Thailand: an amazing selfmade tour

Two weeks among Bangkok’s skyscrapers, Chiang Mai’s temples and nature and Koh Lipe’s crystal clear waters.

Thailand is a very special country, full of amazing landscapes and great art masterpieces.

This tour was born to fill the desire to get, in just two weeks, the essence of this southern east Asian’s corner, where smiling and kind people live in, following buddhism pillars.

I started my tour from its capital Bangkok, a modern and fascinating metropolis never asleep; I went to Chiang Mai, a less chaotic town with many temples and  lush tropical forests and ended my  adventure on Koh Lipe island, a little paradise in the Andaman sea.

The humid heat, the chaos and the colors of the markets, the mysticism of the temples, the smell of tasty food cooked on the street, the sweet flavors of tropical fruits and the art of a good traditional Thai massage will always be with you. And you'll enjoy them for sure.

General information

 

Government              Monarchy
Capital Bangkok
Population     68,86 millions
Language Thai
Religion  The 94.6% of people are  Buddhists. There are Muslims and Catholic minorities 
Time  GMT/UTC +7 hours        
 Currency    Thai Bath   1 euro = 38,58 bath    1 USA  dollar= 31,19 bath

Location

Thailand is located in the southeast asian peninsula and it is bordered to the north by Myanmar and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and the southern extremity of Myanmar.

Climate: best time to go to Thailand

Thailand has a 3-seasons  tropical climate:

- a hot and dry season from November to February

- a very hot season from March to mid-May

- a rainy season from mid-May to October

In the peninsular area, where there are the main tourist destinations on the sea, a distinction must be done between the east coast and the west coast. On the east coast, overlooking the Gulf of Siam, the monsoons during the summer are not so strong, while from October to December the rains are heavy.

On the contrary, on the west coast, overlooking the Andaman Sea, winter is hot and dry while in summer the monsoon leaves no way out. For this reason the best choice is to visit Thailand during the dry season, then in winter and until April, because you will find everywhere an excellent climate with one condition: go to the sea on the west coast. If you can not help but visit Thailand in summertime there's no reason to worry about. You will sometimes be surprised by downpours, especially in the north of the country, but you could go to the sea on the east coast and in the Gulf of Siam where the monsoon is not so strong and leaves room for sunny days.

Whatever season you choose ... the most important thing is to be aware of what you are facing there.  

 

How to get there

The easiest way to go to Thailand is by flight, of course. Every main international airport has Bangkok as a destination and the main airline companies fly to Thailand. If you want to have a very good and direct flight with no stopovers, you should try Thai airways from almost everywhere to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi  international airport. This is one of the best airline companies in the world and you’ll have a very comfortable flight.

Transports

Thailand is a wide country, so moving from place to place can require long trips. I took flights to cover long distances: I booked on Thai airways website my domestic flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and on Air Asia website my flight to Koh Lipe and to go back to Bangkok. This is a good low cost asian airline company,  I truly recommend it. 

To cover shorter distances I took trains. They have first, second and third class carriages, they are cheap and quite comfortable, despite air conditioning is on only on first and sometimes on second class carriages.

In Bangkok and in Chiang Mai transports won't be an issue.

BTS Skytrain and subway in Bangkok, Tuc Tucs, taxis and the navigation transport system on rivers and canals will allow you to go everywhere in the  cheapest  way possible. In the itinerary description down below you'll find detailed information on how to use transports in Thailand. 

 

Accomodations

Booking.com

Bangkok

In Bangkok there are accomodations able to fit any need: from huge five stars hotels to the cheapest guest houses. Of course as the prices decrease services and cleansiness get worse. 

The most important thing to keep in mind is that in such a big and chaotic city you should choose a hotel as close as possible to a BTS skytrain station, so it will be easy to get to the main highlights.

In my opinion the most strategic area is Siam square, a very lively district in downtown, where you can find good 4 or 5 stars hotels at a reasonable price, with breathtaking rooftop swimminpools and cosy and clean rooms.

Down below check some proposal shortlisted for you: they are all in Siam Square near a BTS skytrain station, with good services and a swimmingpool.

