I can think of view places more exciting to the senses or evocative of the backpacker spirit of adventure than Thailand. Leaving the air-conditioned airport outside Bangkok, the hot, wet night embraces you, submerges you, baptizes you into another world. Everything is different from home – smells, tastes, sounds, attitudes, the aforementioned air, colors – every sensation sings with novelty.
In Bangkok, I like to stay on Soi Rambuttri – a side street off the notorious Khao San Road with many of the same amenities but less of the mayhem. For more info, here is Bangkok Magazine’s take. From here you can visit the major temples, palaces, and sights easily, or just relax with a foot massage or some incredible street food. I can only handle about two nights in Bangkok anyway, but there is so much to see and explore there, every time I pass through I find something new and amazing.
Heading North, catch an overnight train out of Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is one of the few cities on the planet I have fallen in love with. I wish I had more photos to do it justice, but they will have to wait for another trip. It seems like there is small magic around every corner in the old, moated city. One sweltering day I found local kids using a rope tied to an old fig tree to swing out over the ancient moat walls and splash into the water below. I tried it out and cooled off with them for bit before wandering off to explore some more. Above the city sits the mountain of Doi Suthep, crowned with a temple of the same name. It is incomparable. The photo at the top of the post is at a smaller holy site half-way up the mountain that maybe predates the larger temple at the top. The ancient buddha statues in the cave are attended to by monks daily. So many memories of that charming city come back to me, I cannot do it justice here.
Let’s head South, back on the train, overnight towards Bangkok, but get off at the ancient city of Ayuthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage site, capital of Siam for close to 500 years, and at its height one of the largest cosmopolitan areas the world over. It was sacked by the Burmese in 1767, and the army beheaded all the buddha statues in the temple grounds.
Then head for the islands! I love Koh Tao and Koh Phangnan, although they are busier and more built up all the time, the super chill attitude remains.
Koh Phangnan is home to the infamous Full Moon Party, arguably the largest recurring beach party/rave in the world. If you aren’t there right at the full moon, no worries, there are parties for just about every stage of the moon, each set in a unique location, from beach to jungle. It can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you try to stay in Hat Rin, the beach town that hosts the madness. I like to stay in Hat Yao, on the north eastern coast of the island. You can take a taxi down to the parties and still get back to your quiet bungalow to sleep.
There are many many more adventures to share and be had – in Thailand, and the world over. Stay tuned for more
Moonbeam: Inspired by-