Travel Diary | Thailand, pt. 1 (Chiang Mai)

reading time: 4 min

I've been travelling again. It feels like it was only yesterday that we went on our 3-week trip to South Africa, but me and my boyfriend already went to another continent in the meantime: Asia. To be more precise: Thailand. And yes, there's elephants!! :)

FYI: I've decided to split up the photo diary into three parts, corresponding with our three stops (Chiang Mai, Koh Phangan and Bangkok), so the other two parts will be posted over the next two weeks.

When travelling to Thailand (or any other hot country), your PACKING LIST should include:

- first aid kit
- mosquito repellent
- mosquito net
- vaccination record & foreign health insurance
- scarf (protection against wind and sun - also great for the AC on the air plane or to cover your shoulders/knees in the temples)
- sunglasses
- sun hat
- sun blocker
- LIGHT clothes (but make sure to have some that are over knee length and some that cover your shoulders to enable you to enter the Buddhist temples)
- disinfectant
- cross body bag
- drug store products such as tampons, sun blocker etc.
- flip flops (for walking around & for the bathrooms)
- sturdy shoes (only if you're planning on going on rainforest hikes)
- swimwear
- knife and spoon
- water bottles (the tap water is usually not clean enough to drink)
- an app or something to convert the currency
- an app like "here" to help you orientate yourself in the often unnamed streets

To be honest, the luggage for this trip was probably the lightest luggage i've ever had for a vacation of that length! I only packed like 4 dresses, 1 skirt, 2 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of harem pants, 4 tops, 1 bikini and some underwear, and it was more than enough! I hand-washed my underwear every couple of days, and it dried super fast due to the heat.


- Temples -

By the way, the hostel we stayed in was the Diva Guesthouse, which is located "within the square" where most of the action is, surrounded by several shops, laundries, restaurants, minimarts, pubs, guesthouses and boutique hotels. Unfortunately i forgot to take a picture of our room, but it's such a cool, clean, comfy, and tastefully designed hostel! We had the Double Bed Private Ensuite, and it was like 3 or 4 bucks per night!! Incredible. And even though the bathrooms in Asian hostels always... take some getting used to, i immediately felt comfortable in our accommodation.

And the staff was just wonderful. Super helpful, open and friendly, and with very good English speaking skills. The only thing that bothered me was the heat at night, but it was our own fault because we got a room with a fan instead of air con because we both get a sour throat easily from the AC. But in the end i regretted not getting a room with AC because it was between 35 and 40°C most days...

When one vegan meets another... during our trip to Chiang Mai, my boyfriend and I visited the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, an eco-tourism project located approximately 60km from the city of Chiang Mai, that was freshly founded in 2014. Apparently it is a joint initiative between Chiang Mai locals and members of the Karen hill-tribes (the "shirt" we were wearing during our day-long stay there were a traditional garment of the Karen). Initially we wanted to go to the Elephant Nature Park which has been praised on many web pages - even on Wikipedia - for being one of the most animal friendly elephant parks in that area. Buuut it was all booked out, so we decided to give the Elephant Jungle a try, which is home to almost twenty formerly mistreated elephants, who are now free to enjoy their lives. 

There elephants are not ridden, poached, overworked, abused mistreated for the sake of tourists' entertainment, and are instead treated with care, love, and respect. We fed, stroked, walked, mud spa-d and bathed our grey buddies :) Our guide, Robert, was a local, he radiated such positive energy, and you can tell that they truly care about the animals there. It's also nice to know that this project also provides many Karen people with employment, education, and financial support.

Oh, and the - mostly vegan - lunch included in the price was also really nice!! ;)

- Food Market -

All in all, i fell in love with Chiang Mai. 

It was extremely hot and sweaty - almost unbearably hot -, and the one day we rented bikes and rode outside the city square and kind of into the outer regions of Chiang Mai was super exhausting because of all the traffic, BUT i absolutely enjoyed it and if i return to Thailand some day, i will definitely go to Chiang Mai again! And maybe next time i'll be there for the vegan Thai Fruit Festival, who knows... speaking of vegan food...

Great places to eat vegan in Chiang Mai:

- any place that serves sticky rice 

- Taste From Heaven (vegan brownie!, sticky rice with mango, green curry in a coconut, fried rice in a pineapple, vegan ice cream...)

- Bodhi Tree (curries, breakfast...)

- Juicy4U (juices, veggie burger...)

- Ice Love You (an immense variety of vegan ice creams! and super cool nerdy décor)

I had mint choc, black bean, banoffee, lemon & mango ice cream ! Mango was a bit boring, but all the others were great. I think mint choc (the blue one) was my favorite.

- also: Aum Vegetarian, May Kaidee's, Free Bird Café, Imm Aim, Olé, The Quarry, Anchan, Happy Green, Peppermint Guesthouse (vegan buffet every night at 6:30 pm), Food 4 Thought...


... click here for PART 2: Koh Phangan!


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