A lifestyle expat travel blog about culture, history, Brexit, the Royal Family, travels around the world, Europe, and being British in Berlin!
We had a brilliant time in Bangkok and an awesome time in Chiang Mai.
In fact, if you’re looking for a country that offers a summer time thrill then do yourself a favour and book the next flight or train to Thailand!
And why should you do that?
Thailand is a great destination and it isn’t all beaches. In fact, besides, the raw city life of Bangkok, the delicious food of Chiang Mai, and the adventure of riding an elephant, Thailand is so much more.
WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO IN THAILAND BESIDES THE LOVELY BEACHES?
We actually wanted to go to Pai, but The Music Producer wasn’t feeling well, and Pai was much further than I expected. A full days’ drive at least. Ah well, another reason to come back and take a hiking visit to Pai and Rai LOL! So we decided to book a car and driver, and spend the day at the Doi Inthanon National Park.
What is the Doi Inthanon National Park?
The Doi Inthanon National Park is a 1,005-square km park that encompasses Thailand’s highest mountain peak and rises to 2,565 metres above sea level. The park is rich in flora and fauna and is a source of magnificent bird life and “small” creatures.
A private driver is recommended as the main attractions are spread over a distance of 40 kilometers and also because we went outside peak season. Our driver came to collect us from Tanita House at about 09:00 and was extremely punctual. In fact, I’m proud to say that on ALL the trips and places that we went, the drivers were not only punctual, but early! Perhaps they knew that we were of the German variety LOL!
The National Park was about an hour away and it was rather nice to see other parts of Chiang Mai and gently fall asleep, as we drove through the sunny wind, and rain.
Yes, it began to rain!
No surprise really. After all, we were visiting Thailand in the monsoon season.
In fact, come to think of it, I’ve only ever been to Asia either slightly before monsoon or slightly after it. As such, I’m generally in Asia between the months of August and November. Mid-season I’d say. Not too hot and not too wet but with sprinklings of hot showers of humidity. Great for your clothes but not always comfortable if you come from Northern Europe, as we do.
In Europe, and I’m including Mediterranean Europe too, we hardly use air conditioning. If you’re from England like I am, well there’s no sun anyway and if you’re from Italy or Spain, the houses are made in such a way, that the inside walls are enormously cool. Think Morocco. No air-conditioning there!
As such, the constant change of in and out, and heat and cold, don’t make for a happy mix. When I went to Vietnam in 2007, I became ill for a month ‘cos of the blasting air-conditioning on my Russian Aeroflot flight!
The Music Producer had the same. With an influx of different temperatures, the fever and head-aches began to afflict him and he was soon spending most nights in a sweaty feverish mess. Thank goodness, we were in the safe arms of Tanita House and locally made ginger, lemon tea!
Back to the National Park.
The cost of our driver didn’t include the entrance fee to go into the National Park, so for adults we paid 200 Baht or $6.00 each and for children we paid 100 Baht or $3.00. Locals or expat locals went in for free, which I thought was acceptable! Our driver was a lovely chap and asked us if he could bring his girlfriend along. We said yes and she came along chatting away! He directed us as to where we should go and as it began to rain, they both ran after us with “Tweety Bird” and “Angry Bird” umbrellas. Even though we were already equipped with our raincoats, the umbrellas came in handy as the rain began to pelt down quite heavily.
Rain makes for great photos though and we took rather a few as we danced in the natural showery mist LOL!
You go down some stairs into the forest which is full of twisty branches and deep green fauna. You follow the nature trail and try not to get lost. There were quite a few families from the Far East and the Middle East so we all took photographs of each other. The trail then leads you to the top again where there’s a few local shops. By this time we were wet and cold, so we had some local Thai pot noodles which they supplied with hot water and a spoon. Yummy but unsurprisingly, spicy LOL! They were 20-25 Baht or 0.60/ 0.77 cents each.
We then went further into the National Park and into the swamp and river area. After that, there is an Ang Ka Nature Trail and a Memorial Site. We went to both. Our driver came running to collect us again as we went further up into the peak.
We went up to “The Highest Point in Thailand” which consists of the ruins of an ancient temple, the ashes of King Inthawichayanon (after whom Doi Inthanon is named), and two monumental stupas erected in honour of the king and queen. The temple can be reached by climbing up all the stairs or going up the escalator, but there was so much wind and rain up there that we couldn’t stick around. We had a quick peek at the Buddha and tried to carefully get back down again without slipping on the steps!
Walking up the stairs makes you hungry so we drove on again until we came to a local market. The only food they had were in wrapped plastic bags, so we went to a man selling what I thought was omelette and on eating, found was actually a very plain pancake!
After our snack, we were taken to the Hmong and Karen hilltribe villages where they showed us natural Somsak coffee bushes with green coffee beans, and how they make coffee using a very heavy grinder which I could hardly turn! Even The Music Producer had a little difficulty and he’s usually quite strong!
