Although 9 days might feel not enough to explore Thailand, I would like to share with you how I have made the most out of such short trip.
Many people nowadays have to struggle with the decision on how to fairly share their annual holidays: some of them might want to still be able to see their families overseas and travel to new places at the same time, or for instance just keep some of this annual holiday to be indoors and relax.
Hence annual holiday never seems enough to us, in fact when it comes the decision to arrange a holiday’plan to feet the most that we can, seems a very hard thing to do.
This 9 days trip to Thailand was part of this annual holiday plan: 9 days ended up to be good enough for me to travel in the long haul but still absorb the time difference and enjoy the country both with sightseeing and chill time.
Thailand was an exotic destination that would have involved more than 9 hours flight, so I have thought that 9 days were not going to be enough, but I was wrong: ok the more you can stay around travelling the better, but I promise you that 9 days were enough the see some nice spots and made great local experience.
Once I have landed in Bangkok airport I straight away felt the warm feeling of being in such a kind country: it was a strange feeling. I was at home.
Tips at Airport: if you will arrive at night you might have to just grab a taxi. Taxis have rates set, so you will be charged a meter rate, although some driver might want to charge you for road tolls if they go via motorway. Or either link on this site to check on transport alternative http://www.bangkokairportonline.com/node/14
As I am not a big fun a big city, I spent only 2 days in Bangkok:
The best things to do is to travel and explore the city on board of tuk-tuk
Cheapest and funniest option to proper taxi: make sure that your stomach it is strong enough as Thai driver don’t really pay much attention to slow speed. Also they might want to offer a very cheap flat daily rate if you are keen to stop in some sort of retail or outlet (please be very sensitive here as if you accept the driver will take you to these places and you might end up to spend at least 15 minutes each place and retailers expect you to buy clothes- this will make the driver earn some small part, hence the very cheap price for the daily ride). So if you have no intention to shop for new clothes please avoid to make this deal with the driver and go for a flat price.
Something that was really worth a visit, regardless the short time were:
Grand Palace & Wat Prakeaw : old city
Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn) : river side
Floating market: you will find many local agencies that will sell the package that include the floating market. I have probably spent less than 8 GBP for 2 hours river cruise on board of a lovely small local boat and the guide was nice enough to buy food for us.
Wat Pho : gigantic Buddha
Jim Thompson House
Ayutthaya: Day Trip from Bangkok
The life night is really wide and different: many restaurants where to enjoy delicious Thai food and bar from stylish to more traditional. But I always suggest stopping at least once one of the local people selling food on the street on their little hand-made charcoal trail: their bbq fish is the best!
After 2 fantastic days spent in Bangkok surrounded by marvellous people and super tasty food, I have flown to Chiang Mai, north of Thailand and the best place to immerse yourself in the Thai philosophy and Buddhism.
I have spent 3 days in Chiang Mai and loved every single minute: is a quite small and walkable town which follow the city plan of one principal square and 4 walls that divide the town in N/S/W/E.
Transport information: often the sun hit high in Chiang Mai, so even if walking is a nice option, I rented a bike for few bath and that was the perfect deal to visit every spot of Chiang Mai, at my own peace without falling for the heat. You will easily find bike hires shop everywhere in the town, possibly also at your hotel/hostel/guesthouse.
Unlike Bangkok, where few temples are more than 200 years old, some temples in Chiang Mai are as old as the city, which celebrated it’s 700th anniversary in 1996.
Just walking around the town you will meet as many as possible but for some of them you will need a different organization, like for instance to visit the must see Wat Prathat Doi Suthep : major pilgrimage destinations during the important Buddhist holidays of Makha Buja and Visak.
To reach the temple I had to take a local taxi (generally 4×4 shared vehicle) that will charge you both way with the return and will give you an estimated return time. Or simply you can pay for one only ride and get another ride back, but be careful the ride back might cost you more because.. they are the only solution for you to get back to the downtown.
Wat Prathat Doi Suthep
Chiang Mai, as so many other places in Thailand is quite famous for the Muay Thai love (old and traditional Thai box) : if you ever are a Muay Thai fan you cannot miss one of the so may match run in the principal market in the evening , for ticket that start for as little as 2 GBP.
