Fuel your wanderlust with photos from the beautiful country of Thailand. Famous beaches, lush jungles, bustling cities and amazing food are all within reach in this inexpensive Southeast Asia paradise.
We commissioned a Songthaew to drive us to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep and wait for us to look around for 500 baht (roughly $15USD). Songthaews are open back taxis that can be easily flagged down. If you stay within the city they will likely pick-up more passengers going the same way.
Monks at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. The Wat is a sacred site to many Thai people with excellent views of Chiang Mai.
Enjoying dinner at the Chiang Mai night market. Food vendors line the dinning area with offerings and aromas familiar and not-so-familiar to the Western pallet.
The Chiang Mai Night Market goes on for blocks. You can find unique trinkets, although some items were much more expensive here compared to the vendors lining the stairs to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
Hopping in the back of a tuk tuk is not for the faint of heart. Drivers weave in and out of traffic going speeds that seem much too fast for the surroundings.
One of the highlights of the trip was going on an elephant trek with Thai Elephant Home.
We trekked through rivers, forest and mountains. When we stopped for lunch the elephants were able to roam at will and eat to their hearts’ content. We we alarmed by the trumpeting of the elephants, but also amazed.
Our Pad Thai lunch wrapped in a banana leaf.
Making our way back to the home base we had to go through a neighborhood and ride by a school.
Elephant and Ox crossing! And, of course, I had to get a picture of Ryan taking a picture of the signs.
Many street vendors in Phuket had a cart attached to the right side of their scooter, which you can see if you look hard enough. Below is an assortment of meats, which the beef was very tasty. Hanging above is dried squid, which tasted alright. I’m pretty sure the squid sat in my stomach for a couple days after eating it.
The main reason for us staying in Phuket for the night was to catch a ferry to the island of Koh Phi Phi early the next morning. After a night spent trying to sleep through the club noise carrying up the hill to our room, we hopped into a van to the ferry. The van was running about 20 minutes late and we were worried we were going to miss our departure time, then we hit traffic. Our van driver thought it would be a good idea to circumvent the traffic by driving the wrong way on a one way road that had no escape routes. We made it just in time for the departure and rode the ferry through the choppy waters of the Andaman Sea.
Koh Phi Phi is a pedestrian only island, no vehicles are allowed. The main ‘drag’ is lined with tourist and souvenier shops. By any standard it is a very touristy place, with lots of European men walking around in speedos. It’s a good place to get PADI certified since it is incredibly cheap and the waters are beautiful.
The highest look-out point on the island is owned by a family, so in order to climb up to the top you have to pay a nominal fee. On our way up we made some cat friends that followed us and watched the sunset with us. In the picture of Ryan and me you can see the unique shape of this island. It’s called a butterfly shape because of the thin strip of land that connects the two larger pieces. The shape contributed to the devastation of the island during the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami that hit South East Asia since the shape allowed waves to hit the island from both sides.
Much of the island walkways look like alleyways in the states. We found a popular dinner spot with delicious food tucked in the corner of a walkway to grab dinner and a beer.
We commissioned a private snorkel trip through a longtail boat captain certified by Thailand (it’s important to do this for safety reasons) to take us to Maya Bay, made famous by the movie The Beach. We woke before sunrise to the sound of the morning prayers from the turrets of the mosque next door to our hotel. Once our snacks were packed and our sunscreen slathered on we ventured out to meet Captain Chell.
Our first stop on the snorkel excursion was Maya Bay. It was incredibly important for us to get there early because by mid-morning it is swarmed by tourists that take boats from Phuket and Ao Nang to snorkel in the bay.
We were able to explore the island in almost complete solitude, there were about 10 other people on the island with us that spent the previous night camping on the beach.
We stopped at various points in the sea to snorkel with fish. Fish that have become so accustomed to snorkelers giving them food that they actually will nip you when you get in the water. Not a very pleasant feeling, but once they realize you don’t have food they stop and it’s pretty amazing to swim with all the sea creatures.
In China, people will pay thousands of dollars to drink soup made from a swallow’s nest (made from their own spit). This particular swallow lives in Thailand and make their nest inside sea caves. Since the nests sell for such a high value, people have essentially set-up their homes along the sea so that they can harvest these nests without the hassle of having to travel out here everyday. They construct walkways made from bamboo and homes made of tarps.
The snorkel trip was pretty awesome because the captain would just toss his anchor off the side of his boat in the middle of the water and we would climb or jump into the water. He would then set-up his hammock and take a nap while we snorkeled.
Our next stop was to Ao Nang for three nights. We arrived by ferry and then took a bus into town. As we got closer to our hotel, the skies opened up and it rained off and on for the three days that we were there. Which was fine because we needed some down time after all the excitement of spending time in South Korea with friends and exploring non-stop in Thailand.
A colony of monkeys lived down the beach from our hotel and we were lucky to see them one of the days we were there. These monkeys are clever, they know what bags contain food in them and will rob you of said food the second they get the chance. We witnessed a British woman walking down the beach with a 7-11 bag, as she got closer to the monkeys you could see them positioning themselves to make a break for it if she got close enough. Sure enough, once she crossed the invisible line a monkey made a beeline to her bag, expertly extracted a bag of potato chips from the bag and ran off to a nearby tree where he opened the bag up and started to eat the chips. All the while you hear the British woman moaning “He stole me crisps! That monkey stole me crisps!”
One day we took an organized snorkel tour from Ao Nang to some area islands. The experience was a stark contrast to our private trip a few days before. We were almost sitting on top of other people there were so many people crammed on the longtail boat. We made a stop at Koh Don where the remnants of boats from the 2004 Tsunami still lay.
From Ao Nang we took a longtail boat to Railay to spend the night. Although it is located on the mainland of Thailand, the only way to arrive and depart is by longtail boat. The Limestone mountains are too much to blast through to create roads. It still feels very much like you are on an island here.
In order to make our flight from Krabi Airport we had to take a longtail boat from Railay to Krabi City. In order to get to our boat we had to walk through the shallow waters of low tide. It’s a good thing we packed light.
From Krabi City we flew into Bangkok and crashed for the night in a private room at a hostel. Our flight wasn’t until midnight the next day so we walked around the city. It was pretty jarring to see all the sand bags in placed front of businesses to protect against any potential flooding.
Have you been to Thailand? Need any tips? Did you like a photo focused post? Comment at the end and let us know.