 

Mercure Bangkok Siam 

Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square

Happy 3

Pathumwan Princess Hotel 

 

If you are looking for something exclusive and luxurious instead, the best hotels in Bangkok are located along the Chao Praya River: prices are higher and you will be more uncomfortable with public transportation but the view is unparalleled.

 

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok

Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok

Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel and Towers

lebua at State Tower

 

Chiang Mai

In Chiang Mai the best tip I can give you is to choose a hotel in the old town, inside the townwalls, so you can easily visit on foot the most important highlights in town.

 

The Twenty Lodge

Lanna Tree Boutique Hotel

Decharme Hotel

Pingviman Hotel

 

Koh Lipe

Lipe island offers any kind of accomodation, from exclusive resorts to cheap guest houses and bungalows on the beach. I suggest to book a couple of months in advance if you travel in high season, because the best accomodations run out very fast. The best place to stay is in my opinion Sunrise beach because it is quiet and beautiful. 

Down below my choices on Sunrise beach: 

 

Lipe Beach Resort

Cabana Lipe Beach Resort

Ten Moons Lipe Resort

 Serendipity Beach Resort Koh Lipe

Two weeks tour

giorno 1 Arrival in Bangkok - Chatuchak market - Moon Bar
 giorno 2 Bangkok - Royal Palace complex - Wat Poh - amulets market - Wat Arun and Khao San Road

giorno 3

trip to Ayutthaya, the ancient capital
giorno 4 Chinatown - in the evening flight to Chiang Mai
giorno 5 Visit to an Elephant Sanctuary
giorno 6 Chiang Mai old town with temples and markets - Doi Suthep temple
giorno 7 Doi Inthanon National Park
giorno 8 Flight to Hat Yai - minibus and boat to Koh Lipe island
giorno 9 Sea and relax on Koh Lipe's beaches
giorno 10 Sea and relax on Koh Lipe's beaches
giorno 11 boat trip - snorkeling
giorno 12 Flight to Bangkok
giorno 13 Bangkok - Lumphini Park - Pratunam - Asiatique
giorno 14 back home flight

Day 1

Once landed at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi international airport, follow the signs to the control passport desks . To enter the Country no vaccinations or visa are required, you just have to show:

- your passport with at least 6 month of validity

- the TM6 immigration form filled out in its arrival section.

You can find this form on the plane or at the desks at the arrivals. The required data , in addition to your personal data, are the no of your passport, the no of your flight (it’s on your boarding pass) and the hotel’s name you booked.

After the passport control you are officially in Thailand !!!

The next few steps are withdraw your luggage and some money (Bath). You can change euros or US dollars   in money change offices or get local currency from ATMs with your credit card.

Now you are ready to go to your hotel in  the city center.

 

The easiest ways to do that are two:

 

1- City line train + bts skytrain or subway (M)

Follow the signs to the city line train that will lead you to the airport’s B floor.

Just before the access to the platforms there’s the ticket office. From the airport to the terminal stop Paya Thai and the connection to the BTS Skytrain, the token costs 42 bath, more or less 1 euro, and the travel time is 30 minutes. Put the black token in your pocket, you’ll need it at the exit to go out the station.

Available from 6 am to midnight every 15 minutes it’ s the best and the cheapest way to go to downtown. 

 

These are the city line train stops

 

  • Suvarnabhumi International Airport
  • Lat Krabang Station
  • Ban Thap Chang Station
  • Hua Mak Station
  • Ramkhamhaeng Station
  • Makkasan City Terminal   - connection to the subway
  • Ratchaprarop Station
  • Phaya Thai – connection to the BTS Skytrain 

If your hotel is near a BTS station as I suggest, once you get to Phaya Thai station follow the signs to the BTS lines.

 The BTS skytrain is the Bangkok elevated subway. It is  fast, efficient, scenic and with air conditioning (even too much).

It is the most convenient way to get around the city, because traffic is always intense and chaotic in Bangkok. You can buy tickets at the ticket office in every station by specifying your destination or at the vending machines that work with coins. If you do not have change ask at the ticket office, they’ll change your banknotes. You only have to select the number of stops from the departure station to the destination station and the ticket price will depend on how many they will be. However, the ticket costs from a minimum of 15 to a maximum of 54 bath.

There are two lines available:

 

-The Sukhumvit Line (light green)

-The Silom Line (dark green)

 

 In each station you will find detailed maps  and signs to the platforms to any direction.

