One Month in Northern and Southern Thailand

One Month in Northern and Southern Thailand: our tips for the best of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pai, Krabi, Tonsai, Phi Phi and Phuket.

Remember that time we spent a month in Asia? We got home like 12 weeks ago and although I actively worked on this blog post throughout the month, actually finishing and publishing it when we got home totally got away from me. Having 4 weeks of work to catch up on amid the already busy holiday season + all the crazy of the election meant that the couple months since we got home from Japan and Thailand totally flew by and the next thing I knew we were boarding a plane for our ski trip to Germany and Austria. Well, I promised myself that I wouldn’t publish a trip post about Europe until I finally took the time to finish this post. So, without further ado here are our travel tips for Northern and Southern Thailand!

This past fall we spent a month traveling in Asia. We started our trip with 4 days in Tokyo, Japan, but quickly made our way over to Thailand. Although we had originally planned to mix one or maybe even two more countries into our trip, we really enjoyed Thailand and ended up spending the duration of our trip traveling the country.

Our flight itinerary had us going through Tokyo, so we decided to cut the 20 hour flight up into 14 and 6 hour legs by spending a few days in Tokyo. This was a great way to see another country and also break up a long international flight, and it didn’t really change our ticket prices. I talked more about this in my post about Tokyo, so pop over there if you want to hear more.

Below is our itinerary for Thailand, along with tips, lodging and activity suggestions for each city. I hope it will help you plan your dream escape!

ITINERARY

Day 1-4 – Tokyo, Japan
Day 5 – Bangkok, Thailand
Day 6 – Bangkok and overnight train to Chiang Mai, Thailand
Day 7-9 Chiang Mai, Thailand
Day 10-21 – Two weeks in Pai, Thailand
Day 22 – Bus from Pai to Chiang Mai, flight to Krabi, Thailand
Day 23-24 Boat to Tonsai Beach, Thailand
Day 25-26 – Northern Phi Phi Island
Day 27-28 – Longboat to Phi Phi, Thailand
Day 29 – Ferry to Phuket Thailand
Day 30 – Flight home

Our 30 Day Trip to Northern and Southern Thailand! All our tips for the best of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pai, Krabi, Tonsai, Phi Phi and Phuket!

Days 1-4 – Tokyo, Japan

Day 1-4 – We landed in Tokyo, Japan and spent 3 nights at an Airbnb in Shinjuku. We of course spent a lot of time hunting down great Ramen and Sushi, but also enjoyed walking around town, visiting the beautiful parks and gardens, and going to the Golden Gai District at night. You can read more about our time in Tokyo in this post.

Day 5 – We flew from Tokyo, Japan to Bangkok, Thailand (6 hours)

Lodging: Bangkok Bed and Bike ($15-70 USD per night depending on room type)

This is a hip hostel, where you can choose from communal or private rooms. The location is great, the vibe is awesome, and the lobby is a great place to meet fellow travelers.

Activities: Bangkok at Night—by Bike! ($50 USD per person)

We were only in Bangkok for one night, so although we were tired from a day of travel we wanted to make the most of it. We signed up for the Bangkok by Bike Night Tour through our hotel. A private English-speaking guide met us in the hotel lobby around sunset, and the 3 of us set out on bikes to tour Bangkok. From what I could tell, they’d let you go on this tour no matter what your skill level, and had we not been pretty avid cyclists perhaps our guide would have babied us a bit more, but I would recommend that you not only be comfortable on a bike, but that you be pretty acquainted with urban biking. We’ve biked all over the US (NYC, Boston, Chicago), and in cities across Europe (Brugges, Denmark, Antwerp, Amsterdam), and nothing quite compared to biking in Bangkok, at night.

There are no bike lanes, not a lot of street lights, and the tuk tuks and taxis zoom around. Our guide was pretty fearless with his riding, and he expected us to keep up. We thought it was a riot and had a great time! We were also pretty surprised when we made it through the night without a single incident. I have a vivid memory of flying down a dark street in Bangkok late at night and feeling 100% alive, it was a rush. It also gives you the opportunity to see areas of town that you wouldn’t see on your own. We ended up biking over 10 miles and it was a great way to see a lot of the city quickly and with a guide. He took us out for dinner to his favorite pad thai restaurant, and took photos for us at some of the popular stops. This activity is probably not for everyone, but if you’re up for a real adventure this is a great way to spend a night in Bangkok.

