Time to leave Thailand

Leaving Thailand

Back to Blighty

Well It is nearly nine months since I left the cold, wet and grey shores I called home. Yes this has been one of the longest periods of time I have spent in a single country other than my home England, but all good things have to come to an end as they say.

My recent and final place here in Thailand, Pattaya has financially drained me. It is easy to get carried away with the partying, the girls and the whole atmosphere of the place. I’m not broke don’t get me wrong, but I have plans for what money I have left. Namely putting it to work on some sort of internet venture and setting up recurring income streams, the kind that don’t require me to be tied to one particular place, and will allow me the freedom to head off whenever it takes my fancy.

During my time here in Thailand I have met many people, but the ones that interested me the most were those that  appeared to live here or move like a nomad with no fixed end dates. They all seemed to have a near endless amount of money lying around to help support this lifestyle of theirs. I wanted my slice of this, so I befriended as many of this type of acquaintance as I could. My aim was to learn as much as possible about how they achieved this? To me this wasn’t possible until I saw it with my own eyes. But it appears the internet has changed the whole economic landscape forever.

I had met people who worked freelance for large US and European companies, but had never set foot inside one of their offices, I met others that ran successful online shops back in their home countries, all from laptop here in paradise, and others just seemed to have the fabled auto-income system setup. But by and large most of them just ran websites and made money from advertising and affiliate sales.

The website idea seemed the easiest to start out, after all I have a fairly decent knowledge on several subjects, so my money in the bank will go towards, learning and setting up this of venture. I will need to do some work when I’m home to live of, which will allow for maximum investment in the new plan.

The aim, well that’s pretty simple, get the site or sites up and running and then market them to a point where they have enough organic search engine traffic, that they will generate a monthly income check. then when I have the steady income, I will then look to invest in more stable and more online income streams. Eventually I will generate enough to live on and travel on freely.

Now I am not a dreamer, I know my severe lack of expertise in this field will hamper my speed of success. But I have always been the kind of person who can adapt quickly, and can learn new things with relative ease. So I don’t see lack of experience as a make or break problem. Merely it will slow me down a little.

The flight back to the UK, all 12 hrs of  it was sent on planning the layout for the first site, and the niche I would target. I certainly was aiming big and going for a travel blog or tech blog etc. I decided for the first site a smaller more specialist niche would be perfect, this would result in less online competition whilst I tried out my ideas.

Landing back home was a shock to the system, imagine living for 9 months in shorts, flip flops and t-shirts and then landed in Manchester mid December? For those that haven’t been to Manchester, it was minus 2c, wet and pitch black outside. God this plan had better work of mine I was already missing Thailand and its weather before I got on the train home. I am not looking forward to several years back here.

However it will be good to see some friends and family again.

Pattaya Party and shopping

Pattaya Party, shopping and fun

As I have said after such a long time of chilling and doing pretty much nothing, I was starting to feel an itch to get out and do something fun and active. As I was in Koh Chang the nearest place other than Bangkok (which I had already been to) was Pattaya.

Now Pattaya is a strange town, before arriving in Thailand I had a preconception of a giant sprawling red light zone, full of seedy old men and young Thai hookers. But once I had done some proper research online and speaking to folk who had been there, my thoughts on the place changed alot.

For sure the sleazy side of the town still exists and there are plenty of retired western gents parading around with young Thai women. But the town also strangely has a lot of mainstream tourism to boot.  There seems to be loads of organised tours of Korean and Chinese holiday makers everywhere you look.

This I found out has been a big focus for the town’s authorities in recent years, and they are desperate to get away from the sex trade and turn Pattaya into one of Asia’s premier tourist destinations.

My base just off Soi Buakhao was the perfect location to explore the town; from here I can walk to second road and beach road which are the main shopping in Pattaya. These roads are also packed with tour shops all competing to sell me tours at the cheapest price. This is a great guide to Pattaya shopping

pattaya shopping guide

Up until now I have stayed away from organised tours, and shopping whilst here in Thailand, but I had decided on this 2 week break being more like a traditional holiday. So I spent a few of the first few days speaking to tour agents looking for the best things for me to do here.

I know this is going to blow my budget, but what the heck.

I also spent a few days on the beach which if I’m being honest is not great, and by far worse than any of the beaches on Koh Chang. It is rather dirty and very over crowded, and full of really annoying locals trying to sell you all sorts of random stuff. I have never been offered so much Viagra, fake cigarettes and BB guns in my life. Although judging by the fact half the visitors here are after some sleazy fun I reckon they must do a roaring trade in Viagra.

