This is how you should do Thailand - trains, tuk-tuks and the Golden Triangle
It’s time to take 5 mins as we serve up some real talk with Nick Roelofs of Student Flights on what it’s like on do a tour in Thailand, which mind you, he thinks is the only way to go...
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Could you tell me a little more about the Thailand leg of your Road to Phnom Penh Topdeck trip?
The Road to Phnom Penh trip starts in Bangkok which was perfect for me as I hadn’t been before but heard so many great things. I spent an extra four nights in Bangkok so five nights total including the tour.
It is such a diverse city and I loved going from riding around on a bicycle to immersing myself in a tuk-tuk food tour. After Bangkok we bordered an overnight train to Chiang Mai – this was a big highlight for me as it was on my bucket list.
It’s a 13 hour journey and while it’s a similar price and much faster to fly I would highly recommend doing this train journey, it was great to turn off the wifi and just play cards with my new found Topdeck friends before bunking in for the night.
Once we arrived in Chiang Mai at our hotel we jumped on rickshaw’s and had a half day city tour taking in all the sights and sounds of one of Thailand’s largest cities. We spent two nights exploring Chiang Mai and another full day of free time to explore! We then made the drive further north to Chiang Rai on the way seeing the incredible white temple which funnily enough is full of anime inside!
We also visited the Golden Triangle which is the border of Laos, Thailand and Myanmar before heading back to our tropical oasis of a hotel for the night. After a few cheeky pre-drinks by the pool we headed into town for our last night in Thailand before heading north the next day and crossing the border into Laos.
Why did you decide to go on this tour?
I decided on Topdeck Asia as I wanted to go off the beaten track, I didn’t want to visit all the tourist hotspots and there was no good way of doing this myself, we went way off the tourist trail, had some incredible local experiences and met some incredible people that I otherwise wouldn’t have. I now call these people my close friends and we are looking forward to travelling together again!
What are your recommendations for anyone thinking of doing their first Asia trip?
100% get off the tourist trail, jump on a tour that takes you out of the big cities. The cities are great however there is so much more to see in places you’ve never even heard of.
Be prepared to step out of your comfort zone, Asia is very different to the rest of the world so prepare for that by doing a bit of research on the culture of each destination, learn the basics in the local language (hello, goodbye, please, thank you are great to start) and most of all respect that not everything will be exactly how you want it to be. Also respect and make yourself aware of local customs and laws so you don’t land in hot water.
What's one of your favourite travel memories from this trip?
One of the biggest highlights was cruising the Mekong for two days through Laos all the way from the Thai border to Luang Prabang. We had a great opportunity to bond with everyone on the trip and we just cruised along in our open boat with the wind blowing playing board games, listening to music, drinking and having fun with some of the locals along the river.
What was your favourite activity that you did in Thailand?
By far my favourite was the street eats tour by tuk-tuk in Bangkok. We flew around Bangkok in the back of a tuk-tuk racing everyone to about eight different food districts all around Bangkok.
We tried the most famous Pad Thai in the world and some traditional desserts, walked through the local fish market and through all of this we had a local Thai guide who really helped us get off the tourist trail with his local knowledge who of course helped remove the language barrier.
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