Thailand Itinerary pt. 3

Hi friend!

Thank you for following along this amazing journey with me and sticking through the three part series of my Thailand Itinerary. You can see the first and second parts of this blog prior to reading this blog to learn more pre-planning and what to expect from Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

In this final blog I will focus on our last two cities which were Phuket and Phi Phi Islands. I LOVE island vacations, so I am super excited to share more about my experience here!!

Phuket

  • There are three main beaches in Phuket and we stayed at Patong beach which is the most northern of them. They say this is the “least” nicest because it is the party town. We spent all our time here, and I wish we would have spent one night at Kata beach to explore it, as we heard it is the nicest one. The beaches are close enough to each other to where you can take a boat or rent a moped. The boats were too expensive for two people to rent for a day trip and I was way too terrified for a moped, so we just stayed local. We stayed at the Patong Signature Hotel which was cheap, right across the street from the beach and walking distance from Bangla Road (party street).
  • We decided to buy a tour through “Raya Princess” which was recommended to us by our hotel and it was horrible! Do not use them. Despite what the hotels may say, TripAdvisor is a great resource to use when deciding what company to book your tour with. Although the tour company wasn’t great, Raya beach was absolutely beautiful! The water was the clearest I have ever seen (I have been to the Bahamas, Cancun and Hawaii)! The only negative part about the beach is that it gets really crowded (like most tourist beaches), so I recommend you go early.

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  • The next day we went on the John Grey’s Sea Canoe which was amazing! We took the starlight tour because we wanted the night activity. You start off your day with lunch and then go kayak through different caves. At night you make a Krathong, which is a little floating plant designed for you and you get to put it in the water with a little candle and make a wish. The process of making the Krathong was so awesome because we used leaves and flowers to make a little planter looking thing. We also got to see the glowing plankton at night. This is a much more simplistic version of what we saw, but it was breathtaking to be able to be kayaking through the water with the giant rocks, going through caves and making memories. The only negative on this trip was that I got a stomach ache from it. I am not sure if it was from the food (they have very fresh delicious food) or the water I was drinking. Considering everything is made on the boat, I recommend you take your own water and only eat cooked things if your stomach is delicate.

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  • Once we got back, we made sure to go check out the nightlife. Bangla Road is the place to be! It is unfortunate that lady boys are so prevalent over there which promotes prostitution, but overall there were many choices in regards to bars and clubs. We walked the road once just to observe, then re-walked it to see where we should stop. Needless to say, the people watching is great! This road also had an upscale club called Illuzion that had celebrity DJ’s. Although “upscale” it was interesting because the night we went it was free cover so we went to check it out.

Phi Phi

  • Our final stop on the trip was Phi Phi Islands. We bought a ferry ticket with transport from the Phuket port to Phi Phi. This also included a shuttle when we got back from the islands to take us to the airport which is approximately 1 hour away. One thing to note about ‘Thai time” is that they generally run 10-15 minutes late, so if you are running a little late, you should be fine.
  • Once in Phi Phi, we took another small boat to our hotel at the Viking Nature Resort and walked into the town which was about 15 minutes away during the day and about 25 minutes away in the dark because of all the uneven pavement and lack of lighting. The resort itself was pretty cool and creepy at the same time! I was insistent on staying in a treehouse and that is what I got – a treehouse. It was pretty cool the way things were put together, but there wasn’t a high level of security with your room so I would recommend to take a lock with your luggage; although we and our things were 100% fine the whole time. There was also a chance you would have bugs in your room, which they warn you about. This was the main reason I took heavy duty bug spray and protected myself. But hey, you’re in the jungle right? We had hammocks in our room patio which was super nice and relaxing until the gecko’s were hanging out on the lamp above us LOL The resort itself also has, what felt like, a village as part of the property which is a little weird. The guys would play soccer around 5pm, and if your room was by them, you would hear their game for about an hour. I would stay here again, but only for 2 nights and spend the rest of my time in the little town/city to be closer to more activities.
  • We found out that you can Padi scuba dive through a company called PP Aquanauts. They give you a short tutorial the morning of your dive, then you get some training in the water the next day and you get let into the water. I recommend you book this tour on the first day you get to the islands because they can get booked up and they start very early. This was such an amazing experience for us because we usually only snorkel, not dive. Being that deep under water changed my perspective of the sea and I was so glad that we did it! We saw some breathtaking coral and other sea life. That night we took at cooking class at Pum’s cooking school which was also really fun to learn how to make traditional Thai dishes. During the class we met a woman who showed us around the nightlife in the town and on the beach. It was wild to see fire shows and partying all along the beach. There were bars and clubs with a variety of different music, so you will for sure find something that fits your taste. The night scene here was very wild; definitely the most wild we have ever seen. However, if you want something chill, you can also find a lounge!

