Thailand was not on the top of my travel list. Far from it. Morocco, Greece, Ireland... all ranked higher. Why? I had been to Thailand. Granted, I was 15 and went with my parents in a tour group, but just thinking of the humidity, winged insects, and hot hot heat made me deflated. So when my partner asked me to meet him in South East Asia, I hesitated. Time off is so prized... was this really where I wanted to spend a two weeks vacation? I didn't want to go somewhere I had already been! But he's got a great butt, so I conceded. One expired passport fiasco later, I was on my way to Bangkok via Shanghai.
Thailand round two turned out to be magical. A colorful place of overwhelming color, diversity and history. Think about it, a kingdom that's been formed over the last millennia and a half without heeding to colonialism. They really embraced tourism as an industry starting in the 1960s and it's apparent in the readily available English signs, plethora of online travel blogs & guides written by Westerners and the availability of long-tail boat operators and bus drivers willing and ready to scoop up tourists for day trips. The food? Incredible. Flavorful, varied and influenced by neighboring countries and the world. If you are at all into delicious cheap eats, rock climbing, or just laying out on beautiful beaches, I urge you to get yourself to Thailand. But before you go - a few tips!
TRAVELING // 20 Hours Travel Time One-Way
- Melatonin Pills - take two after your first in-flight movie. Doze off for a couple hours. Wake up for the meal, repeat.
- Really good headphones - like noise-canceling. Helps you forget you're stuck in a metal tin for hours with loud-chewing strangers.
- Pack less than what you need - I only brought a standard gym duffel + Topo backpack with me and I still brought too much. You'll never need a jacket in June in Thailand. Everything else you can buy. Take out the last three tops you shoved in because you had space. I promise you, you'll thank me later.
- Pack activated charcoal tablets. I had 3 every morning before breakfast and two before dinner. Helped eliminate any sketchiness I was introducing into my body from food from street food. 12/10 placebo or not, I recommend it to everyone.
BANGKOK // BKK, the capital city.
- Night Markets are a must. Indulge in all the famous Thai delicacies... mango sticky rice, roasted crickets and water bugs tossed in spices, fresh young coconut, fresh grilled prawns. All at an affordable price. It's also possible to find tasty chicken strips, Japanese Yakiniku and cajun seafood if you're in the mood!
- The Floating Markets are only open on the weekends. We learned this the hard way when we arrived to Taling Chan Floating Market to find it closed. A nice lady had set up shop and was there making pad thai, so it wasn't a complete bust.
- Fruit Smoothies. They're everywhere and super fresh. We asked them to skip the sugar. I had a watermelon one every. single. day. Because it was $1USD. Pretty sure I can attribute the mosquito bites to the fact that I probably smelled like a human watermelon on legs.
- CentralWorld has an outdoor food bazaar. It's incredible. Prices are higher than at the night market or street carts but the vibe is great and it's a nice break if you're hitting the shops at the CentralWorld or Platinum malls.
- All the temples have an entry fee. Do them all on the same day. Ladies will need to cover their shoulders and legs. You can buy or rent a sarong to hide those Daisy Dukes.
- 7-11 is a dream. They have EVERYTHING. Including Singha Soda Water for 9THB which is like thirty cents. Helps with upset stomachs. They also have decent coffee if you're an addict like me and need it in a pinch because there is a 7-11 on every block in Bangkok.
- The BTS (sky train,) Metro, and CityLink make it incredibly easy to get around. Taxis can be costly, use the public transit when possible. BTS does stop running at midnight!
- Great coffee at the Thonglor Travellers Hostel and Cafe. Best in BKK.
KRABI TOWN + RAILAY // Our rock climbing pitstop
- Krabi had the cheapest food we found in all of Thailand. Great markets.
- Railay, a rock climbing destination/resort town that was only accessible by long-tail ferry, had the highest prices for food we found in all of Thailand. Bring booze with you if possible. Prices are double the capital's.
- The warm crystal beaches, sherbet sunsets and craggy, forested mountain peaks are what most people think of when they think of Thailand. These are found in Ao Nang and Railay, TonSai too.
- Lots of rock climbing, kayaking, snorkeling, suntanning and hikes to be done. Bring your sunscreen from the mainland. The prices are akin to highway robbery. While you're at it, pack some aloe vera creme and bug spray.
- Langsat, green guava and those tiny sweet pineapples are a score. Only a few dollars a bag of fresh fruit meant we ate like monkeys while staying there.
- Seafood is amazing in Krabi. Their crab is what they're known for.
- Roti is billed as "Thai pancake" and it's a crispy delight of dough and in my case, nutella. I feel like sugar consumption spiked while in Railay cause we were sweating in excess and Samuel thinks the sweat to sugar consumption ration is somehow linked. Maybe?
- There's a 60THB passage from Krabi Town to Ao Nang... meaning it can cost you as little as $2USD to get 18km. You do ride in the back of a pick-up truck with seats installed. We dubbed these "converted people carriers" and they did the job.
- There is a fire dancing show at the Last Bar. It made me feel like a little kid at the circus.
CHIANG MAI // Everyone said we'd love it. And they were right.
- I got waylaid by a stomach bug and migraine so I didn't get to see as much of Chiang Mai as I wanted, but it was lush and beautiful and so quaint compared to Bangkok. Take advantage and rent a motorbike to get around.
- Lychees from a street vendor is a great idea.
- Drink loads and loads of water. It's so easy to get dehydrated quickly cause you're sweating bullets the minute you step out of the shower.
- Get a massage from an ex-prisoner. I'm sure you've heard it already, but it's amazing and we had two while we were there.
- The best bone broth I've ever had was in Chiang Mai. It's found at a place called Somtam Pu Ma Na Sanam Restaurant off of Soi Ratchapakinai 1. Cured me, without doubt.
- The live jazz at the North Gate jazz co-op is absolutely worth a visit.
To sum it up - Thailand is a lush and eclectic country. Not all white sand beaches!