I had always wanted to Bungee Jump but never got round to it, so one of the first tours I did here was that. The bungee here claims to be the highest in Thailand, so if I’m going to do it why not do the biggest. This was quite expensive at 1600thb, but this is a lot cheaper than most countries. Plus it is run by English people which made feel a little more comfortable with the whole idea.

I also went on the ferry across to coral island for the day, this cost a mere 35thb each way. I will write a separate post on that later I think.

I also went to the tropical gardens (I forget the Thai name), the sanctuary of truth which was awesome, and to a lady boy cabaret show. I highly recommend the lady boy show it was great fun, and very tongue in cheek. Looking at the ladies I can see why some slightly inebriated folk get confused in the nightclubs here, they are very convincing).

tiffany show party pattaya

As well as shopping and doing a few tours, I was also craving some night fun. I am quite a party animal at heart. Pattaya as mentioned has a big reputation for the seedy nightlife, but also for the mainstream party goer as well. Walking street is where the main crowds head, and here there are loads of clubs, live music venues and bars as well as the biggest concentration of sex workers possible.

Soi Buahkao also boasts a lot of bars and a few Go Go’s as well, this isn’t as busy as walking street, but plenty of action for me, which is great as I am staying just around the corner. Drink prices are very reasonable, especially if you stick to Thai beers and Thai whiskey. There is so much competition for custom that some bars sell a bottle of beer for only 40thb. I was here out of the main season so I think that maybe why prices were so low? Not sure.

Koh Chang to Pattaya

Koh Chang to Pattaya

After nearly 6 weeks on the lazy, sleepy Island of Koh Chang and having done very little for quite a while now, I decided I needed something more for a bit. Pattaya has always been on my list as a party destination for obvious reasons. As well as its nightlife, Pattaya also has loads to do in the day, such as attractions, shopping and such.

Getting from the Bus from Koh Chang to Pattaya was a lot easier task than Chiang Mai to Koh Chang.  The total journey would only be around 5hrs this time, and would consist of the ferry back to Trat, followed by a scheduled bus up to Pattaya. No need to go via Bangkok.  The bus was not as comfortable as the ones from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, and every seat was taken. Which meant it was slightly over crowded, but as the journey is only 4hrs this was no big deal to me anymore.

Bus Koh Chang to Pattaya

The buses are quite regular and are always busy. So pre book your ticket via an agent on Koh Chang or through your resort or hotel. Tickets are 400thb which is about $12us. Private taxis can also be booked for those feeling a little more flush with the cash, make sure you fix the price with your driver first.

Now after a fair amount of time in Thailand enjoying the slower pace of life and quieter time, arriving in Pattaya would surely be a shock to the system? This is quite a big resort and boasts around 5,000,000 visitors a year, and is home to 500,000 permanent Thai and expat residents.

Again I haven’t pre arranged any accommodation for my arrival. But the folk at the place I was staying at told me there are hundreds of guest houses and places for 350-400thb a night which is great value for a large city like this.

With no set destination to jump out of the minibus I ended up at the North bus station on Pattaya Klang (Pattaya’s north road) form here I shared a baht bus for 10thb down to second road.  Luckily we arrived after dusk and the temperature was that bad, as I had to wander around with bag in tow looking for a room.  From my research I had decided that the Soi Buakhao area was my best bet, and it is only located just behind second road, which is very central and easy to explore the city from.

I found a great little open air bar with rooms above, the rooms were quite basic, a double bed, a TV (with Thai cable), and a fan. But it was perfect place for me to base myself whilst exploring.

Staying on Koh Chang

Staying on Koh Chang

So after what was probably the longest land based journey I have ever undertaken in one hot (I have had longer flights to Australia). I finally arrived on the island of Koh Chang, One of the last undeveloped islands in the gulf of Thailand.

My body was aching and my mind was a mess, why didn’t I pre arrange some comfortable accommodation so I could head straight there and have nice warm shower, and a long well deserved sleep?
As soon as I got off the ferry I was bombarded by folk offering me somewhere to stay. This was the last thing I needed after 20hrs of travelling; I hate people in my face the best of times, and certainly not then. But in my predicament of not having pre arranged somewhere to stay, I had no choice but to engage in a battle of haggling over price for some basic room somewhere.

koh chang ferry

Haggling was a battle I wasn’t go to win in that state of mind, so I took the tactic of being slightly interested in 2 rooms, and let them battle it out with each other whilst I stood and watched. I ended up with a basic room, with cable TV and a Fan for 350thb a night. Not bad, and the best thing it was only 25mins from the ferry terminal (I use terminal in the loosest sense).

