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.


One of the ancient temples in Chiang Mai

One of the ancient temples in Chiang Mai

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.


Tempura prawns - one of my most favourite yummy Thai treats

Tempura prawns – one of my most favourite yummy Thai treats

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.


Our home for the night on the Chiang Mai sleeper train

Our home for the night on the Chiang Mai sleeper train

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.


Paul with his friend the reticulated python in Bangkok

Paul with his friend the extremely large python – Bangkok

Top experiences


Chiang Mai

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!


Monks at worship in Chiang MaiMonks at worship in Chiang Mai

Monks at worship in Chiang Mai

Elephant Nature Park

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.


So dirty good - fried banana with condensed milk, chocolate sauce and sprinkles

So dirty good – fried banana with condensed milk, chocolate sauce and sprinkles

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.


Exploring the smaller islands of the Andaman Sea

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.


Crazy traffic in Bangkok

Crazy traffic in Bangkok


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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16 Responses

  1. Kellie

    Thailand is to blame for our trip, we went back and realised how much we missed travelling, so set about making it happen.

    Those tempura prawns look amazing. Mmmmmmm I love Thai food. My lunch just isn’t going to cut it now 🙁
    Kellie recently posted..A message from an old friendMy Profile

    • Maddie

      I ate those prawns pretty much every day we were in the islands, so good! My lunch isn’t going to cut it either, we didn’t realise how much we’d miss Asian food until we left. There’s only so much steak a girl can eat! Glad you guys love Thailand as much as us 🙂

    • Maddie

      Certain areas have changed for the worse but I still love Bangkok and Chiang Mai despite the masses of people visiting and the development that has taken place. I was so surprised that desert island type places still existed in the Andaman Sea, it won’t be exactly what you remember but it’s still an amazing country.

  2. Kim

    Ahhhh! I cannot tell you how excited this made me to get to Thailand in the fall. And we are definitely going to look up the elephant park and volunteer there. Maddie, your round-ups are always the best.
    Kim recently posted..Dear life 8My Profile

    • Maddie

      Yay, glad you like them 🙂 I really think you and Brian would have an amazing time at the Elephant Nature Park, make sure to contact them early if you want to stay for a week or so. We were gutted that we couldn’t stay and volunteer.

  3. Jessica

    Night markets were one of my favourite parts of Thailand too. Not only is the food amazing, but it’s such a great way to soak up the culture – I loved seeing Thai people and tourists alike all coming out at night and enjoying the market. It’s such a fun atmosphere.
    Jessica recently posted..Why Noboribetsu Smells Like EggsMy Profile

    • Maddie

      Those are exactly the reasons we loved them. It sounds strange to say one of your favourite things is just wandering the streets and looking at stalls but like you say, the atmosphere is wonderful, the food doesn’t hurt either 😉

    • Maddie

      Thanks Constance 🙂 I’m seriously missing Thai food already, especially as I know we’ll probably have to pay 100% more at home for food that is nowhere near as good!

  4. Carmel

    I don’t care if it’s “been there done that” for some people…I’ve never been and I can’t wait to go!! Street food..yes.

    That picture with the snake still freaks me out.
    Carmel recently posted..SAYING GOODBYE TOO SOONMy Profile

    • Maddie

      See, that’s the right attitude! People get so caught up in finding new places and being intrepid that sometimes they forget there is a reason somewhere is popular to begin with. The snake freaked me out too, this photo was taken on zoom!

  5. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)

    We were a bit leery before we hit Thailand because after about 6 months of having spent our time in countries that don’t get as much backpacker love, we were thinking it might be a bit overrun for our tastes. I worried it would be too touristy, but in the end, I needn’t have feared. Having spent about 9 weeks there in total now, I completely understand why Thailand is so popular with travelers… it’s because it’s great, and as you point, truly excellent value for money! And that food… I know it’s cliché to gush about how good Thai food really is, but it’s so true! One of the best eating countries we’ve visited for sure!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..What We Ate: TainanMy Profile

    • Maddie

      My favourite foodie country bar none!! I already miss it, we’ve been shocked that once we got past the steak eating phase in SA that we just can’t find fresh, healthy food anywhere. There is so much stodge and carbs it’s ridiculous. So glad you had a great time, I could tell straight away when you got to BKK the second time that you had found a new love.

    • Maddie

      Thailand is still one of my favourite places on earth for all of the reasons you mention 🙂


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