My first Loy Krathong Festival!

I’ve always wanted to let off my own lantern, and I finally got to do it this week at the Loy Krathong festival in Thailand. Living here for 8 months, I’ve heard so much about this amazing festival, Thai’s look forward to it all year! It’s a festival that happens every year on the date of the full moon, in the 12th month of the Thai Lunar calendar. This year it was on the 25th November but the festival lasts for 3 days.

My first experience was just incredible, I’ve never seen anything quite like it before, it was probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had!

Starting off at school on Tuesday 24th. We made our very own krathongs (flower and vegetable  baskets made with banana trees, which are put in the river to say thank you to all the water spirits in Thailand.) It was loads of fun, sitting all the kids down and giving them all the materials to make the krathongs. My class are only six years old, so we gave them ice-cream cones to makes theirs, so it’s food for the fish too!

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After, we had a traditional Thai ceremony with children doing dances to the Loy Krathong traditional song. Of course I took part too, all dressed in my Northern Thai attire!

After school, I went to the Ping river, which runs right through Chiang Mai! There was loads of people selling their own Krathongs along with sparklers (so we didn’t miss out on our bonfire night at home!), it was a  lovely atmosphere. Had to bend right over into the river to let my krathong go, holding on tight so I didn’t fall in! Stopped to watch a traditional Thai parade in the city too!

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On the 25th was the much anticipated mass lantern release at Mae Jo University. Inside the Uni, you had to pay $100, we decided to stay outside and watch with hundreds of local Thais!

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Letting our lanterns off was an amazing experience although challenging at first. One had a hole in so we had to throw it in the river before it caused a huge fire, but the others worked great!

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At 9pm, the mass lantern release was due. We patiently saved our last and biggest lantern ready for the release. Almost immediately after letting it go, we heard to crowds cheering and looked up to the most incredible sight I’ve seen! Thousands and thousands of lanterns released into the sky at the exact same time, shining bright with the huge full moon in the background. The atmosphere taking them in one direction, it looked magnificent! If you’re ever planning to be in Chiang Mai for Loy Krathong, go to Mae Jo uni, its a must see! (and don’t pay for those tickets as its just as incredible if not more outside, from the view we had!)

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Midway through the lantern release, we were surprised by a huge array of fireworks, literally blowing the lanterns to pieces in the process, a sight worth seeing that’s for sure!

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Don’t miss out on Loy Krathong next year, along with the lantern launch of Yee Peng! Definitely worth planning your trip around, just remember the actual date in November changes every year!

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17 things to do in Chiang Mai! 

One thing I’ve learnt living in Chiang Mai, is that it is totally different to being a tourist here. You’d expect it to be different but the things you see make it an awesome place to live! Being a tourist myself when I first came to Chiang Mai, I didn’t venture far from the central area of town, Thapae gate, the night markets and central temples. Having now lived here for a year there’s so much I’ve seen that’s off the tourist route, I thought it would be perfect to write about. So here’s my list of 17 things to do in Chiang Mai:

Mae Ngat Dam and reservoir

One of my favourite places to visit in Chiang Mai! Mae Ngat dam has some spectacular scenery overlooking the mountains and a huge reservoir. When you arrive, you have the option to hire a longtail boat to take you to a floating restaurant, you’ll have to pay 40bht each to enter Sri Lanna national park too. The other option is to stay on land and admire the views from their reservoir side restaurant. You can also stay overnight on a floating bungalow, I know the prices were quite high but it would be great if there’s a few of you together. Relax, have some lunch, watch the fish jumping in the water and the boats gliding across to the other side. Perfect way to spend a lazy weekend afternoon. The on land restaurant does an amazing freshly cooked Tilapia for under 200bht, it’s delicious and huge too!

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Wat Palat

Another high favourite of mine is Wat Palat. This incredible temple hidden within the Doi Suthep mountain is well worth a visit. Set in stunning grounds, overlooking the whole of Chiang Mai, this temple is very unique as many of its features are both Thai and Burmese. You can take part in a nature trek through the jungle to reach the temple which is an amazing experience. A very knowledgeable Monk told me only a handful of people visit the temple each day, making it well hidden away from the busy tourism of Chiang Mai. Read more about it here.

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Samoeng loop


If you have a motorbike, the Samoeng loop is an amazing day out, stopping off at many unique points along the way. You can check out the stunning scenery Chiang Mai has to offer, driving past rice fields and farms, with mountain views all around. Along the loop you’ll have spectacular viewpoints to stop and admire too! 100km in length, the Samoeng loop will keep you busy for the whole day! To read more, have a look at my detailed post all about it here.

