My Favorite Camera For Travel

When I was preparing for my 3 week trip to Thailand, one thing that was really on my mind was what type of camera did I want to bring?

I have a Nikon D3300 which is a digital SLR. While it is an incredible camera, it is also pretty bulky and has a lot of accessories that would have taken up a decent amount of space in my one carry-on backpack.

I wanted to buy a middle-of-the-road camera. Not quite another dslr yet not just a $50 digital point-and-shoot camera either.  I wanted one that would still take great quality pictures with higher megapixels, excellent zoom options, lightweight, affordable, and was sturdy yet didn’t take up a whole lot of room in my bag.

After comparing different brands and types of cameras, I came across the perfect one that I could take with me!

The one I decided on was the Canon PowerShot SX530 HS. It’s about $300 which was perfect for me!

It has 16 megapixels which was very comparable to my Nikon. The quality of the pictures taken were incredible!

It also had zoom options up to 50x optical zoom! Check these two pictures out! The first one was taken from our hotel room balcony; the coconut was on a thatched roof two buildings over!

This second picture is a close up of the full moon on Haad Rin Beach in Koh Phangan. I was VERY impressed with these! Whenever I usually try taking a close-up picture of the moon it always ends up blurry but this camera captured it PERFECTLY!

Even the video quality at the optimal zoom was very impressive!

Even though the zoom is powerful the lens does not come out very far so I felt as if it was pretty sturdy and that it had a small chance of getting damaged while carrying it around in my backpack or day purse.

Because of how sturdy I felt it was, I chose not to purchase a carrying case for it. I opted to just have it loose in my bag. It was also very light so I had no problem carrying it around with me during the day.

I fell in love with this camera and will take it on all my future travels!

 

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The Perfect Packing List for Thailand

 

When my boyfriend said we’re only bringing one backpack each on our three-week trip to Thailand, I definitely panicked! I thought to myself, “How in the world am I going to cram three weeks worth of clothes, makeup, and everything I need into a carry-on backpack?”. There was no way!

I was dreading this.

I looked up the average weather for when we were going to be in Thailand (Dec-Jan) and knew it was going to be HOT and MUGGY with a chance of small bouts of rain. I figured that I needed at least enough clothes to get me through one week and to bring clothes that I could re-wear if needed.

Here’s what I ended up packing:

Clothes –

4 tank tops, 2 t-shirts, 7 pairs of underwear, 5 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of shorts, 1 yoga capris, pajamas (shorts and a t-shirt), 3 bathing suits, 1 casual dress, light-weight rain-proof North Face Jacket, water sandals from REI, and flats. I wore a long-sleeve shirt, leggings, and flip flops on the plane.

Hygiene and Medicine –

3 oz shampoo, 3 oz conditioner, Neutrogena face sunscreen, minimal makeup and makeup remover wipes, deodorant, razor, heat protector and travel size hair straightener, hair gel (for the curly days that my hair would not want to straighten due to the humidity), toothpaste/toothbrush, birth control pills, Doxycycline (which I had prescribed for Malaria prevention), Ciprofloxacin (Doctor prescribed in case of a diarrhea emergency), Pepto Bismul tablets (for the non-emergency bathroom issues, comes in handy!), DEET bug spray, hand sanitizer, and TOILET PAPER.

Important Documents –

passport, driver’s license, debt and credit card, copies of passports of all who were traveling with us, and cash.

Misc –

phone and phone charger, camera and battery charger, sunglasses, small purse for while we were out and about, and a notebook/journal.

 

When it came to deciding what clothes to wear I ended up bringing items that would be inter-changeable. I could mix and match almost every piece of clothing that I brought. I was able to find really lightweight razorback tank tops that were loose so I was able to re-wear them at least once before needing to send them out for laundry. Also they did not need to be layered! Remember, it is about 88 degrees with 99% humidity – you do not want to have to wear a undershirt/tank top underneath your clothes! Light and loose is the way to go! Plus, hardly takes up any room in your backpack!

