Bangkok - Chiang Rai - Chiang Mai - Krabi - Koh Lanta
With Summer, Clay, and Zach
How to get there?
International flights were booked with American Airlines. It’s important to utilize an airline you have racked up miles on to help with status upgrades and other perks. An upgrade to a set where you can lay down completely to sleep is insanely helpful with combatting jet lag.
For flights in Thailand, we utilized sites like Kayak, CheapoAir, and Expedia to find the cheapest flight on their domestic flights and ended up on Thai Airways, Asia Air, and Thai Lion Air. The best advice we can say here-is just book it. Don’t get overwhelmed with “waiting for prices to go down,” otherwise you may get stuck not getting the flight you want or even the prices going up.
KEY TIP: Do your best to sleep on the airplane during hours you should be sleeping at your destination. This may be hard to do due to your sheer excitement to get there or based on the sleep schedule you’re currently on, but every bit of shut eye you can get when you’re supposed to will help.
Where to stay?
When it came to places to stay, we looked up Airbnbs in every place and chose the one that was most cost-effective, had good reviews, and were in the heart of the city, or close to it. We stayed in Airbnbs is most all place except in, Koh Lanta, we decided to go with a resort because we wanted to be close to the beach for the last part of our trip.
I don’t speak Thai...
The language barrier was a little rough at times… in the larger cities it was easier, there are signs in English and most natives are used to English speaking tourists. In Chiang Rai it was the hardest. Luckily, our Airbnb hostess spoke English well enough that she could help arrange taxis and make conversation during breakfast (which she cooked for us every morning as we sat on her patio that looked out into a beautiful garden jungle-like area). The hardest part was getting our taxi drivers to understand how to get us back home. For some reason the English translations of the street addresses were confusing to them. Luckily, Google Translate and Google Maps were available to use and that seemed to be the most effective way to communicate throughout the trip. Google Translate help show what we were trying to communicate, so with the app and a little patience, we got by just fine!
The elephant sanctuary was amazing. We liked that it was educational and their mission to help rehab elephants to live back in their natural habitat. We even got to feed them!
The New Year’s Eve Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was surreal seeing all the lanterns floating in the air filling the sky with globes of light. There were people from all over the world, so as we walked through the crowd we saw all different people speaking different languages all at once, all lighting their lanterns and releasing them. One thing to note though, it really was an Instagram vs reality moment- in the periphery of our beautiful photos outside of the frame there were flaming lanterns landing in trees, flaming lanterns shooting across the crowd that didn’t quite lift off (Summer may have accidentally been among one of those people…), and there was a large bright street lamp smack dab in them middle of the area designated for lantern release.
We really enjoyed the night market in Chiang Rai. The market consisted of two squares with open seating in the middle with tables and chairs and lined on each side with food stalls. At the front of the square there was a stage where they had cultural performances like singing and choreographed dances. The town of Chiang Rai was beautiful at night with strands of illuminated globes strung across the street down the entire length of the main street.
We highly recommend renting a motorbike and scooting around! We did not do this in Bangkok because we wanted to live to see the rest of Thailand, but we did do it in Koh Lanta, which was a perfect destination for it since the roads have less traffic and are only two lanes.
You must visit a sky bar in Bangkok! We had cocktails at the Moon Bar at Banyan Tree and it was so cool being up so high and looking out at the city lights in a large city like Bangkok. We made some new friends at the airport and they met up with us at the sky bar. We also found a speakeasy bar by accident, and that was a great time. Also in Bangkok, we did a tour on a longtail boat through the canals off of the main river there. It was just us 3 in the boat which made it even better. These boats have huge souped-up motors on the back and the guys that operate the motors are total badasses. The ride in Bangkok was tame compared to our longtail excursion in Koh Lanta to go snorkeling… It’s crazy because since the sea is so choppy out in the open water the boat takes 3 men to operate it- there is one man operating the wheel and two men operating the motor and all three acting as look out for large waves coming at the boat so that it doesn’t capsize. It was wild. Seeing some bioluminescent plankton along the beach in Koh Lanta was also amazing. Felt like we were in Fern Gully.
White Temple in Chiang Rai is a must-see. The detail throughout the temple and the rest of the grounds are just breathtaking. Be prepared for lines and a ton of people, though. We arrived at the temple just after it opened early in the morning and it was already overrun with tourists. Same with the Blue Temple. Both still definitely worth seeing, though.
What to Eat & Drink?
Food and booze was so CHEAP! Weirdest was eating scorpions and tarantulas. Best was actually a hamburger. Noodles were only $1! Clay’s drink of choice is vodka sprite and it was pretty hilarious watching him describe that drink and them failing over and over getting it right. One of the bars brought him just a sprite, no vodka. One of the safe options for drinks in Thailand is, of course, Chang beer and Leo beer. You can buy a beer there for basically nothing. It’s great!
Is it safe?
We felt very safe in our group of three, but like any city in any country, there is crime and you have to be aware of your surroundings. We met several women traveling alone, and they felt safe. We did get credit card protectors to keep our card numbers from being skimmed. We also all emailed our passports to family members and each other and also printed backups of our passports just in case we lost ours or got them stolen.
We all get the grind, work, family, money, etc.. don't let those things stop you from seeing the world or your own backyard. New places and people can change you for the good. We love hearing travel stories. It's a way to connect and talk about new things and to stay #EverydayExploring.