The hilltribe villagers were friendly and kept making jokes at our expense. There was also coffee to be drunk, but I don’t drink coffee and sadly, I cannot appreciate the flavours, as coffee tastes and smells like poo to me!
There were only three other tourists there but still I felt rather awkward, and wondered whether it was OK to walk around this part of the park. So I asked.
The hilltribe villagers nodded and smiled and waved us on. We were careful to only stay on the path and not intrude too much. I saw new buildings besides the old, and lines of washing filled with jeans and a half-naked guy hanging on the edge of a flat half-made roof! I also observed that you could do a homestay in some of the huts for a few days, if you so wished.
Further on, into the hills was another cafe where there were abandoned spinning wheels. As this wasn’t the tourist season, we were quite happy to look at the mountain views and just chat to a few of the local guys there.
After this, we went to one of the highlights of the National Park – The Wachirathan Waterfall. Wow! They were amazing. And so worth the hike. As some as we heard the rush of water, we began to run as if something was chasing us. Goooooorgeous!
We love waterfalls. We did the same when we went to the Yosemite National Park in California.
There’s a wildness about the Wachirathan Waterfall, and a lot of spray. The fencing isn’t all that fantastic either so I had to keep a close eye on “The Tall Young Gentleman” who followed a group of 20-something boys and slipped away from me. And for a while. I couldn’t find him. Again! If you recall, the same thing happened in Scotland. It wasn’t funny then, and it certainly wasn’t funny now. Every parents’ nightmare.
Anyway, we called him on his phone and we stuck a little closer. I know that I have to let him go someday. But not today.
As you can see, some of the water is raging, so care has to be taken when climbing over the rocks and taking it all in, as one can easily slip.
We nevertheless, had a great time there. Very much recommended.
AND WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO IN THAILAND?
Well, you can go shopping!
Yes. Don’t judge me. After almost a fortnight of nature and animals and food and stuff, it was time to get to the nitty-gritty of what it’s all about.
Shopping of course!
So what are you waiting for?
Go on then.
Just do it!
You know you want to.
Go on. Get up and do stuff!
WHAT IF THE DOI INTHANON NATIONAL PARK ISN’T MY CUP OF TEA?
Keep reading my blog. There is more to come!
For more information please contact: The Doi Inthanon National Park.
This article is not sponsored and all opinions and the spicy pot noodles and plain pancake that I happily swallowed, are my very own!
I have so much to share with you so I will be returning to our adventures in Indonesia, and Qatar, in November.
I have a surprise for you. In a fortnight, will be going to France! On my first (1st) ever press trip! Yipee!
In October I will be writing about the British National Theatre LIVE production. The next production coming up at Cinestar Berlin – Original is:
A Streetcar named Desire on: 02.10.14.
Skylight on: 30.10.14.
Frankenstein – Original Cast on: 13.11.14.
Frankenstein – Reversed Cast on: 27.11.14.
I’ll be participating in An Eat-the-world food Kreuzberg walking tour on 18.10.14.
DANIEL SLOSS – Live! with very special guest Jack Woodhead – is going to take place on 21.10.14 at the Quatsch Comedy Club in Berlin.
In November, Berlin will be celebrating and marking the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.
Following a smash-hit tour of the UK and Ireland, LET IT BE will descend on Berlin with a six (6) day exclusive showing of a celebration of The Beatles from 11.11.14 – 16.11.14 at the Admirals Palast.
October is going to be a marvellous month.
Have you been to a National Park? What do you think of waterfalls and coffee beans?
See you in Berlin.
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I’m still not convinced about Thailand 😉 . I know everyone loves it, but l just kind of know l wouldn’t love it. Your posts have shifted me a bit, so that’s progress..lol! I just think if l want crowded, muggy, rainy, street food (no great sites though), l will just go home 🙂
Awww! That’s a shame kemkem and I’m still going to work on you LOL! There are loads of beautiful places to visit like temples and historical buildings of art and beauty. Especially in Chiang Mai. We went to them all, but I just can’t write about them at the mo. Berlin beckons LOL! But honestly, it’s nothing like the West. I’m not going to do a hard sell but I will be writing about Indonesia in Novemeber, perhaps you’ll like Bali instead. 🙂
Oh..I know l would love Bali! Can’t wait to read about that!!!! 🙂
That’s my girl. ‘Thought so!
It just hit me – you’re always in a coat! In like, the most tropical place on Earth!
Your vaca echoes my beach vaca in Crimea – like, what the hell is up with all this rain? at least you were prepared!
Ha! I’m British. The raincoat stays!
I see. It’s years of rain trauma…
Yep! It’s been drummed into us. Never go out without your anorak, wellies, and umbrella!