I am also go glad I brought my waterproof North Face Jacket because we did encounter rain here and there! And with the humidity, if you get wet you are going to be damp ALL day long! It was also nice to have some nights too because it did get a little chilly a few nights that we were in Thailand, especially up north in Chiang Mai. I am so glad I decided to stuff that to the bottom of my backpack. If you don’t end up needing it, great! At least it’s there in case you do and you’ll be glad you decided to give up a small amount of space for a lot of comfort if it’s needed!

When it comes to hygiene products you really don’t need to bring too much at all! There are 711 stores literally on every block in every town in Thailand. 99% of the hotels we stayed in provided shampoo and conditioner so when you run out of your first bottle you can easily replenish your supply for free! We ended up ditching the idea of bringing sunscreen (though I did still bring my face sunscreen, I love that stuff and didn’t want to have a huge breakout while I was there! Plus, it comes in carry-on size!) because sunscreen is something you can quickly purchase at a 711. So why take up the space if you don’t need to? One note about sunscreen: make sure there is no bleach added to it! You will notice quickly that there are a lot of beauty products designed to whiten your skin in Thailand so watch out for that!

As for why I brought hand sanitizer and toilet paper, please read Important Hygiene Tips. Bringing these two items were a life saver!

Why bring so many documents? Our routine once we got there was to keep everything in 2 locations – one on you and one in the safe in the hotel room. We did this in case 1 set got lost or stolen. Here’s what I personally did with my documents: my passport, credit card, and everyone we were traveling with passport copies I put in the hotel safe. My driver’s license, copy of MY passport, and debit card I kept in my purse on me when we were out and about. I liked this system and would use it in all my future travels.

A journal. Trust me, just bring it. When you are going on a trip to a location that is so unfamiliar with different cultures and crazy new experiences you’ll want to write it all down. Especially if you are going for an extended amount of time. You start to forget all the fun little details that you experienced during the day and people you met because each day is so packed full of exciting things that you forget the details of your amazing adventure! I brought a small notebook with intentions to write down what I did every single day I was there. I’ll admit, there were days when we had downtime that I sat down to write and realized I was 5 days behind! But reading back jogs my memory of things that I otherwise would have completely forgot. Even if you just bullet point main experiences that happened throughout the day, it’ll be worth it when you look back at it years later!

Below is a link to the exact journal that I bought! It was so fun to fill out during the trip! I also brought a lined notebook to write more detailed notes about my day-to-day adventures!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Important Hygiene Tips You Need to Know for Thailand

Before you leave for your trip to Thailand…..

Make sure to read these 3 important hygiene tips to take into consideration before you leave! They may save you a lot of discomfort when you are there!

1) WATER

I’m sure it’s well known that you do not want to drink the water in Thailand. ALWAYS drink bottled water and make sure that the lid has not been tampered with. Every single hotel we stayed in provided at least 2 bottles a day of complimentary water. You can also buy bottled water at 711’s for about 10 – 20 baht per bottle (that is only about $0.15). Make sure you are drinking a lot of water throughout the day. If you are feeling thirsty, that means you are already dehydrated. It is very hot and humid in Thailand so you sweat out your liquids pretty quickly.

We also were weary about using sink water to brush our teeth with, especially in Bangkok. We were staying in a nice hotel yet still even realized that our sink water had a yellow tint to it. We took the safety precaution of using bottled water to brush our teeth with and opted for hand sanitizer to clean our hands.

Ice in drinks is something to be mindful about and to be aware of. Most hotels use “good ice”, you can tell because it’s circular. We felt safe having circular ice cubes in our drinks. If we noticed that it looked like it was shaved off a block, we would request to please not have ice in our drinks. We were walking down the street and actually saw a place that was “making ice” as in there was a large block and they were hitting it with sledge hammers to break it in to pieces, picking it up off the floor, and selling it. This type of ice in not sanitary and probably just came from city water. You might as well drink the city water straight if you’re going to have that ice melt in your drink. Just be conscious of what type of ice you are allowing yourself to drink. You don’t want to make yourself sick.

