Who doesn’t love Lauren Juliff? That’s what we want to know here at TraveLinkSites.com. Bursting onto the blogging radar well over a year and a half ago, Lauren has been captivating us ever since with tales of monkey love, boat death and a myriad other curious subjects. Having spent most of her time hanging out in Thailand and rampaging around Southeast Asia, who better than to share her travel secrets about it than the girl herself? Over to Queen Juliff, long may she reign!
1. Hey Lauren! Could you briefly introduce yourself, your site and your experience travelling in Thailand?
In 2011, I quit my job and left rainy old England to travel around the world forever. On Never-Ending Footsteps I mostly write about how NOT to travel – I have the most ridiculous things happen to me on the road, which always makes for entertaining stories…
I moved to Thailand in November 2011. I had only planned on staying for a month but I ended up leaving after seven! For four of these months I was based in Chiang Mai and spent my weekends exploring lesser-known places in Northern Thailand, and for the other three I explored the amazing beaches in the south. Thailand fast became one of my favourite places in the world and I hope to visit at least once a year from now on.
2. How does Thailand compare to the rest of Southeast Asia in terms of things to see and do, its food and its culture? Is it very similar to other countries or very different?
To be honest, I don’t feel qualified to answer this question, as 95% of my time in Southeast Asia was spent in Thailand and so I didn’t get to experience other Southeast Asian countries in the same depth. Soon, though. Soon I will.
3. How much money can someone travel around Thailand for? What are the greatest expenses? What things are relatively cheap?
Thailand can be an extremely affordable country to travel in. When I was living in Chiang Mai, I was staying in an amazing apartment with a huge bathroom, A/C, swimming pool, gym and a weekly cleaner. The cost for this was $200 a month. My total monthly expenses frequently totalled under $500.
On the islands, however, you can expect to pay double this.
Western food is usually double the price of Thai food, and beer is much more expensive than you’d expect. Accommodation is usually pretty cheap, as well as transportation and, erm, Sangsom.
4. What are your favourite destinations in Thailand and why?
I lived in Chiang Mai for four months and it feels more like home to me than anywhere else in the world – it is incredibly cheap, has awesome food and it’s not as humid as the islands so I don’t have to walk around with a permanent afro.
Aside from that, I love the islands of Koh Chang and Koh Yao Noi for their chilled out, relaxed vibe. Koh Yao Noi is my favourite island in Thailand as there are very few tourists, making it extremely quiet and a good place to escape the madness of the crazy, party islands.
In the north, I love Chiang Dao, Nan and Phrae, as again, there aren’t many tourists. Chiang Dao is a great weekend getaway from Chiang Mai to unplug from the online world and nap all day. Nan and Phrae are incredibly photogenic and have lots of gorgeous temples to explore.
5. What cultural activities and events would you suggest everyone seeing or taking part in while travelling in Thailand and why?
You should definitely make time to visit the temples in Thailand. There is a common misconception that once you’ve seen one temple in Thailand you’ve seen them all but this couldn’t be further from the truth! I’ve seen temples with creepy babies crawling over water fountains, with dinosaurs roaming the grounds and with graphic depictions of hell (humans with their insides ripped out, being squeezed in vices, being hacked to pieces). Fun for all the family!
In Chiang Mai, you can go for Monk Chat at one of the temples, where you can sit with monks in the afternoon and ask them questions about pretty much anything!
And as much as I struggle with the food in Thailand, going to the night markets to eat street food is a definite must – it’s safe, the food is fresh and it costs about 10% of what you’d expect to pay in a restaurant.
If you’re in Thailand in November, then make sure you head to Chiang Mai for the Yi Peng floating lantern festival where thousands of lanterns are released at once into the night sky, making for an incredible sight.
And, of course, Songkran in April will probably be the most fun you’ve ever had, when the entire country descends into a massive water fight for a whole week!
6. What is your favourite thing about travelling this country? What is your least favourite thing?
Favourite thing: I love the lack of rules and regulations that are present in the Western world. There are much fewer restrictions and this leads to a much more laid back and easy travel experience.
Least favourite thing: I hate to say this (and other people usually hate me when I say it!) but the honest answer is the food! I can’t handle even the slightest hint of flavour in my food and I’m pretty much limited to chicken fried rice when in Thailand – everything else has me in tears from the spiciness or unfamiliar flavours!
7. What things do you focus on most when you write posts about this country on your travel blog? Why do you choose these things?
I adore the temples of Thailand so I love posting photo essays of my favourites. I also love writing about my hunt for the perfect Thai island as that’s something I always receive quite a few emails about. Aside from that, I focus on writing about ridiculous and dramatic things that happen to me – getting poked during a massage on Khao San Road, thinking I was going to die during a tsunami in Phuket, having the brakes fail on my scooter while riding down a mountain in Northern Thailand.
8. What’s one thing you can’t travel around Thailand without?
9. If you could have travelled anywhere else in the country where would it be and why?
I’d love to visit the ancient cities of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya. Hopefully, I’ll get there next year!
10. If you could think of one thing you wished someone had told you before you started travelling in Thailand what would it be?
That Thailand isn’t entirely filled with drunk obnoxious gap year students, that I won’t die if I eat the street food, to be wary of shady-looking massage parlours…
Massive thanks to Lauren for another great article!
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