Having traveled all around Asia for the last 20 years, below are two of the places I recommend you to check out if you’re visiting Asia for the first time. I will outline some top attractions in each, and a little about the foods to try in each place. I’ll also give you some top tips.
If you’re looking for a mix of great beaches, sightseeing, cultural experiences and amazing food, check out Thailand and Bali to kick off your Asia Adventures. You definitely won’t be disappointed. Whatever your looking for, both countries will offer you something. From a relaxed, chilled holiday filled with rich cultural experiences, or a party holiday or romantic getaway, these two countries will cater for it all. Each of the countries appeal to many due to the vast selection of accommodation choices to meet whatever budget you have.
Floating Market (Bangkok)
Thailand, also known as “the land of smiles”
Local Currency: Thai Baht
Main International Airport: Suvarnabhumi Airport http://www.suvarnabhumiairport.com
Thai Foods to try:
There are so many food choices to choose in this part of Asia. In Thailand, be experimental and try eating a mix of street food and in local restaurants. Also, remember Thailand has every type of food from almost any country you want. You will definitely be spoiled for choice.
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• Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup)
• Som Tum (Spicy Green Papaya Salad)
• Tom Kha Kai (Chicken in Coconut Soup)
• Gaeng Daeng (Red Curry)
• Pad Thai (Thai style Fried Noodles)
• Khao Pad (Fried Rice)
• Pad Krapow Moo Saap (Fried Basil and Pork)
• Gaeng Keow Wan Kai (Green Chicken Curry)
Bangkok Some Top Sights and places to visit:
- Grand Palace
- Khao San Road (backpackers hub with lots of bars and restaurants and shopping)
- Floating Market
- Chatuchak Weekend Market
- Bangkok Riverside
- Try a river cruise with a dinner and check out temples and the Bangkok skyline from your boat
- Wat Arun
- Jim Thompson House & Restaurant
- Wat Traimit
- Lumphini Park
- Ayutthaya is a city in Thailand about 80 km north of Bangkok. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Siam, and also a trading port. The ruins of the old city now form the Ayutthaya Historical Park, an archaeological site that contains palaces, Buddhist temples, monasteries and statues, a truly amazing place to visit.
- Central Festival Shopping Centre
- Asiatique Riverside (shopping with numerous eateries as well as other attractions)
Check out the map below, for some more top places to check out in Bangkok.
Credit For Map: http://www.tripomatic.com/Thailand/Bangkok/#tourist-map/
Located about 90 minutes by Bangkok by plane, it’s a small tropical island with a great vibe and loads to do. If you want fabulous beaches, great nightlife, shopping, and loads of sightseeing, head to Koh Samui. You can travel to Koh Phangnan on a boat from Koh Samui and it takes about 45 minutes.
Some of the top things to see and do on Koh Samui are:
- Big Buddha
- Fishermans Village
- Grandfather & Grandmother Rock (Hin Tai Hin Yai)
- Green Mango (famous for lively bars and nightlife)
- Na Mueang – Waterfall
- Wat Plai Laem
- Wat Khunaram – Buddhist Temple famous for its mummified monk
- Choeng Mon Beach
- Secret Buddha Garden
- Samui Cultural center
- Guan-Yu Koh Samui Shrine
- Mu Ko Ang Thong is a marine national park in the Gulf of Thailand, on the shores of the Surat Thani Province. It covers 42 islands total. You can do a day trip from Koh Samui to visit this spectacular national park. Check out the many night markets on the island.
Ko Pha Ngan is an island in southeast Thailand that’s well known for its monthly Full Moon Party. Located about 30 minutes form Koh Samui, be aware there is no airport on this island. The island has a lot of beautiful beaches and waterfalls to explore and good choices for accommodations. Check out Thong Sala night market for a wide variety of food choices. Also, famous for sunset watching is Amsterdam bar, with magnificent views over Koh Phangnan. There are a lot of Watersport activities, boat trips and parties to check out, as well as cooking classes.
