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Books about Thailand

This page gives you a selection of books about Thailand.
You will only find books here that are very good according to my personal experience, or books that have been widely acclaimed!

You can buy the books mentioned on this page on-line by clicking the image or the text link.
If you click a link or image you will be directed to the site of Amazon.com.

For (European) visitors who prefer Amazon.co.uk, there is a link to Amazon.co.uk underneath the image.

(You can scroll down this page or jump to a section by using the menu on the left)

An appetizer are the cd's of the Thai Elephant Orchestra:

UK links: Thai Elephant Orchestra and Elephonic Rhapsodies

To be honest: You love it or you hate it!


Travel Guides

In my opinion the two best guides to Thailand are the Lonely Planet Guide and the Insight Guide and you will have one of the best available guides to Thailand. It depends on your personal taste (and age) which one you prefer. "Backpackers" and younger travelers often prefer the Lonely Planet Guide, while older people or "hotel travelers" often prefer the Insight guide. I have used them both. Read on, however if they are not what you are looking for.

UK links: Insight Guides Thailand and Lonely Planet Thailand (Country Travel Guide)

To be released in July 2018:

UK link: Lonely Planet Thailand (Travel Guide)

There also is an Insight Guide and a Lonely PLanet Guide for Bangkok (and surroundings) only. Buy one of them if you are certain that you will go to Bangkok only. Otherwise buy the guide for the whole of Thailand!

UK links: Insight Guides City Guide Bangkok (Insight City Guides) and Lonely Planet Bangkok (Travel Guide)

To be released in July 2018:

UK link: Lonely Planet Bangkok (Travel Guide)

Another popular guide for Thailand is ,The Rough Guide. It also has a "mini" version, just for Bangkok. It is more or less similar to the Lonely Planet, but some people find that places mentioned in Lonely Planet have risen their prices unreasonably because they are mentioned there! If you are of that opinion, The Rough Guide is probably the right one for you.

UK links: The Rough Guide to Thailand and The Rough Guide to Bangkok

One more guide is Eyewitness Travel Guide: Thailand. This guide tells you in pictures what other guides tell you in words. If you are like to be shown around visually, this is definitely your guide! It shows you lots of details in pictures that you might overlook in other guides, but -partly- at the expense of an explanation in words. It's just a matter of preference. After my most recent visit to Thailand this is becoming my favorite guide.
Exactly the Opposite is Footprint Thailand Handbook. Loads of written information (very thoroughly) but hardly any illustrations.

UK links: DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Thailand and Thailand Handbook, 8th (Footprint - Handbooks)

And if none of these guides is what you are looking for, the following guides are also popular: From left to right: Frommer's Thailand, Fodor's Thailand, Baedeker's Thailand and National Geographic Traveler Thailand. Take your pick!

UK links: Frommer's Thailand (Frommer's Complete Guides), Fodor's Thailand: With Side Trips to Cambodia & Laos and National Geographic Traveler: Thailand

Finally a guide I do not know myself, because I am not a diver. But I have received quite some email about where to dive in Thailand. Therefore I searched for a book that could help my diving visitors. The book below, D and S Thailand is quite up-to-date and acclaimed. I hope it answers all your diving questions.

UK link: Lonely Planet Diving & Snorkeling Thailand

If you want to buy a buy an atlas for Thailand, the one by Globetrotter is the most recent one.

UK link: Thailand Travel Atlas (Globetrotter Travel Atlas)


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The Thai Way of Life

A book that is really indispensable if you will go to Thailand more often or if you consider to settle there, is

UK link: Culture Shock! Thailand: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette

It contains lots and lots of practical tips about how to communicate or to do business with Thai people, how to set up a business in Thailand, what to expect (and what not to expect) of your Thai employees, almost all the do's and don'ts for Thailand and even a "quiz" to test your knowledge. Very highly recommended!!

There are two books by Dennis Segaller, called "Thai Ways" and "More Thai Ways". These books give you a very good impression of "The Thai Way of Life" as seen by an Englishman who went to Thailand for a holiday, and decided to stay there forever! They are a bit old in the meantime, but if you still can get them, read them!

