In June 2015 I visited Thailand for the first time.
Thailand is full of colour, culture and amazing cuisine and there is a reason this destination has been so popular for so long.
Here are some of my trip highlights:
When we first arrived in Bangkok I didn’t even want to blink my eyes for fear I might miss something interesting. Bangkok is a crazy, busy, exciting city. The street food is endless, the traffic is organised chaos and there is always something interesting happening.
While in Bangkok I visited a Wat Pho Temple, home of the giant reclining Buddha.
I also went on the Urban Adventures ‘Bangkok Chinatown Food Discovery’ tour, where we got to visit Bangkok’s iconic Chinatown, sample the best street food and visit the oldest coffee shop in the area.
Chiang Mai is Thailand’s fifth largest city, surrounded by mountains and lush countryside and is much more laid back than the capital.
While in Chiang Mai I went on the Urban Adventures ‘Chiang Mai Mind and Soul’ day tour which was a real highlight of my trip. The tour started early in the morning with a scenic drive in a ‘songthaew’, otherwise known as a ‘red truck’ which is how the locals get around.
We stopped at a flea market before offering alms to monks to ‘make merit’ – just as the local Buddhists do each morning. We then had a traditional style Chiang Mai breakfast before visiting Wat U-Mong, a 600-year-old temple famed for its large painted pagoda and underground tunnel. I was lucky enough to participate in a traditional monk ceremony at Wat U-Mong which was amazing.
From there, we visited Wat Suan Dok temple, where we went to ‘monk chat’ and spoke to a monk about his way of life. This was a truly memorable experience and something I will always remember.
I also went on the Urban Adventures ‘Mae Ping River Experience’ day tour, where we cruised the Mai Ping River in a longtail boat and saw local life unfolding along its banks. We arrived at a local farmer’s house where we learned about local vegetables, herbs, and the medicinal properties of Thai plants and enjoyed Khao Soy, a traditional northern Thai noodle soup.
The tour finished at Warorot Market one of the largest markets in Chiang Mai and the Ton Lam Yai Flower Market, full of colourful, fresh cut flowers.
Elephant Nature Park
Elephant Nature Park is a unique project set in Chiang Mai province, Northern Thailand. Established in the 1990’s Elephant Nature Park’s aim has always been to provide a sanctuary and rescue centre for elephants. The park is located some 60km from the city, and has provided a sanctuary for dozens of distressed elephants from all over Thailand. Most of the elephants at the sanctuary have come from the tourism or logging trades. The park aims to protect and encourage a natural existence for elephants and other animals that have been innocent victims of abuse and exploitation.
Elephant Nature Park was an incredible experience and I would highly recommend visiting this park or similar organisations if you are in Thailand and want to see elephants. The staff here are very dedicated and the elephants are free to roam and live a happy life in their herd.
Thailand is a beautiful country, full of culture, colour and delicious food, great markets, amazing scenery and happy, friendly people.