As soon as I got to my room, I paid for 3 days up front, and headed straight up stairs to crash out. I jumped through a nice cold shower and headed straight to bed. I slept from 7pm through to 7am in the morning.

Koh Chang is billed as an under developed island, but in fact there are a few resorts and hotels here. However there is only one main perimeter road and this doesn’t even go the whole way round the Island. Pretty rubbish if you live at one end and need to get to the other side, instead of a short trip you end up going the whole way around the Island. But this lack of major development is the Islands charm so no point moaning about it.

There is, as mentioned no major tourist infrastructure here, and the main past time seems to be either spa style retreats, where you go for a completely relaxing break. Diving, now diving is huge here, most resorts sell it, and there are several good dive schools. I had a few years back done my open water diving course in Dominica and thought whilst I’m here I will get back into it.

Koh Chang has captured the dive market for the north of the gulf as the water here is much clearer than other places such as Ryong, Hua Hin or Pattaya. It is also relatively cheap here compared to my previous experience in the Caribbean. For around 2,000thb you get a whole day out on the boat, including a morning dive and afternoon dive. I met some great people out on my trip. My Dive master John, had come to Thailand to complete his dive master’s on Koh Chang and then ended up staying to supervise dive party’s. He doesn’t earn masses of money, but enough to live here relatively comfortably and he does what he loves every day. Another possible avenue to me maybe one day staying here long term. Although getting my dive master is not cheap.

The island itself doesn’t boast a huge nightlife, but does have enough independently owned bars and restaurants, as well as plenty of hotel bars to keep you entertained. I found it to be the right level of night time fun.

Another great thing about staying on Koh Chang is the scenery, the island is stunning and you can find some absolutely amazing vistas and views. It is quite a mountainous island and if you are prepared to go off and explore on your own you will find some truly breathtaking sights. You are best hiring a scooter to get around, after all this is the second largest island in the gulf and even on scooter can take 2hrs to get from one side to the other.

I ended up staying on Koh Chang for 2 months, I chilled out on the beach a lot, dived a little (wish I could have dived more but it gets expensive after a while), I also spent a lot of time finding friendly Thai’s to practice my new found Language skills on. Not sure what they made of me? Maybe they were pleased I had made the effort, or maybe they thought I was useless at speaking Thai, either way it helped me and I think my vocabulary expanded a lot.

Koh Chang is about the same cost wise is Chiang Mai to live and there are a few long term expats here, but nowhere near the numbers found In Chiang Mai. It is what I imagine the southern Islands of Phuket and Koh Samui would have been like 15-20years ago. If this is what you are looking for from your trip to Thailand then Koh Chang offers that dream.

Chaing Mai to Koh Chang

Getting from Chaing Mai to Koh Chang

Once I had my heart set on a visiting Koh Chang, that was that, there is very little changing my mind. I only wish I had researched how to get there first.

Unless you want to spend a lot on flights you don’t really have much choice but to embark up on a hell of a journey.  I like to travel, as in I like to visit different places but the thought of getting there always fills me with dread, and 19hrs spent across various modes of transport and sitting in various bus depot’s is about as bad as is gets in my view.

But I had made my mind up and decided on my new adventure. I tried to do as much research as possible on getting there, but for all the internet’s graces, it was seriously lacking on advice for this trip. I did find a 1 really good guide written by tielandtothailand.com. But this only served to prove my fears correct this was going to be a mammoth of a journey.

The journey would consist of heading back to Bangkok, this would seem like a perfect place to break the journey, but I could not justify the extra cost of another few days in Bangkok. 2000thb for a hotel used to seem like nothing, but after this amount of time here it seems really expensive, after all it is nearly two months rent for what I have become accustomed too.

So this is the journey I undertook, if you want it broken down into times and costs then click here and check out the more descriptive view.

Bus to Bangkok – 10hrs

Bus to Trat – 6hrs

Trat to ferry – 45mins

Ferry to Koh Chang – 45 mins

Taxi to hotel (sat in back of pick up ) – 30 mins

A total of 18hrs moving plus stoppage times meant I had been on the move for nearly 24hrs in total, and spent 1,300thb. My body was also aching from sitting in uncomfortable seats for so long, starting to feel my age a little here. This island had better be worth it.

