Thailand was one of our most highly anticipated destinations alongside Vietnam and it certainly lived up to expectations! Arriving in Bangkok straight from Cambodia really highlighted the substantial disparities between these neighbouring countries. Still maintaining the core of a bustling Asian city your senses succumb to the smell of street food, bright lights and an unwavering heat.
Our first night in the capital could not have gone any better with us arriving on the Queen’s birthday. With roads closed, flags raised and stages set, the evening was full of entertainment. We began the night having our first taste of the local Pad Thai and became addicted to street food with immediate effect. If you’re hungry in Bangkok, skip the restaurants and fast food joints and head straight for your nearest Pad Thai stool, we’re still drooling over it now!
Our adventurous feedings from our time in Cambodia had continued through to Thailand as we tried some of the more “exotic” local food. After being approached by a woman with hair like an Oompa Loompa and a smile like the Grinch we were offered the chance to try scorpion! With a crunchy texture and stinging taste, it was probably our favourite invertebrate, and we would certainly recommend giving it a go!
From street parades to enormous firework displays, our first night in the city was a real party. The nightlife in Bangkok is incredible and this was the perfect start to one of our now favourite worldwide destinations.
Boy oh boy, ladyboys
When you think of Bangkok you think of two things, The Hangover and ladyboys! After spending a few nights in the city, getting accustomed to the culture and the people, we went on the prowl for our first taste of the ladyboy scene. Being novices at looking out for female strippers with penis’, once reaching the red light district we had to ask a few locals for the best hangout spots and we were approached by a woman (I think) with a beaming smile…
She asked us if we wanted to see the full or half ladyboys, wanting to jump straight in we asked for the full throttle showing. Walking into a strip club with over 25 girls on stage, pole dancing and grinding their way to the floor, we were keeping a close eye for any apples and pears only to be left disappointed. With a front seat view, we were approached by a group of strippers and found out that they were indeed men who were now completely disemboweled. We swiftly moved on in search of the real deal ladyboys, leaving behind the crowd of fake boobs, flat bums and broad shoulders.
A short walk away and we had finally found what we were looking for. Sitting down next to a pair of Japanese boys, we settled down with a beer to see what all the fuss was about. Now, for all those that have been on the more adventures search tags of your most favourite adult website, you may be thinking you know exactly what to expect. However, this was far from the truth for us as we were approached by a 6ft 2″ blonde with an upper body like Jordan while being hung like King Kong. The performers were all actually very approachable and humoured our stupid questions, “so have you got a willy?!”
If ladyboys is not what you’re after, there are plenty of all women strip joints to visit or you could even give the gay street a visit, no honeys just homies. As we would like to keep this blog as PG as possible, we will leave the rest to your imagination, but Bangkok is more than just boobs and booze.
There are a number of fantastic shopping outlets and markets to visit in Bangkok, from getting the best cut price deal on a new Nike top to getting yourself a fully tailored suit cut from the finest threads. Koh San Road is the main backpackers shopping hub, lined with bars and market stalls, you can spend days walking up and down the same few streets and finding exciting new products everyday.
If you’re after a more cultural experience then there are a number of temples to visit but none more extraordinary than Wat Pho. The huge 46 metre long statue of a golden laying Buddha is a must see. Be warned though, this is one of the busiest spots in the city so be prepared to be patient to get that perfect picture.
If you’re just looking to chill out and explore the city then hop on one of the local river boats. For less than a pound you can enjoy a scenic view from the main river through the heart of the city. Stop off at Chinatown or one of the shopping malls for a break on the mainland and watch the sun go down over this rampaging yet wonderful city.
Lastly, journeying outside of Bangkok, there are lots of options and we would definitely recommend a floating market day trip. Sitting in single file on a rickety old boat you drift through the waters with a coconut ice cream to hand. Use this opportunity to get some great photos, barter some bargains and get to know traditional Thailand.
Chiang Mai is a world away from Bangkok but just as incredible in its own way. You might recall in the Hangover II they visit a town “just outside the city” called Chiang Mai but don’t be fooled, it is a 9 hour drive away!
When reaching the northern city we were greeted by a wet welcome as we trudged along the roads in the early hours of the morning through the pouring rain. Things soon perked up though, and after a nap and a much needed shower we hit the streets.
The main part of the city is enclosed by a moat and what you will find within is everything you need to kick back and relax with a cool Chang beer. With a fantastic array of restaurants and a great nightly food market, your tummies will be well looked after and make sure you stop by La Mango for some mango sticky rice, it’s awesome!