UK links: Thai Ways and More Thai Ways

Dennis Segaller also wrote a third book, called "Second Thoughts on Thai Ways", but I sadly have never seen it. It seems to be out of print for ages! This third book is about his experiences to have a house built in Thailand by him -a foreigner- and how he succeeded in the end. It would be interesting. Hopefully it will ever be reprinted!.

If you are considering to retire in Thailand, use the experiences of somebody who did and buy Retiring in Thailand or The Essential Guide to Living and Retiring in Thailand

UK links: Retiring in Thailand, Revised Edition and The Essential Guide to Living and Retiring in Thailand


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Thai Language books

As you may have read elsewhere on my site, I strongly believe that it is of hardly of any use to try to learn the Thai language when you are a first time traveler. The moment to start to learn Thai lies somewhere near the moment when you decide to go there every year. In that case I think you should try to learn Thai, of course.
So far the best medium to learn Thai I have encountered is the Courage CD-ROM. Find the current edition through Google. Another good source can be found at Seasite.
Nevertheless a good dictionary is also a necessary tool. You can buy one in Thailand, in any size you like, but you can also buy the Robertson dictionary, a good one, in a handy format to put in your pocket or handbag, at home. It contains the Thai words in transliteration as well as Thai printing:

UK link: Robertson's Practical English-Thai Dictionary (Tuttle Language Library)

You won't need a Thai-English one anyway before you can read the language! If you do want a Thai-English dictionary as well, try the one below by Benjawan Poomsan Becker. It is not expensive and it is two-way:

UK link: Thai-English English-Thai Dictionary for Non-Thai Speakers, Revised Edition

Another option is The Oxford-Duden Pictoral Thai & English Dictionary (highly acclaimed). That one is arranged thematically with vocabulary accompanying each picture.

UK link: The Oxford-Duden Pictorial Thai & English Dictionary

Although for beginners the language does not change, there are also more recent dictionaries.

UK links: English-Thai & Thai-English One-to-One Dictionary (exam-suitable) and Tuttle Mini Thai Dictionary: Thai-English / English-Thai


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Thai Culture

The "Hill Tribes" who live in the North of Thailand have a rich and interesting Culture. A very good book about these people is the one shown below. It is richly illustrated and certainly worthwhile. Peoples of the Golden Triangle. it is a bit older, but still available.

UK link: Peoples of the Golden Triangle: Six Tribes in Thailand

A more recent book on Thai culture is this one.

UK link: Thailand - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture


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Thai Novels

A novel by the Thai author who was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature Pira Sudham. In this novel Monsoon Country he gives a description of the poor part of his Country - where he comes from - from the first hand. But the novel is also partly set in England. I am proud to be able to say that I own a copy that has been signed by the author himself!

UK link: Monsoon Country

Another famous and great Thai novel (in English translation) is Four Reigns, that describes the life of a woman, living very near to the Court of four succeeding Monarchs. It was written by Kukrit Pramoj, who was Prime Minister of Thailand and a great Thai historian and Thai classical dancer. This novel is a must for those who like a as true as possible description of Court life in the (not so very far) past.

UK link: Four Reigns


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Novels set in Thailand

Several authors who have lived in Thailand (mostly for a long time) have written novels that are set in Thailand. One of these authors is Dean Barrett, who wrote Kingdom of Make-Believe: A Novel of Thailand.

UK link: Kingdom of Make-believe: A Novel of Thailand

Joseph Andrew Orser has written a novel about the "original" Siamese Twins Chang and Eng. It is based on historical facts and therefore fascinating material to read.

UK link: The Lives of Chang and Eng: Siam's Twins in Nineteenth-Century America

Then there are the books by and about Anna Leonowens, plus the movies (DVD / Blue Ray). You can find them on the page of Anna Leonowens.


