South East Asia is just crazy, you can find everything here, and there are endless possibilities to have fun. It is mostly an up and down of your feelings – the one day you stand on top of a mountain and feel like a king, the next day you might want to die because the journey to the next city takes you the last piece of calmness and energy. In a town, you have so many good food choices you wish to get never full, in the next city you just want a burger because you can’t see rice anymore. Sometimes your heart beats faster because you get the warmest greeting from a young Thai woman in a restaurant, and sometimes tuk-tuk drivers attack you because you protect people from getting scammed. But after all, you’ll have the time of your life, and I’m sure you want to come back.
I traveled to all of the four countries one after another, and now on my way further down to Indonesia, I know that these countries – even though they seem similar – have huge differences. I can imagine living in Thailand and settle down in that country where I’m sure it was the first and only time I visited Cambodia. There were days of pure joy – reaching the top at a rock-climbing adventure or getting overwhelmed by the food choice on a night market in Chiang Mai. But also, days of pure frustration – while traveling for two days on shitty streets, in shitty busses, warm and with a headache only to make 400 km.
I traveled to all these four countries one after the other in around three countries, and it’s exciting to compare these countries to each other. You may think that these countries are similar to each other, but that’s not the case. There are vast differences, and one of these differences is the quality of Hostels. I think that’s a critical point when you are traveling for a long time and especially when traveling solo.
As we all know by now, the transportation in SEA is not the best. This counts especially for Cambodia and Laos. Proper Motorways are non-existing, and flights are costly. I was in the north of Thailand and wanted to go to Laos. There are three possibilities to make that journey. The fastest is a flight, but the costs are around 150 euro for a 45 mins flight, and then you need a taxi to the airport and from the airport what adds even more charges. The second option is an 18 hours bus which was no option at all – uncomfortable buses, extreme bumpy roads and that for 18 hours is not fun at all. The third option is a two-day slow boat along the Mekong river from the border between Laos and Thailand to Luang Prabang. I finally decided myself for this option and paid 45 euros excluding food and accommodation for the night.
Thailand is my absolute favorite country until now and here are my 5 reasons why you should visit it too.
Pai in North Thailand – with only 2300 habitats – is now one of the most visited backpacking places in Thailand. I don’t know how it was there before so many tourists came but what I was about to find there was everything else than a small village in the mountains. The whole city is built to fit the needs and demands of modern tourists. There are probably more Hotels and Hostels then traditional houses and one Burger place next to the other.
Basically, Thailand can be divided into three parts when it comes to activities and things to do for tourists. On the one hand, there is Bangkok which is a mega city and offers anything a big city could offer. The south is to relax with a lot of beautiful islands and beaches. And then there is the north, my favorite part, full of action and nature, cheaper and activities as far as you can see.
While I was in Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand, I did a two-day trekking tour to the Karen villages. Karen people are people who live in Thailand but don’t see themselves as Thai people. They have their language and live deep in the jungle. They still have the very remote and old houses, and most of them have no electricity. They cook mostly on fire and have their meat production – chicken or pork running in their front yard. Very interesting to see how these people live and nature was beautiful.
In Chiang Mai, I went on a day tour to the Elephants at an Elephant sanctuary. We could feed them, give them medicine and after that, we could bath one of the elephants. I was a fantastic experience, and I can only recommend you do it too. Just pay attention that you don’t ride an elephant, please make sure before the booking if there is no riding included.
There are so many reasons to go back to Thailand, but the food here would be reason enough to go back. There is such a wide variety of things you can try, especially in the North on the night markets I can’t decide what I want to eat. There is so much good food, too much to try everything. My absolute favorite meal is Pad Thai, but also Rotee and green curry count as my favorite meals.