I didn’t want summer to end so I went to Thailand to chase 40+ degrees weather! Thailand is such a beautiful country - so much to see and eat! Check out the quick guide below of the places to check out and a few tips:
Bangkok, the capital of Thailand! With over 14M people calling this place home, it’s one of the top visited cities in the world. There’s an endless amount of things to do from haggling at a market to riding around in a tuk tuk. Here’s what I recommend checking out while you’re in the capital!
Ayatthuya: This city was the second capital of the Siamese Kingdom and was founded in 1350! It’s pretty cool stepping into a city so old and in ruins, with such a vast history. It’s a 1.5 hour drive away from Bangkok and totally worth checking out if you have the time. We found a taxi driver at the train station in Bangkok who was willing to take my friend and I here as well as the Lopburi Monkey Temple for 2500 baht ($50CAD) each. At the time, we thought this was a steal. Looking back, maaaaybe not so much. I suggest checking out the train schedule as I know they can be super cheap!
Lopburi Monkey Temple: Oooookay, so the monkey temple. We were so excited to check this place out and befriend cute lil monkeys… Such naiveté. After one decided to climb on me, three others would join. It was definitely overwhelming. I tried REAL hard not to freak out (hence the look on my face in the photo below), so I slowly moved towards the exit. Five minutes in, my friend got bit so we left and proceeded to had to get rabies shots. But hey, Gina Rodriguez got bit by a monkey in Thailand too so that’s pretty cool, right? RIGHT? I still recommend checking out these monkeys though because it was a cool experience, just be careful!
The Grand Palace: If you’re interested in history and detailed architecture, you won’t want to miss this place. It’s a complex of buildings in the heart of Bangkok, where the Kings of Siam used to live. Just a note that there’s a strict dress code in place here, shoulders must be covered and I highly recommend wearing pants! This was probably the most expensive attraction to visit in Thailand costing 500 baht ($20CAD) each.
Wat Arun Temple: Just a quick boat ride away from the Grand Palace was Wat Arun. I thought this temple was beautiful! At a 100 baht ($5CAD) each entrance fee, it’s definitely worth the visit! The way it’s designed is super unique to other temples in Bangkok.
Khaosan Road: A backpackers paradise! This place is tourist central, but for good reason! You can find relatively cheap street food & drinks here and even cheaper clothes! I think my favourite pad thai in all of Thailand was from Khaosan Road. We also ate a scorpion and cockroach, but we don’t like to talk about it. This road is lined with multiple bars, clubs and everything in between. You’ll have a fun time while meeting other backpackers!
Rooftop lounge: We decided to splurge and have a bougie night one night in Bangkok. We went out to a rooftop bar & restaurant, Above 11, for dinner to check out Bangkok’s skyline. Unfortunately for us, it was rainy all night so there wasn’t much to see, but the food was DELISH.
Out of all the cities we visited in Thailand, Chiang Mai was my favourite. It was less busy than Bangkok, but still had everything a city had to offer. You’ll see a lot of red trucks in Chiang Mai, which are group taxis. Once they understand where you’re headed, they’ll give you a flat rate for each person which can be negotiated. Check out a few things we were able to do while in Chiang Mai:
Elephant sanctuary: Omg this was UH-MAZING. Like, you know how in Sims there are Lifetime Wishes? THIS WAS IT FOR ME. Elephants are one of my favourite animals - they’re smart, very emotional and love to play. We visited the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary where they rescue elephants who “worked” in the tourism and entertainment sectors. If you ever have the chance to go to Thailand, please do not ride an elephant! They weren’t made to carry weight on their backs and it kills them.
While visiting the sanctuary, we learned more about elephants, fed them, made herbal medicine balls, gave them a mud bath, and swam in a waterfall WITH ELEPHANTS.
Cooking class: This was another amazing experience in Chiang Mai! There are cooking classes all over Thailand, but we went with We Cook and I’m so glad we did! Our instructor (who was so freaking cute) took us to the market to learn about local ingredients grown in Thailand, and then back to her place to get cooking. I made spring rolls, pad thai, green curry, tom yam soup and a mango & sticky rice dessert. After the class, we were given a cook book with all the recipes for every dish the class offered. It was all SO good and I can’t wait to cook some pad thai back at home.
Night market: Sensory overload here! So many vendors and lights. This half indoor/outdoor night market is HUGE. I found it harder to haggle here, but I mean, what’s a few cents here and there, right?
Thai massage: Signs for thai massages are everywhere! Highly recommend getting one. They hurt so good.
Koh Phi Phi
If you’re looking for beautiful beaches and crystal blue water, this island is for you! There are no cars (at least I couldn’t see any) on the streets here and you can walk the entire island since it’s so small. We stayed on a resort in a bungalow, which was totally worth it. We were steps away from the beach and everything this amazing island had to offer.
Island tour: We booked a tour to check out the multiple islands of Phi Phi. We checked out Maya Bay (where The Beach was filmed) but the waves were too rocky for us to stop and swim at the beach. We also did a lot of snorkelling where we saw the most colourful fish, some cute blobs of sea cucumbers and baby sharks! We also went to Pileh Lagoon where we swam in the calm, blue waters.
Bars: The nightlife in all of Thailand is definitely bumping, but since our last night was in Koh Phi Phi, we went for it. We ordered a bucket each (which was excessive, you could totally split one for three people), and we didn’t even stop there. After enjoying some live music and a fire show during our bucket drinks, we decided to head out to a bar with a d-floor.
So, overall, Thailand is a FUN time. Before you go though, I included a few general tips below:
Get ready to pay for everything in cash. We paid for our hostels when we arrived, which sucked a lot of our cash since most hostels we stayed at didn’t accept credit. I would recommend to bring at least $500CAD with you before you arrive. There are exchange booths all over the country, I just switched mine over at the airport as soon as I arrived.
Get a SIM card as soon as you arrive. I used Klook.
Download Grab. It’s Thailand’s version of Halo. Super helpful when you’re in need of a cab but can’t seem to hail one from the street.
The wettest months of Thailand are August-October. While we were in Thailand, the weather was mostly overcast with sunny and/or torrential downpour breaks in between. Also, it is HOT!! In Bangkok and Koh Phi Phi, the temperature would reach 45 degrees celsius with humidity! I’d drink soooo many bottles of water and never have to pee because I’d sweat so much. TMI? Probably, but DRINK ALL THE WATER WHEN YOU’RE THERE.
DO NOT joke/mock/insult the king or royal family as you will be punished by law. You could get years of jail time! You’ll see portraits of the royal family everywhere you go. They take their monarchy very seriously.
Pack light! I brought the bare minimum in terms of clothes. I was in Thailand for 8 days, and I brought 8 different outfits using a lot of repeat articles of clothing for different outfits. I knew I’d be able to buy cheap clothes when I got to Thailand if I needed it, and I did!
Drink bottled waters and don’t eat uncooked veggies. Just a common tip when visiting developing countries.
Human trafficking is an incredibly important issue, and it’s very close to my heart. In Thailand, close to 40,000 children under the age of 16 are believed to be in the sex trade, working in clubs, bars, and brothels. Although the country is making substantial progress towards meeting minimum expectations for the elimination of human trafficking, the number of victims is severe or increasing. Please keep your eye out for the signs of people being trafficked, whether it’s through forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation.
Finally, be safe and HAVE FUN! It’s a great place to meet other 20-somethings from all over the world.