Thailand- The itinerary- Trips and Activities

Here is a run down of the trips and activities I did whilst in Thailand and a few of my thoughts on them.

 

Chiang Mai Sunday markets

The hotel I stayed at offered a free shuttle to the night markets every night. We had booked ourselves on to the shuttle, when we arrived it turned out that there was only us going. The driver offered to take us to the sunday markets, since we were in Chiang Mai for a few more days we decided to go to the sunday markets and then we could always visit the night markets on a different day. The shuttle dropped us off at about 7:15pm and picked us back up at 9:30pm. Wow, what an introduction to Thailand! Miles and miles of stalls stretching further than you could see, I don’t think we covered even a quarter of what the market had to offer! Looking back over the trip, I feel like this was the most authentically Thai experience I had. The streets were packed with thousands of people (very few of them tourists) haggling for and buying food, clothes, accessories and decorations. Our visit was around a month after the passing of Rama XI so shortly after we arrived at the markets the music stopped and the lights went out, as people lit candles and began singing the Royal Anthem, very surreal for our first night in Thailand- especially when we had no idea what was going on!

Happy Elephant Home-

We did lots of research before booking this trip to ensure the centre we visited did not contribute to the abuse of Elephants in any way. We came across the Happy Elephant Home on Viator, a centre that rescues and rehabilitates Elephants and allows them to live their lives safely and happily. It’s a relatively “young” camp with only 5 Elephants living there, riding is not permitted at this camp and the Elephants are free to do as they please. This is no the camp for you if you want pictures and videos of Elephants doing tricks or painting. We were picked up from our hotel at around 8:30am and taken about 1.5 hrs north, we were given a brief introduction- including a warning about a cheeky baby elephant who was born at the camp earlier in the year! We pulled up at the camp and went for a short briefing on how to act around the elephants, we went over to the “boma pen” to meet Koffee and her baby Milo, “Grandma” then came over to say hello to us. After the introductions we went and got dressed into our Mahout clothes and chopped up some pumpkin to feed the elephants. Once we were dressed we were introduced to the last two elephants Tonsai and Mina and let them wander as we fed them and took videos and pictures. We walked with them for a while and watched them take mud baths, they weren’t coerced into anything and just existed around us; if they’d had enough they walked away and came back when they were ready for more. We got to know each elephant individually, Grandma- the Matriarch and ‘boss’ of the herd, Koffee- Milo’s mum and protector but very calm, Milo- a cheeky six month baby and the only boy in the herd who is still learning the difference between humans and elephants, Mina- the teenager of the herd who is learning how to be an adult but still playful and loves to suckle on her Mahout’s fingers for comfort and Tonsai- the oldest in the herd who was rescued from a trekking camp a few years ago, she still carries the scars of the braces she worse for carrying humans and is blind in one eye from the abuse. A complete softie if easily startled. We took a lunch break and ate rice, omelette, curry and watermelon then went out in the sugar cane fields to cut down some stalks. We carried them down to the river as the elephants followed us, wandering between groups and stealing sugar cane when they wanted a snack. The rest of the herd caught up to us as we waited by the river, eventually the elephants got into the river and we followed! We splashed them with water and scrubbed them with sand and water while they rolled around. When they had enough of the water the elephants made their way to a bank and rolled in the mud to protect their skin from the sun. We walked back to the camp and had some time to relax, where we could swim in the pool, take a shower, change and drink some water before saying goodbye to the elephants and heading back to our hotels. A truly amazing day with some truly amazing animals. We booked the tour through Viator but I can’t actually find it on there anymore, here is a link to their facebook page with some more information:  https://www.facebook.com/Happy-elephant-home-1485558931702928/?fref=ts

elephants
Feeding Grandma
elephants-2
Walking with Milo

 

Chiang Mai City & Temples tour

We booked this tour through Viator to give us a quick run down of the city and temples because we were running out of time in Chiang Mai. We were picked up at about 1:30pm and taken into the city, we picked 6 more people up on the way and made our way to the first temple. The guide gave us some information before giving us free time in the temple to take in the sights. We then got back in the van and made our way to the second temple, Wat Phrathat Doi Sutep. This place is amazing, so ornate and beautiful. The place is huge and we spent hours here. Our guide was very knowledgeable and answered all of our questions and very careful to make sure we were respectful while in the temples. I enjoyed the temple element of this tour but I do wish I had seen some of the Old City- which we didn’t on this tour.

https://www.viator.com/tours/Chiang-Mai/Chiang-Mai-City-and-Temples-Half-Day-Tour/d5267-3685CNX10C

chiang-mai-temple

Wat Phrathat Doi Sutep

 

Chiang Mai Night Markets

We made use of the hotel shuttle again for this and headed out to the daily markets. These were much more tourist orientated, and although there were lots of stalls there wasn’t THAT much on offer, just repeats of the same souvenirs. That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy them though,we did buy some gifts and clothes here, but didn’t manage to find any famous Thai Street food!

