19 Signs You’ve Backpacked in Thailand

Written by: Vicky Philpott

Maybe Thailand was your entire gap year adventure or just a stop on a worldwide itinerary. Maybe you visited last month, last year or even last decade – it doesn’t matter. A trip to Thailand leaves its mark and it’s inevitable that memories from the ‘Land of Smiles’ will stay with you forever.

After weeks or months of Thailand’s tuk tuk drivers, street food and 7/11 pit stops, there are a few habits you cannot shake – ones that give you away as a true Thai traveller.

You’ve tried every Thai restaurant around and remain disappointed

Authentic pad thai

For some reason you cling onto the hope that you’ll be able to find pad thai outside Thailand worth eating, and while some restaurants come close, no slippery noodles ever measure up to those fried on the side of a Bangkok street. Especially when they’re about 50p out there, and closer to £10 here.

You flinch on seeing a moped

You’ll have heard the horror story about the guy who flipped it or the girl who had to fly home after falling off one; you may even have been that person. Most people making their way to Phuket’s moped depot have heard some version of the gruesome moped story and forevermore eye them with caution.

You’ve got kickass moves and you’re not afraid to use them

Those Muay Thai classes have you well equipped for a scrap and were worth every baht. Don’t mess.

Your house is filled with elephant trinkets

Scrubbing big Ellie down at the Elephant Sanctuary was one of your best experiences, ever, and now every painting, cushion and carving of an elephant you come across has magically found its way into your home.

Ping-pong doesn’t mean the same thing it used to

Thailand ping pong show

No longer an innocent game of bat and ball; you just don’t feel like playing.

You’re outraged at the cost of a massage

Back in Thailand, you could get an hour’s massage for less than £3 and with all the cracking, pulling and stretching it was money well spent. At home, the £40 just doesn’t seem worth it if they’re not going to stand on your back.

Buying your fruit and veg at a supermarket is sad

Going all hunter-gatherer on your ingredients is just not the same if it’s not floating on a Thai canal somewhere.

Traffic jams no longer stress you out

Tuk tuks in Thailand

Traffic on the M25 definitely doesn’t compare to tuk tuk jams that have you so close to the next vehicle you can hear their conversation, even if you can’t understand a word of it.

You’ve got an arm full of beaded bracelets

And even though they’re frayed and battered, you keep them anyway. Souvenirs of time well spent, right?

Seeing a small beach bucket now gets you unexpectedly excited

Forget the spade, your mind instantly goes to rum and coke, and good times.

There are a few pairs of harem pants hanging in your wardrobe

You tried wearing them up the high street but it turns out the traveller swag you had in Thailand doesn’t translate well back home. Now the harems, although still rocked on a regular basis, are best kept to the sofa.

When it comes to the gym you’ve got that squatting down

Squat toilets in Thailand

Thai ‘toilets’ have given your thigh muscles new definition.

You own a variety of different coloured Ray Bans

Well, more like Roy Bans, or even Roy Bons, but that’s the price you pay when you don’t pay much at all.

An itch, a spot, a slight graze, Tiger Balm is always the answer

It smells great and is now your go-to item for all medicinal purposes. How did you exist before?

You have a respect for neon clothing that wasn’t there before

You may not be able to rock it on a UK high street but it takes you back to nights of neon at the Full Moon Party – aka the Best Night Ever.

Pancakes just aren’t the same without bananas

Banana Pancakes

Forget chocolate chips or maple syrup, the only way you eat your fluffy morning treat is laced with bananas, and lots of them.

You debate bartering in Topshop

Could it work? You were so good at it in Thailand. Err, maybe not.

Milkshakes and smoothies are part of your daily diet

After a few months of morning mango smoothies, it’s hard to shake the fruity addiction. Step up the almighty Nutri Bullet.

You dream of going back

Those beaches. That food. That way of life. One day you shall return, if it’s the last thing you do.

Check out these top Thailand experiences


Wildlife Rescue in Tropical Thailand

from £599

7 - 84 days


Volunteer at a tropical Wildlife Rescue Centre which houses over 300 rescued animals including bears, monkeys and elephants. This project...

Teach English on a Tropical Island

from £1395

42 days


Live in a beautiful beach resort on the tropical island of Koh Phangan and teach English. The best spot in...

Teach English to Buddhist Monks in Chiang Mai

from £497

14 days


Help improve the education of Thailand's Buddhist Monks by teaching English in temple schools to provide these young individuals with...

In-Class TEFL Course in Bangkok

from £1120

20 days


Join our 4-week TEFL in-class course in Bangkok and become a TEFL/TESOL certified teacher of English as a foreign language.

International Engineering Internship In Thailand

from £685

60 days


Thailand is one of the up and coming engineering hubs of not only the Southeast Asia region but the entire...

A Tuk Tuk Adventure in Thailand

from £1295

11 days


Join us on the Ultimate Tuk Tuk Adventure in Thailand - mountains, trekking, hill tribes and much much more!

Combined Course Phuket

from £1083

10 days


Join our 10-day combined TEFL course in Phuket and become a TEFL/TESOL certified teacher of English as a foreign language.

Conservation Volunteering in Thailand

from £1125

14 days


Join a marine conservation project on a remote Thai island. Far from the crowds of backpackers and tourists, experience real...

Combined TEFL Course Bangkok

from £1080

10 days


Join our 10-day combined TEFL course in Bangkok and become a TEFL/TESOL certified teacher of English as a foreign language.

Elephant Immersion Program

from £779

10 days


A unique opportunity to experience life living alongside communities that have lived alongside elephants in rural Northern Thailand for generations.


Sail Phuket to Ko Phi Phi

from £510

Feel the wind in your hair as you set sail through the paradisical surroundings of Thailand's west coast. Plunge into...

Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok Adventure

Colourful capitals, traditional culture, and tropical natural wonders – this 12-day taste of some of Malaysia and Thailand's spicy highlights...

Thailand Family Holiday

from £1981

Want a family getaway that’s a little different? The combination of culture, friendly people, exciting activities, yummy food and stunning...

Discover Cambodia

Ideal for the traveller who is short on time but wants to experience Cambodia’s highlights, our CEOs will help you...

Essential Vietnam & Cambodia

from £1159

A wide-ranging adventure showcasing the region’s natural wonders and fascinating cultures, this 17-day trip offers a combination of guided excursions...

Chiang Mai & Golden Triangle

from £500

Experience the serenity of northern Thailand while exploring the notorious Golden Triangle region. Beginning and ending in the charismatic city...

Bangkok to Singapore

from £1168

Travel from Bangkok to Singapore on a voyage of discovery, soaking up traditional cultures and revelling in the exotic flavours...

Colours of Asia – Singapore to Bangkok

Colourful capitals, traditional culture and tropical natural wonders—this adventure is seasoned with all the spice you would expect from these...

Vietnam & Laos on a Shoestring

from £1061

Explore some of Southeast Asia’s greatest highlights on this 20-day tour. Start your adventure in Ho Chi Minh City and...

Thailand Hike, Bike & Kayak

from £1079

Perfect for those who believe the best way to appreciate paradise is by jumping right into it. This adventure will...

Find more Thailand travel inspiration

[contact-form-7 id="4" title="Contact form 1"]