Thailand may have earned its association with relaxation more than it has with romance, but that doesn’t mean the Land of Smiles has nothing to offer when it comes to celebrating love. In fact, Valentine’s Day (known as ‘Wan Valentine’) sees the streets and beaches of Thailand come alive with music, food, gift-giving, and everything couples could ask for on this special occasion.
In fact, Valentine’s Day (known as ‘Wan Valentine’) sees the streets and beaches of Thailand come alive with music, food, gift-giving, and everything couples could ask for on this special occasion.
Commenting on this is Chaiwat Tamthai, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand in Dubai for the Middle East and Africa) who says that part of Thailand’s uniqueness lies in its openness to different cultures and experiences. “From the local, high-school student tradition to give each other love-themed stickers, to our famous underwater wedding ceremony, there’s so much to see and experience in Thailand on Valentine’s Day.
The streets are splashed in red and pink and are filled with locals and tourists enjoying the ambience. One blogger described her experience as ‘wearing pink lenses,’ and that’s what people have come to know and love about this special day,” he adds.
Travellers who find themselves in Thailand on the 14th of February are in for a few spoils. In honour of the day, the island’s many flower markets come alive with character and colour. Popular markets include Pak Khlong Talat, where tourists can buy custom-made bunches of blooms, traditional garlands and some Valentine’s classics including teddy bears, balloons, jewellery and chocolates.
Valentine’s Day in Thailand would also not be complete without a visit to the Trimurti Shrine in Bangkok – a monument that has become synonymous with Thai love tradition. Located in the Siam region, the shrine pays homage to Trimurti, the god of love and features a golden sculpture, surrounded by intricately carved pillars and gables. For hopeful singles and love-struck couples alike, the Trimutri Shrine is a great place to visit, with a few red roses as a sign of respect.
Of course, if Thailand is out of reach this Valentine’s Day, there are so many ways to bring a touch of Thai to your celebration at home. Tamthai’s got four ways to do just that, while learning a bit more about everything Thai in the process:
Plant a love tree
Thailand’s national flower (and tree) is Cassia fistula, known locally as ratchaphruek. The bright, yellow blossoms on the tree are symbolic of Thai royalty, Buddhism and central Thai values such as harmony and unity. The blossoms cascade down from the main branches, growing in clusters that resemble raindrops – the perfect embodiment of the monsoon and the abundance and life-giving force it has come to represent.
Cassia fistula can be brought as trees or seeds at several local nurseries in South Africa. If you or your loved one feels a special affinity for Thailand, Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to plant cassia as a relationship tree – a living milestone that will, quite literally, become a gift that will grow along with your union.
Dine over Thai Food
One thing most South Africans remember most about Thailand is the fragrant, local cuisine. The good news is that you don’t have to be a Michelin Star chef to prepare a traditional Thai meal that captures some of the region’s best flavours.
Valentine’s Day is on a Wednesday this year, so people may be less inclined to prepare a dish that’s very time intensive. A recipe that takes under an hour to prepare is a Vegetarian Panang Curry – known for being one of the richest, creamiest curry variations. A refreshing alternative for salad lovers is an aubergine salad with spicy coconut cream dressing.
Once the meal has been prepared and you’re ready to tantalise the taste buds of your significant other, the one thing left to do is prepare a delectable cocktail. Some of the best ingredients to have on hand for any Thai-inspired drink include lemongrass, kaffir line and Thai basil.
An easy cocktail to make is Sabai Sabai, a sweet and sour cocktail garnished with Thai basil leaves and Mekhong, a Thai spirit. Sabai Sabai (translated as ‘totally relaxed’) is generally served as a welcome drink before a meal and there are many variations of the recipe online with ingredients such as lime juice and flavoured syrup.
Add the magic touch with a Thai massage
Another much-loved thing to do in Thailand is to have a massage. In fact, traditional Thai massage techniques are revered the world over for their therapeutic and holistic health benefits. Considering not everyone is a trained Thai masseuse, however, there are ways to recreate a classic Thai massage from the comfort of your own home.
Some of the most popular aromatherapy oils used in Thai massages include chamomile and lavender; which are known to induce a restful, peaceful state, as well as rose and neroli; known for their ability uplift the mood and senses. For an experience that is both healing and indulgent, it may be useful to do some research on the acupressure points used by Thai therapists to release excess tension, reduce inflammation and ease areas of pain.