ASIA 2007 -
Thailand | Nepal | Cambodia | Malaysia

This was my 7th trip to Thailand and it remains as one of our favorite countries on planet earth. The people are friendly, the country is beautiful, the sights are exotic, the food delicious, and the prices cheap. What’s not to like. The new Suvarnabhum (Sue-wha-na-poom) airport is huge but easy to navigate and it’s easy to get a visa upon entry. If you are planning on staying near the airport be prepared to open up the wallet. There is only one airport hotel and it’s not cheap. There are no other hotels within 15 miles of the new airport. There are tons of nice affordable hotels near the old Don Muang Airport but that’s 45 minutes to an hour away and travel to the downtown hotels can be worse. This was my sister’s first time in Asia and Thailand was the first stop on our four country journey. The various parts of the country each have special qualities but this trip we will primarily travel in my favorite part of the country – the north.

In Chiang Mai we stayed at the Glare Guest House located on the banks of the Mae Nam Ping (river), within easy walking of the night bazaar, and several good restaurants. The Glare Guest House is clean, comfortable, safe, friendly, and at $17 per night per room very affordable. Try the Kow Tum Gai (chicken rice soup) for breakfast, its wonderful!

The whole time we were in northern Thailand Sopin Boonkiat was our private driver. He doesn’t have a brand new fancy car but it’s well maintained and you’ll never meet a nicer guy than Sopin. He has a quick smile, fairly good English, and he goes the extra mile to make your journey a pleasant one. His home is located next to the Glare House. You can call him advance on 08-17658660 or cell phone 01-7658660.

Sopin and my sister at the Golden Triangle

While in Chiang Mai Sopin drove us to Doi Suthep, the Puping Palace, Mae Rim Elephant Camp, the snake show, orchid farm, and the umbrella factory at Samkampang. I had planned on renting a car for the remainder of our travels in northern Thailand but it was only a tiny amount more for Sopin to travel with us and do all the driving. Besides he knew where he was going and always remained with the car to safeguard our belongings. I HIGHLY recommend Sopin!

Doi Suthep

Puping Palace

Mae Rim Elephant Camp

Mae Rim snake show

Mae Rim orchid farm
Samkampang umbrella factory

After we left Chiang Mai we headed north with a stop at Chiang Dao to visit a Thai buffalo farm. Chiang Rai reminds me of what Chiang Mai was like 15 years ago. It’s still small enough to have a certain charm about it but yet large enough to have wonderful restaurants, bazaars, shopping, and plenty of exotic wats. Mae Sai reminds me of the bar scene in one of the Star Wars movies. Located on the boarder with Myanmar (Burma) and lots of local hill tribes it can be fun to just sit and people watch. It’s also a great spot for shopping for all kinds of stuff.

We found some great buys on jade carvings and it’s a bargain hunters delight for craft items, gem stones, ornate tapestries, and all sorts of wild and interesting stuff. The Golden Triangle is just a short drive away and an extension of this same cornucopia of people, goods, and interesting sights. We caught a long-tail boat on the Mae Khong River that took us to Chiang Saen with a short stopover in Laos. The hill tribes, eye-catching wats, mountainous terrain, enormous hillside Buddha statues, and pleasant temperatures make the north a fabulous area to explore.

We then headed south through Phayao, Lampang, Phrae, Tak, and finally to Phitsanulok. With stops along the way at various ancient sights including Somdei Phrachao, Si Satchanalai, Sukhothai, and Wat Phra Sriratana Mahathai. As we drove south into the Thailand’s mid section the hills changed to flat plains and warmer temperatures.

From Phitsanulok we said goodbye to Sopin and flew back to Bangkok to continue our adventure. We visited the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and the western coast of Malaysia before returning to Thailand for the final leg of or journey.

While Bangkok is not my favorite part of Thailand it has many things that are not to be missed and holymoly some parts of the city are downright bizarre with sights no other city in the world. We bypassed the bizarre and instead revisited some our favorite places in and near Bangkok. The Grand Palace is absolutely a “must see” it takes the word exotic to a whole new level. It is breathe taking and magnificent.
Wat Po and Wat Arun are both in close proximity to the place and each have their own wow factors. We made day trips to the Saduak Floating market (one of our favorite places in Thailand) and to Ayutthaya an ancient capital of Siam. There we found a teak carving that looks great over our fireplace. At the time we struggled with how to get it home without spending an arm and a leg on shipping but in the end we just wrapped it real good with lots of bubble wrap and hand carried it to the plane. Then EVA Airline hand carried it from there and it arrived safe and undamaged to our final destination. The teak carving was the cherry on top of a wonderful 4 country nearly 5 week trip.

Grand Palace, Wat Po and Wat Arun

Saduak Floating Market



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Last Revised: December 15, 2007