One of the places I was most excited to visit in southeast Asia was Thailand – and I must say, I was not disappointed. During a week long break from school called “reading week” (nice try) a group of friends and I decided to explore as much of Thailand as we could. We traveled from Phuket to Bangkok and ended our trip in Chiang Mai. Here are photos from each city that capture some of my favorite moments.
During our stay in Phuket, we spent a majority of our time – four days – at Patong Beach. This was about three days too long. The chaos of the area was great to experience for a day, but it soon felt overwhelming.
One of the best parts of that area was, of course, the beach. Here is the beautiful sunset from our first day in Phuket.
Phuket was our first stop in Thailand, so it was also our first experience with delicious local Thai food. Pineapple fried rice and coconut soup were among my favorite dishes (plus all the exotic fresh fruit!).
While in the area, we took a boat to Koh Phi Phi Island, and loved it so much that we stayed for the night. The next day we took a tour of James Bond Island.
I was pleasantly surprised by the amazing city of Bangkok. You often hear negativity surrounding the image of Bangkok but this was one of my favorite cities I have traveled to so far. The incredibly friendly people, the gorgeous temples, and pad Thai on every corner … what’s not to love?!
We enjoyed taking the water bus to and from our destinations. This was the fastest and cheapest way of getting around, and the view was not too shabby as well.
Visiting the grand palace was such an amazing experience despite the large amounts of tourists who were also trying to take in the sight.
Walking down almost any street in the center of Bangkok you could run into a beautiful temple.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Our first night in Chiang Mai was the most memorable of the entire trip. We chose not to stay in a hotel, not in a hostel, but in a treehouse (yes, a treehouse). The homemade food and the warm hospitality of Uncle Moo made for a perfect getaway.
While staying at the treehouse, we hiked to a nearby waterfall before trying handmade Thai whiskey at a small village bar.
We explored the Chiang Dao caves-and by explored I mean crawled on all fours with only the light of one kerosene lamp to guide us.
We heard a lot about the elephant abuse that takes place in Thailand (riding, shows, etc…), so we wanted to find an alternative way to learn about and get close to them. In Chiang Mai we went to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary – a reservation that is dedicated to providing a safe space for abused elephants. At the sanctuary, we fed and bathed the elephants and had an amazing experience without subjecting these gentle creatures to the abuse of riding! Featured in this picture is a baby elephant who was rescued from the circus.
Exploring Thailand was something I have always wanted to do, and if I hadn’t studied abroad in Singapore I don’t know if I ever would have gotten the opportunity to do so. I am feeling grateful for all of the amazing opportunities presented to me every day here.
Ashley Kahen is earning a bachelor’s degree in Sociology at San Diego State University. She is blogging from Singapore during spring semester 2016.