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New Year's Eve in Bangkok and Northern Thailand: 10 days itinerary

Thailand is a country where new, ancient and sacred are perfectly mixed ... a lively country, rich in history, culture, nature, where the spiritual life is very relevant and with a traditionally welcoming and smiling population... you will see sparkling temples, golden Buddhas, ruins of ancient cities, very modern skyscrapers, rivers, jungle, elephants, markets! The perfect country to start to visit Asia


Looking for quick tips to plan your next trip in Thailand? Check out our Itinerary and some practical info that can be useful to inspire you in organize your travel!

 

Our itinerary:

  • Day 0 - international flight with Qatar Airways: Milan - Doha (Qatar) - Bangkok

  • Day 1 - Bangkok (cruise on the Chao Phraya river - Wat Arun - Chinatown -Asiatique Waterfront) Night in Skyview Hotel in Bangkok

  • Day 2 - Bangkok (MaeklongRailway Market (train at 8.30 and 9am) - DamnoenSaduak floating market - Royal Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) - after dinner on the rooftop bar of our hotel to see the city from the above Night in Skyview Hotel in Bangkok

  • Day 3 - Bangkok ( Wat Pho (giant laying Buddha) - Wat Suthat temple - sunset at the Golden Mountain Night in Skyview Hotel in Bangkok

  • Day 4 - flight Bangkok/ Chiang Rai - 70km - Golden Triangle: cruise on Mekong River and Opium Museum -70km - Blue Temple in Chiang Rai (Wat Rong Seur Ten) Night in The Riverie by Katathani Hotel in Chiang Rai

  • Day 5 - White Temple in Chiang Rai ( Wat Rong Khun) - 180km - Chiang Mai ( Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phra Sing Temples -Wat Phathat Doi Suthep temple to listen the evening chants by Buddhist monks - khantoke traditional dinner and Thai dancing show Night in D2 hotel in Chiang Mai

  • Day 6 - Elephants and village with the women with the “ long neck” in Maetaengnear Chiang Mai- 100km - Wat Si Chum in Lampang (the most ancient Birman temple in Thailand)- 210 km - WratPhra Si Ratanamahathat in Sukhothai Night in Sukhothai Treasure Resort in Sukhothai

  • Day 7 - Sukhothai Archeological Park by bike (ruins of the ancient city and temples of the first capital of the Siam reign )- 80km - Kamphaengphet Archeological Park (ruins of the ancient city and temples ) - 290km - Ayutthaya Night in Kameo Hotel in Ayutthaya

  • Day 8 - Ayutthaya Archeological Park and Temples - 20km - Bang Pa In Palace - 60km – Bangkok Night in Skyview Hotel in Bangkok

  • Day 9 - international flight with Qatar Airways: Bangkok - Doha (Qatar) – Milan

If you have more time, we suggest you to take an internal flight from Bangkok to Phuket and spent also 3-4 days at the sea in the Southern Thailand!

 

Place by place


BANGKOK

Here is a list of things that you cannot miss in Bangkok

  1. Temples: Royal Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew); Wat Arun; Wat Pho (giant laying Buddha). Important to know that for both women and men: legs and shoulders must be covered to visit temples.

  2. A cruise on the Chao Phraya river seeing the modern city, the temples and the traditional stilt houses from the river

  3. Sunset and view from the Golden Mountain

  4. Taste the traditional Thai cuisine in the street food stalls (for instance in Asiatique Riverfront, Chinatown..) and in the typical restaurants that you can find everywhere in the city

  5. Getting lost in Chinatown (visit Wat Traimit to see the Golden Buddha and Talat Mai Market) and in Little India (Phahurat)

  6. Markets: DamnoenSaduak floating market; Maeklong Railway Market (train at 8.30 and 9am); Flowers market; the famous weekend market of Chatuchak

  7. Enjoy the view of the city from in one of the many rooftop bars… The skyline, especially in the night, is truly spectacular!

For more detailed info about these attractions in Bangkok as well as some useful practical info on how to get around in Bangkok, how to get from Bangkok airport to the city, have a look to our post dedicated to Bangkok


CHIANG RAI


Golden Triangle and Mekong River

Here the borders of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet… in addition to this geographical curiosity, this is a good point to take part to a pleasant boat trip to navigate the Mekong River, as well as to visit the Opium Museum.

