Thailand had always been on my bucket list of travel destinations and I was fortunate enough to go there for my honeymoon. The trip was a dream from start to finish. The unique sights, the flavorful food, the rich culture, and the kind people all made this trip a magical experience!
Come along and experience Thailand with me in this look back to what I was doing exactly one year ago.
Around the Globe
Prior to embarking on this magical journey, I experienced a little anxiety. As a mom, I felt guilty and a little apprehensive about leaving my 2 year old son home without me for two whole weeks! Up until this point, he really hadn’t been without me for more than one or two nights.
Here I was, packing my suitcases thinking about just how far away I would be. I’d be around the globe on the other side of world, to be specific. What if there was an emergency? Would he miss me and be traumatized for life?
The worries piled up and culminated in a brief crying meltdown two nights before our trip. I was hoping that I wasn’t doing any harm by leaving him and having fun without him. Mom guilt in full effect….CHECK!
The next morning arrived and all the anxiety I felt the night before had disappeared. It was quickly replaced with excitement. I was about to travel to this far off place I always dreamed of going.
The Flight to Thailand from New York City
Thanks to my awesome husband who is the guru of travel hacks, we managed to fly the full 14 hour flight to South Korea in business class without paying the insane price to do this. Flying in business class was a first for both of us!
Let me just say this, if you’re fortunate enough to be able to fly business class for a long flight, DO IT! It’s a game-changer!
I wondered how in the world I would survive being on an airplane for that long. I’d probably get bored, uncomfortable, and possibly anxious from being stuck in the same place for so long.
I packed things like coloring books, reading books, and movies that would entertain me for all of those hours, but want to hear something crazy!? I didn’t use a single one of them for an entire 14 hours!
You’re probably thinking, what the heck did you do? Well, flying in business class had a lot to do with it. Every few hours, multi-course meals would be delivered so that kept me and my stomach busy. These meals were delicious too!
I was able to customize what type of food I wanted them to serve me, so before the flight, they already had my vegan meals all lined up.
And since when was airplane food delicious? I didn’t have a single dish that was untouchable or disgusting. Everything was amazing!
So after my meal, I would recline my seat into a bed and try to catch some sleep. To my dismay, I had a hard time sleeping, so that didn’t exactly pass the time.
Instead, I found myself listening to podcast after podcast the entire way there. Time flew by! Before I knew it, we were landing in Seoul, South Korea to catch our connecting flight to Bankok, Thailand.
We only had a 45 minute layover in Seoul, so we had to get right to our other flight. Luckily, there was an airline representative who shuttled us through the airport and got us to our destination. Talk about service (and luck)!
One more flight to go and then we’d be touching down in Thailand. All in all, the total flight travel time was 18 hours. Whew! It wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting.
Bangkok was our first destination on our two week tour of Thailand. Upon arriving at the airport, we learned that our luggage did not make the connecting flight. No fear, they assured us that it would be delivered to our hotel around 2am and brought straight to our hotel room.
While in the airport, we also learned that if you want to withdraw local currency (“baht” in Thailand), it’s best to use your ATM card in a public setting like an airport. We learned the hard way.
Upon inserting our card into one of the ATM kiosks at the airport, our card was eaten by the machine. We were able to get someone to open the machine to retrieve our card only to have it happen AGAIN at the next machine we tried.
As the serviceman put it, it’s better to have something like that happen in a place like the airport where someone can help, instead of out on the streets of Bangkok. You can pretty much kiss your card goodbye if that happens. Lesson learned.
It was late and we were tired, so off we went to our hotel. As we arrived at the Hilton located right on the riverfront, we immediately became familiar with what everyone warned us about – mosquitos!
As we checked in to the hotel in the open-air lobby, mosquitos were flying around everywhere. Good thing we packed a lot of bug spray and mosquito repellant!
The hotel did not disappoint. The room and bathroom were spacious with a good view of the river. Even though we wanted to sleep to offset some of the jet lag, we waited around until our luggage arrived. 2am, just like they promised, there was a knock on our door. The bags had made it!
Let the Adventure Begin, Jet Lag and All
During our short time in Bangkok, we wanted to experience as much of the area as we could. We enjoyed the day market, which was overwhelming and impressive all at the same time.
I think we were a little gun shy about purchasing things even though the prices were phenomenal (super inexpensive in Thailand) simply because we didn’t know how good of a deal we were getting. We were still so new to the country!
In hindsight, we wished we had just jumped on opportunities to buy things when we saw them. If we went back, we’d definitely pack an extra suitcase to bring home more goods such as cashmere, silverware, and clothing!
My advice to anyone traveling to Thailand, leave room in your suitcase or bring an extra one so you can bring home some treasures!
Bring on the Thai Massage
At night, we visited our first ever Onsen Bath spa. We had heard all about Thai massages and how inexpensive they were so we vowed to book as many massages as we could while we were in Thailand.
