Thailand really is an amazing place to visit and although you may first think ‘beaches’ we decided to skip the beaches for this trip and focus more on North Thailand. Here we will be sharing our itinery with you and the places we stayed, feel free to use our itinery or ask us any questions. This trip was before we had kids but North Thailand is a great place to visit with young kids and we hope to plan a family trip together soon. Our trip was in the winter months in January which is a great time to visit North Thailand. March to May are the hottest months and get more polluted (especially March) due to farming agriculture and June to October are the rainy seasons.
We started our journey a bit tired after a long trip from Paris
(France) with a long 8-hour stop over in Doha (luckily the lounge access
made our stay a little bit easier and we managed to rest a few hours, more comfortably). TIP If you have a long stop over then consider paying a little extra for the lounge access.
Arriving in Bangkok, we took the train to the center of Bangkok before
jumping in a tuk-tuk direct to our hotel. The hotel had instructed us
beforehand on prices and so we negotiated our ride with the driver beforehand. It was a beautiful ride through the streets of Bangkok. The new year decorations were still in place, and we had a first feel of the buzz of Bangkok.
At the hotel, we were met with a lovely smile and they served us two
glasses of water. After a short introduction to the hotel and our
room, the lovely attendant showed us a map of Bangkok and told us about the transport and a few of the main things to see.
1st – 2nd Jan
Arrival in Bangkok, we stayed at the Baan Manusam
As we arrived in the evening we took it easy and just walked around locally we would be starting our trip to Chiang Mai the next day. We also took our chance on food stalls in the street. It was good and we all went well for us.
Sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. We took the night train to go to Chiang Mai, not the most comfortable journey, you had your own beds but a bit cramped and you are with other people around you so it could get a bit noisy. It’s easy to travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by train, for just 881 baht (£18 or $25) one-way by overnight sleeper or 611 baht (£12 or $18) by day through the countryside on the air-conditioned express railcar. – 1
night travel (so you save on 1 night hotel yayyyy😁)
3rd – 7th Jan
We stayed at the Junior House in Chiang Mai
We wanted to do a tour of the main sights so decided to book our first segway tour with Segway Gibbon, which was a great and exciting way to see
Chiang Mai. It cost us 1599bht 2 hour tour plus free zoo ticket. It was our first time on the segway but you get 10 minutes to get use to it before you go on your tour. The tour takes about 2 hours and you see the main sites including; Kings Monument, Wat Chiang Man, Tha Pae Gate, Wat Phra Singh, Wat Pan Tao, Buak Had Park, Wat Pundtow & Wat Chedi Luang. The segway gives you a little taster of the main attractions which you can of course go back and visit taking your time. http://www.segwaygibbon.com/book-now
With this ticket we also got a free ticket to see Chiang Mai Zoo. We spent a nice afternoon and also got the opportunity to see some pandas.
Chiang Mai is also known for its markets and the one I really enjoyed was the Sunday night craft market which has a great ambiance and you can find a lot of local crafts, don’t forget to negotiate on prices, it is expected.
We also took a scooter ride (another great and affordable way to travel and scooter riders are also less aggressive compared to in Europe) to visit a snake farm and the Sa Paper and Umbrella handicraft centre. It was wonderful to see the artists decorating the paper and cotton umbrellas, a nice place to buy a little souvenir.
Another activity I really wanted to do in Chiang Mai was a cooking class (I will be writing a separate post on this as well as some recipes for you to try out). There are many cooking classes to choose from but we decided to take one with the Siam Rice cooking class. You can take an afternoon or whole day course and you get to choose your menu from a list. It was really a fun day cooking and learning about the local herbs and spices and yes the BEST part; eating our dishes!!! 😋We also did a local market tour at the end where we could buy some local products.
7th – 9th Jan
We went from Chiang Mai to Chiand Rai by confortable bus ride. We stayed at Chezmoi Handicraft Chiang Rai
We had organised a tour through a local guide which we found on tripadvisor and although I had confirmed our tour before we arrived in Thailand, the tour guide forgot our booking which was really disappointing but last minute he organised for his wife to show us around a more improvised tour, but still wonderful.