In fact, from the beginning of the 1900s until the 1990s, this border area - due to poverty and the absence of infrastructure and the State - was the world's largest producer of poppies from which opium and heroin are obtained. The days of opium are gone in the region today, but sadly the current drug trade has not terminated but it is only shifted to methamphetamines

Unfortunately, the place has become very touristic and on the Laos side even full of skyscrapers, casinos that disfigure the landscape …It worths a quick visit, but don't expect a wild naturalistic area..


Blue Temple (Wat Rong Seur Ten)

A very beautiful modern Buddhist temple (established in 2005 and completed only in 2016) just a few kilometers from Chiang Rai … Go there at sunset to see it both: with the light and illuminated in the evening!

Here some curiosities:

  1. The blue color is symbolically associated with purity, wisdom, and the lack of materialism that Buddhists aspire to.

  2. The name ‘Rong Suer Ten’ in Thai means ‘house of the dancing tiger’ because historically, the area surrounding the temple was full of tigers

  3. It’s design remind the White Temple, because it was built by the student of Mr. Chalermchai Kositpipat (the famous Thai artist who built the White Temple).

Practical info:

  • The Blue Temple is open every day from 06:00 to 20:00 and admission is free, although donations are welcomed

  • The temple is quite small, so approx 30 min/1h is sufficient for the visit


White Temple ( Wat Rong Khun)

A very peculiar and spectacular Buddhist temple designed by the artist ChalermchaiKositpipat, which is located about 13km from Chiang Rai…unmissable!

It is made entirely of white plaster and mirrors which, reflecting the sun, create a very luminous effect and for this reason it is known as the White Temple.


Although it was built only in 1997, it has become one of the symbol of Thailand!


For the best light and to see it with few people around, go there at the opening at 7 am/7.30am maximm


Practical info:

  • White Temple: Opening hours 7 -18(daily); Ticket 100 bath for foreigners

  • for both women and men: legs and shoulders must be covered to visit the temple


CHIANG MAI


Chiang Mai

If you have only half a day in Chiang Mai, we suggest you:

  • to visit the Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phra Sing Temples in the afternoon;

  • spend the evening at Wat Phathat Doi Suthep temple to listen the evening chants by Buddhist monks.. very suggestive!

  • in the end, taste a typical khantoke traditional dinner seeing Thai dancing show (for instance viator.com organize it, including also the transfer from your hotel in Chiang Mai)

Elephants and responsible tourism!

In Northern Thailand there are parks where it is possible to see elephants, bathe with them, take a walk in the jungle on them etc… but very few ensure dignified treatment of the animals!


So before planning a possible visit, read up on not to endorse parks that are actually circuses and mistreat animals.


What can be the elements to pay attention ? Chained animals, elephants that perform circus shows, and in general let's remember that they are wild animals and therefore we should avoid any practice that assumes that they have been trained.


We went to one of these parks that advertises itself as a clinic (Maetaeng Elephant Park & clinic), but as soon as we got there we saw that it was actually a tourist and animal trap and we walk away.


Womens with the “long neck” in MaeTaeng.. tradition or economic exploitation?

Why still today in the hills of northern Thailand there is a small tribe with the so-called women with the “long neck”, i.e. wearing golden rings around their necks that make it appear that the neck is stretched, even if there are health risks in this practice?


They are mostly the women of the Kayan/Padaung tribe of the Karenni ethnic group who fled from Myanmar to Northern Thailand.

The rings around the neck are kept partly by tradition as it is believed that they have the power to cure diseases and give strength to those who touch them; partly for aesthetic/ornamental reasons and as a distinctive trait compared to women of other ethnic groups; partly as ancient way of protection from attacks by tigers who often attack to the neck….