Food and night life in Chiang Mai: not to be missed are the local markets, where you will find all sort of variety of tea, local fruits, and veg and so much more like handcrafted souvenir and gadgets. I honestly tend to support local business when I buy my food and gift for family and friends at home, on top of contributing to local business I always managed to find unique products.
Also, you can do your shopping in the evening to avoid the day heat, at Night Bazar (Eastern side of Old City all the way along Chang Khlan Road, about 1km long), and at the 2 close by Kalare Night Market & Anusarn Market
Even if I was on one of my solo travel trips, the first of my life actually, I met so many people in Chiang Mai among locals and travellers that I never felt alone and I could mingle with so many difference of cultures and ideas that it was a great pleasure to go out in the evening and stops at the so many different bars in the old city.
For the lover of nature, you might be interested in the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek : a horticultural exhibition in the city of Chiang Mai whit thousands of species of trees and flowers on 80 hectares of landscaped gardens.
Having reached more than half of my trip I felt the desire of unwinding and relax in one of the astonishing Thai islands, but I wanted to go somewhere not so much commercial and where I could avoid tons of tourist. I have talked with a Thai friend of mine who suggested me to go to Koh Samet and this was the prefect decision I could make.
To reach the Island I flew back to Bangkok and from there I hired a shared cab (10 GBP ish) to the central station of Ekkamai (Eastern) Terminal (buses every 1.5 hours from 07:00 to 17:00 for 155 baht) and the journey took me 3.5 hours ( a pleasant journey and nice bus, driver offered us some bottled water and blanket). The bus dropped me at Ban Phe station 3 minutes walking distance to Nuan Thip Pier where I took the ferry (70 baht one-way or 100 baht roundtrip -hang on to that paper ticket if you go with the roundtrip), also available more expensive speeder boat but I would not suggest them as the 40 min ish journey on the big boat was quite pleasant and relaxing and also a way to start to meet people who enjoy the island with.
Being Koh Samet a National Parks of Thailand, I had to pay a tax to enter the island of 220 bath ( 5 GBP ish) that a ranger will later on collect. The island is quite small, approximately 13 km, divided with 3 only roads, and to get around the best options is to hire a motorbike: plenty of shops that hire them for a very small price starting at 3 GBP per day (all depends on the motorbike speed).
But if you are not brave and sporty enough to ride a motorbike there is also another option: Green songthaews , the only vehicle allowed on the island (they are generally at the pier awaiting fro tourist to come over).
I rented a motorbike and it was a great choice as I could visit the whole island at my own peace, riding only on my swimsuit and accepting the nice wind running against my hair: I have to admit that it was the best part of the whole trip, this kind of feeling of freedom that I experienced in Koh Samet.
Money tips in Koh Samet : there is no bank in the island but few ATM machine that might be not working all the time and charging you crazy money. I highly suggest to take enough cash with you on the island – the island is quite cheap as not really “westernized”, for instance, a 2 course meals with drink in one of the local restaurants on the main road cost me around 6/8 GBP and I only ate fresh yummy food: check out on my happy face and you can judge yourself 🙂
The days in Koh Samet were slow and relaxing : waking up in the morning, eating up a good breakfast, getting on my motorbike and off to the beach where I met so many interesting people, most of all at a local bar on the beach where I happily decided to spend majority of my evening 😉 : Sunrise bar
All the beach bars offered the happy hours from 4 pm until, and the prices are really cheap: ex. Mojitos starting at £1.80 over the happy hour.. so you won’t definitely miss a good cocktail in Koh Samet.
Best things to do it was to have some lunch (a tasty salad fruits) on the beach, relax and sunbathing reading a book or listening to music or simply observing people around me, kids playing and the noise of the crystal clear sea.
Go into my gallery to enjoy more pictures.
Unfortunately, 4 days were gone and I have to make my way back to Suvarnabhumi Bangkok Airport to catch my flight back home.
Being this my first solo travel experience it went down pretty well : I was scared at the beginning to be lost and most of all alone, but I am telling you what I got lost and loved it as if I would not get lost I probably would have never seen amazing hidden gem of Thailand and most of all I was never alone. The principal rule of traveling is to get eyes and heart open to other people around us, and simply be nice and ask other people. You will see that there are more people out there keen to help yo and socialize than you think.
In fact, Thailand was the first of my long list of solo travel trip 🙂
If you require more info about my trip or general feedback please contact me.
Such a Wanderlust love!