This past November, I had to opportunity to go to Thailand with the hubs and our dear friends over at Joe+Kathrina. It was a little bit of a weird time to take a trip for us. Last year was a really hard year. But we went anyways, and I’m so glad we did. In the end, it turned out to be the perfect time to get away, share an adventure with friends, and cross some items off our bucket list. A time to reconnect. Just what we needed.
Below are some links to where we stayed, what we loved, food recs, and our favorite places from the trip. HUGE thanks to Joe & Kathrina for documenting it all for us. We’ll look back on these images for years and years!
Bangkok: We stayed at an Airbnb HERE and it truly was a stunning place. Right on the river. We were greeted by the hosts with bottled water, and the best mango sticky rice we had on the entire trip. And we ate a lot of it. Breakfast was prepared for us every morning and it was truly some of the best food we had the entire time in Thailand. A few cons: the house is a couple hours from the airport. And Bangkok traffic is BAD. So can be even longer. That kinda sucked. You’re on a plane for 17 hours and THEN stuck in a cab for what feels like forever. Another con – the location of the house is a little hard to find. Even local cab drivers had no clue where it was or how to find it. But the host was seriously so sweet. She wrote directions in Thai for us to give to drivers as well as gave us her cell so cabs could call her directly for directions. She even answered after midnight one night for us. Still, was a bit of an extra challenge.
What we did: We went to the Grand Palace, The Hello Kitty Store (for me and Kathrina obvi) tons of restaurants and street food, waterfront shopping centers, outdoor food markets, Chinatown, various temples, massages, and Andy worked out at a local crossfit gym. We took cabs, water taxis, and tuk tuks. Tuk tuks were definitely more shady in Bangkok than other areas. It was kinda a crazy time to be in Bangkok actually. Their King had just passed away and they had just started a year long mourning period. Every cab driver we talked to spoke to us about it, and everyone was wearing black. Or mostly black and white. No bright colors. And everyone was wearing black ribbons on the arms. It was so cool to walk around a bustling city and see everyone: men, women, children, businessmen, cooks, cab drivers… all showing their respect for their King. They spoke about him with some respect and reverence. Such a stark difference to how our country was feeling about our newly elected President.
Chiang Mai: After a few days in Bangkok, we flew to Chiang Mai and stayed at the Zensala Riverpark Resort based on a friend’s recommendation. It wasn’t the cheapest place in the city, but I loved how pretty it was and it looked really clean. And it was! Our airbnb felt like a treehouse, and this felt like a real fancy hotel. One thing that I loved about this place was that their incredible concierge, Katie, helped us book all our adventures ahead of time. She had recs for everything. And she was so accommodating. Upon arrival, we were greeted with a fruity beverage and were able to check in early. We could get water bottles at anytime. It was such a serene location, so calming and peaceful. A great place to come back to after walking the busy streets of the Old City each day. The one con was that it was about a 10-15min cab ride from the Old City. But it wasn’t really that bad! But if you’re looking to stay IN the city, this isn’t the place for you.
What we did: We did SOO much in Chiang Mai. We only had a couple days with J+K before they headed home so we packed everything in! We ate a local restaurant that was walking distance from Zensala, ate 4-5 meals a day, rode a hot air balloon at sunrise, spent a day with elephants, got massages, and walked the weekend market in the Old City. I absolutely LOVED Chiang Mai. Loved.
For the elephants, it’s super important to go to a sanctuary and not a place that let’s you ride them. Places that ride them are called working elephants and there is serious abuse going on. The more people stop paying money for this, the less of a demand there will be to keep these harmful places open. If you visit Thailand at all, check out the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. They have locations all over the country and are doing so much good for these beautiful creatures. And they create the most memorable experience for you as well. It’s a win win! I squealed and cried for happiness so much, it’s ridiculous.
After Chiang Mai, we headed to Phi Phi Islands and stayed at the Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort which I cannot recommend enough. Probably the nicest resort I’ve ever stayed at. If you go there. Enjoy the all you can eat buffet each morning, but walk into the village for your other 10 meals (funny… but for real, the food is that good). They are all locally owned and the food is DEEELISH! Also, if you want to book a boat to tour around the many islands, you can do so right through the resort and the price is per boat – not per person. So make friends by the pool and get a whole group of people to go with you to make it more affordable – and it’s more fun that way!