“Search beyond the stereotypical image of Thailand, you’ll see paradise”
Sometimes revisiting a country you’ve already touched upon is just as thrilling as the first time; especially when you’re travelling alongside your best friend who has been longing for this moment for years! @thehungrylittlelady and I are travelling around Thailand together before she jets off back to England.
After a day of tedious travelling and living off plane food, we finally arrived in Bangkok – the city of glowing lights, towering temples filled with bustling tourists and dirt cheap street food.
On arriving at Suvarnabhumi Airport, we followed the signs for ‘taxi’ which lead us down a couple of escalators and through to the public transport area where we were pleasantly greeted by a wave of warm air and a ticket machine. Public transport here is very efficient: simply press the small, silver button and collect your number leading you to which parking bay you will be hopping into your taxi from.
Taxis from the airport to Bangkok city will range between 600-700 Baht (£13-16). We were lucky enough to be travelling after rush hour so our taxi only charged us about 360 Baht to our hostel.
Accommodation is fairly cheap in Bangkok, I stayed at a very clean and chilled out hostel only walking distance from Koh San Road and the Grand Palace. This was called ‘Chern‘ and was £8 a bed per night. However, if you’re looking for a treat, then I recommend that you stay at the hotel where the Hangover 2 was filmed – Lebua At State Tower. This costs roughly £171+ for a room but cheaper when split between a group. It’s worth it to drink fancy cocktails in the sky bar with a breathtaking view…
Don’t be afraid to geek out and be a tourist! Wander aimlessly around the Grand Palace as you try to imagine how on earth they built these magnificent temples and learnt how to carve so delicately along their pointed, golden rooftops. Examine the colossal Reclining Buddha in Wat Pho and stare at the hypnotic Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Wat Phra Kaew. Be sure to wear the appropriate clothing otherwise the guards won’t let you step foot inside; cover your shoulders, chest, knees and feet to be respectful.
Explore the famous Koh San Road along with other excitable travellers as you pass stands serving sizzling street food such as pad thai, meats barbecuing and corn on the cob grilling. If you’re feeling adventurous, neck a few drinks and try a chargrilled scorpion on a stick! Don’t worry, it sounds worse than it tastes… kind of salty.
If you’re ready for dessert then I recommend you try a coconut filled with ice cream to please that pesky sweet tooth, and the fact that it’s thirty degrees outside!
While you’re in Thailand you must experience taking a ride in a Tuk Tuk! You’ll feel like a child again enjoying a rollercoaster, we were hilariously giddy the first time we rode in one. Bangkok is the playing field for the Thai wacky racers! Zooming and weaving in between overloaded vans, neglecting red lights and dodging oncoming traffic upon every overtake. Hold on to your hats, you’re in for a bumpy ride!
Next stop > Chiangmai
Chiangmai. Home to elephant sanctuaries, cafe culture and the most spectacular night markets. This is my favourite city in Thailand because of its’ chilled out vibe. There is plenty to do such as visiting the elephants in their sanctuary to taking a Thai cooking class. Beautifully green jungles stand tall in the distance as you roam around this cute city, you’ll find yourself often shocked to see spectacular views of the distant mountains everywhere you look!
Chiangmai is home to one of my favourite hostels, Coincidence Hostel, an industrial looking interior situated just a 15 minute taxi ride away from the airport only costing us £6 per night. The showers and toilets are super clean, the beds are comfortable and there’s plenty of space to socialise.
After acquainting ourselves with the hostel we ventured out to explore the local area for food where we stumbled upon a cute Thai restaurant with no one occupying it. We entered through a series of green plants to find a family sitting down for their dinner, they immediately greeted us and gave us some menus. We ordered Thai vegetable curries and sticky rice along with a fruit shake (my favourite). Spices exploded in our mouths as we tried our first spoonful – delicious!
If you’re wanting to go to an elephant sanctuary, I strongly recommend the ‘Jungle Elephant Sanctuary’. The people who run this place are so friendly, they have around 70 elephants and 8 different camps where the elephants are free to roam around without the stress of harnesses tied to their backs. Other companies let you ride the elephants, which in fact is bad for their backs and can injure them long term.
After they kindly picked us up from our hostel we drove for around 2 hours into the jungle where we were greeted by Oreo and his co-workers. They gave us a locker and a stripy shirt to wear over our clothes. These shirts were a way for the elephants to recognise that we weren’t there to hurt them, and that we were friendly. After an induction about the animals we were allowed to greet and feed them. Feeding these gentle giants was breathtaking: an experience I’ll never forget. Holding miniature bananas and placing them into their mouths can be a surreal adrenaline rush!
We then took the elephants for a very muddy bath! Picking up mud from underwater and rubbing it into their skin is soothing as during the night mosquitoes attack causing a lot of itchiness. We lathered ourselves in mud too, the workers were very playful in starting mud fights between the whole group!
Time to wash up… the guides took us to a nearby running river where we were handed buckets to fill with water for throwing over the elephants. They absolutely loved rolling around underwater while we surrounded them.
Just jump! After cleaning the elephants we were then lead up towards a huge waterfall where we were allowed to climb up and jump into the thrashing waves beneath. Being the water junkies that we are, we were the first in line!
Following the adrenaline rush we were gifted with from the waterfall jumps, we ventured up towards a small cafe in the trees for some afternoon lunch. They served a buffet of rice, curry, noodles and vegetables.
On leaving, we were given a cute parting gift – an elephant bag to which I have used countless times since! We were buzzing off this experience for days after, and for only 1700 baht, you can’t go wrong! Some of the pictures on here were taken by a photographer of the jungle sanctuary; he takes photos of you throughout the day if you don’t want to take your camera. I thought this added to the already special experience as you can download the photos you like from their Facebook page free of charge!
One of my favourite things to do in Chiangmai is to explore the night market! I recommend that you plan your stay around the weekend as the Sunday night market is absolutely fantastic! Weave in and out of everlasting stalls selling anything from food and drink to wooden chopsticks, trinkets and handmade jewellery. Barter for sweet friendship bracelets or experiment with a wide range of cuisines, cooked up before your very eyes. We must have spent hours roaming around this maze of neighbouring markets, accompanied by local bands playing upbeat music as sweaty tourists flustered past, taking hundreds of photos.
I will definitely be returning to Chiangmai on my next visit to Thailand.
Next stop > Phi Phi island
As we were on a tight schedule we booked a flight from Chiangmai to Phuket where we then took a 2 hour bus ride to Phuket Town for 100 baht each (£2)! We took residence in a hostel nearby to the pier where we would then hop onto a 2 hour ferry journey to Phi Phi.
To be continued…
Love Thy Traveller