If you’re up for some shopping there are various markets on most days but the best market is the Sunday Chiang Mai Walking Street. With so much on offer, the market is huge and bustling with people. A great experience and perfect place to pick up a quality bargain, you could easily spend hours walking through the busy streets.
There are plenty of excursions on offer in Chiang Mai from mountain biking to white water rafting, but we opted for one of our favourites, trekking. With beautiful Thai mountains, local delicacies for lunch, small villages on the way to enjoy a Chang Beer and ending the day swimming in a waterfall, why wouldn’t you want to trek? On your way back, ask your tour guide to stop by the Golden Triangle of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand.
Now visiting Thailand and especially up here in the north, you are going to want to experience the amazing elephants. However, we cannot stress enough DO NOT RIDE, TREK, VISIT CAMPS etc where the elephants are hugely mistreated and abused in order for you to do this. Splash out a little bit more and volunteer at a legitimate elephant rescue rehabilitation centre, you can read more about our fantastic time at Elephant Nature Park here.
If you manage to make your way up to Chiang Mai make sure you take some time out to visit Chiang Rai and the incredible Wat Rong Khun, better known as the White Temple.
Of all the temples and religious sites we have seen on our travels, this one has to be the most unique. You will see Superman flying through paintings on the wall, hands reaching upwards from the hell beneath the bridge you walk on and a ghostly tree with the heads of batman and Hellboy amongst others!
The temple was designed by Chalermchai Kositpipat and works are still ongoing to complete construction on this astonishingly abstract temple. There are deep Buddhist meanings and metaphors to be found beneath the layers of hanging superheroes and paintings. The meanings relate to escaping greed and desire but even without the religious context, the White Temple is a magnificent structure.
Whilst up North you cannot skip Pai. Thinking of words to describe this place and we can come up with cute, beautiful, cute, stunning scenery, cute… oh and CUTE! Hiring a bike is a must to explore this mountainous region, although we must warn carry a rain jacket!
You can spend a day purely visiting the cafes including Love Coffee and Strawberry fields, although we would recommend getting there early as they are popular tourist spots. There are lots of photo opportunities here and little quirky things to look at and enjoy, this was definitely a girly thing to do!
When visiting Pai canyon give yourself a couple of hours to venture through by foot, and you’re sure to find lovely little spots to enjoy, beware though, some parts are not an easy walk!
The countless number of viewpoints in Pai are also must visits and we’re not just talking about the ones on the map. You will know what we mean when you’re biking around Pai, everywhere is just beautiful and well worth lots of stops to get those perfect snaps.
Other highlights included visiting waterfalls, hot springs, The Memorial Bridge, temples, markets and the many different eateries. It was one of our favourite towns throughout our travels and we would love to return.
We only managed to visit two islands while travelling through Thailand as there was just so much to do time was always against us despite having over a month in the country.
Our main priority was to spend an evening at the full moon party on Koh Phangan and it certainly lived up to expectations! We went to the party with a group of Filipinos (our new found favourite people!) and soon fell in love with the best beach party in the world.
There were a number of activities on offer which would have been a disaster waiting to happen at any party, but this wasn’t any party, this was the Hadrin Full Moon Beach party! Starting off there was a huge skipping rope which had been set on fire as people randomly joined in and jumped for their lives. There was an ongoing limbo tournament in which the bar had been set on fire and there was a slide to go down where you jump through a hoop… That was set on fire!
With drinks buckets available for under £3 this was a crazy yet fascinating experience. From dancing the night away on stage to Hannah crowd surfing her way to the DJ area there are so many untold stories that we hope remain that way!
We actually decided to revisit the beach the next day to see the aftermath of the night before and we were pleasantly surprised. The team behind the party did a fantastic job of cleaning up and the beach was spotless with no evidence of litter, vomit, blood or …wait we’ve said too much!
The islands are not just about the parties though, there is an abundance of sheer natural beauty to absorb too. Rent out a moped and spend some time riding through the hills and along the coastline cliffs to find the perfect beach.
We eventually moved to Koh Samui and enjoyed this island just as much. With a huge hangover lasting longer than expected we kicked back by the pool which was metres from the beach and soaked up the sun for our last few days in Thailand.
Whether it’s ladyboys your after or a party or both, Thailand is the place to go for an amazing Asian adventure.