Bangkok. Omg, what can I say? Where else in the world can you find a beautiful Buddhist temple down the road from a bar trying to sell you a live lady-boy sex show?! Where else can you eat the best street food of your life for 50p and then get ripped off buying a scorpion on a stick that tastes like Frazzles?! It’s crazy, it’s busy, it’s hot. It’s worth a visit in my opinion, but you need no more than 2 days here. By the morning of our third we were ready to get the hell out!

Here is my definitive guide to the best bits of Bangkok all squeezed in to short space of time.

What to see

You’ve got to join the rat race and go and see all the temples in the city centre, you just can’t not. If you go to Bangkok and don’t get a picture of the Grand Palace then you basically didn’t go. They are busy, but they are equally beautiful. The main temples; Wat Phra Kaew (the Grand Palace complex), Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha) and Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn) are all easily accessible by the river ferries or by foot. The most expensive entry fee is the Grand Palace which costs 500 baht (roughly £10) and the other two are around half that.

The Grand Palace

The Grand Palace

Wat Pho

We also visiting the Golden Mount which is a slight walk out of town but still easily reached on foot from the city. I would thoroughly recommend this because firstly, it’s a beautiful building and really relaxed and less busy than the main temples and secondly, when you get to the top you get this jaw dropping view of the Bangkok city skyline. Trust me, Bangkok is a lot more beautiful from up here than it is up close! It is also a very small fee to get up there – literally next to nothing.

TIP: Go early, or late. Bangkok is HOT and there are several hundred stairs to get to the top of the monument. It is a fairly gentle climb though and suitable for those with moderate fitness.

What to do

Other than sightseeing there is not a huge amount to do in Bangkok that doesn’t involve shopping, drinking or sex shows (sorry to lower the tone!) We actually didn’t end up going to any of the ‘special shows’, we had heard bad things about getting scammed for huge entry fees or expensive drinks, but a lot of people will be of the opinion that when in Bangkok – you’ve got to see what it’s famous for! There is no shortage of tuk tuk drivers all too happy to take you to a ‘ping pong show’!!

Shopping and night life wise I would recommend the ‘Khao San Road’ – a street in central Bangkok which is backpackers and hostel heaven. We stayed here – more on that later – but even if you don’t it’s definitely worth a visit. The market stalls sell good quality boho/hippy style clothing and jewellery which you can barter down. Never accept their first price! It’s always a rip off. We also spent one evening in a really nice rooftop bar on this road which had an excellent live band. If you like a drink (not saying that we do but.. we do) it’s more cost effective to buy the famous Thai ‘buckets’ which are literally buckets of alcohol and mixer. Let’s just say you get a lot of spirit for your money.

Something else I would recommend in Bangkok if you’ve got a free evening and fancy a night away from the craziness is an evening river cruise with dinner. There are lots of good deals about – including excellent food and drink options. Bangkok is seriously beautiful all lit up at night. The cruises start in the modern ‘skyscraper’ hotel district and head up river to see all the temples in their illuminated glory. TIP: do your research! We had a lovely traditional boat cruise with authentic Thai food (you can view our cruise company here) but we did see some Ibiza-fantastic party boats which looked like they might be best avoided.

View from the Loy Nava River Cruise

Where to stay

If, like us, you want to get in the thick of things and experience Bangkok at it’s craziest then the Khao San Road is the place for you. It’s a road dedicated to backpackers and their drinking habits. We spent two fun evenings here but honestly, we wouldn’t stay there again. The hotel come guesthouse we stayed in was good value and did the job but it was so loud at night. The main thing that annoyed me about the Khao San Road was that you couldn’t even step out of your accommodation for a coffee without getting hounded by tuk-tuk drivers offering you a ‘best price tour of the city.’ TIP: this is not genuine and NOT best price.

Of course, there are some high-rise, modern things of beauty where you can stay for a fee.  Most of these hotels are located on the riverside in the ‘Bangrak’ district and offer their own ferry shuttles to the town centre. If you have a bit more cash to burn and are looking for something a bit more swanky you will have a variety of options in this area.