2) HAND SANITIZER

So glad we had this! Since the water isn’t very clean, why would you wash your hands with it? I was frequently applying hand sanitizer the whole trip! And if you run out, those millions of 711’s will have some in stock as well as the many pharmacies all around town!

3) TOILET PAPER

Time to talk about the bathroom situation in Thailand. Most bathrooms are kept very clean in Thailand but there are definitely a few differences. One of which is that most places, especially public facilities, do not allow ANY paper products to be flushed down the toilets. To prevent people from accidentally dropping toilet paper in the bowl, they simply do not provide any. I always made sure to have a small roll of toilet paper in my purse at all times! Just please make sure to respect their policy and throw the toilet paper in the garbage next to the toilet. It’s a hard habit to break but you get used to it after a while. And if you have to go number 2, there are hand held sprayers you can use to clean off. Again, took some getting used to. I had no idea what it was for the first time I saw the sprayer. Then I realized they were in every single bathroom. Once you get used to them you really start to like them! My boyfriend and I joked about getting sprayers for the bathrooms in our house! It’s your own little handheld bidet. Moral of the story, for your own sake and comfort, bring a roll of toilet paper with you! You’ll be so happy that you did when you’re sitting in an empty stall all alone.

“Um, excuse me, do you have a square to spare?”

 

 

Save The Dogs!

Stray dogs and cats were everywhere we looked.

I knew that travelling to Thailand I would see beautiful jungle, majestic temples, elephants, and all these beautiful things that I could never see at home in the States. I also knew to expect to see a lot of homeless dogs and cats wandering the streets. The reality of it was that there were a lot more than I was expecting. They truly are all over, anywhere you go!

We were seeing dogs and cats hanging around the temples, packs of dogs laying right next to the road, lounging in the markets, sprawled out in the middle of busy sidewalks, and even sneaking through open restaurants trying to find a small snack. It started to become normal seeing stray animals literally everywhere you go.

I would say about 99.9% of dogs that we saw were limping or had some sort of injury. Almost every dog walked around with at least one limb held up. There were even a few in Koh Phangan that had had a limb amputated (though these are technically street dogs so it looked as if their incisions may have not been properly cared for during the healing process).

All of the animals that we came across were so kind and respectful. They kept their own personal space and knew never to beg for food or attention. You could see it in their eyes though that they just wanted to be loved and have a gently hand pet them. I wanted to know what I could do for these animals! Yes, I would save my leftover and find a stray dog to give it to. Yes, I made sure to shoo them away if I saw they were in the way of traffic. But there had to be more that I could do for them!

I did some research and found an AMAZING rescue!

Soi Dog Foundation

They have a program where you can help transport a dog home with you for a local rescue to pick up at the airport when you land. It is so amazing! Be A Flight Volunteer

Check out their web site for more information and see how you can help!

I am in no way affiliated with Soi Dog Rescue. I solely would like to spread the word about their amazing efforts to better the lives of these animals!

The Ultimate Full Moon Party Guide

If you are in Thailand during a full moon, it is a MUST to go to Koh Phangan to experience the Full Moon Party!

This is a once-in-a-lifetime CRAZIEST party you could possibly ever attend!

We went on January 12, 2017. We were told there were more than 20,000 people at the party on Haad Rin Beach!

Before you go:

  • You need to get your party wear! Every single store near this beach is selling ‘Full Moon Party’ attire. Basically, the more neon you wear the better! Everything you can purchase is reasonably priced – anywhere between 100 – 200 baht per item (that’s about $3 – $6 usd). The crazier the outfit the more fun you’ll have!
  • Make sure you drink a lot of water and get a decent sized meal before you go!

