This is the final post in our Traveling Asia series! We flew from Hong Kong, a city I had fallen for (you can read about that here), to Thailand where we spent 8 days exploring 3 cities. I’ll dive into each in more detail below. It’s a long post, folks! It was so hard to pick just a few favorites from each city. I’m filled with mixed emotions as I write this post, it feels like a closing to a chapter, an amazing and eye opening experience. But, really, that’s why I started this blog in the first place, so we can look back after months and years and relive these moments. Let’s dive in!
It was already hot when we stepped off the plane in Chiang Mai mid morning. Chiang Mai is a quaint, but vibrant city. It was most certainly my favorite of the cities we visited in Thailand. Everyone we met was so kind and went out of their way to attempt to help us. We landed mid afternoon and had no plans until later that evening for a street food tour. Our taxi driver recommended we check out Tiger Kingdom which was a short drive from out hotel. We actually got to go into a cage with the tigers to pet them! It was a pretty surreal experience. ( I actually debated posting about it as I know some people may be offended by this sort of tourism experience, however, ultimately it was part of OUR experience and I decided it was worth documenting.) After returning to our hotel to freshen up and relax for a bit, our tour guide picked us up from our hotel for our street food tour. We shared the dishes family style at each stop and ate until we were all so stuffed! We sampled so many traditional dishes that night, but here are a few that stuck out: Tom Saap ( a spicy soup), Nam Tok Moo (Grilled pork), Pad Gra Pao Gai Kai Dao (Thai Basil Chicken and Fried Egg), Khao Soi (Northern curry noodles), Som Tum, and the papaya salad (which was definitely the best we had during our time in Thailand). Our guide made it very interactive and we were encouraged to take turns ordering our dishes after receiving a crash course Thai. The street vendors were all very kind and already new what we were about to order anyways as they were quite familiar with our guide and the routine! Our tour ended with a shot of rice wine (to clear the palate) before a few traditional Thai desserts.
Our second day in Chiang Mai started with feeding and bathing elephants at the Thai Elephant Home conservation! They truly are magnificent animals! The rest of the day we spent exploring temples, visiting the flower market, drinking fresh mango smoothies (the BEST EVER!), taking our first tuk tuk ride, and finally walking through the seemingly endless Sunday Night Market, before heading to the airport for our late night flight to Phuket.
Phuket, Phang Nga, Phi Phi Islands
From Chiang Mai we flew to Phuket, which was our “home base” while we took day trips to both Phang Nga and the Phi Phi Islands. Phuket was VERY touristy, loud, and the beach was lined with resorts. We felt very out of place after coming from Chiang Mai which felt so authentic and laid back. Both day trips included pick up/drop off to and from our hotel to the marina, which was about an hour drive each way. Kervin and I both decided both day trips were worth it, the views were absolutely breathtaking, however it was a little too low key for us. However, if relaxing beach days, catered food, and speed boat tours are your thing, this is totally for you! We’re just used to being more active on our vacations and felt we could have done with a bit less beach time.
Bangkok was the final city of our Asia adventure. Our first night we decided to hit up a local Muay Thai match. It is similar (Kervin tells me) to UFC and kickboxing. The stadium was actually divided with particular sections for foreigners and locals, as not to interrupt their experience. The fans appears to be very intense and vocal (which reminded me of soccer fans in Spain) with lots of side bets and cheering. There were quite a few fights that evening, however it was possibly just as entertaining watching Kervin’s excitement during the whole ordeal!
Our last full day in Bangkok consisted of a Thai cooking class! Our class included a trip to the local market to pick up the ingredients for our dishes! It was really neat to visit the market with a local in order to learn all about and see the exact ingredients we would later use to cook in our meals. We were in a small group of 6 people plus our chef and her assistant. We received detailed instructions and demonstration on how to cook each dish and were provided assistance as needed. We each made four dishes: Pad Thai, Green Curry, Tom Yum Soup, and Mango Sticky Rice, and after all our hard work we got to enjoy the delicious fruits of our labor! The chef also sent us home with the recipe for each dish! I really enjoyed learning how to make some authentic Thai dishes.
HOW LONG WE WERE THERE: 8 days, 7 nights
CURRENCY: Thai baht
TOP TIPS: Wear/bring long skirts or pants and a cover up (covering shoulders) to enter temples in Thailand, tuk tuk ride prices are all negotiable! Watch the meters in the taxis in Bangkok to make sure you note the beginning and ending price/time, as some will try to cover up the meter or distract you in order to rip you off (which happens in many big cities around the world) Be an alert tourist!