Thailand is a heavyweight in the traveling arena, a country that is known for its ability to attract backpackers and holidaymakers from every tone of the traveling spectrum. From the early exploratory and expansive days of backpacking around Thailand in the 80s, to the wealthier and more exclusive forms of tourism in Bangkok’s elite enclaves and the secluded island resorts, Thailand has a rich cocktail of juicy travel worthy destinations. A useful way of encapsulating the many experiences to be had around this country is to create a trip taking in islands, cities and the Jungle. Here is how that trip can work:
Bangkok is truly a global city, a hub through which people, money and information flow in this non-stop world of ours. As the main airport for Thailand, and even the entire South East Asian region, Bangkok is most likely going to be where you enter the country unless you travel overland from a bordering destination. This is a great thing though, as the hustle and bustle of this unique city is the perfect catalyst to widen your eyes and embolden your taste buds for the trip ahead.
Venturing around Bangkok in the incredibly cheap tuktuk will enable you to take in the many palaces and temples in the city as well as the infinite tailors and shopping malls. Watch out for the various scams which include taking you to shops you don’t want to go to on your way to your actual destination, the best way to detect this scam is if a particular tuktuk driver is offering you a ridiculous rate for the journey (e.g. 20baht). The reason they do this is they receive free fuel in the anticipation that the shop owner manages to force you to buy something you don’t want.
Key locations to visit for some impressive cultural picture s include the Grand Palace, the official residence of the Royal family and an amazing collection of palatial buildings and lawns. One of the most notable temples in Bangkok is Wat Pho, a Buddhist temple that is home to the enormous famous Reclining Buddha statue.
If you are looking for some sizzling street food and lively restaurants and markets, then try Khoa San Road, a backpackers mecca. The clothes stalls melt away as the night falls, but luckily the food stalls don’t as you are likely to be hungry in the early hours of the morning after consuming a few cheap Chiang beers.
Bangkok has many travel agencies that will help you plan your escape of the city. Ask your hotel manager or fellow travelers where a reputable one can be found, and head on down to check out the various deals. Traveling south to the islands can be done via bus, train or plane, depending on your travel budget. The buses are cheapest, and the VIP models have reclining seats that offer generous amounts of leg room, with a temperamentally working TV as well. If you are planning to hit the full moon party, make sure you are aware of your date constraints as soon as you arrive in Bangkok. Be aware that there is also the half-moon party and the dark moon party alternatives as well, which give you a bit of flexibility.
KohPhangan is a must if you are hitting the Full Moon Party, with the action kicking off on Haad Rin beach. Not amongst Thailand’s most picturesque beaches, but that is due to the country’s possibly unrivaled collection of stunning beaches, Haad Rin is still a nice beach with plenty of sand and a crescent shape allowing jungle covered hills to surround it. There are still other beaches on the island, sometimes deserted as the main beach distracts people, so be sure to hire a taxi or scooter and get exploring.
For a more peaceful affair following KohPhangan, then visit Koh Tao. A tiny island located nearby, it originally attracted interest for its fantastic scuba diving and stunning beaches, however it is also popular with backpackers and holidaymakers as it isn’t as developed as other islands and offers enough restaurants and bars to entertain without becoming excessive. Water taxis are plentiful here, and are an excellent option to get away from the main beach, as the slender island profile means beaches are hidden behind the jungle interior on the other side of the island.
Heading back up North from the islands will mean you will stop off again in Bangkok. The transfer usually gives you the daytime off, arriving in the morning and then heading to Northern Thailand and the jungle in the evening. You can use this time to sneak in any visits you may not have been able to do when you arrived in Thailand, or go for some great Thai food before you head to the isolation of the jungle.
A great part of the jungle to visit is the Northern hills around Chiang Mai, as there are many hill tribes in the area and Chiang Mai is also one of the most interesting cultural locations in Thailand. Tour operators run hill treks from Chiang Mai that can last 2,3 or more days depending on what you want. They also feature Elephant rides and bamboo rafting depending on water levels.
Make sure you take spare clothing, bottled water and money to buy drinks up on the mountains from the villagers, and wear suitable footwear as the treks can get pretty exhausting, although they do not require an amazing level of fitness. The effort is definitely worthwhile, as the views both from below the jungle canopy and the mountain tops are breathtaking.
Author Bio:Matt is a travel blogger who has traveled extensively around the many varied destinations in Thailand. Having explored on a tight budget, he is now looking forward to his luxury family holidays next month to rest and recuperate.