Side trip to Pai

Side trip to Pai

Now I’d never come across the town of Pai during my research, I obviously didn’t research too thoroughly? But from the people I have met both foreign and locals this is a really awesome place to visit.

Pai for those of you that were like me, is another popular chilled hangout even further north than Chiang Mai. In fact it takes about 3hrs by private bus to get there, and from what I’ve been told this can be more heart racing than a theme park attraction. The road is steep and windy and the bus drivers seem to treat it as a sort of race track, each trying to achieve a better time than last. There are plenty of people in Chiang Mai who will attest to how crazy a ride this really is. The bus costs 150thb.

For me this didn’t really seem like a lot of fun and a few folk suggested riding the journey on my scooter, this seemed a lot more fun and safer. Obviously scooters don’t have masses of space for luggage, but the nice folk at the bus station will stick your bag on the bus for a small fee and you can collect it at the other end. Sounds like a plan Stan.

A few years back Pai was a simple sleepy village, visited by a few daring backpackers and nothing much happened up here. However recently there has been a mini  boom in tourist numbers, all thanks to a new small airport and a much improved road (I dread to think what is was like before?). Now the village/town attracts a lot more visitors than before. But nowhere near the numbers of Chaing Mai or other popular towns.

Pai near Chiang Mai

There really wasn’t much to do in Pai, it’s just a smaller version of Chaing Mai. Nice scenery, rolling hills, a little cooler and few nice restaurants, I can see how the town appeals to some, but for me I prefer the options that Chiang Mai offered me. There I could relax and be on my own or if I felt I needed something more that was also available. Here all you have is a slow pace of live and pure relaxation. But I’m glad I came here and had a look.

After nearly 7 months here in Thailand, most of which has been spent up north chilling out and relaxing, I was starting to get itchy feet, and I felt it was time to look for a little more action and fun. I didn’t fancy heading all the way south to visit and island, so after a bit off looking around I decided on heading to Koh Chang, which is in the northern gulf.

My Time in Chiang Mai

Time in Chiang Mai

So my new digs sorted and relatively close to town and an easy walk from the vibrant old town I decided I would be alright here in Chiang Mai for a few months.

However despite the guest house I was staying at claiming to cater for longer term visitors it felt quite transient and I would estimate the average length of stay to be around 3 weeks. This I didn’t care for too much. So I set about finding a more permanent base and chose a nice little 1 bedroom house out of the city (about 10mins away) for a 5,700thb a month. Bills were extra of course and these would average out at about 1200thb a month for electric, although I did use the AC a lot, and only about 100thb for water.

Being out of the city meant I needed my own transport, so I hired a long term scooter for 2,500thb a month. I had never ridden one before but they are very simple to get the hang off, and the roads here are quiet. Plus it is so much cheaper than getting motorbike taxis every day, and the freedom to go and explore as I choose is great.

Chiang Mai seems to have a lot more permanent expat residents than I was expecting, some estimate as many as 50,000, with more long term visitors. This makes the whole place seem rather multi cultural, but with a definite Thai edge.

The city is very old and has an abundance of things to see and do along the cultural lines, however most folk seem happy to be just chilling a doing very little.

I found most of days spent having lazy mornings and then during the afternoon enjoying a stroll around the old town or one of the many markets here. The markets are great, nowhere near the size of Bangkok’s of course, but still large enough to waste and hour or two. I love food markets, all the fresh produce and weird and wonderful fruit and veg, always seem to get me. It’s is one of favourite things to do when travelling. Food is massive part of Thai life and that suits me down to the ground, I am not one of those fussy eaters, and am I am always willing to try new things. I do have limits though and one of the local snacks I couldn’t get to grips with was deep fried cockroaches, yes you read that right, those horrid little things we all hate in the west are considered a tasty snack here. In fact they are farmed on an industrial scale.

I have always been a pretty busy guy, no matter what stage of my life I always mange to have enough to do to fill my days. So this not doing a lot was going to take some getting used to. I recall a movie called “about a boy” where Hugh Grant plays a rich Londoner (As always) but he doesn’t have a job. He ends up breaking his day up into smaller segments of an hour each. This is actually really good advice and worked well for me, and helped relax a lot.

