Enchanting Thailand: A Journey Through Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Koh Samui

Destination: Thailand
Travel Companion: Mom
Duration: 10 days

In the heart of Southeast Asia, Thailand beckons with its vibrant culture, breathtaking landscapes, and warm hospitality. My February escapade took my mother and me on an unforgettable adventure, beginning with the bustling streets of Bangkok before venturing into the cultural haven of Chiang Mai and the serenity of Koh Samui. Join me as I recount the highlights of my journey through these three captivating places.

You can watch my trip highlights on my instagram account here.

Wat Umong

Part I - Bangkok: A Glimpse of Majesty

Arriving in the bustling metropolis of Bangkok, I was immediately drawn into the enchanting world of Thai heritage. A whirlwind two days awaited, with the iconic Grand Palace and the impressive Wat Pho as our first stops. The intricate architecture and rich history of these landmarks left me in awe, providing a splendid introduction to Thailand's cultural tapestry.

Reclining Buddha - Wat Pho temple in Bangkok

Monkey-Demon Statue

Part II - Chiang Mai: Massage Indulgence and Culinary Delights

Our journey continued as we boarded a flight to Chiang Mai, a city embraced by misty mountains and ancient temples. Eager to unwind, our first order of business was a rejuvenating massage at a nearby spa. The gentle Thai stretches and soothing aromas set the tone for the days to come.

I love that every time you get a massage in Thailand, they give you tea and sweet ricecake. 

Day 1: Culinary Exploration The following morning, we embarked on a culinary adventure with a local food and markets guided walking tour. From savory delights such as rice skin dumplings or fried doughs shaped like dinosaurs and other animals to sweet delicacies such as mango sticky rice, each bite revealed the richness of Northern Thai flavors. The vibrant markets and welcoming locals added an extra layer of authenticity to this gastronomic exploration.

The famous mango sticky rice

In the afternoon, we ventured to Doi Suthep mountain, where we marveled at the golden temple and luckily had the chance to witness the evening prayer ceremony by the monks. From there, you can also have an unobstructed view of Chiang Mai, sadly when we were there it quite hazy and visibility wasn't that clear.

Doi Suthep which is actually the mountain where Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is located.

Evening Prayer Ceremony

Day 2: Nature's Majesty at Doi Inthanon National Park Our exploration reached new heights as we embarked on a day trip to Doi Inthanon National Park. Thailand's highest point at Doi Inthanon National Park offered panoramic views that took our breath away where we also saw the twin pagodas. The journey continued with visits to the Sirithan and Wachiratharn waterfalls, where the sheer beauty of nature unfolded before our eyes. A short hike immersed us in the lush surroundings, making it a day filled with awe-inspiring moments. We also visited the Karen tribe village and then stopped at a local market where I tried pandan leaf chips which were so good I had originally gotten two bags with the plan to share with the rest of the group, and ended up eating both bags by myself.

One of the twin pagodas.

Day 3: Connecting with Giants at the Ethical Elephant Sanctuary

Our journey in Chiang Mai took an enriching turn as we embarked on a small group tour to the Ethical Elephant Sanctuary. A truly remarkable experience unfolded as we got up close and personal with five majestic elephants including baby Lanna which only weighed 800KG. Initially apprehensive, our fears melted away as we learned about their habits and routines. From watching them move gracefully to ultimately embracing them with hugs, the bond forged during our visit was unforgettable.

Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai

Engaging in activities like bathing the elephants and preparing protein balls for their snacks allowed us to contribute to their well-being. The ethical practices of the sanctuary made this encounter all the more meaningful, leaving us with a profound appreciation for these gentle giants.

Elephant bath time!

Evenings in Chiang Mai: Markets, Food, and Mango Sticky Rice

Our evenings in Chiang Mai were a celebration of the vibrant night markets such as the Night Bazaar, filled with enticing aromas and colorful stalls. Exploring multiple markets, we delighted in a culinary journey through local delicacies, with the popular mango sticky rice standing out as a sweet highlight. Sampling diverse dishes from street vendors and trying different restaurants became a nightly ritual, each meal a testament to the rich tapestry of Thai flavors. One of the experiences we tried was going to B Sam Cook restaurant that has a set menu of 7 courses, a delightful and fun experience that I highly recommend, but make sure you are VERY hungry before you go!

