As I mentioned in my previous post, Thailand was the very first trip that I had successfully planned on my own. There were a few hiccups here and there but we managed. When you travel with your friends, they always have your back in anything. So, are you ready to read my story? Let’s start!
The Arrival (24/12/2016 – 25/12/2016)
We were flying with AirAsia, taking the night flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok on the 24th of December 2016. Burger King was our choice of place to sleep at the airport and it was actually my first time doing it. If you are planning to do the same as me, I would suggest you to prepare your sleeping bag if you want to sleep comfortably at the airport.
The driver promised to pick us up at 7.00 a.m the next day (25/12/2016), so we had 5 hours of sleeping time before he arrived.
In the morning, when the shops are opened, we bought the local Simcard for 300 baht (RM40) which gives me 8 days internet plan. I bought an AIS telco but some of my friends bought TRUE. There were no huge differences in terms of pricing, it’s really up to you to choose because both have the same coverage. BUT if you are going outside Bangkok city, I would recommend you to buy the AIS sim card as when I was using it, it has better coverage than TRUE. The internet was bearable when we were in rural areas for both lines.
Little that I know I booked the van on 26th instead of 25th and felt embarrassed that we scolded the driver for being late which he even came anyway (haha!Sorry Mr. Hong!). Mr. Hong does not know how to speak English very well but he did entertain us sometimes.
He came around 9.00 a.m after we convinced him that he should pick us up today. So after we settled, we started the journey to Ubon Ratchathani for 10 hours’ drive (yes! 10 hours!) with only one stop along the way for a meal. I was impressed with the driver, 10 hours’ drive with one-stop? Even we can’t do that. We slept, we play games, we tell stories, we sing, we laugh and repeat everything for that 10 hours. It was exhausting, trust me. BUT it was fun when you are traveling with your crazy friends.
Oh! That one-stop for our lunch has quite an interesting story. As we are all Muslims, we can’t simply eat anything that is not for sure halal. So, the driver brought us to this small roadside stall that he recommended as he said it was halal. So we ordered the local dishes which were steamed fish and mixed tom yum with rice and vegetable. This stall charged us for 3500 baht (RM463) for all 3 dishes for 7 people. It was super expensive and we didn’t even think that the portion they served was for 7 people. We were all shocked and felt cheated because we didn’t think it would cost that much for a ROADSIDE STALL (sigh!).
Anyway, we just need to move past that and so, we arrived at our campsite at Pha Thaem National Park at night. It was quite scary to get there due to the curve road uphill with no road lights ( I was imagining Zombie all the way, lols).
The entrance fee was about 300 baht (RM40) and this was a student price (our driver negotiated the price, yes! he was great!) and the normal price will be 450 baht (RM60) per person. At the campsite, the tents were all prepared for and it cost us 225 baht (RM30) per tent which can fit up to 4 people. You can also rent the pillow, mat, sleeping bag etc for 25 baht (RM4) each. The public toilet was quite clean surprisingly, well, as compared to public toilets in Malaysia of course.
After dinner, we went straight to bed as we would want to catch the sunrise in the morning. At first, I thought the campsite would be in the jungle and scary but instead, it was quite a nice area and safeguard by the army. Good to know right? Well, let’s proceed to the next day.
Sam Phan Bok – The 3000 Holes (26/12/2016)
We woke up at 5.00 a.m and rushed to the highest part of the national park to enjoy the sunrise. We had breakfast there, cereal to be precise while enjoying the sunrise. We wander around the national park for some pictures at the rock art (which took about 30 minutes of walking through the rocks to reach there) and the mushroom rock (just like in Cappadocia, Turkey but smaller). Our driver brought us to Soi Sawan waterfall about 20 minutes drive from the park. The waterfall would require the same entry passes as the Pha Taem National Park if you would like to enter for free. But if you lost your Pha Taem National Park ticket, you will need to pay 450 baht or 300 baht (student rate) per entry/ per person.
