
I'd probably stay away from southern Thailand and focus more on northern Thailand and Laos. I don't know exactly where you've been before and what you like besides avoiding the "bucket crowd".
It's pretty easy to avoid the drinking crowds, it only takes a little courage. Chiang Mai is probably the best place to find some like-minded people and you can take it from there.
You can also try the companions forum to see if some people are interested in joining you.
Eastwest beat me to the punch on the Laos suggestion. If you've been to Thailand before and want something more laid back, then working your way North from BKK and then into Laos is a great option. It is easy enough to skip the two major party spots in Laos (Vang Vieng/Don Dhet) - but also easy enough to access them if you do decide you'd like a wild time. Mung Sing/Luang Nam Tha get enough traffic to find friends but aren't over run, and you could then work your way to Muang Ngoi/Nong Kiaow for a quiet experience (Muang Ngoi being more touristy when I was there). Luang Prabang and Vientinne are 'major cities' of Laos that offer both solitude and company if you like -- and with enough time you could head down to Pakse/Tad Lo/Champasak. There are always plenty of travelers in Laos, but it tends to be of a quieter disposition.
good point- but sadly/fankly very hard. Even mainly staying in ''Thai''areas will not bring you out of the booze circuit-alas this country simply is near Russia alco-hooked. The main difference is, it is not buckets for stoopid farang, but bottles of Singh etc beer and those nasty whiskey sets-to show of you are rich enough. Preferably Johny black-but any Thai blend is also OK. The more boring the place (think most of Isan)-the more they think to need an escape.
As for THailand:
Thoise smaller towns that you see never mentioned here-as newbies do not go there and those wiser know that not anything is on that www. Think of the North-Nan, Phrae, Payao, north of ChRAi- Mae sai etc. The circuit ChMai-Pai-MHson etc. The Burmese refugee towns.
#4 captainbkk has been a member since 16/2/2012. Posts: 472
It really depends on what you want to do. The word "culture" is thrown around a bit too much here, but if you want to experience genuine, modern Thai (or Laos) culture, that means just going to normal places that are not tourist attractions and hanging out, learning some of the language, getting to know the people. That is EASY to do here, as the people are naturally engaging (at least in Issan). I often recommend people take the train to Nong Khai and work their way down the west bank of the Mekong (Bung Kan, NKP, That Phanom, Mukdahan - where I live - Don Tan, Khemmerat and then over to Ubon and back to Bangkok.Taking it nice and slow, from ampur to ampur, province to province. Most people don't want to do that because there are few sights to see and English isn't enough out here. But if you want real cultural exposure and a cool off the beaten path experience, it's a pleasant way to go. As Casey sugggests, kicking around Laos is another option.
#5 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Quite a conundrum for the OP. Captain BKK thinks Isan is boring and Madmac recommends it.
I don't know much about the party scene but it seems every beach I've visited is full of drunks enjoying the local cheap rot-gut; usually flavoured so you don't get a suspicion of the almighty hangover you are going to wake up to next morning.
My take on Isan is I love the place but if you don't speak Thai it's going to be hard work to see some of the lovely ancient Khmer sites.Though you can get a map with them marked on it.,but most are only accessible by creaky old local buses or songtaews which take for ever to get going since they won't leave until they're full. But as madmac says it's an adventure.
But back to the original question - how to stay off the booze trail. As my grandfather used to say back in Wales if you wanted to meet people it was the chapel or the pub otherwise you were a social leper and unfortunately and sadly that's become a worldwide phenomenum.The only way you can miss out is not go in bars hence not meet people. Difficult one. Khaosan Rd, Koh Samui are out then.
You could just explain you don't drink but it's difficult to socialise when everybody else is leglesss.Your the first person I've heard of who isn't actively seeking to get legless in Asia everynight so you've got a difficult job.
Why not just hang around small cafes and restaurants and get chatting with the few who don't go in for that scene.They do exist, though they are a dying breed.
Apart from Nah Trang most of Vietnam is les of a booze scene and a little more cutural though the locals drink copiously but then they do in Thailand ESPECIALLY Isan were Lao Cow (Rice whiskey) is a big part of the Thai scene.BTW never drink with Thais because they are the most odious and belligerent people when drunk whilst the Khmer turn into giggling schoolgirls.
Here in Cambodia we have a nice beach with a low key scene in Otres (Sihanoukville) but avoid the main beach with its special offers and booze cruises.
#6 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
"BTW never drink with Thais because they are the most odious and belligerent people when drunk whilst the Khmer turn into giggling schoolgirls."
Sayadian, I drink with Thais OFTEN, at least once a week, and in the five years I've been here, I've never had a drunk Thai act belligerently with me.
Captain BKK sounds to me like you pretty much have a low opinion of Thai - especially Issan - culture.
#7 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Cheers everyone, some sound advice here! I think hopping over the border into Laos sounds like the best bett... Issan sounds really interesting too Madmac, i'm up for a bit of an adventure! I really don't mind having a bit of the backpacker scene, just not every single night, y'know...
#8 Scarletttttt has been a member since 29/2/2012. Posts: 2
It's pretty easy to avoid the boozy route and tourists, I've managed pretty well so far. Now in Nong Khai [img]smileys/smile.gif[/img]
I prefer to drink alone or with a few people, I hate groups and herds.
I have been to SEA each year for the past five years for 3-4 month trips. I dont drink alcohol often and don't consider myself a social leper! Avoiding the masses of drunks is easy - like Sayadian says - try a small coffee shop or a restaurant as opposed to the clubs. We are there albeit in lesser numbers. There are many travelers who are in SEA that do not get pissed up every night and still manage to meet other travelers and have a great time.
