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Thailand: Thrills & Tranquility

Thailand is a place of multiple destinations and diverse dreams. Some travelers find themselves in this country because they want to relax on the beach and admire the famous floating limestone cliffs; others dream of adventure through rock climbing and elephant watching. And the most audacious want to party all night in Bangkok…The Hangover II style. Whatever the reason for travelling to Thailand, you’re in for a treat of a lifetime in this magnificent country.

Thailand has many notable cities, all worthy of visiting, but the place where you’ll want to start your journey is Amphawa. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is definitely the main market in Thailand but opt instead for Amphawa Floating Market and you’ll find a more laid-back experience. This market is not as well-known as Damnoen, so you’ll have a wider variety of items to choose from when you start shopping due to a smaller number of tourists in the area. Floating markets are traditional in Thailand and have been around for centuries as a way of bargaining and trading for goods. Delicious Thai food is bountiful here, as well as very cool souvenirs, art and sweet treats. Rent a boat for an hour or two and be sure to cruise slowly; colorful fruits and tempting food will invite you from both sides!

Ditch the boat and take a one-hour bus or taxi ride to Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. This is where your second adventure will begin. Start off feeling like royalty as you visit The Grand Palace. Deemed the “number one must-see sight” in the country, it was built years ago in 1782 and housed the Thai King, the Royal Court, and the administrative seat of government for 150 years. Although no one in the royal family lives there anymore, the palace complex is still used for events and ceremonial happenings.

Nighttime is when Bangkok is at its peak, and by now the sun has set. Follow an unmistakable golden glow to discover Wat Arun. This temple is different from the rest around the country due to its intricate design and riverside location. At night, the temple lights up and appears to be made out of gold! Two giant statues representing mythical creatures stand on either side of the entrance, and locals say they’re there to guard the temple from any evildoing.

After walking around two cities, you’ve certainly worked up an appetite. Chow down on some unbelievable street food in Chinatown, or as locals call it: Yaowarat. Street food is abundant in Thailand, and in Chinatown, there’s a great mix between Chinese dishes and Thai favorites. Barbecued seafood is common in this district as well as Pad Thai, satay, dim sum, and various fruit desserts. Don’t only order at one spot; you can easily try tons of amazing foods as you hop from food stand to food stand! It’s considered Bangkok’s street food center, so arm yourself with a fork and knife and dive in!

To continue your night in Bangkok, it’s imperative that you enjoy some of the fantastic nightlife that its famous for. Treat yourself to entertainment like you’ve never experienced at Sing Sing Theater. Part bar, part club and part venue, this space will have you engaged all night long. Sing Sing is split into two bars, separated only by a central dance floor which doubles as a stage on performance nights. The music is always loud and energetic, aiming to keep the crowd moving. Dance performances often incorporate burlesque routines, but other times they have eccentric ones that include girls in gas masks. No matter how many drinks you have, Sing Sing promises to be unforgettable.

Bangkok has treated you well so far, but sleep is beckoning. Check into a perfect getaway amidst the busy streets by staying at The Siam. Their most famous suite took a century-old traditional Thai teak house and reimagined it as an opulent pool villa. Its named Connie’s Cottage and with your own personal pool and open terrace, it’s hard to resist. Not to mention that each stay at The Siam includes breakfast in the restaurant, full butler service, a mini bar with complimentary water and snacks, your personal choice of newspapers and magazines, fresh flowers and fruit, and Siam bathrobes and slippers to add to the comfort of your stay. thesiamhotel.com

Following a pleasant night’s sleep, head to Mo Chit bus station where buses leave every half hour. Hop on the next available one going to Khao Yai National Park for a calming day in nature. Established as Thailand’s first national park in 1962, it covers an immense amount of land with rain forests, mountains, lakes and grasslands about. The park is home to an incredible amount of wildlife including bears, elephants, otters, monkeys, and more. The park is stunning and at times surreal, with waterfalls straight out of a movie, watchtowers, and even a bat cave that houses some one million wrinkled-lipped bats! thainationalparks.com

