The Travel Post #1: Thailand "The trip of two lifetimes"

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I recently read an article that claimed that Thailand was the holiday of two lifetimes, because you will always want to go back, and after spending three weeks travelling round such a beautiful country that is a claim I can definitely vouch for!
I could probably keep this blog going for a month with posts about our time there, but instead I will try and carry out the difficult task of narrowing it down to one, potentially rather lengthy post about the trip.



Bangkok

We started off with three nights in Bangkok, and despite feeling a bit apprehensive about visiting what is known to be a craaaaazy city - we absolutely loved it! We were staying just by the river at the Chatrium hotel which was absolutely beautiful and a perfect location. We packed it all in and did as much as we could during our time there including visiting the temples, the famous markets, elephant trekking, the Chatuchak weekend market and a river tour. On the first night we had dinner at a really great little restaurant called Eat Sight Story with a beautiful view of Wat Arun temple at twilight. I don't think the place is very well known (which is so weird because it has an incredible location) but the food was beautiful and very reasonably priced! Another highlight was the Wat Pho temple which has the statue of The Reclining Buddha - this is absolutely stunning and was our favourite of all the temples. One thing we learned to be careful of in Bangkok is Tuk Tuk guys trying to rip you off. On our way to the Grand Palace we had three different men trying to tell us that the temple was closed and then offering to take us on a tour in a Tuk Tuk to pass the time until it opened - always go to the actual attraction to see if it is open before you decide to look elsewhere because when we got there it was open all day!
On the second day we got up super early to travel to the Floating Market. The market is about an hour outside of Bangkok but I would definitely recommend taking an early tour - it means you get there before all the other tourists and before the river gets crowed with boats meaning you really get an authentic taste of what life is like for the local people. The risky market is great too and we visited them both on a combined tour. Whereas the Floating Market is aimed predominantly at tourists, the Risky Market is where Thai people go to get their fresh produce so you get to see a bit of the local cuisine! Huuuuuge fish being scaled and fried frogs on kebab sticks is a strange sight! It is called the Risky Market because twice a day a train drives straight through the centre and it is mental to watch - as you can see in the picture below the space is so narrow that the train goes through!
There is also a great variety of nightlife in Bangkok ranging from swanky city view bars to dodgy looking lady boy shows. We took a trip to Asiatique which had a range of bars, restaurants and a night market to keep us busy in the evening. Although it was a bit more commercial than some of the other places in the city, it was a nice way to pass an evening with some yummy food and bright lights.
Even though Bangkok definitely lives up to it's crazy reputation, we both fell in love with the city and we will definitely be back!

The view from Eat Sight Story of Wat Arun at twilight
 

The Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho



The Floating Market

The Risky Market

The train going through the Risky Market!

The view from the balcony of the Chatrium Riverside

Chang Mai

Our second stop on the trip was a city in the north of Thailand called Chang Mai. This time we stayed at the Shangri La hotel and again it was really nice accommodation. Although in our opinion the centre of the city wasn't as nice as Bangkok, the surrounding areas in the north of Thailand are really beautiful. We took a day trip to Doi Inathon national park where we visited waterfalls, hill tribe villages and the King and Queen's Pegoda. There were two big highlights of this part of the trip, the first being taking a trip to the Tiger Kingdom, an attraction where you can get into pens with tigers of different ages. We chose to get in with a baby tiger, a small tiger and a big tiger and it was amazing. My favourite were the baby cubs because they were so playful and tinyyyyy (well tiny for a tiger). It was important to us that we went to a place where the tigers were treated well and only tamed rather than sedated so we can vouch that Tiger Kingdom is a good place to go in that sense!
The second highlight was our trip to a traditional Kantoke dinner at the local cultural centre. The setting was so gorgeous with lanterns dotted around and cushions lacing the floor as the traditional style is to eat sitting down cross legged. After getting full on a buffet feast of Thai food we were treated to a show of Thai dancing from the local villagers. It was so nice to spend the night really experiencing a bit of the local culture. 
This part of the trip absolutely flew by as we only really had two full days to spend in the city. Again I think we would both love to return to the north of Thailand, but next time we might spend some time in other nearby cities like Chang Rai. It didn't steal our hearts as much as Bangkok but I would still recommend travelling to the north as it is a great chance to see some authentic parts of Thailand. 





The Traditional Kantoke Dinner

Elephant Hills at Khao Sok

Potentially one of my favouriteeee parts of the whole trip was our time spent at the Elephant Hills Tented Camp in Khao Sok National Park. The camp is located in the middle of the jungle which is an amazing experience in itself. You have a structured programme during your three days there which include a half day elephant experience, a canoe safari, a day trip to the Cheow Lan lake and a jungle trek. The elephant experience was so much fun and an incredible opportunity to get up close to such huge animals! The trip to the lake was also brilliant where we spent a day relaxing, swimming and watching wild monkeys in the jungle from our camp. It was crazy to wake up hearing the sounds of the jungle and the every single one of the guides was so friendly and helpful. It was so different to anything I have ever done before. If you are taking a trip to Thailand this is one stop that I would definitely put on your list!





Phuket

Our final days were spent relaxing in Phuket, at Bang Tao Bay on the west side of the island. Although the majority of Phuket is quite commercialised, Bang Tao Bay has remained relatively underdeveloped. We stayed in the Angsana Laguna hotel situated on the Laguna resort and one of the highlights of the hotel was little lucky, the baby elephant who comes to visit every morning at breakfast! We didn't go on to many day trips during our week here because it was really our time to chill out and try and get some tanning done! But we did take a trip to Phromthep cape which is the most southern point of the island to watch the famous Phuket sunset. 



Phi Phi Islands

The final stop on our tour of the country was the world famous Phi Phi islands. We took the trip with a company called Simba Sea Trips and once again they were so so good because we left really early to get the best pictures while the beaches are still deserted. Our first stop was Maya Bay, the bay where beautiful Leonardo DiCaprio filmed The Beach and we arrived to a deserted shore, something it is impossible to see if you leave after 7am! The sand was like nothing I had ever seen and the water was crystal clear - it genuinely took my breath away! We then spent the rest of the day snorkelling in deep blue lagoons and visiting different spots around the island including monkey beach where wild monkeys meet you for some peanuts as you get off the boat!





It is safe to say both Will and I had the trip of a lifetime and loved every second we spent in Thailand. We booked with a company called Destinology and they were absolutely brilliant, even sending us handwritten cards to thank us for booking our holiday with them and welcoming us home. 
If you want to check out any of my reviews, you can find them at my trip advisor profile here, and my Instagram feed is pretty full with pictures too!

Is it bad that I am already planning the next one? I have well and truly caught the travel bug! 

Charlotte x

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