Yes, you read that right- the long overdue recap of our honeymoon is FINALLY HERE!
This was both of our first time leaving the United States! So I wanted to make a really comprehensive guide to how two inexperienced travelers took the plunge and went across the world for the trip of a lifetime.
Summary of Trip Logistics:
- Flew EVA Airlines from LAX (Los Angeles International) to TPE (Taiwan Taoyuan International)- approx 14hrs
- Flew EVA Airlines from TPE (Taiwan Taoyuan International) to CNX (Chiang Mai International)- approx 4hrs
- Stayed in the Old City of Chiang Mai for 3 days
- Stayed at Chai Lai Orchid Elephant Sanctuary for 2 days
- Flew AirAsia Airlines from CNX (Chiang Mai International) to KBV (Krabi International)
- Stayed in Ao Nang for 2 days
- Took the ferry from Krabi to Phi Phi Islands and stayed there for 2 days
- Took the ferry back from Phi Phi Islands to Railay and stayed there for 2 days
- Flew from KBV (Krabi International) back to CNX (Chiang Mai International) and stayed there for 1 day
- Flew home from CNX (Chiang Mai International) to LAX (Los Angeles International) with the same flight pattern that we had on the way to Thailand (but in reverse- CNX to TPE, TPE to LAX)
- Total trip length (travel included): 15 days
- Actual time in Thailand (travel excluded): 13 days
- We left on November 18th, arrived in Thailand on November 20th, and returned to LA on December 2nd
General Thailand tips: We prepared a binder with print-outs of our flight info, Airbnb addresses, contact info for Airbnb hosts, etc. (basically any information we could need if we were stuck without wifi) and found this super helpful. No harm in over-preparing! We loved traveling by Songthaew. We also made sure to exchange some USD to Baht when we landed at the airport, in case we had difficulty doing this once in the city. MAKE SURE YOU ARE RESPECTFUL OF CULTURAL NORMS, ESPECIALLY IN REGARD TO TEMPLES!!
Apps to download/use: Grab was a fantastic ride-share app that we used several times! Also, get offline maps!
Location #1: Old City, Chiang Mai (right next to Wat Chiang Man Temple)
We loved this Airbnb because it was perfectly located, very stylish, and had a private yard with a hot tub!
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
We arrived in Chiang Mai and hit the ground running! I was particularly excited about this half of our trip because, in my initial Thailand research, I fell in love with this city. When deciding which large city in Thailand to spend time in, we chose Chiang Mai over Bangkok or Phuket. We were drawn to the more laidback pace of the city in comparison to the others. Although we are drinkers and like to knock back a few pretty often, we weren’t looking to party much. We didn’t want to risk wasting any time hungover.
The Old City of Chiang Mai did not disappoint. We loved our Airbnb and its location was perfect- right across the street from an incredible temple, Wat Chiang Man. After dropping our bags and checking out the temple, we proceeded to literally just wander around the nearby streets. We stumbled upon cute coffee shops, grabbed really tasty Boba teas, and got our feet nibbled by tiny fish!
Some other amazing Old City adventures include…
- visiting a hedgehog cafe (they had delicious food/drinks & we had a blast)
- seeing the pigeons at the Tha Phae Gate
- rooftop bar hopping (hit up THC)
- check out the markets (we stopped at every one we passed and found so many cool items)
- check out the night market (Anusarn Market)
- visit as many temples as you can (which is easy to do, they are plentiful in the Old City)
***Also, I’d HIGHLY recommend taking a Songthaew before sunrise and heading up the mountain to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. This temple is so beautiful and the views are breathtaking.
After a few days in the city of Chiang Mai, we took a Songthaew about an hour out of the city to the Mae Wang province. We stayed at Chai Lai Orchid, an elephant sanctuary.
DISCLAIMER: I absolutely love elephants and while I desperately wanted to experience meeting these awesome creatures, was extremely concerned for the well-being of the animals. I researched long and hard about different sanctuaries in Chiang Mai and found many unfit based on their methods of captivity. Many “sanctuaries” aren’t really sanctuaries- they’re created because of the tourist market demand and often these places allow people to ride elephants. RIDING ELEPHANTS IS NOT ETHICAL. It is harmful to the animal and they do not deserve to live that way. We chose Chai Lai Orchid because of its mission, values, and the fact that it truly focus on the animals. You can read more about Chai Lai’s practices HERE. I feel that Chai Lai is truly ethical and I loved their dedication to anti-trafficking efforts via Daughter’s Rising. Read more about Daughter’s Rising HERE.
Our time at Chai Lai was magical, to say the least. I loved being out in the Thailand countryside and connecting with nature. This resort is seriously stunning. The grounds include a gorgeous river complete with open-air riverside dining, a small marketplace, and numerous rental huts. There is a suspension bridge used for crossing the river, and there is an additional restaurant on the street side of the water.
Favorite things about Chai Lai…
- Safe, pure, and happy experiences with one of the most amazing animals on Earth. We loved walking alongside these gentle giants through the jungle, feeding them endless bananas and bathing them in the river. I will remember that day for the rest of my life.
- The staff. Everyone is so kind and focused on the animals as well as the happiness of the guests.
- THE FOOD AND DRINKS!!! I cannot stress this enough- if you stay here, go hard at the two on-site restaurants.
- The dogs wander the property. They’re friendly and adorable!
- The huts were really nice and comfortable. I wouldn’t say they’re “luxury” by any means, but we loved the experience of connecting with the outdoors and being in the jungle.
- The grounds. We were so at peace here and everything was gorgeous.