Standing in front of the Namuang waterfall on Koh Samui
I spent 74 days in Thailand, which beats my previous record from Bolivia! My budget was all over the place, as food, accommodation, and transport were extremely cheap up north and only moderately cheap down south, but then I added on loads of scuba diving, some Thai language lessons, a cooking class, and renewing nearly my entire wardrobe. Ultimately I panned out at an average of $35 per day including everything, which still isn’t too bad!
I visited 8 places: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pai, Sukothai, Koh Tao, Koh Samui, Khao Sok, and Ao Nang. I absolutely fell in love with Chiang Mai and would consider going back to live there semi-permanently in the future. It’s a bit of a cliched expat center, but for good reason!
I also enjoyed checking out some cool street art and seeing the beautiful coral reefs of Koh Phi Phi. All in all, it was a wonderful 10 weeks!
A Buddha statue at Sunrise at Wat Mahathat at Sukhothai Historical Park
On my way down to the Gulf of Thailand to do some scuba diving, I stopped off at Sukhothai to see the 13th-century ruins of the Sukhothai kingdom. Somewhat similar to Angkor Wat, but much smaller, the ruins are easily accessible by bicycle and entrance costs just a few dollars. Sunrise at the temples was particularly striking and worth waking up early for.
In addition to the temples, I had a lovely time staying at Sila Resort, a nice hostel in New Sukhothai. I’d highly recommend it!
The Yank without a Chain posing at Ta Prohm
My final day of my tour of Angkor included the temples Ta Prohm and Preah Kahn, both famous for the magnificent trees and vines that grow amongst the ruins. These ruins are also where the Angelina Jolie movie Tomb Raider was filmed. You can definitely see why! It is truly striking to see how the trees have overtaken the sites and it’s a reminder of the power of nature over man. Unfortunately I didn’t get the timing quite right to take great pictures – early morning or late afternoon are best to avoid the sun, and of course I went between 11-2pm, probably the worst time!
Over my three days, I didn’t see quite as much of the Angkor Archaeological Park as I had anticipated, but after three days of biking around in the heat and surrounded by huge crowds of tourists, I was ready to move on! It takes a truly dedicated tourist to see more than 5 or 6 of the temples in three days.
Vat Nong in Luang Prabang
The main draw of the UNESCO town of Luang Prabang is the dozens of colorful, gilded vats (or temples) that surround the area. I was a bit hesitant to take lots of pictures while visiting the temples as there are cultural sensitivities regarding the monks, especially as a woman. There are far too many tourists who intrude upon the monks’ daily lives and invade their personal space, meanwhile disrespecting ancient customs. I always make the most conscious effort to not be one of those travelers!
However, the gorgeous architecture was too enticing to resist taking photos entirely, so here are a handful as a taste of what the town has to offer.