Last spring, I took a gloriously sunny holiday to Thailand; my first trip to Asia but most certainly not my last. I started my trip with a two night stay in Thailand’s capital Bangkok followed by three nights in Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, before ending the holiday with some rest and relaxation on the beach in Phuket. When customers are considering Thailand, we often get asked what there is to do and see there, so I’ve summarised the adventures I enjoyed in the “The Land of Smiles”…
Bangkok is the busiest place I have ever been to and the hustle and bustle during the day and the bright lights at night are something not to be missed. I wish I had stayed for a little longer as I didn’t get to see as much as I would have liked to. I really enjoyed my visit to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market just outside Bangkok, where you can see the Thai people trading on their boats, as they have done for years, and cooking up various Thai treats for passers-by. It is a little touristy as most of the boats along the side of the market are selling to tourists only, but it most certainly worth a visit just to take in the atmosphere and culture. My top tip for visiting Bangkok is if you want to sample one of the roof top restaurants or bars, book before you travel as they get booked up well in advance and sadly we missed out due to lack of availability.
Chiang Mai is a lovely place to visit and you are spoilt for choice when it comes to visiting temples (Wats). Wat Chedi Luang was my favourite as a ring of huge elephant statues stand around the pagoda. Travelling around Chiang Mai must be done in an iconic three-wheeled tuk tuk, and you are best to barter a price with a driver to take you to all of the sights within the Old City. A Thai cookery course is another must when in Chiang Mai! I learned how to make spring rolls, hot spicy soup, Thai green Curry and pad Thai noodles in a 4-hour afternoon session at a lovely family-run cooking school.
No trip to Chiang Mai is complete without visiting the elephants. When planning your trip, make sure you research what elephant trip you want to do and check the reviews before booking, to ensure that the company is fully regulated and ethical in their operations. I did an ‘Elephant Owner for the Day’ experience and could not fault it. The elephants were cared for so well and no tricks or dancing was involved, just an amazing day getting to know your elephant.
Phuket is great for a beach-based break. I stayed on the Laguna complex which is made up of 4 hotels and has a little boat to get you around the complex. The beach was lovely but you need to be a strong swimmer if you fancy a dip as the sea is quite choppy and gets deep very quickly. There was a variety of restaurants along the beach which was nice as it took about 15 minutes to get in to Phuket by taxi, so a walk along the beach some evenings was lovely and relaxing. I took a boat trip to see James Bond Island and the Muslim Village on stilts and we rounded off the day by snorkelling from a lovely island with crystal clear waters. Many trips are available from Phuket so you can choose to book whatever adventures take your fancy when you are there.
I travelled to Thailand at the end of March and the weather was scorching hot and sunny every day. We did leave Phuket in a thunder storm but it only lasted for a few hours and by the time we reached Bangkok for our connecting flight back to London, the sky was clear and the sun was shining – making leaving “The Land of Smiles” even more difficult!