They’ll either (A) set the scene before your trip, or (B) enjoy them while travelling. The following books include ‘best book of your life’ literature, children’s books, Thai colouring books and some guilty-secret beach-book junk. Fire up your Kindle and let’s go…
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The best books about Thailand
- Books and novels about Thailand (follows below)
- Children’s books about Thailand
- Thailand travel guides
The best books about Thailand
1. Stories of today’s Thailand
While all of the books on this list are set in Thailand, this is the only novel from a Thai author. From tourists riding elephants in bikinis to tougher societal problems – addiction, refugees, family dynamics – you’ll devour this collection of short stories in a single sitting and emerge the wiser for it. “The Thailand of Westerners’ dreams shares space with a Thailand plagued by social and economic inequality in this auspicious debut collection of seven plaintive and luminous stories.” (Publishers Weekly)
2. You’ve seen the movie
“On the surface it’s a fast-paced adventure novel; at another level it explores why we search for these utopias, be they mysterious lost continents or small island communes”. (Amazon) If you like a book to come to life before your very eyes, The Beach will be a well-timed read (particularly if you plan to visit the parts of Thailand where the movie was filmed).
“Because of all of its local wisdom, Private Dancer ought to be made available to every tourist at port of entry.” (Bangkok Post) Seriously boys, (and girls!), you need to read this book before going to Thailand.
4. My favourite
1960s expat Bangkok comes to life – and it’s insane. First published in 1965, this is a fascinating, biographical account of “[a]n American housewife’s honest love affair with the irrepressible people of Thailand.” Amazon tends to have only secondhand copies of Mai Pen Rai (and the cover is pretty dated), but don’t let this dissuade you. It’s a wonderful book without equal. Really – you’ll thank me!
5. Man Booker Prize winner
2014 Man Booker Prize winner: “Captivating . . . This is a classic work of war fiction from a world-class writer . . . Nothing since Cormac McCarthy’s The Road has shaken me like this.” (Washington Post)
6. Thailand colouring book
7. Thailand 101 (non-fiction)
“After over a decade in the country, Hopkins knows and loves his subject dearly — that much is obvious — and his vivid portrait projects that love from every page.” (Rolling Stone)
8. Period Fiction
One for Downton Abbey fans! A period novel that’s “[a]tmospheric, heart-rending, and multilayered.” (Grazia UK)
9. Facts and Fascination
“Jody Houton’s pleasant and insightful book surfs through the quirky, the profound and the plainly inexplicable culture hot points of Thailand.” (Bangkok Post)
10. Thailand travel memoir
“Fair Trade, Dung Trade and Travels in Thailand and beyond”. The author’s self-described memoir of “life in a jungle hut”.
“Through vivid imagery, humour and careful observation of the families, school friends and Buddhist rituals around her, Connelly brings to life the small village in northern Thailand where she stayed for a year.” (Amazon)
12 – #17. Bangkok crime/thriller series
“This thriller abounds with sensational elements-from homicidal vipers on speed to jade smuggling and the Thai sex trade-but listeners would be wise to follow the lead of Buddhist narrator Sonchai, who is more interested in the graceful acceptance of life’s puzzles than in their resolution.” (Publishers Weekly)
Bangkok 8 is the first book in a six-part series. If you love addictive books or read quickly, the series comprises:
- Book 2: Bangkok Tattoo
- Book 3: Bangkok Haunts
- Book 4: The Godfather of Kathmandu
- Book 5: Vulture Peak
- Book 6: The Bangkok Asset
18. Mostly fiction
“Mischa Berlinski originally intended to write an account of the real-life Lisu tribe of Thailand, but held scant interest in the project until he decided to fictionalize the natives and turned his research into a novel.” (Bookmarks Magazine)
19. Memoir + Mystery
“Explores the double legend of Thompson’s silk company and the unsolved case [of his disappearance].” (The New Yorker)
Bangkok sightseeing: Plan your visit to Thompson’s former home in Bangkok – a beautiful spot with incredible gardens, art and artefacts.
20. Murder mystery
From the same author as Private Dancer (above), “even in the Land of Smiles, people can have murder on their minds.”
21. Chick lit
“[A] big juicy holiday read with enough sexual tension – unresolved and otherwise – to keep you gripped”. (Marie-Claire)
More Thailand questions?
Colouring books about Thailand
22. Thailand: Adult Coloring Book
23. A Bangkok Coloring Adventure
Children’s books about Thailand
If bedtime stories are part of your daily routine, consider any of the following kids’ books about Thailand…
24. Children’s Thailand travel guide
“No matter where you visit in Thailand – kids enjoy fascinating facts, fun activities, useful tips, quizzes and Leonardo (your child’s tour guide)!” Available in Kindle and paperback.
25. Thai language for kids
26. Children’s story book
A sweet and inspiring story set in the hills of Thailand, with beautiful illustrations. Ages 4-8.
27. Bedtime story set in Thailand
Caldecott Honor Book: A lullaby bed-time story for young children set in a sleepy Thai village.
28. A child’s day in Bangkok
Explore a typical day of a child living in Bangkok. Bilingual English/Thai book for children ages 5-8.
29. For kids who love animals
“Pure adventure” (The New York Times). A bedtime story for children ages 3-7, ideal for animal-loving kids in particular. Available as a ‘real’ book and also for Kindle.
30. Children’s English-Thai picture book
A bilingual English-Thai children’s picture book in Kindle and paperback.
31. A fun introduction to Thailand
Part children’s encyclopedia, part activity book, this hardcover book is a wonderful and engaging way to introduce children to future Thailand travel. 2017 Creative Child Magazine Book of the Year Award Winner.
32. Adventure series
Winner of 2017’s Literary Classics Gold (Best Series – Young Reader) and a 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award Winner (Best Chapter Book Series). If your child has an inner Nancy Drew, they’ll love this Thailand-based adventure. Ages 6-9. Available in Kindle and paperback.
33. Children’s intro to Thai culture
A delightful way to introduce children to Thai culture – as described by ‘Toy’, a young boy of their age. Ages 4-12.