Heading to Thailand: Bangkok & Chiang Mai

The trip to Vietnam came to an end, and Sham and I were now in the backpacking world alone, and heading to Thailand. First stop – Bangkok. 

After a quick flight from Hanoi, I landed in Bangkok to unbelievable heat. It is far, far hotter in Thailand than it ever was in Vietnam, which was both lovely + difficult, with a 15kg backpack to carry. I hopped in a taxi with my fellow backpacker (shoutout to Avril) and headed to the Khao San Road. 

Before diving straight into hostel life, I checked into the Buddy Lodge Boutqiue Hotel for one night of luxury – equipped with balcony, waterfall shower and rooftop pool, and bang in the middle of the Khao San Road i.e. backpacker/drinking central, with all sorts of bars, clubs, pubs, street food and the infamous Thai ladyboys. 

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Admittedly, Bangkok is not my favourite place in the world and much more of a ‘stop over city’. The Khao San Road especially reminded me of South East Asia’s equivalent of Zante or Malia and two nights there were more than enough. 

Sham arrived a day later, and we checked into the Nitran Hostel, which was surprisingly calm considering its location, but peaceful & exactly what we needed. 

Bangkok’s £3 1/2 hour foot massages though are unbeatable, and after a Thai curry dinner, a wander around the markets and trying crickets for the first time (they’re very salty, crunchy and spikey) we just had to have another massage before heading back to the hostel and getting ready for our flights to Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. 

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We touched down mid afternoon, after a 1 hour flight (we really didn’t fancy another 12 hour sleeper train just yet) and drove straight to our hostel, and home for the next 5 days – Stamps Backpackers. I cannot rave about this place enough – £6 a night, perfect location, amazingly helpful + friendly staff, so clean, comfy + private and right next door to the home of the best smoothies & brownies I have ever tasted! If I re-visit Chiang Mai, and I really do want to, this is exactly where I’ll be staying! 

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I pretty quickly fell in love with Chiang Mai – a laid back atmosphere, but still fairly busy, extremely friendly people & a huge list of all types of things to do! We spent 5days here, and could easily have stayed longer. 

Our first trip was to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple – the temple with over 300 steps, high in the mountains, with incredible views of the city. This has been on my bucket list for ages, and I was so excited to finally be there! (After a ginormous breakfast at our favourite, The Salad Concept, with the best banana bran smoothie in the world!) 

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The interior and overall design was just stunning, and in the midday sun, it looked even better. I don’t think I’ll ever really get tired of how absolutely gorgeous Thai Buddhist temples really are! 

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After a a few hours spent at the temple, and a few more hours spent lazing around the hostel and a wonder around the Ancient Town, we headed out to dinner in a large group to try a speciality dish of Northern Thailand – Khao Soi. It’s a soup-like tangy curry, with fried egg noodles, chicken, shallots, ground lime and fried noodles on top. It’s incredible and extremely filling! 

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The evening was then finished by a visit to a Muay Thai fight – another first, and for 400 Baht, we watched about 7 brutal fights, in the local’s arena. It’s savage to watch, but oddly addictive and an evening well spent! 

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Chiang Mai was full of unbelievable experiences, including visiting an elephant sanctuary, and cooking curry for the first time! So much more to write about, and as always.. 

Thank you for reading! 

Charlotte J. X 

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