Intro: I had no expectations for Thailand. I had a friend who had lived there for a year (this was several years back), and she loved it… but I was hesitant to set high expectations. It’s obviously not as western as some of the other places I’ve been to, but the kindness and warmness of the Thai people instantly makes you feel at home. It was amazing to spend two weeks there! I’d go back in a heartbeat.
Eat: More so than restaurants, I highly recommend eating all the delicious street food Thailand has to offer! In Chiang Mai, my favorite meal that I kept going back to was Guay teow (pork noodle soup). It was a yummy soup with veggies, all different kinds of meat, and noodles. And it was about $1.25 for a massive bowl! Eating in Thailand was so inexpensive. I also was so down to grub on some legit pad Thai, and was not disappointed. Yum goong (hot and spicy soup) was also really flavorful. Other street foods I loved were mango sticky rice (a plate of sweet rice topped with unsweetened coconut milk and slices of juicy mango) and crepes. I know, you’re hesitant to eat crepes in Thailand, but trust me they are some of the best you’ll ever eat. Filled with Nutella and bananas was my favorite! One of our favorite things to do with our lazy afternoons was go into town for a fresh fruit smoothie. Y’all. These smoothies were so naturally sweet and delicious, I cry now just thinking about them. Speaking of fruit- Thailand has some good ones! Mangosteen (sweet, kind of peachy) and rambutan (kind of grapey). I so wish I had taken a Thai cooking class while I was there, but I guess I have to save some experiences for the next time I’m there!
Sleep: When we arrived in Bangkok, we explored for the day and headed straight to Chiang Mai that evening on an overnight train. In Chiang Mai, we stayed in my favorite accommodation out of our entire trip. For less than $25 a night, we got to stay in Liam’s Suan Dok Mai Guesthouse which was a total relaxing dream come true. It was nestled just outside the busy city center, but our balcony overlooked the gorgeous sleepy mountains- a great compromise! There was also a great pool to relax in, and a yum breakfast spread of French toast, eggs, bacon, and Thai fruit. In Krabi, we stayed at the Slumber Party Hostel for about $8 a night. The rooms were clean (very important) and stayed cold through the night, thought there were just three co-ed showers on the ground floor. The hostel also encourages a party scene vibe, so if that’s your vibe then that’s the place to stay! Alex and I were there to sleep, and were grateful the noise didn’t travel up to the rooms too much. I’d stay there again; it was a good home base and just 10 minutes’ walk from the beach. In Bangkok, we stayed at the Glur Hostel. This. hostel. was. beautiful. Even by American standards, we were impressed. The best part was that this hostel had (STURDY) DOUBLE BED BUNK BEDS. It was heavenly to be able to spread out onto a cloud, draw the curtain closed, charge our things from the in-bed outlets, and have a little tiger snooze. SO GOOD. It was also well located, being right next to a metro stop.
Trek: Flying from Dublin to Bangkok round-trip was about $650 on Emirates. We had a full day layover in Dubai each day, which was great! It was about $50 less to go on another airline, but trust me when I say if you have the chance to fly Emirates, DO IT. They definitely makes sure you get the princess treatment and it was one of my overall trip highlights! In Bangkok, there is a decent metro system that spreads far into the city, and also long-boats that will take you up and down the river. This is really fun, albeit a little scary! From Bangkok to Chiang Mai, we took an overnight train for $25ish…which was such a legit experience as well. We felt safe on the train, though I did lock my shoes into my bag because precautions. From Chiang Mai to Krabi, we flew on a quick $40 flight on Air Asia. The seats were cramped like a Ryanair flight, but it was cheap so we did not mind! From Krabi back up to Bangkok, we took an overnight coach recommended by our hostel. It was $12, and, well, you get what you pay for. It had pink faux-ornate curtains and a plastic chandelier inside, but in a totally tacky way. We were able to laugh about it… much, much later.
Do: There are so many amazing things to do in Thailand. For starters, ride tuk tuks everywhere! We rode them from our guesthouse in Chiang Mai to the city center for about $4 each way and it is a thrilling experience in itself to say the least. In Chiang Mai, we loved exploring all of the markets, getting fish pedicures, and VISITING THE ELEPHANT SANCTUARY which was the best day of my entire life. Totally worth the $75 price tag. In Krabi, there was a very relaxed vibe in the air. Mainly, we spent our days sleeping in, heading to the beach to explore, and even got to spend some time with the monkeys that live in the rocky mountains next to the beach! We also decided to go on a 20 minute long-boat ride to Railay beach, which was so beautiful (though we did almost miss our flight because of it). Bangkok was just our hub that we explored elsewhere from, but we were able to make it to some of the night markets, and eat delish foods. Perhaps I’ll be back someday and I can write a more thorough report on it! One thing we didn’t do that I would love to do next time is take a Thai cooking course! Next time.
Summarization: Thailand is a must-see for anyone wanting to explore a little taste of Asia. There were always plenty of travelers around, so we never didn’t feel safe (though it’s not a bad idea to practice street smarts- since we were just two girls, we didn’t venture out once it got dark!) It was an adjustment at first to get used to seeing the Western men with the super young Thai arm candy, but it’s best if you just ignore it and do your own thing. Seeing ladyboys was also an adjustment, but they’re just people too so c’est la vie. We did have one bad experience in Bangkok where the cabbie wanted us to pay more than we agreed to (explained in this post), but overall I consider our time in Thailand a success and definitely would like to go back someday!
- Thailand has a rainy season and dry season (explained here). We went in early June which was the quiet spot between rainy and dry season. This meant that things were already getting cheaper, but that we risked a couple of rainy days. We got rain in Krabi, but we just made the most of it, and I’d like to go back in late May next time so as to not risk the rain so closely.
- Agree to a cab fare before you get into the cab. Otherwise you risk getting ripped off by a high fare when you reach your destination!
- If it costs extra for an AC accommodation or train, pay the extra bucks and do so. It gets HOT in Thailand, and there’s nothing worse than trying to sleep and being sticky and miserable!