What to eat

Authentic Thai food is INCREDIBLE. My advice for Bangkok. Eat and eat lots. If, like most tourists, you are heading southwards to the islands next, I’m sorry to tell you the food only goes downhill from here! The food in Bangkok is cheap and mostly delicious. And the street food is some of the best we had in Thailand. The Pad Thai stalls on the Khao San Road sold the best Pad Thai we had during our stay. And don’t worry about hygiene when eating street food, trust me; we only got sick once during our whole stay and it was from a pizza in an upmarket restaurant! Fill up on the good stuff in Bangkok and try new things. Even bugs and scorpions if you fancy it!

What to avoid

It sounds horrible but avoid anyone who seems like they are trying to help you! Any friendly local who wants to ‘show you the city’, ‘give you directions’ or assist you in anyway, 99% of the time they are trying to get money out of you! Know where you are going in advance and NEVER take your map out in public! You will be swarmed with ‘help’. Also, anyone who tells you the Grand Palace or some other famous attraction you are heading to is closed just carry on they are LYING to try and get you to go somewhere else with them. We saw so many people falling for this one and it’s the oldest scam in the book! Also avoid; Western food (unless it’s in an extremely high end restaurant), tuk-tuks (rip you off! Take metered taxis instead and pay half the price) or any offers of ‘free drinks’.

Extra bits

It’s humid. All the time. Bear this in mind when packing.

Avoid the cats and dogs no matter how cute they are, you don’t know where they’ve been.

Always make sure you have cash when haggling for goods/transport. If you negotiate them down to 100 baht and then try to pay with a 500 note they are unlikely to give you the correct change!

When visiting the temples, make sure you wear long trousers (ladies and gents) and ladies cover your shoulders. It’s not the end of the world if you forget; but better to take your own than be forced to wear one of these sexy numbers:

Planning a whistle-stop stay in Bangkok can seem a bit daunting, so I hope some people might find this guide useful! Enjoy yourself – there’s no where else quite like it!

Until next time,

 

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Hi everyone! We have arrived back in London safe and sound after our three weeks away! A three week holiday was so amazing and felt like we had been away for so long! We were so lucky to have the opportunity to do everything that we did and we had some truly incredible experiences and have made some memories for life.

Continuing with our Thailand Diaries, today I’m going to tell you about one of my favourite things we did from the entire trip; going to visit an elephant sanctuary. I have been to Thailand before and although I was mostly keen to try new things, I knew I wanted to stick with the elephant park I went to last time. It was so amazing and they treated their elephants so well I thought it would be silly to try and find another which was as good.

Baan Chang Elephant Park means ‘Home of the Elephants’ (Baan meaning home and Chang meaning elephant) in Thai. They pride themselves on reducing elephants from the logging industry and from the cruel ‘shows’ which unfortunately still go on in parts of Thailand. These elephants would not be able to be released into the wild as they are too tame, but they give them a home and look after them very well. All the elephants have a ‘mahout’: a Thai man who stays with them and builds a relationship with them and teaches them basic commands.

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Our day with the elephants was one of, if not the, most memorable experiences of the entire trip.  They are truly majestic creatures and so much bigger than you could ever imagine in real life! It was a real honour to spend the day helping to look after them.  In the morning we were introduced to some of the elephants and were able to feed them their ‘morning snack’ – about 3 baskets full of bananas and sugar cane each! I had no idea how much elephants need to eat!  This was great fun because they are so cheeky particularly the younger ones, stealing food out of our hands that was meant for other elephants and so on.  They really are playful animals and have got a real personality of their own!

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After lunch we had the opportunity to ride our elephant which we had been looking after. I know this is a bit of a controversial topic and some people don’t agree with it but at Baan Chang they don’t use cages, seats or any kind of contraption for the visitors to ride the elephants; we sat on them bare back and went on a short trek which was their daily exercise. The park maintain that in traditional Thai culture an elephant is looked after by his mahout friend for his whole life and he will carry him around on his back without any trouble, therefore they do not mind being ridden as long as it is not using chairs or cages which hurt their skin. Riding this huge creature through the jungle was amazing and I felt like we really got close to our elephant and developed a bond of trust – although it was scary at first!

