Explore Thailand: Phuket

where to stay:

Sala Phuket Resort and Spa: You can’t go to Phuket without staying at one of the many beachside, luxury resorts.  Luckily, you can stay at many of these resorts without breaking the bank.  Starting at $148 USD/night, Sala Phuket boasts many beachfront pools, as well as a personal pool for each room.  Away from the hustle and bustle of Phuket, Sala is located on the quiet Mai Khao beach that is perfect for those needing a bit of a getaway.  After sightseeing throughout all of Thailand, this is the perfect place to unwind and put your feet up- in style! Ideal for couples.  http://www.salaresorts.com/phuket/default-en.html

Southern Fried Rice Guesthouse: If you’re able to look past the name of this hostel, you’ll recognize this is a cozy, home away from home.  Not all of us travelers can afford the $100+ nights at the beachside resorts of Phuket and this guesthouse is a great option for you backpackers.  Just steps from the beach, Southern Fried Rice has all the necessary amenities- free WiFi, clean and spacious rooms, and private bathrooms.  A great homebase for exploring the island of Phuket and friendly staff that will go above and beyond to help you with all your travel planning.  Room prices starting at $9 USD/night. http://southernfriedrice.com/home.html

where to eat:

The Corner Restaurant: If your mouth is urging you for a taste of home while in Phuket, look no further than this charming restaurant serving up International, German, and Thai food!  The Corner Restaurant is a spot loved by many for its clean atmosphere and fresh food options.  Everyone raves about the friendly owner Jens, a German expat with a passion for delicious food.  We recommend starting with the Tom Yum Martini (a flavorful blend of lime, lemongrass, and chili) and then trying the German beef role or seafood kabobs.  A place not to miss!  About $37 USD will get you dinner for 2, including dessert and 2 drinks each.  

Floating Seafood Restaurants: Catch a long-tail boat from Laem Hin Pier off the east coast of Phuket to one of the floating restaurants in the bay. Choose from several restaurants, such as Bang Gaan Seafood or Kru Suwit’s to enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner made right in front of you.  Some say the best time to go is later in the afternoon, around 4:30 pm when the weather has cooled down a bit.  A relaxed, simple atmosphere can describe the floating restaurants of Phuket, most are situated on rafters with roofs and wooden benches.  Choose between various fish or crustaceans for your meal and then sit back and relax while they prepare it for you.  A unique experience you don’t wait to miss out on while in Phuket.  

who to tour with:

Phi Phi Islands by Speedboat: Book a full day tour exploring the islands of Phi Phi, just off Phuket, known as some of the most beautiful in the Adaman Sea.  Begin the day at 8 a.m. and depart in a speedboat to see the beautiful beaches of Maya Bay, Lho Samah Bay, and Pi Leh Cove where you will be able to snorkel and swim in crystal, clear water.  Enjoy a lovely lunch at midday and take some free time to relax in the sand.  By taking the speedboat, as opposed to the ferry, you’ll spend less time in travel and have more time to explore.  http://www.viator.com/tours/Phuket/Phuket-to-Phi-Phi-Islands-by-Speedboat/d349-3685HKT20C


Posted on April 19, 2015 .

Explore Thailand: Pai

where to stay:

Pai Village Boutique Resort and Farm: Relax to the max in this quaint, exotic resort-style stay in bamboo cottages at the “village farm”.  Located just 5 minutes outside of Pai, the resort offers guests a scenic stay and the chance to get lost in the greenery of Pai.  Relax with a good book in a hammock, bike through the forest, or enjoy a traditional Thai massage.  While all the luxurious amenities may have already got you hooked, the Pai Village Resort is dedicated to a greater cause...the community.  The resort wants to keep Pai green by limiting technology at the resort and composting much of their waste.  It gets even better, the resort uses a portion of their proceeds to rebuild local schools in Pai.  Bungalow pricing  begin at $27 USD/night.  http://www.paivillage.com/index.html

Pai Circus Hostel:  Yes, it is what you think it is.  A circus school and a hostel, all bundled into one in the town of Pai.  A mecca for backpackers and sociable travelers, you are sure to meet an array of interesting people from all across the globe.  For the price of only $19, you can learn to juggle, slackline, unicycle, stilt walk, and juggle with fire.  No experience necessary! Such a unique way to spend your time in Pai.  Accommodations include 12 and 4 person dorms, as well as private bungalows for those desiring a bit more privacy.  Prices being at $6 USD/night per person.  http://paicircusschool.com/

Read more about our friend Caroline’s stay at the Pai Circus School at http://liveworldly.squarespace.com/interact

where to eat:

Om Garden Cafe: Seat yourself on the garden patio for a delicious breakfast in a peaceful atmosphere.  Food made with love, good portions, and friendly staff at this little place.  Om Garden offers vegan and vegetarian options for those of you travelers with dietary restrictions.  Dishes range from a Mediterranean hummus plate to fresh carrot cake.  Owner and chef Anon not only cooks up some amazing food, but offers Reiki (a form of alternative medicine) sessions at his restaurant.  This place is a hidden gem, if you can find it! Located at 60/1 Wiang Tai, Amphoe Pai.