One of my favorite meals in Chiang Mai, tasty and super affordable. A small restaurant called Som Petch Kitchen that was facing our hotel "THEE Vijit Lanna".

Moreover, in terms of transportation, there are a lot of tuktuks going around. I also used grab (like uber) multiple times to go around. You can also hire a tuktuk to do a night tour to see the temples in Chiang Mai with a drop-off at one of the markets at the end.

A bit of Chiang Mai History thanks to ChatGPT:
Chiang Mai was founded in 1296, and in the following years, the city was encircled by a defensive wall and a moat. The purpose of these structures was to protect the city from potential invasions.

The original city wall was about 1.5 kilometers long on each side, and it had four main gates – Tha Phae Gate (east), Suan Dok Gate (west), Chiang Mai Gate (south), and Chang Puak Gate (north). Each gate had its unique architectural design and historical significance.

Relaxation and Rejuvenation: More Massages in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai's affordability and reputation for excellent massages drew us in for a few more sessions. The skilled hands of the therapists delivered what I can confidently call the best Thai massages I've ever experienced. It was a fitting way to unwind after days filled with exploration and adventure.

We were lucky to find this massage place "Sense Massage Somphet" right beside our hotel "THEE Vijit Lanna"

Part III - Island Escape: Koh Samui and Mu Ko Ang Thong Park

Transitioning to the final leg of our journey, we flew to the serene Koh Samui island for a well-deserved chill vacation at the Melia Koh Samui hotel. Occasional ventures led us to a local temple and an unforgettable day cruise to Mu Ko Ang Thong Park. We also visited a local souvenir shop where I got myself some island style clothes and sat watching the sunset from (see photo below).

Melia Koh Samui Resort

Big Buddha - Koh Samui

Rawee Souvenir Shop

Melia Koh Samui Resort

The cruise was a delight, with generous crews, kayaking adventures, a visit to the Emerald Island with a scenic hike, and a sumptuous lunch and dessert to cap off a perfect day.

Emerald Island - Mu Ko Ang Thong Park

Memorable Airport Experience and China Market

Returning to Bangkok from Koh Samui Airport was an unexpected delight. The uniquely designed outdoor airport resembled a resort, providing a memorable conclusion to our island escape. With a few hours left on our last night in Bangkok, we braved the bustling Chinatown. Amidst the crowds, we savored delicious street food, making it a fitting end to our Thai adventure.

Koh Samui Airport

Chinatown (Bangkok) during the day

Chinatown (Bangkok) at night

Conclusion: A Resonating Journey in the Heart of Thailand

As I reflect on the 10-day odyssey through Thailand, I am left with indelible memories of vibrant cities, cultural wonders, culinary delights, and the tranquility of island life. Chiang Mai's distinctive charm and Koh Samui's laid-back allure created a harmonious balance. Thailand, with its diverse offerings, has etched itself in my heart, leaving me yearning for another exploration, perhaps in the enchanting realms of Phuket. Whether it's the bustling markets, serene temples, or the gentle giants of the Elephant Sanctuary, Thailand truly offers a journey that lingers long after the adventure concludes.

Beautiful moment watching the sunset in Koh Samui

A note on booking tours

In terms of booking the tours, I have been relying a lot on GetYourGuide.com. They have really good variety to choose from, option to pay later, to reschedule and great customer service. It has been very helpful for me to know how long the tours / activities I am interested in, read the reviews and plan accordingly, I still aim to have some free time to explore on my own, but it enriches my experience when traveling with the variety of things I ended up signing up for.

#FromThailandWithFunk -- Visit on Instagram

This post has been mainly generated by ChatGPT 3.5 based on my own specific experience in Thailand, I also edited and added few more details to personalize as well as the photos.


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