Happy holidays to all (obviously very belated). I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmases, Hanukkahs, and New Years!
We just returned from our amazing trip to THAILAND on Tuesday morning. I’m struggling with how to split up my blog posts but hopefully you were following along on Instagram to see some of our adventures. We were there for just over 2 weeks and did and saw so much. It makes us want to go back.
There are so many parts of Thailand to see so we focused on three to get a taste: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Koh Samui.
Bangkok: the capital of Thailand is a large bustling, chaotic, hot, smelly city and we loved it. It is a mix of old and new, western and eastern. There are huge skyscrapers next to temples. Huge shopping malls next to smaller, local markets.
Chiang Mai: in the north of Thailand close to the border of Myanmar. Going from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, you could immediately feel the difference in lifestyles. Chiang Mai is surrounded by (small) mountains and lush, green jungles. It is slightly cooler. The town moves much slower than Bangkok and has a very laidback vibe. There were a lot of touristy places and backpackers but was still charming. It was a great starting point for some side excursions.
Koh Samui: is supposed to be a beautiful beach island and was full of tourists as opposed to backpackers. You can feel the island life. Our issue is that it poured monsoon-type rains for 6 straight days while we were there soooo we didn’t get to see/do much there. It is dry season so this much rain was unusual and we were mostly trapped at our resort due to flooding.
We flew from Frankfurt via Shanghai into Bangkok, a solid 24 hours of travel for us but we arrived in Bangkok at night on December 24th (Christmas Eve!). Stepping into Bangkok for the first time is definitely overwhelming but we got used to it over the next few days. We stayed at the Amara Bangkok Hotel and absolutely loved it. Pretty cheap and it had rooftop pool with views of the city
It was perfect after a day of wandering the city in the heat.
Upon arrival, we went to the Patpong Night Bazaar near our hotel. Each market has its own personality. This particular one was geared towards counterfeit goods and knock-offs. Haha.
We ate dinner at a restaurant called Cafe Bangrak which was super small and seemed pretty authentic. We had fruit slushies (we had these over and over again, they were so fresh and amazing. We had ones like watermelon, mango, or coconut). We had our first of many papaya salads (shredded green papaya, cilantro, dried shrimp, carrots, limes, long beans, and thai chilis. They can be SUPER spicy but so refreshing). We also had cashew chicken and a pork omelet.
Sorry, the lighting wasn’t great. We watched the street food vendors across the street.
We obviously crashed after that but the next morning we set off for Chatuchak Weekend Market on Christmas Day. This was definitely our favorite market. We actually bought souvenirs (we never do that) and enjoyed some of the delicious and super cheap food.
Fresh pomegranates made into pomegranate juice on the spot.
Coconut ice cream in a little coconut shell topped with peanuts and coconut jelly. Perfect for a hot day.
We spent quite a few hours there and could easily have been there longer. To cool off, we headed to one of the crazy malls. Mall culture is huge in Bangkok and where Thais will hang out. We went to the Siam Square and (shamefully ate a Cinnabon…) explored floors upon floors of stores.
On the day after Christmas we went to the Grand Palace, home of the Thai king. The beloved king, King Bhumibol, passed away in October after being the country’s monarch for 70 years. The people of Thailand are in a full year of mourning. Thai people wear all black each day and there are thousands of shrines dedicated to the king throughout the country.
We beat a lot of the crowd and heat by going to the Grand Palace right around when it opened (I highly recommend that) and admired the beauty of the structures.
After this we went to Wat Pho, the home of the giant reclining Buddha.
Out of respect for the Buddhist religion, you must have your legs and shoulders covered before entering any temples. Many times you can rent or borrow clothing to cover up if you are not prepared. The Grand Palace is definitely the most strict, other temples seemed a little more relaxed.
We then explored Chinatown.
And enjoyed some fancy dimsum.
You can get around Bangkok using their public transportation system (the Skyrail and Metro are super easy to use and very clean). You can also use taxis which are really cheap as long as you tell the taxi driver to turn the meter on. They like to scam tourists. We utilized the Grab taxi app too which kept costs down. That night, we went to Khao San Road which is full of backpackers. It was definitely more touristy but we wanted to check it out as it was hoppin’. I enjoyed my first Pad Thai at one restaurant then we went to another restaurant that served northern Thai food and had larb, a minced meat salad with herbs.
The next day we did some more mall and market exploring. We came across some food trucks and even had mango and vanilla charcoal ice cream. Yup, charcoal.
This was our last day in Bangkok and the next morning we took a flight to Chiang Mai.
More about Chiang Mai soon!