This post regarding a full recap of my Thailand trip is pretty overdue but nevertheless, better late than never!
During my Christmas vacation, I traveled to Bangkok, Thailand with Michelle. Our flight departed Christmas morning at 10:30 am and we touched down in Bangkok around 1:30 pm. We hopped into a taxi and made our way to our hotel on Khao San Road. This street itself is known to be a big tourist attraction due to its popularity with foreigners. Upon entering the street, we saw a ton of street vendors selling fresh pineapple, watermelon and mango, Pad Thai for less than $1.65 and fresh coconut ice cream served within coconut shells. Also, there were a lot of outdoor patios/bars, restaurants, as well as shops selling clothing, purses, shoes and everything else under the sun. The great thing about Khao San Road is that it is consistently busy, all hours of the day and night (yes, even in the wee hours of 5 and 6 am). The hotel we stayed at, Rikka Inn was located at the end of the street. The hotel was very clean and well kept. For the price we paid, it was definitely more than satisfactory. We reserved a deluxe room which came with two twin beds, a bathroom, television, dresser and just enough free space to avoid any discomfort while walking around the room. We also had access to the awesome rooftop pool which was quite relaxing (and always busy!). The staff was also really helpful. Anytime we had an issue, they were there to assist us. The only issue was that because we were located on such a busy street in terms of nightlife, it did get a bit noisy at times. I would definitely recommend this hotel to a younger crowd, as I don’t think this is a good spot for a family with children.
After setting our things down in our room and exploring a bit, we grabbed lunch. It’s insane just how cheap Thailand really is. No meal ever cost us more than around $3-4 at a restaurant and if we bought food from off the street (which was really good), it cost even less. The fruit was amazing – ice cold, fresh, sweet and juicy. Since fruit is so expensive in Korea, Michelle and I were loving the access to it right outside of our hotel. During our first evening, we had dinner, relaxed with a few drinks and also scheduled two tours for Friday and Saturday. The first tour consisted of a day trip to Coral Island (about an hour and a half away from Pattaya beach), while the second tour was for visiting the tiger temple and riding elephants in Kanchanaburi. Both of these tours cost around $40.
We woke up Thursday morning, had breakfast and headed out for some sightseeing. On our way to visit the Grand Palace (which we didn’t end up getting to that day), we met a local man who told us to take an hour long boat ride which circled the river. The people in Thailand are so friendly, always willing to help you out. He was a professor at a university and kindly drew us a map which told us how to get to Thai Station. During this boat ride, we were able to see the popular sitting Buddha. We also saw an array of homes, which ranged from nice to completely dilapidated. It was pretty eye opening to see the kind of conditions some people lived in. The boat ride was really relaxing and it was nice just to sit back and take in the scenery. There was also another couple, Edgar and Sylvie from Columbia who joined us during this boat ride. We ended up spending the rest of the afternoon with them, vistiting various tourist attractions.
Upon finishing up with the boat ride, Edgar, Sylvie, Michelle and I hopped into a tuk-tuk to explore some more of Bangkok. Let me just warn you that these tuk-tuk drivers will take you for a serious ride if you aren’t specific about where exactly you want to go. For them, they make a days worth of pay or gas money from shop owners when they bring tourists into these places to look around. After about the fourth stop at a jewelry/ custom tailor shop, we told our driver that we were fed up and didn’t want to be taken to anymore shops. We weren’t buying anything and therefore felt like it was a complete waste of time. Not to mention, one shop employee got really rude with us when he realized we weren’t planning on purchasing anything. Our driver ended up not charging us at all since he made money from all the shops he made us visit. He was actually quite reliable aside from this. He took us to a bunch of different tourist spots, waited for us to explore (recommended specific spots to visit) and drove us to our next destination, until we asked him to drive us back to our hotel. We found out that Sylvie and Edgar were also staying in our hotel (small world eh?), so we had dinner and drinks with them that evening. Here are some pictures from the remainder of the day:
The next morning, we woke up bright and early (6 am) in order to make it to Coral Island around 1:30 pm. I’ll spare all of the dirty details about how much time was wasted during the commute there and back. Let’s just say that by the time we made it home, it was 9 pm and we were exhausted. Nevertheless, the island was gorgeous and we enjoyed the few hours we spent there. We also met a cool girl from Indonesia who hung with us while we soaked up the sun on the beach. Pattaya is said to be the closest beach to Bangkok (about 2.5 hrs away); however, a lot of people we spoke to gave it negative reviews. I’m glad we chose to travel a bit further. We understood what people meant when we saw Pattaya beach. It was quite small (narrow), the water wasn’t as crystal clear as I imagined it would be and the sand wasn’t anything to write home about. To be honest, I’ve seen better beaches in Ontario. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t terrible BUT if you are able to travel to a beach further out, I would highly recommend it. Coral island was beautiful.
