Last Updated on April 16, 2021 by Jella Erhard
12 Best Fiction Books Set In Thailand
Welcome to our quick and fun guide to the best fiction books set in Thailand by Thai writers. These beautiful, intriguing books about Thailand, its culture and its people will help you learn more about this fascinating culture and its history.
You’ll find here all kinds of Thai novels from the must-read classics to the most popular contemporary books about Thailand you should read before visiting. Thanks to these stunning books you’ll be able to travel through Bangkok and various other Thai cities and the countryside. Get to know modern Thailand while also learning about its past and what Thai people had overcome over the centuries.
However, you’ll also find here ancient tales about demons, and heartwarming stories that span through many generations.
If you enjoy literary travel and love beautifully written thought-provoking stories that let you feed your wanderlust then you should put these books on your TBR.
To get a better understanding of Thai culture you want to consider reading various books from different centuries. While contemporary Thai novels can give you a good insight into what’s life right now in this country, classic novels can also help you understand why and just how much has changed.
Contemporary Thailand is filled with contradictions where especially young people have to balance sacred old traditions with new and the unknown to pave a new brighter future for themselves. While these novels show what’s special about Thailand they also humanize and bring their readers closer to Thai people and help them see that Thailand is much more to offer than beautiful beaches, nice temples, and warm smiles.
Beautiful Thai Books Set in Thailand
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12| The Judgment by Chart Korbjitti, Thai Novel, Published: 1983
Chart Korbjitti is one of the most accomplished Thai contemporary writers. He has many succesfull novels and is well known around Thailand. He was also named National Artist in Literature in 2004.
His novel The Judgment is a heavy but very interesting read. It follows the life and misfortunes of Fak who is living in a rural setting in Thailand.
After Fak returns home to his village and he has to live with his father’s widow. However, after the villagers turn against them he eventually finds himself turning to alcohol that provides him the only escape he believes he can get.
The novel introduces us to Thai village life and the inns and outs of a provincial temple school which are both fascinating. While the story is considerably dark (can be triggering at times) it’s a gripping exploration of the human psyche and how our beliefs, culture, and environment can affect how we fight or not fight back against the misfortunes life throughs at us.
The Judgment is a deep story about a man’s journey to a mental breakdown and it’s one of the darkest books set in Thailand.
11| The Sad Part Was by Prabda Yoon, Fiction Novel, Published: 2017
Are you a short story lover? Then The Sad Part Was might just be the right choice for you.
These short stories were written by Yoon one of Thailand’s most succesfull contemporary artists. He’s an artist, a filmmaker, an editor, a translator and media personality who also writes witty short stories about modern life in Bangkok.
These fun stories were originally published in Thailand in 2000 but his works became available in 2017 thanks to Tilted Axis Press.
This collection offers brilliantry written witty stories about grief, friendships, the differencies and difficulties of rural and city life, as well as memories about growing up. However, you’ll find here sci-fi stories and even read about vampires.
It’s a playful collection that will not fail to help you understand modern life in Bangkok that are often at odds with many traditional Thai ideas on family, relationships, work, and school.
The Sad Part Was is a fun short story collection that reflects on contemporary bangkok life with it’s postmodern stories. It’s also one of the best modern books set in Thailand.
10| The Brotherhood of Kaeng Khoi by Uthis Haemamool, Contemporary Thai Novel, Published: 2012
The Brotherhood of Kaeng Khoi is a beautiful and haunting tale about family life in the Thai countryside.
In case you’re looking for a book that’s set in Thailand and deals with the issues of dysfunctional family life and the difficulties of growing up then you’ll love this novel.
The story follows two brothers, Lap Lae and Kaeng Khoi who are both headstrong young adults who try to trace back their family’s history while trying to figure out just what kind of adults they eventually want to grow up to be.
The Brotherhood of Kaeng Khoi is set in Thailand and it tells the story of two brothers living and growing up in the countryside.
9| Married to the Demon King by Sri Daoruang and Her Demon Folk Thai Fiction, Tales, Published: 2005
This humorous tale explores the secrets of modern marriage life and deals with various themes such as love, jealousy, laziness, and of course humor.
These stories are based on the Thai National epic Ramakian. The author Sri Daoruang used her great sense of humor and beguiling creativity to make a modern story with Ramakian’s characters and placed them all into modern Bangkok life.
She portrays contemporary husband and wife relations with compassion, sarcastic humour.
Susan F. Kepner is the translator who finally made these stories available for English language readers. She also gives a great introduction about the demon king who happens to be the most gentle and endearing demon you’ll ever meet.
Married To The Demon King is a superbly funny tale inspired by an ancient epic and is set in contemporary Thailand.
8| Jasmine Nights by S.P. Somtow, Historical Fiction Thai Novel, Published: 1994
Jasmine Nights was written by one of Thailand’s most famous fiction/fantasy writers, S.P. Somtow.
We follow a story told by Justin aka Little Frog our 12-year-old narrator. He is a precocious and highly imaginative boy who lives in a secluded mansion with his three eccentric aunts and a strict uncle.
The story takes place in the 1960s during which time Justin tries to prepare himself for his future school life in England. He would only speak English and even changes his diet.
He finds himself between two worlds; his family’s traditional life filled with ancient customs and rules and the western world. He appoints himself as a scholar and sets out to change the minds of others around him.