Koh Samui- Mae Nam Chinese Market

This market is on a thursday night in a small town about 25 minutes away from the capital of the island. We stayed in Mae Nam so the market was close by. It’s only small and runs across a couple of streets. We noticed a lot of food on offer at this market, obviously with a more chinese twist. We also made friends with our favorite waffle vendor, who we ended up seeing at a different market and being his “regular customers”. The none food items were fairly standard for what we saw at most markets, bags, clothes, decorations and jewellery.

Koh Samui Round Island Sightseeing Tour

Another tour booked through Viator to give us an overview of where we were. We did this as much as possible because we didn’t have time to stay in each place too long. This tour was okay but I feel like we didn’t see much. We were taken to the “Big Buddha” which could be worth a visit, although it’s a very small temple. Then the “Grandma and Grandpa rocks” at Lamai which could be worth a visit for a few photos and a giggle. Other than that we were taken to a view-point, a very bizarre small temple where there is a mummified monk wearing sunglasses (?!) and to a park to see some waterfalls and some elephants. I think the treatment of the elephants put me off this trip as they were in poor physical and mental state and with babies chained up away from their mothers. We were then left in Nathon, the capital. We didn’t find much to do but did grab some lunch and a drink to get out of the midday sun. This tour was good enough (and not very expensive) but not essential, you could see the highlights yourself as Koh Samui is so small.

https://www.viator.com/tours/Koh-Samui/Koh-Samui-Round-Island-Sightseeing-Tour/d347-3685SMU02

big-buddha
Big Buddha

Koh Samui- Fisherman’s Village Night Market

An absolute must on Koh Samui is to go to Fisherman’s village on a friday evening. The atmosphere is beautiful, we arrived at dusk (using the hotel shuttle) and sat in a bar on the beach watching the sun set before heading to the market for some light shopping, something to eat (from our favourite waffle man) and a few more drinks. I can’t even describe the beauty of the place, visually and atmospherically.

Koh Samui- Chaweng

We decided to go and see what all the fuss was about here as this is supposed to be the main tourist hub. We hopped on the trusty shuttle bus and arrived in Chaweng…to nobody. We couldn’t find anybody or any sort of life really! Maybe we arrived too early or were in the wrong part, but we felt like we were in an “anywhere resort”, I felt like I could have been in Spain! We grabbed something to eat and had a few quiet drinks before heading back to Mae Nam.

Koh Pha Ngan- Koh Nang Yuan

We booked this as part of our Full Moon Party package, an optional extra snorkelling tour to Koh Tao was available. The tour turned out to not really be to Koh Tao- we snorkelled just off it for a while then got back on the boat- but to Koh Nang Yuan, a smaller island just off it. The snorkelling here wasn’t as good as Koh Tao but the place was amazing. I can’t believe places like this exist in the world! I’m sure you can book snorkelling tours to Nang Yuan from the surrounding islands and I highly recommend it if you can.

koh-nang-yuan
Koh Nang Yuan

Full Moon Party

The world-famous party, that happens once a month! We couldn’t NOT got to one, even if we did think we’d feel like babysitters! As mentioned we booked ours as a package but you can show up at the beach (pull over a taxi and they’ll take you there) and pay the 100 baht entrance fee (£2.50!) I’ll be honest, we walked onto the beach and the same thought went through my Sister and I’s heads. “I hate it” It was my worst nightmare, 18 years old off their faces on god knows what,falling around, fighting, throwing up, doing the dance with no pants! We both decided that we would give it an hour, we wanted to enjoy ourselves but weren’t going to force ourselves to stay there. We walked to the other end of the beach (turn right as you come on by the pirate ship hostel) and ended up having an amazing night! The atmosphere had completely changed, so relaxed, and it actually felt like people were there to have a good night, of course people were drinking but not in the same manner as down the beach. The age also seemed to have increased up the beach as well as the music becoming a little more “mainstream”. I’d definitely go back to a full moon party now, I’d just remember to take lots of change with me as you have to pay for the toilets!

