Travel Tuesday: Thailand, the Land of Smiles

We often dream of Paradise when stuck in the dead of winter. White sand beaches, crystal clear ocean, flora and fauna all around and a fresh coconut in hand. Thailand is one such paradise worth the jet lag. My friends and I spent the last half of December, 2018 traveling the country. 14 hours from NYC to Seoul and another 6 from there to Bangkok and finally…you can have that coconut.

Bangkok

We stayed in Bangkok the first few days to tour the many temples, street markets and take a day trip to the ancient and crumbling city of Ayutthaya. We shopped and ate our way through the city and even had an eight course dinner at the world renowned restaurant Bo.Lan.

Chiang Mai

From Bangkok we flew to the northern town of Chiang Mai. We stayed in an open air inn made of beautiful teak wood, surrounded by tropical garden and set in the heart of the quaint little city. We fed and walked with 87 Asian Elephants at the Elephant Nature Park and took a cooking class at Zabb E Lee cooking school complete with a trip to the market to learn about the ingredients and do some shopping.

Phuket

From Chiang Mai, we hopped aboard another quick flight down to Phuket, just north of the equator where we explored as many beaches as we could! The water is clear, warm and bright turquoise. It’s the best swimming you can find anywhere, I assure you. Taking a day trip to Old Phuket Town, we felt transported back to the American South…sort of. It had a Charlestonesque or New Orleansian feel about the architecture. Bright colors everywhere with plenty of little shops and restaurants to stop in. We finished the day with dinner at a French/Thai fusion restaurant and the next morning hopped a ferry across Phang Nga Bay to…

Krabi

The province of Krabi, where we crashed by our private pool under palm trees of a variety I’ve never seen before, listening to the monkeys in the jungle a few miles away. A speedboat tour of the Phi Phi Islands was next! It took one hour to reach them by boat. We anchored, swam, snorkled, boarded; Anchored, swam, walked with the monkeys on the beach, snorkled, boarded. Stopped for lunch and shops, boarded, anchored, snorkled and swam…until it was time to head back to Ao Nang Beach in Krabi and watch the sunset.

Back to Bangkok

Our last stay was an incredible Villa at Baan Davis of the Davis Hotel in Bangkok. We saw a different part of the city than where we stayed at the start of the trip. Ate lots of food and found ourselves in some odd situations trying to fill our last few hours in Thailand. We took a Tuk Tuk to Lumpini Park where we discovered paddle boats, which we did, and found ourselves joining in on an aerobics workout with about 100 other people in the street. Very unexpected…which went right along with Thailand itself. Throughout the trip we kept finding ourselves saying, “You never know what you’re gonna get in Thailand…” The people, places and experiences of Thailand are so unique, I think everyone should visit if given the chance!

One big draw for foreign tourists to Thailand is that the dollar goes far. Everything is much less expensive than in the US from meals to goods and services to accommodations is shockingly cheap. In Phuket and Krabi, we stayed in large, gated homes with beautiful pools and gardens that would have been out of our price range in the States. Same with many of the meals we had at upscale restaurants.

Expats in Thailand?

Just to get a rough idea of how much buying a home in Thailand would cost, I did a quick search for Bangkok and compared it to prices in NY & LA. For example, a high-end, one bedroom condo built in 2015 with pool, fitness center, parking space and 24 hour building security in downtown Bangkok will cost around $80,000 USD. Put that same condo in downtown LA, Miami or NYC and how much will you pay? $500,000 to well over $1,000,000. Now, that said, you will spend lots of time and energy on visits to immigration, paperwork, dealing with foreign policy and regulations, not to mention learning and navigating a new culture and language. But wouldn’t you have an incredible story to tell?

Thank you for traveling with me!

~Jessie