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  • Writer's pictureemanuelegallone

Crossing Thailand - Roadtrip

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

Holidays for some means "relax". For me it always meant explore and experience.

Here it comes two weeks restless road trip across Thailand. Only thing we booked were the flights and car. Rest of the logistics was organized day by day.

The trip starts with a flight into Bangkok, a city of many faces.

Some quite intense corners there that makes you immediately grasp the vivid Asian street lifestyle, together with the most peculiar street markets (the Mekkah of foodies) its back rivers, impressive temples and world class shopping centers. Let alone the crazy Hangover-type of night life!

From Bangkok we rented a car that would drive us all the way north, with final destination Chiang Rai, where we would take a plane back to Bangkok and then further towards the south.

The Roads northwards are really in impeccable conditions. Most of it is highway, crossing some beautiful scenery, lush green forests, jungles and hilly landscapes.

The first stop is in Sukhothai, a heritage archeological site, with tens of Wat (temples), some of the oldest and best preserved in the whole Thailand. Here the Buddist culture is very alive. Monks still get to practice meditation and prayer in total immersion with the tranquility and the largely untouched nature of this place, since centuries.

Left Sukhothai behind we drive towards Chiang Mai. On the way there, a necessary stop is in one of the few Elephant Sanctuaries. Places where elephants are preserved, trained, cured and the ancient culture of using elephants is thought to new generations. Elephants have played an instrumental role in developing the old Thailand with their labor and served as a great ally to the human for centuries in this region.

Here we arrive in Chiang Mai, the second largest city of Thailand, but surely different from Bangkok. Much smaller buildings, spread apart with lots of parks, trees and greenery. A much more authentic city, somehow preserved from globalization. The lifestyle here is relaxed, laid back. Lots of little markets, peculiar restaurants and cafes, lodges and guesthouses.

One of the most beautiful religious sites is Wat Phra That Doi Kham with its huge sitting and standing Buddhas.

Last stop of our part of the trip to the north is Chiang Rai. The most spectacular temples in the whole Thailand. Led by the white temple of Wat Rong Khun per example, a surreal place!

Or the blue temple. Wat Rong Suea Ten, “Temple of the Dancing Tiger”. It is relatively recent temple and before this was constructed, ancient temple once stood here. Tigers are said to have roamed freely over the grounds when it was abandoned nearly a century ago.

Impossible to miss sunset hours illuminating with magic light the temple of Wat Huay Pla Kang, Goddess of Mercy. Sitting on top of a hill, dominating the city of Chiang Rai.

And here our first part of the trip is over. The part intended to explore the culture and temples of the Thai people. Timo to head south, to the islands.

In good holy company on the flight

We then take a flight from Bangkok to Surat Thani, main city in the south, and rent a car there. Main planned destinations are Kho Tao island, Phi Phi islands and Khao Sok natural park.

First destination is Kho Tao. A wonderful place, not as popular as other famous places like Kho Samui or Phuket, mostly because it's further out, and it takes 3-4 hours with speed boat to reach. Therefore, we choose to take a very peculiar night boat... Something in between a cargo boat and a sleeper boat...

After 10 hours night sailing, we finally reach Kho Tao where we will stay one night to then sail back with a similar boat at night to Surat Thani. Kho Tao is the paradise for diving and so we decide to spend two days diving. And this was the right decision as we have had the luck to dive with a huge whale shark along with some of the most fastastic underwater life in the world!

Kho Tao has also some spectacular beaches, and lots of little restaurants, cafes and lodges with direct beach access!

Back to mainland Surat Thani, we drive south, to Krabi, where we will take a boat to Phi Phi islands.

In between ferries we have a chance to visit the famous monkey trail of Krabi and the Railay Beach with its incredible caves and sea views.

45mins speedboat and we're on Phi Phi islands where we will spend one night.

Certainly one of the most visited places of the whole Thailand. Herds of tourists understandingly populate this island and its incredible seas and bays. Not as much as you cannot enjoy some relaxed time on its secluded beaches. But certainly not a secret paradise anymore...

Back to Krabi we take our car and drive to Khao Sok, a natural park around a lake in the middle of the southern jungle of Thailand. Certainly on the tracks of tourists but surely not as popular as the other southern famous destinations. It's a huge lake with hills peaks falling into blue-green waters. A magical place to stay, and we decided to sleep onto the typical raft boat hotel. A great location to spend the last night of our southern holiday, and roam around the many rivers and little bays of this spectacular lake.

And that's it, time to fly back to homeland.

What an incredible two weeks, dense of explorations and cultural experiences! Thailand was for us a window on the Asian people and traditions. Some of the most spectacular landscapes we have ever seen.

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