Well, folks, we quickly learned that Thai massages are brutal! (haha) They were painful! I’m laughing as I recall this experience because both my husband and I came out of our massage feeling beaten up. We were so used to traditional Swedish massages, but boy was this different!
Thank goodness the Onsen spa had numerous different baths for us to soak in after we endured the abuse. (I’m saying that in humor) We enjoyed relaxing in the hot baths and then meditating in the outdoor garden space. It truly was a memorable (and humorous) evening! One we will never forget!
Off to the Temples
While in Bangkok, we enjoyed doing a walking tour of the palaces and temples. Everything was so unique and majestic. The ornate and colorful mosaic tiles were especially beautiful on their temples.
Seeing all of the various Buddha statues and figurines was really fascinating. Not only were they breath-taking, but learning the history and stories behind each temple and Buddha really intrigued me.
Also, if you travel to Bangkok, you definitely have to enjoy boating up and down the river that divides the city. Getting around was super simple (boat, train, taxi, Uber). At night, the riverfront is lit up and a beautiful sight to see.
Another fun spot we tried was the rooftop Moon Bar at the Banyon Tree hotel. It offered 360 degree views of the magnificent city.
If you want to spend a lot of money, you can opt to dine there at the rooftop Vertigo restaurant, but grabbing a cocktail is the more reasonable way to go so that’s what we did.
The vibe was “chill”, which I appreciated. We sipped our cocktails while enjoying the breathtaking, sweeping views of the city. It was the perfect way to end our stay in Bangkok before jetting to our next destination….Chiang Mai.
Our next adventure took place in Chiang Mai, a little further west from Bangkok and a whole lot more “rural”. Don’t be fooled with the rural description though. While there was plenty of countryside and jungle in Chiang Mai, there was the bustling life within the city itself.
We stayed at the Shangri-La hotel and WOW! It was fantastic! We were yet again blown away with how friendly, accommodating, and nice the people in Thailand were as we entered the hotel.
The staff gave us personal assistance and helped us with anything we needed from booking excursions, answering local questions, or making sure everything was just right with our room.
When we entered our hotel suite (yes, SUITE) we were blown away! The staff had upgraded us to a HUGE suite and congratulated us on our honeymoon. Chocolates, wine, kissing swan towels, and a rose petal bath all awaited us as we arrived. This hotel far exceeded our expectations!
The first night in Chiang Mai, we decided to walk a few blocks to check out the night bazaar, a local attraction we read about in our guide book. Tons of vendors were selling everything from food, clothing, trinkets, jewelry, to furniture.
Going to the local markets is a must in Thailand. There is so much to see and experience in these bustling places.
The next day, we were off to the Elephant Sanctuary to roam with the elephants. Yep, that’s right, we actually got to feed, bathe, and walk with the elephants in their natural habitat.
It was important to us to choose a sanctuary that was humane and did not abuse the elephants. Sadly, there are too many places in Thailand that are cruel to elephants allowing people to ride on them, chaining them in place, physically abusing them, etc. Downright awful.
Instead, we were able to care for the elephants and observe them in their every day lives. I loved every part of this day. The coolest part was as we were walking, one of the big “mama” elephants brushed right past me (literally right next to me) to catch up to the other two elephants ahead of us. It felt unreal.
At the end of the excursion, the guides treated us to authentic Thai cuisine, which as usual, did not disappoint. We also got to experience traditional Thai dancers who performed for us!
Visiting the Old City
For the rest of our time in Chiang Mai, we explored the Old City and its many temples. Every temple had a different feeling and personality to it, particularly the Silver Temple (the only silver temple).
While we were visiting one of the temples, another gentleman touring the property struck up a conversation with us. He asked if my husband had purchased any Thai suits while we were here.
We had talked about the possibility of him getting an authentic Thai suit while we were there, but we hadn’t taken any action yet. I think this gentleman’s encouragement was a sign.
With the man’s recommendation, we stopped by a local tailor and sure enough, my husband ended up with two handsome, authentic Thai tailored suits for such an amazing price. Score!
Giving Torture Another Try
Finally, before our time in Chiang Mai was over, we agreed to try our hand at Thai massage again. Perhaps the painful experience of the first one was just a fluke. I mean, how could everyone be recommending these massages when they were so uncomfortable!?
So, we made our way to the spa on the hotel grounds for a lovely, one hour Thai massage in this tranquil outdoor villa. We both made sure to specify that we wanted the “gentlest” touch from our masseuses on our intake form.
My massage this time was much more pleasant, but still a little “much” for my sensitive body. My husband, on the other hand, said he was close to getting up off the table half way through and calling it quits. He did not enjoy the experience AT ALL.
Okay, so maybe Thai massages weren’t for us. We agreed to not sign up for another one during our time in Thailand. We came, we saw, we bruised.
