Backpacking Mainland Thailand – Our Travel Photo Diary

by AmyBroad

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Looking back to September 2018, when Jack and I flew out to Thailand to start our travels, it seems like such a long time ago. Especially right now with the current global pandemic situation right now! With everyone’s holidays and summer plans cancelled it can be easy to forget that this will be over at some point. So really there is no better time to either plan where you want to go on your next trip (whenever that may be), or look back at your previous holidays to reminisce on the good times.

So I have put together our Thailand travel photo diary to remind myself of how great it is to experience different parts of the world, but to hopefully inspire you too! I have also put together photo diaries for our trips through Cambodia and Laos here.


TRAVEL SUMMARY

Day 1: Flight from London Heathrow to Bangkok

Day 2: Bangkok

Day 3: Bus from Bangkok to Pattaya

Day 4: Pattaya

Day 5: Bus from Pattaya to Bangkok

Day 6: Train from Bangkok to Ayutthaya

Days 7-8: Ayutthaya

Day 9: Minibus from Ayutthaya to Kanchanaburi

Day 10: Kanchanaburi

Day 11: Minibus from Kanchanaburi to Lopburi

Day 12: Lopburi

Day 13: Night train from Lopburi to Chiang Mai

Days 14-20: Chiang Mai

Day 21: Motorbike from Chiang Mai to Pai

Days 22-23: Pai

Day 24: Motorbike from Pai to Chiang Mai

Day 25: Bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

Days 26-27: Chiang Rai

Day 28: Crossed border into Laos


FLYING OUT TO ASIA – MY FIRST LONG HAUL FLIGHT

27th September 2018 was the day we flew out to our first destination on our backpacking trip together. This was my very first long haul flight, and we were both so excited to get going and see the world! There was so much we wanted to see and after 2 years of saving up it was finally the day to leave! I had an emotional goodbye with Mum and Dad, and it felt so strange to be leaving the UK with no set return date.


BANGKOK

Our first stop was Bangkok, which is where pretty much everyone flies into when entering Thailand. We had only booked 2 nights here as we weren’t bothered about experiencing the nightlife there, and wanted to get to the quieter parts of Thailand as soon as possible! And of course we had to have the classic Pad Thai as our first Thai meal! We made sure to take a stroll down the crazy Khao San Road that first evening, before having an early night after an exhausting flight and time difference!

We spent our one full day in Bangkok visiting the Grand Palace and Wat Pho reclining buddha. This was our first day experiencing the humid heat, and spent most of the day a very sweaty mess! Both of these temples were extremely impressive, and were definitely the most grand out of all the ones we visited in Thailand. We did alot of walking this day, and discovered the wonder of the 7-11’s! They always helped us escape the heat for a few minutes, and provided us with cheap snacks to keep us going!


PATTAYA

The next morning we hopped on a two hour bus to Pattaya to visit my Aunt who has lived and worked as a teacher in Southeast Asia for about 15 years now. We were so excited to go and visit whilst we were over that side of the world too. In Pattaya we discovered the baht buses, which will take you around the centre of the city for only 20 baht (50p) each!

For our full day here we got the ferry across to Koh Larn, a beautiful small island just off the coast. This was our first look at Thai beaches so we had to get in the water. Although there are much better beaches south of Bangkok!


BANGKOK TO AYUTTHAYA

We travelled back from Pattaya by bus to Bangkok, and had one more night there before travelling to Ayutthaya. The train was only 15 baht each (38p) and is a bit more interesting than getting a bus. This actually ended up to be the only day-time train ride we had in Southeast Asia as a bus seemed to be the usual option. So I am really glad we chose to ride the train to Ayutthaya. It was very slow, hot and full to the brim with people, but that made it so much more memorable!


AYUTTHAYA

When people go to Thailand so many bypass much of the mainland. Instead going straight to Chiang Mai and Pai, or by just visiting the islands down South. I really enjoyed the smaller towns we went to North of Bangkok. They were much less touristy than the South, and home to vast amounts of Ancient temples. There are so many in Ayutthaya that all of the hostels help you plan out your day of temple-hopping. The best way to get to them is to hire bicycles! So we made our way around the town on our bikes, managing not to crash or fall off.

We saw about three temples and called it a day. Once you see a couple, the others all start to get a bit samey. Another great way to see the town is by boat. We booked onto an evening tour that took us around a few more temples, travelling to each one by boat. The tour only took around three hours, which I think is the perfect amount of time before you start to lose interest.