 

Krabi Phi Phi Islands by Speedboat

This was a must for us when we were staying in Krabi. Anybody who has seen “The Beach” will know why, and anybody who hasn’t seen the beach- watch it and you will! We were picked up and taken to Maya Bay, Pileh Lagoon, snorkelling just off Monkey beach, Phi Phi Don and Bamboo Island. The tour was good and gave a great overview of the Phi Phi Islands or ideas on where you would like to go back.

https://www.viator.com/tours/Krabi/Krabi-to-Phi-Phi-Islands-by-Speedboat/d348-3685KBV10

Krabi Nightmarkets

We booked a trip to the nightmarkets in Krabi town through an agent in our hotel reception. I would say this was one of my least favourite markets, it was very small and didn’t offer much on sale. If you don’t get chance to visit this, you’re not missing much. Also I saw the biggest cockroach I have ever seen in my life…crawling on a man’s neck so I would quite happily forget about the night for the rest of my life!!

Phi Phi Leh

We stayed on Phi Phi Don for a few days and felt like we didn’t really get long enough on Phi Phi Leh (Maya Bay and Pileh Lagoon) so we hopped on a long boat for a morning, you can hire these from most beaches. Don’t be alarmed by the way they do business! Explain where you want to go, let them give you a price, then haggle until you agree! If you’re booking in advance it common practice to pay a deposit to your “Captain”. You don’t get a ticket, but are shown the boat and usually get a phone number. We did this and had no problems at all. I would say this is one of my favourite trips, we completely built this ourselves and had complete control. Please note that you will need to pay a fee to dock at the beach as it is a national park.

maya-bay
Maya Bay (No there isn’t a filter on this!)

Phi Phi View Point-

Oh my, is this a long way up! The climb is unbelievable! Prepare to be tired- and I mean tired! There is a bar about half way up to the first viewpoint which we stopped in. If you can make it to the second viewpoint please do! I highly recommend climbing in suitable shoes, don’t do this in flips flops, take sunscreen because you will probably sweat off what you’re wearing and most importantly, wear bug spray! I’m not exaggerating, there were hundreds landing on people! There is a small fee to pay on entering the view point area and alcohol isn’t permitted.

Bangkok City and Temple Tour-

Another tour we booked through Viator, its a half day tour that includes The Golden Budda, The Reclining Buddha and The Marble Temple. This tour was honestly amazing, the guide was amazing and gave us lots of insider information. She added on the Grand Palace to the tour (a fee can be negotiated) and took us around there too. If you don’t do anything else in Bangkok, please visit the Grand Palace and Wat Pho!!

https://www.viator.com/tours/Bangkok/City-and-Temples-of-Bangkok/d343-8084P1

Bangkok Night Food and City Tour By Tuk Tuk

I’ll be honest, I thought this tour might be a bit cheesy but it turned out to be my favourite tour in Bangkok. We met up with our guides who gave us traditional dried Thai Fruits before taking us to the road and introducing us to our Tuk Tuk Driver. The guide took it in turns riding along with each of us (there were 6 of us in 3 Tuk Tuks) and gave us lots of extra information as well as asking us about our culture (we had a great chat about Rowan Atkinson, apparently Mr Bean is a superstar there!) We were taken to a local Night Market, a temple (there was a funeral going on while we were there, so we didn’t explore too much), to a restaurant to eat Pad Thai (apparently the most popular in Bangkok- you have to queue from 3pm to get a table!), the giant swing, Wat Pho and then to the Flower Markets. We saw the temples in a totally different way on this and got lots of new information!

https://www.viator.com/tours/Bangkok/Bangkok-Night-Food-and-City-Tour-by-Tuk-Tuk/d343-6356P4

Bangkok- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

We booked this tour through an agent in our hotel. Although this was quite interesting it’s not something I would call a “must see”. You travel quite a while from Bangkok to get there. The boats themselves were very crowded as well as the waterways. The goods were very expensive compared to every other market we visited and they were exactly the same. These vendors a lot more set on their prices and less open to haggling. It was interesting, but seemed a bit of a show for the tourists. I’m sure there are more authentic markets around than this.