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Various books about Thailand

Some people still think that they can venture to take drugs in or out of Thailand. One such person was Warren Fellows. As most of his kind he ended up in jail in Thailand, which is not exactly the Bangkok Hilton! He writes about what he underwent there in his book 4,000 Days: My Life and Survival in a Bangkok Prison and in The Damage Done. Everybody who thinks too lightly about trespassing the Thai criminal laws should read this book!
Another book in the same category is Forget You Had A Daughter by Sandra Gregory. She too had a very unpleasant stay in a Thai prison.

UK links: 4,000 Days: My Life and Survival in a Bangkok Prison, The Damage Done: Twelve Years of Hell in a Bangkok Prison and Forget You Had a Daughter

Another person who stayed a long time in Thailand and wrote a book about it is the English businessman Peter. He became a Buddhist monk and wrote about his Buddhist experiences. His highly acclaimed book is called "Phra Farang" and gives good insight in Thai Buddhism for Westerners. The author also has established a trust fund to support the education of poor Thai students.

UK link: Phra Farang: An English Monk in Thailand

That there is prostitution in Thailand is a fact. I want to mention one book about the subject, because it really is special. The title is "Hello, My Big Big Honey" and it consists of love letters written by former "clients" to Thai prostitutes as well as interviews with some of the girls. This shows you the differences between prostitution in Thailand and in Western Countries, as well as the attitude of the girls who work in that business. It is a big eye-opener. If you are looking for "juicy stories", don't buy this book. It is a sad reality that will be shown to you. Sad from the point of view from both sides. It also shows the big Culture Shock between Thai prostitutes and their Western "clients".
The book is sometimes out of print, but you can pre-order a copy if it still has not been reprinted. The former edition is widely on sale in Thailand.

UK link: "Hello My Big Big Honey!" Love Letters to Bangkok Bar Girls and Their Revealing Interviews


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Thai Cooking

Here I have to follow other people's recommendation, because my wife uses cooking books in the Thai language!!
Four books about Thai cooking that are highly acclaimed are:
It Rains Fishes: Legends, Traditions and Joys of Thai Cooking by Kasma Loha-unchit. This book not only gives fine recipes, but also describes backgrounds of ingredients, people, cooking tradition and the country of Thailand. Go to my Thailand links page to find the Home page of the author!
The Original Thai Cookbook. This is a good and very complete cookbook for Thai food. You also find some background about Thai cooking and Thailand.
Thai Cooking from the Siam Cuisine Restaurant. The (Thai) writers own a successful restaurant in the San Francisco area. It contains a wide variety of recipes and is easily to understand.
Real Thai: The Best of Thailand's Regional Cooking. This book gives you exactly what it promises. So if you want to taste the Thai regional cuisine click on the link below!

UK links: It Rains Fishes: Legends, Traditions and the Joys of Thai Cooking, The Original Thai Cookbook, Thai Cooking: From the Siam Cuisine Restaurant and Real Thai: The Best of Thailand's Regional Cooking

A second book by Kasma Loha-unchit, who wrote "It Rains fishes" (see above) is Dancing Shrimp: Favorite Thai Recipes for Seafood. This book is available in a printed version, or as an e-Book in Microsoft ®Reader® format.

UK link: Dancing Shrimp: Favorite Thai Recipes for Seafood

Also specially recommended is Cracking the Coconut: Classic Thai Home Cooking by Su-Mei Yu. It offers what it promises.

UK link: Cracking the Coconut: Classic Thai Home Cooking

And for those of you who want to try the Thai Vegetarian Cuisine, there is Buddha's Table. The Thais have a delicious Vegetarian Cuisine. During the Vegetarian Festival that is being held every year in Phuket even I only eat vegetarian food!

UK link: Buddha's Table: Thai Feasting Vegetarian Style by Mingkwan, Chat


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Books about Thailand for Young Readers

In the first place I have two sweet Thai Folk tales, told for young children, for you. They are: The Girl Who Wore Too Much and Hush! : A Thai Lullaby. They are meant for children aged 4-8, but you won't regret it yourself if you buy them!

UK links: The Girl Who Wore Too Much: A Folktale from Thailand and Hush! A Thai Lullaby


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Click here for a page with books that are (probably) only available in Thailand



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