Thailand's Top 10
On my blog, I usually discuss recent travel because a lot changes in a few years. With that being said, I decided to write about my Thailand (and Fiji) experiences with Rustic Pathways because the trips meant so much to me.
Rustic Pathways offers travel opportunities for teenagers all over the world. The first Rustic Pathways trip I went on was called "Elephants and Amazing Thailand." I went with my sister Grace when I was 16 and she was 14. During the first week of the trip, I lived on an elephant conservation farm. During the second week of the trip, I explored northern Thailand.
Looking back, this trip was life changing because it gave me the confidence to navigate the world without my parents. The only thing I would change about the trip is that I wish I wrote down what cities I visited and exactly what I did. At 16 years old I was not as detail oriented as I am now!
Top 10 Activities
1) Swam Under Waterfalls 2)Visited the Long Neck Kayan Village 3)Saw Buddhist Temples 4)Explored Caves 5) Walked Around Pai Valley 6) Gave Morning Alms 7) Boat Tours 8) Visited Bangkok 9) Played with Baby Tigers 10) Went to Night Bazaars
1. Swam under waterfalls.
Although I don't remember the exact name of the waterfalls I swam under I did some research on popular waterfalls that are close to Chiang Mai. The most popular are:
- Sirithan Waterfall
- Namtok Maek Klang Waterfall
- Mae Pan Waterfall
- Doi Inthanon
- Huai Sai Lueang Waterfall
2. Visited the Long Neck Kayan Village.
The Kayan tribe lives on the border of northern Thailand. They are originally from Myanmar but fled due to internal conflict. The women in the tribe are known for wearing brass coils around their necks. As they grow older, the women continue to stack coils around their neck making their neck appear longer. The women can't take off their coils once they are stacked to a certain height because their necks will not be able to support their head.
I really enjoyed visited the Long Neck Kayan Village but I wish I had more information on the people and their origins before I went. At the time, I did not realize that they were refugees living without citizenship in Thailand. The Long Neck Kayan Tribe live in extreme poverty, which was not something I expected since I thought I was visiting a tourist destination. If you make the decision to visit the tribe, please purchase some of their jewelry, because it is the women's only income.
3. Saw lots of Buddhist Temples and monuments.
On my trip to Thailand, I learned a lot about Buddhism while visiting temples and monuments. If you are an American tourist, I would recommend spending a lot of time visiting the temples. Aside from the beauty, the temples and monuments exposed me to Thai culture. The most popular temples in Chiang Mai are:
- Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Ratchaworawihan
- Wat Chedi Luang
- Wat Chiang Man
- Wat Suan Dok
- Wat Chet Yot, Phra Aram Luang
- Wat Rong Khun
The monument on the left is the Wat Phrathat Doi Kham. The stairs on the right are called the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Both are located in Chiang Mai.
4. Explored Caves.
One of my favorite activities while visiting Thailand was exploring caves. I have to admit, at times I was slightly freaked out because it was pitch black and we could hear birds. However, when I go back to Thailand, I would like to visit another cave. The most popular caves for tourist to visit in Chiang Mai are:
- Tham Muang On
- Tham Chiang Dao
- Bori Chinda Cave
- Luang Mae Sab Cave
- Tak-Tan Cave
5. Walked around Pai Valley
My favorite night in Thailand was when our Rustic Pathways group went to Pai. We got to the hotel right at sunset and then went to the Pai Night Bazaar, which had everything from street food to souvenirs. My sister and I bought a few pairs of Thai pants - which Thai people don't actually wear.
Unlike Chiang Mai, Pai is a very small town. Besides enjoying the food and walking around, tourist can also visit Wat Phra That Maw (The Big White Buddha).
6. Gave Morning Alms
I was in Thailand during the queen's birthday, which is a national holiday. To celebrate, Thai people wake up early in the morning and give food and gifts to monks. This ritual is called morning alms. My sister, one other girl on our trip, and I were the only people who wanted to participate in this moment. It was one of the top moments of my life and I am so thankful that I decided to go. I took one picture of the alms and unfortunately put an Instagram filter over it - I was young!
7. Boat Tours
When I visited Thailand, I went on a boat ride to the Long Neck Karen Village and a boat ride in Bangkok. This gave me the opportunity to explore Thailand from a different angle. If I were to go back to Thailand, the following boat tours would be on my list:
- Small Teak Boat Canal Adventure
- Manohra Dining Cruises
8. Visited Bangkok
Unfortunately, I was only in Bangkok for a short period of time. When I go back I want to visit the following tourist attractions:
- The Grand Palace
- Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchaworamahawihan
- Temple of the Emerald Buddha
- Khaoson Road
- Chatuchak Weekend Market
- Wat Taimit Withayaram Worawihan
9. Met baby tigers
If you read my article about my elephant experience in Thailand, you already know that I have remorse looking back on that part of the trip. At the time, I didn't know it was cruel to ride an elephant.
With that being said, I did not have the same experience at the tiger center. The second my sister, Grace (14), and I (16) walked in we knew it was wrong. Huge tigers were in small cages waiting to be put in a larger cage, filled with people. Since we were both minors, Grace and I could not be placed in a cage with big tigers (thank goodness) but we were allowed to go in a pen with baby tigers.
Although I absolutely loved playing with them, the whole set up was messed up. Tigers are not meant to be friendly with humans. Even though we were both young and naive, we knew that the big tigers were drugged so they wouldn't attack the visitors. We also knew that the baby tigers would eventually live a life inside a small cage. This was the only part of the trip I felt really awkward because at the time I was not brave enough to say I did not want to participate. Now that I am older and have more experience traveling, I like to think that I would speak up in another situation like this.
10. Shopped at Thai Bazaars
Most nights we went to a Thai Bazaar. This was a highlight of my trip because I loved being able to walk around in a foreign country without any supervision. It made me feel independent.
I bought several "Thai Pants" at the Bazaars. At the time I thought they were so stylish. Looking back, seeing a group of Americans walk around in the pants must have been hysterical. I did not see one Thai person actually wearing "Thai Pants."
Once again, I am disappointed in my younger self for not taking more pictures. I don't have a photo at one of the Bazaars, but I do have a photo of Grace and I modeling our new pants while exploring Bangkok.