Bangkok- Ayutthaya

This was another tour we booked with our hotel. We figured that we might never be this close again and some studies are saying that this place might not be here in years to come due to Bangkok’s rapid expansion. This is one of the former capitals of Siam and now a UNESCO world heritage site. This was a long tour which involved visiting the Royal  Winter Palace, the old city ruins, a functioning temple and the ruins of the original reclining Buddha, we then took a boat down the river where we ate lunch and were eventually taken back to our hotels. This tour was really interesting and packed with information about something that I personally did not know anything about beforehand.

More information can be found here:

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/576

So that was all of the tours and activities we fit in, other than shopping, beaches,pools etc!

I hope you found this interesting or helpful, these are only the things I did/ had time for and my opinions on them.

We pre booked a lot of our trips on Viator as we find it easier to know what we’re doing and when (especially with such a packed itinerary) and that way we had prepaid for a lot of the trips before we went.

If you have any suggestions for any activities that I missed please let me know so I can plan for my next trip!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thailand- The itinerary- Hotels and Travel

Being 24 and 27-year-old sisters, trying to fit as much Thailand into three weeks as possible shaped the way we decided to organise our trip. We felt we were much too old and grumpy to be staying in a 10 bed dorm full of 18-20 year olds; we need our sleep and are much too accustomed to the luxury of air conditioning and our own bathroom.

Time constraints also removed the option of night buses and sleeper trains for us, we simply didn’t have the time so flew between destinations on the trip.

It might be worth noting that we did save up for a long time to be able to afford to take this trip the way we did. It was difficult but definitely possible and made easier with such a fantastic goal to work towards.

Here is quick run down of where we stayed and how we got to and from destinations, it may be useful to give you an idea of some of the more popular destinations in Thailand to visit and even offer some inspiration for your own itinerary!

4th November- 5th November

We flew emirates from Manchester to Bangkok, we had a short stop over in Dubai- just long enough to freshen up and grab a bite to eat before boarding. The flights were between 6 and 7 hours each. We decided to fly straight up to Chiang Mai on the 5th, rather than staying in Bangkok for one night and flying out the next day.

We used to Bangkok airways to get from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, this flight was about 1-1.5 hours and an absolute breeze compared to our previous two!

Chiang Mai 05/11/2016- 09/11/2016

We took a taxi from the airport to our hotel which cost us 200 baht and checked into the Woodfield Resort.

We planned to use the 6th to relax and rest from the flights so wanted a quiet hotel with a pool. We stumbled across this gem:

woodfield-balcony-view
Woodfield Resort  Photo Credit Hollie Godbehere

This hotel is about 10 minutes drive from the Old City, but so peaceful. The beds were comfortable, the air conditioning fantastic and the showers hot so perfect for what we needed!

Pros:

Peaceful, clean, comfortable, safe, close to amenities.

The hotel offers a free bus to the night markets which I highly recommend you make use of (a tip for the driver is appreciated)

Cons:

I would give breakfast a miss, we attempted it one morning and found it had mostly been picked over by 8am. What was left was lukewarm and uncovered.

We ate one evening meal in the hotel after a long day trip and also found it to be quite expensive.

We booked this hotel here:

http://www.booking.com/hotel/th/woodfield-resort-chiang-mai.en-gb.html

We made use of the hotels airport shuttle on the 9th to catch our next flight. Again we flew Bangkok Airways, this time to Koh Samui.

Koh Samui 09/11/2016- 14/11/2016

We landed at Koh Samui airport (a beauty in its own right, much like this entire island) and waited for our transfer shuttle which we had booked through our hotel.

We planned to use this as our “island time” to relax fully before we really picked up the pace. This is also one of the most stunning hotels I have stayed in.

samui-buri
Samui Buri Beach Resort

There are honestly no words to describe the beauty of this place. The hotel’s infinity pool overlooks the beach and had a direct view of Koh Pha Ngan. This place is 500m away from a small village with plenty of places to eat and drink, but is still peaceful. I felt like I was in a palace in this hotel!

Pros:

This place is beautiful, I have never known luxury like this.

Clean and an excellent shower (this became so important to us on our trip)

Breakfast is excellent

Close to bars and restaurants.

This hotel also offers a shuttle bus, Definitely get yourself to Fisherman’s Village on a  friday evening!

Cons:

Having to leave!

