A Journey through Thailand

People have always had the urge and desire for adventures, journeys and explorations, the excitement of learning and experiencing from the unknown is what drives us to set out and discover the many wonders of this world. As 2014 came to an end, having always hoped to one day be able to go and set foot on the Asian continent, as I find the culture so different from my own and from what I have so far experienced. Also, having a few Thai friends and hearing the many positive stories from other friends who visited Thailand, convinced me it was my time to go an explore that corner of the world. I booked a round ticket during the December holidays for a 3-week stay in Thailand in the summer of 2015. Booking at least 4 months earlier will give you a better deal on flights; I paid a total of 580.00 Euros from Amsterdam to Bangkok round trip. If possible I suggest flying with Thai Airways for a kick-start into your Thai experience.

Bangkok

During the 11-hour plane ride to Bangkok, I had the time to read over basic research I had done of the essential do’s and don’ts of the Thai culture. One aspect that really stood out was the strict avoidance of conversation about the Thai Monarchy. This is because His Majesty the King of Thailand is respected dearly by the Thai people from the many good things he has done for them. I suggest some further research is done into the culture before heading out to Thailand to avoid any miss understandings and sticky situations.

Approaching Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, you will get the first glimpse of Thailand. The scenery quickly changes from typical Thai countryside houses and rice fields, to huge motorways and at a distance the many skyscrapers; you can really appreciate how Thailand’s rapid economic growth has changed the landscape. When finished with immigration, there are many options to get to Bangkok city centre and your hotel, these include buses, taxis and BTS, however I suggest getting a 30 minute taxi ride which will cost you 500 Thai baht (12 euro); its more convenient especially when traveling with a family or a group. When arriving at your hotel I am certain you will be greeted with a warm and friendly “sawasdee ka/krab”. One very pleasant aspect of Thai people is how welcoming they are to you, always smiling and greeting you with desire. From experience in staying in the Sukhumvit area, I can truly say this is one of the most beautiful, modern and clean areas of the city. Sukhumvit has many new malls with many shops and brands. I suggest visiting one of these, if not for shopping then for the amazing food courts they have, with all types of foods and cuisines from around the world. In this area there are lots of modern hotels with great service and rooftop swimming pools, for those sunny and relaxing mornings. Keep in mind that some hotels, thanks to the exchange rate and other factors are very affordable and offer great value for money, around 3000.00 baht (80.00) p/n.

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Furthermore, for site seeing around Bangkok, I recommend visiting Kao San Road (backpackers heaven) full of bars and hostels as well as agencies selling trips around Thailand. Additionally, it is a must to visit the Grand Palace, beautiful structures and religious shrines, with adult tickets costing 400.00 baht (10.00); it is essential you dress appropriately according to the rules; otherwise you will be denied entrance. For a day’s end I suggest jumping on the river-boat-taxi which gets you from one side of the city to the other; here you can sit down and enjoy the breeze and scenery. Lastly, the nightlife in Bangkok is cheap and very wild, I suggest going to the Silom bars to see the infamous Ladyboy shows while having a nice cocktail (pun intended); there are also many other great night clubs where you could face a Hangover-movie ending.

Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi is a town 2.5 hours bus ride to the west of Bangkok, tickets for the air-conditioned buses are cheap, 99.00 baht (2.5) one-way; luggage is of course allowed. When you get there I recommend the Candela River Resort; a small family owned hotel, lovely river views, swimming pool and great food! Kanchanaburi itself has the river Kwai and the Death Railway to visit; it’s a good place to go for some history lessons.

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However, the main attractions I would say are a few hours bus ride; you can go to the Erwan National Park, which costs 300.00 baht (7.70) p/p, for a beautiful hike up the mountains with stunning views and cool dips into the many waterfalls up the trail. Another highlight is seeing and riding the elephants, it was such an incredible experience! The River Kwai Elephant Village is the place to go, you get to swim, ride and feed the elephants, for just 750 baht (20.00), an opportunity not to miss out on.

Koh Samet

Finally, the Island of Samet is not the most popular, but still has breath taking views, beautiful beaches and oceans with the picturesque shades of blue. This Island is around 5 hours bus ride from Bangkok, plus the speedboat transfer. It will cost you around 500.00 baht (13.00) return.

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Here there is not much to do apart from relaxing in the many resorts, hotels and beaches available, catering to all budgets! Though, the newest hotel with up-to-date facilities is the Ao Prao resort, a bit on the pricy side but worth the money! I do however recommend renting out a golf cart for 200.00 baht (5.00) p/d, and driving around the island to discover the many beautiful views it has.

All in all, Thailand is a magical and beautiful country. Definitely worth visiting! I hope you choose Thailand for your next holiday. Happy and safe travelling!

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