“Tuk Tuk?….. no!…… Ping pong? *pop pop*”
When most people think of Southeast Asia, they think of Thailand. Backpacking Thailand is a backpackers dream wanderland- with the pristine beaches, insane and wild parties, an incredible wild life you can interact with, culture and temples that are beyond magnificent, unbelievable landscapes and jungles, some beautiful ladyboys, entertaining ping pong shows, and the delicious street food, Ohhh that Pad Thai. There is everything in Thailand. No joke!
We flew into Chang Mai from Luang Prabang in Laos with no real plan on how to tackle our backpacking Thailand Route. We flew to extend Jack’s visa (Aussies can stay for 15 days other countries have 30) to spend more time in Thailand.
We celebrated the big 24 (my birthday) by river rafting and bathing elephants in Chang Mai, took a day to motorbike around the ruins of Sukhothai, and watched the semi finals for the World Cup in Bangkok. Fun fact: Bangkok is the most visited city in the world (it even beat London)! After Bangkok, we explored the wonderful Thai beaches. We snorkeled in Koh Tao, partied in Koh Phangan, discovered hidden beaches in Koh Phi Phi, and had the worst food poisoning in Phuket (sadly).
Thailand is a travelers haven and a definite must while you are in Southeast Asia. It is a different world, filled with beautiful natural wonders, tasty food, and a hub to meet some amazing people. We will definitely be back to explore more (especially Phuket, we need to redeem ourselves after that experience!). Sa-wa-dee-ka!
Things to Do:
One – Ride an Elephant
We celebrated Jenn’s 24th birthday by bathing elephants and white river rafting. We searched for a full day for a place that treated the elephants properly with no harm, no shows, and were treated with love.
We found a great opportunity to ride an elephant bareback, feed them plenty of bananas and then bathe and play with them in the water. It was such an amazing experience and we were happy to see this elephant center really care for their animals.
Two – Visit the ruins in Sukhothai
We took a day trip to Sukhothai (6 hours from Chang Mai and 7 hours to Bangkok). It is another UNESCO Heritage Site and truly beautiful. It was great to rent a scooter and ride around to see the temples. You get the chance to see all the old kingdoms, Buddhas, ancient architecture, a beautiful pond, and even the chance to see monks praying at the ruins.
Three – Explore Bangkok
Bangkok is famous for being the hub of Thailand. It has culture, temples, parties, street food, markets and much more. There is seriously so much do here, so to sum a few things, take a boat to visit all the historical sites along the river, enjoy some beers with some backpacker friends on Koh San Road, visit the famous floating markets, and maybe if you are feeling crazy, check out a ping pong show!
Four – Snorkel in Koh Tao
Koh Tao is known for being the cheapest place to get PADI certified. Unfortunately, time was against us so we were unable to get a diving certificate but we did do an amazing snorkeling trip!
Five – Party in Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan is the infamous party island in Thailand. There is a party for everything, Full Moon Party, Half Moon Party, Black Moon Party, Jungle Party… and the list goes on! Grab a bucket, get your neon paint on, find the spot with your favorite music, and dance your butt off with some great people until sunrise!
Six – Wipeout Cousrse
Yes, Koh Phangan is known for its infamous Full Moon Party, but they also have their own version of the Wipeout course! You know, the TV show with ridiculous obstacle courses where people make complete fools out of themselves? It was awesome! To tell you the truth, I don’t think we even came near beating the Wipeout course! It cost 300 Baht, $9.50 USD, for a full day of fun.
Seven – Koh Phi Phi
Koh Phi Phi is seriously so beautiful. There are plenty of beautiful beach coves and islands to visit. We did another one of those snorkel (the best way to make the best out of the little time we had) to visit 5 of the islands. We even visited “The Beach” where Leo was on!
Eight – Beaches in Phuket
Apparently, the beaches and nightlife in Phuket are out of this world! We say apparently because we, unfortunately, were locked in our rooms for the entire time we were there with the worst food poisoning! I suppose it was bound to happen… but seriously during Phuket? Just means we will have to come back!
Nine – Get a Thai Massage
Traveling can be so tough, we know. So sit back, relax, and enjoy a Thai massage. We paid $12 each for a full body massage in Bangkok and felt so relaxed afterwards. They are so great!
Thai Visas are a bit weird. There are 5 countries that are allowed a 30 day visitor visa if crossing by land (otherwise you get 15 days), or you get 30 days with air travel. You can do border runs to Laos, Cambodia, or Malaysia to extend your stays. You will be fined if you exceed the 30 day limit. Thai visas are very specific to your own country, so have a look here to help! Or you can take the easy way out and get this company to organize it all for you! They are amazing and make everything super easy and straightforward!
Where to Stay:
The one you should use a Thailand itinerary is for the Full Moon Party. We never prebooked in Thailand, except for the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan. Everything gets a bit expensive towards the time of the Full Moon Party, so just expect prices to rise. Other than Koh Tao and Koh Phangan (due to the FMP), you could just walk into any place and there were rooms available.
We stayed in the backpacker area in Bangkok, also known as Koh San Road. We stayed at the Marcopolo Hostel for 2 nights for $8 per night! It was in the middle of everything–all the bars, the nightlife, restaurants, and it was super easy to walk to all the attractions. It was cheap, convenient, and a clean room, a little noisy but that’s what you get if you stay in the backpackers area!
What To Eat
Thailand, hands down, has the best food in all of Southeast Asia. Markets are filled with curries, noodles, rice, and fruit, ugh, YUM! There was nothing better than Thai street food, like fresh pad thai made right in front of you and cooked to perfection. I’ll take 2, thanks.
Thai food is fresh, tasty, filled with yummy spices, can be made vegetarian, and you know what kind of meat you are eating (most of the time!). We were the most adventurous with Thai food, but we did fall in love with Pad Thai, I mean who wouldn’t! It is a staple in Thai cuisine and it is so delicious. This was Jack’s favorite. My favorite is Pad See Ew, like a pad thai, but made with large flat noodles, broccoli rab, and a super tasty sauce! Mmmm.
Thailand also had every type of curry you could want, Thai green curry, Massaman Curry, Red curry, yellow curry… and it goes on! Be careful though, because Thai food can be incredibly spicy. Mild in Thailand is like the “on fire” sauce at Taco Bell, probably worse… Jack can handle spicy, but even some of the Thai curries for him were too spicy for him!!
A typical dessert in Thailand was mango sticky rice, and coconut milk. A very odd combination but a deliciously addicting dessert! Instead of a cake for my birthday we had mango and sticky rice and I’m not even mad.
Beginning to middle of July
Being in the midst of wet season, you will get wet. Although, we had more sun than we anticipated! It could go from super hot and humid to a downpour of rain within the same hour.
Some of our snorkeling trips were hit with a lot of rain, making the visibility a bit rough but we still shared the days of rain with some sun!