Thailand

When We Were There: June 19-22,  August 9-12, October 1-9, 2009

Places We Visited: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi, Ko Phi Phi

View all of our posts about Thailand here.

Exchange Rate: $1 = 35 Thai Baht

WHAT WE DID

Bangkok
We passed through Bangkok on multiple occasions, taking in bits and pieces each time. We spent a fair chunk of time in temples, visiting the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. We did some shopping at the Chatuchak Weekend Market and some window shopping at the Siam Center. We happened to be in Bangkok on the Queen’s birthday, so we went to the celebration, which included kickboxing matches, a parade, some musical performances, and fireworks. Of course, we also took in the hot mess that was Kho San Road, which might be one of the world’s best people watching spots.

Chiang Mai
In Chiang Mai, we enjoyed the Sunday Market, particularly the food offerings. We also visited the many, many wats inside the Old City, where we were fortunate to have some interesting conversations with the monks who lived at them. We also took a very nice cooking class at Siam Rice Cooking School, where we cook six different courses. Highly recommended.

Krabi
We’d been looking forward to trying some rock climbing in Krabi, but it didn’t work out. Theresa wasn’t feeling up to par, thanks to some kind of stomach bug she got on our way out of India. Instead we relax at Ao Nang Beach, enjoying the pretty turquoise water and limestone karsts.

Ko Phi Phi
We don’t get the best weather on Ko Phi Phi, with rain making an appearance at least once every day. We don’t let it ruin our play however, and find time between rain showers to explore the tide pools, do two amazing dives with Phi Phi Scuba (the fan coral is awesome. as are the turtles, octopus, sharks, rays, nudibranches, and fish),  hike up to the island viewpoint, and caught a few rays of sun on Tonsai Beach.

WHERE WE STAYED

Roof View Place (Bangkok): I would highly recommend this hotel in Bangkok. It’s located just a few blocks from Kho San Road, so you can easily enjoy that craziness if you choose, but it’s also in a quiet little neighborhood, so you can stay far away from it as well. The rooms are very nice and clean, with private bathrooms with hot water (though seriously unnecessary in Bangkok), A/C, TV, and free wireless Internet. It also comes with a great breakfast that has both Western favorites (eggs, toast, cereal) and Eastern favorites (curry, rice, etc.) It was almost always full when we were there, so I’d book in advance. 680 Baht for a double room.

Vanilla Place (Chiang Mai): We also very much loved this hotell, run by the wonderful Mr. and Mrs. Kem. They are extremely gracious as well as very knowledgeable about the area. The room was very nice, with a comfortable bed, private bathroom, AC, and wifi access. They have a transport service from the airport, which is a good option. Breakfast was included. 680 Baht for a double room.

Grand Hotel (Krabi): This standard hotel was clean, quiet, and comfortable, which made it good enough for us for two nights. 500 Baht for a double room.

Harmony House (Ko Phi Phi): Located right along the evacuation route at the base of the island’s highest point, Harmony House is where you want to be if a tsunami hit. That’s not why we chose it, however. We found it to be a pretty good deal with a clean, spacious room with private bathroom. I think there may have been AC options, but we went with fan only, which was sufficient, combined with the breeze. 300 Baht for a double with private bathroom.

PLACES WE ATE

Take Seat (Bangkok): Near Lamphu Park, this restaurant served nice curries and noodle dishes as well as tasty shakes.

Street Food (Bangkok): We often took our meals on the seat, choosing from pad thai or a drunken noodles type dish, egg rolls, soups, and whatever else was cooking. The food was good and cheap, and there was a lot of variety.

Sunday Market (Chiang Mai): The Sunday Market in Chiang Mai has a food garden of sorts with about 20 vendors selling all different types of food. We did a smorgasbord of goodies, all of which were tasty.

Cosmic Restaurant (Ko Phi Phi): Delicious pizza. The salads and pastas also looked good.

Calamaro Restaurant (Ko Phi Phi): The Penang curry here is really, really good, but the noodle dish we had was overly salty. Other dishes looked tasty as well, and the service was good.

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