Tag Archives: asia

Thailand Itinerary: Two Weeks

Looking for some Thailand itinerary inspiration? So you’ve got two weeks to travel Thailand? Whether you’re a beach bum, party animal, culture vulture or adventurer I’ve suggested a possible itinerary to inspire you to explore Thailand!

With only two weeks, pack as much in as you can by travelling at night on buses and trains. You can book in advance on this website, it also offers discounts for multiple bookings, trips and tickets!

Thailand Itinerary for: BEACH BUMS

Day 1 Fly + ferry, train/bus + ferry to visit Koh Tao

Day 2 & 3 Stay on Koh Tao to party or take a dive course for 4 days

Day 4 & 5 Ferry to Koh Phangan, spend time snorkelling, hanging out on beaches and partying

Day 6 & 7 Head across to the Andaman coast and stay in Ao Nang or Railay, go island hopping

Day 8,9,10 For partying and beautiful beaches head to Koh Phi Phi and visit the famous beach from ‘The Beach’ movie

Day 11, 12, 13 Take the ferry to Koh Lanta for a more relaxed island experience, chill with monkeys and explore the islands beaches

Day 14 Head back to Bangkok/Phuket

Check here for more island inspiration

 

Thailand Itinerary for: PARTY ANIMALS

Day 1,2,3 Party on Khao San Road in Bangkok. Read here for more Bangkok suggestions

Day 4 & 5 Stay on Koh Tao to party with all the backpackers

Day 6,7,8 Ferry to Koh Phangan, time with a Full Moon, Half Moon, Jungle Party, See here for more tips

Day 9,10,11, Get a transfer to Koh Phi Phi on the Andaman side and party until the sun comes up!

Day 12, 13, 14 Ferry to Phuket and party for a few days at the big night clubs there before flying out

 

Thailand Itinerary for: CULTURE VULTURES

Day 1,2,3 Exploring temples and markets in Bangkok

Day 4&5 Take the train to Ayutthaya, rent bicycles and cycle around this old city

Day 6& 7 Visit Sukothai, one of the oldest cities in Thailand on the way to Chiang Mai

Day 8,9,10 Explore culture in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai amongst other activities

Day 11 fly back to Bangkok and head to Kanchanaburi

Day 12,13,14 Explore museums, history and waterfalls in Kanchanaburi

 

Thailand Itinerary for: ADVENTURERS

Day 1&2 Explore Bangkok

Day 3,4,5 6 Head to Chiang Mai and spend a few days exploring all the adventure activities there

Day 7, 8, 9 Fly to Krabi and spend time rock climbing in Railay, island hopping, go scuba diving, visit hot springs

Day 10, 11, 12 Go to Khao Sok National Park, sleep in a tree house, a floating bungalow on a lake, go kayaking, jungle trekking and on boat tours to spot gibbons, monkeys and a small chance of elephants! It’s on my list of Thailand’s most beautiful places!

Day 13, 14 Head to Phuket for surfing (rainy season only June-Oct), ziplining, exploring beaches

 

For flying around Thailand, compare prices on skyscanner below


 

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My Travelling Regrets

Because sometimes we have travel regrets, some big and some small! Unfortunately it’s not all coconuts on white sand beaches (only most of the time!). While I love reading about the amazing experiences people have done while travelling the world, I also think it’s good to talk about what we missed out on so that a fellow traveller might not make the same mistake!

  • Not taking enough photos. I seem to always take a million photos of exactly the same angle of the popular sights like certain temples or famous monuments but I forget to take photos of the every day; the colourful tuktuks, the street food stalls, the flower markets and these are really the snaps that help sum up the real feelings and atmosphere of a place. When I recently visited India I tried to take more real photos that take me back to that moment!

travel regrets photo mistakes thailand india asia

 

  • Not visiting the sand dunes in Mui Ne Vietnam. The person I was travelling with didn’t want to go so I didn’t go. Silly decision. Likewise with Monkey Island near Cat Ba in Vietnam. That was the first time I ever went backpacking, now I know I would be confident enough to go it alone!

 

  • Not researching Dalat, Vietnam properly and missing out on canyoning down waterfalls because I didn’t know about it!

 

  • Overpacking. So the story of my life is that I have too many clothes, too many shoes and just too much ‘stuff’ in general. My backpack was too heavy, and as a result I spent a lot of time complaining and being too lazy to walk too far to find accommodation which probably meant I stayed in scummier places at not as convenient locations.

 

 

  • Getting in a big argument with a tuktuk driver in Siem Reap, Cambodia about money. I feel ashamed to have acted this way and it turned into a scene. It was after all, not very much money for me and a lot for him. In my defence I was a newbie and struggling with culture shock and poverty like child beggars. But really this where I should have been at my most generous and I’m embarrassed to say I was not. Hopefully now I am older, wiser and more understanding!

