In 2016 I visited more countries that I have already been to before compared to new countries. Although I’ve always made it a priority to visit new countries and cities, there is something really nostalgic about going back to the same place more than once. It’s easy to keep certain memories from your initial visit and sometimes things are how you remembered but they can also be so different as things have changed and advanced in the years since you’ve visited.
Thailand was on the list of countries that I visited on my gap year in 2008 and after falling in love with the country and the people, I always knew I would make sure I went back one day! We booked our trip to Thailand in November which turned out to be such a lovely time of the year to get away and have some well needed calm before the madness of the Christmas season.
So, in November 2016 we flew to Thailand to spend a week exploring new places as well as revisiting some of my favourite islands and key tourist spots. On my first trip to Thailand I spent a month backpacking, staying in very cheap hostels and I loved every minute of it. However 8 years later I have grown up, my taste for travelling has changed and we were lucky to have booked into a Apsara Private Villas within a stunning 5 star all inclusive resort.
For most holidays I tend to be quite laid back when it comes to planning my trip and usually just have a quick look at what there is to see and do before I travel. However from the day before travelling up until the moment I arrive at the hotel I start making a list of everything possible to fit into our time in that country/city. Thailand was no different and myself and James started writing down a list of ‘must visit’ places and then see how we will plan out our time. I am really lucky to travel with my partner James who is usually more prepared than me and will already have a list of places he wants to visit. With only a week in Thailand we had to make sure we saw as much as possible but then also have enough relaxation time and some sun bathing sessions.
A couple of weeks before our trip the Kind of Thailand sadly died. At first we weren’t sure what this would mean for our trip and to be completely honest I was tempted to rearrange the holiday. Fortunately we went ahead with the trip and the King’s passing barely impacted our trip at all. We knew not to mention the King to locals unless they started the conversation with us and everyone had the utmost respect for the late King.
As we only had a short amount of time in Thailand we knew there were going to be some trips that we couldn’t take part in but all in all we managed to have a jam packed week! The amount of times we heard “wow, you’ve come all this way for only one week”, like I responded each time “I would much rather be here for one week than be anywhere else right now”, although I’m not sure I would have had the same response after my 13 hour flight home & 4 days of jet lag! As Thailand is a country that I fell in love with even more the second time and we still have loads of places to visit we now have an excuse to plan another trip in the future!
Elephants are a huge part of the culture and tourist excursions in Thailand, but as an animal lover I wanted to try and see them in as close to their natural environment as possible. We planned a trip where rather than riding them with the saddles, we could feed and bathe them in the river and then sit on them while they walk in the river. This was the plan, however I had no idea that I was going to be absolutely petrified & spend most of the morning trying to run away from them. They are absolutely beautiful animals and I am glad that I did the trip but I think I would struggle to ever get up that close to them again. I helped clean them with a brush for all of about 5 seconds (if that!), but my brave moment of the day was feeding them bananas.
**My top 3 must do for your trip to Thailand**
Thai massages – You must get at least one Thai massage while you’re staying in Thailand, but my tip is actually to get at least 2 to 3 massages at least. The one regret I have from our trip to Thailand is that I only had one massage! The massages are so so cheap (between £2-£5 at most local Thai spas), and if you like your massages fairly rough then they will be perfect. The Thai lady who gave me my massage kept laughing at how little I could handle during the massage but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Visiting one of the popular islands – The water in Thailand is absolutely stunning and I’d advise making the most of spending time near the water on your trip to Thailand. On nearly every beach holiday I go to I will try and book a boat trip but the difference about Thailand is that so much is centred around boat trips and island hopping that we could actually make a 2 day trip of it. We spent two days on the boat and stayed at one of my favourite islands Phi Phi for the night.
Solomon Islands – The Solomon Islands aren’t as touristy as the likes of Phi Phi, Ko Samui, Ko Tao etc and are generally visited on day trips rather than for staying on during your holiday. They are absolutely stunning and will be a great opportunity to swim in stunning crystal blue waters and capture your memories with some great pictures.
*Extra tip if you are visiting Khao Lak* Give Happy snappers bar a visit to experience their live music – we discovered the bar on our last night with a group from our hotel & we had such a great night! The cocktails are delicious and the atmosphere was amazing, if I ever visited the area again I would go back for sure!
Keep an eye out for my follow up posts on The Solomon Islands and Boat Trip including Phi Phi Islands.