I didn’t intend to stay that long but it’s been almost a month in Thailand. That alone is already a pretty strong statement and I can say Thailand has been really good to me again. This time I decided to skip the South and the islands and focus on Central, and even more on Northern Thailand. That part of the country has so much to offer and is so diverse that it would have been easy to fill a 2 months itinerary.
First of all, I was surprised by how cheap Thailand still is. Having travelled the country in 2008, I expected the prices to be much higher. But food, accommodation and transport were so cheap, that it made the start of my journey an easy one. I am afraid that it will be tough to run on the same budget in all of the other countries I will visit.
Looking back at my first stint in Thailand again, it has become a lot more touristic. Especially Chiang Mai seems to have boomed even more during the last few years. The city is full of travelers and backpackers, all inclusive packages are on offer on every corner and every need of the mainly first timers is taken care of. That being said, the country still has enough beautiful places off that beaten track and you don’t even have to venture far. My little escape and a definite highlight were doing the Mae Hong Song Loop by motorbike. The beautiful vistas, the encounters with both locals and like minded travelers and the riding through more than 1860 curves were one hell of an adventure. Besides becoming confident riding a manual, I also finally improved my people photography with the help of French photographer Marie.
Another issue I want to mention here and which I have not written about before is animal welfare and especially elephants. As some might know, the North of Thailand is renowned for its many elephant camps and attractions involving elephants. I booked a day trip to one of these camps, the Baan Chang Elephant Camp, which was recommended in the LP (among one other camp) as well as by fellow travelers. The day still left a bitter sweet taste. I think they really care about the elephants and do good by buying them out of abusive ownerships. Still, the elephants have been chained and during bathing them, they sprayed water by command of the mahouts. They also have like 4 groups coming in every day and every group is doing the same program. Feeding, riding and bathing. The perception of all this is very personal, as others really liked it and would recommend it. I myself wouldn’t do it again but maybe I am just naive and have a too idealistic point of view. It would be great if yo could share your experiences with this issue.
I regret a little bit not having spent more time in the Golden Triangle and in and around Chiang Rai. I sort of lost track of time in Chiang Mai and then my mind was already set for Laos. I think, the area must be really interesting and would be worth visiting. So please do so if you have the chance. However, thinking about this, I realized that it is important to accept that you will never be able to see everything the country has to offer and that you have to set priorities in order to not stress yourself. Especially when travelling long term, avoiding stress and listening to your inner voice is very important.
Travelling in Thailand is basically very easy. If you want to, you can have everything booked by an agency: Pickups from the hostel, packed tours, transports, accommodation – really everything. I can just encourage everybody to go out of your comfort zone and to go exploring by yourselves. It is more fun, more adventurous and last but not least it saves you some serious cash. Of course you need the time to do so.
So all in all, Thailand has been amazing. I met heaps of interesting people, explored some beautiful places, made great experiences, acquired new skills and saw awesome nature. It was the perfect start of my journey.
In every roundup, I will sum up my stay with a few quick facts. Here they are on Thailand.
Where I’ve been:
3 days Bangkok
3 day Kanchanaburi
2 days Ayutthaya
2 days Pak Chong and Kai Yai Nationalpark
5 days Chiang Mai
7 days on the road doing the Mae Hong Song Loop
3 days Chiang Mai
1 day Chiang Khong
Train, Ferry, River Boat, Canal Boat, Tuk Tuk, Taxi, Rikscha, Bicycle, Motorbike, Mototaxi, Hitchhiking, Public Bus, Nightbus, Feet, Songthaew
Good prices, nice people, great nature
Not much. Maybe the occasional mistreatment of animals.
Average expenditures for accommodation:
180 Baht or 4,70 EUR
Types of accomodation used:
Single Room, Double Room, Dorm, Tent, Bungalow, Nightbus
Visit at Chiang Mai Ram Hospital
Photos shot and kept on file:
About a month in Laos
Below I put a selection of my favorite Thailand pictures. I hope you enjoyed my reports and the pictures. I will try to keep the updates coming regularly. In the meantime feel free to message me or share your thoughts about your experiences traveling Thailand or traveling in general. Thanks all for stopping by and the positive feedback. That really keeps me motivated.