 

If your hotel  is not on one of the BTS skytrain lines you also have the only one underground metro line as an alternative. In this case, get off at the city line Makkasan station and then follow the signs for Metro M.

2- Taxis

You can also use a taxi to go from the airport to the city center. Follow the signs to Public Taxis at level 1 and stand in line. The price is established by the taximeter, but you  must add the highway toll that is charged to passengers. Overall you would pay about 400/500 bath. Taxi drivers often propose a deal on a fixed price fare; if you take it they will turn off the taximeter. Usually, however, the deal is a win deal for the taxidrivers, so you can simply ask and insist to let the taximeter turned on. Just in case, at the airport there are billboards indicating a telephone number to call in case you notice irregularities in the driver's behavior. Take a pic of that number,  you never know...

This system is much more expensive than the previous one but it is certainly more convenient if you have a lot of luggage to carry, so it's your choice.

 

When you finally arrive at the hotel you have to find out if  your room is already available. If it's not don't worry, usually hotels allow customers to  use toilets and showers so you can also change your clothes and leave your luggage in custody until you come back.

 

Once settled, you are ready to dive into the chaos of Bangkok. The first day is a bit tiring because you're not get used to hot and humid weather yet and the fatigue of your flight that is worstened by jetlag. Nevertheless a tour around just to realize how is the city is a must.  Leaving on Saturday I landed in Bangkok very early on Sunday morning and so I did not miss my chance to see the Chatuchak market.

The Chatuchak market is one of the largest covered markets in the world. It is open from 9am to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday and it can be reached by the BTS Sukhumvit line (train stop Mochit) or by subway (M) ( Chatuchak Park station). For sale there is nearly everything: from clothing to pets, from food to crafts, from home furnishings to household appliances.

 

Before going there, however, take a look at the map below because you may lose orientation. Nothing serious, but you risk walking a lot more than expected and tire yourself off uselessly trying to find your way back.

After your visit at the market, go to the hotel for a shower (in Bangkok never enough) and dress you up: the Moon Bar is waiting for you for a spectacular aperitif.

 

This world-famous sky bar is located on the rooftop terrace of the Banyan Tree hotel, that you can reach by getting off at  Sala Daeng BTS train stop and then taking a Tuc Tuc.

 

Tuc Tucs are very common in Thailand, they are comfortable and fast because they can dodge traffic jams quite easily. With Tuc Tuc drivers you'll have to learn to deal very soon because they are helpful to reach places not covered by the  public transport system. Try to show confidence on where you are and where you would like to go,bargain the price and make yourself sure you have agreed  on the same figure.

 

One important advice: try to get there at  the sunset, the scenario is amazing and it will be  likely to find a table available.

 

When you arrive at the Banyan Tree Hotel ask for the Moon Bar at the reception. They will show you the lifts and explain how to get to the right place. Go up to the 59th floor and then step on the  stairs for a couple of floors to reach the Moon Bar. Pay attention at the dress code. It is not so hard but if you are not dressed properly you will have to wear  clothes provided to customers by the staff or give up and leave. Women can get along with a cute dress and elegant sandals even without heels , men are not admitted with shorts on, they must have long trousers. But it's worth it ... check the pictures down below...what do you think ?

Day 2

Today you finally wake up refreshed and full of energy, ready to explore Bangkok in all its special beauty. I suggest you to dedicate this day to the visit of Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the emerald Buddha, and the complex of the Grand Royal Palace, the ancient residence of the King .

 

Surely the visit will fullfill  most of the morning and maybe even more ... it depends at  what time you are going to wake up. I'm not a fanatic about getting up too early neither a fanatic of forced tours. I don't have to see everything but only what interest me. So I suggest you to take your time, after all you are on vacancy !

 

First of all, let's see how to get there.

 

The Royal Palace complex is located along the Chao Phraya river, so it is absolutely a must to get there by boat.

 

Take the BTS and get off at Saphan Taksin station  on the Silom Line. Go down the stairs and head up the river to the Sathorn or Central Pier (on the left), under the Sathorn Bridge.                      

 

The available navigation lines are: the local line, the yellow line, the green line, the orange line and the blue line (Chao Phraya Tourist Boat).

