So, I have been an incredibly lucky girl! Having recently returned from 3 wonderful weeks in Thailand, travelling through Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Chiang Mai, Krabi, Koh Phangan, Koh Samui and Koh Tao, it was a hard bump back to a reality! Having caught a virus late last week, I would give anything to be back on a beach!
I thought I would give you a somewhat brief overview on the incredible food and fantastic things to see and do in the beautiful Land of Smiles
If you’re in Bangkok, you will no doubt see the ‘food’ carts peddling insects as a delicacy along Khao San Road. I had to have a try! For about £1 I bought a paper plate full of Mealworms, Grasshoppers and another unidentified critter. Here is a video of me eating it! I wasn’t brave enough to try a scorpion or a tarantula though. They actually aren’t bad. Deep fried and covered in soy sauce, I quite liked two of them.
Taling Chan Floating Market was one of my favourite places to visit in Bangkok. Most of the foods on offer were weird and wonderful, some not so much; sweetcorn juice anyone? We tried lychee juice, fluffy pastries (thai curry puff) filled with everything from pineapple jam to black pepper fried chicken and taro. Candy floss in every colour of the rainbow and coconut jelly was plentiful.
Bottom left: the popular ‘no name’ vegetable. The left over vegetables are coated in a corn flour paste and deep fried. 50p
Bottom right: The Thai Curry pastries 20p
There was yet another night market at the end of the road we stayed at. It was huge, with everything from chicken satay to pizza. The pizza was made using a saucepan with a grill on top, and took about 180 seconds!
Bottom left: Some of the delicious ‘sausages’ on offer, including potted shrimp and ‘pork no sour’ 25p
Top right: The stall selling pizza
Bottom right: The pizza! 50p
The night market here is a shoppers dream, the biggest I have ever seen. It stretched seemingly for miles down Chang Khlan Road (it was 1km in reality) and all the way down the road you could enter buildings for even more stalls.
I bought a gorgeous canvas oil painting from the Chang Gallery in the art section for about £30. It’s 40 x 60 cm so is definitely not small, and my favourite purchase from my trip. Here is a picture, held by the artist Mr Kamol Teti. I carried it in a cardboard tube for the next 2 weeks scared I was going to lose or damage it, but I didn’t want to risk it going missing in the post.
Bottom left: Traditional Thai fish cakes with sweet chilli sauce £1
Right: The stall I bought a steamed bun (pictured bottom right). A steamed rice flour bun with deep fried, crispy chicken covered in a teriyaki sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. £1
Whilst in Chiang Mai, my friends and I spent two nights in the jungle, at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. This was the best experience of my life. We got to feed the elephants, bathe with them at the waterfall and generally spend time with them. This place doesn’t allow you to ride the elephants, and when you hear why you never want to. We stayed overnight in this little hut, with a fast flowing river right outside the door. We were covered in mosquito nets and it was pitch black. It was incredible. The guides cooked us a meal of incredible Thai green curry and we sat well into the night drinking ice cold beers, chatting to the other 3 travellers that had decided to do the 2 day excursion, and finding out what life is really like in the jungle, looking at the elephants.
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have at least one McDonalds, and the airport in Chiang Mai seemed like the perfect place. I am happy to report that a hamburger and medium fries tastes exactly the same as Thailand as it does in Nottingham.
An amazing snack food that we saw all around Thailand was the roti. Made from wheat flour pan-fried bread with Muslim origins, it was incredible and the perfect end to any (and every) night. You can have toppings such as banana and Nutella, condensed milk, even egg and sugar if you like!
I went for Nutella and condensed milk – the sweetest most delicious thing ever!
Also, green Fanta was EVERYWHERE in Thailand. They need to bring it to the UK. It was amazing. It’s banana, pineapple and orange flavour and reminded me of bubble gum panda pops!
Bottom left: Thai green curry in our hostel in Koh Phangan. For £2.50 you could get a curry and a beer!
