Hello travel buddies! During our trip in Thailand, the whole country was in a state of mourning due to the recent passing of their majesty, King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Tourists were advised to lessen down merry making and as much as possible, wear clothes appropriate for mourning. Well, that’s the reason why both of us are usually wearing black or white outfits in our videos, it’s really not because we look thinner in those clothes (LOL).
Anyway, we practically weren’t able to sleep the night before, since we attended a birthday party celebration at Diamond Hotel which lasted till morning, literally ended just a few hours before our flight. After the party, we just picked up our things, Osprey’s Meridian 80L bag (for both of our travel necessities) and our cams, and went straight to the airport. We arrived at around 4.30AM in Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal III for our Cebu Pacific Flight going to Suvarnabhumi Airport, with a scheduled flight of around 6AM. Since the flight was still early, there wasn’t any kind of flight delays (celebratory dance!), which Philippine Airports are are very well known for.
We reached Bangkok at around 8.40AM (Indochina Time, Thailand’s time is one hour behind Philippine standard time), the first thing we did upon arrival is to purchase our travel SIM card with 3GB for 7 days of data with 100 Bath load for calling and messaging for just a price of 300 Bath (way cheaper than going for the prepaid/postpaid web surf plans that the Philippine internet providers offer). In order to attend the 2016 Yi Peng Lantern Festival, which happened to be our main purpose in having our adventure in Thailand, we had another flight going to Chiang Rai airport at around 11PM under Thai airways.
We arrive at Chiang Rai Airport at 12.30 AM, sadly we had a bit miscommunication with our chauffeur and we were able to leave the airport at approximately 1.30PM for our trip to some of their iconic places in that area. Other than renting a van, taking a taxi or a buses, car rentals are also available as a source of transportation from the airport.
The first place we visited was the Long Neck village also know as Karen Long Neck Village, which was just a mere 30-minute drive from the airport. The village is a remote area in Mae Hong Son Province, upon arrival they got a small arrival’s area where tourists can get a map of the whole village and pay an entrance fee of 300 Baht per person. Upon research, the said group of people were historically from Myanmar, due to political unrest they sought refuge in Thailand, which the Thai government was helpful enough to let them stay in small pockets of land in Northern Thailand. Other than what they get from the tourist fees, their main livelihood in the village are selling crafts, such as wooden carvings and hand woven fabrics, and farming.
Next, we visited Baan Dam or the Black House Museum in Chiang Rai City which was created by Thai national artist, Thawan Duchanee. Art aficionados would drool over this place and is a must to visit the area when in Chiang Rai. Other than the wonderful architectural design of the building lots of various things being exhibited can be seen in this huge art haven area, from rock formations down to animal skeletons and snake skins sprawled as a table runner. There are about 40 buildings in the area, which most of them are open for public viewing while some are closed and are solely used by the royal family for meditation purposes. One more thing, visiting Baan Dam is free of charge. Awesome, right?
Afterwards we visited Wat Rong Khun, the breathtaking Buddhist White Temple of Thailand. Designed by Chalermchai Kositpipat in the year 1997. Foreign tourists have an entrance fee of 50 Baht per person, plastic bags for shoes were provided as it is forbidden to wear shoes inside temples. In front of the temple lies a huge fish pond, acting like a moat, were in various kinds of fish can be seen, some even reach an estimated length of 24 inches (yummy!! no fishing though).
Inside the temple, a huge Buddha can be seen and below a wax figurine of a monk meditating facing the entrance. Tourists should also check out the wonderful paintings on the wall, a mix of Thai culture and modern characters are integrated in those paintings. Other than the frequent paintings of dragons, elephants and tigers, I believe I saw a painting of Darth Vader and Doraemon in some areas of the wall. During our visit, a painter was still adding characters to make it livelier. Continuous improvement and rehabilitation on Wat Rong Khun were still being done during our visit. A few meters away from the temple, various shops can be visited for some small snacks, we bought some coconut ice cream (Thailand’s dirty ice cream) for 10 Baht each.
Since we only got a few hours of daylight during our afternoon trip, we have only been able to visit those three tourist attractions. We left the White Temple at around 5.30PM and drove straight towards Chiang Mai to cap off our night. Trip from the White Temple to our hotel lasted for more than 3 hours, we just stopped at a Thai eatery for dinner.
We had a room reservation in Thapae Happy House Hotel and Apartment months before our scheduled trip. Last minute reservations are usually impossible for this hotel, especially during peak seasons. Trip advisor has an exceptionally high rating for it. There are also some tourists which would have a few months of tenure. Other than the comfort and low room rates, the hotel staffs are friendly, and they comprehend English (very important)! The hotel’s location is just about 50 meters away from the Thaepae Gate, where in various kinds of event are held during the festival. The Sunday night market is just beyond those gates too. Buying souvenirs there is a must since we found out that goods in Chiang Mai’s Sunday Market are way cheaper than in Bangkok.
One last thing, if you guys want to do a DIY trip in Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai and you need a trustworthy driver with a very spacious van, a Toyota Hi-Ace, you can check this Facebook page, just search: Simon Chiangmai Van and leave him a message if you want to hire him. We found out that it is way cheaper to rent a van for the whole day when traveling for at least two people rather paying a middle man to look one up for you, such as travel agencies, since they would be charging an additional fee for fixing things. Drivers are also more familiar in terms of the length of travel and if the trip that tourists want is really possible for the duration of their stay in those cities. Upon booking him, get his mobile phone number and keep him posted on your trip and make sure to clear things up with him.
That’s it for our first day in Thailand. Check out our future vlogs and blogs guys! Make sure to stay tuned and don’t forget to click that subscribe button on our YouTube channel! Check out Simon’s infos at the bottom.
Driver’s Name: Simon
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mobile number: 0861800935