South Thailand – Koh Samui 

We flew from Chiang Mai into Surat Thani, got on a bus from outside the airport and then on the ferry to Koh Samui. This was all pretty easy, we had booked our bus/boat combo to koh samui online but there were a few travel desks at the airport offering the same service for 400B. The airport is tiny and we got our bags and were out of customs all in about 20 mins.

At the ferry port in Koh Samui we then got a beemo (local bus) to our hotel near Big Buddha. We paid 100B each which was much cheaper than the 700B the taxis wanted. Just keep walking to the very end of the pier and you’ll see them. Koh Samui was a nice couple of chilled days mostly sat by the pool and a couple of walks along the beach. The hotel pool was lovely but thats about it, we were in a fan room which is a huge error in Thailand. Unless you are a great sleeper or completely broke don’t do it! Also a word of warning, Samui Mermaid where we stayed was right underneath the flight path so it felt like planes were landing in the bed.

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From Koh Samui we got the ferry, from Big Buddha Pier, to Koh Phangan (200B) each. Already the vibe had switched, everyone was drinking on the boat and getting in the full moon mood!

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Our hostel was called Fellinis, a 2 min walk from Haad Rin pier, above a pizza restaurant. The hostel was really small but we met a few nice people :). As it was full moon accommodation was really expensive and hard to book, a lot of places had a 5 night min. So if your planning on going to a full moon book asap!

 

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Cambodia 

After our nice stressful bus journey from Vietnam we arrived pretty late to Phnom phen so went straight to sleep at the hostel. When you arrive in Cambodia make sure you have dollars, as unlike Vietnam, you have to pay for the hostel upfront. We stayed at Billabong hostel which had a great pool, and location was fine. Dorm was nice and big with a huge en suite and big singles. Great nights sleep!

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Next day we went to the killing fields about half an hour away, it was $6 entry and audio tour. I would definitely say to get the audio tour, it was so informative. We didn’t know much about the genocide so was good way to learn. So, so sad but worth the visit.

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In the afternoon we went to the Palace but didn’t actually go in as it was $10 but it’s a really nice area to walk around the outside and you still get some good views.

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That was about it for us in the capital city.  So the next day we booked the bus to go to Siem Reap; $10. We stayed in Siem Reap Pub Hostel which was a nice little hostel with a decent pool, really good location right next to pub street and the night markets. Also right next door was a good place for food, it was cheap and the owner was lovely.  The shop after was the cheapest in the area for laundry at $1 per kilo.

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The main thing to do in Siem Reap is obviously Angkor Wat temples. There are 1000 altogether! There’s a couple different options for tickets, we just got the day one which was $37 (they have recently just doubled the ticket price and no one could answer why…one lady told us it’s owned by the Vietnamese Government (not sure how true this is or how that works). Anyway it’s still worth this crazy western price, you’re probably only there once in your life! The day was absolutely plenty for us, but if you’re a temple fanatic look into the 3 day or 1 week tickets as they become a lot cheaper per day if you do this.

So we woke up at 4am to catch the sun rise over the main temple; Angkor wat. This was really stunning, just try and ignore the thousands of other people! Also when you are walking in, looking directly at the temple we went to the left as that’s what someone advised, however, we would recommend going to the right, we feel you get a slightly better view. We then spent the day exploring the hundreds of other temples and came back to the moat around Angkor wat to watch the sun set.

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Getting blessed by the monks 🙂

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Wondering around the temples…make sure your feeling fit!

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In the evening we had a walk around the night markets.  They are great and a fantastic place to buy cultural gifts.  Bartering is a challenge to get on with at times and being very British it makes you squirm a bit.  We’d recommend to start at just less than 1/2 of what they ask.  The ones that thrive off ripping off their customers will wave you off, however the realistic ones will slowly come down. It’s probably best to aim for just over 1/2 to 3/5 of their original price.

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The next day we flew to Bangkok 🙂

North Thailand – Chiang Mai and Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

From Bangkok, we took an over-night sleeper bus to Chiang Mai. We got to chiang mai at 6am. We paid 550 baht each, sadly the transport is a lot more expensive here in Thailand compared to Vietnam but the service was much better! and we got a snack bag too.

From Khao San Road to the bus station (Morchit) we took a local bus which was 15 baht, way cheaper than a tuk tuk. We also had the pleasure of meeting some lovely locals…a Thai gentleman who identified as what looked like a Native American rock god. Donning a Metallica t shit, cowboy boots, a sarong and a animal belt..as Big fan of Metallica he kindly sang for us, while he sipped away on his bottle of vodka. The only English words he knew were ‘ohh yeahhh’.

Once in chiang mai we made it to our hostel: brick house. The best thing about here was the comfy beds, the location was fine,  although impossible to get any food at 7am when we arrived. Thai people seem to be up late and late risers too.

From chiang mai we booked a few trips; firstly two days/one night at the elephant jungle sactuary, this wasn’t cheap but at least the money is justified. We paid around 4,500 each. They picked us up from the hostel in the morning and we drove about 2 hours to get to the sanctuary.  The elephants are all rescued from riding camps and circus’ s. When we arrived we met the elephants, there were about 6/7 at this camp and fed them bananas, sugar cane and wheat.  With the guides we then made up medicine balls consisting of ; salt, whole grain rice, banana, tarrot, which we also fed to the elephants.

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After we had some lunch, we had the best experience of taking the elephants To ‘the spa’. The elephants were lead to a huge mud hole where they slowly walked in and a few started to sit and even lie down so you could smother them in thick, smelly mud! We then walked with them to a little waterfall and washed the mud off.

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Sadly this was the end of day 1 and we drove to where we were staying the night; camp 6, in a little wooden shack with two couples. Here we met young Ronaldo who was learning to test his playing skills. We couldn’t get too close as even at only a few months old he was a lot bigger than us and his barging skills much better! Danielle nearly got sent flying and Chrissy pinned to a tree. Our guide for the evening was an ex monk called jade who cooked us up a great green curry and fed us Thai mojitos.  Thanks to `John` and Ally from Bexleyheath it was tonight that we learnt about Cowspiracy which changed our life! For anyone interested about the effects humans have on the planet go and watch it!!!

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The next day we had a walk around the camp, fed another tribe of elephants and met one of the biggest males. Stunning creature to watch roam around and wash himself in the mud… and also get a little frisky around some of the females 😮 which was an eye opener.

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We followed the elephants slowly through the scrub and back toward the camp where we left them and had a long walk to two waterfalls.  After spending the afternoon hiking we went to see the oldest elephant they owned at the sanctuary who was 74 years old, the only thing that showed her age was her huge size and wrinkly skin.  They had a new born elephant here too who was so cute! He lead his mother and his two flanking boy elephant body guards around the compound. They protected him in the middle of a very tight triangle and almost stepped on anyone close by.

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We then got driven back to the hostel after saying some emotional elephant goodbyes.

That night we took a walk around the nearby night markets and lara bought a watch….for a great price…and Danielle continued her hunt for more baggy trousers.

Next day we took a day trip to Chiang Rai and the golden triangle.