We booked this hotel here:

http://www.booking.com/hotel/th/samui-buri-beach-resort.en-gb.html?aid=356983;label=gog235jc-hotel-en-th-woodfieldNresortNchiangNmai-unspec-gb-com-L%3Aen-O%3AwindowsSnt-B%3Afirefox-N%3AXX-S%3Abo-U%3Ac;sid=f0e8e9b3dee27e72f73e9d03a803ee0d;dest_id=900040646;dest_type=city;dist=0;group_adults=2;hpos=1;room1=A%2CA;sb_price_type=total;srfid=15651cc5d95a715c3fb07bd48eb4e58c4c36f8c6X1;type=total;ucfs=1&

Koh Pha Ngan  14/11/2016- 16/11/2016

The next stop on our Trip was Koh Pha Ngan for the Full Moon Party!

We decided to book a package which included transfers to and from the pier, ferry tickets, transfers to and from the hotel, accommodation, taxis to and from the party and entrance into the party.

I’m glad that we booked a package for our first trip as it made everything very simple for us, however we have said next time that we would book this ourselves rather than as a package.

With the company we used you could choose which package you wanted but you did not choose your hotel. This is where the problems started, unfortunately this hotel was not as great as it looked.

We actually didn’t take many pictures here as we did not spend any time here, in fact here is the only picture we took in this hotel:

grand-sea
Locking our door at the Grand Sea Resort

Our room was very basic, with the bathroom not fully constructed, the shower was very poor and fell out of the cradle regularly (usually hitting us!). We shared our room with bugs and had to padlock and bolt ourselves into the room (the only way to lock the doors). The waterproof sheets were stained as well as the towels.

I didn’t see the hotel reception open at any stage of our stay other than check in and check out, and there was no way to contact anybody with any issues we had.

I am not a hotel snob, but this hotel was very expensive to stay in (and our second choice of the ones offered) and such poor quality. I would say that staying here is the only time I didn’t feel safe on my entire trip!

Pros:

It was close to a pub that was lovely and served good food.

Cons:

Everything about this hotel (room, staff, pool.)

Hotel was in complete darkness when we returned from the Full Moon Party, luckily we were able to navigate the stairs to our room.

Package booking means that you have to check out of the hotel very early the day AFTER the Full Moon Party.

We booked our package here:

http://fullmoonpartybooking.com/

The package itself was very good and well organised- especially when dates needed to be changed following the death of the Thai King, unfortunately this hotel was very poor.

On our final morning we were picked up from the hotel and taken to the ferry port. We got on our ferry and again were met at the port to be taken to the airport.

Krabi 16/11/2016-19/11/2016

We used Bangkok Airways to fly to Krabi, we ended up flying to Bangkok first and then onto Krabi due to an overbooked flight. This was no issue for us as we only arrived 30 minutes later than we would have and Bangkok Airways were fantastic and organised our ride to our hotel for us (we also received a token compensation payment to thank us for changing our flights).

We stayed at the Krabi Heritage Hotel, which I don’t actually have a photo of. This hotel was fantastic though, located just off  the main street in Ao Nang beach but still very quiet. Staff here were amazing and couldn’t do enough to help you. We were on trips through most of our time in Krabi, but appreciated a nice hotel and some good food while we were here.

Pros:

 Comfortable and clean

Good breakfast

Close to main street with shops, bars restaurants and 5 minutes from the beach.

Cons:

Shower pressure and water temperature weren’t always consistent ( we hadn’t had a decent shower since Koh Samui at this point!)

We booked this hotel here:

http://www.booking.com/hotel/th/krabi-heritage.en-gb.html?aid=356983;label=gog235jc-hotel-en-th-woodfieldNresortNchiangNmai-unspec-gb-com-L%3Aen-O%3AwindowsSnt-B%3Afirefox-N%3AXX-S%3Abo-U%3Ac;sid=f0e8e9b3dee27e72f73e9d03a803ee0d;dest_id=-3232620;dest_type=city;dist=0;group_adults=2;hpos=1;room1=A%2CA;sb_price_type=total;srfid=ffcd371a632714973594871a893414516c0811d1X1;type=total;ucfs=1&

We booked our onward travel to Koh Phi Phi Don with Phuketferry.com, we also booked our transport to the pier and to the airport on our return through these.

Koh Phi Phi Don 19/11/2016-21/11/2016

This ferry was probably the most “fragrant” boat I have ever been on in my life, but we soon found a lovely spot to sit in and spent a very surreal journey to Phi Phi with our feet dangling off the edge of the boat!

ferry-to-phi-phi
Travelling in style!

