Hey all you cool cats and kittens! We know everyone’s going a bit stir crazy, especially those of you who were supposed to be beginning your adventure Teaching English in Thailand right now! While productivity is NOT an obligation during this time, we’ve compiled a list of the best books and resources on Thailand to check out during quarantine! So dive in (or don’t until you finish the last episode of Tiger King) and start exploring your new home from the comfort of your COVID castle.
The Land of Smiles has so much to offer, from its rich history to its incredible food. Check out these books and resources to help you soak up as much Thailand as you can before you leave!
Tonedeaf in Bangkok (and Other Places) by Janet Brown
I picked this one up from my local bookstore when I first booked my teach abroad experience, and it was super helpful. It follows the journey of a woman who taught in Bangkok, and the interesting experiences she dealt with during her time in Thailand! It’s a short read – and I even passed it along to the rest of my family to check out! My dad referred back to it many times on our FaceTime sessions while I was abroad. Tonedeaf in Bangkok (and Other Places) is available on Amazon.
Sightseeing – Ruttawut Lapcharoensap
Written by a Thai American who was raised in Bangkok, this book holds seven heartwrenching, vivid, and sobering stories set in modern-day Thailand. It ventures deeper than the ideal musings surrounding the Land of Smiles and cuts to a deeper narrative. Sightseeing seeks to break stereotypes and reveal a raw and unvarnished glimpse of life in Thailand. Sightseeing is available on Amazon, and free with a Kindle Unlimited membership!
Admittedly, I haven’t read this one, but upon doing my research, it’s now on its way to my house!
Thailand Confidential – Jerry Hopkins
Jerry Hopkins was an American journalist who put together this collection of articles and essays after his first decade in Thailand. It’s broken down into bite-sized chunks, and full of interesting Thailand lore. The long-term expat makes it clear that he does not consider himself an expert on Thailand, but shares fascinating tidbits that he finds relevant cross-culturally and from an expat’s perspective. Thailand Confidential is available on Amazon.
My friend Jakub, who also wrote this awesome blog post about his time in Thailand, lent me this one when we were both at our placement towns, and I found myself laughing out loud in my office reading it during my off-hours. The vast array of topics and trivia covered in this book range from laughable to explicit to informative, and is sure to provide you with some basis for things you’ll notice during your first few weeks in the country!
Four Reigns – Kukrit Pramoj
This book, the English version of that written by Thai native Kukrit Pramoj, details the life and times of one woman in Thailand during the reign of four kings, from the 1890’s through World War II. From her childhood through death, you’ll learn about Thai history, culture, and the importance of family. Four Reigns is available on Amazon.
The Beach – Alex Garland
Sure, you’ve probably seen the 2000 Leo DeCaprio movie version, but this is another case of “the book is definitely better.” While Maya Bay is still closed to tourists in an effort to regenerate suffering reefs, this book will have you planning your first long weekend and island hopping adventures! The Beach is available on Amazon, and you can watch the movie on Amazon Prime Video!
The movie was an old favorite of mine, and the book really went above and beyond. Having been to the islands myself, it’s easy to see why Garland would choose the Thai islands as the setting for his cult classic. Spot the differences between the movie and the book for a more advanced experience! No list of books and resources on Thailand would be complete without this title.
Extra Credit: Other resources for getting a taste of Thailand from home
Keen on learning more? Check out these Youtube Channels:
Learn the Thai Alphabet – This video helped me the most when I was looking at learning Thai. Practice your letters a few at a time and get ahead of the ball game!
Brush up on Your Thai Food Knowledge – Joy Busai speaks English in most of her videos, and shows you how many popular Thai foods are prepared! Practice your go-to order – you’ll be in Hua Hin before you know it!
All things Thai – Thailand Insider was started by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and you can find videos on their page that cover anything and everything Thailand! Get lost in their page and find answers to questions you didn’t even know you had!
Our TravelBud Alumni also have awesome stories to tell from their own experiences!
In addition to these books and resources on Thailand, you can also read blog posts that our awesome alumni have written during their time abroad! Have your work featured here too by reaching out to firstname.lastname@example.org.