Pai Siam Bistro: An eclectic mix of Thai, Italian, and Western food- this bistro is a place you shouldn’t miss while in Pai.  The fun decor and hanging lanterns, as well as friendly staff will keep you coming back daily while you’re in Pai.  We recommend you order the massaman (a type of curry), as it’s said to be the best in all of Thailand here.  

Posted on April 12, 2015 .

Explore Thailand: Chiang Mai

Where to stay:

The Chai Lai Orchid: Get the ultimate experience during your stay in a cozy bungalow at an elephant camp, just one hour outside of Chiang Mai.  Enjoy a breakfast of fresh fruits while watching the elephants stroll by your bungalow each morning.  Spending the afternoon napping in a hammock, rafting down the river, or giving an elephant a bath.  Choose between bungalows that accommodate 2 to 5 people at about $50 USD/night.  http://chailaiorchid.com/ Escape into the jungle and experience the harmony of nature.

Ping Nakara Boutique Hotel: Step back into the exotic, exquisite colonial era of Thailand when booking a room at the Ping Nakara.  The attention to detail in each of the 19 guest houses will wow you, decorated in Thai silks and colors.  Treat yourself to the spa during your stay.  Rooms begin at $140USD/night http://www.pingnakara.com/

Where to eat:

Kalapela: One worry many American’s may have while traveling the globe is how and where they are going to get their Sunday brunch (it’s a must for most of us!).  While walking around the busy streets of Chiang Mai, you need not look further than Kalapela.  A quaint wine bar and cafe known for having some of the best tea in all of Southeast Asia, this place receives rave reviews from travellers and for a good reason.  Not only do they have a great selection of French wines and the Oasis Vert iced tea, Kalapela has some of the friendliest staff you will ever meet.  You’ll be greeted by the smiliest owners from Japan who won’t hesitate to answer any of your questions about the food.  We recommend trying out the Earl Grey creme brulee. So delish!


Cooking Love:  After eating a lot of the delicious Thai food that Chiang Mai offers on the streets, you may find yourself needing a healthier option (which can be hard to find while on the road).  This little, open-air restaurant located in the Old City is quite small and fills up quickly, so give yourselves time to wait for a table.  Slip off your shoes and enter this family-run restaurant serving fresh, homemade curries and smoothies to sooth your belly.  We recommend going for the mango curry and it’s only 3 bucks!  http://www.chiangmaifoodcritic.com/restaurant/cooking-love/


Posted on April 6, 2015 .

Explore Thailand: Bangkok

where to stay:

Phranakorn Nornlen Hotel: You may find yourself completely enthralled and in love with this quirky, peaceful guesthouse located in the center of old Bangkok City. PN is well known in Bangkok for its eclectic, artistic decor and welcoming staff that seeks to please all who come into their doors.  Some may mistake this place for heaven on earth with handmade fabrics and green gardens, which is a perfect place to return to after a long day on the streets of Bangkok.  Homemade, vegetarian meals and family friendly as well.  Rooms start at $37 USD/night for a double.  They are a small, family-run place so booking is best done at their website http://www.phranakorn-nornlen.com/new/home.html

Baan Chantra B&B: A place for those backpackers who like to stay right with the local community, but also like to have access to their modern commodities.  A small place of only four rooms that range from basic to more deluxe, Baan Chantra’s owner Kulthida will warmly greet you upon arrival and assist you with planning your time in the city.  Centrally located near many of the popular tourist attractions and close to the famous Khao San Road.  Enjoy a lovely breakfast with Kulthida as she tells you stories of growing up in her grandmother’s home, the present day Baan Chantra B&B.  Rooms start at $60USD/night for a double room.  http://www.baanchantra.com/

where to eat:

Street Food on Sukhumvit Soi 38: Take the sky train to Thong Lo Station and the market is located just next door.  The street food at this market is honestly to die for if you’re in the mood for some traditional Thai food with pad thai, satay, barbeque spears wit peanut butter, fried rice, curry, and mango sticky rice.  Fresh food made right in front of you, menus in English, and super cheap.  Eat with locals and enjoy your food while watching the bustling city streets.  Open from 6p.m. until early morning.  

Thip Samai: If you’re look to try the best pad thai in all of Bangkok, then look no further than this adorable little restaurant.  You will see pad thai being sold everywhere you go, literally everywhere.  But what makes Thip Samai’s the best of them all?  Well if you can choose between one of the six types they offer, the pad thai is cooked to perfection and served with all the right stuff- crisp bean sprouts, chili sugar peanuts, and chili vinegar.  It’s a busy restaurant with a quick turnaround time. But at $2.50 USD a portion, how could you pass this place up?

What to see:

Bangkok Train Market (Rot Fai Market): An antiquer’s dream, this open air market sells the bizarre, unique, and eclectic of goods.  A long corridor of stalls selling replicas of guns, old bicycles, antique vinyls, and vintage handbags.  And plenty of restaurants and food stand nearby, as you will certainly build up an appetite while shopping.  This is definitely the place you will find the hip and hipsters alike in Bangkok.  Located about a 5 minute walk from Seacon Square and a 30 minute taxi ride from the city center.  

Posted on March 29, 2015 .