Friday was quite possibly my favourite day of the entire trip. We woke up quite early once again, waited for our tour bus and made our way to the Death Railway museum, elephant camp and tiger temple. This day was loaded with all of the good stuff that we had been anticipating for days. As soon as we got to the elephant camp, we climbed up a tower and hopped on an elephants back for a ride around the camp. It was awesome! We scored some great pictures and had fun bouncing around on the elephants back. We were then taken for a short ride around a river. It was peaceful and relaxing. Once we finished, we had a family style lunch with everyone and explored a waterfall. Groups then split up depending on their tour choice and we made our way about an hour away to the tiger temple (an hour away). When we arrived at the tiger temple, we were given a couple hours to explore. There were two major areas – one with the adult tigers and another area with tigers being bottle fed. Unfortunately, since we had to wait about an hour in line just to see the big guys, we didn’t have time to see or participate in the bottle feeding (Damn, i know!). Anyway, we walked around with one of the employees while she took multiple pictures of us with various tigers. Since there are so many tourists, they try to keep you moving quickly to avoid any delays. Some of the tigers were HUGE. Their paws alone were 3x the size of my head. After finishing up with the big boys, we got to hang with a 5 month old baby tiger (which was the opposite of baby sized). This little guy was a little agitated since it was about time to call it a day and go home. He was even wrestling with one of the trainers working there. Overall, Saturday was a pretty memorable day.
Since we had early wake up calls for both tours on Friday and Saturday, we decided to sleep in on Sunday. We woke up late, had breakfast and spent the rest of the day chilling out. We walked around Khao San road to do some shopping and then took advantage of our hotel’s rooftop pool! It was really busy when we got there but Michelle and I managed to find a couple lounge chairs. We lay in the sun, listened to music and read while we got our tan on. That evening, Edgar, Sylvie, Michelle and I got full body massages. They were awesome!!! First of all, they only cost $10 for an hour and the lady I had put in some serious work. I was sore for a solid day afterwards but it was worth it. She got rid of all the kinks and I slept like a baby that night. Another night, Michelle and I also got manicures and pedicures. Both costing a total of $10. It’s nuts how cheap all of the services involving pampering for woman are. No complaints here!
On Monday, we decided to check out the Grand Palace, for real this time. It was about a 10-15 walk away from our hotel. There was a lot to see in comparison to some of the other temples we visited. The grounds were very spacious. There were multiple buildings surrounded by well kept garden landscaping and all plants were green and lush. Moreover, the temples were gorgeous, inside and out. The designs were much more intricate than any of the other temples I’ve been to. It took a few hours to walk through the entire area. It was also jam packed, so trying to move around quickly was a bit difficult. Overall, the Grand Palace is definitely a tourist attraction I would advise checking out!
This same evening, Michelle and I got our fish pedicures. They were interesting to say the least. The point of getting them is so that the fish swarm your feet and nibble at all of the dead skin. It was insanely ticklish but definitely a cool experience.
Tuesday, we decided to spend the day shopping. We went to a popular “mall,” which was more like a ton of vendors in a building. It was decent! We scored some dry fruit to take home – kiwi, peach and mango. So far, since coming home, I’ve tried the mango and it is deeeelicious. I also bought a curling iron. Weird, I know. But curling irons in Korea are crazy expensive. I purchased some Revlon makeup! Korea never has concealer/foundation for my skin tone since everyone here is so fair. Thus, this was exciting for me! Lastly, Michelle and I both bought handmade leather purses from the vendors on Khao San Road as well. We bargained them down to about $20, which was awesome.
Tuesday evening also happened to be New Years Eve! Since our flight home was early the next morning, Michelle and I didn’t plan anything extravagant. With Khao San Road being a tourist attraction itself, they had an event taking place. From early in the afternoon, we saw people setting up a large stage with a video screen. There were also metal detectors put into place for those coming into and out of the area. By around 7 pm, police officers we also on standby. The music was blaring by the early evening and the street proceeded to get very busy just before the countdown. Michelle and I had a couple drinks and then headed into the crowd to be in the heart of the action just before midnight. We ended up going to bed around 4 am that night. We didn’t get too much sleep but we were up and at ’em by 7 am to get moving to the airport.
And that sums up our trip. It was eventful and a lot of fun. Michelle and I agreed that we would return, possibly for a beach/island adventure in Phucket next time. In the meantime, I’ve got the travel bug and cannot wait for my next big vacation!
Here are some odds and ends in the picture department:
More posts to come soon!