At Blue Lizard Travel we do our level best to recommend holidays and adventures that we have experienced and enjoyed. From luxury resorts to wilderness cabins and everything in between we have formed opinions which might be valuable to you and inform your holiday choices.
One of our most memorable holidays (in a good way) was touring Thailand. Both Chris and I are very familiar with this part of Asia having visited frequently since the 80’s, but this tour was special because we realised our children enjoyed the same things we do (how weird is that?) It really opens up your world when the people you are responsible for, get a kick out of the same kind of experiences.
We decided to travel directly to Bangkok – there were savings to be had travelling via the Middle East but we figured it was going to be a long haul anyway so the saving of about £250/£300 in total wasn’t worth it. Plus by travelling directly we surmised we could push on through Bangkok airport and connect with an internal flight to Chiang Mai in the north. This was a great plan and worked well for us as we were able to miss Bangkok entirely – our plan was to tour the city, do shopping etc before we flew back to the UK.
Thus we arrived in Chiang Mai utterly knackered but delighted to be there. We treated ourselves to a good hotel with pool which was worth it as we spent the next day lolling by the pool asleep. My top tip is to get into the swing of things quickly – drink loads of delicious lime juice combatting aeroplane bugs and dehydration in one go, and get onto the streets to soak up the culture. I can highly recommend the night market for food though no great shopping bargains – Bangkok is better for that.
What to do in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is regarded as the cultural capital of Thailand with numerous art galleries, temples and attractions. Check out the Art in Paradise 3D museum – slightly expensive (by Asia standards- around £10) to get in but so worth it; allow at least half a day here.
We enjoyed wandering the streets of Chiang Mai by tuk tuk and hopped on and off whenever we liked. The temples are really beautiful and kept in excellent condition; really impressive for all age groups and an opportunity to learn more about Buddhism. Take regular street food stops and explore!
Whilst in Chiang Mai we did the Go Ape experience, swinging through the tree canopy on a rope system. Not for the feint hearted but we enjoyed the exhilaration of it – and sniggered when a bunch of Heavy Metal styled rockers were too terrified to jump. We also visited an elephant camp and helped wash them which was great and much better than riding them (tourist style) which is not good for the elephant. There is plenty to read up on this subject online if you’d like to know more – just get informed before you make your choices.
Rafting downstream afterwards was sedate and gentle and a good opportunity to see local birdlife.
We had 4 nights in Chiang Mai and as ever we could have stayed much longer.
Beach ideas to add onto your Thai Adventure
We flew from Chiang Mai south, to Phuket which I previously regarded as a hell hole of Asia. It represents most things I hate about what tourism does to a place but in good hypocritical form I liked the fact it had an airport which saved time. We stayed outside of Phuket by about half an hour and geographically around the headland with a white sand, aqua beach. It was still pretty busy and therefore not perfect for me; it had water sports which the children loved and a buzzy atmosphere with plenty of places to eat out at night. We stayed 6 nights here and took boat trips out to the James Bond islands; we did some cave Kayaking and shopping, but mainly swam in the sea.
There are plenty of other places within your reach from Phuket. Or fly to Koh Samui – which time of year you travel will determine which side of the mainland to get some sunshine.
What to do in Bangkok
With only a couple of nights left in Thailand we flew back to Bangkok and stayed centrally, getting about by taxi, river boat and tuk tuk. Some time ago we realised that taking a local guide was a good idea for us. We used to follow our guide books and do our research but it is never as good as having a good English speaking guide. We picked our tours before we went; a long boat around the floating villages, a visit to the Golden Temple and a cooking course which were all good. After losing ourselves in the vibrant markets (try MBK) for what felt like an hour and was in fact a whole day we were ready for a dip in the hotel pool. Again well worth the additional expense of having a hotel pool – even some of the back packers have them these days!
We know Asia in detail. Contact us for your own perfect adventure – either small group tours or private touring; always a good value option for seeing the best of any country.