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Overall, this trip was in my top two favorites EVER! It was life-changing and Thailand gave me all the mystical vibes I was hoping for. I learned so much about another culture, got to try new experiences I never had before and got to fully plan our first overseas trip alone for the first time. Throughout the trip we met so many great people, so if you are someone who will travel alone, don’t worry! There are plenty of nice people along the way.

Curious to hear your thoughts about the trip and any of your favorite Thailand memories!

XO,

Gina

 

Thailand Itinerary pt. 1

Hi friend!

I am SO excited about today’s post because it is ALL about my Thailand trip and what I did over the course of 12 days! We self-planned our trip, so it was an adventure in and of itself that I wanted to share. I will be releasing all the details in two posts so I can share our Thailand 12 day itinerary and all the tips in smaller, digestible pieces.

This is one of the only trips where I kept a travel journal every step of the way and it has been a nice little reminder to ensure I keep that on my next trip. It was also one of my top two favorite trips I have EVER taken – the people were great, the prices were cheap, there was so much culture, nature, a great nightlife and overall a ton of new things we had never seen. Personally, I would have liked to stay in Phuket maybe one more day and got rid of Bangkok, but Bangkok tends to be the cheapest city to fly into, so we took advantage and spent a day there.

12 day Thailand Itinerary

  • Day 0/1 – LAX to Bangkok – red eye, arrive at 2am and get going right after a short nap
  • Day 2-3 – Chiang Mai
  • Day 4-8 – Phuket
  • Day 9-11 – Phi Phi Islands
  • Day 12 – BKK back to LAX

Getting ready to go to Thailand

I started off my journal entry to the trip talking about the things to take with you on a plane which I wrote more about in my other blog entry. A few other things that I want to add in for international flights are:

  • A face mask – You are in circulating air for hours at a time, so it it helps to keep yourself healthy. We took multiple flights within Thailand so it was even more important.
  • Stretch before you go – You will be sitting for many hours. Also make sure you force yourself to get up at least every 2 hours to ensure circulation.
  • Buy water ahead of time – The water bottles you typically get from the airlines are small. If you are a heavy water drinker like I am, getting larger bottles is worth it.

Other things to prepare:

  • Check the weather – We thought that because it wasn’t winter we didn’t need to take a jacket, but come to find out it still rains so it was worth it to pack a light rain jacket.
  • Prepare for the temples – You will need to be covered up for many of the temples, so carry socks (sometimes you also have to take off your shoes), a long skirt/pants, something that covers your shoulders and a Hydroflask if you have one to stay hydrated and allow your water to stay cool in the humid weather. This is also why it is is a good idea to carry a bag/backpack large enough to carry these extra things with you. If you get really light clothing, the bag will not need to be too big and you can roll your clothes in there.
  • Shots – Although shots aren’t required, we got ours just to be safe.
  • Food pills – We bought Travelan to take prior to eating several meals to ensure we didn’t get sick. The two times we got sick was because we ate too many consecutive meals without taking the pills.
  • Hand sanitizer – Many times there isn’t soap available, so make sure you have a way to keep your hands clean.
  • Tissue – Some bathrooms we went to didn’t have toilet paper, so take some with you in small tissues.
  • Safety – While I was there, I felt very safe although at times I did panic for my safety in uncomfortable situations (it was all in my head). It was interesting that throughout the entire trip we only saw 2 cops. Police aren’t very prevalent there, but if you have an emergency they have the tour police you can call at: 1155.
  • Phone Service – Ensure your carrier works over there. You can use Uber and make calls as needed if you have service.
  • Quick dry towel – If you are going to any of the islands or beach cities, I recommend you take one of these so that you aren’t carrying around a heavy wet towel with you.