Pro tips: If you do the bike tour you’ll want to make sure you have on comfortable shoes. There were times where we were biking through about a foot of water (in the dark). Fortunately we didn’t have to put our feet down, but having Keens or Teva sandals might be a good footwear choice over sneakers, depending on the time of year.

Day 6-7 – Day in Bangkok and the overnight train from Bangkok north to Chiang Mai, Thailand  (14 hours)

Lodging: Overnight Train

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How to Pack a Carry On For a 1-Month Trip

How to Pack a Carry On For a One Month Trip to Asia | Thyme is Honey
Tomorrow we’re heading to Asia for a 30-day backpacking trip. The first two weeks we’ll be in Japan and Thailand, but the last two trips are up in the air, which is really exciting! I’m going to keep this post pretty simple, but just wanted to show you how easy it can be to travel with a carry-on, even for a lengthy trip. See the bottom for a quick video of how I got everything into my Osprey Porter. I’ll update this post after we return with feedback on how I did as far as packing and gear.

How to Pack a Carry On For a One Month Trip to Asia | Thyme is Honey

STEP ONE: Get good gear and invest in quality footwear. We bought our Osprey Porter backpacks a couple years ago and have been using them non-stop ever since. I think it has been at least 5 years since I last checked a bag. I love the shape , their ability to compress thanks to the stiff sides and strapping system, and the fact that they seem to somehow magically hold so much more than you think they can. Along with the Osprey Porter I also use Eagle Creek Packing Cubes and their zippered pouches. I swear these things are the secret to carry-on packing. For shoes I chose Adidas Boost tennis shoes, Madewell Sandals and Teva Originals.

How to Pack a Carry On For a One Month Trip to Asia | Thyme is Honey

My tips for packing clothing are: 1. Be well aware of the weather conditions and the culture, and pack accordingly. 2. Pick a color palette and then select basic pieces that all work together. I like to basically say that if you reached into your bag with your eyes closed and pulled out an outfit, they should be able to work together. 3. There are various types of “backpacker” underwear available, but my favorite ones are actually Victoria’s Secret Raw Cut Hip Huggers (5 for $27.50). They are made out of a super thin material that is fast to wash and dry by hand, plus they are lightweight and easy to pack. Clothing: 4 pairs of shorts, 7 tank tops (love these Mossimo ones from Target, $6 each), 2 t-shirts (love these Mossimo ones from Target), 2 long sleeve knit shirts (again, I love these Ribbed Mossimo ones from Target), 1 pair of Athleta Metro Slouch Pants (my go-to travel pants!), 1 black knit skirt, 1 light jacket, 6 pairs of Victorias Secret Raw Cut Hip Huggers, 1 sports bra, 1 bralette, 1 light jacket, 2 bikinis, 1 rashguard. Not pictured: 3 pairs of socks, Nike Spandex Shorts.

How to Pack a Carry On For a One Month Trip to Asia | Thyme is Honey

Some people manage to travel without much tech gear, but not me. I travel with my iPad Pro + Apple Pencil, my Nikon D5300 + a 50 mm lens and a 55 mm lens, a (amazing) selfie stick that truly is the best one I’ve tried, aTravel Tripod and myJoto Waterpoof Pouch for iPhone for my iPhone 7 Plus. We also have this time capsule that we put together 5 years ago and are bringing along to read throughout the trip.

Before packing I removed the light jacket, 1 tank top, 1 long sleeve shirt, the Adidas, a sports bra and a pair of socks to wear for the flight to Tokyo. The rest went into the Osprey Porter. The packed bag weighed in at 21.5 pounds and was completely condensed, leaving plenty of room to expand the bag throughout my trip.

Alright so, curious about how all of this fit into the bag? Here’s the video. Happy Packing!

Dog Friendly Travel: Milwaukee, WI

Dog Friendly Travel: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is one of the most dog friendly cities in the US! Itinerary, video and google map to help you plan your trip!

Looking for a great destination to travel with your dog? For dog friendly travel look no further than Milwaukee, Wisconsin! This Midwest city is bustling with great food, entertainment and, of course, beer. Milwaukee is located on the eastern coast of Wisconsin, with beautiful views of Lake Michigan stretched along the cities lakefront.

