Thailand Travel Guide – Everything You Need to Know About ThailandOn by Elisabeth
I know what you are thinking. At least Thailand makes sense, unlike Ecuador. Everyone seems to be hitting the backpacker trail through SE Asia and ending up in Thailand at one point or another. I am constantly hearing stories about how friendly and welcoming Thai people are, and how cheap and delicious the food is. Thailand was originally my first choice, to be completely honest. However, the likelihood that I will learn and retain the Thai language is very slim, so it dropped down a slot. Plus, like I just said, EVERYONE goes to Thailand. Redefine Normal, that’s my motto so I figured I had better follow it.
Reasons To Go:
Koh Kood is an island in the Koh Kut district of Thailand and it is pretty much my definition of paradise. White sandy beaches give way to turquoise blue water. I can just imagine sitting in the shade of the palm trees with SPF 50 covering every inch of my pasty Pacific Northwest skin. With daily flights to Trat airport on Koh Kood from Bangkok, I am not sure why this little island paradise is not overrun with tourists. Maybe it’s because there is no nightlife to be found, and very few dining options? Real talk though, who needs fancy night clubs and 5-star restaurants when you can drink rum out of a bucket on the a beach?
Pai (pronounced “bye”) is in Northern Thailand near the border of Myanmar. Though it used to be a quiet little village, it now thrives on tourism by being part of the backpacker trail. It is home to over 350 hotels and guest houses, and even three stop lights. That’s damn near metropolitan. The high season is between November and May, so be sure to book well in advance if you want to join the party. Many people use Pai as a jumping off point for adventures into the mountains to visit the hill tribes, which sounds super cool. Added to the must-do list.
Chiang Rai is the northernmost “large city” in Thailand with a population of around 70k. The main attraction that draws people this far north is Wat Rong Khun, better known as the White Temple. You are probably expecting this to be a historic temple dedicated to the god of snow or something, right? Wrong. It’s a privately held art exhibit that was opened to the public in the late 90’s. The exhibit isn’t even expected to be completed until 2070. I figure, it’s strange enough that I want to check it out. Plus, the average temperature here is around 88°F (31°C) nearly year round, which is a bit warm for me, but I could get used to it. Though there is a rainy season from April to October, which would be annoying (says the girl from Seattle).
I chose Ko Lanta over Ko Phi Phi for a couple of reasons. Sure, both are picture perfect destinations filled with sun, sand and poor decisions. However, Ko Lanta has a bit of a hipster edge. It’s a little lesser known. It is flatter, and hence easier to explore on motorbike (I am a terrible driver). I read that a lot of people learn to scuba or surf here as well because the crowds are smaller so scheduling a lesson can be easier.
Chiang Dao is yet another city in Northern Thailand, can you see a pattern developing? The name means City of Stars. It is surrounded by expansive limestone peaks and stalagmites-filled caves. The cherry blossoms bloom in January, so that would be a nice time to visit. Make sure to take a hike up to San Phakia for the view above. It can be visited by small motorbike as well.
Ko Muk (Pearl Island) is an island near Ko Lanta that is best known for the Emerald Cave (Morakot Cave). Though the cave is now over run with tour groups consisting mostly of old men in speedos, if you go during the off-season it looks like an exhilarating experience. If you plan to rent a motorbike to ride around the rather large island, make sure you don’t rent it near Farang Beach, as it is nearly twice as expensive as it would be in the fisherman’s village on the opposite side. You can rent a mid-range bungalow on the island for about $15 a night (there are cheaper options too). I, obviously, really hate islands.
Ayutthaya is an ancient capital city. In the 1700’s it became the largest city in the world, with one million residents. Though only the remnants of that great city remain, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. You can easily visit it in a day trip from Bangkok. No Thailand visit would be complete without seeing this sunset, in my opinion.
Okay, this is the last island, I promise! (Though, I will pause for a second to mention that you should also go to a Full Moon party just for the hell of it. Check out the one on Koh Phangan) Koh Tao touts the reputation of the best place in the world to get PADI certified. If I end up in Thailand, I can’t resist setting up camp here for a few months to start the process of getting my scuba instructor certification. That’s how I plan to afford living abroad, in case you were wondering. No, it doesn’t pay very well, because I know that was going to be your next question.
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