Two Months in Thailand Posted by sasha on Sep 3, 2014 in Culture, Travel, Videos
สวัสดี! Hello again to all of our readers,
The Thai Language & Culture blog has been on a bit of a hiatus as of late, but we’re happy to get things going again this fall. I’m Sasha, and I’ll be taking you on an epic tour of Thailand over the next several months with in-depth articles, hundreds of high quality photos, and more videos than you’ll know what to do with on the YouTube channel. Subscribe to the blog so you never miss a post, and be sure to follow us on Facebook and join the discussion with over 10,000 others.
Although I’ll admit that my Thai language skills are poor at best, I have traveled quite extensively throughout the country on two long trips. In fact, there’s already a whole series on here from my first trip there – One Month in Thailand. Backpacking through Thailand and Laos for a month in 2011 was an eye-opening experience that changed my life and inspired me to save up, quit my job, leave my nice apartment, and backpack through SE Asia for nearly eight months. The first time around, one month wasn’t nearly enough to satiate our appetite for Thailand, so we decided to go back for a full two months. I’m honored and excited to be back on the Thai blog to share my tales, pictures, and videos from this country and culture that continues to amaze and entice me. Here’s just a preview of the places we’ll go on this online journey through the Kingdom of Smiles:
Of course we’ll be diving into the fascinating capital city of Thailand. Bangkok has it all – immaculate temples, bustling markets, tasty street food, and the famously x-rated nightlife. Although many travelers choose to either skip or just pass through, no trip to Thailand would be complete without at least a few days here. Admittedly, I didn’t exactly like Bangkok on our first trip to Thailand. On this past trip, we gave Bangkok more time and actually rented apartments here for two separate week-long stays (before and after heading to Myanmar), and I finally got it – Bangkok is awesome. We’ll be exploring the museums, temples, markets, food, and nightlife of this great Asian city over the next few months, so get excited.
Koh Tao (เกาะเต่า)
The “Turtle Island” is a beautiful island on the western shore of the Gulf of Thailand. This island kicks out the most new scuba divers every year on Earth, thanks to the bounty of dive shops, reasonable prices, and accessibility to numerous dive sites. Many travelers come planning to spend a few days and then do their best to stay a few months. There’s tons of other fun stuff to do on the island as well: hiking, mini-golf, snorkeling, kayaking, and a tri-weekly pub crawl are all on the menu here.
Koh Pha-Ngan (เกาะพงัน)
Famed for its hedonistic Full Moon party, Koh Pha-Ngan is definitely the place to rage in Thailand. It’s not just about the full moon here – half moons and new moons also get monthly parties. Then there’s the Jungle Party, the Waterfall Party… you get the idea. That being said, Koh Pha-Ngan is quite a large island, and most of it is anything but a bucket schwilling bash. Rent some wheels and explore the inner part of the island, where you can get amazing views and jump into waterfalls.
The Phi Phi Islands (หมู่เกาะพีพี)
Parts of “The Beach” – the cinematic version of a classic backpacker novel – were filmed on these small islands on the other side of Thailand. Don’t expect to recreate that deserted island vibe with Leo DiCaprio here, though, as the Phi Phi islands are now one of the most touristy places in all of Thailand. It’s understandable, seeing as how the islands are beautiful, there’s no motorized traffic, and there’s great snorkeling/diving nearby.
Although they’re not technically islands, it sure feels like it when heading to either of these beaches. They’re only accessible by boat thanks to the large mountains on the other side. Railay is more developed with nice beaches, plenty of hotels, shops, and restaurants. Tonsai is a rock-climber’s paradise, and it’s the place to find cheap digs and backpacker bars featuring fire shows and plenty of Bob Marley.
Koh Tarutao (เกาะตะรุเตา)
After hanging out with so many tourists around on the Thai islands, this is just the place to go. Part of the Tarutao National Marine Park, this island is free of development save for a ranger’s office, a small museum, one restaurant, and a handful of simple rustic bungalows. Once a prison – the crocodiles and sharks ensured escape meant death – Tarutao is a great spot to get away from the madness for a few days. Hike, bike, swim, relax, and hang out with monkeys and pigs instead of gap year goons.
Once the capital of Siam, this grand city was destroyed by the Burmese in 1767. The ruins of this ancient Thai kingdom compose an historical park that is well worth the short trip from Bangkok. Hire a tuk-tuk driver for the day and explore the ruins; just make sure your camera is charged as it’s an amazing place to snap photos.
Before Ayutthaya, there was Sukhothai – the first capital of Siam. The area of Old Sukhothai is also an historical park and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Staying a night or two here out in the village and cycling around the temples is an experience not to be missed in Thailand.
Chiang Mai (เชียงใหม่)
The second city and northern capital, Chiang Mai is deservedly one of the top places to visit in Thailand. There’s so much to do here that it’s almost intimidating trying to plan a trip. In the city and its surrounding area, you can: go rafting, become friends with elephants, visit sacred temples, check out a handful of museums, head out on a jungle trek, watch Muay Thai bouts, and so much more. It’s a great spot to be when the sun goes down as well, with tons of excellent restaurants, night markets, and bars all around the city.
The Mae Hong Son Loop
The MHS loop is a popular route through northern Thailand that can be done either by rented motorbike, public buses, or a bicycle if you’re incredibly fit and adventurous. With 1,864 curves, it’s a wild ride that passes through some of the most stunning scenery in the country. While it can be done in as little as four days, you’re better off setting aside at least a week to take your time and spend a few days in some of the spots along the way. Visit the highest point in Thailand, check out temples in Mae Hong Son, explore caves and minority villages around Soppong, and then get lost in the artsy hippie mecca of Pai.
Chiang Rai (เชียงราย)
For those traveling either to or from Laos, a short stay in this northern Thai city will most likely be a part of your itinerary. Having visited twice – once on a day tour and again for a two-night stay – I’d say it’s definitely worth it to spend some time here. Take one day to visit the contrasting White and Black temples, go on a trek, cruise around on a motorbike, hang out in the night market for street food and live music, and meet fellow travelers at some of the chilled out bars. Swapping tips on traveling in Thailand and Laos with new friends over an ice cold Chang ain’t a bad way to spend an evening.
Of course, we’re also going to talk a lot about Thai culture – the food, music, sports, holidays, and everything in between. I’m also hoping to learn a bit more Thai as I’m now convinced I’ll visit again or maybe even move there. It’s an incredible country, and I’m thrilled to be bringing you the sights, sounds, and tastes of Thailand.