Thailand evokes a sense of mystery like few countries in the Eastern hemisphere do.
From its celestial beaches on the gulf to the bustling capital of Bangkok, the country gives new meaning to the word “exotic.”
Whether you’re planning a trip or just looking for some guilty pleasure literature, these are the Thai-set books you have to read.
The book follows Anna Leonowens, a young English widow and mother who comes to work under King Mongkut of Siam in the 1860s. She joins his staff to help him communicate with foreign governments, and tutor his favoured concubines and children. One of the sons soaks up her Western teachings and years later becomes Siam's most progressive king.
The inspiration for the hit musical and movie, 'Anna and the Kind of Siam' will transport you to a lush landscape of mystic faiths and curious people while sneaking in a history lesson.
Bangkok is not a city for the faint of heart. This dark comedy thriller peels the curtain back on the capital's illicit drug scene, infinite corruption, and fast-paced lifestyle, while also giving way to a deeper understanding of Thai Buddhism.
When his partner is killed off-duty, Sonchai Jitpleecheep -- a police officer and devout Buddhist -- is hellbent on seeking revenge. He teams up with a beautiful FBI agent to track down his partner's murderer, traversing the shady underworld of one of the world's most exotic cities.
Not your typical tourist, Osborne frequents Thailand for the cheap dentistry. Discovering he can live for a few dollars a day there, this English-born journalist extends his trip indefinitely and begins the most visceral chapter in his chapter.
In a city where illicit pleasure is easily found and bought, he restores his faith in adventure and the world: dining on insects at a roadside stall, eating at a restaurant where his waitress feeds him like a baby, and launching a career as a gigolo. All the while his twisted sexual mores mix with ancient Buddhist practices for a culturally enriching experience.
This razor-sharp, haunting novel whisks the reader away from the bustling cities to a northern Thai village where the hill tribes, anthropologists, and an aimless journalist all pursue their own versions of 'fieldwork.'
Mischa Berlinski is tipped off to the suicide of an American anthropologist serving a life sentence for the murder of a hill tribe missionary. Soon after, Berlinski finds himself entangled in her research, stalking the anthropologist's past in the Thai countryside.
This modern classic shows how individuals in Thai society adjust to change in the face of historic events. Spanning the reigns of four Thai kings, 'Four Reigns' follows one woman's life inside and outside the royal palace in Bangkok. Her changing values and means give insight into the social and political issues facing the country from the 1890s through the tumultuous World War II.
The Thai-born author has been called the 'J.D. Salinger of Siam.' His quintessential coming-of-age novel set in 1960s Bangkok is a rich and sustaining image of 'real Thailand,' and not the Western idea of it.
Twelve-year-old Little Frog lives with his aunts on the family estate, and refuses to accept that he is Thai: He eats English food, speaks English, and answers to the name Justin. He ends up befriending a black American boy named Virgil, and the two discover what it means growing up among East and West influences.
Winner of the SEATO Prize for Thai Literature in 1969, 'Letters from Thailand' is one of the few portrayals of the immigrant Chinese experience in urban Thailand. The story of Tan Suang U, a young man who leaves his native China in order to make his fortune in Thailand, unfolds through his letters to his beloved mother.
His colourful recollections of life in Bangkok's Chinatown reveal his resentment at how easily his young family embraces urban Thai culture at the expense of their Chinese heritage.
The full title -- 'Mai Pen Rai Means Never Mind: An American Housewife's Honest Love Affair with the Irrepressible People of Thailand' -- is a doozy, but it's fitting for the eccentric author: a housewife, mother, and teacher who moves to Bangkok with her husband, who is stationed there with the American foreign service.
She rejects the exclusive, indulgent lifestyle of the typical American expat wife, and gets to know the locals by taking a job at a Thai university.
'Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand' by Andy Ricker
More than just a cookbook, Ricker fills this volume with thoughtful, nostalgic anecdotes about his own travels and experiences in Thailand. Named for his famed New York restaurant, Ricker shares 70 of his most popular Thai recipes -- including one for his cult-creating fish sauce hot wings.
Just as in many cultures, Ricker demonstrates in 'Pok Pok' that a country's history, culture, and traditions are symbolized, and even magnified, by its food.
A vibrant collection of short stories, 'Sightseeing' is set in modern-day Thailand and represents different aspects of everyday life in this picturesque country.
Each story is like a little vignette, depicting family bonds, disillusionment, love, and coming of age; they each break stereotypes of what most assume it means to be Thai, and show humanity in the raw, beautiful, and oftentimes funny, way that it is everywhere.
Ben and Emma, a young, dreamy English couple travel to Thailand together expecting to have the time of their lives but find themselves ending their relationship. Suddenly alone, Ben falls in love with a pretty Thai masseuse.
Despite the language and culture shock, Ben can't help but return again and again to Fon, whose society has strict rules about her being friends with Ben, let alone dating him. An inexplicable and frustrating story of the love between a Thai and a Westerner, Hicks holds us in grasp with the spellbinding tale of Ben and Fon.
Ex-Rolling Stone correspondent Jerry Hopkins went to Bangkok for a brief visit and ended up a visa-holding permanent resident. All at once Bangkok is darker, sexier, and more daring place than Hopkins had previously imagined it would be.
Hopkins will carry you away with tantalising descriptions of the hypnotizing back-alley life of sensual -- and sometimes seedy -- Bangkok, as told from the perspective of an American who fell in love with the place and decided to never leave.
Richard, a nomadic British traveller, is wandering through Thailand on his way to somewhere else when he comes across a remote island off the coast of Koh Samui and finds his own slice of heaven there.
But beautiful though it is, Richard learns that The Beach, as the place is known, is also riddled with a troubling and disturbing past that contradicts the paradise around him. With the help of a French couple he meets, Richard lives Garland's story of friendship, mistrust, and suspense in this Thai-set thriller.
At age 17, Karen Connelly, a bored Canadian student sets off for a rural village in northern Thailand to volunteer for a year. Readers experience the culture shock, strange smells, sounds, and newness of Thailand along with Connelly in her heart-felt memoir.
With a poetic narrative and romantic descriptions of the Thai countryside, Connelly has everyone yearning to satisfy their wanderlust by the end of her book.
'Very Thai' delves beyond the tradition and history of Thailand and provides insight into contemporary Thai pop and street culture.
Complimented by almost 600 of John Goss' beautiful colour photos of the day-to-day in Thailand, Corwel-Smith offers great testimony as to what it means to live out the everyday in Thailand, demystifying the exotic intrigue around this southeast Asian country.
Buy the book here »
NOW WATCH: Executive Life videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.