Thailand Travel: Bangkok & Chiang Mai

Thailand Travel: Bangkok & Chiang Mai

It’s hard to believe we have been back from our honeymoon for just about five months. I was driving home the other day and thought to myself, I miss Thailand.

From the people to the food and the experiences we had over there I think about that beautiful country regularly. I know many of you have asked for our itinerary so I decided to break it down into the city piece of our honeymoon and the island piece. First up, Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

Before you go:

Check the CDC website to see what shots and medications you will need ahead of travel. This is VERY important as some of the vaccinations you need have to be administered a specific period ahead of travel.

Also, STOCK UP on this bug spray and this bug repellent lotion. It was recommended to us by a friend who had traveled to Thailand a couple of months before and it was a lifesaver. It’s extremely effective in protecting against bugs and most importantly mosquitoes.

Now for the fun stuff.

Stop One: Bangkok

Stay: Aetas Lumpini

Address: 1030/4 Rama 4 Road, Thungmahamek, Satorn, Bangkok 10120 Thailand

We decided to stay at this hotel after researching via TripAdvisor. While the overall hotel and staff were great the location is a bit out of the way. And like I mentioned in my last Thailand post (here) traffic is pretty terrible anywhere you go. So when we’d want to head to a market or some of the temples it took a good amount of time to get there. And yes, we tried walking as far as possible but the city is extremely large so it’s not efficient or effective.

Tuk Tuk Transportation

Do it once because I mean.. you have to right? We never hopped on any scooters but I have heard that’s an experience in and of itself. We were weaving through traffic in this tuk tuk but I can only imagine a scooter brings it’s own thrill.

Must Visits

Temples

Wat Pho : It’s also referred to as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha and it’s worth the hype. Along with the approximately 150 foot reclining Buddah the grounds are breathtaking.

Wat Arun: We did this temple on the same day as Wat Pho. It’s a short boat ride across the water and is referred to as Temple of Dawn. I must say this temple is overwhelming gorgeous in its own way. The intricate design of the structure is something you just have to see with your own eyes.

The Grand Palace : The Grand Palace is a very crowded destination no matter the time of year or day. After some research, we decided to visit this temple on a separate day than the above two to give us enough time to properly wander and explore.

The Flower Market

A bustling market in the flower district that has aisles upon aisles of flowers. It’s simply a sight to see, even if you don’t buy any flowers at all.

Eat

While we ate an insane amount of good food while in Bangkok two spots stood out in our minds and have made their way onto our ‘musts’ for when we go back;

ERR – All I’m going to say is that we are still thinking about the chicken satay and pork spare ribs. Their cocktails are pretty incredible as well.

Soul Food Mahanakorn.– Our amazing friends got us a voucher for dinner here as it was their favorite restaurant when they were in Bangkok for their own honeymoon. The most thoughtful gift ever and to top it off, it was SO good! Just try a bunch of things but pro tip, make sure to make a reservation – it gets pretty packed!

If your plans allow (I’d highly recommend…)

We had planned our trip around the Thai Lantern Festival locally known as Yi Peng and Loy Krathong. We were in Bangkok on the night of Loy Krathong where we were able to float our “Krathong’s” (that we learned how to make at ERR) on the river. The krathong floating on the water symbolizes an individuals willingness to let go of hatred and anger.

More on Yi Peng in the Chiang Mai section below but if you are interested in participating in these festivals I’d suggest looking at the calendar when booking your trip as the dates are listed through 2020 right now.

Stop Two: Chiang Mai

Stay: U Chiang Mai

Address: 70 Rachadamnoen Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

I also used TripAdvisor to find this hotel. Our room had a view of the pool, which is open to all guests, and just a balcony. The most important thing though was probably the location. There are a few restaurants right across the street, the hotel has daily breakfast and a rooftop (ish) bar that’s great for relaxing with a drink and taking in the sights of Chiang Mai. It’s also right in the thick of the infamous Chiang Mai Sunday night market (more on that below).

Hotel lobby/entrance
View from our room looking at the pool.

Eat

While we ate a lot of good food again in Chiang Mai (especially at the night market) one of the dishes unique to Chiang Mai was “Chiang Mai Sausage”. It was simple.. it was spicy.. and it was definitely something I’d recommend.

Surprisingly we didn’t have Pad Thai until we got to Chiang Mai and it was well worth the wait.

\Elephant Excursions

There are plenty of places that you can book an excursion with elephants. The most important thing to ensure when looking for a sanctuary is to check that there is NO RIDING of the elephants. There is no such thing as ethical riding of elephants especially in Thailand where elephant excursions are a big tourist attraction. We did our research and ended up switching where we were going to visit for our day with elephants after re-researching and consulting with a friend who had recently visited Thailand. If you know me, you know that I’ve been mystified by elephants for some time now so ensuring an ethical experience with them was crucial. I’ll get into where we went below but please ensure you RESEARCH if you end up going with another company. Unfortunately many places promote that they are ethical but some turn out to be very different once the tourists leave.

My Pick:Lanna Kingdom Elephant Sanctuary

I cannot stress how amazing our experience was here for the full day tour. We were picked up directly from our hotel and taken to the sanctuary, which was about an hour away. After changing into clothes provided by the sanctuary, we were able to have a meet and greet with the rescued elephants and then learn more about not only the sanctuary but about each elephant there. We heard each elephant’s story and how Lanna Kingdom owner/founder, Mr. Pop (Witthaya Phongsiri), started the sanctuary and saved these magnificent creatures. We also learned how to speak to the elephants as well as some safety tips for ensuring not only our safety but the elephants as well. We chopped down banana trees, fed the elephants, prepared medicine balls for them, bathed them and had a wonderful lunch at the sanctuary.

Sunday Night Market

We just so happened to be in Chiang Mai for the weekly Sunday night market. I’d highly suggest planning your stay in Chiang Mai around this market if you are able to adjust your travel schedule. We walked, shopped, and ate from the beginning of the market until the end, literally watching them take down every table from a rooftop bar on the main street. I’ve never seen anything similar to this market in the states so you’ll have to trust me that it truly is something you need to see it for yourself.

Yi Peng – Chiang Mai Lantern Festival

As I mentioned above we were in Thailand during one of their largest yearly festivals (Matt thought we “just so happened to be there…” but of course I planned it). We arrived in Chiang Mai just in time for the Yi Peng lantern festival.

Before our trip I did my research and found “During the festival, people launch a lantern into the sky as if launching their own bad luck and mistakes into oblivion. If your lantern disappears into the dark before the light goes out, you will have an extremely good year. Conversely, if your lantern crashes, your next year will be full of bad luck.”(via AsiaHighlights.com). Therefore, of course there was a lot of pressure for our lantern to disappear into the night sky.

We lit our lantern and waited… waited… waited.. until it had enough air to begin to float. As we let go of the lantern we saw it go up and slowly start to come down over the water (damnit I internally thought) but just as quickly as I saw it coming down something happened and our lantern lifted and flew off high into the night sky. 🙂 It was truly an experience unlike any other. Being in the presence of all these lanterns flying high into the sky… it’s truly something I’d recommend you plan your trip around.

So there you have it, our must see/do things while in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Have questions? Are you planning a trip? I’d love to know in the comments below! Or if you have any other favorites stops in either city feel free to share them below!

Be on the look out for my roundup of Krabi, Phi Phi Islands and Koh Yao Yai in my next post!

XO!

M

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