I have loved Milwaukee since the first time I visited, and I love being a quick drive away! Milwaukee has a great vibe with the beautiful lakeshore, beaches, old buildings, and the various rivers winding throughout the city (there’s 3!). Perhaps you already knew all of this about MKE, but did you know that it is also among the most dog friendly cities in the US? It is, and for good reason! We recently partnered with Travel Wisconsin to put together a dog-friendly itinerary for Milwaukee, and we had no trouble finding plenty of places to eat, drink and be entertained with #WalterBtheJRT in tow! See below for our Dog-Friendly Weekend Itinerary for Milwaukee, our short video recap and our interactive google map!

FRIDAY

  • Check in at The Kimpton Journeyman Hotel in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward. Your dog will be greeted with his name on the chalkboard in the lobby, treats and dishes in the room, and a staff that is just as crazy about him as you are!
  • The bar area at  The Journeyman Hotel is dog friendly and on Fridays they host a dog-friendly wine hour from 5-6PM.

Dog Friendly Travel Milwaukee Wisconsin Kimpton Hotel

  • Dine al fresco on the patio at Cafe Benelux. Fido will enjoy people watching while you browse through their extensive beer book! Benelux is a region comprised of Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg, so you’ll find a host of Belgian beers along with regional favorites such as mussels, pannenkoeken and frites! Was fun for us, since exactly one year ago we were in Belgium stuffing our faces with frites!
  • Meander across the road to the Wicked Hop for their specialty cocktails and dog-friendly patio!
  • If you’re feeling up for a nightcap, Camp Bar Third Ward is dog friendly indoors and out. If you’re lucky there’ll be live music!
  • If relaxing and retiring early is more your game, head back to The Journeyman and enjoy a relaxing night with your best furry friend!

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Travel Fosters Human Understanding

"Travel fosters human understanding, and empathy for people whose lives are unlike your own; it opens your eyes to otherness, including other cultures and religions. Serious travelers are among the most open and tolerant people I know; their frequent encounters with difference make them expansive in their thinking. Travelers are, ultimately, the enemies of terrorists, and what they believe works against terrorists’ aims, person by person and little by little. I am proud to count myself among these travelers and to work every day to inspire them—and to create more of them." - Nathan Lump, Travel + Leisure

It happened again. We were traveling during a terrorist attack. Is that weird? We found ourselves wondering if we have a knack for traveling during attacks, or if they just happen so frequently that it seems they always fall on our vacations.

Our return from Exuma was particularly humbling, as the crowd down there was a melting pot of nationalities. We actually encountered few Americans during our travels. On our last day in Exuma we woke up to the news of the attacks in Brussels, and as we watched coverage in airport terminals throughout the day I couldn’t help observing and listening to the people around me. As unfortunate as the situation was, I remember being struck by how interesting it was to be contained to a terminal watching a tiny cross section of the world’s population react to this horrific news.

As soon as I read this letter from Travel + Leisure I was struck by Nathan Lump’s words and how they resonated with my experience.  Not only my experience on that unfortunate March day, but my experience as a traveler of the world. Each trip I take opens my eyes and heart to the people, cultures, and values surrounding us. The differences are beautiful and they are worthy of understanding.

Please take the time to read Nathan’s letter, “Why Tuesday’s Terrorist Attacks Shouldn’t Make you Stay at Home” in it’s entirety here, and then please plan a trip to somewhere you’ve never been. Remember, the trip doesn’t have to be far or expensive. New cultures and experiences are literally next door to you.

"Travel fosters human understanding, and empathy for people whose lives are unlike your own; it opens your eyes to otherness, including other cultures and religions. Serious travelers are among the most open and tolerant people I know; their frequent encounters with difference make them expansive in their thinking. Travelers are, ultimately, the enemies of terrorists, and what they believe works against terrorists’ aims, person by person and little by little. I am proud to count myself among these travelers and to work every day to inspire them—and to create more of them." - Nathan Lump, Travel + Leisure

Travel Guide: Kayaking and Camping the Exuma Cays

Kayaking and Camping the Exuma Cays, Bahamas: itinerary for 4-day kayaking trip, packing list, outfitter guide and suggestions for your stay in George Town.