Afterward, we went to the famous Grand Canyon of Thailand but the locals did not call it Grand Canyon. They call it Sam Phan Bok, 3000 holes. This was something that I look forward to actually. To get to Sam Phan Bok, we took a jeep that cost 500 baht (RM67) per jeep for less than 10 minutes ride from the parking lot. Unless you like walking, you can just walk about 20 minutes but it will be VERY HOT. I drank 2 bottles of coke and 100 plus after walking around Sam Phan Bok and still need ice cream (imagine the temperature!).
Sam Phan Bok was not that very famous back then but now it has started gaining attractions from foreign tourists. You can spot a mickey mouse holes, peeking through holes for a nice picture or even just climbing here and there for the scenery. Either way, you will find this place amazing and unique on its own, making your less than 10 hours journey from Bangkok worth it. You can also tour with the small boat here but I would not suggest it as the weather was SUPER HOT.
Our driver then, drove us to a place they called Grand Canyon and we were like “What was the place we just visit then?” to each other. The locals called the blue water pools located in the village near the Sam Phan Bok, the Grand Canyon. When we arrived, the water has risen and we cannot see the unique pattern of the pools. It was described as the pattern to be like a paddy field but filled with blue water. The weird part is, how is the water turns blue? Sadly, our driver could not explain the formation of blue water, so we leave it as a mystery (lols).
We stayed the night at the campsite near Sam Phan Bok. AND I forgot to record the name of the campsite as we were exhausted. We had the campsite to ourselves and it was pretty scary. The bathroom was slightly cleaner than the previous one though. Maybe because there were fewer people camped here. The entrance fee was free and the tent cost 300 baht per tent that can sleep up to 6 people. They also provide us the sleeping bags for free. Too bad I can’t remember the name of the campsite or this will be a budget saver for you.
Khao Phra Wihan (27/12/2016)
Another sunrise to catch! As usual, we woke up at 5.00 a.m for sunrise at Khao Phra Wihan. This time the view across the river was Cambodia. We had fried rice for breakfast and Nescafe. We only spend 2 hours here as we were rushing to go to the next destination, Nakhon Ratchasima. It will take 5 hours plus drive.
Along the way, we stopped at Buriram temple that was over 1000 years old. The architecture was quite nice and the driver highly recommended us to go in and take pictures. At first, we don’t feel like going in as the place looks abandoned, but we went in anyway. Turns out we spend about an hour of our time taking pictures as the architecture inside the temple was way nicer than from the outside. Then, we had some ice cream before we proceed to our campsite.
Our next campsite was at Wang Chao district, Nakhon Ratchasima. This campsite was the best campsite EVER for us. They have wi-fi, 5 private toilets and the landscape was SUPER! We borrowed most of the cooking utensils and the iron, FOR FREE. How good is that? The tent cost us about 500 baht (RM67) per tent with a sleeping bag and blanket. They also provide a proper cooking area for us. Because we have plenty of time before dinner, we went for grocery shopping around the area and cooked ourselves lots of nice food.
Today we had vegetable soup, sticky rice, “cucur” (Malaysian food), fried eggs and others that I can’t remember. We were enjoying our night as there was no one else at the campsite. Sleep under the stars, play games and share our stories. It was cold by the way.
Enough about today, tomorrow is the flower day!
Jim Thompson Farm & Lavender Farm (28/12/2016)
As we don’t need to catch any sunrise today, we woke up at 8.00 a.m. Afterward, we went to Jim Thompson farm around 9.30 a.m and bought the tickets for 150 baht (RM20) per person. This farm will open only during the coldest season in Thailand which is from December to February. I would recommend visiting in mid-December when the flowers are blooming at its peak.
Jim Thompson Farm also has some local street food and agriculture products. You can learn, play, and see the traditional Thailand house and different types of colorful flowers. There will be a shuttle bringing you from one station to another. Each station will have a different type of flowers and attractions. As the crowd gets bigger at noon, we decided to walk back to the entrance. The queue to wait for the shuttle was quite long.
