1. Visit a tiger temple
Andrew and I got to spend a time playing with huge tigers in Chiang Mai! Tiger Kingdom is really cool. You get to choose what size tigers you want, from babies to the biggest ones they care for. The baby tigers have much more flexibility with playing. You can lay on them and hug them. As the size of your tigers get larger, you won’t be able to get as snuggly to them as you can the babies. We chose the medium tigers, which I honestly feel was the perfect size. They were playful and loved the water! We got great photos with Donut, the most playful tiger of them all. They seem to really care for the animals, which is important when looking at activities that can potentially exploit them.
Where: Tiger Kingdom & Padong Long-Necked Hill-Tribe Village Price: Expedia $127 for two adults 2. Hang out with the natives
Included in the Tiger Kingdom was a trip through the jungle by tour guide van to a small village of the “longneck and black tooth” tribe. You got to see how the entire community functioned, from the school system to the way they make their living. It was a really eye opening experience, seeing all of the raised huts with no blankets inside. The funniest moment was when we were just leaving the “elementary school”, which was a small hut with no flooring, a chalkboard and benches, and saw two teen longneck girls on samsung galaxy phones!
3. Buy from the night market in Chiang Mai
The night market was my second favorite thing to do in Thailand after the elephants. If you stay in the hub of Chiang Mai, every night they have a buzzing night market. You can enjoy strolling the busy humid night streets while enjoying the savory smells of local Thai food and shopping for everything from chopsticks, to wallets, to a wooden painted figurine of an elephant. Don’t forget to walk down a few blocks and cross the bridge to catch a view of the gorgeous river, which is lit up by christmas lights at night.
4. Spend a day caring for the elephants
In Thailand, it’s really hard to find a humane place to experience the elephants. Thai elephant experiences should always be something that brings you closer to appreciating life. You shouldn’t want to spend your money watching an elephant paint pictures and dance.
I worked super hard to find a place that was going to be a fulfilling experience, not only for me, but for the elephants. I found a place called Baan Chang Elephant Park, and I’m SO glad I did because it was amazing!
I’ll be doing a more in depth review on the place, but we got to ride our own personal elephant, feed and care for her and even wash her in the elephant pool!
5. Leave the airport on a layover
When traveling to another country, a lot of times you’ll be “stuck” with a layover. I don’t consider it a bad thing though! Think of it as a free mini vacation. If you’re paying a lot to get overseas to one country, and they make you stop in another, take that opportunity to make the layover as long as possible and get out and explore! Andrew and I had a nine hour layover in Hong Kong both ways. We left the airport, watched the port, took a speedy, underwater train, ate real Chinese food (sorry Panda Express) and shopped at the night market! Now we can say we experienced two days in Hong Kong, and didn’t even have to pay for a night in the city!
6. Eat A weird new food
In Asia, there were a lot of different foods I had never experienced before. I was offered a bowl of white soup with balls in it… and I ate it. Now those who know me, know that I am the worlds most non experimental eater- like, I haven’t eaten ketchup since I was a toddler.
But when you’re in a new country, you have to try new things! Later on they told me it was fish ball soup in the bowl. I would have never in a million years touched that In America, but in Thailand, everything’s a go!
7. Relax in the beaches and pools
Okay heads up, Thailand is HUMID. I can’t even explain to you. Like you think you know? Well you don’t. Trust me. It’s horrible. HO- RI- BLE. Andrew and I thought the ocean would help us cool off, but we were wrong. Phuket’s ocean water is warmer than Mexico!!
Despite the warm water everywhere (even the pool felt like a jacuzzi) I still enjoyed laying out in the sun, backstroking in the water and getting my hair wet. Make sure to find a beach that’s not as crowded for maximum relaxation!
In Thailand, there will be four Thai Massage spas within eyesight at all times. The massages start at $12 USD, so it’s pretty common for visitors to get one! A little tip no one has mentioned is the definition of a “Thai Massage”, which is the $12 USD one. The Thai Massage will be a stretching process i.e the masseuses will stretch your back/legs ect. If you want a rubbing massage, go for the oil or hot oil! It’s about $18 USD.
10. Rent a scooter
Don’t rent a car, rent a scooter! We couldn’t believe when they told us that a 24 hour scooter rental was 300 baht, aka around $9 USD. A taxi one way to certain places was on average around 500 baht. We zipped around town like the locals did and saved a ton of money, and flying through the city streets with the wind in my hair was probably one of my favorite parts about Thailand.
If you ever have a chance to go to Thailand, head to Phuket and Chiang Mai! There are so many gems there you won’t want to miss out on.