Unfortunately, these are not the only reasons for which Kayan women continue this tradition, but there are also economic reasons. In fact, the Kayans live not as refugees, but with the status of economic migrant in villages supervised by the Thai authorities, therefore with strict limitations of rights (they cannot work on Thai territory, they cannot sleep outside their villages etc..) and therefore this tradition is used to attract tourists who by buying their handicrafts, taking photos are the only source of income for the Kayan people


We went to one of these villages in Maetaeng and we would like to draw attention to the topic to reflect on the condition of the Kayans


Wat Si Chum in Lampang

During our journey from Chiang Mai to Sukhothai, we stopped in Lampang for a quick visit of the largest and oldest Burmese temple in all of Thailand: Wat Si Chum.


At first glance, Thai and Burmese temples may look similar, but the details reveal the differences. Here are the 3 main differences:

  • Thai temple: the Buddha has the flame on his head; the roof has a maximum of 3 floors; the inscriptions are in Burmese

  • Burmese temple: the Buddha has a flat head without the flame; the roof has more than 3 floors; the inscriptions are in Thai


SUKHOTHAI


WratPhra Si Ratanamahathat, Sukhothai

We end our day enjoying the golden hour in this temple less known ... the first in kamer style (Cambodia) that we encounter in this trip...

Typical of this area: the Buddha statues are smiling! Sukhothai, in fact in Thai means the smiling city!

In front of the temple, cross the road and you will find a Tibetan bridge, surrounded by nature.


Sukhothai Archeological Park

Huge temples, giant smiling Buddhas (Sukhothai means indeed smiling city) immersed in a lush park among frangipani and teak trees and little lakes where the morning light creates wonderful reflections… the temples and ruins of the ancient capital of kingdom of Siam are Unesco heritage and are really well preserved!


The best way to visit the site - which is very big - is by bike (you can rent it in front of the entrance of the site) and early in the morning (we were there at 7.30) to enjoy the temples with few people around and with a great light!


Do you know why the Buddhas look down and have long ears? To remind us not to judge others and to look for the positive in what we are/have as well as to be good listener


AYUTTHAYA


Ayutthaya Archeological Park

… the temples and ruins of the second capital of the Siam Reign are a UNESCO heritage site and an highlight on a trip in Thailand… we are 80km from Bangkok and Ayutthaya can be visited daily by train or with a private tour.


Compared to Sukhothai, the temples and the statues are more damaged due to the war with the Burmese, but Ayutthaya is no less fascinating or impressive for this reason.


Nearby, don't miss the 16.9 m high Big Buddha, highly revered by Thais!


If you stay overnight in Ayutthaya, negotiate a night tour by tuktuk to see the illuminated temples and ruins…the sites are closed in the evening, but they can be seen from the road and the effect in the evening is suggestive!


Did you know that Thailand (formerly called the Kingdom of Siam) had different capitals before Bangkok? The main ones were Sukhothai, Ayutthaya and Bangkok only since 1782!


 

Other Practical info


Passport and Visa

To enter into Thailand, passport with at least six months of residual validity is required. An entry visa for tourism is not required for Italian citizens for stays of less than forty-five days.


Transports

For info on transports in Bangkok, refer to our post dedicated to Bangkok where we explain in details the several options.


In general, to move around Thailand, we recommend internal flights for long distances or alternatively trains or night buses (a useful app to book them https://12go.asia/en)

If you only have a few days, even taking part in an organized trip or organized excursions to various places can be a valid alternative to optimize your time.


Even renting a car can be a valid option: in fact, especially in Northern Thailand, the conditions of the roads are very good and the signs have translations in Latin characters. Obviously, you need an international driving license valid for Thailand.


Period

A good period to visit Thailand is from December to March when it's not too hot and it's the driest season. Summer, on the other hand, is very hot, humid and rainy.


Cleaning and safety

Thailand surprised us as we found it very clean and safe on average.


Costs

Life in Thailand for us Europeans is not expensive (eating, entrance fees and transports) and even for sleeping there are solutions for all budgets. The major cost that you will have to take into account is (as always, sic!) the intercontinental flight (avoiding the pic- season (like New Year's) and buying airline tickets well in advance allows you to save a little)


 

To discover more about these places read also our article dedicated to Bangkok and have a look to our posts and stories dedicated to Thailand dated January/February 2023 on our Instagram page @2intour


Did you enjoy our article? Read the other articles and for more photos and videos follow our IG page @2intour

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