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Chiang Mai Grand Canyon

Formally a quarry, which has now been filled with water. It is a quiet destination for expats and locals to visit on a relaxing weekend and only 25 minutes’ drive from the city. The water is around 40meters deep and the cliffs range in size. Some decide to jump from the cliffs for fun although there are warning signs around. Relax and have a drink or some lunch in the restaurant, rent out a rubber dingy or rubber ring and have some fun swimming in the calm, warm waters! Great fun for kids too!

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Muang On Cave

These caves are a must see in Chiang Mai, they are very grand! From the Chinese dragon steps leading to the front of the cave to the huge structures hidden inside, Muang On cave is spectacular! You’ll have to crawl under part of the cave to enter, looks daunting for any claustrophobic but after you’ve entered there’s nothing more to worry about. There are 2 floors in the caves; all very well lit so don’t be ripped off renting a flashlight from outside. The caves are very well respected with Buddhist shrines all around, including a large reclining Buddha too! I recently did a driving loop around Muang On caves– check it out if your in the area!

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Sticky waterfalls

Known to locals as Bua Thong waterfalls, these hidden waterfalls are spectacular! Around 90 minutes drive from the city, these waterfalls are popular with expats and locals alike. Being a little far from the city, you won’t see many tourists there which adds to the amazing experience. They are made from limestone rocks which means you can actually climb up and stick to the rocks. With 3 levels of the falls, if you climb to the top you get a stunning view of the forest scenery below. Climb down to the bottom and you’ve got a cool waterfall shower to soak in! And the best bit, it’s absolutely free! Read more about the sticky waterfalls here. 

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Mon Cham

Another of my favourite places to visit around Chiang Mai! Mon Cham is quite a way from the city, you can reach it on the Samoeng loop or you can go direct and camp there overnight. Driving very high through the mountains, Mon Cham overlooks a stunning sight! Have some fun on the wooden go-karts or relax overlooking their beautifully well-kept gardens. Stop for a bite to eat in a bamboo hut directly above those incredible views too!

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San Khampaeng Hotsprings

If you like hotsprings the ones in San Khampaeng are great to visit. They are situated just outside the town of San Khampaeng, about an hour’s drive from the city. Don’t be put off with the time though, as the drive is stunning! You’ll head into the natural countryside of Chiang Mai, with mountain views and paddy fields in the distance. When you arrive, you’ll pay 100bht to get in. Stop off at the shops and browse through some traditional Lanna clothing at a very reasonable price, or buy yourself some eggs to boil in the springs for 20bht. Muang on cave is located very close to the springs so bear that in mind when you go, you could visit them both in one day!

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Huay Tung Tao lake

If you visit Chiang Mai, you have to go to Huay Tung Tao Lake. Not too far from the city and only 50bht to get in, this lake is huge and full of idyllic scenery all around. Drive round the lake for the best views and pitch yourself up in one of the numerous bamboo huts. Have some great Thai food at great prices or share a few drinks with friends. This lake is popular with local Thai’s in the evenings but never too busy. If you have kids, you can even rent out a pedal boat too!

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Wat Umong

The hidden temple of Wat Umong! Situated very close to the city, Wat Umong is one of the most unique temples I have even seen in Thailand. From its gigantic Chedi, to its historical features, this temple is not to be missed! There are underground tunnels leading to large Buddhist shrines in every corner too! Don’t forget to check out the humorous artwork scattered around and the big lake at the bottom of the temple grounds. You can feed fish and birds in the lake, spot a tiny turtle swimming in the waters and buy some delicious coconut ice-cream too!

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Queen Sirikit Botanic garden

Situated just past the town of Mae Rim, Queen Sirikit gardens are a must for nature lovers! Explore the well-kept gardens, various banana tree species, or several greenhouses containing Cacti, Orchids, Lotus flowers, everything you could think of! Pay 100bht to get in, you can also drive around on your motorbike for 20bht extra and stop off at as many places as you want! The grounds are stunning!
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Doi Inthanon

Doi Inthanon hosts the highest point in Thailand, so it’d be a hard decision not to go! Located 2 hour’s drive from the city, you arrive at Doi Inthanon national park. Pay your 300bht to enter the park, and you’re free to explore the natural wonders of the park for the day! There’s loads of waterfalls to check out, my favourite being the Wachirathan waterfall as it is just magnificent! There are nature trails and caves to explore and most importantly the King’s and Queen’s Chedi’s situated at the top of the mountain. Due to the long drive, it’s worth considering staying over for the night. You can rent huts or tents in the middle of the park, but bear in mind they get full very quickly so it’s worth booking in advance! Check out Thailand’s peak here! 

