Anyone traveling in Thailand will likely come across the sad-but-typical backpacker sight. The young couple, traveling the world together, now barely speaking as they eat breakfast tensely at your guesthouse restaurant.
Traveling with someone can be challenging. Traveling with a partner? Even more so. Taking that partner to a country renowned for beautiful women, all-night parties, and hedonistic pleasures is a minefield for even the sanest of couples.
Below are some simple tips for keeping all parties happy on your couple trip through Thailand. After all, the steamy weather and luscious landscapes can be intensely romantic. There are simply a few things to bear in mind.
1. Be prepared to get a little jealous
Thai women are famous for their beauty. Thai men won’t hesitate to point out a foreign woman’s sex appeal. And what about fellow travelers? Southeast Asia is a Mecca for young, toned adventurers, partying without inhibitions in skimpy beachwear.
So while lingering stares and flirtatious greetings are inevitable, your knee-jerk jealousy doesn’t have to be. The best thing to do is take a deep breath, give your partner’s hand a squeeze, and feel confident that you landed such a desirable mate. If you’re the one getting the attention, flattering as it may be, have the sense not to flirt back. Your partner feels vulnerable when you’re being lusted for so publicly. It’s important to think clearly and show your mate that you only have eyes for them.
2. Choose your destinations wisely
While it’s hard to avoid the reality of some aspects of tourism in Thailand, some destinations are more notorious than others. Do your research. For some beach fun, hit pretty, relaxed Koh Chang instead of Pattaya. On a night out in Bangkok, choose trendy Silom over Patpong. Most guidebooks will be upfront about Thailand’s shadier destinations. All you have to do is plan.
3. Rent a bike
Once you’re outside the big cities and their hazardous traffic, renting a motorbike is a smart travel choice. It’s a great way to explore towns and countrysides at your own pace. A bonus to motorbiking is the closeness you’ll feel when sharing a bike with your partner. It’s more private than an organized tour, and the bodily contact is an all-day reminder of your bond.
Drivers, you can’t help but feel gallant as your loved one grips onto your chest. Passengers, holding your partner for security and support is downright intimate. So grab a bike, pack some water, and don’t worry about how geeky you look in your helmet. Once on the road together, your partner won’t notice. Trust us on this!
4. Volunteer together
There’s no shortage of volunteer organizations in Thailand. Whether it’s teaching at rural schools for a month, helping in an orphanage for a week, or even working with animal conservation groups for a few days, opportunities abound. Doing charity work in your travels is a great way to meet local people, learn more about local issues, and give back to the country from which you’ve derived so much holiday pleasure.
For couples, working together for a common purpose is a real bonding experience. Together, your eyes will be opened to Thailand’s needs and causes that you might not otherwise understand. This work can create or compound a passion that you share, whether it’s helping people or wildlife. It will be rewarding to feel that, as a team, you’ve made a contribution.
5. Try some alone time
One of you is dying to get some shopping done. The other is itching for a Muay-Thai workshop. One of you wants to take a sunrise stroll on the beach. The other is keen to laze in bed and catch up on reading. With so many things to see and do in Thailand, it’s ambitious to think that your partner’s goals and priorities will match yours exactly.
So rather than drag your mate to a cooking class or up a steep mountain, why not agree to disagree? There’s nothing wrong with spending a few hours apart if it means doing an activity you’ll love while your partner does the same. Don’t worry if it seems distant or uncaring not to join your mate in something they want to do. Some occasional time apart is a great sign of security and confidence in the relationship, even on vacation. Also, when you reunite later for a meal or a walk, you’ll have more to talk about.
Anne Merritt is Canadian and has an English Literature degree. She has worked as a journalist for a university newspaper. She is currently living in Ayutthaya as an ESL teacher and is sharing her experience of Thailand with KhaoSanRoad.com.