Having said that most people are going to need the odd thing to do each day myself included. I decided to try and learn a little Thai. I booked myself a six week course for just over 5,000thb this gave me 2 hrs of lessons each morning for 6 days a week.  The Thai language is a lot different at fist and with 7 tones seems nearly impossible to learn. I was surprised though at how quickly I was able to gain a very basic vocabulary, especially as language was never a strong point for me in school. And after 2 or 3 weeks I was more than confident to hold a basic conversation with the locals at a bar or market stall. Once you get to this level, it seems to progress very quickly.

I really wanted to learn to Thai cooking as well, from a local, not some school set up to cater for tourists, but for love nor money I couldn’t find one here. I would gain a few ideas by watching the chefs at the food carts I frequented for lunch each day. It may not seem a lot to me, but will probably impress the odd folk back home.

As well as learning the language and sitting watching side street chefs, I also spent a fair few hours driving around on my scooter. In a sort of similar fashion to my aimless wanders around Bangkok. Again I found this to be an awesome adventure and I found loads of little villages, beautiful backdrops, as well as the obligatory temples.

Chiang Mai backdrop

The Chiang Mai region seems to have a lot of cultural attractions and things do to. I ended up staying here for 6 and half months, longer than initially anticipated but I just got into the flow of doing not very much. It is hard to get out of once you are in that mindset. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it here, it’s the kind of place I could find myself returning to and spending much more time. But my pot of money is not endless. Most of the permanent expats here seem to work online and can easily make enough to stay here year round. I’m not talking super luxury but they enjoy a standard of living I would argue is better than most 9-5’s back home. I must look into to setting up some sort of online business.

Where to next I wonder?

So where to next Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Bangkok to Chiang Mai

So after a few days in the bustling hustle of Bangkok, my internal body clock adjusted to my new time zone, and more importantly my internal thermometer adjusted to the stifling heat, I decided it was time to move on and find somewhere more akin to my aim of chilling and relaxing.

After speaking to a few hippy types in a bar on Khao San road, my destination was set, it was time to head up north and visit the popular Chaing Mai and Chiang Rai region.

Getting there would be my first consideration, do I fly, do I take a luxury bus or do I stay true to the purpose of this trip and head up there as cheaply as possible? I decided on cheap as possible, after all the less I spend  getting around the longer I can stay here.

The cheap options consist of either public bus or train. The train operates 6 services a day from Bangkok and can between 12-15hrs, now for someone who lives in a country where you get from one end to the other in less than 6hrs this is scary. So I looked at the bus option instead, but again this takes 11hrs. So a much of a muchness both roughly the same time. So the deciding factor would be price.

Trains operate 3 classes of service the 3rd class being both the cheapest and most uncomfortable and prices start at 300thb (less than $9us) not bad, but not sure I can stand an entire 12hrs crammed into an overcrowded carriage with god knows how many other folk?  1st class with a sleeper bed style seat costs 1450thb quite expensive as you can fly for 2000thb in less than 3hrs.

So I went for the bus, again faced with different options. For only 200thb you can take the public bus which operates every hour and doesn’t look to be the most luxurious, and has no air-conditioning. For only 500thb and the option I decided on you can take a private operated bus service, these are also supposed to be running every hour but if you don’t pre book you may have to wait a few hours for a spare seat. These are a lot more comfortable and a more like a long distance service back home, reclining seats, air conditioning and some dodgy Thai radio station playing for most of the journey. Get tickets here

VIP Bus Bangkok to Chiang Mai

The journey took about 10.5hrs and included regular pit stops for gas and a welcome toilet break, this was a god send to me as I am a smoker so getting off every 2.5hrs for a cig was great. I met a few other traveller types on the bus, who gave me some tips of where to head in Chiang Mai for a cheap room.

Now my plan is stay here for a few months, just chill out and relax as much as possible. I headed to the old town and found a little guest house called Julie’s as recommended by my new friends. A private room with a fan (air conditioning costs too much for my budget) was only 250thb a night (less than $8us). This was not to be my permanent base, this was only for a week to allow me to get my bearings, and then find more permanent digs.

