I'm a 35 year old woman and I'm returning to Thailand on my first solo trip in July and while I'm looking forward to the freedom I'm worried I'll not meet others in my age bracket and that I'll just meet 20 somethings partying it up! I do like the odd drink but can't deal with the hangovers anymore, to my eternal sorrow, so won't be staying in the party hostels that people go to to socialise. How do others meet people away from this scene? Are there particular places or hostels that people have stayed in that are a mecca for people of my age group? Has anyone tried couchsurfing or travel buddies? My plans are pretty free and I'm willing to give most things a whirl. Thanks in advance for any help!
Given you are going to Thailand, learn a few words and.talk to the locals.
If you want to meet westerners go to a western country.
#2 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
You can always order a soft drink when you hang out with the party crowd. [img]smileys/wink.gif[/img] But if you are looking to meet people, I'd say the best places are while you are traveling on a bus or train or boat, and day trips. In both cases you are in a ready-made social situation. The advantage of day trips is that you've got a half day or even a whole day to chat up folks and make a connection.
I think that having something to share is a great way to meet people. Also, be open minded about chatting with people of all different ages and cultures. Language will be the largest barrier, particularly with Thais but with other westerners too.
Keep in mind that traveling by yourself can be very rewarding. You get to do whatever you want without having to coordinate with others. At meal time, take a guidebook to read or a few old-style postcards and write to friends and family about what you did that day or what you'll do tomorrow.
In my experience, it is easier for women to meet others on the road because couples, guys, and other women are more open to meeting women than they are single men. You'll be fine. Have fun. Cheers.
When I travelled in my 20's I mainly met fellow twenty-somethings, in my thirties, I hung out with others in that age bracket and now in my forties, I seem to meet other 40-somethings, quiet younger people or young families.
Destinations which appeal to you change as your interests and outlook change. If you research somewhere and think it sounds nice, that place will be appealing to the 35-year-old you and, therefore, also to other people of a similar age group and not to the partying 20-something. Of course, slightly older people are more likely to be able to afford flash-packer rates so you probably wouldn't need to consider the cheapest place that is a necessity for youngsters that want their beer money to go further!
Having said all that, these days, if I travel alone, half of the time I don't meet anyone at all and it can sometimes get a little lonely: quiet couples and families often keep themselves to themselves. I understand that as on my last trip my partner was also able to join me and, a few pleasantries aside, I don't think we really talked to any other foreigners.
Organised day trips such as a snorkelling tour can be a good to meet people as can staying in places that only have 5/6 rooms or a place with only one decent restaurant that most people end up in.
I guess the main thing is just to be open: I really enjoy talking to hotel staff or taxi drivers, especially if I've really not had a decent chat for a few days. I also really enjoyed the company of two wide-eyed 21-year-old Chilean girls on a recent trip to the Philippines. Local tourists can be fun and it is always interesting to talk to someone educated but sometimes the well-off ones don't want to associate with back-packing foreigners!
Thank you very much for the advice, I found it all very comforting. I'm definitely going to use that tip of writing postcards at dinner, perfect time to do it and almost like having a conversation. I had thought staying at a bigger place would allow me to meet more people but staying somewhere smaller makes sense. It's these small changes that will help I think.
I'm going to up my budget to allow more trips, spread them out to every few days so if I haven't spoken in a while I can get my verbal fix. Might join a yoga retreat, learn some meditation techniques for the quiet times Going to change my travel plans too, going to take the train and buses instead of flying everywhere, use that money for better accommodation in smaller hostels and day trips!
I always attempt to learn some words of the local language but the fact I'm linguistically challenged and slaughter any language I learn is a hindrance, although I do enjoy attempting it and the resulting laughter from the locals around me can be uplifting.
I really do appreciate you all taking the time to answer and giving me sensible tips that I will benefit from instead of the unrealistic idea that I'll meet load of people wherever I go. I'll be bookmaking this page and looking at it for reassurance while I'm away and reminding myself to always have an open mind! Again, many thanks!
I continue to find it amazing that the only person here who it even seem to occur to to meet indigenous people was Leonard. Dech, if you leave the bannana pancake circuit, you will find that a lot of indigenous persons really want to try and talk to you and get to know you. You don't need to confine yourself to other tourists. When I travel I almost never even meet another tourist and have very little social interaction with them. Not that I am really avoiding them, but they're in the minority around here. Why not come to Thailand and make Thai friends? I know it's a radical idea, but give it a shot.
