I am back with regularly scheduled programming! Since the last time I posted about travel, I moved across the US and started a new job. I’m back to share my time in Chiang Mai and Bangkok, Thailand. If you missed the first few installments, be sure to read all about my time in Phuket and Krabi!
Arriving in Chiang Mai
We arrived in Chiang Mai mid-morning but quickly realized we needed more than a day and half for everything we wanted to do. While we were still at the airport, we extended our trip a few hours. This definitely cost more than if we had timed everything correctly in the first place but we wanted to make the most of our trip in Thailand.
One of the hostel managers/owners picked us up and we headed to the quaint hostel. If you’re looking for a cute, modern hostel I highly recommend Sleep Guesthouse. They were really accommodating and quick to give us suggestions and tips. On their recommendation, we went to The House down the street. It was pretty trendy but the food was still tasty and based on local food. When in Chiang Mai, you need to try Khao Soi (top)! I had my Thailand fave of Tom Yum soup.
For the rest of the day, we explored the city and temples. We walked over to the base of hill by Wat Phra That Doi Suthep to catch the “bus” up. Be warned if you get motion sick, the roads are winding and the benches in the back of the van aren’t the most comfortable. Once we got to the top, it started raining but after living in Seattle for a couple years, we weren’t phased. We zipped up our rain jackets and headed up the 309 steps. There is a beautiful area you can walk around in the center with various temples and religious structures. On the perimeter, you can overlook the city.
The next morning we woke up early and were picked up for our tour. Here’s where you should do as I say and not as I do… This was the biggest regret of our trip. If you are interested in the White Temple, please go on your own on the bus instead of doing a tour. Our tour included a 15 minute rest stop at the hot springs, White Temple, boat ride around the Golden Triangle with a stop into Laos, a visit to a Karen Tribe, a buffet lunch, and a final rest stop at an affiliated convenience store. What really happened was that we spent the whole day in a tiny van for some things that weren’t really worth it. Definitely do you research into where any tours you go on will be stopping.
The White Temple on it’s own will be at least a half day trip as it takes 3 hours by bus to northern Thailand. The whole thing is really over the top with skulls hanging from the trees, hands coming up from the “moat”, and an insane mural with Michael Jackson and Harry Potter to name a few. The bathroom is gold!
The boat ride around the Golden Triangle was pretty interesting as you ride along the border between Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. We stopped in Laos where there was a market set up with the typical cheap sunglasses and clothing as well as the snake/turtle/etc. infused whiskey.
We didn’t pay for the Karen Tribe visit but we were able to walk around the market outside while we waited. The Karen Tribe visit just seems like a tourist trap set up with trinkets; you can read more here.
We got back to our hostel around 9 so we headed to the main street for dinner. There are a ton of restaurants all around so just pick one that looks good and head in!
Our final morning in Chiang Mai started super early by getting picked up for our half day at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary! This was one of the things we knew we wanted to do going into Thailand so we were really excited.
It was another 3 hour journey but definitely worth it. First was introductions to the workers and then the elephants themselves. We fed them bananas and headed out from the enclosure to get closer.
One of the elephants just had a baby so we visited her in the middle of the forest on the property. THERE WAS A TINY BABY ELEPHANT.
The next part was giving them a bath and covering them with mud. Not going to lie – it was a little gross being in the still water with elephant poop. After that we cleaned up using the outside showers and got lunch.
After our elephant adventure we headed back to the hostel to relax before our late night flight into Bangkok.
Exploring Bangkok, Last Day in Thailand
Our first morning in Bangkok was off to a rough start which is why it was the least favorite city of ours in Thailand. We tried to get a tuk tuk to Wat Pho but in the midst of our hunger, we made a mistake. There were a few people who spoke English really well and were super eager to help us out (hint #1). They recommended that we go to this dock to get on a boat to the temples (hint #2). We took the tuk tuk but quickly realized it was for private boats through this specific company only… again, do your research and make your way to the public dock!
Once we found the public dock and got on the boat, we stopped at Wat Arun. We found the only restaurant around that area and had our usual Pad Thai.
We took the boat a little bit further down to the Wat Pho next. Definitely plan to walk around for a while in there. There are so many smaller temples inside and a big tourist attraction so there will be a lot of people.
This is also where the huge reclining Buddha is so make sure to see that! Unfortunately, the Grand Palace did not find our sarongs acceptable since they were see through so we weren’t able to go in 🙁 It was going to close in 20-30 minutes anyways so we decided to head to find food instead.
The “Chinatown” area of Bangkok, Yaowarat, has a big food market with many stalls and restaurants. Most had lines so you can’t go wrong! We ended up eating some street fries and then at a street stall/restaurant. The spicy noodle dish I had was so good even though it burned my tastebuds.
That concluded our one day in Bangkok and our time in Thailand. Our next adventure was Siem Reap, Cambodia so join me next time for more about Angkor Wat! If you’re interested in more from me, follow me on Instagram to see more of what I’ve been up to. Thanks for reading!