I had heard you can get an average standard room all in (No air condition) for around 4,000thb a month, that sounded great to me as it would definitely extend my budget as far as possibly. I ended up in a sort of guest house/long term place called RCN court this was a little out of the centre but perfect for my needs. I negotiated a 3 month stay here for 5,500thb a month not bad that is just over $165US perfect. A little more than I had been advised I could get the cheapest room at, but they were nice and comfortable. They also cable TV and a gym which is great.

rcn court Chiang Mai

So now I’m here and settled it’s time to start chilling and enjoying a more relaxed pace of life. One of the benefits of staying at RCN court was the place is full of other long term renters like myself, so there is social interaction when needed and much needed tips on what to do around here.

5 top things to do in Bangkok

5 top things to do in Bangkok

After spending my first few days of my new adventure here in Thailand in the capital, here is my 5 top things to do in Bangkok for those that follow my footsteps. I’m not normally a fan of the lists you find when surfing the net, mainly because people seem to just want to out do the next guy. What start as a list of 5, the next guy does a list of 10 and then before you know it the list of top things is 50-100 long??? It is no longer in my opinion a list of the top things, it is merely a list of everything.

With that in mind and the fact I like to contradict what I say, here is my list of 5 things must do things in Bangkok. I have kept it to 5 for the reason stated above.

1) Food

The Thai’s absolutely love food and seem to eat non stop, no longer have they finished one meal but they are planning the next. This is strange when you see the size of your average Thai person, they are tiny in comparison to their European and American cousins. Where they put all this food is beyond me?

Bangkok is home to some absolutely world class hotels, and restaurants and those with unlimited budgets can eat in some of the finest establishments in Asia. But for me this is not experiencing the real Thai cuisine. You can eat in 5 star restaurants in every major city and town in the world, you don’t need to come to Bangkok for it.

What you can’t do all over the world is enjoy real, Thai food just the way the locals eat it. On the go, on the side of a Soi at what would never pass as a restaurant anywhere other than Asia. The abundance of choice and variety of the Thai cuisine will mean you can eat everyday for a year and not get bored. Absolutely everything can be bought from these carts, form the more popular Pad Thai, Tom Yum, Pad Krapow, and BBQ satay skewers. To whole salt baked fish, deep fried insects and more.Street food bangkok

This is not just the best way to eat but also the cheapest in Bangkok,dishes start from 35thb ($1us) and you could easily have a feast of dishes to try for around $5us. No wonder this is one of our top things to do in Bangkok.


2) Experience the Culture

Experiencing the culture can mean many different things to many different people. But to me it means wandering around aimlessly finding little suburbs and enclaves that are otherwise off the beaten track. I spent many afternoons, not just in Bangkok but all over Thailand on foot wandering aimlessly. With particular agenda I ended up finding some great little places, temples, food and of course met some amazing people. Bangkok is very multi cultural and you can gain a lot of experience from not only talking to Thai’s but also the expats who have lived hear for years.

One absolutely must see Bangkok cultural sight is the grand palace, it is heavily visited by tourists, but it is a great way to learn about Thailand. Here you will gain a huge insight into why the Thai’s are the way they are, what motivates them, what makes them happy and their philosophy.

3) Visit a market

Another favorite past time of the Thai’s is shopping, they love it. And Bangkok is home to some world class shopping, the city boasts the same high end boutiques and super malls as any other major city. But as with the food scene this is not what I am recommending, the best shopping in my opinion is at a real Thai market.

Almost every corner of the city boasts a market or two, some are traditional Thai markets, frequented only by locals and expats, some are pure tourist traps. Wherever you choose we recommend staying away from the markets that seem to only offer tacky souvenirs, and cheap copy football shirts. That is a big sign that the market is purely here to satisfy the tourists.

chatuchuk market bangkok

A real Thai market is a great experience, full of color and vibrancy, and smells to awaken every sense. The one I chose to spend an afternoon was Chatuchak market, I can only assume it is not only my favorite but the pick for most people as it is easily the biggest here. The market apparently attracts 250,000 shoppers a week not bad going. Here you can buy almost anything imaginable, clothing, jewelry, food, flowers, souvenirs, electronics.

Prices will be much cheaper than you will find in Europe, but haggling is a must to get the best price.

4) Khao San Road

It doesn’t matter what age or stage of life you are at, a visit to the infamous Khao San Road is a must. Most guides you read portray this area as backpacker paradise full of hostels, cheap bars, drunken stupors and con men. But this is far from what I experienced. It may have started that way 20 years ago, but now it is a vibrant and chilled hub for the longer term traveler.

The reason I recommend visiting is however to pick up tips from other travelers, meet new people and gain new experiences. Just don’t listen to the constant stream of Thai’s who will approach you offering all sorts of new tours and to show you the city. They are only interested in a quick buck and not you.