 

The most useful line is definitely the orange  one, as it is in service every day from Monday to Sunday, the boats leave every 20 minutes, it costs  15 bath whatever is your destination and it stops in all the  tourist piers .

 

The blue line (Chao Phraya Tourist Boat), that has been set for tourists is not recommended because it is more expensive. The single ticket costs 50 baht and  it offers also a hop on hop off service, it means you can buy a daily pass (180 baht) that allows you to get on and off at any stop all day. So unless you want to spend all  day commuting between one pier to another, it's definitely useless . 

The other lines instead cover the same route of the orange line but they travel only from Monday to Friday and they don't  always make all the stops.

To avoid mistakes, always keep in mind that the boats of each line are distinguished by the flag that flies on their bow, with the exception of the local line that has no flag.  

You can find further informtion on the website Chao Phraya Express Boat.

The orange line ticket office at the Central Pier is a desk where there's a person who gives you a ticket small as a stamp for 15 bath. Be careful, take it with you because on the boat they'll ask for it. During rush hours boats are very crowded, but if you are lucky you'll find a seat and you'll enjoy your trip and the view on Bangkok from the river. 

To reach the Royal Palace, get off at the stop no 9 Tha Chang, go through  a small market where they sell a bit of everything, especially  fresh peeled  fruit, fruit juices and smoothies and go straight ahead. Cross the street and go along the wall of the Royal Palace area and reach the entrance gate, not the first one (which is the exit) but the second open gate you see.

  

At the  entrance there will be a check on how you got  dressed. As you are entering  to a sacred area, it is not allowed to have bare shoulders and bare legs. If you don't have these parts of your body covered or you are wearing transparent clothes, they  won't let you inSo  I recommend long skirts or long and light trousers and a t-shirt. In shops near the Royal Palace you can find for a few euros trousers and pareo skirts  with nice Thai prints that are perfect for the occasion. You will also need them in the coming days, as the temples with a dress code like that are a lot. Finally, keep in mind that in order to enter the temples you will have to take off your shoes, so if you don't like to walk  barefoot, take some socks with you .

 

After the check in, follow the signs to  the ticket office. The whole complex can be visited every day from 8.30 am to 3.30 pm and the ticket costs 500 bath (about 12 euros). It will probably be the biggest expense that you will sustain for a tourist visit, and anyway you'll see it will be worth it.

 

The area to visit is huge, rich in temples and golden buildings finely decorated . The visit of Wat Phra Kaew is definitely the top moment of the entire visit, as the emerald buddha  is one of the most sacred statues worshipped by pilgrims from all over  Thailand in every period of the year. The hugeness of the area to visit, the intense heat and the overcrowded temples will put a strain on your resistance, but you will be rewarded by the incredible beauty of these pieces of art and the unique atmosphere you'll breathe at every corner.

Once you have finished your visit, take the exit and go back  from where you came, turn left and walk along the wall of the Grand Palace and go on on foot for about ten minutes. If you don't want to walk there is always the Tuc Tuc option: you can find them everywhere in the surroundings.

Wat Poh is your destination, open from 8.30 am to 6.30 pm,  tickets available at the ticket office at 100 bath each.

 

The Wat Poh is a vast complex that boasts within itself the largest reclining Buddha in the city, truly impressive, one of the largest collections of Buddha statues of all Thailand as well as the national center for teaching and conservation of traditional Thai medicine , which also includes the art of Thai massage. After the visit, if you want to relieve some fatigue, follow the signs to  the massage school. As the waiting can be very long, book your massage first and then visit the temples.

At the end of your visit at the Wat Poh you'll be exhausted and strained by the hot weather. As lunch time has passed for a while, it's time to eat something good. Take a tuc tuc and get to the amulets market located near the Grand Palace. This area is very lively and full of nice and simple restaurants attended by locals where you can eat and have a cold drink, for example a Thai beer (a Chang or a Singha). After you have recovered you can take a walk in the market, full of stalls where amulets with sacred images on them are sold . Thai people bring always amulets with them to have protection and help in difficult times

From the amulets market, go  to the nearby Prah Chan pier and take a boat to the  Wat Arun, on the other side of the river.  Impossible to make mistakes, you can see it from the boat because it is very high. It is open from 8 am to 6 pm and the ticket costs 50 bath. The visit won't take much time and the Central Pier is not  far, so from there you can go back to the hotel fast.

