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 REGARDS 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)
Airbnb linked HERE.
We loved this Airbnb because it was perfectly located, very stylish and had a private yard with hot tub!
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, we choose 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 it’s 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.
Location #2: Chai Lai Orchid in Mae Wang Province outside Chiang Mai
Chai Lai Orchid website linked HERE. We loved our stay here!
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 their mission, values, and the fact that they 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 wandering 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 is gorgeous.
Location #3: Ao Nang, Krabi
Airbnb linked HERE. I cannot say enough amazing things about this property, location, views, and staff. 15/10 would recommend staying here!
Our time in Ao Nang was definitely a highlight of the trip for me. This Airbnb is truly perfect. The location is beautifully tucked away on the Hilltop, poised for great sunsets and sunrises alike. It is also right next to a luxurious restaurant, and the Airbnb’s host is super helpful and accessible!
The house is gorgeous inside, but let’s skip right to the outdoors because it’s INCREDIBLE! There is a pool, hot tub, large hammock, and beautiful grounds with luscious vegetation. We loved hanging by the pool during our down time and spending each sunset on the deck sipping Hong Thong and eating the fresh fruit provided by the Airbnb.
This is easily the nicest place I have ever stayed. I could go on and on about it. Now onto what we did and saw in Ao Nang!
Some of Our Must-Do’s in Ao-Nang…
- Take a longtail boat tour of the nearby waters and islands. We opted to visit Chicken Island, Ko Poda, and a third island whose name has escaped me. We also would recommend doing a private rental vs. a group rental, if you’re looking for a more personal experience.
- EAT AS MUCH AS YOU CAN!!!! Seriously, stuff yourself. I’ve a pretty picky eater, but I gorged myself on spring rolls, pad thai, thai tea, and Leo’s. My husband is more of an adventurous eater, and he tried so many different dishes and was not disappointed.
- Walk the main beach street along Ao Nang. The shopping is fantastic!
Location #4: Phi Phi Islands
*would not recommend this Airbnb*
Honestly, I think I had hyped the Phi Phi Islands up in my mind prior to actually arriving, but I was somewhat disappointed with my time on the island. I felt guilty contributing to the over-tourism occurring here- the island is trashed with garbage piling up everywhere. You have to pay a trash removal fee just to enter the island because of how wide-scale this problem is.
Regardless, we did enjoy the beauty of this island and the bar crawl we did was actually really fun.
Koh Phi Phi Island recommendations…
- Longtail boat tours! We did one that took as to Maya Bay, the infamous filming location of the “The Beach” featuring Leonardo Di Caprio. Other stops included Viking Cave and Monkey Beach, where we stopped to see *you guessed it* MONKEYS! We snorkeled at two of the stops and saw incredible fish!
- Hike the Koh Phi Phi Viewpoint Trail. Probably the most epic view from the entire trip. It’s almost hard to believe it’s real.. and while the hike is really intense and steep, it’s totally worth it when you make it to the top, and there are adorable photo spots throughout the trek.
- Do a bar crawl or a night out- there is an amazing energy here after night, and parties are plentiful! We stopped to watch a traditional fire dance at a beachfront bar, then made our way to several street vendors selling bucket drinks. We had a blast getting tipsy and wandering around!
- YOU MUST GO TO REGGAE BAR! We loved drinking and watching the professional fights, but especially enjoyed the tourist fights. They accept volunteers from the crowd to fight, winner gets a bucket drink for free. So entertaining and interactive!
Location #5: Railay Beach
Railay Great View Resort and Spa linked HERE.
This resort was awesome- they had a really nice infinity pool with an ocean view!
Our favorite activities from our time in Railay…
- YOU MUST STOP AT TEW LAY BAR! – located right next to the resort, this outdoor bar features delicious drinks and jaw-dropping views. They also have tasty food and several unique sitting areas that are great for photo ops (a hanging basket, rope overhangs above the water, and a tree platform). Lastly, but most importantly, there is a massage booth right next to the bar, so pop on over for a massage and meet the adorable Pomeranian puppies that belong to the masseuse!
- Another great bar is Tree House Bar & Resturant. It’s literally in a tree. They have good beer, good pizza and games to play.
- Phra Nang Cave was cool to check out. Lots of penis statues. And the beach there is nice!
- Railay View Point Hike is definitely worth the short but strenuous trek.
Location #6: Chiang Mai
Airbnb linked HERE
I don’t even have photos from this portion of the trip… after our flight from Krabi back to Chiang Mai, it was our final evening in Thailand before heading back to the States. But this Airbnb was the perfect spot for us to get some good rest and pack our things!
I cannot say enough good things about our honeymoon in Thailand. It was the trip of a lifetime, perfect for kicking off a lifetime of memories as a married couple!
Thank you for reading! Stay adventurous!