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Khamtieng flower market

A spectacular flower market very close to the city. Located just off the Super highway, behind Tesco Lotus. It’s well worth a visit, there are four parallel roads, each with numerous individual shops selling an array of different plants and flowers! From miniature cacti to gorgeous orchid’s and everything in between! They have shops selling pots, stones, soil, anything that is garden centre related! Stop for a lovely break at Panmai coffee too!

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Chang Dao caves

Magnificent looking caves around 90minutes drive from the old city. These caves in Chang Dao are very unique. You enter walking up to a Buddhist temple, pay 40bht for electricity charges and enter the caves. Very grand inside, you’re offered the option to pay for a private guide in the non-lit areas or carry on yourselves in the well-lit zone. If you shine a flash light above, you may even see bats hanging from the caves, you’ll definitely see a fair few fly past you! Well worth checking out for the day, you can also stay overnight at Chang Dao Nest which is meant to be a lovely experience too!

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Mae Sa waterfall

Ever been to a waterfall with 10 tiers? Visit Mae Sa waterfall in Mae Rim for a great experience! Having 10 levels, you can relax on the lower areas, taking in the amazing scenery and sharing lunch with friends. You’ll find this place is popular with Thai’s but not so much with tourists. The further up you go, the quieter it becomes. Bear in mind it’s quite a walk to the top, but your met with some wonderful views if you venture that far. You’ll find you’re probably alone on the 10th tier as not many venture past the 7th. You can swim up there too! Great fun for all the family!
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Royal Park Rajapruek

Situated not far from the centre of Chiang Mai, the Royal gardens are stunning. Set in enormous grounds overlooking some amazing gardens of flowers from all around the world. 100bht to get in, the park is huge so you may want to use the shuttle bus to get around. Rows and rows of lovely exotic flowers, there’s a spectacular temple in the middle of the park too, well worth a stop. You could easily spend a few hours here on a nice, dry day.

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Warorot market

Visit Chiang Mai’s busiest and oldest market. Situated just beside the Ping river, the market spans a huge indoor market and numerous soi’s around the market too! A very local market, where fresh fruit and veg is on offer, along with clothes, meat, spices, flowers, anything you could want that isn’t catering for the tourist population in Chiang Mai. In the day, check out the indoor market. At night the market outside comes to life! Well worth a stop on your trip to Chiang Mai!

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Looking for a place to stay in Chiang Mai? Check out airbnb and get 712bht towards your first stay for using this link! 

Photo credits: Lee Rawson-Gill

My 16 favourite things to do in Bangkok!

Bangkok is an incredible city. I’ve been 6 times now and still finding new places to explore. One side of Bangkok you have the chaotic lifestyle, huge complexes and extravagant shopping centres. On the other, you have a relaxing atmosphere cruising down the Chaophraya river and sightseeing around Buddhist temples. Researching things to do in Bangkok can be time consuming especially trying to find things off the typical backpacker/tourist trail. Here’s a list of my 16 favourite things to do/ see in Bangkok:

Wat Pho

Stunning temple complex located to the south of the Grand Palace. Visit Thailand’s largest reclining Buddha, numerous Buddha statues and incredible temples. At only 100bht to get in, it’s well worth a visit and you can arrive by boat along to Chaophraya River too!

The Reclining Buddha

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The Grand Palace

A must-see in Bangkok, The Grand Palace is just as its name suggests. Situated near to Wat Pho, the Palace was the King’s home for 150 years. Today, the Palace is home to the emerald Buddha and is the most sacred place in Thailand. There’s a strict dress code to enter, so make sure you cover up and it costs 500bht to get in.

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The Golden Mount

Wat Saket (Temple of the Golden Mount) is a well-known landmark in Bangkok. Built on a small hill, it’s home to a magnificent golden chedi. Walking approximately 350 steps to reach the top, the views you’re met with are stunning, looking out across the huge city of Bangkok!

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Chatuchak weekend market

The biggest market in Bangkok, Chatuchak Market is situated in Chatuchak park, next to the Mo Chit BTS station. Spanning over 35 acres, the market is full of everything touristy you could want, from elephant pants to wooden frogs and plenty of counterfeit goods. There are loads of street food stalls to choose from and a few bars with cheap beer too! Definitely check it out if you’re in Bangkok for the weekend, just bare in mind it closes at 6pm.