5) Visit a Nightlife Zone

Now i’m not condoning these sort of red light zones, or “entertainment complexes” as they are known here. And I understand a lot of people will say visiting only encourages. But they are a big part of the city now, and there seems to be no getting away from them.

And I am certainly not suggesting you need to partake or indulge in any activity here, but you should at least wander up and down one of the more famous zones, such as Nana Plaza or Soi Cowboy. But the one I went to was Patpong, this was mainly to kill two birds with one zone. Patpong is not only famous for it’s nightlife scene, but also boasts some great food stalls as well as a decent night market. Although I refrained from making any purchases here as it seemed expensive compared to Chatachuk.

Well that’s enough from me On Bangkok, you will no doubt find your own things to do in Bangkok, and if you follow step 2 and wander around no doubt they will be awesome.

Next I headed up north to the cooler more relaxed part of the country Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.

Bangkok my first stop in Thailand


Well before you start I know I’ve previously stated my dislike for big, densely populated metropolises. And sure Bangkok is hardly the quiet retreat one goes to in order to find themselves. But it is the gateway to Thailand, it is pretty hard to fly into Thailand without going through the main hub of Survanabhumi airport Bangkok.

I thought well if i’m going to fly through Bangkok, why waste the opportunity to visit what is reputed to be in the top 5 visited destinations in the world. Well 15 million people can’t be wrong can they. Anyway this is a pretty long road I’m setting out on so what is a few days. Plus after 12hrs flying from England the last thing I wanted to do was sit on a bus or another plane. A shower and a few cool beverages will be in order.

I decided to get myself a cheap hotel for a few nights and in order to save a little money, I pre booked a place near Khao San road, a favorite of many a backpacker and traveler. The area is a little away from the center of Bangkok and not on the main transport skytrain or metro system. But rooms are cheap and the whole area has a decent vibe, and is a great place to meet other like minded folk.

I stayed here for my whole trip, I did toy with the idea of staying in Bangkok longer than my initially planned few days. It is not like other major cities I have been in. If you stay away from the city center it is actually rather pleasant place to stay. If I had decided to stay here longer I would have looked for a cheaper room slightly out of the city in a more residential area. People I have spoken to advised me for around 5,000thb you can get a decent room, with bathroom, TV and internet. Which is very cheap compared to where I from.

I wasn’t really that bothered by the nightlife scene in Bangkok, well not the scene that is portrayed to us in the media back home. I am not here to find a temporary Thai girlfriend, or strip bars and raunchy fun. I do like a drink and a party of course, who doesn’t? I wanted a little more relaxed evening entertainment maybe spend an evening in a bar learning from others who have just traveled my journey. Food I decided would also play an important role in my journey, I have always loved food and especially food from different countries and cultures.

I didn’t take me long to figure out where the best food in Thailand is, a few conversations and a few hours on the internet and I had decided that Thai food from the streets is what is best. This had several advantages, cost the meals here are extremely cheap 30-50thb a meal. Variety is amazing you can virtually get anything you could want to eat (and a few things you wouldn’t want to eat), convenience these stalls are everywhere, they line virtually every Soi, and grace the entrance to every temple.

There are a few must see sites here in Bangkok, all of which are much cheaper and better if you visit on your own, you do not need to employ a guide, or go on organised tours. They overcharge and if you are anything like me then you will hate the regimented side of organised tours. Navigating around Bangkok is easy, and getting to where you want is very simple.

Places I visited include the Grand Palace, Democracy momument, Patpong market, Khao San road (it is sort of an attraction in its own right), The flower market, Chatuchak marketn and China town. Of course of the best bits is not being to rigid and one of the best things I found to do is wander around, sure I got lost a fair few times but I also found some awesome districts I would highly recommend you also visit if only I could remember where they were or what they were called?

Would I recommend Bangkok, well that depends on how long you have for travelling? If you only have a week I would say your better spending the time elsewhere, if however you are here for longer or don’t have time constraints then for sure you need to visit Bangkok. It is a crazy place, from big shiny modern sky scrappers, to turn a corner and feel like you in ancient Siam. amazing culture and great people. But one thing I couldn’t handle was the heat in the afternoon’s it gets stifling here, and this is only exaggerated by the high buildings and the reflective glass.

For a major city Bangkok offers a lot of value for your money, you can experience a lot here.