In the evening, if you still have energy, take a Tuc Tuc (if you are quite far get as close as you can with the BTS) and go to Khao San Road, where backpackers from all over the world usually meet eachothers. It is a pedestrian area, a rare thing in Bangkok, very crowded and full of tourists, there are many restaurants and pubs where to eat and drink, dance and have fun until small hoursYou can also take the opportunity to get a nice 30 minute foot massage for 150 bath. It will be amazing, after a full day walking.

Day 3

Take a day off from the chaotic Bangkok and enjoy a trip to the near Ayutthaya, the great ancient capital of the kingdom of Siam. You can easily organize the visit on your own. I chose to go there by train because it is cheap, comfortable and quite fast, so I suggest you to do the same.

Get a Tuc Tuc (or BTS + Tuc Tuc ) and go to Hua Lamphong station, the main central station of the city. At the entrance, go through the hall straight to the ticket office: there's a desk for foreign tourists.

You can travel in first, second or third class. The first class there's only on long-distance trains as seats are transformed into beds, the second class is air-conditioned while the third class doesn't. Prices depend on whether you book a seat with air conditioning (up to 250 baht to go to Ayutthaya) or you choose the third class without assigned seat (15 bath).

 

You can find the trains timetable and fares down below: 

I chose the 8.20 am express train  to Nong Khai, which stops at Ayutthaya at 9.41 am, after 71 km. I bought a third-class ticket at 15 bath (less than 0,50 euro ) and I didn't regret it. It was a good experience travelling with many Thais, young students with school books, workers with goods to sell at the market, mothers with children and  elderly people. While on the train you can enjoy  the outskirts of Bangkok and the open countryside. Thai people are very kind and nice. If the train is crowded they'll do everything they can to make your trip comfortable, for example offering their seats to you. Relax and enjoy the good vibes, and don't miss to buy a colorful ice-cold drink from one of the sellers who commute from one carriage to another. 

Arrived in Ayutthaya station, get a map and the trains timetable in the hall, so you can choose which train take to go back to Bangkok.

Visiting Ayutthaya can be very challenging because temples aren't so close to one another. You have two options: rent a bike or get a Tuc Tuc. I chose the Tuc Tuc because it was too hot to ride all day.

Don't rent anything just outside the station because it is more expensive. Cross the road and walk straight  down the road in front of you. There are restaurants and market stalls. You'll get on river, buy a ticket and cross it on a boat. On the other side of the river you can choose your bike or tuc tuc. The tuc tuc option is very comforable. You can rent it for a half day at about 600 bath (15 euros) and the driver will get you to the most beautiful temples and he'll wait for you at every visit.

Temple areas are very huge, so you'll walk a lot anyway.

After the visit, you can have a late lunch in one of the restaurants along the way that leads to the station ... great food, cold thai beer and mango smoothies at incredible low prices. Get the 3.35 pm train or the 3.59 pm train that will bring you back to Bangkok between 5 pm and 6 pm.

In the evening, if you still have energies, you can get lost in one of the biggest shopping centers in central Bangkok in Siam Square like MBK, the Siam Paragon or The Siam Center. They are open until 10 pm so enjoy the shopping.

Day 4 

Today you have just half a day left to visit everything you like in Bangkok before leaving for Chiang Mai. Do the check out  and ask for leaving your luggage in custody while you enjoy the morning around the city.

I chose to go to China Town and it was really awesome, chaotic and colorful, full of chances to do good shopping and taste some delicious street food.

Go there it's very easy. Go to the BTS Saphan Taksin station and head to the Central Pier or Sathorn Pier where you were on the second day. Take the orange line and get off the boat at stop n. 5 Ratchawong.

From the dock go straight and dive into China Town’s heart. The super jammed roads and the huge markets will hit you up with a mixture of scents, noises and colors. Have fun tasting everything inspires you on the stalls, from salmon to fried chicken, from pancakes to grilled bananas. You will really find everything on the smoking plates scattered almost everywhere in the neighborhood.

In the afternoon go back to the hotel, get  your luggage and head to Suvarnabhumi airport with the city line train, efficient and cheap.

