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I have a tendency to fall in love with places more than people. Thailand was definitely one of my first loves.

After visiting 57 countries—it’s one of the places I keep coming back to again and again. People on my Instagram always ask why I love Thailand so much. It’s complicated, but I think I fell in love with Thailand for its welcoming people, queer community, delectable cuisine, cultural experiences, and unparalleled natural beauty.

Queer Culture in Thailand

Meg Ten Eyck relaxes in a bath in a luxury hotel in Thailand filled with lotus flowers.

First, Thailand is one of the best places in the world for lesbian travelers. Why? Because of the Thai inclusion of gender-nonconforming people in society. In Thailand, gender-nonconforming queer people aren’t just tolerated, they hold a place of ancient significance in Thai culture. Historically, Kathoey people are accepted in Thai culture and Buddhism. That doesn’t necessarily mean that modern Thai culture is a utopia for queer Thai people—homophobia and transphobia do exist in Thailand just like every other country. But as a queer traveler visiting Thailand, between their culture of LGBTQ acceptance and their ‘Land of Smiles’ hospitality, I know I will always feel safe, welcomed, and included anywhere within the Kingdom of Siam.

Activities in Thailand

Meg Ten Eyck exploring the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

Thailand always feels like an adventure to me. Regardless if you’re in Bangkok exploring the weekend market, jetting around Phuket in an open-air tuk-tuk, wandering through one of the ancient temples, or seeing elephants up close for the first time—every single adventure in Thailand feels like an opportunity to view the world through a new lens. The experiences I’ve had in Thailand range to the extremes. On my first trip, I spent time volunteering at an ethical elephant sanctuary and learned about the plight of the Asian elephants used in tourism. It was an eye-opening experience that made me re-evaluate my perspective on animal tourism. In complete contrast, my second trip to Thailand was filled with high-end meals and massages beside my private pool at a villa in Phuket. Thailand makes luxurious experiences more accessible and offers opportunities for thoughtful contemplation of a different way of life.

Learning about Thai Culture

A Thai woman prepares local dish.

Thai culture is as beautiful as it is unique. Each time I visit I learn more about the nuances and history of Buddhism and Thai people. I’ve always been the person who learns best by experiencing rather than reading. There’s just something about standing inside a nearly 2000-year-old temple ruin that made me realize how small and insignificant my life will be in the grand scheme of the world’s history. Having the opportunity to visit the Sukkothai ruins and talk with practicing Buddhist monks about the death of their king and their view of the world is an opportunity I could never have experienced back home in my Brooklyn apartment. 

But I also think Thailand is one of my favorite places because I’ve always felt like I belong there. When you can see past the curtain of chaotic streets where people, animals, tuk-tuks, and tour buses share the same lane and you’ll see the layers of Thailand that you may not expect. If New York is the Big Apple, than Bangkok is the Big Durian—king of fruits, a little off-putting at first but delicious and complex when you give it a good shot. I’m a bit like that too—not for everyone, but certainly for some.

Meg’s Photos

Join Meg in Thailand

Meg will be personally hosting our inaugural Thailand: Sapphic Southeast Asia Adventure. The all-women’s tour will immerse you in Phuket, Krabi, Chiang Mai and Bangkok.

Photo credits

All photos courtesy of Meg Ten Eyck.

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