#6 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Locals are just servants. Why talk to them ?
Thats the general theme. Might as well.just visit a thai restaurant at home and save thousands.
#7 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
Hi Madmac, thanks for taking the time to answer. I think the others did say about talking to locals, so Leonard was not alone in that. I'm definitely open to this but as I've said I'm not linguistically talented. I have been to Thailand before with friends, we were lucky to fall in with a small group of Thai backpackers and travelled with them for a few days, so it's not a radical idea to me, but I think being in a group took the pressure off one individual carrying a conversation. I have looked at offering my time at schools in villages off the tourist trail, I read there is a serious need for english speakers to go there so students can practice their english, I could possibly practice my Thai too. Do you think this is a good idea?
Need a visa to teach English and a tefl course.. Thailand does run.these courses too so u could get a student visa and do a course there.
#9 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
I think its more language exchange, rather than teaching but I'll look into it a bit more and get the required visa. I did something similar in South America and found it helped a great deal and I did make friends with locals, although some of them having excellent english helped and again done in a big group. Your idea of doing a TEFL course in Thailand is an excellent one and I'll definitely take it onboard. You've been a great help, thanks!
"I have looked at offering my time at schools in villages off the tourist trail"
I can hook you up if you're reallty interested. It's WORK believe me. But they can't get a native speaker out there. They might even give you a place to stay and free lunch. It's in a village in Yasothon Province in Amphoe Leaung Nok Tha.
#11 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Funny that, I had actually found a place in Yasothon on Helpx that is looking for someone too, maybe it's the same people. Could you send me some details? I don't mind hard work so that wouldn't scare me away. Thank you so much, appreciate your help!
I disagree with MADMAC and Leonard on the meeting locals issue. In the first place, it is impractical to suggest that if you learn a few words of Thai, you can meet locals. You won't. You might be able to interact with people on a slightly more personal, slightly more fun basis, but it isn't going to go anywhere more than that because of the very real language barrier. The only Thais, or locals anywhere for that matter, that you'll really meet are the ones who have a common language with you, which for most of us is English.
I think you guys who live in Thailand or travel there frequently and have a long-haired dictionary guiding you through the early transition forget just how difficult it is at first to interact with locals. And I think you may be giving yourselves more credit than you deserve and holding others to a standard that you didn't meet yourself. Plus, when you live in a relatively small town like Mukdahan, like it or not as a westerner, and particularly a Thai-speaking westerner, you are going to have a minor celebrity status. Don't assume that everyone else would benefit from that and have people really interested to meet you, because they won't.
MAC, I believe you when you say you don't meet up with other western tourists when you travel, but as with many other things, that's because you are unique and different. For most folks it is quite the opposite, and again, it is because of the language barrier. Remember that one of the reasons you are considering starting a motorcycle tour company is exactly because speaking English won't get it done in the areas near Mukdahan. If you can't even order a meal or book a hotel room, how the flap are you going to have a meaningful interaction with a local?
In my own experience, when I travel, I almost always wind up meeting other English-speaking folks. That's because we have not only the common language but a more common way of interpreting the world that makes it easier to interact with each other. I have German friends, for example. I speak passable German - at least I can get direction and order food and talk about the weather. But my German friends all speak English because my German isn't good enough to have meaningful conversations which would be needed to build an actual friendship. The same was true with the friends I made in Indonesia, where we spoke English together, or in Cambodia, where we spoke Thai together. You have to have a common language to make friends. That is true almost all of the time.
Even then, when I travel in the United States, I've noticed I'm more likely to interact with other tourists than locals, because to the locals I'm JAFT. That was true in San Francisco, Seattle, New Orleans, and Portland.
So, more power to you if meeting up with locals is really your thing. But that is the exception, rather than the rule, and suggesting that everyone should learn a few words of a local language and spend their holiday happily interacting with the locals isn't realistic. You'll meet people on holiday when you are doing the things people do on holiday - traveling on a bus or train, taking a day trip, hanging out in the lobby or a restaurant. That might include locals, but odds are those locals are tourists in their own country. And if they don't share a common language with you, it isn't going to be anything more than a superficial, even if pleasant, interaction.
