Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Thailand Travels: Bangkok to Chiang Mai (2 Weeks)


Thailand, one of my favourite countries. Filled with night markets, street food, 7-elevens, temples, treks, friendly locals, islands and beautiful sights, it’s a popular place for people to travel to and one of the first places people go when starting their backpacking trip around South East Asia, probably because Bangkok usually has the cheapest flights.

Last time I went to Thailand I stayed around the Bangkok area, visiting Kanchanburi and Hua Hin. Read more about that here. This time I worked my way north as I had a flight booked from Chiang Mai to Hanoi later in the month.

The route I took was Bangkok > Ayutthaya > Chiang Mai > Pai > Chiang Mai and it took me two weeks to do.


Bangkok

I spent five night here, which many will say is too much. And they’re probably right. Especially as I had already visited a year or so ago. Two or three nights will probably suffice. I stayed near Khao San Road in the Bed Station hostel. It’s a popular area to stay in if you’re looking for the night life, and it’s easy to get to the main attractions. 

Khao San Road itself is a small street full of bars, night clubs, street food and shops. In the middle of the street there are two bars almost competing to be the loudest, and everyone dances on outside, switching between the two. People are either drinking Chang or inhaling laughing gas. If you want something a bit more relaxed but still lively, then there is a street parallel to it which I prefer.

As I did most of the sights when I was there a year ago, I skipped a lot this time around. If you are looking for places to go then I recommend Wat Arun Watchawararam, Wat Pho, Wat Rakhang, a boat trip down the Chao Phraya river, Phra Sumen Fort and Phra Athit Pier, where you can shop at the markets and stop for something to eat.


Ayutthaya

After Bangkok I took the short train journey to Ayutthaya, just one hour north of Bangkok. The main attraction here is the historic city of Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritiage Site and former capital of Siam. 

A lot of people do this on a day trip from Bangkok, but I think it is worth at least staying one night. I originally booked for two but was ready to leave after the first night, which I talked about in a previous post. The best way to see the historical temples is by bicycle, which I talked about here. In the evening make sure you pop by the impressive night market, which opens at the weekends. The markets look fairly modern and built up, and there is plenty of local cuisine on offer.


Chiang Mai

From Ayutthaya I took my first sleeper train to Chiang Mai, which was actually a fun experience. I fell in love with Chiang Mai fairly quickly, and everyone I have spoken to feels the same way. At the time of writing I am already planning another trip up there, I loved it so much. I stayed in a couple of places in the Old Quarter, close to lots of restaurants, bars and temples.

The food was so good, especially for a vegetarian, I wrote a post about where I ate here. There is also plenty to do, such as the weekend night markets, temples, excursions and yoga. I wrote a post about all the things I did and all the things I wished I did, as I didn't get to do everything that I wanted.


Pai

Pai is a little hippy/bohemian town just north of Chiang Mai. Everything worth having comes easy, and Pai is no exception. To get there you have to take a minivan along the winding roads, with 762 turns in total. Don’t worry, they provide a sick bag!

Pai is a place people go to for a relaxing break. The atmosphere is chilled and laid back (and other relaxed synonyms) and it’s very easy to make friends. In the evenings you can go to the night markets on Walking Street or hit the many popular and sometimes hidden bars. There are a few activites you can get up to as well, including the waterfalls, the canyon, hiking, the big buddha and the strawberry fields. I wrote about what I got up to in Pai here.


As I said before, I am making my way back to Thailand. I haven’t done the southern islands, so I will head there first and I may head back up north to Chiang Mai if time allows. Have you been before? Where did you go?

Catch up with all my Thailand posts here and all of my travel posts here.

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