The flight to Chiang Mai lasts just over an hour, you can book it on the Thai airways website.  I paid it  35 euros (one way).

Once arrived in Chiang Mai at dinner time withdraw your baggage and head to the Taxi Metro office. The airport is not big at all so you'll find it easily. Tell them  the name of the hotel you booked and they will give you the number of the taxi assigned to you and that is waiting for you outside the airport. You have to pay the taxi driver the fixed rate of 150 baht. After the check in and a deserved shower you are ready to hit the Chiang Mai roads looking for a good restaurant.

Day 5

Chiang Mai is a small treasure and is a source of national pride for its natural and artistic beauties. Despite being the second largest city in Thailand, it is still a place where you can breathe a relaxed atmosphere, far away from the hustle and bustle of the capital Bangkok. In Chiang Mai old town, shaped like a quadrilateral, closed by walls and surrounded by a water canal, there are a lot of beautiful temples to visit, many exotic lounge bars  and restaurants where you can have a good beer, eat delicious food and listen to live music, there are crowded markets where you can spend hours shopping. But Chiang Mai does not end there. Nearby you can do a lot of excursions and sporting activities such as trekking and rafting, you can explore  forests, ride a bike through rice fields, have  a chat with monks, visit a shelter for elephants, have many traditional massages, drink delicious smoothies with mango, coconut and other tropical fruits, attend  Thai cooking classes. To be short, a city not to be missed.

Pushed by the desire to get away from the town environment and have a break on temples, I spent my first day in Chiang Mai in an elephant shelter, the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary.

 

This refuge, like many others in Thailand, (see also the most famous Elephant Nature Park) welcomes and takes care of  mistreated elephants used for hard work and as tourists attraction. Its aim is to ensure them a better life, as free and peaceful as possible in a naturalistic and wild environment  at about 60 km from the town. 

 

Tourists are allowed to visit the sanctuary thanks to an eco-tourism project carried out with full respect for animals and the safety of all.

 

Half-day or full-day visits are possible, while for the more passionate there are also two-days visits with overnight stays in  local families.

 

Down below the details of each type of visit, programs and costs:

I chose the half-day visit in the afternoon shift and I spent 2500 bath, about 60 euros. You can book directly on the website a couple of days in advance and pay with credit card. Immediately after the purchase, you will receive an email confirming your reservation and meeting details.

 

The day is as follows:

 

They'll pick you up at the hotel at 11.30 am, the journey takes about an hour and a half. Upon arrival a short walk will take you to the camp where the elephants reside. A volunteer will give you a traditional Karen  tunic to wear, and will explain a little about the history of elephants in Thailand and something about their life and their diet. After that you will be ready to meet the elephants and you will have the opportunity to feed them with bananas: put them in their wide open mouth or  let them take bananas from your hands   with their trunks.

 

Once the meal is over, it's time to put on a swimsuit! Elephants are led into a large mudpool where they can be spreaded with mud, very good for their skin constantly exposed to the sun. After that you will all go together to the river to bathe with them and rinse them out of the mud. After the bath you will have the opportunity to take a shower, and finally a traditional Thai lunch will be served at 4.00 pm.

 

Remember to bring a bathing suit, a towel, sunscreen and a change of clothes with you.

After this beautiful day the coming back to the hotel is scheduled around 5.30 pm.

 

Spend the evening in Chiang Mai old town: you deserve a nice traditional Thai massage at 200/300 bath and a delicious dinner. If you are bored with thai food you can also find several really good Indian restaurants.

Day 6

Chiang Mai is also the town of temples because in the old town there  are more than thirty. Usually tourists visit only a couple of them, the most beautiful, because they are awesome but more or less similar. What is striking is the typical architecture  of Lanna kingdom  that dominated Chiang Mai in the distant past (18th century), which always includes a chedi or stoupa often gilded to house relics of the Buddha and the ashes of kings. Gold, embroideries and decorations make these temples really beautiful, just as it is fascinating to see Thai people pray, meditate and bring offerings to Buddha and monks.

 

Spend the morning of this 6th day walking through the old town discovering these temples, including Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Chiang Man. The ticket  cost 50 bath and , as sacred places, you must of course  wear appropriate clothing (the usual covered legs and shoulders).