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The last part of the day was definitely the best; bathing our elephant in the lake! This was a beautiful experience. The elephants love it! We each were given a bucket and scrubbing brush and as we brushed them with the water they laid down on their side and kicked about playing like children!! Then they started squirting their trunks everywhere! It was hilarious and something I will never forget.

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If you are visiting Chiang Mai I would thoroughly recommend the Baan Chang Elephant park for your elephant experience. In my opinion they get the right balance of education and fun! Definitely one to tick off the bucket list. Although I could do it again and again!

Look out for my next Thailand Diaries – when we move on to the bright lights of Bangkok!

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Our trip to Thailand. 3 weeks, 5 locations, 6 flights, 2 sleeper trains and countless buses. So many experiences, memories and photos! In this post I’m going to share my favourite experiences with you through the photos we took.

1. Wat Pho – Bangkok city centre.

Bangkok is a tourist carousel and the temples (Wat’s in Thai) are all part of it. The Grand Palace is beautiful, sure, but it costs £10 for entry per person and is absolutely heaving with tourists. Wat Pho is the Grand Palace’s less popular baby brother; situated just behind and equally as impressive and glittering. It also costs less than £5 entry so great if you are on a shoestring. The reclining golden Buddha is one of the most incredible man-made wonders I have seen.

2. Thai Farm Cooking School – Chiang Mai.

Getting out of the city to visit this tranquil organic farm, picking out ingredients and cooking up authentic Thai dishes was a pretty wonderful day. Read my full review here.

3. Sunday Night Market – Chiang Mai

Market doesn’t really cover it to be honest. We spent 3 hours wandering through this and didn’t even cover a small percentage of it! It is seriously huge and very, very busy; but with an amazing atmosphere and full of beautiful hand crafted items and Thai products. The majority of ‘markets’ in Thailand are packed full of fake Ray Bans and toy elephants so this market is a real breath of fresh and every stall is different. TIP: go early to avoid getting crushed in the crowd!

4. Baan Chang Elephant Park – Chiang Mai

Not only one of the best experiences  of my trip but one of the best experiences of my life! Spending the day with this beautiful, magnificent creatures was a genuine honour. They are gentle giants. The park takes great care of them and takes pride in educating the tourists who visit about the elephants and their behaviour and lives. Getting the bathe the elephants was the best part and this picture is of me getting caught up in a trunk spray war!

5. Cheow Lan Lake – Khao Sok National Park

It was so hard to choose a photograph from these few days. The park is truly stunning and there were a million photos to choose from. Everything from hiking to waterfalls, amazing views and the beautiful lake which we swam in. This photo is me enjoying a hot rain storm which literally came and went in 3 minutes! Incredible.

6. Snorkelling at Ko Rok – Ko Lanta

I love the water especially when it’s crystal clear blue like the sea at Ko Rok! A tiny, uninhabited island off Ko Lanta surrounded by corals and tropical fish. We even saw Nemo!

7. View point – Koh Phi Phi

A longggg hike up there in the sweaty humidity but the view was so worth it. Koh Phi Phi is paradise.

8. Monkey army – Railay beach

Railay is mostly a relaxed and chilled out place – other than their tribes of criminal monkeys of course! Luckily we didn’t lose our phones or camera to them, but we saw several people lose their dinner! It’s amazing to watch their behaviour so close. They have learnt that if the babies distract the humans the grown ups can sneak up behind and nick the goods! Incredible to witness.

9. Railay Beach – Krabi Province

Although this beach is a bit busy do my liking there is no escaping the fact that it is absolutely drop dead stunning. The limestone cliffs shield it giving a totally unobstructed view and meaning it is only accessible by long tail boat! Not to mention the powdery white sand and crystal clear water. Pure paradise.

10. Sunset at Phra Nang beach – Krabi Province

Railay beach’s baby brother and home to the ‘happy rock’, in the day time I would say this beach is over rated. Packed full of day trippers to the point where there is no where to put your towel and a lot of ‘snack boats’ turn up at lunch time to feed the ravenous tourists. However, at sunset, when everyone has gone; it is truly spectacular.

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I hope you enjoyed these photos and that I may have persuaded you to visit my favourite country in the world (so far!!). If you would like to see more keep an eye on my ‘Thailand diaries’ travel series or check out our Instagram page! 

