A Literary Guide to Thailand
Thailand offers a wealth of travel and literary experiences. Books set there offer an insight into the culture, language and people not to mention the weather, food and the history of the country. Reading before you go and/or reading on location can really offer a unique literary travel experience.
So pick up that suitcase and let’s get BookTrailing around Thailand.
6 Books Set in Thailand
1) Ko Phi Phi – “The Beach” by Alex Garland
You can’t really visit Thailand without experiencing The Beach…
A backpacker finds his way to Bangkok. Stopping off in a cheap and cheerful hostel on the Khao San Road, he hears about an amazing island, a paradise that no tourist knows about. What’s more, he has a map…
The premise of the book is every traveller’s dream – finding a gem off the beaten track and being one of the first to find a magical location. Ko Phi Phi really is paradise on earth – the opens seas, blue skies and lush green jungle will show you just what the backpackers in the book were drawn to.
Think Lord of the Flies and Animal Farm on a paradise setting and be prepared for one unforgettable adventure.
2) Krabi – “The Dying Beach” by Angela Savage
Don’t let the title put you off, for the intrepid literary tourist this is a great way of getting under the skin of Krabi
Jayne Keeney is an Australian expat and private investigator, the protagonist of other novels set in Thailand but this time she’s on holiday in Krabi
She and colleague Rajiv Patel, find that you can’t always leave your work behind you however…
This might be about two private investigators working whilst on holiday but their investigation does allow for some quiet time and they spent a good part of it strolling along Nopparat Thara beach.
Krabi is noted for its beaches and many are evoked in this novel. Princess Beach is nearby and is where Sigrid spends her holidays at the Dusit rayavadee. This novel describes lovely evocative observations of cultural differences and the number of Buddhist temples in Krabi.
3) Nan Valley/Chiang Mai – “The Moon in the Mango Tree” by Pamela Binnings Ewen
A beautiful young singer is torn between her fierce desire for independence and a deep abiding love for her husband, a medical missionary who will become royal physician to the Court of Siam.
Step back in time to the Siam of the 1920s. The missionary house in the book is set in the vast and stunning Nan Valley which was once a separate, autonomous kingdom.
Parts of the old city wall and several early wats (Buddhist Temples) dating from earlier times can still be seen. Nearby Chiang Mai is said to be similar to the way the walled city would have looked as it did in the novel.
4) Thailand-Burma railway – “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” by Richard Flanagan
Dorrigo Evans spends time as a POW in a Japanese camp in World War 2. His days are a never-ending battle of back breaking work in helping to build the Thailand-Burma railway – aka the Death Railway.
This novel gives a real, emotional insight into a significant time in Thailand’s history. The author’s father served during the war and this personal touch provides a true reflection of the events into a unique time and place in history. You can visit the Burma Death Railway museum too and get further insights into a very iconic part of Thailand and its past.
5) Bangkok – “Bangkok People” by James Eckhart
A great read for a visit to Thailand as this is a series of short stories which each take in a different part of the city.
The MP of the second story is canvassing Yaowarat (Chinatown,) which is the oldest part of the city so is a landmark in itself and a very popular and busy area in the city. Then he and a friend meet in Suan-Lum Night Bazaar to start canvassing.
It’s a very popular market in the area but not as big and busy as it used to be so a market such as Patpong Night Market might be another good place to visit. Night markets are a must on your to do list – just think of all the characters and stories you might find for yourself!
6) Thailand – “Destination Thailand” by Katy Collins
Finally a book that more than sums up the spirit of the country at large:
Georgia, like the author of the book herself, Katy Collins, is cruelly jilted on her wedding day but instead of feeling sorry for herself, she heads off to Thailand alone for the adventure of a lifetime. Thailand for her is an adventure in every sense of the word.
Georgia gets right under the skin of the capital city – keen to visit the famous sites in any backpacker guide – from the Khao San Road where she goes to a restaurant, and Yaowarat Road in the Sampthanthawong district which makes up China Town.
Georgia then does the island tour which takes her to Koh Pa Sai, a fictional island based on Koh Tao San. The island of Koh Lanta is where she sees the beautiful blue beach huts along the beach.
The Booktrail is a Literary Travel Agency, where you can ‘book’ your next literary adventure and read your way around the world. Find maps, travel guides, reviews photo galleries and much more to help inspire and enrich your next journey.