What To Expect:

  • Basically this party is filled with loud music, dancing, fire signs, fire jump roping, fire performances, neon lights everywhere, and buckets galore!
  • The music starts around 6 pm. There are giant speakers all over different sections of the beach and a ton of different parties going on! We started our way down to the beach around 7 pm. It was already filled with people! The party was still going strong at 7 am the next morning!
  • We met so many interesting people from ALL over the world here! It was so fun talking with everyone!
  • The most insane party you’ve ever attended!

Where Should You Stay?

There are a few options as to where you can stay. You can stay in town, just out of town, or not even book a room for that night (though make sure you can safely store your bags somewhere!). There are many hotels and hostels in the Coco Hut Village area which is where the party is. During the festivities, we met a few people who were staying on Koh Samui (island nearby), kept their bags at their hotel in Koh Samui, jumped on a ferry to Koh Phangan, partied all night, then caught the ferry back to Koh Samui the next morning. As for us though, we decided to stay at the Sunrise Resort Hotel literally right on Haad Rin Beach. We could step out of our hotel and right on to the sand!

  • Pros: you are RIGHT THERE. No need to try to catch a taxi or figure out how you’re going to get back to your hotel after you’ve been drinking all night. Easy walk. BATHROOM – it was so nice to have free access to a bathroom! Almost all places charge for you to use their restroom during the party, usually about 30 baht.
  • Cons: the party goes all night! We had to get up at 7 am to catch a ferry to another island and the music was still going strong! Our hotel room was actually slightly vibrating from the loud bass outside! You’ll want to book a room ahead of time, they fill up fast!

The Famous Buckets and Body Painting:

There are stands lining the entire beach selling buckets! Buckets are literally sand buckets that you fill with a pint of alcohol of your choice and 2 mixers. WATCH THEM POUR YOUR DRINK AND MAKE SURE THE BOTTLES HAVE NOT BEEN PREVIOUSLY TAMPERED WITH AND STILL HAVE THEIR SEALS! My boyfriend actually had them hand him the bucket that we bought and he poured/mixed it himself. I have heard of people getting drugged by not paying attention. Buckets costs anywhere between 250-400 baht. We found an awesome alleyway leading to the beach. I’m unsure of how to write down the street name but it’s the alley that includes Mr.K’s Restaurant and the “At Phangan” hostel. When you buy a bucket on this road you also get free body paint! This is exactly what we did! Plus, the buckets are cheaper since you aren’t buying it directly on the beach. Getting painted can cost a pretty penny also so why not buy the cheaper bucket AND get a beautiful paint job at the same time?!

Fire Jump Roping:

The majority of our time spent at the Full Moon Party was watching people do the fire jump roping! I had seen videos of this online but to see it in person was INSANE! I had it set in my mind that I was going to give the fire jump roping a try! That was until we were watching people actually do it and witnessing people catching on fire! There were a few times people’s shirt’s caught on fire or it’d hit their head and you’d smell the slight burning hair smell. The worst was when this young man was jumping and the rope wrapped around his arm. It was a good 30 seconds before they were able to get it unwrapped. Once it was off his skin was bright pink and literally peeling off already. Besides that, we didn’t witness any major injuries. Two friends we were with jumped in and they had a blast! There are also a lot of people putting on fire shows and doing cool performances. Also, fire limbo!

Rule of Thumb :

  • As for any night out, WATCH YOUR DRINK! There are lots of drugs here!
  • Don’t bring anything of value with you to the party. Our friend literally had someone reach in to his pocket to try to steal from him, thankfully he didn’t have anything on him! Lot of pickpocketers here!
  • BE SAFE! Make smart decisions. NEVER go anywhere alone!
  • HAVE FUN! This will be the wildest, insane, and intense party that you’ll ever go to! ENJOY IT!

My Experience on the island of Koh Phangan

Koh Phangan – The Party Island!

Welcome to the jungle!

It’s pretty funny driving around this island because everywhere you go there are billboards and signs promoting different parties! We were there for 3 days and during this time there was the Waterfall Party, the Jungle Party, the Full Moon Party, and the Full Moon After-Party.