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Asiatique

Take a boat along the Chaophraya River to the final destination, Asiatique. A lovely shopping quarter, with an incredible atmosphere surrounding the area. Plenty of quirky, unique stores selling handmade items and children busking to pay for their education. You can watch a Muay Thai show or a ladyboy caberet, have a drink in a little bar or have a lovely meal by the river.

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China town

Bustling China town is in the heart of Bangkok. A popular tourist hotspot with plenty of restaurants and some incredible seafood. Take a look at the unique Chinese temples too. You will be amazed at the scale of Bangkok’s China town. The evening is the best time to go so be sure to fit this into your night!

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Little India

Little India is an amazing find! Hidden near China town, it serves as a quiet spot for some amazing Indian treats. Perch yourself in Tony’s restaurant down a small backstreet. Enjoy an Indian feast for as little as 80bht for a main dish and a freshly made roti for 6bht a piece! Treat yourself to some delicious Indian sweets too for an after dinner delight!

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Bangkok’s Flower market

Take a stroll through Bangkok’s little known flower market (Pak Khlong Talat). Hundreds and hundreds of freshly picked flowers with many different colours and varieties to choose from. You can buy a bunch of roses for as little as 50bht , huge handmade bouquets and many different types of Buddhist offerings made from marigolds. You’ll notice the lack of tourists! In fact, we were the only farang’s around but that added to the experience, being surrounded by local Thai market traders. Not to be missed on your trip to Bangkok!

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Wang Lang Market

Bustling local market situated by the side of the river. Rows and rows of unique stalls selling handmade items. What stands out the most is the numerous Thai restaurants you walk by in the middle of the busy market. Usually markets are full of street food vendors so it’s a nice surprise to see! The market still has some incredible street food though, including a bag of Thai samosas for 50bht! Delicious!

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Siriraj Medical Museum

Across the river from Wang Lang Market, on a 3bht boat ride, you find yourself at Siriraj hospital. They have a medical museum inside but let me warn you, you have to have a strong stomach to go in as it is VERY gruesome! Great if you’re into medical research as you get to see actual body parts and bodies which have suffered trauma. 200bht to get in, it’s your decision to make, but you may just leave more creeped out than you have been in your entire life!

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Jim Thompson House

The Jim Thompson house is a great little find. Quiet spot for tourists to explore a traditional Thai house made from Teak wood. Jim Thompson was the founder of Thai silk, and his house is incredible to see! A guide will take you around and point out all of his traditional Thai furnishings. You’ll see old Buddhist statues with bits broken off or missing, adding to the age of the house. It’s very unique and well worth a visit!

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Sirocco Sky Bar (Lebua hotel)

With Bangkok’s amazing skyline, it’s easy to see why people choose to visit a sky bar for incredible panoramic views of the city. There are loads to choose from, but it was easy choice to visit the Lebua hotel for me, since I loved watching the Hangover 2! 820ft high, the views you’re met with are unbelievable, but then so are the drinks prices! 800bht for a glass of wine – but the hotel is free to get in to. Call it your entrance ticket, the views are worth it!

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Khao San Road 

If you’re visiting Bangkok for the first time, it’s a must to go to its famous Khao San road. If you’re looking for a party/ backpackers scene, you’re in the right place! Cheap Thailand merchandise, counterfeit goods, fried insects, street food pad thai for 50bht and happy hour all night long! If you’re not into that, take a look anyway, it’s crazy!

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Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn)

Beside the Chaophraya River, take another 3bht boat journey across the other side and you’ll reach Wat Arun. Another spectacular temple although currently under reconstruction. Despite workers painting every fine detail to make it look new, you can still take a look around the stunning grounds. Full of beauty and overlooking the river, this temple is very impressive!

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Artist House (Baan Silapin)

Difficult to find hidden in the middle of Bangkok, close to Bang Wa BTS station is the Artist house. Only a handful of tourist’s embark on the adventure to find the house, although you may pass by if you take a trip in a long tail boat along the river. See an amazing, traditional Thai puppet show at 2pm and walk through the house admiring stunning paintings and architecture. Pose for a photo with the puppets and feed the huge catfish in the river. A lovely place to go to see more of Thailand’s culture.

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Lumphini Park

My favourite place of all in Bangkok is Lumphini park. Situated in Silom, you can reach the park by the BTS Sala Daeng (Sky train) or MRT Silom (Metro) stations. Take a stroll through the huge park or rent a swan shaped pedal boat to cruise around the lake. If you visit around sunset, you’ll see hundreds of people jogging around the park or taking part in aerobics classes! If you’re lucky, you might even spot a giant Monitor Lizard crawling out of the water too!

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So there’s my 16 favourite things to do in Bangkok. Hope you check some of them out if you visit!