We took a long tail boat ride from Chiang Rai to Ruammit passing a beautiful suspension bridge; where we had a short visit to the local Lahu hill tribe. I felt we didn’t really get an authentic experience it felt a bit more like the guide wanted us just to buy the local crafts rather than really learning about their local culture. One of the famous hill tribes is the Karen hill tribe village so this could be interesting to see but make sure you go with a knowledgeable guide. We had a quick pit stop at the Pha Soet hot bath, where I took a quick dip in the bath but the most memorable part was tasting the mangosteen, we loved this fruit, a bit similar to lychee but even tastier. Try it if you get a chance😋. We also did a stopover to see the Buddhist Cave Temple (Tham Ku Kaeo) where the ambiance was quite special and we got the chance to see some monks sitting in the cave meditating.
On our last day in Chiang Rai we decided to take a local bus to one of the most beautiful temples I have ever seen; Wat Rong Kun also known as the ‘White Temple’. There are many symbolic structures which makes this such a striking temple. One which caught my attention were the hundreds of hand that are outreaching symbolising unrestrained desire. We went to visit quite late in the day and saw there were not too many people and we stayed to see the sunset. Going back to the centre of Chiang Rai was quite an adventure as there seemed to be no local transport and it was quite dark, luckily we hailed down a local bus which at first we were quite spooked about as there was none apart from 3 local Thais probably wondering what we were doing in the middle of nowhere.
9th – 11th jan Auangkham resort, Muang Lampang (also know as Nakhon Lampang) The third biggest town in Thailand. We decided to stay here for a couple of days to relax and plan our next few days in Bangkok. Whilst here we did visit the Thai Elephant Conservation Center. We wanted to visit a place where they focus more on the care of elephants rather than their use for tourism. However yes elephants are a big tourist attraction here in Thailand. Please do try to visit the more ethical ones.
Typical of Lampang is the use of horse drawn carriages so maybe a chance to take a short ride in the evening to see the town. TIP Dont forget to negotiate.
12th Jan – 14th Jan Back to Bangkok staying at the Baan Tepa Boutique
14th-16 Jan Eastin Grand Hotel Sathom
15th-16th Jan Lebua State Tower, As we stayed in budget hotels during most of our stay we decided to splash a little during our last couple of days. Lebua State Tower we stayed in the higher apartments and although it was not as friendly as the smaller hotels we stayed in, it did give us a little luxury in our trip and the pools and views were gorgeous.
There is a lot to see and do in Bangkok, we had a few days to explore and so decided to see the Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha. The Grand Palace was really packed with people but it is beautiful; the architecture . It is the cities landmark built in 1782. Try to go early but it is so popular that you cannot really avoid the crowds. Please note Grand Palace dress code is very strict, no bare feet, arms and legs.
There are many temples in Bangkok so if you are here only for a couple of days; do some research before hand on which ones you want to see. We also visited the ‘Wat Pho’, where you can see the reclining Buddha (4 meters high) and over 1000 Buddha images. We took the express boat in Bangkok which was quite an adventure in itself; it gets pretty crowded so get ready to hold on tight. Along the Chao Praya River, get off at the ‘Tha Thien Pier’ to visit the Wat Pho, you can also visit a few handicraft bazaars here.
There are also many markets to visit, we went to Chatuchak market. This time round we did not get a chance but top of our list for next Thailand trip would be to see the floating markets where you can float and eat.
This is the only train to run beyond Nam Tok to the end of the
operational line. Time to see the scenic waterfall.
We also took a little side trip to visit Ayuthaya, where you can find beautiful temples of ‘wat phra si sanphet’ and ‘wat mahathat’ and also the reclining buddha – ‘wat Chai’.
We had a wonderful stay in North Thailand and we managed to see and discover a lot of things. We hope you found our itinerary useful, please feel free to comment on places you enjoyed seeing and to share our article with others. Thanks and see you on our next adventure.
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