We only attended one and that was the Full Moon Party – read about our party experience here!

We stayed in two different areas on the island during our visit.

One side was remote in the jungle and the other was right on the party beach!

Day 1

Our first hotel was located near the Panburi Village. This is on the northern side of the island – it was about a 45-minute drive from the pier to this area. You are definitely in the jungle here! The village itself is small but very friendly! This area of the island was still recovering from the recent monsoon and was in the process of rebuilding a few areas.

My FAVORITE restaurant on this island is located in the Panburi Village. The name is Somtum’s Restaurant and it was quite possibly my favorite food that we had on the whole trip! It was a family-owned business made up of a son and his parents. The food was so fresh and so delicious with the perfect amount of spice! Thinking about it now makes me drool….

 

We stayed at the Suan Sawan Ocean View Resort. As far as this resort goes, there was a little false advertising. We were under the impression that we booked an immaculate 2-story villa on the beach with our own luxurious private infinity pool. First of all, the taxi driver could not drive us to the resort at all because it was not on the beach but up a very steep hill that was unfortunately washed out with all the rain. Once we made the very steep 4-minute walk we could not find the check in desk. We finally ran into someone who brought us to a small shack that had tables and chairs to check in. We were then directed to our “hut” which we weren’t too happy with that. While we were there no one stayed in the large villa; my guess is they only keep it up nice for large groups of people and in the meantime just use it to promote their resort. While we were there, we saw 5 different groups of people check in then immediately check out. We did end up checking out early the next morning because we were awoken at 4 am by a python trying to burrow its way into our thatch roof! That’s another story for another time. The ocean view was beautiful so have to give them that one!  Here’s a picture from the infinity pool at the villa we were supposed to be staying in – beautiful! We maybe swam in it anyways since no one was staying in the villa:

We spent the day exploring the Panburi village. There isn’t too much to see but it was still fun riding scooters around. We did find a nice viewpoint!

You definitely get the jungle experience here on this side of the island. At night we could even hear the monkeys howling! Our friends were lucky enough to see a few also! They said it was a pretty incredible!

Day 2

Our second day on Koh Phangan we checked out early of the Suan Sawan resort and decided to get a place closer to Haad Rin beach. That is where the Full Moon Party is! The party was the next night anyways so decided to go a day early. Haad Rin beach is south of the island and not too far from the pier.

We were lucky enough to find a hotel that still had rooms available and it was right on Haad Rin Beach! We stayed at the Sunrise Resort Hotel. This area of the island is called the Coco Hut Village and was really fun to explore! It was a decent sized town and we were able to walk everywhere! Lots of stores selling Full Moon Party gear, many different hostels, and plenty of different restaurants to choose from! I liked that everything was close by and that we could spend the day walking around. The beach was really nice and clean too! We had a lot of fun exploring and enjoyed meeting a lot of new people from all over the world!

Here’s a view as you walked up to the Sunrise Resort Hotel – loved that they had an infinity pool AND they were also right on the ocean:

We stayed here two nights then boarded the ferry to head to another island in the Gulf of Thailand!

We had a lot of fun on Koh Phangan!

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

ELEPHANTS!

One of the main bucket list items I wanted to check off while in Thailand was to see elephants!

Please be careful when planning anything that involves animals. There are two great elephant sanctuaries that I know of in Chiang Mai: Elephant Nature Park and the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary.

To be completely honest, I really was looking forward to going to the Elephant Nature Park. It was the first sanctuary for elephants to open in Thailand. They also do a lot of veterinary care for the elephants and me, being a veterinary technician, was really interested in that aspect of it. Unfortunately, they book up very quickly. We were not able to book too far in advance just because we weren’t entirely sure of our schedule so we waited until we arrived in Chiang Mai to actually book our visit to a sanctuary.

Rule of thumb: do NOT go to a “sanctuary” where you also ride them. Bareback or with a saddle; neither are acceptable!

Riding an elephant is inhumane and is actually very harmful to the animal.