That being said...you might want to bring a book!
"That being said...you might want to bring a book!"
The Kindle baby, the Kindle. I love my Kindle!
#11 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Yes to the kindle Madmac. Bought one last summer and it saved me during the rainy season this year.
I drink with the local Thai's all the time too. The only problem I've ever had is when one is really drunk and wants to talk to me. There have been a couple of times that it has been irritating to "me". They were still friendly though.
My own personal preference for Thailand is the north or Issan. Laid back and great people.
#12 neosho has been a member since 13/8/2008. Posts: 386
Yeah, sometimes I get a drunk guy who just wants to grab my arm and chat away. It's a little annoying when it's some guy I don't know and he's a moron... but hey, it's five minutes and then he moves on.
#13 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
sorry Madmac but I have to disagree with you strongly on this.
Firstly let's get one thing straight, the Thais you drink with are they family or family friends because that is an entirely different scenario.They normally treat you with respect.
I'm referring to a group of strangers you might meet in a bar. I've had a lot of experience in Thailand and I wouldn't even enter a bar with drunk Thais.To put it bluntly they can't hold their licquor and things often generate into arguments and violence.Being the only farang you immediately become the focus of the belligerence.
I often drink with Khmer and Chinese, both of whom turn silly when they've had a drink. In my experience (and I know it's a generalisation-but better to be safe than sorry) I would never ever drink with Thai strangers.Funnily enough the one exception are Thai soldiers, whether it is the discipline but they seem much better behaved. I really think it's good advice for travellers to stay out of joints full of drunk Thais.
#15 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
Well in the town I live in the guys I drink with are usually guys I know. Not family, since my wife's family is not from the province where we live. The bars of course have LOTS of guys I don't know. Five years, never had a problem here. And I'm no wall flower.
#16 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Well, Madmac, you've half answered my question.It seems to me the people in the bars know you so that probably makes a big difference but I still reckon the Thais are a rough bunch when they've had a drink or two.I think if you went somewhere they didn't know you it might be different.Personally, I'd feel a lot more relaxed drinking with Khmer or Laos or Chinese men.The Thais can't hold their liquor.
Then maybe you frighten the b'jesus out of them
#17 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
Well, I'm not a physically imposing guy, but I was a boxer for ten years, and spent a long portion of my life in a violent profession. I've had people tell me before that I am a somewhat intimidating persona, but I don't believe it. I'm friendly and outgoing. I do occasionally go to bars or clubs where I know no one (when I leave Mukdahan) and I've never had a problem. Just not my experience. Thais certainly get into it occassionally with other Thais (although anglos do to) when drunk, but I've never had a problem. Maybe I'm just lucky.
#18 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
My experience goes along with Madmac on this. But no matter what the country, if you walk into a place and feel that someone is spoiling for a fight, leave. We used to have a couple of bars back home that I would not set foot in. One was nicknamed the "gun and knife club". LOL
#19 neosho has been a member since 13/8/2008. Posts: 386
Well. Neosha.It's a sujective opinion of course but in all the bars I'v drunk in throughout South-East Asia.(and I mean local joints) I've had lots of surly aggressive looks from Thais when their drunk. I think it's partly to do with the nationalism which is prevalent in Thailand.Plus a lot of people resent farangs for one reason or another.Sometimes they have a point since many are arrogant and pushy but I've never felt this kind of unfriendliness in any other country in the region.A couple of times I've had Thais looking for trouble when I'm sitting quietly minding my own business.Saying that ignoring it and smiling politely ends it.
You haven't commented on my point about Thais unable to hold their liquour without getting nasty.Do you think different races or nations have more of a tolerance for alcohol? The Khmers are neighbours of the Thais but always seem to get silly when they drink.I've never seen a Khmer man looking for trouble when he's had a drink.I also think the Thais are a more aggresive/warrior people.Just look at the type of weapons you can casually buy in the market from knuckledusters to hunting knives.None of this is on sale in Cambodia.
Madmac, it wouldn't matter how big or well trained you were in a fight with Thais since they never fight one to one you have to take on the whole nation.
#20 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
Perhaps. I've heard that before. Wouldn't happen where I live, because the guys jumping in would be my friends and they'd be jumping in on my side. I'm sure of that. The only thing close to what you describe happened to me at a place on the edge of town that has a very good band, which is why I go there. A drunk Thai was being obnoxious and trying to give me a hard time. An off duty cop was there as well, however, and grabbed the offending individual by the shoulder and made him apologize to me and threw him out. Now that was here in a town I am well established in, might have been different somewhere else. I don't know. I only know I haven't had a problem and I definitely get out my fair share of the time.
As for holding their liguor - well, they like to drink. No quesiton about that. Someone here on travelfish a long time ago wrote "Thai's don't go out at night. They stay home with their families." I almost fell off my chair when I read that.
#21 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
'An off duty cop was there as well, however, and grabbed the offending individual by the shoulder and made him apologize to me and threw him out.'
Now that brings me on to another point about Thais.Whereas you can have an altication with a Khmer and the whole thing is forgotten the next day the Thais seem to bear grudges forever and will wait for an opportunity to 'get you back' at some time in the future.
#22 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
Memories like elephants. But I think this guy was an out of towner. We haven't had a anglo guy killed in this province in over a decade, and about 20% of the guys living here are drunken, offensive, morons by any standard. While there are Thais who do hold this lifelong grudge thing, the reality is unless you really humliated them in public, if they didn't act on it in that moment, a negative outcome is really unlikely. So I wouldn't overstate it.
#23 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957