 

  • Missing Christmas at home. It was just once, when I first moved to Thailand and I have made a pact with myself to never skip Christmas again. For some people Christmas travelling might be fun, a chance to celebrate on the beach or with new friends or old ones across the world. However, for me Christmas should be and always will be about family, and mine did not celebrate together because of me (I stole my sister who joined me in Thailand). Christmas is not the same without everyone who matters arguing about Dobble under the same roof. Also as a British person, Christmas should be cold! Wearing santa hats in the heat is just a step into the surreal for me!

 

  • Worrying too much about planning things that I forget to enjoy the moment of where I actually am! (Still working on this one!)

 

  • That said…BADLY PLANNING things. On two occasions I hadn’t factored in enough time to see a place and with transport being particularly SLOW in some areas of South East Asia I successfully managed to arrive in BOTH Penang and Singapore late at night… in order to fly out the next morning. Luckily I’ve since been back to Singapore for the weekend but I’m still waiting on that Penang trip…

travelling regrets asia singapore thailand mistakes

 

  • Not being more adventurous with food. Ok, I admit, I am so boring with food! I eat cornflakes EVERY morning for breakfast. Luckily for me, travelling forces me to be more adventurous with food and I need to do this way more. The first time I backpacked I refused to eat noodles, didn’t like Vietnamese food and generally did not enjoy eating food in South East Asia! Four years later, while I still eat my boring cornflakes I also point at random stuff displayed at street food stalls around Asia and I will try it.

 

  • Having the worst hangover of my entire life in Siem Reap Cambodia in a boiling hot hostel with no A/C or fridge for water. Lesson learnt: hangovers in heat are the worst! If you know it’s gonna be a messy night, consider splashing out on an A/C room.

 

  • Getting so used to travelling constantly that I became too lax about airport timings and missed a flight to Taiwan. Cue arguments and tears and FINALLY being allowed to board the next one! Sometimes making a (tiny) fuss pays off!

 

  • Thinking that I probably wouldn’t like mountain biking but wanting to be adventurous so I signed up anyway. There was an afternoon of 10km downhill, or a full day trip of 25km downhill from the top of a mountain in Chiang Mai. Guess which one this idiot chose? Within the first five minutes I knew I hated and it DID end in tears and me walking my bike down the mountain. I’m glad I tried it but I regret not going for the ‘taster’ session!

What are some of your travel regrets and mistakes?

Travel Reading List

So I am a MASSIVE bookworm and devour books by the day. I have compiled a list of my loved books as well as books about countries I’ve visited. Please comment and add your favourites as I’m always after new reading material

While I love reading actual books, my Kindle is much more practical for travelling and I am now a total convert to e-readers. Any old literature is also free as the copyright has run out and most online books are often cheaper than your bookshop equivalent.

While my love for a real good-smelling book will never dwindle, I definitely recommend travelling with a Kindle.

You can buy yours here on Amazon Kindle Paperwhite – I recently lost my original Kindle and got the Paperwhite one for Christmas. It’s super light and the battery lasts for such a long time.

For more useful and practical backpacking items, have a read of my list of essentials

(Updated July 2017)

Sri Lanka

The Elephant Complex – John Gimlette – A extremely readable history which explains the complexities of the Civil War so well

Mosquito – Roma Tearne – fictional book set during the civil war

When Memory Dies Ambalavaner Sivanandanfictional book set during the civil war

Anil’s Ghost – Michael Ondaatje- fictional book set during the civil war

Tamil Tigress – Niromi de Soyza – autobiography of a former female soldier in the Tamil Tigers

For more information about Sri Lanka read this

India

Shantaram – Gregory David Robert (first book I read and decided I needed to visit India!) – Epic adventure story that is also true!

A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth- Family orientated drama concerning arranged marriages and religion issues

A Fine Balance -Rohinton Mistry – Heartbreaking and important

The Palace of Illusions – Chitra Divakaruni – Tale of the Mahabharata, one of the oldest, most epic stories in the Hindu religion told from a female perspective

Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie – Fantasy story set during India’s independence

Holy Cow – Sarah Macdonald – Autobiographical book concerning India’s spiritual and religious elements

The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling – Children’s story of jungle adventures about a boy growing up with wolves

A Passage to India – E.M.Forster – short novel depicting the beginning of the end of the British Empire in India

The Far Pavilions – M.M.Kaye – Adventure, love, war, religion – one of my favourite books of all time.