Cheers you guys.
Thanks Exacto for your advice and I agree with you that not many, I for one, will ever attain the fluency in Thai needed to maintain a meaningful conversation. As you said the most I can hope for is "to interact with people on a slightly more personal, slightly more fun basis" and I for one would be very happy with this, I've cringed internally when I've been unable to get the basics right and have felt I'm showing bad manners. I know that there are Thai people looking for english speakers to practice their conversational skills on and I will happily be a Guinea pig for them and will look out for opportunities to do so.
As a rule of thumb, I'll talk to anyone, no matter their nationality unless they are a creep, which is the same in any language! Thanks again for all the advice, I look forward to putting it into practice in July!
Wow Dech, I was thinking the same thing as you. I am 41 years old happily married with 2 daughters. I am going to Thailand solo, I guess "flashpacker" is the term for the first 2 weeks in July. I was planning on spending 2 days in Bangkok, Khao San road to get adjusted and meet some experienced backpackers for advice and point me in the right direction. Then head up north to Chaing Mai, on the train. I wanted to see how hard of a time I would have with travel and language barriers and either continue on to Chaing Rai and Pai or go down south to the islands if I felt comfortable enough. Im not looking to "party" but planned on stopping in a few local pubs to try and meet people (locals or like minded travelers). I made my first trip to Thailand 7 yrs ago with my family and spent 8 days in Bangkok and 10 days in Korat in my mother-in-laws village.(my wife of 20 yrs is 1/2 Thai but was born in USA) my mother in law lived here for 35 yrs and decided to move back home but has since passed away. Good luck to you and safe travels.
#15 Airborne082 has been a member since 14/4/2014. Posts: 14
Exacto - I have to respectfully disagree with you there. The first time I came to Thailand was to meet my wife's family. We were living together for two years and it was apparent we were going to stay together. I stayed in her village, I didn't know a soul, and nobody except my wife spoke English and she wanted to have fun with her friends - so she was hanging with me 24/7. I had to get by on my own for large segments of time. I spent 30 days there. Didn't leave the province (Yasothon) during that entire period. Now, obviously, that would be a bit much for someone if they don't have any help at all, and there wouldn't be a place to stay. But in terms of communications, you find work arounds. No, you aren't going to have deep conversation about international politics, but you can have rewarding and positive interaction. Is language a challenge? Yep. Even now for me I am still in the learning process. But I got by then, and you can get by now.
"But my German friends all speak English because my German isn't good enough to have meaningful conversations which would be needed to build an actual friendship."
You don't need language to build an actual friendship. Across the street from my wife's house lives a guy named "Ed" (same as Carabao). He's poor, he can't speak one word of English, and yet we hung together all the time and became good friends. He helped me work on my in-laws house laying brick (which he was better at than I was) and painting, we shared some beers and struggled through basic communication. Even now when I go back if Ed is around he'll come over and we'll catch up on each others lives (which is easier now because I can speak enough Thai to communicate). I'm older than him and he calls me "pi" (big brother or older sibling) John. I value that friendship even though we're very different. When he took me to a restaraunt and bought me dinner, even though i tried to pay and he insisted, that was a big deal to me, cause he didn't have a lot of money.
My son was the same way. He came out here with no Thai language background at all, and within a week he was taking my motorcycle keys and heading out with his new friends. He didn't even have any money to speak of. You can do it if you want to. But you have to step out of your comfort zone.
"I've cringed internally when I've been unable to get the basics right and have felt I'm showing bad manners."
Don't worry about this. You're not showing bad manners. People can read your heart easily enough. Intent is more important than anything else in this regard.
Airborne, you're hitting well populated tourist spots. English flies just fine.
#16 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
"so she was"
This was suppose to read "wasn't"
#17 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Thanks for that MadMac! I'll try taking baby steps out of my comfort zone, keeping your story in mind. Your friendship with Ed sounds great and it was a lovely read.
