We have all seen the films, one that will spring to mind for most is, Eat, pray, Love. We feel fed up stuck in a rut and wonder what direction our lives are heading in, then it hits us, wanderlust. The wonderful notion of packing a bag and heading into the great unknown. Maybe we will find out the meaning of life, or at the very least the meaning of our own. We ponder on where we will go, somewhere spiritual perhaps like Bali, Thailand, Vietnam or maybe just a getaway retreat to gather our thoughts like Greece or Turkey. Most of us won’t have the disposable income of Angelina Jolie to find ourselves, living in beautiful mountain retreats and enjoying spas with lavish coconut milk baths. Most people will be on a budget, lots of backpackers travel on a budget and it is totally possible, and you don’t have to stay in hostels as there are lost of budget hotels too.
I found myself in that exact position fed up of UK weather and that feeling of groundhog day, I persuaded my other half to venture to Thailand for a month, a holiday for the soul.
I had visions of beautiful beaches, friendly locals, delicious street food and beautiful and vibrant night atmosphere. We took a two-hour flight to Amsterdam with a connecting flight to Bangkok, 13 long hours later we had arrived. As we had such a long flight we treated ourselves to a beautiful hotel for one night (before heading up to Chiang Mai) the hotel was lovely and fantastic value for money. We stayed in the Grand Sathorn Hotel which I would Highly recommend to anyone staying in Bangkok (even if it’s just for the rooftop pool). It’s close to the Grand palace which is a must see on anyone’s list.
It looked just as impressive at night
The following night we got an overnight sleeper train to the North of Thailand to Chiang Mai, a truly beautiful place in its own right. The train takes 12 hours and usually leaves at night. You can get a ticked for less than 30 pounds. The train leaves at night and there and fold down bunk beds on the train. There was something special about waking up in the morning to a view of the mountains from your window.
We stayed in a cute guest house called Campun, owned by a young couple from Brussels, we wanted to stay at this guest house as it was situated a 10-minute walk to all the night markets, also it is located right next to the old city walls. One thing we just had to do was go and see an authentic Thai fight, we were not disappointed and this is something I highly recommend. You will see flyers everywhere when an event is up an-coming.
One of the things I had to do being Buddhist myself was visit a temple and there was nowhere better than Doi Suthep Temple, it’s suited at the top of a mountain with a bendy S shaped road from bottom to the top, the journey itself is breath taking with many places to stop on the way up such as view points and waterfalls.
Doi Suthep temple itself was impressive, once you reach the top of the mountain, you have to climb the steps to reach the temple, the steps are steep and there are plenty of them.
Anyone of any religion or walk of life can be blessed by a monk (although it is customary to leave a small donation, to pay homage to the monk, it also helps towards the cost of the running of the temple)
Even with Thailand’s mid-day heat, you are not permitted to enter any temple if your shoulders or legs are exposed, also you must remove footwear, and never point your feet towards a monk (unless of course your standing in front having a conversation) also bow before you leave.
There is lots to do in Chiang Mai and you will never be short of things to do or see. I would say that unless you have a moped or motorbike you will find Thailand extremely difficult to manoeuvre a moped can cost as little 200bht per day which works out at five pounds, the only other choice is taxis, and tuk tuks which I would never recommend.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkol situated in Ayutthaya, situated north of Bangkok (around 2hours via bus) is an Ancient temple within the ruins of the city. Ayutthaya is one of the oldest places in Thailand and mainly consists of old ruins. You can spend a few hours here walking round the ruins and soaking in the beautiful stone sculptures of Buddha.
You can also visit the ruins which has an entry price of 200bht.
Ayutthaya is mostly suited to day trips or a 2 night stay maximum, as it is a city of ruins there isn’t much to do and the city is very quiet. We stayed for 2 days which we felt was too much, but we were lucky we found an inflatable water park we spent the day at.
Turns out Ayutthaya really was a ghost town, as we were the only ones at the water park, which in all fairness made it even more fun. None the less that was our cue to leave.
It was time to kick back and relax as we flew from Bangkok to Phuket. Phuket, is one of those islands everyone wants to visit, as mentioned above famed for its white sands and clear green sea, we choose to stay at Karon beach as Patong is more livley and closer to the nightlife. Karon is more quiet and a less populated beach if you prefer the peace and quiet, Patong has the usual parachute and water sports available for the more adventurous and sporty type. if you like a little of both don’t worry Patong is a 10 minute drive on a scooter just over the hill so it’s easily accessible. I get why the Thai island is the go to place for beach lovers. I had an amazing time here, we even treated ourselves to a motorbike to tour the Island, instead of the usual moped.
One of the things I enjoyed the most about Thailand was the animals, I would highly recommend visiting monkey hill. An area in Thailand where monkeys roam free, but don’t worry they are no threat just a little greedy with the bananas ha!
Top of my list to visit in Phuket was the Sanctuary of truth the entry price is a little steep, even more so that it was under construction so you couldn’t enter. Sanctuary of truth is a temple that is carved entirely out of wood, it is an amazing piece of architecture, also very photogenic.
Thailand truly is beautiful and having spent a month there, I feel I really did get the peace I need. You meet so many different people and after chatting to the locals and learning how life is in Thailand, it really does give you a new perspective on your own life. Thai people are still mostly living in poverty, but there attitude and way of living really is inspirational, they know how to relax and take their life at a steady pace, something I took away with me. Our lives are full of stress and strains most of which is trivial if we take a step back and try to see it from a different perspective, will it matter in the morning? or even an hour from now. I hope anyone else that plans to take a trip to “find themselves” takes away as much as I did from the experience.
If you have any questions or would like hints and tips for travelling around Thailand feel free to get in touch, I would be happy to help.