5 Apr, 2023 @ 09:35
8 mins read

How To Fully Experience Thai Culture Even When You’re Somewhere Else

Lisheng Chang M9bbvrpl87m Unsplash

Thailand is a very highly developed nation (far more so than many Westerners give it credit for), and as such, there are a plethora of websites to visit regarding all things Thai. Whether searching for the Best websites to buy Thai lottery tickets or simply watching the news to stay updated with local events, you have no shortage of options. The most effective strategy is to recall the parts of the trip that were most enjoyable and that you still cherish and then search for sites that fit these categories. The best part is that Thailand is very much a Google country, meaning you don’t need to access a country-specific search engine to access its content. This makes life far more accessible than using other options like Baidu, Yandex, or South Korea’s Naver. Once you have searched a few sites, you can start to become more immersed, and who knows, you might even learn a new phrase or two!

Lisheng Chang M9bbvrpl87m Unsplash

Try Cooking Thai Food At Home With Authentic Recipes And Ingredients

Thailand is renowned for many things, but perhaps its most famous export is its delicious cuisine. Due to the widespread Thai diaspora and the high quality of most Thai restaurants, you can find authentic Thai cuisine in almost any country. Its most famous foods include a range of curries and plenty of noodle and rice dishes that make liberal use of spices and fermented products that give them their distinctive flavor profile. Therefore, the obvious thing to do if you are feeling melancholy at the thought of having to wait another year before you travel to your favorite destination again is to learn how to cook the food! Some of the most well-known examples are:

  • Pad Thai: Pad Thai is a well-known and flavorful dish commonly found in Thai cuisine. It consists of stir-fried rice noodles along with tofu, eggs, a mix of veggies, peanuts, and bean sprouts. It’s easy to make as long as you find the right noodles.
  • Tom Yum soup: Tom Yum soup is a hot and sour soup made with fresh herbs, such as lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves, along with seafood or chicken, chili, lime juice, and fish sauce. It’s exceptionally flavorsome but can be considered an acquired taste!
  • Thai green curry: Thai green curry, also known as “Gaeng Khiao Wan,” is a popular Thai dish made from a blend of green chili peppers, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, coriander, and other herbs and spices. Compared to many other Thai dishes, this is relatively straightforward to create.
  • Massaman curry: Massaman curry is a popular dish in Thai cuisine that has Indian and Muslim influences. The curry is typically made using chicken, beef, lamb and potatoes, onion, and sometimes other vegetables such as carrots or peppers. This aromatic, flavorful, and creamy curry is a must-try for curry lovers, and it is often served with steamed rice (made using a rice cooker for all you Uncle Roger fans out there!)
  • Pad kra pow: Pad Kra Pow is a well-known stir-fry dish made with minced meat (such as pork, chicken, beef, or seafood), stir-fried with garlic, chili, and Thai basil leaves. Quick, affordable, and utterly full of flavor.
  • Som Tum: This is a popular salad dish popular in both Thailand and neighboring Laos (where it’s referred to as Tam Mak Hung). It is a spicy, tangy salad made from shredded unripe papaya, lime juice, fish sauce, chili, garlic, and palm sugar, along with other ingredients like tomatoes, green beans, and peanuts to taste. The ingredients are pounded together using a traditional mortar and pestle to release the flavors thoroughly. This dish looks easy to make but requires lots of trial and error to get it to your desired taste.
  • Khao soi: This is a Thai specialty that you could regard as a curry noodle soup. Most common in the North, particularly around the region of Chiang Mai, it is very tasty but can be made anywhere with the right ingredients.
  • Larb: This is perhaps the most straightforward dish to recreate as it involves mincemeat of some description and lots of herbs and spices.

If you didn’t take a cooking class when you were in the country, you could always look online, where you will find a wealth of knowledge surrounding techniques, ingredients, and more. YouTube is particularly valuable in providing free information on preparing and cooking food. Additionally, some of the elements can seem a little scary to those without an educated palate, so you can always remove some things and add others if you are cooking for friends and family.

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Attend Cultural Events In Your Local Area That Showcase Thai Traditions And Customs

You may be able to satisfy your craving for Thai culture by attending any number of events, depending on where you happen to be in the world. For example, in the United States, Western Europe, and Australia, there are typically many different communities living together for various reasons, including family and education. This provides ample opportunity to revisit traditions you love and possibly even learn some new ones along the way. Moreover, you might find that various diasporas from Southeast Asia come together to celebrate. This is because they are all primarily Buddhist (apart from Indonesia and the Philippines) and tend to celebrate similar festivals. This can help you better understand the region as a whole and the similarities and differences among its various parts. For example, you will see the difference between how Lao and Thai’s people celebrate their new year (Songkran and Pee Mai Lao, respectively). 