Airborne it's reassuring to know one person in the same boat as me. You'll find this a different trip to travelling with kids, I've told my friends what a child friendly holiday Thailand could be but they're put off by the long haul flights. My plans are similar to yours the first week, I'm heading to Chiang Mai and Pai to relax for a bit before possibly making my way down to Sangkhlaburi. I've 5 weeks in Thailand this trip, so I think I'm going to play it by ear and see what happens. I arrive in Bangkok the 2nd week of July and plan to get the train to Chiang Mai ASAP, if you're still around then, pencil me in for a beer if you're looking a natter! Have a fantastic trip and the best of luck!
I leave USA July 2 and leave Bangkok July 16. It looks like your arriving as I'm leaving. If your around Bangkok I would love to get a beer and share my experiences with you. I'm plan on taking train to Chaing Mai, visiting Night Bazaar, Tiger Kingdom, elephant trek in jungle. Then Hilltribes (maybe home stay). Then either go farther north to Chaing Rai/Pai or fly south to islands. I'm going to play that part of my trip by ear.
#19 Airborne082 has been a member since 14/4/2014. Posts: 14
Get off the beaten path and stay well away from the Khao San Road, Ko Samui, Haad Rin on KPG, Phi Phi, Phuket, and Pai. The small town near many of the national parks don't see too many tourists and the few who you'll meet there probably won't be the party all night types. The town of Phetchaburi just 2 hours south of Bangkok and not far from Kaeng Krachan NP is one such place. Don't worry too much about your interactions with other tourists -they are not the reason you are going to Thailand, right?
I've travelled to Thailand 5 times and spent nearly 7 months there and have NEVER had a problem meeting people (even though I'm a bit shy sometimes). If you don't want to party (nor do I too often), then try to organise the odd tour / day trip like snorkelling, diving or site seeing with a small group. This is a great way to meet new people. If you're lonely, just join a boat trip and you'll meet people to travel with quickly.
Otherwise, I find that every boat, bus, car and taxi is great for meeting people because in Thailand you're almost always sat next to tourists.
Koh Lanta is a good place to meet people who aren't interested in partying because most people there are just chilling out, but there tend to be a lot of couples there as well. Chang Mai is a good mix of party / relaxation and site seeing.
Either way, you'll have a blast on your trip and you'll meet lots of people. There's no better place to meet travellers than thailand.
If you'd like more information on travelling there or places to see without parties, check out my Guide To Thailand.
I compiled it after spending over half a year there and at over 4,000 words, you'll probably find a lot of useful tips!
Best wishes and happy travels.
#22 goatsontheroad has been a member since 13/5/2014. Posts: 4
"Otherwise, I find that every boat, bus, car and taxi is great for meeting people because in Thailand you're almost always sat next to tourists."
Ahhh Nick, ahm, yeah, NO. I almost NEVER, EVER sit next to a tourist. Usually when I take the night bus from Mo chit to Mukdahan I am the only anglo on the bus. All Thais. You most definitely are on the hard tourist trail if this is the case with you.
"Either way, you'll have a blast on your trip and you'll meet lots of people. There's no better place to meet travellers than thailand."
Depends on where you are. I'm going to check out your link but I am willing to bet my favorite places to hang out here are not yours.
#23 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Dech - excuse me for this post, but I just couldn't ignore this blog I read:
Goats I lifted this right from your blog:
"Sure the Thai people are very friendly, and will smile and wave as you pass by, but unfortunately (in our experience) itâ€™s very hard to get past the superficial customer-salesman relationship with the Thais. Tourists have been coming to Thailand for a long time and this has employed thousands of Thai people. Most of them are genuinely friendly, kind people, but as you spend more time here you will notice that there tends to be underlying reasons for almost every interaction. Itâ€™s nothing to be upset about, but donâ€™t go to Thailand expecting to make lifetime friends like you can in places like the Philippines and Indonesia."
Your entire blog catered to the tourist trail (which is OK, but when you write about Thailand it's a lot more than the tourist trail) and this really stood out for me. This is so different from my experience that it became obvious to me you must not have gotten off the trail. I have made a number of very good Thai friends. Admitedly living here helps, but I made some very good Thai friends my first time here that I am still friends with. It's harder on the tourist trail first of all because you guys move around constantly (can't make friends anywhere doing that) and secondly because of the language barrier if you leave the tourist trail. But you can do it. There is nothing organic to Thai culture that makes them superficial people uninterested in real friends.