Top right: The Roti £1
Bottom Right: Green Fanta. 75p
We travelled around the islands as much as we could. We got a ferry/boat ticket from Krabi to Koh Phangan for the full moon party and spent two nights at the Goodtime beach hostel. It was a 15 min ride away from Haad Rin beach but was situated in the much nicer Charm Beach area. For £20 a night for our own bungalow with the sea about 10 metres away it was amazing. If you go at any time other than the full moon party you can get a room for £8 a night.
We stayed in possibly the best hostel in the world here. Sirin Samui is a brand new hostel, with a large swimming pool, TVs on at the end of each bed and incredible new toilets and the best power shower I had in Thailand. ALl for £5 per night. They are still in the process of building this, so no doubt the price will increase but I highly recommend this hostel if you want somewhere to stay on Koh Samui. The beach was 100 m away and it was nice and peaceful and quiet, just what we needed after the full moon party. It’s only 5-10 minutes from Chaweng Beach if you want somewhere lively.
My favourite island! White sand, multiple beaches and an amazing underwater world to explore through snorkelling or diving. We walked across the whole island, doing about 45 miles of walking in total. This island is tiny but absolutely stunning. I would highly recommend Freedom Beach, Nang Yuan and Tanote Bay.
Bottom left: Monkfish in lemon sauce £2
Top right: A weird sort of savoury filled marshmallow cake available at ever 7/11 in Thailand. It was weird but not unpleasant. £1
Bottom right: Pan fried salmon on a bed of asparagus and garlic mash, with a white wine and full sauce. This was from Barracuda Bar and Restaurant and cost under a tenner.
Whilst on Koh Tao I did a private cookery class at Koh Tao Thai Cooking. This was great fun. I learned to cook the famous ‘no name’ vegetables, Thai green curry and a Pad Thai. It was a lot of fun and I learned a little more about how the Thai flavours are put together to create gorgeous tasting dishes. I will say that if you are already a decent cook, don’t expect it to last long. For a novice it should last about 3 hours, however I had cooked all 3 dishes in 45 minutes!
As a destination, I would highly recommend Thailand as a place to run off to for a few weeks. 3 weeks gave us time to explore so many places, but there is so much more to see than we managed. Pack a rucksack, load up with mosquito repellent (double whatever you think you need. I took 4 cans of Boots Tropical Deet for 3 weeks and ran out on the last day) and book a flight!
We stayed at the following places and would recommend them to anyone on a budget:
Bangkok – D Hostel – Great hostel. So clean. Great common areas. Fantastic location. 5 minutes walk from Khao San Road.
Kanchanaburi – Thai Garden Inn – Really cute, close to Bridge over the River Kwai, but you will need a tuk-tuk to get around if you don’t like walking too much at night. Great pool and outside area.
Chiang Mai – At Chiang Mai – Way too expensive for a backpackers budget. Bit of a cock up but it was gorgeous. Great buffet breakfast and large swimming pool.
Krabi – Slumber Party Hostel – Fantastic location, 5 min walk from Ao Nang beach. Party hostel, free drinks and BBQ on certain days. Organised trips. Fantastic friendly staff.
Koh Phangan – Goodtime Beach Hostel – Stunning. We stayed in a 4 person bungalow, with our own hammock. They do full moon party deals with a BBQ and free neon paint by the bucket load.
Koh Samui – Sirin Samui – The most beautiful hostel. Fantastic facilities. 5-10 minute drive from the lively part. Perfect whether you want to explore the island or want a quiet few days.
Koh Tao – Central Hostel Fantastic location on Mae Haad beach. A 14 person dorm, and can get a little chilly but speak to Ralph and he will give you an extra blanket. A little dark so take a torch. There are no main lights, just smaller spot lights and your own reading light. There is a reason for this. Most ferries leave at 6am and no one wants waking up at 5am by a bright night so you can pack your bag!