Anyways, here’s my experience with the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary!

We decided to do the “Half Day Afternoon” package. They will pick you up right at your hotel to drive you to the sanctuary since it is way up in the jungle mountains! They picked us up at 11:30 am at our hotel. There was a total of 10 people with us. It was about an hour and a half drive to the sanctuary. Beautiful scenery on the way! You see many fields and little villages.

When we arrived they have you change in to the traditional Karen Tribe clothing. Since the Karen Tribe is who works with these elephants, the elephants are familiar with the clothing therefore they like everyone to wear it so that the elephants feel comfortable. In total, there were about 40 people in our group for the afternoon.

Our guide took us to a covered deck to brief us on the history of the sanctuary, how to approach the elephants, and what to expect during your visit. Thankfully the guides all speak English. He was charismatic and funny so listening to him made it fun and easy! I was surprised when he said that this particular sanctuary first opened in 2014, I didn’t realize how new it was. These elephants were all saved from trekking camps and working farms.

I was so excited when it was time to interact with the elephants! We walked across a shaky bamboo bridge to a platform. Then they released the elephants! Three came running down the hill to us! One of the elephants that we were feeding was 72 years old! She was so mellow and calm. They also had two younger ones – 1 ½ and 4 ½ years old. They were both so much smaller than the adults! I didn’t realize it takes so long for them to reach their adult size. We fed them bananas for a while. It was so fun holding out your hand and the elephant wraps its trunk around the banana and put it in its mouth. You can also hold up your hand and say “bon-bon” and the elephant will open its mouth and you can place it right in! Their tongues are giant and their teeth sit farther back in their mouths so you don’t need to worry about them biting you.

 

We walked back across the wobbly bridge again and fed more elephants and got to really interact with them!

After feeding and taking pictures for a while, we walked down to the mud pit for a mud bath!

Afterwards, we went in to the river to clean off! It was so fun splashing the elephants and playing with them. They were all so sweet!

They do feed you dinner so while they cook you get a chance to walk to a beautiful waterfall and play in the water for a bit. While everyone else went to the waterfall, I selfishly stayed back to spend more one-on-one time with the elephants.

Once everyone returned we sat down and were served dinner. After eating, we all headed back to the covered trucks that we arrived in and headed back to the city of Chiang Mai.

 

It was a truly incredible experience that I would love to do again! Plus, I like knowing that the money spent to go on this adventure was going towards a good cause of saving elephants and improving their lives.

Here is the link to learn more about the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary: http://www.elephantjunglesanctuary.com/

 

It breaks my heart that trekking camps even exist and that people still choose to be blind to how these magnificent creatures are treated. Please don’t be naive and spend your money supporting cruelty and abuse. Do your research before choosing to partake in anything that has to do with animals being used for entertainment.

NO ELEPHANT RIDING/TREKKING! NO TIGER KINGDOM! NO MONKEY SHOWS!

 

My 4 Day Itinerary for Chiang Mai

 

Chiang Mai is the largest city in Northern Thailand.

It is a city nestled in the jungle! What I liked the most about Chiang Mai is that you can step out of your hotel and walk to most of the places that you would like to go! We saved a lot of money not having to take transportation everywhere we needed to go like we did in Bangkok. It is a larger city but if you stay in the center of it (“Old City”) you are relatively close to most everything that you would want to see and do! There are so many restaurants, massage parlors, and bars everywhere you go! There are also lots of food vendors and random markets popping up all over the place! Entertainment was endless!

I felt very safe during our stay in Chiang Mai. Even at night I felt safe walking home late from the bars.

Chiang Mai was easily my favorite city to explore in Thailand!

 

Day 1

We flew in to Chiang Mai on New Year’s Eve. We stayed at a hotel called the Moon Dragon Hotel. It is located on Ratchadamnoen Road which is known for its famous Night Bazaars and Sunday Night Market. It is right in the center of Old City so it is surrounded by many temples and delicious restaurants! We spent the afternoon exploring the market and I even finally drank coconut water straight out of a coconut! 

