11 Nights in: Northern Thailand

Hello everyone! I hope you’re all doing well.

It’s been a while but I’m here and I’m well – I wasn’t kidnapped and I managed to steer clear of rabies and tattoos. My Mother would be so proud.

If you have absolutely no clue what I’m waffling on about right now, a while back I wrote a post explaining I was off to travel South East Asia for a backpacking trip with my best friend. I’m now home from said trip 14 weeks later, so expect the content on my blog to be back up and running.

I want to take you all through our trip from start to finish, but you would be simply bombarded if I wrote it all in one post (we had 34 stops overall!) So, I’ll kick the series off with our first leg of the trip: North Thailand. We began in Bangkok and made our way up before hitting our second country (Laos) so sit back, grab a cuppa and let me chat you through our first adventure of many.

 

Bangkok

Okay, it’s technically not Northern Thailand, but it’s where we kicked off our travels so I’m including it for the sake of the post.

We landed in grey Bangkok fresh off a 13 hour night flight – pretty drained, tired, a little confused where we even begin to start…you get the picture.

Bangkok was as you expect it to be: built up, busy and very loud – it was all of those things and more, but we had so much fun there and filled our time well. That being said, we were excited anticipating what our next stop would be like (and praying for some fresher air and greenery.)

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Highlights

  • Vanilla Sky Bar (terrifying but amazing at the same time) – I literally despise heights but I still force myself to reach them… perhaps just for the ‘gram? Who knows.
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The astonishing shine on my face really highlights the insane humidity of Bangkok.
  • Cabbages and Condoms restaurant (yes, really… all the decorations are made out of condoms, I pray of the unused kind.) The reason for this, erm… unusual decor, is that the restaurant works alongside sexual health charities to raise money and awareness. It all makes sense now. Kind of.

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  • Our first temple of the trip, Wat Pho. This place is absolutely gorgeous, however it was not fully appreciated as this was the day we experienced and realised the extent of Bangkok’s ludicrous heat and humidity. We had to sit down in the recovery position once or twice as the feelings just before you faint were becoming far too bold. Call us dramatic, but until you’ve been in boiling Bangkok wearing full trousers all day in 85% humidity, you won’t understand!

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  • Street food! I cannot stress enough that you should not fear the street food in Asian cities. It was always not only the yummiest but also the cheapest grub we had. Eat like the locals do and you’ll reap the benefits. Trust me when I say you will not be disappointed. This Pad Thai cost just under £1 and was far better than anything I’ve ever had in a restaurant.

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We jumped on a sleeper bus on night 3 to Chiang Mai, which we surprisingly really enjoyed – we managed to sleep pretty well and despite having our ear chewed off for the beginning of the journey and first thing in the morning by a lovely chap donning elephant trousers, about 32 woven friendship bracelets, tribal tattoos and blonde dreadlocks, it was an all round pleasant experience. (Sorry, but the stereotype was just too accurate here.)

 

Chiang Mai

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Upon checking into our hostel, we decided to head out and explore the city. It was lovely to be somewhere slightly less manic than Bangkok!

I decided to be brave and get my first Thai massage, and was subsequently beaten up by a lady half my size.

I’m not really sure what she was trying to do with me, but I was slapped in the face, punched aggressively on the forehead, pummelled on the arse as if I were the punchbag and she were Tyson Fury, and somehow had my feet placed up by my head. Essentially, I was battered and had my back clicked a few times. I’m still unsure if this was beneficial to my health or potentially damaging, but I lived to tell the tale regardless.

Highlights:

  • It goes without saying that Elephant Jungle Sanctuary went above and beyond expectations of what a real sanctuary is. There were countless elephant ‘camps’ and ‘parks’ in Chiang Mai offering elephant rides and such, which is an obvious no-no. The elephants here are free to roam as they please. If you want to visit elephants in Thailand but even have the slightest inkling something is off, please do NOT go there. Telltale signs of abuse are if they offer elephant rides or chain the elephants by their feet. Here the elephants were literally treated like family – you could genuinely tell how loved and content they were, and they were never forced to interact with you if they didn’t want to.

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  • Cooking Class – Chiang Mai is packed with amazing cooking classes – we did one with the Asia Scenic Cooking School and its safe to say I was absolutely stuffed afterwards. Luckily I could make anything on the menu vegan, so I thoroughly enjoyed a delicious 4 course meal of a noodle dish, spring roll, soup and a curry for which we made our own pastes. Not to toot me’ own horn, but it’s some of the best food I ate in Asia!

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Picking fresh herbs from the garden for our cooking

 

Pai

Everyone’s favourite place! We’d heard of countless travellers who had booked a few nights here and ended up staying for 1-2 weeks, and once you’ve been its very easy to see how that might happen.

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A gorgeous, rural, hippy and chilled out town, Pai just screams good vibes. We decided to get a private bungalow for this trip and it did not disappoint… even when the lizards decided to reside in our bathroom at nighttime. ‘Is that real or a statue?’ I’d first asked myself whilst going for a wee in the dead of the night. Turns out what I assumed to be a decorative ornament was actually a fully grown lizard sprinting across the ceiling.

Highlights:

  • Street Food – Wow, the street food in Pai was to die for. There were so many options, one night we decided to buy a bit of everything and share. It did not disappoint.

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  • Pai Canyon – The best things in life are certainly free. We headed up to the canyon twice to catch the sunset – it’s such a relaxing, beautiful spot and had fantastic views; the idyllic place to sit with a beer and wind down.

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  •  Bamboo Bridge –  As it says on the tin, it’s quite literally a bamboo bridge over rice fields, however the views are gorgeous and it’s so impressive how people have made this all by hand. Ignore the fact it’s slightly wobbly and treacherous and enjoy the scenery!

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Chiang Rai

Our last stop of Thailand before we headed into Laos by slowboat was Chiang Rai – probably our least favourite place of the four however we still really enjoyed our time there and filled it well.

Highlights:

  • The White Temple – there are literally no words… just look at it!

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  • Biking around Singha Park (I was thanking the lord that in 30 degree heat, it was mainly a flat path.)

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  • Barrab Restaurant – I headed to this place with a stinking cold and let me tell you, they bloody cured me within a day. I explained that I wasn’t feeling too well with a blocked nose and sore throat and that I was also vegan, and the staff couldn’t have been more helpful, advising us what we should order to say good riddance to a cold. We went for the vegan Tom Yum soup – it was absolutely delicious, but a proper nose-running, eye-watering level of spicy. It’s safe to say it quite literally kicked the cold out of my nose.

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So, there we round up leg 1 of the trip! I know I’m super late, but I promise I will get the rest of our trip on the blog in due course.

Speak to you all soon!

Love, Dayna x

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