After exploring the jungles and mountains of Khao Yai, you’ll end up in Bangkok once more for another enjoyable night. But first, dinner, as a day in nature brings a grumbling tummy along with it. If it’s true Thai food you’re looking for, follow mouthwatering scents to Tealicious. This eatery provides a cute, homey ambiance that complements the real reason why you’re here: the food. This restaurant features some of the most authentic Thai food around, giving you a true insider’s look into how locals eat. If you’re not sure what to order, the Gaeng Phed Ped Yang appears to be a favorite here. It consists of red curry with duck, pineapple, cherry tomatoes, coconut milk, lychees and sweet Thai basil; proposing a duo between spicy and sweet. When in Thailand, eat Thai! If the spicy flavors of Tealicious left you craving something sugary, Boonsap Thai Desserts will satisfy that sweet tooth. Many tourists stop by this area while on food tours led by locals, and boy, do the locals know their stuff! This small little family-owned shop serves the best, mouth-watering mango sticky rice. It’s served with coconut milk and is one of the most popular dessert items in Thailand.

Bangkok never runs out of activities when the sun sets, and for your second night there’s lots to choose from. Partake in a night of bar hopping as you explore the city’s active bar scene. Keep the traditional Thai vibe going with Tep Bar. This bar is credited with bringing Thai culture to the bar scene, with cocktails inspired by Thai dishes and traditions. Take the Bangfai for example, which consists of a glass of beer and a shot of Ya Dong. Ya Dong is a liquor that is infused with medicinal herbs and is said to cure its recipients of bodily ails. Take a sip and try it for yourself!

Next, take the opportunity to have a drink at one of the highest open-air bars in the world. On the 63rd floor of the Dome at State Tower, Skybar awaits. This bar is famous for more than one reason. Besides holding the title as one of the highest bars in the world, this bar was also featured in the movie The Hangover II, and is home to some of the coolest alcohol creations. If it’s a hot night make sure to order a Poptail, a refreshing mix of a cocktail and a popsicle. Or if you’re feeling up to no good, match the mischief of the movie by ordering a Hangovertini. Between the views and the drinks, how could you go wrong?

Follow your night out drinking with a morning rejuvenation session at the Opium Spa in The Siam. Once you have a cup of Thai coffee and emerge from the spa, you’ll be refreshed and ready to go. Today, your environment will change dramatically, as you travel south to the land of turquoise beaches and tall limestone cliffs. Arrive at the Krabi province in the early morning on Railay Beach where you’ll find a peaceful and alluring paradise. Cut off from the mainland, this island is only accessible by boat. Once you get there, you won’t ever want to leave. The limestone cliffs, clear waters, secret caves, and lagoon hidden inside the cliffs all welcome a state of serenity. Despite the still views, this beach is actually the best place to participate in exciting activities. Railay is the most well-known island for rock climbing, with experts available at any time to instruct you on how to scale them professionally. Additional entertainment is never-ending with sunset cruises, sea kayaking, white water rafting, ATV jungle cruises and more!

When the sun has worn you out and you’re ready to decompress, head to the impressive and immaculate Rayayadee Resort. This exceptional resort is right in between Railay Beach and Phranang Beach, all a part of the Krabi province. The resort is nestled amongst fine jungle trees, providing an attractive view of the limestone cliffs from whatever room you choose. Don’t miss out on booking the pool pavilion. This dreamy area is set in a “lushly-landscaped tropical garden” that provides the utmost luxury with a private pool, a Jacuzzi, sun lounges, and an open terrace perfect for barbecuing. And as for restaurants, The Grotto is a must-dine. It sits comfortably under an ancient limestone cliff right on Phranang Beach, making for an elegant and romantic evening. A perfect way to end a perfect day. rayavadee.com

From the beaches to the mountains to the bustling, bright city, Thailand is a trip to hold close to your heart. This country will have you daydreaming back home about all of the sights you saw and all of the food you ate. It provides something for everyone; one trip just isn’t enough to cover all of its beauty. Until next time Thailand, there’s still lots to explore!

By Aaliyah Pasols