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For most people the beach is somewhere to go on vacation, or for an occasional day out. But there is a certain knowledge about the Beach. Wanna get the goulash on the beach that only beach-freaks know about? Well read on. The idea of living there might seem like a dream, but what is it really like for those who live right there and can see it every day?

Here are 9 things that can only be fully understood by those who live by the beach. I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying “travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer”. Well it’s so goddamn true. Upgrading your iPhone every time a new model comes out might give you clearer photos but it won’t give you a clearer view of your aspirations in life. Just as liking other people’s wanderlusty travel photos on Instagram won’t give you the same feeling as seeing the places with your own eyes. To be the beach, you gotta BE the beach.

1. You understand that the beach isn’t just for summer Wrapping up warm and walking on a deserted beach in winter is a uniquely invigorating experience.

2. You always feel a little bit smug After all, you get to live somewhere that people yearn to visit all year.

3. You’ve discovered that solutions to most problems can be found by sitting on the beach and staring out over the water Similarly, if you’re in need of some inspiration, you will find it by digging your toes in the sand.

4. You take it personally when people leave trash at the beach You wouldn’t leave trash in their backyards, so why do they leave it on your beach?

5. You always have something to do when you live near the beach Even if it’s just sitting on the beach which is a perfectly valid way to spend time, unlike anywhere else when just sitting and doing nothing is clearly a waste of time.

6. You know that any food tastes better when eaten sitting on the sand Even better if it’s been prepared on the beach. You’ve perfected the art of preparing and eating food on the beach without ingesting gritty sand, this is a skill to be envied by the casual beach visitor.

7. You never get bored of the view Especially the sunsets. And the sunrises. And during the midday sun.

8. You’ve accepted that your house will never be completely sand-free Ditto your car, clothes, hair, and pets.

9. You can aggressively categorize people who are visiting the beach into “types” just by looking at them This categorization enables you to predict their behaviour on the beach, giving you with hours upon hours of real life entertainment as you watch and nod knowingly.

Thailand backpacking holidays looks great on paper. We can’t deny this. I mean, what’s more exotic than strapping on a backpack, putting on some hiking boots, and just traveling from the south of Thailand near the Malaysian border all the way up to the coast near Vietnam. Sounds awesome, right? It sounds amazing? The problem is that a lot of the ideas that look good on paper don’t necessarily translate well to reality. Thailand backpacking holidays is one of those concepts, I hate to say it.

There are countless stories of Europeans and Canadians getting all excited about Thailand backpacking holidays. They get all amped up and ready. When they go on their trip, they come back disappointed. They feel that their trips have been nothing but sweaty wastes of time. A lot of them complain about mosquito bites. A lot of them complain about the hassles that they faced along the way. The good is that this doesn’t have to be your experience.

If you want to go on Thailand backpacking holidays, you can definitely do so and do so successfully. Just by following the tips below, you’ll increase the likelihood that you will get the experience that you’re looking for. Unfortunately, if you don’t pay attention to these tips, you’ll increase the chances that you would get home disappointed.

The problem with most backpacking tour packages13391613_791851930945842_4949592151601865039_o

The big problem with most backpacking tour packages is the fact that they tend to give you a commodified experience. They look at your travel needs as a product. Just like a toy is manufactured at a factory based on certain specifications to meet certain minimum quality thresholds, the same could be applied to your travel experiences. This really is too bad because you’re looking to backpack through Thailand. You’re looking for a distinct, palpable, and intimate experience with the exotic culture of Thailand. In your mind, this involves exotic new tastes, sounds, smells, and so on down the list.

Unfortunately, when you deal with the typical backpacking tour packages that lots of Thailand tour operators offer, you get predictable routes. You get the same saturated places in Thailand. In fact, when you go to these places, they are packed with foreigners. These foreigners come from all four corners the globe, but they all share the same mindset. It’s quite maddening, really. It’s quite disappointing. You don’t want that.

The reason why you wanted to go backpacking is because you want to see Thailand from a distinct point of view. You want to see Thailand the way it is.

Another danger that you face when you use a typical backpacking tour package is that it’s too short or too long. Either the itinerary spots are packed in too tightly or you end up chasing your tail going over the same places again and again because the itineraries are spaced too far apart.

Look for operators that focus in “day and the life” experiences

Thankfully, there are tour operators that provide backpacking experiences that enable you to assume distinct local view of Thailand. You literally step into the shoes of the typical Thai villager. You look at Thailand from the perspective of somebody who lives in the hills or in the hinterlands. You start looking at Thailand not as some sort of semi-developed place with all sorts of tourists and tourist traps. Instead, you look at it as a place of wonder. You look at it as a place blessed by nature with its distinct charms, risks, and dangers. In other words, you have a higher degree of seeing Thailand for what it really is, instead of what travel brochures or government programs dictate.

Get off the beaten track

Great Thailand backpacking holidays almost always involve getting off the beat and track. You just don’t know what you will experience when you get off the tourist circuit. You see real people. You experience real Thai food. I’m telling you right now, the Thai food that you eat in the province and the backwater of Thailand doesn’t taste anywhere near the stuff that you eat at the typical Thai restaurant in your city in Europe or America. The food is way better. Also, the food is probably prepared with more love.