It’s a fascinating, funny, and endaring coming-of-age novel that touches on shamanism, blackmail, sex, and death among many other intriguing subjects.
Jasmine nights is a humourous coming of age novel set in Thailand in the 1960s.
7| Bright by Duanwad Pimwana, Urban Fiction Novel, Published: 2019
Duanwad Pimwana is a well-known Thai writer who has exceptional writing skills and is able to create unique personalities for her characters while bringing them fully alive on the pages.
Bright is the first Thai novel written by a female writer that was translated into English and it follows a boy named Kampol.
Kampol was abandoned by his father (after his mother walked out on them) when he was only five years old and was adopted by the community.
After a while however, Kampol struggles to stay alive as the neighbors attiention starts to drift. However, for him to stay alive he and the people around him all have to adopt and learn to care for each other in whatever way they can.
Bright is praised in Thailand as a novel that introduces the world to Thai working class communities and to how people of these communities operate.
Bright is a beautifully crafted melancholic novel about Thai working class and the power of community.
6| Many Lives by Kukrit Pramoj, Fiction book, Published: 1999
Many Lives is a classic Thai novel set in the early 1950s and follows the lives of the passengers who died in a boating accident.
We get to know the characters from birth till their early passing we also introduced complex emotions, and Thai society and its values.
The novel is set in Bangkok and is an interesting to read about just how much this city changed in only a few decades.
M.R. Kukrit Pramoj is considered one of Thailand’s most important writers and was a true renaissance man.
Many Lives is a moving and beguiling novel about human condition and is one of the most beguiling books set in Thailand.
5| The Blind Earthworm in the Labyrinth by Veeraporn Nitiprapha, Domestic Fiction Set in Thailand, Published: 2019
If you love romance novels then you’ll love this beautifully written melodrama about a shipwrecked relationships.
The story follows Chareeya and her sister as they grow up in a beautiful riverside town near Bangkok.
On the day when Chareeya was born her mother found out that her father had an affair and this betrayal will forever change all of their lives.
It’s a lush cinematic novel that introduces its readers to old-fashioned Thai romances in a sophisticated and beguiling way. While it’s set in modern Thailand it’s also rich with mythical imagery which gives readers a one-of-a-kind experience.
If you love to fill your book nook with unique novels then you should definitely pick up this literary gem.
The Blind Earthworm in the Labyrinth is a lush romance story that introduces you to modern day Thailand as well as its myths and ancient customs.
4| Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap, Thai Fiction Book About Thailand, Published: 2004
Sightseeing is a national bestseller that introduces its readers to Thailand in a new and more profound way.
It’s a fine collection of contemporary stories that deal with prejudices, love, hurt, and pain. Rattawut Lapcharoensap’s writing style is vivid and sharp which makes these stories even more impactful and memorable.
The collection has extraordinary stories about youthful love, loss, family bonds, sex, and generational conflicts that are all important and inveetable parts of life.
It’s one of the most thought-provoking and entertaining books set in Thailand with short stories that’ll stick with you long after you finished reading.
Sightseeing is a collection of short stories set in Thailand written with exceptional acuity about universal issues of growing up and life.
3| A Good True Thai by Sunisa Manning, Contemporary Thai Fiction book, Published: 2020
A Good True Thai is set in the 1970s just before the country’s tourism development and during a time when the country is devastated by the war in Southeast Asia.
The story follows Dek who comes from a powerful family. He lost his mom, the granddaughter of the king.
Dek has to join the military that will change his views and ideals about Thailand. While he also tries to keep his friendship with Chang his long-time friend from the slums, he also falls in love with Lek, a Chinese immigrant. His world view changes and they have to find a way to overcome the political and social differences.
A Good True Thai is a fascinating book about Thailand and its democratic movement and ideals in the 1970s that are still present today.
2| Four Reigns by Kukrit Pramoj, Thai Historical Fiction Book, Published: 1953
Four Reigns is considered a must-read for those who are interested in Thai literature and is the second book on our list by Kukrit Pramoj.
This classic novel is a superbly entertaining read about Phloi (and her family) and her life both inside and outside the royal palace in Bangkok. We follow her story through four reigns and we can experience the massive social and political changes Thailand faced after opening up to international contact.
We start in the early 1800s and end in the mid-1940s. We can see Thailand during revolutions and can experience modern Thai history in an intimate way through the lives and relationships of Phloi and her family.
We meet Phloi when she’s only an eight year old child and we follow her life and relationships as she grows up, marries, becomes a mother, and grows older.
Four Reigns is a fascinating novel about Thailand’s modern history through the eyes of an attendant of one of the Thai princesses.
1| Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad, Thai Historical Fiction Novel, Published: 2019
If you’re wondering about what’s it like to live in Bangkok then you’ll love this beautiful novel that shows a brand new side of this ancient city.
We follow the various moving and engaging stories of characters who once lived in Bangkok to eventually see how their stories connect and all influenced and been influenced by Bangkok’s culture.
You’ll read stories about 19th centure Siam as well as WW2 and contemporary tales about the city and its residents. It’s surely going to be one of the most memorable fiction books set in Thailand you’ll ever read.
Bangkok Wakes To Rain is an enthralling and atmospheric novel about Bangkok and its residents throughout many centuries.
Thank you for reading!