So you find yourself in a new relationship with a Thai woman! Congratulations; consider yourself lucky and blessed, as they are among the sweetest and loveliest in the world. No matter where you met her (more on that in a moment), how long you are thinking of remaining in Thailand, or if this is just a fling or something with the possibility to blossom into a serious relationship, you will have to establish common ground, learn about one another, and first and foremost, have a good time together.
You will notice immediately how energetic and entertaining your new girlfriend is. Partially this is her natural personality, but also, the Thai have a concept known as “sanuk.” While it often gets translated just to “fun,” this is really a more wide-ranging word with much more meaning, more reverence, and more importance in everyday life than simple fun.
The cultural concept of sanuk is not fun as mindless diversion or frivolity; its fun as an activity with value all its own, something worthwhile just for the sake of it. You will have great fun engaging with her sense of sanuk and you will notice it influencing your life, as well, but more on that in an upcoming column.
As we have discussed previously in this space, many Thai women are educated and are eager to learn more and experience the Western lifestyle. People young and old enjoy getting to know foreign people and the tendency of Thai women to be both beautiful and flirty has lead to a tremendous increase in inter-racial relationships over the last couple of decades.
The Thai bar scene is famous world wide. You will find that you have a vast array of choices in terms of finding a watering hole that suits your needs and odds are, you will probably find your first girlfriend in one. So the bar will be your first and second dates, if you are anything like a typical new arrival to Thailand. But your girlfriend will quickly tire of this and your liver probably could use a break. So here are some ideas to keep the fun in your new love affair without breaking your budget.
There are a few things you should know before taking her out somewhere nicer, however, and attempting to further your relationship.
You will have to learn to make small-talk, and you cannot quite do this essential social interaction quite the same way in Thailand as you did at home. In cultures across the region, but especially in Thailand, talking about topics such as political party, the Royal Family (oh, goodness, avoid this one entirely) or even religion can lead to your new girlfriend thinking less of you, or worse, dumping you outright. So on your first nights out, avoid talking about sensitive topics.
Growing up in our typically macho and male dominated Western culture, assertiveness and confidence are very important to men and displaying such traits prominently is seen as the best way to attract women. However, in Thailand and in other Southeast Asian nations, the line between being very confident in yourself (and your sexual abilities) and being aggressive or even physically intimidating is a very thin one. Take your usual demeanor down a notch, turn down your volume, and you will find yourself having a much better time, and gaining her trust and acceptance, as well.
As a general rule, Thai people are more reserved and polite than Westerners, who value honesty more than social acceptance. This is especially true in public, so try to not make a lot of mistakes when it comes to displays of affection and showing emotions, especially lust or anger.
Here is a specific example to illustrate things for you. Powerful eye contact with a sexy woman who you are trying to seduce shows high confidence in yourself, a trait attractive to women in the West. In Thailand, it is considered incredibly rude and dominating. In the same vein, too much physical contact and being too “touchy-feely” is also very aggressive and should be avoided at all costs.
At the Beginning- Your First Few Dates
Whether you came to Thailand on holiday, to work, to party, or to retire, you know of its famous nightlife. Now that you are in Thailand and are thinking of dating a Thai girl, you must know where to meet them. We have addressed this issue in the past and will do so in the future as well. Last time, we talked about the differences in dating bar girls or other poor girls compared to dating professional or middle class women; this article will not focus on any specific class and will try to be broader and helpful to every new couple.
Before we delve into specifics, we will give you a few general rules that apply in most, if not all, situations.
Thailand is conservative when it comes to “PDAs,” or public displays of affection. So no matter how much of a good time you are having, when you are out among polite Thai society, keep your newfound love and lust to a minimum. At some of the bars, of course, literally anything goes, but we do not know anything about those sorts of places…
The conservatism increases the deeper you get into the countryside, where people will be especially reticent, especially when it comes to first meetings with foreigners. What you may see as extreme shyness is just really them trying to be as polite as possible, and trying not to be nervous, make a fool of themselves, or loose face. If you have not read our column on the importance of saving face, now is a great time to go back and do so.
When you go out, dress appropriately. Cargo shorts and a tank top, despite what you are seeing on other Western men, are not formal wear. Break out of the lazy looking “backpacker uniform” and invest in a nice pair of khakis or workplace casual trousers. And ditch that sweat-stained old “Chang Beer” t-shirt and get yourself a button up shirt with a collar.
Most Thai are very choosy about their clothing and meticulous in their grooming and appearance. So make sure your laundry is fresh! You will lose a lot of respect among your new friends, and your girlfriend will nag you if your funky smell and crusty jeans. Maintaining a neat appearance is important to Thai and your girlfriend will expect you to do the same, lest you loose face. Nothing will cause your beautiful new love to break up with you faster than you constantly causing her embarrassment and loss of honor.
You and your appearance do not just reflect on you, they reflect on her as well,. But this can also work to your favor! If you are always looking sharp, it gains you status and respect as well.
In Thai society, you will notice how important clothes are for your girlfriend in showing her status in society. One of the most amazing you will notice is how Thai women and men usually wear trousers with long-sleeved shirts and still manage to look daisy free, no matter the grinding heat outside. This should serve as further evidence that fashion in Thailand has more to do with their status than comfort.
Street food is plentiful, fresh, and cheap. Some places even have limited seating available and you can dine al fresco for a few dollars. This is a great option if you are still very new to Thailand. Your girlfriend will have some favorite foods and favorite places; ask her to show you them! She will enjoy you respecting her opinion and will love showing you off to the staff of the places where she is a local.