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Bangkok

  • We flew from LAX to BKK airport and arrived at 2am. We almost got mugged and someone tried to say they were a taxi and they were NOT! Be careful and ensure that you double check who you are riding with and if things feel fishy, they likely ARE!
  • We stayed at the Baan Wanglang Riverside hotel because we wanted to be near the Grand Palace. The view was nice and near the river, so it was nice to experience water transportation which is very prevalent there. The downside/upside is that this was in the locals area. It was in the middle of a market and a bunch of little shops. You got to see how families and businesses were ran – they woke up at 4am to start cooking so they can sell fresh food at their restaurants. There is a more touristy area but we didn’t stay there because we were more interested in being close to the Palace since we were there just for one day.
  • Grand Palace – This was our first tourist spot and by far the most intimidating, beautiful and impressive. There were thousands of people there and the lines were separated by locals and tourists. Make sure that you go into the tourist line, as it tends to be shorter. The palace itself was majestic and had so much to see and learn from. It is definitely a must-see in Thailand.
  • The Golden Buddah – This temple was OK in my view, there wasn’t a ton to see and felt more like a tourist trap.
  • Wat Arun – This is the original location of the capital and had ancient temples. It is right by Pier 2, so you can take a water taxi there. The nice thing about these tourist locations is that most of them are right by each other. One thing to keep in mind when in Bangkok is that the traffic is crazy and they have tuk tuks (mopeds), cars, trucks and bikes all sharing one lane so going from one place to another can take a long time depending on the time of day.
  • Massages – You can get a great deal on a massage. We got a full body 60 minute one for $20. Not gonna lie – they take the term “full body” very seriously and at a point I didn’t feel uncomfortable, but as soon as I told them, they stopped.
  • Food – There are so many food options! Many of them which are small restaurants or even street food. They have a lot of fresh fruit everywhere, but be careful as the water that is used to clean the fruit is not the best for you. Just always be aware of how sanitary things look. If you take a pill before eating them, you should be fine.
  • Nightlife – Bangkok’s nightlife was so much more than I expected. Khao San Road is a long boulevard with everything from small dive bars, hostels, clubs, massages, street food, fried bugs (this is very common there) and the BEST people watching. If anything, get a drink and sit down at a bar to watch all of the people walking by. We got the best Pad Thai on our trip from a street vendor here.

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I hope that you enjoyed this post! I look forward to sharing more on my blog part 2 next week! 🙂

READ MORE:

Part 2

Part 3

XO,

Gina

 

Carry-on Essentials

Hi friend!

On today’s blog post I wanted to share some of my favorite carry-ons when I travel because getting there is half the fun, right! I am not big on buying Wifi on the plane unless I have to, so I choose to plan ahead and prep some things in advance. I try to use my time on the plane to slow down and do some of my favorite things that I don’t always have time to do, so it adds more excitement, enjoyment and relaxation when traveling.

Here are a few things I take for entertainment:

  • Music – I download all my favorite songs on my phone so that I can listen to them.
  • Podcasts – I also download a couple podcasts so that I can listen to them while I am on the plane. I tend to pick longer ones, or ones that I have been wanting to go back to and take detailed notes on because there was so much great content.
  • Book or Audiobook – Depending what I am reading at the time, I will take my book with me.
  • Headphones – I like traveling with the big headphones like Beats in order to cancel out all the noise around me and just focus on what I am listening to.
  • Journal and pen – I like to take notes on my Podcasts, or just journal in general and take time to really check in with how I am feeling.
  • Coloring book and color pencils – I love to color and think it is so relaxing. I will color on the plane while listening to any of the above.
  • Plane pillow – We all need naps, so of course I pack this!

I also take a few things for personal hygiene because I have been stuck in unexpected travel conditions where I don’t have access to my bags, so I now pack an emergency hygiene kit in my carry-on of:

  • Toothbrush & toothpaste – After traveling for over 6 hours your mouth starts feeling a little weird, so take it with you! Of course check the travel regulations on the size that you can take as a carry-on.
  • Deodorant – A given!
  • Undies – If your flight is over 10 hours and you have access to airport lounges, you may want to freshen up!
  • Lotion – Both for your body and face. I really enjoy this  moisturizer. Your skin gets so dry, so make sure to take care of it.
  • Facial wipes – Another thing to ensure that your face is taken care of because being in planes for extended periods of time can be uncomfortable.
  • Lysol wipes – Just in case your seat tray is dirty or anything else is on your trip needs a little extra sanitation.

What are some things you take with you as carry-ons to help make your trip more fun and/or more comfortable?

XO,

Gina

 

Cruise tips

Wanna cruise like a pro?

It had been a long while since I last went on a cruise and boy, did I enjoy it. The various offerings of food, entertainment, relaxation and sun make a cruise so much fun! The last time I went on a cruise I was underage and relied on my parents heavily to take care of things, but this time I had to take things into my own hands and do some research. There are a few things I did and others I wish I would have done, so here are my tips for your next cruise!