We got massages (about 100 baht = $3 USD) and headed out to go bar hopping. Once night fell, the sky started to light up with floating lanterns! It was an amazing site! We also got to light one up and let it go – make a New Year’s wish!

 

Day 2

Explore the city!

We only booked one night at the Moon Dragon Hotel so the next day we went to our next location –Duangtawan Hotel.  It was just outside of Old City; a quick 15-minute walk from where we were previously at. We spent the day enjoying Chiang Mai and walking around. Everyone is so friendly! It was also laundry day! It was 30 baht/kg. Between my boyfriend and I it was 120 baht all together. Not bad! And I’m pretty sure they hand wash and hang dry your clothes because they smelt amazing when we got them back!

Our big event for the day was that we bought tickets to a Muay Thai fight! They have these almost every night so we had to see one! It was actually pretty exciting! It was crazy how young some of the fighters were, some looked as if they were only 13 – 14 years old! I read that they start training very young in Thailand.

On our way back we tried a few different foods that were being sold by the street vendors. I found my favorite dessert – it’s a crepe with Nutella and bananas! So delicious! We also felt adventurous and tried some cooked worms! Let me tell you from experience, just skip the worms. 😊

 

Day 3

Explore the Jungle!

Scooter day! We decided we wanted to head up in to the mountains today! For a 24 hour rental it was only 250 baht (about $7 USD). We went to the Doi Suthep Pui National Park! It’s about an hour trip up to the mountain and it was beautiful!

It is a windy road and be careful of traffic! Just like in Bangkok there doesn’t seem to be many rules of the road! To be honest, sitting on the back of the scooter was a little nerve racking but I just held on tight!

Our goal for the day was to make it to the Wat Phra That Doi temple which overlooks Chiang Mai. I had previously read that you want to get there early because it becomes so overcrowded very quickly! We accidentally passed it and went straight on to the Bhubing Palace. It was pretty incredible though! It was large botanical garden with giant bamboo trees and gorgeous views! This is actually where the Royal Family stays in the winter! After we explored the grounds for a few hours we ate lunch at the little village area then headed back down.

We were going to stop at the Wat Phra That Doi temple on our way back down the mountain but even just trying to find parking was ridiculous! We decided to skip it since it was now about 3:30 in the afternoon. We headed back to the city and watched another Muay Thai fight! And of course enjoyed another Nutella and banana filled crepe! After the fights we enjoyed bar hopping again and talking with the locals! Everyone we met was so sweet and kind to us! We spent a lot of time at the Roo Bar with 2 of the bartenders talking and hanging out with them. Seriously, the two sweetest woman that I’ve ever met in my life! The people you meet here are so welcoming and kind.

Day 3

Elephant day! This day deserved a blog all to itself! Read about my experience at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary!

Day 4

Our last day in Chiang Mai. I truly was so sad to be leaving! When I come back to Thailand I would love to spend at least an entire week here if not longer.

We made sure to eat at our favorite restaurant again (for the third time!). It is called Cooking Home Thai Restaurant. So much delicious food and endless options! It is located in Old City on Ratchadamnoen Road near our first hotel stay. I highly recommend eating here if you get the opportunity!

We headed to the airport for our next adventure….the islands! First stop, Koh Samui!

 

When you come to Chiang Mai on your trip, make sure to take the time to explore the city and the mountains! There is so much beauty here!

 

Travel Tip from a local: Do not plan a visit to Chiang Mai in April or May. It is common that in these months there is a lot of jungle burning so there is a heavy amount of smoke and smog that sits over the city.

 

Maeklong Railway Market

The Maeklong Railway market was the most unique and fascinating markets that we got the pleasure to experience!

While this marketplace is mostly geared towards locals, this is definitely a must see if you visit Bangkok!

This market is so neat to visit because, as the title mentions, it is located literally right on a railroad track! This means that every time a train passes through, every stand pulls their products back and lift their tents so that the train can pass. After the train passes it’s right back to business again! It’s so fun to watch and experience!