KANCHANABURI

Our next stop was the town of Kanchanaburi, where it proceeded to rain the whole day when we arrived! Because of this we hibernated in our room for the rest of the night and booked onto a tour for the following day. The first stop of the day was to Erawan Falls, which was our main must-see of Kanchanaburi. Unfortunately it was too dangerous to be able to swim due to all the rain of the previous day! But we still hiked our way near to the top before having to make it back to our tour bus. We actually had to buy ourselves a new t-shirt each at the gift shop, as we had drenched our ones with sweat within the first hour of the tour. The last things we wanted was to stink the bus out for the rest of the day!

We also saw Hellfire Pass, which is a railway cutting formed by prisoners of war during the Second World War. They suffered through harsh conditions, and a lot of prisoners died here, many from the UK and Europe. The last stop of the day was the famous Bridge on the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi itself, which was again formed during World War II. It was a very informative and sombre day, but a part of history we should all try and learn more about when we can.


LOPBURI

Lopburi was our next stop, just a few hours drive from Kanchanaburi. It is home to a lot more ancient temples and gangs of monkeys! The first night we arrived we had a wander around the town, and came across hundreds of monkeys. Jack crouched down to take a photo of one of them, when another monkey jumped on his back and stole his hat! I have tried to stay clear of them ever since that night!

We joined onto an evening tour to see some of the sights around Lopburi, which included some temples, and a private viewing of bats flying out of a cave at sunset. It was a bit of an odd tour, the driver didn’t speak any English so none of us knew what was going on. But at least we saw more of the town and its surrounding area. And then we hopped on a long night train to our next stop, Chiang Mai!


WHAT’S IN MY BACKPACK


CHIANG MAI

Chiang Mai was the city in Thailand that we had the most we wanted to tick off of our list. So we spent seven nights here in an Airbnb. Our Airbnb was situated in the Old Town, which I think is the best area to stay in for your first time in Chiang Mai. It is a great central location to easily get to the night markets, cafes and restaurants.

Spending a day at a Thai cooking school was one of the things that we were really looking forward to. I can’t quite remember which cooking class we booked, but I think it might have been the Asia Scenic Thai Cooking School. We learnt so much about the dishes and the ingredients that go into them. I think we cooked about 6 dishes, so it is definitely worth the money, and you will leave absolutely stuffed!

The other big bucket list activity was to visit the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, which was one of the most memorable days of our trip. We spent half a day there, where you can feed them and then wash and play with them in the water. It is so sad that so many elephants are still ridden, but here these elephants have been rescued from places like this to be looked after and treated better. It was so heartwarming to meet the elephants and see just how playful and cheeky they can be!


PAI

Pai is a popular town with backpackers that sits about 150km North of Chiang Mai. And the way that most get there is by motorbike from Chiang Mai. So after Jack spent a couple days practising with the scooter with me on the back in Chiang Mai, we got up early and made our way to Pai. Luckily we were able to leave our big backpacks with our Airbnb host for a few days until we came back, so we were only able to pack the essentials for three days. It was a tough day on the leg muscles, with five hours of sitting on the back of the bike. But it was so worth it. There are 762 corners on the journey, so Jack found all that winding pretty fun and we got some good views from the road!

Pai is a really charming town, full with bars and cafes that attract the backpackers. The main attractions in the area are the canyon, which is the perfect spot for sunset. Just try not to fall off the steep cliff edges. Mo Paeng waterfall is a great place to chill for the day, whilst watching lots of locals doing crazy jumps and slides into the water! Also, the food at the night market was just incredible. They had so much variety, and it was all very tasty. After our three nights in Pai, we made our way back on the scooter to Chiang Mai. We saw some people getting the bus back, but we loved our little motorbike adventure!


CHIANG RAI

Chiang Rai was our last stop before crossing over the border to Laos. There seemed to be quite a few new hostels opening up, so it must be becoming more popular with backpackers. Whilst here we visited both the White Temple and Blue Temple, and from the images below both are pretty excessively decorated. A big contrast to the ancient temples of Ayutthaya and Lopburi! The night market was really impressive, it had a big food court open every night with live performances too. I did much prefer the other towns we had visited in Thailand, but Chiang Rai is a pretty essential stop along the way to Laos.

So there we have our Thailand photo diary! I really enjoy putting these together as nearly two years on from this I find myself forgetting little details. But photographs truly do help you remember funny little moments or even how you were feeling at that time. I have done more of these photo diaries for our journeys through Cambodia and Laos, so make sure to check those out too. I know none of us can travel anywhere at the minute, but we all have to remind ourselves that we will be able to one day. And we can get excited for that time now!

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1 comment

Sea 5th June 2020 - 9:09 am

Your information is so helpful. Thank you for sharing

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