Serena and Marco (two of my dear friends, indeed I would dare to say that Serena is one of my closest friends and one of the best you can hope to find in life) for their honeymoon they chose Thailand.
During their trip they did a 4-day Golden Triangle tour from Bangkok. In this post they tell what they saw and how to organize the trip in a way DIY with a lot of useful information on what to see and above all they tell of an experience lived firsthand.
The photos in this post are by Marco: you find here his Instagram profile
After spending 3 days in Bangkok, staying overnight in theHotel Gallery 12,
we have embarked on ours tour to the Golden Triangle, starting from Bangkok and reaching the extreme north of Thailand.
What you find below was our itinerary, organized by a local agency (and which you can reproduce to do the same do it yourself itinerary).
Itinerary in brief
- Royal Palace Bang Pa In
- Sukhothai Archaeological Park
- Sitchanalai Historical Park
- Wat Phra That Suthon
- Chiang Rai
- White Temple or Wat Rong Khun
- Chiang Saen
- Golden Triangle
- Chiang Mai
- elephant training camp
- visit Chiang Mai historic center
Departure from Bangkok to reach the royal summer residence: the Royal Palace Bang Pa In. For centuries the kings of Siam, to escape the hot season, chose to take refuge in this river city, enriching it with gardens and splendid buildings.
Royal Palace Bang Pa In
The styles of the various eras are mixed to form an enchanting blend of French Neoclassical, Victorian Gothic, Imperial Chinese and Traditional Thai.
The taste for European architecture is mainly distinguished re Chulalongkorn in the years of his reign which dates back to around the second half of the 800th century.
The beautiful park itself has a formal French, rustic English and classical Chinese style.
We then leave for theancient city of Ayutthaya to visit the most important temples of the historical park: Wat Mahathat, Wat Phrasrisanphet e Wat Mongkol Bophit which make it one of the richest archaeological parks in all of Asia.
Ayutthaya testifies to the power and splendor of an empire that dominated Southeast Asia for nearly 400 years. It became the capital around 1350 and was ruled by 33 kings, each of whom erected new temples and palaces and embellished existing ones.
As a bloody consequence of the Burmese massacre in 1767, part of the city was destroyed by fire and the population slaughtered or deported to Burma.
In addition to the temples and ruins, the head of a buddha statue which, buried in the ground, was collected and lifted from the enormous roots of the sacred tree Bodhi, who as he grew up brought it back to light.
Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat
New departure to reach the city of Phitsanulok, to visit the Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, the main Buddhist temple complex in the city, which houses the Phra Buddha Chinnarat, a highly revered Buddha statue and excellent example of Sukhothai period art.
Then continue towards Sukhothai. Originally it was the capital of the very first Thai nation, in an era that is recognized as the golden period of the country dating back to the XIII - XIV.
Overnight: SUKHOTHAI TREASURE RESORT & SPA
The day starts early in the morning with a visit to Sukhothai Archaeological Park, Unesco World Heritage Site, to visit the temples: Wat Sri Sawai, Wat Maha Dhat and Wat Sra Sri.
It is possible to rent bicycles or rickshaws outside the park.
Large Buddhas sit serene among the crumbling walls but to appreciate the original splendor you have to imagine the wat (literally: "the place where the temple is built") at its peak when it had almost 200 chedi (bell-shaped reliquary, elongated in the upper end with a spire, and the smooth surface) erected to protect the royal remains and a dozen wihans (serves as a hall for prayer and secondary assemblies) for public worship and an impressive bot (the main building of the central temple complex) surrounded by moats.
The main attraction is theimposing central chedi, erected by Lo Thai to house two sacred relics of the buddha. The monument is modeled in the Sinhala style with a spherical lotus bud shape, a sacred flower for the Buddhist religion, which is considered the classic architectural motif of Sukhothai.
Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat Chalieng
At the end of the visit, we continue to the famous pre-Angkorian site of Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat Chalieng, which is one of the oldest and most interesting temples in Sitchanalai Historical Park.
It is located in the area of Chaliang, east of ancient Si Satchanalai, on a small peninsula almost entirely surrounded by Yom River.
The great temple was founded in 1237, when the area was under the control of the Khmer empire. It was later restored and expanded in the Sukhothai and Ayutthaya era.
Wat Phra That Suthon
We leave for the vault of the temple Wat Phra That Suthon.
This temple mixes Burmese and Lanna styles with many allusions to moments, beliefs and figures that are not always Buddhist. The element that has made its popularity is the long Burmese-style reclining Buddha placed outside the temple.
Wat Rong Seur Ten
Continue passing by lago Kwan Phayao, to reach the outskirts of Chiang Rai to visit the blue temple Wat Rong Seur Ten started in 2005 and still under construction. The entire structure both inside and out and the statues that adorn it are colored a deep blue and decorated with gold motifs.