 

You can move easily from a temple to another on foot in the old town, but if you want to move faster and the heat is hitting hard  you always have the Tuc Tuc option: with about 100 bath (3 euro) you will reach quickly your destination. The alternative to Tuc Tuc in Chiang Mai is called Songthaew. It's a red-colored collective taxi, a pick-up truck with a covered box and some benches to sit down. You can stop it by raising an arm when you see one passing through the street and the driver chooses the route to follow.

In the afternoon you cannot miss the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, simply called Doi Suthep. It is one of the most famous and revered temples in all Thailand, a destination for buddhist pilgrims  from all over the country. Its peculiarity is that it is located about 15 km outside Chiang Mai and it was built on a mountain at 1000 meters above sea level, from where you can admire a great  panorama on  the town .

 

To get there you can stop a Songthaew, which can also take you to more distant locations. With 600 bath (15 euros) you can ask the driver to take you to the temple and wait until the end of your visit and bring you back to the hotel. You can bargain the price but under a certain amount they will not go down because there is a bit of road all the way to go and they remain busy for several hours.

 

The access to the temple is reached by climbing a long staircase of more than 300 steps flanked by two Naga, the dragon snakes of Buddhist mythology.

 

At the end of the staircase you will find the ticket office (30 baht, less then one euro).

 

The beauty and the atmosphere of this great temple is undeniable. The meditation center, the monks who give  blessings and accept offerings, the lotus flowers laid  in front of Buddha statues, the bows, the folded hands and the burning incense will make you dive  in an almost magical world. The only discordant note is that often the temple is crowded and the huge amount of tourists, sometimes not very observant of the rules of silence and respect that are attached to a sacred place, spoil the mysticism of the place.

At the end of the visit, go back to Chiang Mai and spend your night browsing the famous night market which has its maximum extension on Saturday and Sunday with the famous saturday walking street and sunday walking street. You will find, in addition to the inevitable street food, clothing, spices, household items, necklaces and bracelets, silk scarves. Go shopping!

Giorno 7

After a full day on  temples and shopping, it's time to dive back into nature.

It’s a pity not to do so because Chiang Mai is surrounded by mountains covered in tropical forests with lush vegetation, waterfalls and rivers where you can even swim. So you can spend your last day in the north of thailand visiting the Doi Inthanon National Park.

In town there are travel agencies at every corner,  I chose to lean on TAD TRAVEL & TOURS agency because it was recommended to me as good.

I chose the one-day trip at  42 € per person. It seems expensive but actually it is not. They come to pick you up at the hotel in the morning and bring you back in the late afternoon with a 15-seater air-conditioned minibus, an English speaking guide will spend the day with you and you will be able to ask  any questions  (the proverbial Thai kindness  is true), you will stop along the way to admire waterfalls, walk on the highest peak of Thailand (2595 meters above sea level), visit the twins Chedi built in honor of the former king and his wife, have lunch with typical Thai food, make a couple of hours trekking in the forest and among strawberry fields and coffee plantations, you'll stop for a swim in the river (bring with you a swimsuit and a towel), and end the day with a good coffee grounded at the moment. The tour is well organized, the trekking is very simple and the opportunity to meet other tourists from all over the world will make this day even more awesome.

This is your last night in Chiang Mai. Enjoy a pre dinner drink and a good dinner , pack your stuff and fly towards wonderful beaches !

Day 8

In Thailand it’s a must to spend a few days in one of its beautiful islands. It’s not that easy to pick up the one that suits you the most because there are so many and they all have wonderful beaches and an amazing blue sea. You have to focus on what you really want from your vacancy. There are those crowded with tourists because they are famous and everyone wants to go there, those known for their intense nightlife and those still uncontaminated paradises ready to be discovered with essential services and nothing more. Of course your choice must depend on the season too: try to avoid monsoon weather.

 

I wanted an island with a beautiful sea, nice weather, uncrowded but not too boring, with some places to have good drinks and music at nights. I chose Koh Lipe and I did not regret it.

Koh Lipe is located in the Andaman Sea very close to Malaysia, so the weather is perfect from winter to spring, until April. Going there it requires a little patience but I assure you that it's worth it.

Book on Air Asia website, the Asian low-cost airline, a two hours early morning flight from Chiang Mai to Hat Yai  (I took the 6.50 am flight). From Hat Yai airport take a minibus to Pak Bara pier and a boat transfer from Pak Bara Pier to Koh Lipe Island.

