In case you haven’t noticed I have just a slight obsession with Hawaii. Its beaches, people, produce, and unique-ness makes me happy, whether I visit for a few days or weeks on end. My recent trip to Thailand was my first time to the “Land Of Smiles” and it felt so familiar because it reminded me so much of Hawaii.
Yes, the climates in both Thailand and Hawaii are similar and both have great beach resorts but it was more than that. Both have major hospitality, a lively culture, and really amazing food, So, if you’ve been to Hawaii and are looking for somewhere similar but a bit more of an adventure, Thailand is a pretty natural fit. Here are all the ways the two places reminded me of each other:
Thai Hospitality Is Like Hawaii’s Aloha Spirit
One of my favorite things about Hawaii is the Aloha spirit, that sense of hospitality and family that means most everyone is really warm and laidback. Thailand has similar good vibes—people are incredibly patient, accommodating, and friendly. That Golden Rule mentality in Hawaii is also deep-rooted in Thailand.
They’re All Smiles, All The Time
And, yes, Thailand really is the Land Of Smiles. From the kids on the local tuk tuks waving to us as we drove by to the older lady who invited us into her house as we exploring a neighborhood, the main way we communicated with people was through smiles.
Tropical Flowers and Trees All Around
Both Thailand and Hawaii are serious tropical climates, with rain forest settings and hot humid days. And that means that so many of the flowers and trees that make Hawaii gorgeous and fragrant—jasmine, gardenia, pua kini kini, banana trees, passionfruit vines—are found all over Thailand.
One Of Their Biggest Crops Is Pineapple
Like Hawaii, Thailand has every tropical fruit you can think of—rambutan, lychee, jackfruit, durian, papaya, dragonfruit, and mangosteens. And, also like Hawaii, one of the biggest crops in the country is pineapple, though we thankfully didn’t see a Thai version of Hawaiian pizza.
It’s Very Multi-Culti
There’s a Chinatown in Bangkok, the Isaan region has influences of neighboring Laos and Cambodia, and the south of the country has ancesters from India?, China, and even Portugal. So, to say that Thailand is diverse is putting in mildly. And, just like in Hawaii, you see that influence in everything from the history to architecture, and the food (like say with the Muslim-influenced Massaman Curry).
They Know Good Food
Speaking of food, the melting pot of cultures makes food in both places really interesting. And, though I love Hawaii, if I had to choose, I’d say Thailand has slightly more interesting food. From the chic rooftop bars in Bangkok to nightmarkets and roadside cafes, there’s a range of high end to comfort food. And though you can easily find all the Thai food you’re familiar with—Pad Thai, Pad Siew, Som Tum, Tom Kha—there are also a lot of dishes influenced by the diversity from Muslim-influenced Massaman Curry, Indian-influence yellow curry, and the Laos-originated larb.
Traditions Are Alive And Well
This trip to Thailand was centered around the Queen’s 84<sup>th</sup> birthday and highlighted the programs she supports across the country that help maintain Thai craft and artisan traditions. Her programs along with the Thai culture’s respect for the past means that a good deal of the Thai traditions—from silk spinning to indigo dyeing and traditional dances—are very much practiced today.
They Make Gorgeous Flower Garlands
If Hawaii has the lei, Thailand has the Phuang malai flower garland. Granted, you wear the lei in Hawaii for everyday celebrations such as graduations and weddings while in Thailand the flower garlands are used to show respect, be it for religious purposes or special guests. But I saw a variation of one of my favorite types of lei—made with jasmine buds—all over Thailand from a bracelet form when I checked into my hotel in Bangkok to all over the temples.
There’s Serious City Life
One of the things I like most about Oahu is that it’s a city in the middle of an island so you can enjoy paradise but still have world-class shopping and high end restaurants. I knew that Bangkok had a really vibrant nightlife but I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. From rooftop bars—I really liked Banyan Tree and Sala Hotel—to the bustling night markets, the city never sleeps.
But The Beaches Are Beauteous Too
Of course, the main thing the two places have most in common are the beautiful beaches and resorts. I spent just a few days in Phuket at the Sri Panwa resort and it was totally dreamy. I'm not going to play favorites as there are amazing beaches in both places so you'll have to visit and decide for yourself!
My trip to Thailand and this post was sponsored by Tourism Thailand. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting these sponsors who allow us to keep Salt & Wind up and running.