Shadow of the Moon – M.M.Kaye – fictional story about the lead up to the First Afghan War

City of Djinns – William Dalrymple – extremely readable history of Delhi, this book feels like it’s a fictional story

Thinking about solo travel in India? Read this

Thailand

The Beach – Alex Garland (Thailand) – backpacker tales from Thailand

Forget You Had a Daughter – Sandra Gregory – Autobiography about an English teacher who served time in Thailand’s notorious Kong Klem prison, nicknamed the ‘Bangkok Hilton’

 

Travel – All Countries

A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

Eat Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert (Italy, India, Bali) – don’t watch the movie but do read this book! Touches on dealing with depression as well as travel

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson (Worldwide and humorous!)

First They Killed My Father – Loung Ang (Cambodia)

The Quiet American – Graham Greene (Vietnam)

House of the Spirits – Isabel Allende (South America)

The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank (WW2)

Catch 22 – Joseph Heller (USA- WW2)

Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe (USA)

The Island – Victoria Hislop (Crete – Greece)

Modern

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

The Goldfinch – Donna Tart

The Versions of Us – Laura Barnatt

Nocturnal Animals – Austin Wright

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climber Out of the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson

 

Adventure Stories

The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe

The Moonstone and The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

Dracula – Bram Stoker

Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

Old Classics

Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

The Forsyte Saga – John Galsworthy

Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne

Tender is the Night – F Scott Fitzgerald

The Beautiful and Damned – F Scott Fitzgerald

Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

Visit Thailand: Explore beyond Bangkok

Most Thailand visitors find themselves in Bangkok at some point during their trip. I find many people have a love/hate relationship with Bangkok and it’s my mission to try to convert tourists to loving this crazy city that I call home! However, I understand Bangkok can be overwhelming and mental so here are some perfect day trips or weekend trips to escape the big bad city and explore more of Thailand.

Khao Yai National Park

Head into this jungle wilderness in one of Thailand’s oldest national parks. See wild elephants, monkeys, gibbons, snakes, porcupines, deer and many more while on a Greenleaf tour or rent motorbikes and head into the park yourself! 400 baht national park fee entrance. Camping overnight in the park is an option or stay in nearby Pak Chong. Minivans from Bangkok take about 2/3 hours.

Read here for more information about Thailand’s National Parks

Bangkok day trips
Get back to nature and spot wildlife in Khao Yai!
Koh Samet

Gorgeous white-sand beaches and lovely sunsets at Ao Prao beach. Go week days to avoid the crowds and be prepared to pay slightly more for accommodation than other islands. Take a minivan ride to Rayong and jump on a cheap ferry boat to Koh Samet. Spend the day lazing by the beach or swimming. I’ve stayed at some questionable accomadation on Koh Samet before but last time I stayed at the lovely Tubtim Resort, spacious wooden bungalows bang on the beach, with green lily pads growing everywhere.

Bangkok day trips
Koh Samet – Bangkok’s famous weekend trip island getaway
Lopburi

A few hours on the train from Bangkok (costing approximately 40 baht) you can find yourself in the ancient city of Lopburi, famous for its monkeys and temples. It’s all slightly off the tourist trail which might be a welcome sight for many. I recommend collecting a map of the different temples from the temple opposite the station and deciding on where to visit. All temples that I visited were walkable and there are certain ones that are home to huge families of macaques. Please be aware of not feeding the monkeys any food that is not natural for them. They also will grab your sunglasses or anything else in range so be careful. If you feel like renting a scooter then you can access the gorgeous sunflower fields (seasonal around November- January) and the Peacock temple is worth a visit as well. Along with the birds there is also a great viewpoint if you feel like some exercise up many stairs.

lopburi bangkok day trip

lopburi bangkok day trip
Monkeys in one of Lopburi’s temples
Whale Watching (seasonal Aug-Nov)

Only two hours from Bangkok, the enormous Bryde whales can be seen! Entering the Gulf of Thailand to feed on anchovies these gentle giants are incredible and one of the coolest experiences I’ve had in Thailand. Wildlife Encounters Thailand offer weekly trips for 2500 baht including transfer from Bangkok and lunch on the boat. An amazing day out!

For more about wildlife in Thailand, read this article

Bangkok day trips
A Bangkok day trip that was a whale of a time!

 

Koh Lan

One of my favourite weekend haunts, Koh Lan is an island just off of Pattaya. Cheap accommodation and a host of beautiful white sand beaches are there to welcome you. Jump in a songtaew (truck) or motorsi taxi for 20-30 baht and spend the day exploring lesser known beaches and taking in great views of the island! I really enjoyed my stay at this resort, it’s walkable to the pier.

Find out more about Thailand’s paradise islands and where to visit

Bangkok day trips
Monks on a beach in Koh Lan, Thailand. A lovely Bangkok weekend trip
Ayutthaya

A interesting and cultural Bangkok day trip. Head to this ancient temple town, one hour by train or minivan from Bangkok. Rent bicycles cheaply and enjoy cycling around and soaking in the culture of these ancient temples and a former capital of Siam. Don’t forget to try my favourite dessert roti sai mai – kinda like a rolled up candyfloss.

