Seven weeks in Thailand gave us plenty of stories and pictures to fill an entire book with. Well, it seems everyone and their aunt’s godmother’s niece have written about Thailand. So instead, we’ve put together the things that we found weren’t common knowledge among the tourist crowd yet were some of our favourite parts of being in Thailand.
1. Cha Nom Yen
If you’ve never heard of Thai Iced Tea, you are missing out! A mixture of freshly brewed red tea, condensed milk, sugar and aromatic spices, it is an amazing cold treat that will get you wanting bucketfuls (and some places make it that big). We suggest getting it from the street stalls, identifiable by many clear jars of drink powders. Best when it’s made fresh in front of you, as opposed to premade & ready to pour. Cost: 15 to 60 THB, depending on area and vendor.
2. Mango Sticky Rice
Yes, another sweet treat on our list, but really, what’s not to like about anything mango? When done right, juicy sliced mango is served with warm sticky rice sweetened with condensed milk and topped with toasted mung beans or sesame seeds, the latter being our favourite part since it adds a well-needed crunch to each bite. Cost: 50 to 150 THB.
A place we loved so much, we made an entire page dedicated to it – read about it here! The town is tiny and in the far northeast, but the area is chock full of waterfalls, refreshingly unique temples, the Emerald Triangle, diverse foods, cheap prices the tourists are a rarity. Best to tackle with a scooter or through a hired driver to get to the waterfalls and the Emerald Triangle (the junction of Laos, Cambodia & Thailand) 100 to 140km outside of town. To get to Ubon, it could be an 8.5 hour bus but for only 200 THB more, you can score yourself a 1 hour flight through Lion Air or Air Asia out of Bangkok.
Rather than big intracity buses, these pickup trucks retrofitted to serve as buses are usually the main public transportation around town for locals and budget-conscious tourists. Costing a fraction of a taxi, they may not have A/C but the breeze runs free. Keep in mind they can get crowded since the drivers love to cram in as many people as they can. For some extra breathing space, you can also choose to hang out the back step – but hold on tight, you’re in for a ride!
5. Koh Lanta
After the madness of Koh Phi Phi and Phuket, the peace and relaxation of Koh Lanta made it our favourite Thai island. The chilled vibe, absolutely epic sunsets and spread out lodging gave us the time we wanted to just unwind.
6. Two Wheels for even Cheaper
If you can steel your nerves, one of the most economical ways of getting around Southeast Asia are mopeds. Renting motorcycles or scooters are cheap as it is, but we can help you get them for even cheaper. Strategy #1 is to book by the week or even the month rather than day-to-day. Renting by the week can knock the price down by a day or two, while a monthly rental can cut the daily cost in half. Weekly rentals seem to only be available in low season, however. Strategy #2 to save a Baht or two is to ask shops if they have a semi-automatic transmission motorcycle available. They’re usually 25% cheaper than fully automatic mopeds and add more to the riding experience than a no-brainer automatic. And it only takes a few minutes to master if you at the very least have experience driving a manual transmission car.
7. Eat like a Local.
The best way to fall in love with a country is through your stomach – we swear by it! Just about everywhere in Thailand, you’ll find food stalls, food markets and local eateries that will not only will get you truly authentic Thai food. Yeah, everyone knows eating local will keep both you and your wallet fat and happy, but on top of that, we often found that the food at the tourist-targeted restaurants to be dumbed-down versions of the local fare, both in spices and ingredients used.
Thai alcohol. Slushie. And mix! Not all 7-11s have slushie machines but if you’re lucky enough to find one, put this creation of ours to the test and you won’t regret it (well, your head might the next morning)! We alternated layers of Coke slush, strawberry Fanta slush and the local inexpensive liquor of blended whisky – known as Hong Thong or Sang Som – and created a tangy, icy masterpiece! The final touch was our talented photographer friend Nina Staer Nathan unknowingly coining it “slurshie” and we were hooked! The liquor is sold behind the counter and happens to mix well with plenty of other drinks. including cha nom yen, coincidentally.
Kayak under cliffs! Krabi is home to some epic limestone cliffs, stuff that postcards and travel vids are made of. If you’re around the Krabi areas of Ao Nang, Tonsai or Railey, hit up the beach to rent a kayak from one of the many eager vendors. Some will even throw in a dry bag to keep your stuff dry (and afloat, if you tip over like we did!). Take your time and paddle right up, between and under the cliffs and for some fantastic pics. Some of them have hidden caves and even climbing ropes to take advantage of. Bring your GoPro!
10. Booking buses online
We didn’t expect to be able to do this but sure enough, Green Bus is one of the bus companies that makes booking bus tickets online convenient and efficient. Book online and pay with a credit card or with cash at the closest 7-11, then pick up your tickets at the bus terminal before your departure. Besides peace of mind, you get the added bonus of being able to choose your own seat.