The interior is entirely frescoed with vivid colors and skilfully illuminated by bluish spotlights that contribute to creating a mystical atmosphere.
Un huge shiny white Buddha almost mother of pearl stands in the classic meditation position.
By Pikoso.kz /
Chiang Rai it is one of the oldest cities. It was erected in 1262 by King Mengrai as the center of the country's first independent kingdom and the heart of the kingdom of Lanna and is the door to the Golden Triangle.
Today it is overflowing with hotel restaurants cafes with some interesting sites in the historic district on the banks of the River Kok.
Chiang Rai is not a very beautiful town in itself. My advice, if you want to shoot independently is to rent a car online and well in advance.
You risk not finding them available and you may be forced to take a car with a driver, spending much more.
Alternatively you can take part in various organized tours. Below you will find the best ones in my opinion.
Overnight: WIANG INN HOTEL
Tempio Bianco Wat Rong Khun
Early morning departure to visit the famous Tempio Bianco Wat Rong Khun. Designed by the visionary painter Chalermchai Kositpipat, who started construction in 1997, it is still under construction.
This spectacular temple gives the visitor, Thai or foreign, a somewhat surreal vision of Buddhist and Hindu teachings at the same time, revisiting them in a modern key in a decidedly original way.
In fact, every detail of the temple has its own symbolism and encourages the visitor to reflect, indicating the way to escape from temptation.
In the large space of the park there are sculptures that represent fantastic and science fiction characters belonging to the world of both the small and the big screen, mostly belonging to Western culture.
To reach the central building, completely covered in white plaster and mirrors, you have to cross the "Bridge of the cycle of rebirths" overlooking the pleading hands of souls in pain who are sinking into the underworld.
The message he wants to convey is that the road to happiness overcomes temptation, greed and desire.
Two huge white nagas (benevolent demigods in the form of a dragon-snake) accompany the faithful to the temple inside which, after passing through the "gate of heaven", you can admire rather unusual frescoes, where characters from comics and cartoons stand out. , movies, in addition of course to the images of the Buddha.
Excursion on the Mekong to the Golden Triangle
di Lisa-Lisa /
It starts again at a time of Chiang Saen, where it is possible to make the excursion on motorcycles lances on the Mekong River, which marks the border between Thailand and Laos, arriving at the famous Golden Triangle which marks the meeting point of Burma, Laos and Thailand.
At the end of the excursion you can visit the Opium Museum dedicated to the historical settlement of Chiang Saen and its ancient culture and also provides information on archaeological sites and ethnic minorities residing in the Mekong River basin.
It is dedicated to the history of opium, its origins and the cultivation of the poppy; it preserves various ancient tools used to smoke opium and describes the various effects that opium causes on health and the penalties inflicted in Thailand on those who cultivate or transport it.
Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep
Continue towards Chiang Mai, through the rural district of Doi Sakhet, arriving in the evening at the temple Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, located on Mount Doi Suthep, from which you can admire the view over the city while savoring the suggestive atmosphere during the sunset, with the evening songs of Buddhist monks as background.
Overnight: Holiday Garden Resort Hotel Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai: Visit to an elephant camp
My advice is to start the day with the visit to an elephant training camp, but please don't choose one at random, based only on the cost of the excursion!
Recommended reading: The Bad Truth Behind Animal Tours, What You Should Know
Since 1989, unregulated logging has been prohibited by the Thai government and consequently all the elephants that were exploited for these jobs would have remained unproductive, had the trainers not had the brilliant idea of relocating them within the Elephant Camp, the main attraction of the still growing tourism business, supported by the government.
Since then, the number of captive elephants exploited for tourism has increased significantly, far exceeding the initial 2000 units. Of course, elephants must be tamed before being ridden.
What not everyone knows, however, is that the process is often very brutal and takes place from an early age of the animal that is torn from its mother too early and subjected to outright torture to break its will and obey its trainer / torturer without ever rebelling.
Lately, many Elephant Camps proclaim themselves ethical and cruelty free, but how can you really be sure?
I propose three for your trip to Thailand, make your considerations and choose the one that is the most ethical for you (and in case you realize that it is not, please let me know):
Elephant POOPOOPAPER Park: If you have children it is definitely the best choice, but in any case it is an experience not to be missed! In this WWF-backed theme park, located just 15 minutes from downtown Chiang Mai, you can learn what an excellent resource an absolutely unusual natural material can be: Pupu !!
Yes, all the gadgets are made with elephant droppings and thanks to fun workshops, you can touch how to create the card and with your purchases and the entrance fee of 100 bath, you can support the cause of these beautiful creatures, because all profits are destined for the safeguarding of elephants in Thailand.
Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary: the BLES center does not organize day visits but offers various overnight options in the beautiful natural park where animals can live in total freedom. Visitors can stay in wonderful teak houses which are very few so it is very difficult to find a place despite the cost, which is around 160 euros per night.