  1. Before you book – Personally, my husband and I  tend to be very active on our vacations, so we weren’t sure how we were going to like the cruise with 3 days at sea. We took a 7 day Eastern Mediterranean cruise with Carnival  and really enjoyed it. We would do another cruise, but likely 5 days long with 3 stops if we could. During this cruise, we liked the excursions we took (visit the forest, Snuba, waterfall adventure and a beautiful beach) but we also really enjoyed the relaxation that came with it. Bottom line: always think about your travel preference (active/relaxing) when booking your cruise to ensure you don’t get bored/overwhelmed. The days at sea are really relaxing and although there are things to do, you may feel a little cabin fever so if you don’t like a ton of downtime, then choose a cruise with less sea days. If you love the down time and enjoying all the boat’s amenities then a longer cruise or cruise with less stops is best for you! If you are traveling in a large family group, look into group rates. Large family groups are common on cruises due to the price and convenience, so try to get the most for your money and get that great rate!
  2. Read the FAQ’s about your drinks very carefully – Whether you are a big drinker or not, buying drinks on the cruise can get a little pricey. Personally, I do not drink soda, only with alcohol, so that made no difference for me but there is a package for those that do and want to get “bottomless” soda. Remember that on a cruise the water, tea and juice is included but not everything else. There is also a “bottomless” alcoholic beverage package that you may want to buy if you plan on drinking more than ~5 drinks per day on the cruise. If you are a heavy drinker consider buying the package. Keep in mind, however, that you will likely not be on the boat much on the days you dock. Make sure to weigh your pros and cons on each end. In addition to this, also check the amount of drinks you can bring with you on board. We cruised with Carnival and they allowed 1 bottle of wine or champagne per adult. Take advantage of that! You may also purchase a case of waters which is convenient if you don’t want to drink tap water – whatever works for you!
  3. Print your luggage tags and boarding passes– Although many places don’t care for paper, some allow you to print things upon check-in at airports, that was not the case with th cruise. When we checked into our cruise at the Miami port we were expected to have our bags tagged up and our tickets printed. Make sure you have yours pre-printed if needed.
  4. Decide if you will get WiFi – In our particular case, we had to get work done so we bought WiFi. It is pricey and the connection is pretty bad. This is a plus or minus on your cruise depending how you see it. If you really want to unplug, you can. If you need to get work done or still use social media while on board, you can… at a slow pace. This is another perk if you are going wit family because the kids are forced to interact and engage without electronics.
  5. Explore your excursion options PRIOR to getting on the boat – Do some research on your destinations – what are top things to do there? What do you want to ensure that you see and do during the time you dock? Your time is short, so you want to ensure that you make the most of it. The ship will have some excursions available on their site, so look through them and the reviews to make sure you are picking what best fits your interests. It is best to do this before the cruise so you can just relax onboard and avoid lines, as well as avoid lines on board to book the trips. Remember that there is no Wifi on board unless you purchase it so your research capabilities are limited once onboard.
  6. Lanyards are key – literally! You are given a card that is to be used as a room key, credit card and ID for the entire time on your cruise. Everyone either buys a lanyard or has one with them to facilitate carrying the card on you. They sell lanyards on board and they are expensive, so if you already have one, take one lanyard per person to save you some money. This also allows you to leave your wallet and other valuables in the safe in your room.
  7. Get to know your boat! – Once you are on the boat, you want to know where things are. Walk it deck by deck and explore what is on each deck. You start to get a feel and open up your mind to the different things to do while onboard and it helps you better plan your days out at sea.
  8. Read your daily itinerary – The great thing about the boat is that every day there are a ton of things going on all day, for all ages. Carnival has an app that you can use onboard where you just favorite things and it will remind you when they are starting. It doesn’t require an internet plan to use it, so it is very convenient for a variety of things such as dining options, show times, location of things, etc. Checking your itinerary on a daily basis also ensures you don’t get bored and engage while on the boat.
  9. Pack smart – When packing, try to use the smallest luggage you can possibly pack all your things in. Your space is limited, so you want to ensure you aren’t tripping over your bags in your room. I would even recommend packing the small travel sized toiletries so you are comfortable in your shower. Always pack a light jacket regardless of the destination. They are blaring the AC, so you want to ensure you aren’t freezing. Also check how many “formal” nights your boat has. These fancy dinners are nice to go to because there is entertainment, photographers everywhere and it’s fun to dress up with your family.
  10. Enjoy! – Our favorite part about going on a cruise was that it was a worry-free vacation since everything was done for us – food, transportation, room service and cleaning service. Entertainment was awesome and it was given to us for such a low price. We got to see some great ports, just enough to do some fun excursions and we relaxed a lot which is what we needed. There is a gym on board so you can still get your workout in to help offset all the yummy things you are eating, which is also great!

What cruises are you considering in your future? Do you have any additional tips?

Ahoy!

XO,

Gina