Koh Tao is located on the east side of the Surat Thani coastline with two neighboring islands, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. Koh Tao, in English, means ‘Turtle Island’ as the island used to be inhabited by turtles. The island’s shape is also thought to resemble a turtle when viewed from Koh Phangan. It has a lot of beautiful beaches and diving sites. Koh Tao has a relaxed, chilled out atmosphere and you can even hop over to Nangyuan Island for the day.
Ko Lipe is a Thai island in the Andaman Sea, near Malaysia’s border, you can do a trip here from Langkwai too. It’s part of Tarutao National Marine Park, which has loads of small islands and is known for its amazing coral waters. The island has many beautiful sandy beaches. The Dive sites in the area include the 8 Mile Rock pinnacle and the Yong Hua Shipwreck. Ko Lipe is home to many aboriginal Malay people, known as the Urak Lawoi.
Phi Phi Islands:
The Phi Phi islands are some of the most photographed and beautiful islands in Southeast Asia. You can get there from Phuket and Krabi. This island has some of the best beaches and rock formations with great marine life, making it good for snorkelling. The world-famous Maya Bay is not far. You can easily make it a day trip. This was where the movie, The Beach (with Leonardo Di Caprio) was filmed.
- Kata Noi Beach
- Chalong Bay Rum Distillery Distillery
- Phuket Big Buddha
- Nai Harn Beach
- Karon View Point
- Wat Chalong Temple
- Phuket Town Weekend Night Market
- Bangla Road
- Kalim beach side street food
- Monkey Hill
- Limestones of Phang Nga Bay
- Phuket Trickeye Museum
- Khao Rang Viewpoint
- Jui Tui Shrine
- Phuket Old Town
- Leam Sing beach
- Soi Bangla
- Gibbon Rehabilitation project
- Phuket Old Town & Market
- Rawai – Great for sea food restaurants
- Kata Noi beach and Kata beach
There are loads of other beautiful places to visit in Thailand (in land). You can check out Chaing Mai, Chaing Rai, and Pai and so many more. Research online! These places offer fantastic cultural sights, landscapes and a chance to see Thailand from a different perspective.
Some Quick Tips:
1. If renting motorbikes, always wear a helmet. DO NOT give your passport to the vendor to hold, and book from reputable places.
2. Be careful when hiring jet skis. If you damage them, it could cost you thousands of pounds/dollars. Be very careful because it is a well known scam in parts of Thailand.
3. Do not ring the bell in bars unless you want to buy the whole bar and everyone in it a drink, LOL.
4. Carry a sarong/shawl when visiting temples.
5. Set a price with taxis before you get in unless they are going to use the meter.
6. Be aware of drink scams. Pay for your drinks as you go along, as sometimes they add receipts to a cup holder. But when it comes to paying, they have added loads of extra drink receipts which you haven’t bought.
7. Use the train system to avoid traffic in Bangkok.
8. Try out a foot massage or massage in Thailand. You can find lots of places everywhere, and it’s really cheap.
9. Pick up a local sim card when you arrive at the airport or you can buy one at one of the 7 Eleven and other local shops you will see. They have fantastic date plans for internet and calls.
10. Once you get to Thailand its very easy to get flights to other parts of Thailand. You can also take mini buses and trains or ferries to lessen the cost of flying. Normally, if you book in advance flights can be cheap.
11. Check the weather for the areas you are planning to visit. Thailand has different seasons at different times of the year in different parts of Thailand.
12. Be aware of warnings on the beach if the sea is rough.
13. Please take your rubbish with you when visiting beaches (take a spare bag – sometimes there are no bins around).
14. When bartering, do it with a smile and don’t be aggressive. If you’re not happy with the price just say thank you and walk away.
15. Use sunscreen. It gets very hot out there, especially during peak times of the year and when swimming in the sea or on boat trips.
