Back in October, I received an alert from Scott’s Cheap Flights for a round trip ticket to Bangkok – from Chicago – for less than $600 on Delta. Knowing I could get to Chicago quickly, and for cheap or on miles, I couldn’t say no (read: Enneagram 7). Also, being capital-T “tipsy” from downing more beers than I have toes in two-and-a-half hours helps. Minnesota winters can be tough – long stretches of cold days, icy roads, dry lips – so the deal was sweetened when I saw it applied to February travel dates. (Since moving back to Minneapolis and spending a few weeks in New Zealand last February, I’ve decided that I need an annual tropical trip to maintain sanity.) I threw my resolution of “not traveling abroad and paying off my car” right out the window and booked the ticket.
Planning for Thailand has been the most overwhelming trip I’ve planned. (First world problems, much?) It’s a logistically complicated country to get around, the islands all have really similar names so I end up looking at Ko Tao 38,691 times before I realize I’ve already booked a hotel there. The Internet is full of “~*~tHe ToP 15 tHiNgS yOu MuSt Do In ThAiLaNd~*~” lists that all list completely different things (moral of the story: we should all just move to Thailand) and then also I just get distracted easily. Recipe for success or disaster? You decide.
Admittedly, I have never used a travel agent, so I relied on the testimony of friends and travel blogs (like the one I’m hoping to create here) as a resource to put together my 18 day itinerary. Elephant sanctuaries were a must, but I need to make sure I support an ethical operation. Word on the street is I should skip Phuket because it’s basically just a sticky orgy of Spring Breakers on volume 100. (Side note: can we LOL at the fact that when I purchased the ticket, I initially thought I’d see Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam in one trip? Dream big, folks!)
What I found relatively quickly was that the “standard” route through Thailand on a trip like this (solo American backpacker) is first trekking to Northern Thailand (Chiang Mai, Pai, Chiang Rai, etc.) and then heading to Southern Thailand (Krabi, Ko Phi Phi, Ko(h) Tao/Lipe/Samui/Lanta … see what I mean about these names?) before returning back to Bangkok to go home. In doing so, you get to see bits of everything that Thailand has to offer without getting bored.
The other thing I discovered (but also low key knew/hoped) is that Thailand is cheap. I’m talking really nice hostels for less than $10 a night, and 3-4 star hotel/resorts for $50ish a night. Even flights and ferry tickets could be found for pocket change. What this meant for me is that I could construct a skeleton idea of where I’d be and when, without committing to too much structure and be able to make game-time decisions once I got there. One of the perks of traveling alone is that you get to call all of the shots (conversely, one of the drawbacks of traveling alone is that you have to call all of the shots) so not being too tied down was appealing to me.
So over several weeks, a billion open tabs on my work computer (lol), and a serious new need for blue-light blocking glasses, my itinerary has been set:
- Day 0: Chicago
- Day 1-2: Bangkok
- Day 3: Pai (via Chiang Mai)
- Day 4-7: Chiang Mai
- Day 8-9: Krabi (Ao Nang)
- Day 10-12: Ko Tao
- Day 13-14: Ko Samui
- Day 15-16: Bangkok
It’s sure to be amazing, and who knows, this could all change once I get there. One thing is for sure, and that is how excited I am to share Thailand (and my adventures beyond) with all of you.