The more I travel the more I know this for me is true:
To live is to travel...
Thailand was simply a dream trip... it has taken me a couple of weeks to write this travel journal as I was still day dreaming and taking it all in!
Before I go into detail, this is a trip made specially for us by A Travel Society this would not have been possible without there microplanning, every single detail that was planned for us, was what made this trip a trip of a dream.
And because it was planned specially for us, you need take in consideration this travel journal is written based on our perspective, our likes, and the way we travel and get to know places... nevertheless I hope this can give you an idea on what to do and where to go when in Thailand.
So let's start, Thailand for years and years had been number in #1 on my next big destination, from all the stories of people had been there before, the culture, the beaches and its religion, there was something magnetic about it for me.
So when, we started planning our anniversary trip, Thailand was a no brainer for me, and Thank God the hubby went along with it.
Our expectations even though I try not to travel with high expectations, were surpassed! Thailand has the kindest people I have ever met, so generous and so welcoming and authentically happy. They truly live and transpire their religion- buddhism. Being the only country in Southeast Asia not being colonized by Europe their history, customs and religion are very palpable everywhere you go...
FUN FACT: All Thai men become monks at least once in their lifetime, most of them before marriage. Yeahp.. the divorce rate is very low in Thailand, I think there is a connection with one another.
Our trip started with a 7 hour layover in Beijing, I know it's not Thailand but I think it's a good idea to tell you about it... we did a long layover so we could go to the Great Wall of China. We got a temporary day Visa, you can get your Visa in the airport (just be careful to go straight to 24/144 International Transfer) you can find youtube videos tutorials that can give you a detailed instruction on how to do it.
We did a 3 hour visit at the Great Wall it took about 1 hour to get there from the airport, it was truly magnificent and very well worth it. Definitely left me wanting to go back to China.
Great Wall of China- the pictures will never make justice on the true beauty of the scenery.
After our tour we went back to the airport and flew to Thailand, our trip really began in Chiang Mai, it was my favorite city from Thailand, I found people even kinder, and they live at a slower pace of life, more of my kind of city. Also the activities we did were my absolute favorite from the whole trip because I had never done them before.
Our first day, we went to an Elephant Sanctuary, called Elephant Twilight, it's a -saddle off - program in cooperation with a local village settlement. Our travel agency, did a great job, looking for the perfect sanctuary for us.
After the river bathing, we walked one mile with them, just observing them, no one rushed them, when they stopped, we stopped, when they walked, we walked along them.
It was incredibly to see how slowly the elephants and us, starting getting closer and closer.. where we could walk right beside them.
There are many sanctuaries just like that one we went around Thailand, I strongly encourage you to do your research make sure it is a real sanctuary, the more tourists go to sanctuaries, less elephants will be abused by the tourism industry.
The following day we started our day bright and early, drove to Chiang Rai about 3 hours away from Chiang Mai (be careful when booking your flights, you definitely want to fly into Chiang Mai). We visited a newer temple, Wat Rong Khu- White Temple, Wat Rong Sue Ten- Blue Temple, Baan Dan (Black House) and the Karen Long Neck Village, fell in love with all the little Long Neck girls they were smart, cute and funny.
Wat Rong Khun, White Temple
Wat Rong Sue Ten, Blue Temple
TIP #1: If you want to avoid the crowds as much as possible, enjoy the peacefulness of the temples, get to see the monks chanting, and take pretty pictures start as early as possible.
TIP #2: If you like to be more in control of your tours, get to know your guide and cities better, eat more local foods, private tours are the way to go.
Our last day in Chiang Mai, started our morning 5 a.m. this was my absolute favorite thing in the whole trip, Offer Alms- food offerings to Monks, this is something our agency planned specially for us, as this is not common for tourists to do, but knowing me , they knew I would love it and I did.
FUN FACT: Monks only eat from what people provide for them, as you offer them the food, they bless you with a chanting. We were the only tourists there, it made it extra special.
The offering was right by the Doi Suthep Temple, so afterwards we walked all the way up to the temple it was just the cherry on top, it was so early we got to see many monks around the temple, we were also randomly chosen by a monk for a blessing and a good luck bracelet. I cannot explain the peace you feel when the temples are empty...
After breakfast, we visited Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Srisuphan, temples that are the center of Chiang Mai. We finished our day, at Warorot Market eating street food (street food is a MUST when visiting Thailand)
Where we ate...
We are foodies at our core, and when say foodies, just think about Anthony Bourdain going into small little local restaurants trying the most delicious and exotic foods.
Many restaurants we ate at, are little places no google location, never the less Instagram accounts, where our guide would take us.
The restaurants that are easily found, very popular and delicious that we went to:
David's Kitchen- one of the best restaurants in the world, need to make a reservation before.
The Service 1921, used to be the British Embassy, it has a cool little bar in the first floor, with great mixioly drinks and the restaurant in the second floor - also make a reservation before hand.
Our next destination was Phuket if you know me, you know I was a dolphin in my other life, the ocean will always be my favorite place in the world. Phuket... was an absolute dream!!
I can consider it my favorite beach, the water is turquoise, it had been many years since I saw fishes so colorful...