For girls, this place is the best place to take a thousand photos but I don’t think it will be the same for guys (lols). We spend almost a day and went back to our campsite in the evening. Along the way, we stopped at Gold Garden Lavender Farm that cost RM12 per person. The farm was small but enough to make a good Instagram picture. After spending about an hour at the farm, we went back to our campsite and had dinner cooked by our chef (our friend).
The night ended with stargazing and storytelling.
Lopburi & Palio (29/12/2016)
Today was the day for us to go to the sunflower farm at Lopburi. It was about 3 hours from Nakhon Ratchasima. But before that, we stopped at Toscana Valley to see the most expensive Villa/ bungalow in Thailand. We also found a leaning tower that looks like a leaning tower of Pisa here. After stopping for only a couple of minutes for the photos, we continued our drive to Lopburi.
Most of the entrance fees to the sunflower farm were free but some needed to pay to go in so, you can pick your favorite. When we arrived, we only found sad-looking sunflowers. We have been going from one farm to another to find the sunflowers that were still looking up and lucky for us, we got one farm.
The farmers told us to come in the morning to see the beautiful sunflower looking up to the sky, well when they say sky, it means the sun. After we finished taking a lot of photos at the sunflower farm, we continue our journey to Bangkok. But before that, we stopped at Palio Khao Yai for a late lunch. It was about 2 hours’ drive from Lopburi. Palio has a French architectural design and landscape. There were some pastry shops, gift shops, western restaurants, and performances that enjoyed. We ate at a halal restaurant which I can’t remember its name (painted in blue with a food court style) and cost us less than RM10 per head. I had Padthai (RM5) and Iced Lemon Tea (RM3). We bought some steam corn that cost RM2 per corn for snacks.
Just a few minutes’ walks outside Palio, there was a cowboy street that makes you feel like you’re in a different country. From the French to Mexico environment, it’s just amazing what Thailand can create. After hours of spending our time strolling around the two places, we decided to continue our journey to Bangkok.
About 4 hour’s drive, we finally reached Bangkok. We checked in at Corner Hostel Bangkok. I believe the Hostel is no longer available as I just checked at the Agoda website. Too bad though. The Hostel has an entertainment room, laundry room, and computer room. After we checked in, we went out for dinner at the street market where we found the famous halal Tom Yum. It was just nearby our Hostel (I forgot the name sorry).
After dinner, we took tuk-tuk to Chinatown for less than 100 baht per person. In Chinatown, you can see a lot of the culture and different types of street food. We tried their sangkaya, coconut ice cream, and spinach toll
As today was a very long and tiring day, we head back to the Hostel and went straight to bed after 2 hours walking around Chinatown.
Alright, move on to the next day.
Remember when I told you that we had the wrong arrival date given to the van? It turns out that we had 1 extra day which was today. Of course, we need put on our emergency cash for the additional night but for some reason, we felt relieved as we did not put Bangkok in our itinerary to explore. So today was our tour in Bangkok city and started our day with shopping at Platinum Mall. There were a lot of different malls you can go to, it’s like a shopping haven, especially for ladies. The platinum mall was big enough for me to shop so I don’t need to go to every mall existed in Bangkok (lols).
We had our lunch at Fatornee Muslim Food near the mosque. I think we had chicken rice and some other Thai food which cost us about RM60-RM80 for the total bill (which was quite cheap!). After lunch, we went to the mosque to perform our prayers. Then, we stroll around the village near the mosque where we found a lot of halal food along the street. Well, because we were still full, we did not buy anything at the food stall. We then moved to our next stop which was Asiatique Riverfront.
To get to the Asiatique, we had to take a train and a ferry to reach there. The costs barely reach RM20. The reason we went to the riverfront was to enjoy the sunset, just a peaceful sunset. Then, we celebrated our friend’s birthday at one of the cafés near the riverfront. We enjoyed the rest of the evening listening to live band and window shopping. Why window shopping? Because most of the items here were expensive. One PVC jacket can simply cost you RM150 and above.
