Hey! Happy New Year everyone! Nice to see you here for another year of travels, lifestyle and lots of foodies & goodies around here. There are so many things I want to do this year, you guys have no idea. So much I wanted to do for the past couple of years that I didn’t get round to do it. But I can feel that 2019 is the year where I’ll tick at least some of the boxes or perhaps all of them.
Back to the actual topic of this blog post. There are so many countries around the world, so much to choose from, isn’t it?
I started my journey of travels in Europe, but I must say that Asia holds a special place in my heart, the happiest travels I had were over there. My last big travel of the 2018 was to Thailand, I got to visit Bangkok, Hua Hin, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. But that’s a story for another blog post.
I can say that I’ve traveled quite a bit in the past 5 years and got to meet locals along the way but I found people in Indonesia and Thailand exceptionally friendly, nice and kind to tourists. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that people in other countries aren’t nice but they don’t call it the “Land of Smiles” for nothing.
There’s something about their vibe, it’s just friendly, positive, chilled. Thai people will greet you with the “Wai” which is when someone slightly bows with their hands together. They also have a motto that i love, which is “Mai pen rai” that translates as “don’t worry” or “it’s okay”. Life can hit you with the darnedest things but you’ll get up and everything will be ok. Gotta remember that you will grow stronger from it.
I met a couple of solo travelers while travelling, they chose Thailand because they felt safe and that even though they were travelling solo they didn’t feel alone at all. I guess going to a place where the locals are so welcoming makes it less intimidating.
Oh my Goodness, the Temples are just stunning. There’s over 40.000 temples across Thailand, loads isn’t it? Besides looking gorgeous on Instagram’s feeds, they hold so much history, they have so much influence on people’s lives. Temples date back to different dynasties, I am sure that at least one will catch your eye. It is so nice to find a breathtaking Buddhist temple in every corner.
A Buddhist temple is a place of worship for Buddhists, they are designed to motivate inner and outer peace on those of visit. Ever heard of the five elements? Fire, Air, Earth, Water, and Wisdom. They are represented in the temples, they’re all different, from the construction style to the era’s architecture.
Take time to appreciate the temples and their history. One thing i recommend, is that you meet a Monk. We went to a Monk chat and meditation. Monk chats are basically q&a sessions where you can ask whatever you like to a Monk. They are kind and open to most questions, as long as you are respectful they have so much to teach you.
Food for a pound? Count me in, please! In every single corner in Thailand, you can find a row of carts lined up dishing up Thai meals such as Pad Thai, curries, spring rolls, papaya salads and so many other dishes. Thai food is delicious and diverse, but Pad Thai is definitely my favorite dish. I must say I ate loads and loads of times, is ever so cheap in street markets if you’re on a budget-friendly kind of holiday.
When eating street food there are a few things you need to take in consideration. Eat only if it’s being prepared there and then, if it looks fresh and if the line is full of Thai people. Eating street food is not only delicious but it is also a great way to get to know the locals, their culture and gastronomy.
Possibly one of the best places to eat street food is “Soi Rambuttri” in Bangkok, where you can escape the madness a little bit but its still quite upbeat. There’s still quite a lot of people, live music all the time, loads of food and drinks. Off course there’s also Chinatown and Soi 38 Sukumvhit, also in Bangkok. In Chiang Mai and Hua Hin, we ate street food as well, but it was mainly in markets. While in Thailand, make sure to try coconut soup, pad thai, coconut ice cream, fried noodles, spring rolls, fried rice, stir fried thick noodles and Khao soi.
Markets & Shopping life
Oh boy, markets in Thailand are just huge. So leave some empty space on your suitcase because you’ll be buying loads, from house decor to clothes they’ve got it all. In all the cities we’ve stopped while travelling through Thailand we found multiple markets to shop at. The best ones and probably the largest ones were Chatuchak market in Bangkok and the Sunday street market in Chiang Mai.
Sunday Street Market is probably the most famous market in Chiang Mai, as the name says it only runs once a week on a Sunday. It starts from roughly 16:00 to about 22:00, it is located in the city ’s touristy area and, running from Tha Pae Gate towards Ratchadamnoen Road. The roads get closed to traffic so you can walk along the streets, there you’ll find crafts, clothing, shoes, accessories, souvenirs. While there, make sure to eat street food, you’ll find plenty of food stalls along the way, some straight up in between crafts stalls and others in little food corners. In the subject of trying new things, get a street massage too. I had a leg and foot massage in this market that was to die for.
Have you ever heard of Chatuchak Market in Bangkok? No? Well, let me tell you something, it is HUMONGOUS. I’ve visited multiple markets in my travels, but I had never seen something like this in my life. It holds 8000 stalls and it’s the largest market in Thailand. The Market is open from 6 am (however some stalls only open after 8 am) to 6 pm over the weekend. Everyone will advise you to get to the market early morning to avoid crowds and the heat, but of course, we didn’t listen to people and what happened? Well, it was hard to walk around the market, doable but hard. Make sure to have fresh coconut ice cream while you check out the stalls, there’s also a great coffee shop there called “Kaldi” and their iced latte is amazing.