You can book mini bus + boat on thaibeachtravellers.com and pay with credit card.

They’ll send the tickets to your mailbox and all the information you need at your arrival at the airport. Anyway I can tell you that there will be a guy waiting for you outside the airport, he will lead you to the mini bus and then to the right boat.  

Let’s give a look at prices: : I paid 76 euros the flight to Hat Yai (one way) and 44 euros  for the round trip on minibus and boat.

At the Pak Bara pier, as Koh Lipe is located in Tarutao National Marine Park, you will also need to pay an entry fee of 200 bath.

In the afternoon you will finally arrive in Koh Lipe: beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters and lots of relax.

Days 9, 10, 11

Kho Lipe is a very small island, 2 km long and 2.5 km wide. Its main feature is that there are 3 beautiful beaches, one on each side:

 

- Pattaya beach: full of clubs and resorts; it is very popular and often crowded, especially during the high season. There is a jetty for boarding and unboarding tourists and there are many boats moored waiting for passengers. It is a lively beach of fine white sand for those who want have fun.

- Sunrise beach: in my opinion the most beautiful in Koh Lipe, with fine white sand and quiet  resorts. It is ideal for those who want to enjoy the sun and the sea in a discreet place with no confusion.

- Sunset beach: the wildest and the smallest beach, it is located in a slightly more secluded position. It is called sunset beach because it is exposed to the west, and every evening you can admire beautiful sunsets while enjoying a drink. 

 

As Kho Lipe is located in a marine national park and it is surrounded by many uninhabited islands, you can  rent during the day a long tail boat, a typical Thai boat, to visit some of them and enjoy snorkeling or sunbathing on   deserted beaches.

Resorts also organize boat trips  in the marine park for 450 bath half day with fresh fruit included or for 550 to 650 bath full day trip with lunch included. They usually lean on good local travel agencies that can provide musks and snorkels too.

Stops are scheduled in the most beautiful islands and on the coral reef full of colorful fishes. 

 

The island's life is concentrated on the main street called the walking street, which flows into Pattaya beach. It's a pedestrian road full of restaurants where you can eat excellent grilled fish and cocktail bars with live music! The atmosphere is laidback and informal everywhere so forget your shoes: on this island you won't need them. Your  flip-flops will be just fine.

Giorno 12

Unfortunately, the dreaming days on Lipe Island are coming to an end. On this day you have just the  time to take a last morning walk on the beach, pack your luggage, check out and leave.

Go back to Hat Yai airport with boat and minibus then take a flight back to Bangkok.

I chose the 1:30 pm speed boat that allowed me to arrive at the airport in the late afternoon, on time to get the 7.15 p.m. Air Asia flight to Bangkok Don Mueang landed in the capital at 8.45 p.m. I booked on the Air Asia website and I paid 43 euros.

As you will be tired after a busy half-day travelling,  I suggest you to get a taxi to your hotel. Remember to take the ticket to join the line.  When your turn comes you will see it on the board. 

 

Giorno 13

I decided to spend the last day in Bangkok just to be sure not to miss my international flight to Milan, that was scheduled shortly after midnight. You never know what can happen, just a simple delay can put at risk your plan.

 

Bangkok is huge so you can take the chance to visit again what you liked the most or visit something new.

I went to Lumphini Park  (Lumphini station) and to the Pratunam market, just to do some more shopping before leaving the country.

In the late afternoon you can visit the famous Asiatique, the western style shopping center. It is a large pedestrian area on the Chao Praya River where you can shop, eat or drink cocktails and listen to live music. The Asiatique comes alive around 6.00 pm and you can go there on the  Orange line. From Central Pier, however, you must travel in the opposite direction then the Grand Royal Palace and get off at Wat Rajsingkorn stop . As it is a very touristic place, prices are quite high compared to the city standards, but it deserves a visit anyway.

Giorno 14

Unfortunately your vacancy is going to an end. Today you'll have to get the city line train to Suvarnabhumi airport or, why not, a comfortable taxi if you are too tired to get public transports.

 

Hope you enjoyed this tour. Leave your comments down below.

 

 

...to the next adventure...

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