My first trip to Thailand, I decided to focus on an area of northern Thailand (it’s a very big country) which is known for its abundant temples, palaces, and national parks.
I found the Thai people to be very friendly, warm, and helpful. Thailand it is a very beautiful country, obviously a great place to visit if you like beaches but also a great hiking, rafting, biking destination. English is not spoken much outside of the main touristy areas, so that can be a bit of a challenge in some situations. It was also a very interesting time to visit as Thailand is observing a one year mourning period for their king who recently passed away, tributes to the king were visible in many, many places.
The main areas of focus for this trip included:
The region generally speaking (excluding Bangkok) is much cooler then southern Thailand. I wasn’t fully prepared for how cool it could get in the mountains at night where temperatures dropped into lower 40s on this trip.
General plan was to do a partial circuit of the above. Thailand has a chaotic but expansive and relatively inexpensive public transport system. I found it to be very reliable and problem free. I basically got around via trains, buses, and the occasional tut tut. To save time, I optimized by using sleeper trains to cover longer distances, sleeper cars on modern Thailand trains are very comfortable. Basically I would start traveling later in the evening and when I would wake up I would be at my destination.
When in cities, I predominately stayed at nicer guesthouses and when trekking in national parks and preserves I was camping in tents, it was pretty much a 50/50 split this trip.
Some of the highlights included:
- Visting the ruined city of Ayutthaya
- Hiking in Doi Inthanon National Park
- Summiting and camping on Doi Chiang Dao, which is the 3rd highest mountain in Thailand
- Trekking in some of the more remote areas near Umphang, which included rafting, camping, and elephant riding
- Generally exploring the region and seeing a few of the more popular temples and palaces in the region, there are over 40K temples in Thailand
Along the way I used local guides and met and traveled with some very cool fellow trekkers.
You can find a photo album for this trip here.