I'm planning to visit Thailand for a second time next november. This time I would like to get more of the local lifestile and share some time with local people. I will try rent a bedroom in sites like Airbnb or Wimdu insted of going to hostels so I can meet local people and families. Do you have more recomendations? Is there a site or anything to meet local people or do local activities? I'm planing to visit also Malaysia and Singapore so I will put a similar post in that forum. Any help or idea is welcome!!
#1 gerardoBCN has been a member since 6/5/2013. Posts: 6
I've never stayed in a Thai hostel and I don't know why anyone would when hotels are so cheap. If you want to meet locals you need to speak Thai and it takes time. You won't build much of a relationship in a couple of weeks. Simply going to a Thai town you will escape the tourists but Thais are not all lining up to be friends with farangs, as they have their own lives and are busy with families. If you want to engage with 20yo Thais you might have some success going to Thai nightclubs such as the Ratchadapisek area in Bangkok.
If you just want to escape the tourist trail there's many places to go - issan, Nan, Phayao, Phrae, Lampang, Kampaeng Phet, Prachuap, Trang, Nakhon Si Thammarat etc
To build on something Leonard mentioned above and to follow up on your other thread on essentially the same topic, on my last trip to Lampang we visited a few of the restaurant/clubs frequented by Thai 20-somethings. There were very affordable pitchers of beer and good live music at many of them starting at 9 pm. I speak Thai reasonably well, but my friends don't, and even so they managed to at least have some interaction with the almost exclusively Thais at the place. It was a great time.
We enjoyed a similar live music scene in Kamphaeng Phet, with several live music joints down near the market. There were not many western tourists at all, but we still felt welcome.
Thai cities like Lampang and Phitsanulok draw quite a few Thai and other Asian tourists, so if you are hoping to interact with locals, those are good choices. As Leonard said, you'd have a better chance speaking Thai, but there are the occassional English-speaking Thais who are happy enough to chat up a westerner, and enjoying good music over a beer doesn't require all that much talking anyway. Good luck.
By the way, are you from Baja California Norte? We visit Ensenada about once a year and absolutely love it there, largely because the people are very friendly there. Cheers.
I have never been to Thailand so can't comment on how to best meet locals but another option for accommodation is couch surfing. A friend of mine did that in India and had a great experience and really got to know the local person who she stayed with. If you do that you can immediately meet one local person who may even introduce you to their friends enabling you to meet more. Look it up online - there are some great websites where you can create profiles to really get to know people before staying with them.
#4 wanderingwill has been a member since 11/3/2013. Posts: 7
This is a nice place run by a very nice guy. It's a little pricey by backpacker standards though. You can get a feel for rural Issan if you stay here, without the normally associated discomfort.
Otherwise I am a fan of Khon Kaen for doing what you want to do. It's probably the most cosmopolitan city in Issan. It has a huge university, so there are a lot of student bars in the university quarter and it's easy to meet people there. There are also some cheap places to stay.
Captainbkk - have deleted your post above and a similar one on another thread. If you can't answer questions without denigrating others, don't answer.
You may want to re-familiarise yourself with our user guidelines.
#7 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,789
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A couple thoughts...
You don't mention how much time you have, but either volunteering or staying in a temple can be good ways to get involved in the culture. Of course, staying in a temple requires that you have some interest in practicing Buddhism / meditation, but I had a great experience a few years ago at Wat Sanghathan just north of Bangkok. I was able to get to know Thai monks and also laymen who were, like me, staying for a short time. A few spoke a little English and several of the monks spoke good English.
There are quite a few volunteer opportunities in Thailand but most aren't really looking for short-term help. If you have more time, this can be a great way to meet well-meaning locals. You can try a search at www.idealist.org and/or peruse the TF forums for ideas. You might also check out these guys: www.bangkokvanguards.com. It's a very cool organization that partakes in all sorts of charitable events and protests and the like. They also do offbeat tours. They often post events and things happening around Bangkok and these are great ways to meet young, progressively minded locals, both Thais and expats, without going to the bars.
Another option would be to do a homestay. In the general Bangkok vicinity, some of the ones in Phra Phradaeng (Bang Kachao) and Amphawa areas might be good. While visiting the tiny village of Baan Prasat (near Phimai) to check out an archaeological site last year, I remember seeing some interesting looking homestays where guests literally ate and hung out with the family all day. That would be a very off-the-beaten-track experience and the villagers seemed really sweet.
And I agree with everything else mentioned above. Definitely good advice from wanderingwill to check out www.couchsurfing.org. I'm a member and from my experience, it's totally legit and is a reliable way to meet open-minded locals anywhere in the world. When meeting locals in bars, especially in touristy areas, keep in mind that a friendly attitude might mean they're seeking something other than friendship. I'm not saying to be overly guarded, just to keep common sense close at hand.
Wow! Thank you all for these great recomendations.
I plan to use some couchsurfing indeed. I never did but I think it worths a try.
I will be traveling for one month only, and I will spend some time in Singapore (two to three days only) and Malaysia also. I guess I'll have around 15 dÃas in Thailand. Nos enough to do voluntering I think. I'll chech your recomendations on that nevertheless just in case. The temple option sounds quite interesting. I'll check that also.
Dluek: Do you thing there is any way of checking out the homestays alternatives before getting there? Is there any forum or something I could use to do that? Anyway, I'll keep my eyes open to find this kind of alternatives during the trip. It's exactly the kind of experiences I'm interested in.
Madmac, Khon Kaen sound like great. I'll check it for sure.
Exacto: I'm an argentinean living in Barcelona (Spain). So Baja California is not around the corner! ;)
Thank you all for your help. I'll let you know how it works!
#9 gerardoBCN has been a member since 6/5/2013. Posts: 6