16. Do not drink alcohol and swim in the sea. There have been many reports of people drowning as a result of swimming whilst intoxicated.
17. Try learning a few words in Thai before you go. Familiarise yourself with Thai customs and rules before you go.
Local Currency: Rupiah
Main Airport: International Airport: Ngurah Rai International Airport, also known as Denpasar Population: 5.5 million approx
Bali is an Indonesian island known for its stunning volcanic mountains, beautiful rice paddies, beaches and coral reefs. The island is famous for it’s religious sites such as Uluwatu Temple. In the the south, the beach city of Kuta has lively bars and great nightlife, while Seminyak, Sanur and Nusa Dua are beach towns. Also, a must see place is Ubud, known as Bali’s spiritual centre. Stay in some of the most amazing villas in the jungle or amongst the beautiful rice fields.
There’s so much to see and do in Ubud and surrounding areas, not to mention the numerous waterfalls to see one the island. Ubud is also known as a centre for traditional crafts and dance. The surrounding Ubud District’s rainforest and terraced rice paddies, are dotted with Hindu temples and shrines, and ancient holy sites such as carved Goa Gajah (“Elephant Cave”) and Gunung Kawi.
Islands to To Visit:
These islands are fairly easy to get to from Bali
Lombok is an Indonesian island east of Bali and west of Sumbawa. It’s part of the Lesser Sunda Island chain. The island is known for beaches and surfing spots, particularly at Kuta and Banko Banko (in south Lombok). There are lots of places to visit on the island, including waterfalls, numerous secluded beaches and volcanoes.
The Gili Islands are a group of 3 tiny islands – Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air – in Indonesia, near the coast of northwest Lombok Island. Characterised by sandy beaches fringed with palm trees, they’re known for their coral reefs just offshore. On the smallest island of Gili Meno, sea turtles swim at Turtle Point. At Gili Trawangan, the largest island, a sunken ship sits at Wreck Point near Mentigi Beach.
Nusa Lembongan is a small island off the southeast coast of the main island of Bali. Quickly becoming one of Bali’s most popular attractions, this island paradise is a world away from the hassle and hectic pace of South Bali. Head here if you just want to put your feet up and relax. Main activities include surfing, diving and snorkelling. The water is some of the clearest you will find anywhere.
1. Look at the huge number of amazing villas Bali has to offer.
2. Wear modest clothing if visiting temples (shawls/sarongs).
3. Visit a local Balinese show.
4. Eat in the local Balinese restaurants called Warungs.
5. Surfing for beginners at Kuta, Legian and Seminyak Beach.
6. Top Temples: Uluwatu, Tanah Lot, Besakih
7. Neighboring Islands Lembongan, Ceningan and Nusa Penida arevless than 45 minutes from Sanur by boat.
8. Balinese are super friendly and welcoming. They are also proud and happy if you respect their customs and island.
9. Rainy season is October to February. Dry season is March to September.
10. Bali and it’s islands have a issue with rubbish. Please be a responsible tourist and ensure you don’t drop litter.Ttake a spare bag with you to take your rubbish away until you find a bin.
11. Try and visit some of the beautiful waterfalls, rice fields, and volcanoes on the island.
12. Check out monkey forest for some fun with the cheeky monkeys. Be careful since they do steal, especially food (one nearly took my iPhone). There are two I visited. The first one was in Ubud (the monkeys here are more boisterous and i’d say aggressive). Try another monkey forest called Sangeh (the monkeys here are quite calm and better behaved). Both places have lovely Balinese statues and are covered by lovely trees to keep you cool whilst you walk around.
Some Balinese dishes to try…
- Pisang Goreng
- Mie Goreng. A classic Indonesian staple of fried noodles is often served with vegetables and
choice of chicken, shrimp or pork
- Nasi Goreng
- Babi Guling
- Nasi Campur
- Bebek Betutu
- Mini Rijsttafel
Written by : Digital Travel Guru (Elizabeth Wanderlust)
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