After a short plane ride from Chiang Mai to Phuket, we arrived in this very touristy beach town. We had heard all about the night life in Phuket, but since I’m not much of a night owl, we didn’t get firsthand experience of that scene.
Instead, we filled our days with time on the beach overlooking the Andaman Sea, which was gorgeous and warm! If the beach got too hot, we found ourselves enjoying the pool scene at our hotel.
We even toured the Big Buddha, which is a must see if you’re spending time in Phuket. This Buddha overlooks the entire coast and provides wonderful panoramic views.
Experience of a Lifetime
On our second day in Phuket, we embarked on the most amazing kayaking tour through some of the nearby sea caves.
We boarded a large boat in the morning and headed out to sea with high hopes of observing some beautiful scenery. Not only did we experience amazing scenery…the tour staff, food, and fellow travelers made the experience incredible.
If you ever find yourself in Phuket, I definitely recommend doing the John Gray kayaking tour. The excursion takes up most of the day and bleeds into the dark evening hours.
You’re provided the most scrumptious vegan-friendly meals for both lunch and dinner. (Hands down the BEST meals I had the entire trip in Thailand and it was ON A BOAT!) Everything was fresh, flavorful, and healthy!
Gliding in our kayak next to these organic rock sculptures and then traversing into the deep caves was an experience I will never forget. At night, once the sun went down, we created a unique prayer float to release inside a dark cave as we observed the bioluminescence. Simply magical!
My spirit was overjoyed and fulfilled on this adventure. It was a perfect day in every way!
Our Final Destination
After three fun-filled days in Phuket, we were ready to jet off to the romantic island of Koh Samui off the eastern coast of Thailand. To officially unwind and enjoy the last few days of our honeymoon, this was a fantastic island choice.
I don’t even know where to begin because every day had memorable highlights. First and foremost, our waterfront villa complete with infinity pool was by far the nicest room I have ever stayed in. We had privacy yet easy access to everything around us at the resort.
The resort was located on the side of a cliff, so not a single part of our view of the ocean was obstructed. Every morning, we would wake up and look directly out at the water. Better yet, I could shower and stare out over the ocean! Um, YES PLEASE! I could definitely get used to this.
While it was nice to simply lounge around our resort (we did plenty of that), we also wanted to see what the island had to offer. One day we took a boat out, snorkeled, then visited a beautiful white sandy beach island in the middle of the sea.
The following day we took a driving tour of the island with Mr. Samui. I mention his name because if you ever go to Koh Samui, you definitely want him as your tour guide!
We stopped at waterfalls, local shopping villages, taste-tested local fruits, and even had our first coconut ice cream complete with sticky rice in it. Yep, you heard me, STICKY RICE! While I was skeptical at first, I quickly discovered it was surprisingly delicious!
We visited some of the temples on the island and finished our stay with a romantic dinner on the beach set up for us by Mr. Samui. (It helps having a local driver with connections!)
Okay, Maybe One More Massage
Choice well made.
Before we knew it, our time in Thailand was coming to an end and we were headed back to reality.
Mom Guilt Be Gone
So you might be wondering, how did you end up feeling while you were away from your son for that long? The answer is: While I missed my son during my time away, I realized how much both he and I really needed that time apart. It was rejuvenating and energizing.
What helped even more was the availability of FaceTime and the fact that my son was having a blast without me around. Seeing him so well-adjusted, comfortable, and happy was all I needed to feel free from the fear I had created in my mind before the trip.
So Long, Thailand!
I learned a lot of things about Thailand, but what stuck out the most was how friendly, accommodating, and sincere the people in Thailand were. I always felt safe and I always felt respected and it was the people that allowed me to feel that way.
Next, the food for any type of eater is out of this world! If you lean towards plant based foods like I do, this is your haven! I never had difficulty finding Wendy-friendly cuisine. From breakfast to dinner, there were always healthy options!
I found it surprisingly easy to get around the country too. Most signs were written in Thai and in English, so I felt fortunate that I was able to read most things throughout my journey.
When in doubt, the Thais were always there to help. There were enough that spoke English that we never really struggled with communication.
We also happened to run into several American tourists in each of our destinations, so comparing notes and exchanging tips was always fun and helpful!
For every destination we visited, we were not disappointed. Each place left us wanting more. So much so, that we left the country already planning in our heads when we could go back.
I’ll Be Back, Thailand!
So, if you’re thinking of going to Thailand, GO! It’s a fantastic country with so much to offer. Whether it’s for your honeymoon, leisure travel, a family affair, a spiritual retreat or whatever, there is so much to do, see, and experience!
I hope you enjoyed my walk down memory lane from last year’s honeymoon. Now that it’s cold and wintery here in the U.S., it makes me want to travel back to Thailand as soon as possible! I’ll be back, Thailand.