 

I’ve been lucky enough to do quite a bit of travelling, both alone and with others. I love writing about the places I’ve been but some of them are so different and special in their own way they are impossible to compare! So instead of doing a ‘Best Places’ article I am going to do a series of ‘Best Places For…’ something.

My top places in the world for solo travelling.

ONE. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The coolest city in Europe, in my opinion, and it’s packed full of backpackers, young people, art and culture.  Apart from the obvious draws of partying, cheap drink and the possibility of dabbling in a naughty herb without getting into trouble, the city has an amazing vibe and is extremely beautiful.  I went to Amsterdam alone for a few days and stayed in a backpackers hostel, which pretty much guarantees you meeting some cool people as long as you are a relatively friendly person. It’s also a super safe place if you do fancy wandering around on your own and the local people are really lovely. Dutch people are some of my favorite people in the world.

TWO. Sydney, Australia. I absolutely loved my time in Sydney. I turned up on the other side of the world by myself and checked into the Base Sydney hostel for three weeks wondering what on earth I would do with myself. By that evening, I had met the best bunch of people who all happened to be staying in the same dorm as me! They were the closest friendship group that I formed for during my whole trip because we were all sharing a room and all seemed to be staying for a reasonable period of time. That’s one of the things that makes Sydney a great place to travel alone; a lot of the backpackers there are in it for the long hall, looking for jobs etc so people don’t change too much and you have the opportunity to build some good friendships.  Sydney is a party town too so everyone is there for a good time and is open to meeting new friends.  Also, in terms of the backpackers circuit – literally everyone comes here, all nationalities, all cultures and all types. There is no shortage of people to befriend.  I met some fantastic people here from all over the world and never once felt lonely.

THREE. Thailand Island Hopping.  The south of Thailand is home to more iddylic beach islands than you could wish for. They all have their own merits and some are more well trodden than others, but many travelers take ferries in between and spend a few days on each to experience the different vibes. Again, these are well trodden on the backpacker circuit (particularity the Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Ko Tao side) so it’s easy to meet people, but I’ve selected this one for people who are potentially travelling solo because the like spending time with number one.  I spent a few months on Ko Tao as well as time on Ko Lanta, Phuket and Ko Samui and they are fantastic for travelers who just want to kick back, relax and be alone with their thoughts. Ko Tao and Ko Lanta in particular have a really chilled vibe and as a solo traveler I never felt hassled or out of place. They have everything you need; beaches, bars and places to stay, and something about being on an island makes you feel totally removed and disconnected with the real world. Perfect enjoying your own company and reconnecting with yourself.

FOUR. Anywhere in New Zealand. Good God this country is easy going. I love kiwis they are so so friendly and nice. I traveled the length and breadth of New Zealand (both North and South Island) on a backpacker bus called ‘Kiwi Experience’ and it was literally the time of my life. The Kiwi Experience is famous for it’s amazing bus tours and everyone loves them. It is honestly the best way to meet amazing people and make friends for life. The trip is organised for you, you travel with the same people and stay with the same people in hostels along the way, stopping in all the beautiful and interesting places New Zealand has to offer. You can be flexible about it; spending longer in one place and getting the next bus, but I really enjoyed sharing the whole journey with all my new friends. The bus drivers are brilliant as well and get everyone involved and interacting with games on the bus. I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone travelling alone. Unless you don’t particularity like other people, in which case, probably not for you!

So they are my top 4 places where I have had the best experiences travelling alone and found it most easy to fit in and meet new people. I have never had a problem with being alone on any of my trips, but these were just my favorites. It also is very much luck of the draw as to the people you get, but generally I have found fellow backpackers open, friendly and hilarious people. My one piece of advice to anyone traveling solo for the first time, or anytime, would be; give it a chance. An example: after having an amazing time in Sydney my next stop was Byron Bay which I had heard fantastic things about. However, when I got there I just didn’t gel with the girls in my room and found myself super lonely and sad for 3 days! I pulled myself together, did some things on my own and before I knew it some new dorm mates had moved in and I made friends with them instantly. You are not always going to be surrounded by loads of friends, but it’s a good time to build your independence and ability to spend time in your own company. Solo travelling is a seriously liberating experience and I would recommend it to anyone.

xox