We arrived on Koh Phi Phi Don- the only Phi Phi Island that you are able to stay on  and were met by a representative from our hotel. There are no roads on Phi Phi, so may hotels use large “taxi carts” to transport your luggage and get you to your hotel. We were guided through the winding streets and then up some very steep stairs (that helpfully tell you how many calories you are burning!)

papaya
View from our hotel reception

Our room was basic but suited us perfectly, we had two beds and a bathroom and very good A/C- this was especially important to us as it was around 40 degrees celsius! Breakfast was included here and was delivered to your room each morning (you could choose when). We got tea or coffee, fruit juice, bread rolls, fruit and granola with yoghurt. Don’t eat this on your balcony unless you want to be mugged by a monkey though!

Unfortunately we were joined on our last night by an unwelcome guest, when we found a cockroach in our room. We eventually came to an understanding with her that we would stop screaming at her if she stopped running around. I sometimes miss Julie now.

Pros:

Room facilities great

Not too close to nightlife so quiet

Staff absolutely lovely and always willing to help

The View from our balcony

Cons:

Those stairs were a killer in the heat!

Julie the cockroach

We booked this hotel here:

http://www.booking.com/hotel/th/papaya-resort-phi-phi.en-gb.html?aid=356983;label=gog235jc-hotel-en-th-woodfieldNresortNchiangNmai-unspec-gb-com-L%3Aen-O%3AwindowsSnt-B%3Afirefox-N%3AXX-S%3Abo-U%3Ac;sid=f0e8e9b3dee27e72f73e9d03a803ee0d;dest_id=900040301;dest_type=city;dist=0;group_adults=2;hpos=1;room1=A%2CA;sb_price_type=total;srfid=5cdec485ab6c9e64181ea5b08c615578c16d9ca5X1;type=total;ucfs=1&

The staff took our luggage to the pier for us on our last day and helped us find it again. We took the ferry back to Krabi and the taxi to the airport. We then flew with Thai Airways to Bangkok. In general we found this to be quite unorganised compared to Bangkok Airways.

Bangkok 21/11/2016- 26/11/2016

We had pre booked our taxi to the airport as we were landing so late in the evening and knew that the airport was a long way from the city.

We stayed at the Casa Nithra Hotel not far from Khao San Road (but far enough away to be quiet). This hotel was lovely and very well looked after, the staff were helpful and friendly. We didn’t end up eating breakfast here as we always left too early in the morning! This hotel had a gorgeous rooftop pool- which we used for about half an hour after returning from a trip!

casa-nithra
Sunset skies in Bangkok

This hotel was walking distance to bars, restaurants and shops, but you could always grab a taxi or Tuk Tuk if you wanted to (don’t pay any more than 100 baht for this journey!) It’s also very close to the Grand Palace and Wat Pho.

Pros:

Location

Staff

Clean, comfortable, safe

Cons:

Taxi and Tuk Tuk drivers didn’t seem to know where this hotel was- reception do have “business cards” with the address in Thai on them, that I recommend taking out with you.

We booked this hotel here:

http://www.booking.com/hotel/th/casa-nithra.en-gb.html?aid=356983;label=gog235jc-hotel-en-th-woodfieldNresortNchiangNmai-unspec-gb-com-L%3Aen-O%3AwindowsSnt-B%3Afirefox-N%3AXX-S%3Abo-U%3Ac;sid=f0e8e9b3dee27e72f73e9d03a803ee0d;dest_id=-3414440;dest_type=city;dist=0;group_adults=2;hpos=1;room1=A%2CA;sb_price_type=total;srfid=1a636f99cf68d191db94da867622e6b055c7d716X1;type=total;ucfs=1&

On the 26th we sadly left Thailand to make our way back to Sheffield. We booked a taxi through the hotel (500 baht) and flew from  Bangkok to Dubai, then Dubai to Manchester. We had a longer layover this time- about 7 hours so we booked an airport lounge. I highly recommend this as it included the use of a shower, food and drinks!

So that was a quick run down of where we went and where we stayed! My next post will focus more on what we actually did and any trips we took. I’ll include details of where we booked these.

I’ll also include some extra links below on here to where we booked transport and the airport lounge if you’re interested.

If you think I’ve missed anything out or have any questions let me know!

We booked all of our hotel transfers either through the hotel or just grabbed a local taxi.

Bangkok Airways: http://www.bangkokair.com/

Thai Airways: http://www.thaiairways.com/

Phuket Ferry: http://www.phuketferry.com/

Airport Lounge: http://www.executivelounges.com/airport-lounges/dubai-terminal-3-airport-lounge

 

 

 

 

 

Thailand- The Series

In November 2016 I was lucky enough to spend three weeks in Thailand.