But do not be a cheapskate. Thai women are impressed when you spend a little money on them. Food in Thailand is cheap, so you can go to fancier restaurants for the price of a cheap meal at home. Indulge her, and indulge yourself!
For example, for a higher-end (but hardly exorbitantly priced) meal with a stunning view, try the Arun Residence restaurant. Situated on a river right across from the iconic temple known as Wat Arun, which means Temple of the Dawn, this place will charm and delight both of you.
Although it may be the Temple of the Dawn, Wat Arun and the restaurant across the river are best at sunset. Getting here at dusk means you can enjoy the beautiful sight of the sun setting behind the temple, and as the sky gets darker the temple lights up in a golden glow.
The food served here is predominantly Thai, with spicy curries and desserts like mango and sticky rice. You do not have to be an adventurous gourmand to enjoy the more exotic fare, such as fried frog’s legs with peppercorn or an elegant and refreshing mushroom and apple salad topped with duck confit.
Another cheap and easy date that revolves around food is cooking together! The old cliché says that “the way to anyone’s heart is through their stomach.” Furthermore, Thai food is so popular around the world, cooking with your significant other will teach you a few very cool recipes you can show off at home.
Even if you are not into cooking, making dinner together can be a great way to spend an evening and show one another meals from your culture. A great amount of learning can take place over the course of just a meal. Share the prep work, share the cooking, and share a sweet desert, too! Just don’t be a cad and leave her the mess.
Another cheap date that you might not think of is playing a few hands of cards. Many Thai women know a surprising number of card games and play with fun and fervor. Gambling is a big thing in Thailand and your new girlfriend probably grew up in and around the endless games played at family gatherings. Have her teach you a game that she knows and you can impress her with your poker skills. Just beware of gambling with her family, as they might clean you out!
Sooner or later, you will tire of shorter nights out at restaurants and repetitive nights at the bars. As your relationship progresses and you find yourselves with man things to talk about, you will want to spend some quality time with your new girlfriend, without the implications and expectations of an overnight stay. A day trip is an excellent way to do this.
If you are dating a very traditional girl from the countryside, or a girl from a middle or upper class family, you will notice that you are often supervised or have a chaperone on your dates. A day trip to a well-known spot, maybe one she has not yet had the good fortune (or the funds) to visit, will make her feel safe and at the same time allow you two to get away a bit and have some time together, one on one.
For your first day trip out of the big city, I suggest that you go see her family, especially if she is from an area of the country you wish to travel to. This will show you a new part of her heritage and her nation, and it will show her that you have serious and noble intentions towards her and her family. As for the family, they will appreciate you making the effort and will more than likely lay out a lovely spread of food and beer to welcome your arrival. Brush up on the basics of your Thai table manners in order to really impress them.
Do you want a jungle adventure? Try Khao Yai National Park.
Like many countries in the West, the Thai love and respect their country’s natural beauty and the government takes great pride in its protection of its resources. There is a fantastic national park within an easy drive of Bangkok.
A great day trip depends on its length, and roughly one hundred miles from Bangkok lies Khao Yai National Park. This beautiful (and beautifully run) park features one of the rare places in the region that elephants and tigers can live safely without the threat of poaching. Khao Yai is also a UNESCO World Heritage site where you can go on hikes and bird watching tours (it is probably the top spot in Thailand for birding, according to many guidebooks) and, if you’re lucky, you might even spot one of the aforementioned elephants or tigers. One of the guided tours is highly recommended, at least as a way to start your day. If you are very lucky, overnight accommodations are available on site!
A Weekend on the Island
Once you have spent plenty of time together, you will be ready for a romantic getaway that is the stuff of dreams. “Earth porn” well describes the physical beauty you will see and photograph and immerse yourself in while you are on an island off the coast of Thailand. Hopefully you have shepherded your relationship carefully and have the requisite skills required to have a good time together for the entire weekend.
Before you take this big step, ask yourself a few easy questions and answer them honestly. “Do we have enough to talk about, and do we have enough language in common to talk about it?” You will find yourself unimaginably bored on your first day if you haven’t spent more than an hour and a half together, drinking at the local.
But once you are ready to take that step, there is no better place in the world to do it than the Thai islands.
Koh Phi Phi (which is as fun to say as it is to visit) is very well known, and for good reason. The writing about it elsewhere has been voluminous and we’d recommend you visit a travel blog or website for more information. But despite the crowds of tourists, the island is still stunning, entertaining, and a great spot for your first weekend trip with your lovely Thai girl.
There are many great beaches, but Maya Bay remains a standout. If a beach is beautiful enough for Leonardo DiCaprio, its good enough for you, chum; Leo filmed a movie, creatively titled, The Beach there and made the place iconic. The panorama is more stunning even in person than it is on film.
If the crowds get to be too much for you, there are numerous other beaches, coves and lagoons within a short distance. For example, have yourself a lengthy afternoon swim and a sunset cocktail at Pileh Lagoon, which has been described as “nature’s grandest swimming pool.”
Or, if you like monkeys (and who doesn’t like monkeys? they are so mischievous! although their mischief sometimes turns criminal- watch your belongings, they seem to have an eye for shiny and expensive things) visit the eponymous Monkey Island and see its rhesus macaques frolicking in the trees and in the surf. Monkey Island also has some of the clearest waters around and spectacular snorkeling, with underwater views reaching more than fifty meters!
Whether you have just started dating your Thai girlfriend or are moving deeper into your relationship, always be kind to her and remember how important your relationship is to her. Always be honest about your intentions and make an effort to explore her culture. The ideas above will help you do the latter, but the former is up to you!
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