In March of 2016 we kayaked 23.6 miles to island and beach hop through the Exuma Cays near George Town, Bahamas. We’ve had some amazing vacations, and I’m not sure I could pick one to call our “favorite”, but this was definitely up there! If you follow me on Instagram, then you got the gist, but I also put many more photos in this album, which you are welcome to view. Below you’ll find our full Travel Guide for Kayaking and Camping the Exuma Cays.

Exuma Cays Photo Alubm

Our Itinerary: We flew into George Town, Bahamas, located on the island of Great Exuma. Great Exuma is very low-key, with a population around 3,000, and a limited number of restaurants, bars, and not much nightlife. We spent four days sea kayaking the Exuma Cays and Brigatines, and camped on the beaches. We ended the trip with two more nights in George Town to relax and unwind and highly recommend arranging your trip so that you have a few relaxing days at the end! Here’s what our trip looked like:

Day 1  – Travel and arrival in George Town, Bahamas. Grocery and supply shopping. Water taxi to Stocking Island for dinner at the Chat n Chill. Stay at Two Turtles Inn. If you stay at Two Turtles Inn the Exuma Market and a liquor store are right next door, so it’s super convenient to just check in and then walk over to get your supplies.
Day 2 – Equipment rental, supply check, and transportation to Barraterre provided by Out Island Explorers (40 min drive to Barraterre). Packing up the kayaks and launching!
Day 3 – Paddle 2.3 miles from Barraterre docks to see the Blow Hole on Blow Hole Cay. Paddle an additional 5.3 miles to Lee Stocking Island and beach camp on twin beach. Take the sand trail from the beach to the top of the island for amazing views of the cliffs along the Atlantic coast. Snorkel out near the rocky coastline past your campsite.
Day 4 – Paddle 3.2 miles to Norman’s Pond Cay. Here you have 2 miles of white sand beach to yourself. We set up camp near the trees so we had a spot for our hammock. At high tide, paddle down the beach where you’ll eventually encounter an opening to a small river that leads you into the mangroves. At high tide you can enter here and paddle inland to a salt water pond. Snorkel off the beach in the evening, this is when we encountered a 5-foot black tip shark. I also had a small shark swim up to me while I was washing our dishes out in the water. You can find sand dollars in this area too.
Day 5– Paddle 4.4 miles across to the Brigatines. During this stretch we had a big dolphin come up next to our kayaks. Spend the afternoon out on the sand bars that appear off Lily’s Cay at low tide. Camp on the beach at Lily’s Cay and if you want to snorkel or spearfish there are several great areas just off the shore along with a lot of starfish. We also saw a sea turtle off the shore from our campsite.
Day 6 – Paddle 2.3 miles from Lily’s Cay to Cluffs Cay. Stop to hike to the abandoned estate and see the iguanas. Paddle an additional 6.1 miles towards Barraterre through the mangroves to be picked up. Enjoy an afternoon sailing lesson with Out Island Explorers and then devour a fresh lobster dinner at Peace & Plenty (1 block from Two Turtles Inn)! Stay at Two Turtles Inn.
Day 7 – Breakfast in George Town and then take the ferry to Stocking Island for lunch at the Chat n Chill. Enjoy an afternoon hike to the Atlantic side of Stocking Island. Stay at Two Turtles Inn. (we had planned to do a 1-day sailing trip. But we decided we’d had enough time on the water and the weather wasn’t ideal).
Day 8 – Depart George Town.

Why You Should Go: If you love beautiful water, are adventurous and physically fit, this vacation is for you! My husband gets really bored at resorts, and over time I’ve realize that I much prefer action-packed, adventurous vacations to lying on a lounge chair. The three nights we spent out camping were amazing. We saw a few people on our first day. On our second day we had a short chat with a guy on a sailboat and then another kayaking couple who passed by our campsite. After they passed by we didn’t see another person until we returned to land on day 4. The islands we were stopping at were entirely uninhabited. The water was crystal clear. The sand was white and we had the beaches to ourselves. We had some of the most incredible experiences. One evening we were holding hands and snorkeling just off the coast of our campsite, when a 5-foot black tip shark came out of the shadows. We had a dolphin pop up next to us while we were kayaking across open water early in the morning. We saw a sea turtle go zooming past while we were wading in shallow water. We saw dozens of stingrays and manta rays. On the mainland we ate delicious food and had incredible conversations with people from around the world. Every aspect of the trip was just amazing (even a thunderstorm!).

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