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Ayutthaya Historical Park

Ayutthaya Historical Park


Things to do

  • Ayutthaya Historical Park: The ancient ruins of the Thai royal family palace 
  • Watt Mahathat: Restored ancient monestary with a very famous tree in which the head of a Buddha statue has become lodged
  • Summer Palace: Royal family's previous summer home -- ornate and elaborate in an Asia/European fusion style (about thirty minutes from Ayutthaya)

Where I stayed

  • Krungsri River Hotel: Very decent hotel -- clean and it gets the job done. However, I was able to stay in so many beautiful hotels and hostels at such a low cost, that for the price here I really expected more. I'm not likely to stay again. 
The Grand Palace 

The Grand Palace 


Things to do: 

  • Temple of the Emerald Buddha 
  • Wat Po: home of the Reclining Buddha 
  • The Grand Palace: Previous home of the royal family 
  • Night Market in Patpong
  • Siam Nampini Night Show: Traditional Thai dances and performers
  • Bridge Over the River Kwai: AKA the Death Railway. This is about 2 hours outside of Bangkok, and it is a incredibly moving site -- read about it here.
  • Floating Market: Roughly an hour to an hour and a half away depending on what time of day you go, this is a massive market place made up entirely of boats

Where I stayed: 

  • Aetas Lumpini Hotel: Breathtaking views of the city, huge glass windows, great facilities and location 

Restaurant I liked: 

  • Everything Good: Absolutely delicious, and the woman who runs it is a saint. Go in with a group if you can and order everything. The waitresses will bring it out family style and it is so good and so authentic. Eat up, and say hello to the lady of the house for me! 
Bungee Jumping at Chiang Mai X-Center 

Bungee Jumping at Chiang Mai X-Center 

Chiang Mai 

Things to do: 

  • Wat Chedi Luang: Beautiful temple known for its partially destroyed chedi 
  • Doi Suthep: Very culturally and spiritually significant Wat covered in gold 
  • Chiang Mai Night Bazaar: Massive market with incredible foods, goods, and performances across several blocks 
  • Muay Thai fights: There are dozens of spots across the city, so you should ask your hostel/hotel/Airbnb host for directions to the nearest and best one 
  • Chiang Mai X-Center Bungee Jumping: Absolutely loved this!! It was terrifying and exciting, and the staff was a riot. They also offer go-karts, paintball, Xorb balls, and ATV's
  • Treat Cho Self! Chiang Mai is home to incredible spa facilities for really low rates. You can get facials, massages, fish foot baths, the works! It's a great way to unwind in the middle of a trip. 
  • Similar to in Kanchanaburi, you can visit tiger "sanctuaries" here where you can spend time and play with tigers of all ages. I strongly advise you to do your research before you go. Be sure you only spend your money at places that you want to support, and where you are sure there is a proven track record of care for the animals! 

Where I stayed: 

  • It is very easy to find an inexpensive hostel ($7-8/night) near the heart of Chiang Mai. Check out and take your pick! You can also wait to book until you're there, and it is very easy to find a spot with good, open rooms. If you want something nicer, check those same sites and be amazed by the prices of good hotels. 
Tiger Temple 

Tiger Temple 


Things to do: 

  • Lots of out door activities are available -- rafting, hiking, mountain biking, swimming, etc. This is a pretty rural area, so you can also go on treks during the day or at night to see the wildlife. Talk to your hotel/hostel/Airbnb host for suggestions on what tour groups to use, and how to get deals.
  • This is a very tricky one. Kanchanaburi was my absolute favorite place in Thailand while I was there, largely because we had an incredible experience getting to play with tigers at the Tiger Temple and swim with elephants at a "sanctuary." I was horrified and heartbroken to later find out that the animals had been very poorly treated at both sites. While I highly recommend going to Kanchanaburi -- it is absolutely beautiful -- please be more careful than I was when planning your activities. There are lots of places to ride elephants, but make sure to do your research first and don't get talked into going to a site you can't find anything about online. If it doesn't show up, there's probably a reason. The same goes for tiger "sanctuaries" that will let you pose with the animals and play with them. Do your research, and make sure you are only supporting sites that deserve your support. 

Where I stayed: 

  • River Kwai Resotel: This is by far my favorite place I have ever stayed. It is primarily accessible by boat, and is right on the River Kwai. Location is absolutely breath taking, and the rooms are all in little individual bungalows, which is so much fun! Gorgeous hotel, great staff, and delicious food. They also have a huge network of caves on the property that you can explore, which I loved! 


Food to Try:

  • Pad Thai: I don't care how incredible the best Pad Thai you've ever had was, get it from any of the local restaurants in Thailand and it will blow. your. mind. I highly recommend getting it from a street vendor or hole-in-the-wall restaurant where you see locals eating. It is way more authentic and cheaper than most restaurants, which cater to tourist's tastes. 

  • Kai Med Ma Muang: chicken with cashew

  • Som Tam: papaya salad

  • Khao Niew Ma Muang: mango sticky rice

  • Most Thai people get at least one meal a day from street vendors, and it is incredibly good. Go hungry, try everything. 

General Tips: 

  • There are many important cultural differences between Western and Eastern cultures, and you should be aware of them so as not to offend while you travel. Be sure to ask your hotel/hostel/Airbnb host to let you know if there are any important culture faux-pas you should be aware of. Most people are happy to give you a quick overview of their culture, and you will learn a lot of important tips this way!

Safety Tips: 

  • RULE NUMBER ONE: Do not, do not, do not go to the second floor of any bars or clubs in the Red Light district of Bangkok. It will sound enticing as shop owners yell at you from all sides about their "great deals" on drinks, food, and anything in between, but you can get yourself in big trouble by going up. Once you're upstairs, shop owners will require you to pay insane fees to leave. It's really, really not worth it. 

  • RULE NUMBER TWO: Under no circumstances should you ever, ever disrespect the royal family. If you drop a dollar (which has royal faces on it) on the ground, don't step on it with your foot. If you want to make a joke or quip about royalty in general, don't. If you want to comment and it may be construed as rude, do not do it. It is hugely culturally insensitive and illegal to disrespect the royal family. This is a pretty easy way to find yourself on the inside of a Thai jail, which you certainly don't want. 

  • Be cautious in the Red Light district in general. It's a very cool place to go shop, eat, and drink at night, but it can get very unsavory very quickly. Be smart. 

  • Petty crime and pick-pocketing are common, so be sure to keep your bags close. 

  • At night, the touristy areas are very safe to go out in, but as in most areas of the world you should keep your wits about you. Some neighborhoods can get very sketchy after dark, so be sure to ask your hotel/hostel/Airbnb host what areas to avoid. 

Transportation in Thailand: 

  • Buses are a great (and inexpensive) way to get from city to city, and even country to country! You can easily buy a ticket on a bus from one of the dozens of mom and pop travel shops you will see in the streets of Bangkok (and most other cities). Best part is you don't need to book ahead of time! You can almost always buy same day or next day seats. 

  • Tuk-tuks are an easy and inexpensive way to get around town, but be sure to agree on a price ahead of time. You can also rent a tuk-tuk for the full day, which is a really convenient way to go! 

  • Scooters (mopeds) are another great way to travel short distances. Rentals are pretty cheap, and you can find shops every couple of blocks. Be incredibly careful while you are driving these! Traffic is much more manic and intense than in the states, and while it is much easier to drive in the countryside you will need to be hyper vigilant when driving in the city. The roads are thick with bikes, cars, and trucks whizzing in every direction. 

  • It's fairly easy to walk everywhere, but make sure you know your route well ahead of time! Streets are not always well marked. 

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