Tuesday, 5 June 2012

South East Asia: Summary - Thailand


We vanished a bit again, we had quite a lot of trouble trying to find jobs in Australia which in turn made us not really bothered to do anything and unfortunately the blog did fall a bit by the wayside. We decided to just give up on Australia as it was costing so much and we are now in New Zealand! We got to the North Island yesterday after spending just over a week on the South Island and we are having so much fun! New Zealand is an amazing country!

However that's not why I am here today. Get ready for our super amazing summary of South East Asia. I will cover Thailand today, then Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia and Sinagpore. All will be a separate blog post apart from Malaysia and Singapore which I'll throw in together!

  • Bangkok - We stayed at the Udee Bangkok, it was a great hostel, super clean and modern with a great roof terrace and we would recommend it. HOWEVER it was VERY far out and was more in the "real" Bangkok, you won't find any other backpacker things around here and can be a bit daunting to end up here straight from the UK but other than that it's great and close proximity to the Chatuchak Weekend Market.

Udee Bangkok
  • Trains - The trains in Thailand are fine and definitely nothing to be scared of, we didn't do any coaches in Thailand partly because some of them can be very dangerous (there are a lot of accidents) and partly because on a coach you do have the option to move around. I would totally recommend Seat 61 for any train queries you have in ANY country. It helped us no end in SE Asia. If you have to chose ALWAYS go for the night train up to Chiang Mai. We went up on the night train but came back on the day train and compared the day train was absolutely awful! The night train was fab, it obviously depends who is sharing your little compartment but it's a great experience. Those of you on the top bunk just be wary when the train starts moving again as it really does nearly make you fall off! Also slight tip, when you get on they come round with "orange juice" this isn't free and is VERY sweet, they don't answer if you ask if it's free but you do have to pay (Eventually!) Also the food on the trains is surprisingly nice, however you get LOADS of your money so if there are two of you I would suggest just buying one meal and sharing it between two! Finally on the day trains just to confuse you further you actually get all drinks and food included! A lady comes round now and again with a drinks trolley and you get lunch, it's fine and a good bargain!
Train Compartment

  • Chiang Mai - By far the best place in Thailand/SE Asia in our opinion. Partly because of this hostel - Finlays Cottage part of me wants to keep this hostel secret from everyone else. The hosts are great, the breakfasts are literally INCREDIBLE honestly if nothing else stay here for that. The bathrooms (Shared) are good, very clean and there is a lovely seating area inside and out, plus it's literally a 5 min walk from Tha Pae Gate. 
Finlays Cottage

    • Cooking Schools - Both of us would not hesitate to recommend Asia Scenic if you want to learn some Thai cooking schools! You get teachers and a brilliant recipe book to take home. We did the full day course out on the farm which was amazing, a complete bargain and was the best day we had whilst in Thailand. There are a million and one cookery schools to choose from but this one was amazing.
Cookery Class

  •  Pai - Unfortunately we didn't get up to a lot in Pai due to illness. One big tip if you get travel sick then go to Boots in Chiang Mai BEFORE you make the journey to Pai as it's honestly the bendiest road we have been on, and whilst it's only three and a bit hours long the minibus drivers are crazy. We just booked our accommodation once we arrived there are loads of bungalows and all are similar, a chilled out vibe. It's a great place and we wish we could have explored more.
The view from our Bungalow

  • Koh Lanta - A quieter island than Phi Phi and one to go too for sunbathing, reading and relaxing. It's not super cheap on the island but you can get a lovely bungalow for not a lot of money and just spend the time chilling out and relaxing. We went to a fab restaurant called Red Snapper which is pretty expensive for Thailand standards but did absolutely amazing Tapas. Also to give something back whilst on the island and if you are also a dog lover please take the time to visit the Lanta Animal Welfare it's a fab charity helping to rescue and rehome stray dogs on the island. They also run a neutering and worming programme for the island dogs. You can help by taking some of the dogs for a walk. It was honestly one of the best days on the island, we loved meeting Chilli and Woody and would have loved to rehome them all!
Sunset on Lanta

Woody and Chilli
 So I hope some of this has been useful for anyone planning a trip to Thailand, it's a fab country, it can be a culture shock but embrace it, don't worry about getting scammed, this doesn't particularly happen in Thailand except around some of the Temples in Bangkok, a bit of advice if someone comes up and tells you the Palace is closed, or the Temple is closed just ignore them, they are just trying to tout you into their tuk tuk. Let me know if you have any questions about anywhere we've visited in Thailand stay tuned for Vietnam!

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