Thursday, 9 February 2017

A guide to Thailand

Bangkok



Accommodation
The Wild Orchid hotel  is just off Khao San Road in a quieter street . Rooms start at £13 per night.
It is in a great location, has a warm atmosphere , its clean and the staff were really helpful too. - Excellent value for money!
http://www.wildorchidvilla.com/accommodation.php

Khao San Road
Khao San Road is a hub for travellers from all over the world , the street is full of cheap bars , restaurants , shops and tattoo parlours. It is busy throughout the day but it really comes alive at night when the streets are filled with partygoers.





The Grand Palace
Before entering you need to pay an admission fee and if you are not wearing long sleeves you can rent a shirt to wear. The palace is full of huge buddhas , grand temples and beautiful gardens.



China Town
Bangkoks china town is absolutely buzzing with life. The narrow streets are full with food outlets and shops , you can find some really cheap homeware here...it is worth leaving some space in your suitcase if you are planning a trip.

The Lebua Hotel
Renown for being a location on the movie The Hangover , The 5 Star Lebua Hotel offers a luxury stay and amazing views over the city from it's rooftop terrace. They have a strict dress code at the hotel and if you wish to visit the rooftop bar you have to make an effort or they may refuse entry at the lift!
To book online visit their site http://www.lebua.com/state-tower




Jim Thompsons House
The house is a collection of the businesses man's art and most treasured possessions.  Jim disappeared in the 1960's and the home was taken over by the Thompson foundation so that they could share his beautiful home and art collection with tourists.

The house itself sits within a small jungle right in the heart of bangkok , it is uniquely built and laid out. Each room is spacious and intricately decorated,you can tell a huge amount of thought went into every detail of his home.
http://www.jimthompsonhouse.com

MBK shopping Centre
This is a one stop shopping destination , there is pretty much nothing you won't find in here.
It is 8 stories high with around 2,000 shops! - Plus restaurant , bars , tattoo parlours and even karaoke booths. http://www.bangkok.com/shopping-mall/mbk.htm



Ann's Sweet patisserie 
This little cake shop is the perfect place to enjoy afternoon tea.
https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g293916-d7306828-Reviews-Ann_s_Sweet-Bangkok.html


JJ Markets
This market is held at the weekends and is popular with both locals and tourists.
You can find independent boutiques plus branded goods too.
http://www.bangkok.com/shopping-market/popular-markets.htm





Deck Restaurant 
The views alone give enough reason to visit this restaurant , it sits along the river opposite Wat Arun and some of Bangkok's other biggest temples which look spectacular lit up at night.

The food itself is fantastic although the portions are quite small so go for the starter and main . : )



Dentists
I had a pretty bad tooth and as there is a dentist on almost every street in Bangkok it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get it checked out.
I visited a dentist at the bottom of Khao San Road were the dentist examined my teeth then gave me a quote. It was so cheap I decided to return later and  had three fillings done for 2600 baht / £59 . The practice was very clean and professional , if you spare monies it is worth splashing out on tooth whitening in Bangkok as it costs a fraction of the price you would pay for the same treatment in the UK.

Chiang Mai

Travel
The bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai takes almost 9 hours , its a long trip but a good way to travel if you are trying to look after the pennies as it only costs around £10-£15. The bus route goes through rural areas and makes a few stops along the way for food.

You can also fly to Chiang Mai from Bangkok which takes around 1 hour 15 mins for around £70-£100.


Accommodation
Accommodation in Chiang Mai is much cheaper than Bangkok and the islands , we stayed at the Awana house which has rooms starting from 400 baht (£10) per night. It is clean , the staff are friendly and the decor is lovely too - win win!

View rates and book to stay in Awana house here http://www.awanahouse.com/english/rates.htm

Food
Chiang Mai was one of best spots in Thailand for food , there is a huge food market , street food stalls and excellent variety of restaurants and bars.


