Aside from one-day layovers, I had never spent an extended time in South East Asia.
My expectations were not even close to what I was presented with, leaving me with an further understanding and a constant reminder as to just exactly why I love to travel.
On the first day – arrival, is when the most perfect culture shock will step in.
Proior to my arrival I had painted a picture of Bangkok as this colourful, tranquil oasis. Whilst that image could be somewhat selvaged at the flower market – if I honed my vision into just the flowers, the rest that framed the picture did not match. For that very reason however, is why I fell completely in love with both Thailand and Vietnam. You may enter like me, with slightly a constrained, preconceived idea of what Bangkok has to offer, and leave shaken, shocked and fully in awe. My favourite thing about this trip were the constant juxtapositions. The chaos and the serenity, a never ending lapse of attention and distraction, lose yourself for just a few moments and you’ll miss so much.
If there are two words you remember from this piece you read, please let it be Khao Sok.
I can’t tell you enough about how much I loved this quiet, tropical and remote little town. Visit Khao Sok to discover the incredible national park with a manmade lake in the heart of the jungle, hop on a boat and discover this mesmerising place.
I promise, you won’t regret it.
When night falls, tuck yourself into a wooden bungalow nestled into the rainforest, and listen to nothing but the sound of rain pitter-pattering on your roof.
As the one and only island I got to discover, I can happily say, I made the right choice.
Koh Tao is an island lovers dream, where you won’t get lost in masses of tourists. Koh Tao is based around the west coast with an incredible beach and a little village in behind it. Hire a scooter and discover the gorgeous beaches away from the main town as well as the incredible view points. We discovered the underwater world, which Koh Tao is famous for, uncovering two dive sites.
*Seek advice as to which place to hire a scooter, as they hold your passport and often try to do a dodgy with any scratches and marks on your scooter.
With its original walls still standing, Chiang Mai has an incredible ambiance about it. I felt at ease in this city and I think it’s because everything is in walking distance and it’s set around a moat – so water is in sight. We took a day trip to Doi Inthanon and went to the top of the mountain.
Chiang Mai is home to many digital nomads, which is no surprise due to wifi connection everywhere, up and coming bars and incredible cuisine combined.
A little insight towards Thailand’s history.
Hire a bike and spend the day circling the temples of Ayuthaya. For me, this city had a strange energy about it, but it was a very hot, long day for me catching the night train in.
My expectations of Thailand were based on Phuket, I had imagined this touristic, overrun country with every tourist holding a bucket of booze in one hand, and glow sticks in the other. However I was so gladly wrong.
I couldn’t recommend enough Khao Sok, Koh Tao, Chiang Mai and Bangkok, while I’m glad I discovered Ayuthaya, one day was enough and I wouldn’t return. Thailand has a fantastic public transport system allowing you to book it all a day or two in advance. Between the bus, train, plane and ferry each city was so well connected and transport was reasonably priced.
I am dreaming of going back to Chiang Mai and would really love to further discover northern Thailand like Pai and Mae Hong Son.
As soon I returned home I was already planning my return. With incredible food, scenery and ease of travel, Thailand is the perfect destination to discover.