Avoid tourist traps of cliché tourist stops like the plague

When you’re backpacking through Thailand, you can follow many different rules. You probably may have listed out several rules already. But if there is only one rule that you have time to follow, follow this rule: Avoid tourist traps or cliché tourist stops. Seriously, you need to avoid these places like the plague. A good tour company will avoid these routinely (eg Lost beaches!). They suck out a lot of the vitality of Thailand and the beauty of travel. They cheapen the whole experience. It really is a shame because Thailand has so much to offer as far as food scents, sights, and people go. It’s a place with millions of different stories and unfortunately, it’s very hard to put yourself in the position where you can appreciate or even enjoy these stories if you’re in a tourist trap.

In a tourist trap, the objective is quite simple. Tour operators take you to these tourist traps in a bid to milk as much dollars out of you. That’s the long and short of it. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that they are motivated by noble purposes. They could care less. They just want to milk you for as much as cash as possible. What makes this really deceptive is that in many cases, they offer tourist tours completely free. They even provide a bus. They even have a fake tour guide. Don’t fall for that trap.

If you’re going to be backpacking through Thailand, your days are limited. You don’t have time for such wastes of time, seriously. So avoid tourist traps. If you sense things that hint of or smell like a tourist trap, run far, far away.

Dress accordingly, its HOT baby.

Thailand is hot and steamy. Let’s just get that out of the way. It’s very humid and often times it rains, so dress accordingly. Pack the right gear and most importantly pack the right mindset. If you think that Thailand will have the exact same weather as Nebraska or wherever you come from, you are only setting yourself up for disappointment.

You have to appreciate Thailand on its own terms. It has its own agenda. It has its own axis. Deal with it, move on, and appreciate it based on its own reality. If you’re able to do this, you increase the likelihood that you will have a great time.

After watching the sun set on 2013 back home with friends and family, I’m back in Thailand for a Long Beach sunset on Koh Phi Phi. Though I’m travelling with a motley but friendly crew of Thailand-lifers, I’m the only member of the LBT team here this week. As a part of the Lost Beaches prep for the 2014 tour dates, I’m dropping in on some of our accommodation and activity partners to lock everything up tight for those party rockers arriving in the coming months. And seeing as I’m LBT through and through I definitely couldn’t turn down the chance to drag some close peeps along with me for the ride. #bestjobever

When I first visited Thailand back in 2008, Phi Phi was the first non-mainland location my group shacked up on (specifically the island of Koh Phi Phi Don, the same place Lost Beaches visits today). My favourite memory from that first island day was the Viewpoint hike, to check out, from high above, where the water nearly meets at the ‘skinny’ part of the island. Despite the solid sweat it took to trek up the several hundred concrete steps, the moment I saw those two lagoons of crystal-blue water surrounded by lush, green forested mountains, I knew I had come to somewhere special.

And to be honest, the amazing experiences didn’t, and don’t, stop there. Many of the activities that Lost Beaches has again committed to in 2014 have become customer favourites, including the half-day boat cruise to Monkey Beach, Phi Phi Leh, and Maya Beach. Outside of the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan, the best beach parties in Thailand are on Koh Phi Phi, and they are always some of the high points on every LBT tour. Every night there are 7 or 8 restaurants serving dinner and cocktail hour, while you are entertaining by local fire dancers. And then right before your slightly inebriated eyes the same restaurants convert to dance clubs and party bars, each offering something slightly different. People have a great time well into the early hours of the morning, and as the dance floors spill out onto the adjacent beaches, the courageous join the locals on the fire jump rope!

There is just so much energy here all the time. Sometimes I tell myself that I’m going to take a slow day, enjoy a walk on the beach, and then this happens: monkey

For those Lost Beaches travellers looking to break away for a few hours during their time in KPP, there are bicycles for rent that be used to travel around the island. If pointed in the right direction there are loads of secluded beaches, mountain tops, and hiking paths that are not scheduled as a group activity.

During the day the beaches are happening spots for group-travellers and mainland day-trippers alike, whether you’re down for beach play, swimming, or lazy hammocks. Lots and lots of places to enjoy a midday booze bucket too – check out this bucket selfie!

The air and landscape is amazingly pristine, helped by a local ban on motorized vehicles and a 20 baht island entrance fee that is used to preserve the local environment. The lack of formal roads and gasoline helps keep the island running at a staggeringly relaxing pace (often referred to as “Thai Time” by us travellers), despite the wave of tourists these islands have experienced since the ‘The Beach’ was famously filmed on Phi Phi Lei. The main town on Phi Phi Don features an Irish pub, pool table bars, a wide selection of Europeanand Thai restaurants, and some of the only pizza-by-the-slice in Thailand – thankfully served late into the night.

These two islands hold a special place in my heart not only because it was my first mind-blowing island experience in Southeast Asia, but also because so much of what makes this corner of the world special is on display here! For that reason, as well as the countless others you’re sure to discover here, we always make sure that all of our 23 and 35 day travellers make it here no matter what!  #LIVEFREE #THAIHARD