Bangkok day trips
The ideal cultural Bangkok day trip: explore the ruins of Ayutthaya
Kanchanaburi

Tourists come here to see the bridge over the River Kwai and understand more about the dark history of this area where prisoners of war were held by the Japanese during World War II. It is quite far for a Bangkok day trip but I have done it before in one day. I recommend staying one night though. Two hours by car/minivan or a little longer on the train.

Erawan Waterfall

You can combine this with a Bangkok day trip or overnight stay from Kanchanaburi. Visit these stunning, blue coloured waterfalls with 9 steps inside Erawan National Park. Around 45 minutes by car from Kanchanaburi, bring a picnic and spend the afternoon swimming in stunning pools, cliff jumping and getting back to nature.

Bangkok day trips
Bangkok Day trips: Swimming in blue waterfalls in Erawan National Park
Hua Hin

One of Bangkok’s nearest beaches and very big for kite surfing, this is definitely possible as a Bangok day trip or weekend stay. A large stretch of yellow sand beach for hanging out on and a wide range of accommodation is on offer here. Swimming is not always recommended as there are jellyfish lurking! Cha-am is another beach stop just before Hua Hin. You can take minivans or the train to either place from Bangkok.

Bangkok day trips
View of Hua Hin from Takiap Beach, a good Bangkok day trip or weekend visit.
Water Park

Water parks are a great Bangkok day trip and a fun day out. There are many both towards Pattaya or towards Hua Hin. I loved Splashdown, near Pattaya. It is more of an inflatable obstacle course, this brightly coloured water park will have you and your mates running around behaving like big kids, plus a few beers!

Bangkok day trips
Big Kids Day out in Splashdown – funnily enough no-one made it all the way across these giant floating obstacle courses!

Where are your favourite places for a Bangkok day trip? I’m always looking for more inspiration!

Never Smile at Indian Men…and Other Bullshit

Are you thinking about solo female travel in India? Having researched and read so many travel blogs over my travelling lifetime I feel I really want to blog about dispelling some horrendous and detrimental myths there are, particularly about travel in places such as Sri Lanka and  India.

Below are some of the following ‘tips’ that I read before both my solo trips:

  • Wear a wedding ring
  • Never tell anyone you are travelling alone
  • Say you are meeting your ‘husband’ later on
  • Don’t stay in cheap accommodation – it’s for prostitutes
  • Never tell anyone where you are staying
  • Don’t take night trains (as read in Lonely Planet!)
  • Don’t talk to locals
  • Don’t smile at Indian men

Having now travelled solo as a woman in both these countries I can fairly safely say that this is complete bullshit. Don’t smile at people? I met some fantastic Indian guys who are now my good friends. I strongly feel that by never telling anyone we are travelling alone, we are not helping the world – we are playing along with society’s idea that women cannot travel solo. That we should feel scared and we are better off staying at home.

I am not naïve. I have had scary moments all over the world including my home – the UK. But that does not mean for one minute that I feel I cannot travel alone. The same things that happen in India, happen in Thailand and happen in London. While I admit that in every society there are certain uneducated and bigoted members who do not respect women, and there may be more in some countries than others, I do not think we should cower in our apartments and never see the world.

Incredible India

I have wanted to go to India since I was teenager. It took me until age 27 to pluck up the courage to stop waiting for someone to come with me and just go! After everything I read I decided to join a group tour for the first part of my trip. As soon as I was there I felt comfortable enough to travel alone. And I did so for the last 10 days of my trip which resulted in some of the most incredible experiences of the trip: whizzing around the Himalayas on motorbikes, waking up at 4am to see sunrise from a temple, building bonfires on beaches by the side of the Ganga river, attending puja religious ceremonies with locals, rafting, bungee jumping, sharing delicious Indian food…the list goes on.

India Advice

My advice to any female solo travellers wanting to go to India but feeling unable to is…GO! Book on a tour for the first part to help you feel more confident but I would without a doubt feel MORE than comfortable returning alone to travel India, Sri Lanka and many more besides…

Advice I DID appreciate and listened to: Take precautions, cover up, have a plan if you arrive late at night, always lock your doors, don’t wander around alone late at night, stay in busy areas, avoid parks/alleys at night, walk on main roads, take a card from the hotel (mainly advice because I get lost and have a terrible sense of direction!) Here’s my top most useful advice.

What are your thoughts on solo female travel? Are you tired of the world telling you it’s ‘too dangerous’? Not safe? Or do you think it’s justified?