Since it’s mainly for locals there are a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood being sold! So of course, there’s a lovely smell that goes along with it, but it’s worth seeing!

We stopped at this market on the way back to Bangkok after visiting the Damnoen Floating Market. It is about 45 minutes – 1 hour outside of the city of Bangkok.

The first time we saw the train pass we were actually inside the market! We were walking on the tracks when they made the announcement and we saw all the stands start to bring their products back and lift their overhanging tents up. We stood off the tracks just a few feet and then it came. The train does pass slow but it’s a little unnerving how close you are! Then just like that, the train passes and the tents come right back down and the products are right up next to the tracks again and everyone is walking around shopping like nothing ever happened! It was so fun!

We walked down the tracks a little more to explore the market then started to walk back towards the station where we entered.  We were taking pictures and talking then sure enough the train started up and made its way back through the market! It was so cool to see all the tents go right back down the second the train passes through. My boyfriend got a great video from the station.

We were told it passes through about every 30 mins – 1 hr. We were there for about an hour or a little longer. There’s really not much to see besides the train pass and to see what fun food you can find in the market. Again, the market itself is more for locals so there’s not many fun souvenirs to find but this was by far my favorite market to see. I would recommend this to anyone who visits Bangkok, it’s worth the drive out to see and experience!

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Oh, the Floating Market, what an experience! 

While in Bangkok, we decided that going to a floating market was a must-see!

 

We took a taxi to the Damnoen Saduak Floating market. We chose to take a taxi because it was about an hour and a half drive out of Bangkok. This market is one of the largest in the Bangkok area, which also means it’s very touristy and will get busy very quickly! The market opens very early in the morning and closes in the afternoon so make sure to get an early start! We left around 7am from our hotel and got to the market around 8:30am.

When we arrived at the floating market we were greeted by one of the owners who went over prices. It was a little more expensive than we anticipated but we already drove this far we decided to still go! For just the Floating Market experience it cost 2,500 baht per person. He also tried to convince us of adding on an animal show of our choice (elephant trekking, monkey show, or an alligator show) which would cost 3,000 baht each. We could also do the full package of the floating market, an animal show, AND visit a temple for 4,000 baht. We opted just to do the market. You can bargain almost anything in Thailand so we convinced him 3,500 baht for the both of us.

I personally do not recommend paying ANY amount of money to support anything that has to do with animals being used for entertainment purposes, ESPECIALLY ELEPHANT TREKKING! Please be a responsible tourist while visiting foreign countries and do not support cruelty!

We boarded our motorized long boat and headed out for our hour and a half adventure! From the jungle terrain landscape, I felt as if I was on the jungle cruise ride at Disneyland! The driver was really nice – they basically just navigate you through the market and pull up to a stand if you would like to look at the products. Through the canals, you will pass many personal homes and small market stands before eventually getting to the actual market. Once you are to the market it reminded us of Bangkok traffic except on water!

Almost everything you can buy in the floating market is all the same that you can buy from the markets in the city. I did feel as if they were a little pushier here. The whole time spent in markets in Thailand this is the only place I felt somewhat hassled. There are tons of beautiful clothing, handmade sculptures and toys, stunning paintings, spices, exotic food, etc. 

This water is NOT clean! We were applying hand sanitizer anytime the water would splash up on to us. It was literally green swampy water littered in garbage. I have a huge fear of snakes so I was a little less than impressed (okay, so I had a full-on panic attack!) when we saw a giant snake swimming in the water next to our boat. My boyfriend can vouch for me that the head was the size of a football!! Thankfully we saw this once we were almost back to the dock!

I’m glad I can check the Floating Market off my bucket list but an hour and a half was a little long for me in my opinion. My boyfriend said that the Floating Market was one of his favorite things that we did in Bangkok and he really enjoyed it! It was truly was a unique experience and a must-do if you make your way to Bangkok!