At around 8.00 p.m, we took ONE tuk-tuk to get back to our hostel. It was quite difficult to get one as there were 7 of us. PLUS, our hostel was about 30 minutes away. To cut the budget we shared only ONE tuk-tuk, and thank god for that ONE tuk-tuk driver that was willing to take us. It was not a comfortable ride I must say, but it was a fun one. Along the way, we stopped at Hard Rock Café to get our pin collections (yep, not just me). Then, we dropped at one of the streets that were full of massage centers. The total cost was only RM30 for the ride and RM4.30 per person, not bad huh? We had a full body massage for RM20 for an hour. As we walk home, I bought a jacket patch jeans nearby the street market for RM10! How cheap was that?
It was almost midnight and we went back to the hostel to prepare for tomorrow.
We woke up early in the morning around 5.00 a.m to visit our next stop, Erawan Falls at Kanchanaburi. It took about 3 to 4 hours drive to reach to Erawan Falls. As we reached there, we had our lunch first as we were starving. Little that we knew, the top waterfall closes at 4.00 p.m.
There will be 7 levels of waterfalls and the trekking will take about 30 minutes non-stop to reach the top level. At Erawan Falls, for level 2 and above, there will be no food allowed to maintain the cleanliness of the park. Each level of the waterfall has its own beauty and we stopped too long for each level that we only had 5 minutes shot at the 7th waterfall. The 7th waterfall was the prettiest as the color crystal clear in blue. Lesson learned, always reach for the top-level first next time. We managed to take a few photos before we went to our van.
Our hotel at Kanchanaburi was about 2 hours from the falls and we fell asleep because we were exhausted. As we reached to River Kwai, where our hotel was, it was already dark and the street stalls were almost closing. We rushed our checked in and walk along the street to see the halal food stall that we passed by before. Unfortunately, it was closed. The shops are mostly closed from 6 to 7 p.m. We heard there are a lot of Halal foods here as most of the population are Muslim. River Kwai reminded us of Langkawi Island in Malaysia.
I will usually spend my night at a proper hotel at the end of a trip so that I can rest my night before flying back to reality. Our hotel was called Sky Resort Kanchanaburi. The room was very spacious and the hotel has a quite huge swimming pool. We were hanging out at the swimming pool until New Year. Strike midnight, we heard people shouting HAPPY NEW YEAR! And some small fireworks to end the night with.
Alpaca Hill (1/1/2017)
And it’s 2017!! Our new year morning starts with a journey to Suan Phueng, recommended by our driver. Before we head to Suan Phueng, we stopped for a coffee at Moai Coffee which has quite interestingly designed. After we enjoyed our coffee and breakfast, the first stopped once we reached Suan Phung was the Scenery Vintage Farm. They had sheep, goats, and vegetables on separate farms. After the tour, we had an ice-cream which made fresh from the goat milk for RM3.
Next, we stopped at Alpaca Hill with RM35 (290 baht) entrance fees. At first, we refused to go in because we want to visit a few more places in Bangkok than going here. BUT it turns out this place was one of the best places that we visited. You will have a cool breeze environment as you walk around the hill and of course! See the alpaca (I never know this creature before!).
We ended up spending 3 hours of our time there and end up rushing back to Bangkok to catch our flight. Mr. Hong drove us quite fast as we had about 3 hours and 20 minutes more before our flight departs.
Before reaching the airport, we received a message that our flight was delayed (phew!). well, it gave us 4 hours and 20 minutes waiting time. So we spend most of our time shopping with the excess cash that we had. Then, we had our dinner at a small shop near the prayer room. The shop can only fit 10 people at one time and they had the best mango sticky rice ever!
Finally, after the long wait, our flight was ready for take-off at around 10 p.m. A long and fun journey at the end of 2016. I’m glad we had a safe and successful trip. Til next vacation! Bye!