It sounds wildly exotic and foreign, like a land each traveler will discover for the rest of the world to see. Everyone feels like they’re charting new territory when they go to Thailand. Except, honestly, they’re really not.
Thailand is far away, but it’s far from unexposed to outsiders. You’re no Columbus if you backpack your way into Thailand (historical inaccuracies aside, please.) Should you find yourself in the airports of any major Thai city, you will in fact find one of your own; a foreign tourist in Thailand. Throw a rock in any direction, and you’ll hit one. (Please don’t do this, though, it’s no way to make friends.)
This tourism is a fascinating concept because it has both wonderful and terrible side effects. The wonderful is this; you meet so, so, so many fascinating people. The wanderers go further into the uncharted tourist parts of the country, the city explorers find the hidden alleyways. Generally, Thai culture is more deeply explored and experienced. And the country flourishes as tourists pour in; all those US dollars and British pounds have brought a lot of development to Thailand.
And this is the heart of the matter: the more you tell someone to visit a place because of its authenticity, the less authentic the place becomes; the more you tell someone to see the unimaginable beauty, the more the natural beauty is destroyed by careless visitors.
So as backpack- laden tourists stumble, half-dazed, from 12 hour international flights, into this country of tuk-tuks and ancient kingdoms, they share with eachother the secrets of the best places to go. And then Thailand becomes both more and less of what we all set out to see. To go or not?