As soon as we arrive, we went to see the Big Buddha, I consider it a must and it's a short sight seeing, it takes you no more than 1 hour to visit.
Afterwards we went to our hotel, the way we planned it with our agency was, for Phuket to be our recharging station, we stayed at breathtaking hotel and the goal was to chill and enjoy our hotel.
On our second day, we did a must, an island hopping tour to Phi Phi Islands, we chose an early sunrise tour, the 5 am wake up call was absolutely worth it! It was a beautiful day, morning swim at Bamboo beach followed by a picnic breakfast.
Bamboo Beach, Phi Phi Islands
Sorry! for the low quality sound..
We spent the morning and early afternoon snorkeling, in Phileh Lagoon and Maya Bay.
Phileh Lagoon, Phi Phi Islands.
This was the only day in Phuket we left our hotel during the day, one night we went to Bangla Road, a bit crazy for me, but it's a must see! Can't explain you need to see it for yourself. let's just say try to stay open minded.
We decided not go to Phuket Old Town, we left it for our next visit.
Where we ate...
We ate mostly in our hotel, only had dinner at The Boathouse Restaurant, I recommend making reservations before.
TIP: Phuket's traffic can be hectic so be careful where you wan to stay and if you plans to leave your hotel much then stay closer to town. We stayed a bit further away from the tourist places in Phuket because we wanted to spend more time at our hotel. So it just depends what you want to do...
Our final destination in Thailand was Bangkok, but before that we flew for a couple days to Bali, I will leave Bali for my next travel journal...
We spent our final days in Bangkok, what can you expect from Bangkok? Think about New York or Mexico City, crazy traffic and a fast paced life. Definitely book a hotel close to all the major temples and sight seeings. Definitely, the sky train or subway its the fastest way of transport. Thailand is very clean and safe, so no worries when taking the sky train or subway.
On our first day we, did a nigh street food tour, in a Tuk Tuk, it was so much fun and amazingly delicious! We went to one of the most famous Pad Thai places, Thip Samai, it's a 2 hour wait to enter the restaurant, but if you hire a Food Tour you might get in without a wait.
We were lucky enough to be doing the night tour during the Loi Krathong ceremony, a festival celebrated only once a year in Thailand, so we go to lower our krathong, a decorated basked on to the river, and make a wish. You can see the ceremony, on my Instagram in highlights under travel.
The following day, we visited the most important temple probably in whole Thailand. The Royal Temple and Palace and took a boat ride along the Chao Phraya river.
The Royal Palace, Bangkok
The Royal Temple, Bangkok
TIP: Bangkok is currently the most visited city in the world, so you will definitely see huge crowds everywhere. My Advise: be patient, and start as early as possible.
At night, rooftops are a must! We went to Sky Bar, the rooftop from Hangover 2, their mixiology is delicious but pricey. There many other rooftops you can GO to, due to our old age- sarcasm, we only had energy for one, one night. If you can do try to go to more bars, Bangkok is famous for its nightlife! Octave Rooftop Bar, is another famous rooftop bar.
Our last and final day, my favorite day, woke up bright and early, for a morning in Maeklong Railway Market and Damern Saduak Floating Market.
Damnern Saduak Floating Market, river houses
We took a little deviation and went along the river in between the river houses, got to see how people live right by the river. We took a paddle boat rather than a motor boat, I definitely suggest doing the same.. it adds to the experience.
We finished our day, visiting the largest gold Buddha in the world, going to Pahurat Market, eating more street food and visiting China Town.
Street Food, Bangkok
Try almost everything and anything that you can, recommendations: pork sausage, mango & sticky rice, dumplings, pad thai, Durian fruit and fried noodles among many more I just can't remember the names.
This is just a small summary of what we saw, ate and experienced in Thailand, it's a country that has it all, and you will definitely will want to go back for more!
Respect the culture:
When visiting temples dress appropriately, that means covering, legs and shoulders.
Take hats and shoes off when entering temples.
Follow protocol when entering temples.
Many local people are in prayer, so just be conscious when talking and taking pictures, if you are allowed to take pictures.
Buddha figurines that are sold are not meant as a souvenir, only for prayer.
Don't commit any disrespectful acts towards the King, you can go to jail.
How to greet Thai people:
Place your hands together with a slight bow and a smile. A smile means welcome, so everyone is smiling.
They are very kind and restpectful people, say thank you when you can, for women is "kapunka" with a sweet long tone, for men is "kapunkab" same tone, both with hands together and a slight bow.
Eat local, as local as you can.
Warning, food is very spicy, specially local food, take chamomile tea or medicine for your stomach.
Locals eat with their fingers, try it!
Their local beer is the Singha beer, my favorite.
Most famous dessert, mango with sticky rice.
All Thai restaurants even street foods is clean and safe to try.
Let's just say: If you didn't eat street food you didn't go to Thailand.
Grab App, it's their version of Ubber, very safe.
Sky train (Bangkok)
I hope this is helpful for you, and that you might love and enjoy Thailand as much as we did! Thailand is definitely a place that has something special for everyone and a place you can travel on a strict budget or travel in luxury.
Let me know your thoughts or if you have any questions would love to help you out!
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lots of love,