Somewhere between Phuket’s tropical beaches and Bangkok’s legendary nightlife, travellers to the Thai Kingdom are in for all sorts of surprises. And LGBT+ visitors are no exception to the rule: in fact, many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Thailand fans think of their holiday as a way to challenge their ways of seeing the world…
Perhaps it’s to do with the mysticism of the country’s past, present to this day in its age-old temples, or the spiritual way of life found in Thailand’s Buddhist monks, but there’s something about the Kingdom that gets you thinking. Here are three of the most common lessons travellers will learn during their Thai getaway!
Have fewer reservations towards others
It’s easier said than done because we’re often blissfully unaware of our bias. The single biggest reason why LGBT+ travellers are welcome and embraced throughout the country is arguably Thailand’s insistence on the ‘live and let live’ principle. This is beautifully reflected in what might just be the locals’ favourite expression; ‘mai pen rai’. The simple phrase carries a whole lot to meaning, but it all boils down to ‘it’s okay, don’t worry, no problem’.
Though public displays of affection can sometimes be frowned upon (regardless of your orientation!), gay and lesbian visitors can feel perfectly safe and at peace whilst exploring all that Thailand has to offer. For many, experiencing these freedoms halfway across the planet offers a glimpse into a world with less prejudice and more tolerance. And just perhaps, that’s something we could all do better at promoting every now and then!
Get to know a side of yourself you never knew
Got excited at the mention of Phuket’s beaches and Bangkok’s nightlife in the intro? You’re not alone: many travellers know exactly what they’re looking for whilst on vacation in Thailand. But at some point during your stay, you’re inevitably going to be genuinely fascinated with an aspect of the country you never knew you took an interest in!
For instance, beyond its malls, the Thai capital offers a sheer inexhaustible amount of culture to absorb. Even if you’re not a museum person, you’re likely to be blown away by Bangkok’s opulent Royal Palace, imposing temples and gilded Buddha statues. Want to go more experimental? You could always challenge yourself to a multi-day trek around an off-the-beaten-path destination and learn the benefits of a simpler life more connected with nature. Or how about participating in a Thai cookery class? You wouldn’t be the first LGBT+ visitor wanting to recreate their favourite Thai dishes (and the ones that took them by surprise…) at home.
Everything will be okay in the end – and if it’s not, it’s not the end
Life for the LGBT+ community can sometimes be challenging. In many parts of the world, people still face tremendous difficulties and prejudice. To remain hopeful and resilient, arguably nothing beats a healthy dose of optimism – and that’s something you’ll find around every corner on a Thai vacation! There’s an overwhelming sense of things eventually going to be alright rooted deep within the national psyche, and visitors tend to embrace this fairly quickly… perhaps it’s the tropical climate and dreamy beaches?
Whatever puts you in a more relaxed and optimistic state, you’re sure to benefit from it: a positive outlook helps people to speak up for themselves and others, knowing well that lasting change is the result of ongoing efforts, and trusting that a more just and equal world is only a matter of time. If nothing else, the Thais’ sense of reassurance alone, and their confidence in good things to come, are worth taking a page from their book!