My sister and I had saved up for over a year and finally set off on a “quick stop” tour through just some of Thailand’s highlights.

As we both have “conventional” full-time office jobs in England we could only take 3 weeks off from work so needed to cram as much in as possible. This meant we had to do things a little differently.

Before we began planning our trip and even up until we arrived on our trip I had concerns about going to Thailand and how we would cope, I read countless travel guides and blogs, watched hundreds of videos but never found anybody who had travelled around Thailand the way we did.

Like most people I ended up loving every second of Thailand and look back on my panic as a little ridiculous. I wish I had been able to find somebody who had “done Thailand” the way we did.

So this is the start of my “Thailand Series” a run down of where we went, when, how, why, where we stayed, what we did, what we liked, what we didn’t, recommendations and a wish list for a return trip.

Keep reading for lots of rambling about my favourite three weeks of 2016 and lots of pictures that I can’t believe I was lucky enough to take!

 

 

Disneyland Paris: What to know

Earlier this summer I was lucky enough to go to Paris for a few days, having never been to France before- let alone Paris!- I had plenty of things I was desperate to do and see whilst I was there.

Something I was desperate to do, was go to Disneyland. I grew up with Disney and still got that excited bubbly feeling whenever I saw an advert, even at 22.

We decided to go for the day and I spent the entire day absolutely amazed by everything! There were a few surprising or interesting things that might have been useful or good to know before my trip, so I thought I would share them here!

1. You don’t have to transfer!

The first thing to decide is how long you want to go for and if you want to stay at a Disney Hotel, we had decided to stay in Paris and go to Disneyland for a day. After looking into some of the combo tickets and doing a little research we found that the return transfer was at 19:30 but the park didn’t close until 23:30, because we didn’t want to miss out on so much time in the park we looked into alternatives.

We stayed close to Gare Du Nord and found that we could get to the park within 40 minutes. We changed over once after one stop (at Chatelet Le Halle I believe) then hopped on a train on the next platform to Marne La Vallee (helpfully, there is a picture of Mickey Mouse’s head next to the name of the station and it’s the end of the line so it is impossible to miss it!). Turn right as you walk out of the station and there are gates and signs directing you to the parks. These trains are pretty regular in both directions and run until about 23:40-00:00 at night (we’ll come back to this later).

2. Keeping Hydrated in the parks

We’d been told by various people who had been before that food and drinks were confiscated on entry so decided not to risk it and buy everything inside the park. As it turns out they weren’t quite so strict. Obviously you can’t take in a picnic and lots of drinks, but you will be fine with a 500ml bottle of water. Throughout the park there are water fountains- they can usually be found near the toilet blocks and dotted through the queues for the busier rides, if you can’t find one there are plenty of “cast members” around who will be happy to direct you to the nearest fountain. In the end we bought one drink in there and refilled the bottles through the day (be warned that a 500ml bottle will cost around 3,50euro). It seems obvious but really keep your hydration in mind, we made a rule that we would fill our bottles and the next time we saw a fountain we had to finish our drinks and refill them- nobody wants to get ill at Disneyland! (As a side note, the park maps which are available under the arches once you’re in the park have a key which shows you where the nearest eateries are with what they serve and what sort of price ranges they are to help you decide.)

3. Ride Planning

Take a look at your map when you get in the park and work out which rides you want to go on the most. I’d recommend trying to get on your bigger rides first (Space mountain, Indiana Jones in the main park, Tower of Terror, the Aerosmith rollercoaster in Walt Disney Studios) then working your way around the other rides with smaller queues after. The Pirates of the Caribbean and Dumbo rides also had quite big queues whilst we were there.

4. Meeting the cast.

When you first walk into the park there is a square (a good spot for the parade) here you’ll find Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Pluto and Goofy at various times of the day (I think Mickey and Mini also move to the Princess section of the park). If you’re looking to meet these, join these queues asap as they get big and the characters can only stay for so long (safety for the staff etc), you do usually get a five minute warning when the character will change and who it will change to so you can decide whether to stay or not. These spots are marked on your maps, however there are various other characters dotted through the parks, if you go towards Skull rock you’ll find Peter Pan characters- including Hook and Smee. In the “Jungle Section” we found Timone, Rafiki, King Louis and Baloo. In Walt Disney Studios you can meet Sulley, and some of the Toy Story cast. The queues for these guys tends to be smaller because they aren’t advertised as meet and greet spots and you also take your own photographs so you don’t have to pay for an official print. If you aren’t interested in having your picture with these characters but want to see them, all of the above and more are on the parade for good photos etc.If you are wanting to meet a Princess, these meet and Greets mostly take place in the Princess Pavillion and require pre booking most of the time. Also most of the characters leave at around 14:30- with Mickey staying a little longer, so factor this into your planning!

