We first visited Thailand 5 years ago, it sounds like a short time but it feels a lot longer now that we’ve seen the rapidly developing jewel of Asia again. We really enjoyed our previous visit but the 6 weeks we’ve spent in Thailand this year have truly been some of the best of the trip and have taken our love for Thailand to a whole new level.
The change in Thailand during the last 5 years has been incredible and maybe our own outlook has changed significantly too. I remember being hit with a massive jolt of culture shock as soon as we arrived in Bangkok. This time around we definitely still felt the hectic and bustling presence but it also felt much fancier than before. After spending time in significantly poorer countries it was so strange to see good roads and pavement you could walk down without risk of tripping up and ending up in the sewer below. For me, Thailand feels like it’s this perfect combination of development and tradition at the moment and I really hope the increasing development won’t be to the detriment of this fantastic culture.
Having the extended time in Thailand allowed us to immerse ourselves in the culture and absorb the attitude of the Land of Smiles, I can’t remember ever feeling as calm and happy. Even if I woke up grouchy it would generally only take a beautiful smile from the first stall owner I saw that day to sort out my bad mood.
Stats for Thailand
42 days on the road, our budget was £40 (1778.40 Baht) per day.
£39.31 (1747.72 Baht) TOTAL spend per day
£11.71 (520.76 Baht) per day on accommodation
£12.74 (566.73 Baht) per day on food
£5.70 (254.62 Baht) per day on transport
£4.04 (180 Baht) per day on activities
We were under-budget by £28.97. Also, notice how we spent more on food than we did on places to sleep, gives you an idea of our priorities! Thailand is still great value, it’s more expensive than some of its neighbours but when you can stay in great guesthouses for around £10 per night and eat like kings it is so very worth it.
Where we slept
26 nights in guesthouses – The standard of guesthouses in Thailand is very high for the price you pay and we stayed in some wonderful places.
8 nights in beach bungalows – When we were travelling around the Andaman Islands we stayed in some great little places with incredible views of the ocean.
3 nights in hostels – In Bangkok, where accommodation is incredibly expensive in comparison to the rest of the country.
1 night on a sleeper bus – Fairly unpleasant but cheap, we’ll leave it at that.
1 night on a sleeper train – So much better than the bus. 2nd class berths in Thailand are actually really nice, we had a fantastic journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai with loads of space and a good night’s sleep.
This wonderful city already gets a vast amount of great press but our stay was such a brilliant experience that it warrants a mention. It is laid back, cheaper than Bangkok and the islands, there is great food everywhere and the locals are super friendly. The weekend markets are the best we saw in the whole of South East Asia and the surrounding countryside is beautiful. We ended up staying for 10 days and I loved every minute!
This was one of the highlights of our entire round the world trip. We both love wildlife and to have an encounter with elephants like this one was an unforgettable experience. If you visit Chiang Mai please look up the Elephant Nature Park, you can read about our experience here.
Songkran in Koh Lanta
We didn’t intend to be in Thailand during its New Year festival, it just happened by accident and we’re really glad we got the opportunity to experience it. It has probably come across by now that we are not the party types so the huge celebrations in Chiang Mai and Bangkok didn’t appeal. Koh Lanta was brilliant fun with all the local kids out having water fights with tourists, it was much more relaxed.
Night markets everywhere
In my humble opinion nowhere in the world does street food like Thailand. The quality of food produced in some of the night markets we visited is absolutely phenomenal and much better than we’d find in upscale restaurants at home. I already miss it after only a few weeks and would urge anyone visiting Thailand to get out and explore food on the street. Read about Thai street food here and here.
We wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of some of the well known Andaman Islands, I had my doubts but we managed to find secluded and beautiful places with not too much effort. After having experienced Phuket before it was important to me to try and find a quieter pace and when we did the magic of the Thai Islands was very evident.
It is the most visited country in South East Asia and a lot of long term travellers turn their nose up at Thailand because package holidays have found their way into the country with gusto. I still absolutely love it and wouldn’t hesitate to go back. It is stunning, the people really are as friendly as you hear, the food is incredible, it’s cheap and really easy to travel around – what more could you ask for?
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