When you’re halfway around the world it better feel like it. Otherwise what’s the point of straying so far from home? I found out the gracious way that Thailand is worth the 14 hour flight – by going there myself!
Upon landing in Bangkok and attempting to stretch my legs, I looked more like a wobbly baby giraffe than an excited tourist. I was ready for bed but instead I found a man waiting at the end of the jetway. He was holding a sign with my name on it. What followed can only be described as the ideal way to enter Thailand.
This gentleman whisked me through customs and immigration in a way I previously thought impossible. We were done with that in under 5 minutes and even got to use the lane marked “Crew Only”. After retrieving my luggage, I was escorted to the van and given an intricately fabricated Thai garland.
It was all so effortless, which was exactly what I needed. The drive into the city was spent with me pressing my face up against the car window, trying to take in every glimpse of this new and exciting place, even though it was dark out. The city came into the picture all at once like the sweeping metropolis that it is.
Bangkok is a city unlike any other. It’s alive with busy markets, crowded streets, colorful sights and friendly locals. It’s stoic with imposing skyscrapers, ancient history and respectable stature in today’s global world. All of these characteristics come together to make Bangkok the can’t-miss city in Thailand.
On the banks of the Chao Phraya River sit some of the highest rated hotels like the Mandarin Oriental and The Peninsula Bangkok. Just a short tuk-tuk ride away are some of the most authentic experiences you can hope to have on a trip like this.
Temples abound here in the city. You’re never that far from one at any given moment. As motorbikes wiz by, you begin to become even more captivated by the gravity Thai culture carries with it.
Bangkok had greeted me with all its gleaming beauty but it was time to leave Asia’s City of Angels. As quickly as Bangkok had entered my life it was gone again, until next time. Next stop was Chiang Rai – the Rose of the North.
Currently Chiang Mai is the most popular tourist destination in Northern Thailand but the up-and-coming Chiang Rai can’t be far behind. It is home to the famous Golden Triangle, where the countries of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos all come together sharing the Mekong River. I stood at the hilltop lookout admiring all three majestic countries.
Some of the most luxurious off-the-beaten-path resorts are in this area. I had the phenomenal pleasure of staying at both the Anantara Golden Triangle and the Four Seasons Tented Camp. Both resorts keep elephants on site and allow visitors multiple options for interacting with these incredible creatures.
The pictures I have from this leg of my journey include bathing adorable elephants, feeding a baby elephant bananas and walking through the jungle with a group of elephants. Each being a fonder memory than the last. Staff enthusiasm for Asian elephant conservation makes all of it possible.
Last and not least on my escapade through Thailand was the lovely beach destination of Phuket. This was the most anticipated stop. Finally, I thought, some time on the beach! And Phuket does not disappoint. The beauty here is unparalleled.
Most hotels have villas with private plunge pools terraced up a hillside. You can’t go wrong as long as you pick a highly rated resort with updated rooms on a nice stretch of beach. Instagram-worthy views are complimentary. But I have to say the best excursion to do from Phuket is the Phi Phi Islands tour by speedboat. It’s a must-do here.
A whole day of swimming, snorkeling, beach lounging, visiting monkeys and overall having the time of your life is just what the doctor ordered!
These three cities made for an incredibly comprehensive first trip to Thailand. I felt accepted by all the local Thai people I encountered, as well as embraced by Thailand’s warm spirit and fresh air. It’s obvious to me that everyone should travel here at least once to discover the majesty and eternal beauty this country has to offer. And while you’re here why don’t you see more of Asia?
The travel experts at Lisa Hoppe Travel Consulting can get you there, and anywhere!