5. The parade

Get yourself a good spot if you can, if it’s been a sunny day, go for something facing away from the castle so you’ll be in the shade, as I said before the main square is a good spot as you see the floats come down the main street of the park and around the centre island before finishing. There are plenty of floats with so many characters, even the ones you wouldn’t expect! If you have children stand them near the front (but keep a hold of them, the floats are huge) some of the characters on foot come over and interact with the kids (Pinocchio was very sweet on our parade).

6. Park Closure

The park itself doesn’t close until around 23:30 a firework and lights show begins at 23:00 projected on the castle which is honestly one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in my life! It will give you goosebumps! There’s a nod to all of the classics, especially some of the films that aren’t included in the park (Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Beauty and The Beast). I highly recommend you stay for this- although this doesn’t leave you much time to get back for your trains if you’re staying in Paris, so check what time the last train is on your day. Although the show doesn’t start until 11 the other sections of the park except main street close at 21:30, so make sure you have done everything you wanted to in those sections before then because the staff there have no patience for “Just one more photo”, even if you are a crying five year old! The main street has plenty of places to get food and drinks as well as lots of Souvenir shops (surprise surprise!) I’d recommend finding a spot to sit in as  you’ll be waiting a while for it to begin and will surely be tired after the day (we walked 18km in a day!) and taking it all in.

All in all my top tip is enjoy your day, let yourself be a child and take in the magic! Even for an adult the whole day was overwhelming, so imagine being a child there! Accept that its going to be expensive in there, but accept that this is going to be an amazing day for you/your child or whoever you are enjoying this with.

(A quick safety note, there is a fantastic medical centre on site, so if you feel unwell or hurt yourself during the day find a “cast member” and let them know and they’ll help- my sister injured her ankle and they were absolutely amazing)

If you have any questions, let me know and hopefully I’ll be able to help!

xxx

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Top tips for planning a trip.

Everybody likes to get away for a little while, whether you’re planning a round the world trip or a short weekend out in the country.

If you’re anything like me you might begin to find all of the planning and organising a little stressful. I spend so much time trying to plan where to go, how to get there, where to stay, what to do, that it sometimes makes me begin to dread the trip!

The more I’ve travelled the more tips I picked up to make planning the trip less stressful and let you start looking forward to your break even sooner!

1. Decide what kind of trip you want.

A few days, weeks, months, even years? Long Haul, short-haul, somewhere in your own country? What do you want from the trip?  You need to decided if you want to see something new, if there’s something in particular you want to see or try? Do you want to relax, party, learn? Answering the basic questions will help you decide exactly where you want to go.

2.How do you want to get there?

This will depend on the kind of trip you’re going for, do you want to get there as quickly as possible or is the journey part of the experience for you?

3. Do you research.

Keep in mind what you want to do in your destination and research accommodation accordingly. Remember that the location is important but to consider the kind fo trip you want. Do you want a hostel, to couch surf, a hotel, an apartment? This might make a huge difference to the area you choose.

4. Think safety!

Throughout the planning process, keep your safety in mind. Check out the area you’re staying in, any trips you plan on doing. It might be worth checking out your travel insurance at this point. Nobody likes to think about it, but it’s good to know that you’re covered should the worst happen.

5. Make a list

Make a list of everything and anything! Things that will help you make a decision on where to go and where to stay. Pros and cons of staying in one place vs. another. When it comes to packing for the trip, I use lists to make sure I don’t forget anything I might need! Remember essentials are often overpriced in tourist destinations so you definitely don’t want to forget anything! I usually put a list of things in my bag to remind me to check I have everything before I leave to go back home too! Lost items are a nightmare to get back if you leave them in another country!

6. ENJOY YOURSELF!

Remind yourself that all this planing will pay off and you get to go somewhere new or visit a special place. If the planning gets on top of you, take a break and think about the positive side. Allow yourself to get excited and make the most of your trip!