I ditched the wellies. 🙂
Oh my gosh, look at that festival!!!! And ok, monsoon season….but I do love the rain. All that food makes me want to eat lunch, and here it’s only 7:23 am!
LOL! It makes me feel hungry too let me tell ya!
I have to go pick up our visas for Thailand this afternoon from the consulate in Toronto, Canada. Keep your fingers crossed for us that everything goes off without hitch for the 6mth triple entry visas!
This might be a daft question, but with hiring a car for the national park, is it easy to do it without a driver? I really covet my alone time in nature!
It’s not a daft question at all Jessica. Please feel free to ask away. 🙂 🙂
You can definitely get into the National Park without a car and driver. In peak season. Having said that, the problem we encountered was not going in where there are public vehicles that would take people up into the park, the problem was coming back. As we went in low-season (for the park), nobody was coming out and you would either have to ask around nicely and hitch a lift, or wait until a vehicle was filled up. My husband was ill so that wasn’t an option.
Also, don’t forget that because we had our own car and driver, we could spend as much or as little time as we wanted, and that’s what we did. When we were tired or wet, we just moved on. We spent all day there and probably would have spent all evening, but it really rained rather too much so we decided to call it a day. When you go, take warm clothing with you as temperatures fall quite quickly! You can go by motorbike too. Whatever way you fancy is going to be just fine. 🙂
P.S. Good luck with the visas. 6 months! You lucky thing. You’ll have a blast!
If anyone is flying into Thailand and spending up to 30 days, visas are free! If you’re coming in by road, it’s only 15 days. Depending on nationality of course.
Victoria, you made me want to return to Thailand. In total we spent 3 months there and we really loved it mainly for the great experiences we had and the amazing people we met.
Awwww! That’s so sweet of you Franca. 🙂 I want to go back again toooooooo! ‘Spending 3 months there must have been awesome. I already did my long-term travel after university, but it was so good to be back! The last time I was in Thailand was when I went to Vietnam. Via Russia! Happy days!!!
Franca, were you and Dale vegan when you went to Thailand? I’m wondering how many mistakes with fish sauce I need to prepare myself for. 😉
Probably best to know a few words in Thai, so that you can indicate what you mean. What do you think Franca?
I’ve got the phrases for “without fish sauce” “without egg” and “without oyster sauce” written down (and jeh for vegetarian seems fairly easy enough not to bugger up ;)). I suspect with my accent/pronunciation there may be many communication mistakes.
LOL! You’re on the way to good things!
It looks like you had a really good time in Thailand! We haven’t been to this particular national park but we loved hiking near Chiang Mai and in was one of our best experiences in Thailand!
Thanks so much @hitchhikershandbook.
We did! We did! I totally agree. Chiang Mai is an excellent place for getting close to nature.
I absolutely loved Bangkok. I used to live there for some time, but unfortunately never been to Chiang Mai. I’ve heard the best Thai food is served there. I’m getting hungry now omomomomo!!
Thanks so much Agness. I know what you mean! Bangkok is just so liveable and even though I’d been to Bangkok a few times, I hadn’t been to Chiang Mai either. Living in Bangkok must have been exciting! Did you teach there?
Yep! Thai food was fabulastic!!
Would love to go there one day as the countryside looks amazing and the food looks so good!
You and your lady would love it Phil! Thailand is delightful and just so easy to travel around if it’s your first time on the Asian continent. My hubby was nervous at first, but after two days would wander around like an “expat local” raring to go. (I’m not going to say like a “local local” as just looking at his green eyes would tell you otherwise LOL!)
LOVE both places! Bangkok for the fine dining, the shopping and the shear energy of city life. and Chiangmai for the Northern style cuisine, the fresh air, the hikes, the tribes and the lovely greenery! 🙂
Thanks very much ciki. Me too! Bangkok is loooooooovely and you’ve just go to go out and sing, when you’re in Chiang Mai. It’s that earthy LOL!
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I love both places actually. Found better food in Chiang Mai and street market. By the way I do not see any post of yours in Vietnam? I come from that country so I would love to know your thoughts.
Me too Thu!
Bangkok is great for that exciting city vibe and exciting things to do & Chiang Mai is brilliant too ‘cos of it’s mountains, fresh air and nature! I love them both!
I went to Vietnam back in 2007. 12 years ago. Eek!
And I loved it! It was marvellous. I didn’t have the blog then so of course, it’s not here. I’ll be back though.
One day! 😀
p.s. The food in Chiang Mai is absolutely far superior. Here’s what I wrote about it: https://thebritishberliner.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/thai-food-is-going-to-kill-you-eat-it-or-die/
Aw too bad. I love reading what people experience in Vietnam. When you do do come back, ping me! I would love to meet up and show your family a good time.
Absolutely. I hope to visit Vietnam again very soon. My family will love it!
Thanks so much Thu! 😀