This blog post will be unique in that it is a personal travel experience of a recent journey.
What a pleasant surprise, going into Bangkok I was expecting to be overwhelmed by the big city feel. Everything we heard from travelers was if you thought Ho Chi Minh City was chaos just wait until Bangkok. Oh boy… At least I took out travel insurance for this trip. Well lets just say our experience in Bangkok was anything but chaos.
What would our first full day in Thailand be without Thai massages (1 hour for $8). Affordable and easily accessible massages are one of the benefits of Southeast Asia. But a little about Thai Massages, they are similar to a sport massage you get after an injury, these women don’t joke around and throw their entire bodies into it while sitting on you to get best leverage. It’s as much as a stretching exercise as a massage. Lets just say a slightly different experience then a relaxing oil massage but never less your body feels better leaving.
Our next journey was finding some incredible street food that was so highly recommended to us. Why spend $20 at a restaurant when you can spend almost nothing on street food. Noodle dish, check, vanilla creme filled waffles, check, fruity drink, check, fried rice/noodle dish, check, coconut ice cream, don’t mind if I do, and 3 waters to wash all that down… All for under $4. (And this was for 2 people sharing) Can’t pass up that opportunity. And most importantly two pad Thai experiences, first one was in restaurant for the AC but unfortunately it was average or less than. But I didn’t let that stop me, Siam Sq street food pad Thai stand, 30 THB ($1.05) of amazingness.
Bangkok has not only an amazing culture but some great must sees throughout the city. Pick and choose your temples wisely based on how long your trip throughout Southeast Asia is. The key is pacing yourself so you are taking in the culture while also exploring the history of the city. I will say the floating markets are definitely a different and cool experience and would recommend a half day trip as it is located a ways outside the city.
One travel tidbit was discovered in Bangkok “When you are taking pictures think to yourself will you or anyone else ever want to see that picture again, if not let’s not take more than 1.”
We absolutely loved the nightlife in Bangkok from the bars, to the music to the food. The riverfront area is pretty amazing and a small piece of home which is refreshing towards the end of a long trip. The second night we checked out Siam Sq area and checked out this incredible rooftop lounge called Red Sky. The pictures explain it best from the 360 degree views of the city to the jazz duo playing to the perfect outdoor rooftop vibe.
And best of all, the Thai people are so nice and very respectable. They even helped us with directions which was not our experience in Vietnam. Overall first experience in Thailand was a major thumbs up; now on to Koh Samui for snorkeling and beach adventures.
There are three main highlights when introducing our 4 days in Koh Samui, Thailand. First relaxation; two amazing resorts (Sandalwood Villas and Six Senses Samui) we visited in which the people were amazing and the views were incredible. After a 6 hour tour of the island on the second day we decided that what is special about Koh Samui is that it’s a great place to sit back, relax and enjoy the friendliness of the Thai culture.
The second theme was food… The food in Koh Samui and the oceanside dining options were incredible. The first night we enjoyed the local fisherman’s village Friday market before settling to watch the sunset while dining on the beach and then finishing our meal under a full moon. The second night at Dr. Frogs was one of our favorite as it was authentic Thai cuisine along with great Italian options… And not to mention the setting located in the cliffs overlooking the ocean. Finally the last night we explored Rockpool. Another amazing setting but between our tiredness, the heat, and service we were less impressed with the food but again you couldn’t go wrong sitting outside under the moon looking over the ocean. Overall you could spend 7 days eating around Koh Samui and never be disappointed.
And finally the most impressive part of Koh Samui is the Angthong Marine Park and Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park. It’s made up of 42 islands and highlights include white sand deserted beaches, amazing snorkeling, limestone rock formations and hidden caves, crystal blue water, salt water lakes, and impressive wildlife/marine life such as dolphins, birds, endless fish and monkeys. To truly understand the beauty check out the movie the Beach and the setting from that movie was based on this area. To save money they filmed most of it in Phi Phi but you get a few scenes from the Angthong area. We had an awesome day with 100 Degrees East boat trip to see both the marine park and national park. An exhausting day but by far the best day in Koh Samui. The 1 hour snorkel tour through caves, the hike to the viewpoint of Emerald Lake, the Thai lunch served on a deserted beach and finally seeing both wild monkeys in the trees and spotting dolphins in the ocean completed the perfect day. The Thai boys on the crew did a great job sharing their experiences of life in Koh Samui and made the day great fun.
The beaches on mainland don’t blow you away but the surrounding islands are impressive, the food is great and there are some amazing resorts and restaurants. It’s getting more and more built up so its disappointing to see such a small amount of local Thai people but the staff at the hotels were amazing and truly focused on making your experience enjoyable.
Our last leg of our Southeast Asia trip was Chiang Mai, Thailand. At this point in the trip we were pretty exhausted and a little “Templed out.” Luckily for us we were pleasantly surprised by our two boutique hotel accommodations. The pool and spas made it difficult to want to venture too far. Our first day we took advantage of a local private Tuk Tuk tour of the old city, 100THB for 1 hour, how can you say no? And it made it even better when I found someone making mango coconut fruit shakes on the street corner for 35THB. Already we quickly realized Chiang Mai would be much more affordable than Koh Samui.
We had a few speedbumps in our Trekking day north of Chiang Mai. The elephant riding was fun but you feel a little bad for these elephants carrying my weight up and down these hills! The white water rafting was a whole new experience… One small issue, there was NO water. What was supposed to take 45 minutes took 2+ hours and our poor guide spent most of that time physically pulling and carrying our raft over rock after rock after rock while encouraging us to jump, jump, jump to help distribute our weight. The guide was a warrior and ready to collapse by the end but was able to keep a smile on his face and make the best of a bleak river situation. At one time 5 boats were all stuck on one patch of rocks and I wish I new some Thai language as I can only image what the guides were saying to each other. After our white water rafting experience we decided to bail on the 3 hour hike to see the waterfall that didn’t have water!
One great experience was the Thai cooking classes and making our own 3 course meals. An experience you will remember for a long time!
Chiang Mai has a charm about it with great restaurants and more importantly great people … And don’t forget great spa treatments. And everything is so cheap! Every Thai person we crossed paths with was nothing but helpful and had a smile on their face. At every chance possible they went out of their way to make sure we were happy!
For more information on booking a 2 week adventure in Thailand check out our Thai Romantic Adventure: