Thailand is one of the world’s most popular travel destinations. It is also becomming more and more the choice for retirement. For good reason. As a culture the Thais are truly unique with a distinct culture including influences from ancient religions, past civilisations and a ‘mai phen rai’ (it doesn’t matter) attitude to life. There are plenty of generalisations people use to describe Thai people – polite, fun-loving, respectful – but there’s a lot more to it.
Thai culture is much more complex and nuanced than you will ever know. Even living in the country for many years, as a foreigner, won’t get you much closer to fully understanding the ‘Thai Way’. The best way to at least try and understand Thai culture is to immerse yourself in the festivals, celebrations and family life (when the opportunity arises).
In business, in love, in groups and as friends, Thainess is a long adventure that will equally confuse, enrage, engage and delight you.
Probably the most influential aspect of the culture is Buddhism, practiced more as a way of life than a daily worship, by 95% of Thais. It’s is version of Theravada Buddhism with its roots, as a sect, in Burma but with influences from the sub-continent (indeed Buddha was born in Nepal). A visit to Thailand would never be complete unless you visit a few temples – ornate, unique but, at the same time, ubiquitous and central to all family and community ceremonies.
Thai food. Thai restaurants are a favorite for many of us. If you like Thai food, retiring in Thailand will be a foodie paradise for you. There are many different dishes that just aren’t available in the U.S. You can also take cooking classes at an affordable price to learn how to make those dishes. Exploring Thai cuisine can be a great retirement activity if you have the time. While the food is much spicier in Thailand, you can always ask the restaurants to make your food without chili peppers.
Foreign foods are available. Of course, we all like our comfort foods, too. The good thing about Thailand is the availability of cheese, wine and peanut butter. There is also a huge diversity of restaurants to choose from. Japanese sushi, Indian curry, Korean BBQ, pizza and pubs are there in Chiang Rai if you need a taste of home. Foreign restaurants are much more expensive than local places, but it can be a great comfort for expats.