When you set off to travel it can be very easy to underestimate the time it will take you to get about from place to place and the desire to truly see each place you hoped to visit on your very careful planned, or haphazard, itinerary often escapes you. Making sure you actually get a taste for a country, city or town when your schedule only allows you a few days in each place can be a challenge, and sadly more often than not the hours tick by while you, a jetlagged weary mess, sit held up in a hostel lobby drinking cheap beers while your chance to explore and to wander are lost all too soon before the next 10 hour night bus rolls round.
Now don’t get me wrong, some lobby lounging with a cold one is a good time all round – you’ll meet some interesting people from all walks of life, forge friendships and laugh a lot. And while I understand a big part of travelling is the people you meet along the way, I believe it’s also important to remember there’s a big world out there. Just past those hostel doors. So whether you like to plan it or wing it, get up and get out and take those guys you met with you because the world won’t come to you my friend.
Getting out in Thailand
*Must include a sense of adventure and a GoPro
Chiang Mai is a bustling city with plenty to do, but if you’re looking for something a little off the beaten track then the Quarry is a must. This genuine hidden gem can be tricky to find, but rent a bike, ask around and then hit the road. About 40 minutes from the centre of the city this abandoned Quarry offers cool waters for relaxing swims and cliff jumps to satisfy even the most daring amongst you. Trust me if you can find it, it will be worth the ride! On your way back follow the signs for ‘café and view’ and order a well-deserved iced drink while over looking the whole of the Chiang Mai valley.
After a day of cliff jumping you would’ve worked up an appetite, so why not head to the night market to sample some street food and listen to some live music. People will tell you to head to North Gate Jazz Bar but save yourself the walk and instead head upstairs to Boys Blues Bar, right in the centre of the market. Pull up a stall, order a Chang and let the blues band blow your mind.
This laid-back hippie town of with its slower pace is a welcome retreat after the city. Wander the cobbled streets, nip in and out of vintage clothing shops and satisfy your cravings with some of the best street food in Thailand. The burrito is an absolute must! But get there early to avoid disappointment. For the best breakfast in town order eggs benedict and an iced tea from Lemon Thyme Café and sit and watch the sleepy town of Pai go about its day.
After all of that relaxing and eating it’s good to get your blood pumping so jump on a bike and head to Pai Canyon. You will need to be fit for this trek and have a good stomach for heights, but even if some free climbing isn’t your bag the sunset from up here is breathtakingly beautiful.
If you want to explore the beauty of life under the sea, whether that is by snorkelling around Shark Bay or going the whole hog and certifying for your open water Padi License, then Koh Tao is the place for you. With stunning beaches and crystal clear waters you wont be disappointed. Don’t fancy diving then take a walk, find a palm tree and plant yourself under it and do some people watching. Scattered along the beach you will see avid readers engrossed in their books, artists doodling into sketch books and maybe even me; laptop in hand, concentrating on my next travel blog – because this life don’t pay for itself.
The bigger island of Koh Phangan has more to offer than Koh Tao and that makes it the perfect place to get lost. Full of hidden beaches, coves, cascading waterfalls and stunning views points mean that adventure is at every corner. Make the most of what Koh Phangan has to offer by renting a bike and hitting the road to explore this beautiful island – hold on tight though the roads twists, turns, staggered hills and vertical drops aren’t for the fainted hearted.
By Sophie Maguire