Raming Siam Celadon Tea House
This tea house is a little sanctuary. Located in the middle of Chiang Mai the restored teak house offers an amazing selection of Ramen teas , pastries , light bites and ice creams served in traditional siam celadon earthware. There is a peaceful garden out the back which is the perfect place to spend the afternoon. Find out more here http://www.ramingtea.com/eng_tea_house.php


O'Malley's is an Irish bar and restaurant which is great for lunch or dinner if you fancy an evening without spice , view the menu here  http://www.omalleys-thai.com/food-menu/


Hot Chilli is a great place to try for dinner they have a great menu and the atmosphere is brilliant . See more here https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g293917-d1569933-Reviews-Hot_Chilli-Chiang_Mai.html
Temples
The temples in Chiang Mai are not as busy as Bangkok so you get a great chance to explore around , there is also a school for Monks next to the temples were you can even attend 'monk chat'. 'Monk Chat' is what it says you can sit next to a monk and have a chat!Ask any questions and they do vice versa. Most of the monks are from outside of Chiang Mai , we met two monks from Cambodia and Laos. Whilst we were curious to why they had chosen to be monks they also were curious about how we lived , they have a lot of wisdom and it is really eye opening to hear all about how they live.






Shopping
The night markets in the centre of Chiang Mai were excellent , they had all sorts of homeware , gifts , clothing and foods unlike the markets in Bangkok a lot of the items were not massed produce so you can find something really unique here.

On Sundays there is a 'Walking Market' which is a 10 -15 minute taxi ride away , it is great for independent boutique clothing brands, organic beauty products and homeware , definitely worth a trip. If you are the first customer of the day at a stall they will rub the money you pay over other items on the stall for good luck. : )


Thai Boxing
Boxing is a big part of Thai culture .Once you enter the arena it is hard to not get into it as much as the locals , the atmosphere is electric. Some of the matches are just for fun,the competitors wear eye masks and throw some WWE style moves but towards the end it becomes more serious when the heavy weights take to the stage.


Elephant trek
There are tour agents all over Chiang Mai who offer trips to visit the elephant orphanages or even home stays in the jungle for 2-4 nights.
The day trip option starts with being picked up from the tour operators office and from there you board a jeep that takes you into the jungle . There will probably be another couple of jeeps joining you on the trip with 15-20 people max. The journey to the jungle usually takes 1 hour 30 mins.
Top tips for the trek would be wear shoes with good grips , wear swimwear underneath and only carry £5-£10 in cash max.


We trekked through the jungle to a huge waterfall then made our way back down the steep climb for lunch.
After lunch we went to see the elephants , they seemed well looked after and pretty gentle giants. Without being told the elephants stopped by a ledge to allow us to hop on then the elephants followed one another along the trek.


The afternoon ends with a white water rafting trip , after a quick demo you onboard the boats and set off. - Your tour guide may play a few tricks like...jumping out of the raft to leave you and your group to your own devices so be ready to steer!

On the way back to Chiang Mai we visited a Tibetan hill tribe who were dressed in their traditional costumes , the community was lively with kids playing and people making crafts on their front porches.



Kanchanaburi

Kanchanburi is two hours and 30 minutes by bus from Bangkok.

Accommodation
Rooms start at £18 per night at Pong Phen. http://www.pongphen.com The resort has poolside bungalows , bar , great restaurant and they can also help you book day tours. It is a brilliant base for a stay in Kanchanaburi , you can get a taxi or tuk tuk into the main town.

The tiger temples
When you arrive you sign a disclaimer...then head into an open area of tigers.
Most of the tigers are lying down and seemed pretty lifeless which was sad although the people that worked there said that this was just because they have been trained by the monks to lie down and are used to people. The temple is controversial as many say that the animals are sedated but the monks insist that this is not the case. You can get up close with the animals and pet the tigers which is quite surreal!






After you leave the main area there is a play area where you can watch trainers doing tricks with tigers , it is crazy to see how lively the tigers are in this area and how they seem so playful and used to humans.

As I said it is a controversial place but it still worth a visit to have the rare opportunity to see these wonderful animals up close. You can find out more details about the Tiger Temples here http://www.tigertemplethailand.com

History
Back in the 18th century Kanchanaburi was an outpost against potential Burnese attacks.





In 1942 Kanchanaburi came under Japanese control , labourers were forced to build the railway bridge under dire conditions and nearly half of the prisoners died. There is memorials and a museum in remembrance of the dead. The museum has an eclectic mix of war memorabilia plus a few random pieces of taxidermy.

Thinking of visiting Thailand's islands? Read our Thailand island guide here: https://daintykane.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/a-guide-to-thailand-islands.html


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