Elephant nature park: Founded by the animal rights association Save the Elephant Foundation, this park offers many opportunities to interact with elephants with various activities such as feeding them and watching them play and relax as they take their daily bath.
The animals in the park are specimens that have found a home here after having had a troubled past of captivity and exploitation.
Also during the day you can visit the villaggio Meeten, where the tribe lives Padaung, known for the charming Karen women with a long neck. You will find them inside a market aimed mainly at tourists, intent on weaving their colorful typical fabrics or selling handicrafts or items supplied to them by the UN, which takes care of their survival.
Caution: these tours are now mainly tourist, but it is worth doing them to get to know the traditions of a place (even if they practically no longer exist)
I Karen they come from Eastern Burma and since 1949, a year after independence from the British Empire, they have been fighting against the bloody military dictatorship that governs the country, to demand their autonomy and the preservation of their traditions.
In these 70 years of war, which is still ongoing, over 130 refugees have found refuge in Thailand, but they live in conditions of extreme hardship and being stateless and therefore without documents they cannot leave the refugee camps dedicated to them.
It was explained to us that women wear collars and metal protections in accordance with an ancient tradition, probably dating back to when the population lived in Mongolia and Tibet before the very long migration which took place around 730 BC and women used to protect the most common areas of the body. exposed to attacks by ferocious animals that lived in the jungle.
Back to Chiang Mai, you can take a tour of the center, even by renting a cyclò.
Chiang Mai is the heart and soul of the ancient Lanna kingdom that flourished from the mid-1860th century until the XNUMXs along the banks of the Ping River. Within the confines of the ancient city you can visit elegant religious buildings and cultural centers where you can admire and listen to traditional dance and music.
The main attractions are: the Wat chedi luang, or Temple of the Royal Stupa, built in 1401 with a height of 90m but reduced by about half during the earthquake of 1545.
The restoration works of the last decades have reconstructed part of the structure, the elephant-shaped buttresses and the stairs bordered by naga; The Wat Phra Sing, or Temple of the Lion Buddha, which according to tradition was chosen in 1345 to house the ashes of King Kham Fu and thus constitute the religious center of the Lanna empire.
La library is among the finest in the country both for the devas, heavenly creatures, in stucco and for the floral scrolls around the foundations.
From Chiang Mai there is a organized tour of Chaing Rai and the Golden Triangle.
Finally on the 5th day we left with an internal flight to thePhuket island, for another 7 days of well-deserved rest on its splendid beaches.
Getting around and information on car rental
Il Golden Triangle in Thailand it is a part of the country that lends itself well to being visited independently by car or by public transport.
For those traveling from Bangkok and outside the major urban centers, in fact, the roads are mostly in good condition and, for those traveling independently, the signs are often also in English.
In very chaotic large cities, such as Bangkok or Chiang-Mai, the traffic is so intense that it is necessary to use public transport.
You drive on the left and the international driving license is recognized according to the model of the Geneva Convention of 1949, therefore, before leaving, it is essential to obtain this document by presenting the appropriate documentation to the offices of the Civil Motorization.
On some blogs of unconscious people in the past it has been said that in Thailand a rental car or scooter is also given to whom NO has an international driving license.
It seems that this thing is true but keep in mind that in case of an accident thereinsurance may NOT pay and therefore in case of accidents, they will all be your business.
And above all, don't do it because you are not smart to cheat the rules (and does not prove to be "great travelers"), one is simply irresponsible.
Get in order with an international driving license (HERE find the information) and travel safely: alternatively a great trip could become a NIGHTMARE.
It is also important to keep in mind that in the event of an accident, foreigners are always held responsible, therefore Comprehensive insurance coverage is essential, you must therefore make sure that it is included in the rental agreement before signing it.
When renting a car on site a passport is asked as a guarantee but NEVER trust 100%. Read this post and pay a higher deposit or give another document, or rent your car online from serious agencies or from your hotel.
For those who want instead book bus tickets online can do it for long distances on TaiTicketmajor.com but there is no need to book them in advance, just ask your hotel (and the site is not very well done in my opinion).
When to go
In general it would be best to go during the dry season which runs from December to February approximately.
In this period the weather is cool so bring a sweater or jacket for the evening (temperatures can drop down to 16 degrees).
I also love to travel at other times of the year (I love monsoons, rains and storms, especially if I'm in a warm and sheltered place from where I can observe the rain, but I realize that telling you to follow this passion of mine is not is the best option!)
Keep in mind that in the dry season, precisely because the weather is better, prices can be higher.
August is the month to avoid, but it is very low season and therefore you can find the lowest prices of the year.
Hopefully ours tour to the Golden Triangle you enjoyed it from Bangkok
K der deinthāng thī̀ dī
Serena and Marco