Thailand’s not only home to one of the biggest markets in the world, but they also have the coolest ones. Yes, I’m talking about the floating market and the train market. I bet you’ve heard about at least one out of these two. Floating markets are what the name says, you’re in a boat or on land shopping from the marketers in the river. They also sell inland, but it’s cheaper to buy from sellers in the river. It’s a super cool experience I must say.
The Train market is basically a normal market but it is located within an area where the train goes through. Which means that from time to time, sellers need to take their things off the rails for the train to cross. Space is super tight and you need to jump over things or go to alleyways so you don’t get run over. Oh and note to self, when a local tells you to move over, please do so. I wasn’t listening and could have been run over (not kidding btw).
Thai people like to celebrate in the most beautiful ways I’ve seen. Believe me when I say that they are incredibly interesting and you feel so honoured to take part in. Most of their festivals are originated from religion or the lunar calendar, so most travellers tend to plan their holidays around the festival dates.
A few famous festivals are Songkran aka Thailand’s Water Festival, Yee Peng Festival (Yi Peng) and Loi Krathong also known as the lantern (lights) festival. Loi Krathong takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the Thai lunar calendar. Thais launch their krathong on a river making a wish at the same time.
Yi Peng refers to the full moon day in the second month according to the Lanna lunar calendar, the sky gets filled with lights. We were fortunate enough to be in Chiang Mai during the festivals. We took part in the celebrations as well and made our wish together. It was an unbelievable experience that i am sure neither of us will forget.
Travelling through Thailand, quite honestly, can cost you as little or as much as you want it to be. Your Thailand costs will vary depending on the kind of traveler you are. For starters, you can sleep for as little as 2.80 £ in a Hostel but you can also spend over 1000£ in a five-star resort. The same thing happens when it comes to food, so if you stick to street food you can spend about 1£ for a serving of Pad Thai and some spring rolls, but you can also spend 15£ or more in a restaurant.
Make sure to do the homework, workout what places you want to visit, what are the Temples you MUST see so you can plan everything ahead and that way not only are saving yourself from wondering around the city but also saving money by planning ways of transport and booking activities beforehand which usually means cheaper deals.
Thai culture is highly influenced by religion, Buddhism plays a great role in their day to day life and their decisions. Family comes first, that is for sure something that I value as well. They’re really close to their loved ones, it is super normal for families to live close to each other. They look after each and every one of their family elements.
Like I said before, there’s something about their way of living that amazes me. They are so welcoming, happy and warm. They never show off negativity, they keep spreading positivity, love and all the smiles. Their principles, the way of living.. it just blows my mind and I’m forever grateful that I got to experience their culture.
Everyone knows about my love for animals, Thailand is full of wildlife. You can find them on the beach or mountains, National Parks, Animal rescues centres & Sanctuaries.
Can I just say that i saw animals I’ve never seen in my life, well, mainly reptiles. Quick story, one night while walking near the river we saw a huge snake swimming. It was so big it looked like the water was being sliced open. The guys who were sitting near the river moved away from the water so quickly it was funny. Straight after, we’ve heard that water snakes are highly dangerous, they’re poisonous too.
You see so many animals out in the wild but also so many attractions who feature them as well. Remember to be a responsible tourist and steer clear from tourist attractions that abuse animals for profit. Those include elephant riding, pictures with wild animals, circus, animals who can do tricks like monkeys riding a bike and so many other activities.
I can’t tell you much about the nightlife at the beach side of Thailand, but I surely tell you about Bangkok. You night babies get ready for Bangkok cause they have every kind of nightlife you could possibly imagine.
Our accommodation was located in Soi Rambutri which is just a couple of minutes walk from Khao San Road which is one of the coolest streets in Bangkok to party. In the same road, you can listen to rock, pop, jazz live performances. Actually, while we were having dinner at a rock bar we could listen to an r&b singer in the bar next door.
Remember when we talked about how budget friendly Thailand is? Well, I am about to carry on talking about it and I bet you’ll love what I have to say. Travelling through Thailand is so bloody affordable, provided that you travel as local a not as tourist. An with that, I mean that you shouldn’t buy “tours” but you should use public transportation.
We were able to travel to Hua Hin by coach, to Chiang Mai by overnight train and from Chiang Mai back to Bangkok by plane. We spent so little money on these travels because we were afraid of travelling on local transports and because we planned ahead of time.
When it comes to budget-friendly airlines, you can use Nok Air and AirAsia. We flew with Air Asia with no issues whatsoever and our flight was about 10£. To buy coach and train tickets we used 12GO so we could plan ahead and make sure that we had our seats booked.
That’s the end of today’s post, its good to be back! Thailand was such a surprise, I’ve got so much to share. Whilst there, I had the most unbelievable experiences, one of them was possibly one of the best things I’ve done in my entire life. I’ll be posting soon, perhaps not about Thailand so I don’t bore you to death but I promise I have Thailand posts planned.