Listen To Thai Music And Learn Some Traditional Dances

Modern Thai music is a mixed bag; most foreigners either love or loathe it. If you’re on the latter end of the spectrum, you should listen to Carabao and reserve your judgment until afterward! Nonetheless, traditional Thai music is something to behold and full of beautiful sounds interspersed with the sweet singing you might come to expect from a karaoke-mad nation! Therefore, learning some of their traditional dances and listening to their music is a great way to gain an appreciation for Thai culture. As with cooking, there is a wealth of information online that you can tap into, and that will stand you in good stead when you revisit and break out your newly-learned moves.

Learn Some Thai Phrases And Practice Speaking With Locals Or Native Speakers Online

No matter what anyone says, you can never truly appreciate or understand a culture unless you take the time to learn its language. As such, it might be a good idea to dedicate some free time to learning the Thai language and getting to grips with its nuances and intricacies. Although you shouldn’t expect to learn it fluently overnight (it’s an extremely tricky tonal language with plenty of dynamics at play), with enough time and dedication, you will be able to strike up basic conversations with the locals either at home or back in Thailand. Due to its widespread use, popular apps like Duolingo provide free courses, leaving you with even less of a reason not to learn the language!

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Watch Thai Movies Or TV Shows To Learn More About The Culture And Way Of Life

As with the music, Thai TV errs on the side of an acquired taste and usually revolves around reality TV or highly dramatized soap operas (no different to Western TV if you think about it! Nonetheless, if you are learning the lingo, they can be a great inspiration to spur you on to understand the intonation and cadence of everyday speech. Moreover, it can tell you a lot about what the average Thai person really enjoys, enabling you to spark genuine conversations with the average Joe, over and above your typical tourist. However, where they truly shine is in their movies, and if you don’t make an effort to seek them out, you can miss out on some real zingers. Some of the top options that come to mind include:

  • Pee Mak (really an excellent adaptation of an existing myth that combines horror and comedy perfectly).
  • Ong Bak (fantastic if you enjoy Muay Thai and martial arts
  • Tropical Malady (one of the few Thai movies to make it on the radar of the Cannes Film Festival)

Read Books About Thai History, Religion, And Culture To Gain Deeper Insight

If you’re unable to make it to Thailand, delving into books about the country’s history, religion, and culture can be an excellent way to gain a deeper understanding of Thai customs. Through these literary works, you can develop an appreciation for Thailand’s extensive history and rich traditions and gain insight into its people’s daily lives. With such a vast array of literature available that touches on various aspects of Thai culture, from its artwork to its cuisine to its religious beliefs, there’s sure to be something for everyone. Published works such as “A History of Thailand” by Chris Baker have become go-to resources for those interested in immersing themselves in Thai culture. By taking in these books, you can better understand the nuanced customs and beliefs of the country, which will ultimately allow you to appreciate Thai culture on a deeper level. 

Moreover, you’ll be able to grasp the significance of practices and traditions unique to Thai cultures, such as the role of Buddhism in Thai society and the importance of the monarchy (something often underestimated by most travelers). In addition to books, you can also explore Thai culture through movies, documentaries, and online resources. By immersing yourself in Thai culture, even from afar, you’ll be able to experience the beauty and richness of this amazing country fully.

Wear Traditional Thai Clothing Or Accessories To Feel More Connected To The Culture

This tip will only be helpful if you really love the culture, and it depends on your location. Most garments are designed for warm, humid tropical climates and may not be suitable if you reside in a cooler area. Also, not every outfit is ideal for every situation, especially if your workplace has strict rules about what you can wear. Nevertheless, you can reconnect with Thailand when you place on an authentic Sinh as a woman or a Suea Phraratchathan if you’re a man and feeling particularly monarchical!

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Practice Meditation Or Yoga To Experience The Spiritual Side Of Thai Culture

The state religion of Thailand is Buddhism (or, more specifically, Theravada Buddhism), and until relatively recently, many families would send their sons away to become novice monks in order to attain merit for the family. Despite the fact that this practice has largely fallen out of favor, they are still devoted Buddhists and partake in a variety of activities related to the religion. Yoga and meditation are the most commonly associated activities when people think about Buddhism. Even though these things aren’t directly related to Buddhism and have been around for thousands of years before Buddhism, they are still connected. In addition to reuniting you with the country, these exercises have been shown to provide a range of health benefits, from improved mental acuity to enhanced flexibility.

Connect With Thai People Through Social Media Or Online Forums To Learn More About Their Daily Lives And Experiences

To gain insight into the daily lives and experiences of Thai people, social media and forums are valuable resources. By joining Thai Facebook groups or Instagram accounts of Thai influencers, you can catch a glimpse of their culture and lifestyle. Engaging with them online offers the opportunity to personally interact and ask questions regarding various topics, including food, traditional festivals, and customs. Additionally, this is an excellent platform for connecting with Thai people and practicing the language skills previously mentioned by chatting with them in Thai.

Thailand is a country utterly unique from others. From its culture to its food, it has such a wide breadth of things to be explored that you can’t help but love the place! However, this joy can rapidly turn to melancholy once you return home. Nonetheless, if you develop a longing to return, you can use the ideas here to give you a little piece of Thailand wherever you may be.

Staff Reporter

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