Busabout Thailand Adventure
The Land of Smiles and 7/11’s.
Is there a friendlier country in the world than Thailand? If there is I’m yet to find it. I recommend Thailand if you’re a first time traveller, especially to Asia. Compared to other Asian countries it’s relatively easy to find your way around however navigating the language is always a tricky obstacle. Thailand offers something for everyone – beautiful beaches, ridiculous shopping, untamed jungles, exotic animals, a rich culture and oh so many 7/11’s.
Below is the trip details for Busabout Asia’s tour of Thailand. This adventure includes 5 night’s accommodation in 2 and 3 star hotels, 4 breakfasts, all transport between destinations (train and private bus) and a fantastic Busabout guide who takes you on orientation walks. It could be me leading you!
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Start your trip in the steamy metropolis that is Bangkok, home to 8 million people and 8 million 7/11s. Here you’ll witness a sharp contrast of culture: expansive, high end malls; hidden shrines; bustling street food carts and well attended temples. My perfect day is to get the local ferry up the Chao Phraya river to the Grand Palace, where you’ll see the Emerald Buddha, and Wat Pho, home to the Reclining Buddha. Hop on a tuktuk to Chinatown for some tasty seafood lunch before escaping the afternoon heat in one of the many air conditioned malls (visit Paragon if you’re cashed up). Catch the sunset with a cold Singha at the Sky Tower bar then keep the party going at the backpacker hot spot in Khao San Road.
Explore Thailand’s history with a walk through the crumbling ruins of Ayutthaya. Once the biggest city in the world, Ayutthaya is a shell of its former self but you can easily imagine what it would have looked like as you wander through the ancient wats. Highlights include the Buddha head that’s been overgrown in Wat Mahathat and the former royal palace Wat Phra Si Sanphet, where you can re-enact the opening scene from the Mortal Kombat film. When you’re all templed out hop on an overnight train to Chiang Mai.
You know all those annoying grey nomads who tell you “you should’ve been here 20 years ago when it was just us and a hammock! Now it’s ruined by all the tourists and developments”. Well, you’ll be able to say that about Pai. It’s a backpacker haven that’s only just getting discovered. Chill out in this laidback town and do a fruit shake crawl from zen cafe to zen cafe. If you’re feeling energetic go for a scenic highland trek amongst local crops that finishes at a refreshing waterfall (how good is that!). You’ll leave Pai with plans to come back.
Trekking in Pai
After sitting on a train and bus it’s time to get out and stretch your legs. And there’s no better way to do this than with an idyllic trek among the Thai Highlands, after all, that’s why so many people visit this area. We start off with our chirpy guides who can speak the native dialect of the villages we pass by. They are extremely knowledgeable of the area and will point out which plants can be eaten and which can help you if you’re ill. They’re also pretty handy with a slingshot and will show you the special Tarzan vine swing. After 4 or 5 hours of trekking we reach our goal – a magnificent three-tiered waterfall that’s perfect for washing away all the sweat. A trek in Pai makes your well-deserved sunset beer taste even more delicious.
Chiang Mai is known as the rose of the north for good reason. It’s the culture capital of Thailand and there is plenty of creative activities to get involved in. Walk around the bustling streets within the Old Town and explore the evening markets, where you can buy plenty of hill tribe handicrafts. For the best views of the city walk up the 300 steps to the top of Doi Suthep mountain. Then reward yourself with an iced mocha at the Meowmath Cat Cafe. When you’re feeling hungry don’t just sample the delicious Thai cuisine, learn to cook it! A Thai cooking class is essential if you want to bring your adventures home with you. At night you can tick off two things from your Thailand bucket list – watch ripped men and women duke it out in a Muay Thai match (then offer each other prayers afterwards) and be pleasantly confused by an energetic ladyboy cabaret show. Everyone leaves Chiang Mai smiling.
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Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai
Everyone loves elephants and there is no better way to get up close and personal with them than at the Elephant Nature Park. The aim of the park is to provide sanctuary for elephants that have been abused or experienced a traumatic accident, such as stepping on a landmine. Here you’ll get to learn how the trainers care for the elephants, the elephants’ personal stories and how you can contribute to their wellbeing (Like don’t ride them! Their backs cannot support the weight of a human). This is a world class tourist attraction and you get to interact with these gigantic creatures as you would a dog in a backyard. My highlights were bathing the elephants with buckets of water and hearing them trumpet in appreciation.
Often overlooked for the busier Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai is definitely more than just a stopover town for crossing into Laos. Outside of town, visit the trippy Rhong Khun (White Temple), a Thai artists contemporary take on a Buddhist temple. In Chiang Rai, immerse yourself in an authentic Thai city and do your final chores: get a massage, enjoy a fish spa, drink your last fruit shake. Don’t forget to pick up US dollars and visa photos that are essential for getting into Laos.
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