Your comment on tipping too is off base. Thais DO tip. They are not big tippers. They don't follow the North American 15% rule, but they don't follow the central European no tipping rule either. The advice of "don't do it" was bad advice. Service people here don't earn much at all, so a decent tip, even if not expected, is most certainly appreciated.
"Either way, if youâ€™re not a part of the problem then youâ€™re more a part of the solution, so try to avoid bars where women are hired for sex. Many of them are sex slaves that cater to a multi-million dollar industry in Asia."
At least for Thailand this is not true. Pedophiles are prosecuted when caught. It's not like 25 years ago. And there are very few "sex slaves" in Thailand. The women are free to come and go and they do. The arguements about this being some sort of human trafficking place where all these poor women are deceived and exploited is nonsense created by western moralist who dislike prostitution for their own biased moral reasons. Prosititution has been an organic part of Thail culture for over 150 years. You don't have to like it or approve of it, but at least be honest about it. Very little of it revolves around under age girls / pedophiles or coercion.
"If youâ€™re a person that likes to find your way off the beaten track, then Thailand is not the place for you. There are a few places that remain â€œless touristyâ€ but for the most part, Thailand is overrun with young party tourists that come here for 2 weeks on a bucket drink and hallucination binge-a-thon."
This is so off base I don't know how you could possibly be more wrong. My city, Mukdahan, has MAYBE one or two white tourists in it on any given day. MAYBE. There are no buckets, no binge-a-thons, no young party tourists. None, zero, zilch. Nor anywhere else in Issan. Nong Khai probably gets the most, and it's definitely VERY low key.
The Thailand you wrote about and the Thailand I live in have NOTHING in common with each other. Nothing.
#24 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
No worries MadMac, I'm the same if something is written about where I live and I disagree with the view expressed. I can't help but defend it, its my home and I hate to see it run down.
Thanks for the advice Goatsontheroad, I'll be using buses and train this trip as last time I flew most of the time due to time constraints.
Thanks Greg, I'm going to have a look at Phetchaburi, it looks really interesting and the caves look stunning. On interactions with other tourists, even though I love my quiet time I do like to meet other people, be they tourist or local and sometimes hearing about other peoples travels and lives inspire me to be braver and go to the places I probably wouldn't have discovered.
Airborne looks like I'll be in Chiang Mai by the 10th, fingers crossed, by that stage you'll be a fount of knowledge to me so be prepared for lots of questions if you're around.
I don't know what kind of place you are staying when you travel, but i travel a lot and always in hostel or backpacker and i can tell you have no best way to meet peoples than sharing everything with.
I am 32 years old and same as you i need to meet peoples much older thn 18 or 20 years old ^^
For this i have found a huge place in Bangkok which is called "Baan Sathorn Backpacker".
This is a typical thai house very quiet en the center of Bangkok with very friendly and helpful owners and most of the cstomers have your age very quiet and very nice atmosphere very easy to meet the peoples there and make your trip with.
Here is their website link...
#28 Fathieb1 has been a member since 15/5/2014. Posts: 1
Didn't we go to Norees that night?
#29 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Yeah, think he took you to Kingdom. That place has turned into a major pick up location now. I haven't been there for years, but word around the campfire is it's the place to go if you're looking for company.
#31 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
I wrote up a trip report on my Phetchaburi/Kaeng Krachan adventure here. Wow that was 7 years ago. Anyway, there's a really great restaurant in town right on the river called Rabieng Rim Nan Guest House. Wonderful food in a nice setting -an old teak house right on the Phetchaburi River. When I was there a large monitor lizard swam across from the other side and scaled up the side of the restaurant. However, the guest house part of this is not very good and I don't recommend sleeping there, which I did. Great food at the market in the center of town, lots of old stupas and temples and yes, those magical caves...plus the huge national park.
MadMac you're a star, that is a very kind offer and I've now another place I want to go to and it looks like, from above comments, I should risk one of my almighty hangovers!
Fathieb1, I'll have a look at that hostel. Thank you very much for the input!
Greg, that was a very enjoyable read and you've sold me on Phetchaburi, although I don't think I'd be as adventurous as you, think I would have settled down to watch the Bollywood movies after getting lost.