Thursday afternoon we are on our way to Schiphol airport in Amsterdam from where we fly directly to Bangkok with KLM.
In the Netherlands, it is really cold autumn weather. We feel lucky returning to the fair warm temperatures and the great food, my wife has been nervous for weeks to see her family again, even though it is short because of all our travel plans. Ancient temples, pristine jungle areas, some of the world's friendliest people, cheap beer, mountains, and beaches this is the ultimate travel guide to Thailand and Myanmar
Jomtien / Pattaya
After a flight of 11 hours, we arrive in Bangkok where we at our big surprise within an hour outside the terminal by our rental car, after which we drove towards the coast an 1,5 hour ride over the highway to Pattaya/Jomtien
My wife enjoyed two plates of noodle soup and she was fully acclaimed and we were able to check in at our first hotel Movenpick Siam hotel Na Jomtien Pattaya We were assigned upgrade to a luxury suite on the 31st floor thanks for that, a large room with a whirlpool and a great view over the coast. After a dip in the pool and a beer, we decided to go to sleep for a few hours to get over the jet lag and to be able to go along with the Thai time a different with the Netherlands of six hours . In the evening we had a delicious Thai meal at the beach and fell asleep tired and satisfied.
Next morning a nice breakfast awaited us, this is indeed a five-star breakfast with so much choice and great attention to detail. ( In this hotel they try to not use any plastic) The hotel Movenpick NaJomtien has a big swimming pool,fitnes, and spa, and a clean beach where you can kayak or windsurf. After breakfast, we went kayaking for a bit and walked on the beach. In the afternoon we visited the Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden a dinosaur park with a huge garden and many dinosaurs, busloads of tourists are brought here, for children and families an impressive park for us mwa I dont like what they do with elephants in that park. In the evening we received a gift from nature a great sunset by the pool, we drink some cocktails in the bar and enjoyed dinner after which another day had flown by.
The next morning we visited the floating market of Pattaya a huge copy of the floating market near Bangkok, only for tourist but impresive enough for a visit and the food is great.
After that it was time for otur next hotel Baraquda Pattaya in the center of the lively bustling city of Pattaya. A unique boutique hotel. The Baraquda hotel is part of the Mgallery collection hotels and everywhere you see the details inspired by here come back. We got lunch at the pool enjoying the sunset in the panorama bar, breakfast in bed we were treated like a Prince and Princess a great getaway right in the middle of the city within a 100 meters from the beach
After breakfast we made some pictures at the new shopping center Terminal 21 inspired by an airport there are also two airplanes outside and the square is illuminated as a runway beautiful architecture here but the prices inside are more expensive than in Europe, we drove back to Bangkok for our next destination Myanmar our first stop is Mandalay
Top list to do in Pattaya / Jomtien
1.Walking street Pattaya 2.Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden 3.Pattaya floating market 4.Enjoy the view of the city at Wat Phra Khao Yai 5.Go snorkel at the island of Koh Larn 6. Sure yourself and genit at Tiffany's Cabaret 7.Pattaya Elephants shelter camp 8.Sun on the white beach of Ban Amphur 9.Visit the wooden temple with a view over the sea Sanctuary Of Truth 10. Shopping in the many shopping centers Central festival or Terminal 21
After a flight of 1.5 hours, we landed at Mandalay where we took a taxi to our hotel by the Red Canal. It was already dark and we could not see where we were driving , a lot of scooters drive without lighting they realy save some energy in Myanmar it was a miracle that the taxi could avoid them all over the sandy bumpy roads. Along the road we saw everywhere tents with bbq fires and people enjoy noodle soup and curries welcome in Myanmar.
The Hotel by the Red Canal, with is classic look, is the most affordable boutique hotel of Mandalay, with the discerning traveler seeking design, comfort, top location and iservice. The boutique-style hotel is a combination of everything Myanmar has, with teak furniture and fixtures and accessories made of rattan, mother-of-pearl, and other local materials. The Spice Garden serves the best North Indian cuisine and Myanmar specialties.
The next morning we were awake earlier by the first rays of sunshine through the window we had breakfast and walked out the street to visit some temples. What immediately stands out in Myanmar is the great contrast between rich and poor. We wandered around the market and walked towards our first temple the golden temple monastery the entrance fee we had to pay was 5000 kyat about 2.5 euro and gives you access to 5 temples.
The Golden Temple Monastery is quiet this time where not many tourists, we walked around a bit and it was not that special but nice to see and take some photos.
A 10-minute walk farther lays the Kuthodow pagoda the world's largest book, I had read about this temple a lot and seen many photos on social media, it was about 10:00 in the morning and remarkably quiet we walked around and took some pictures of the beautiful white pagodas.
Almost next to this temple, the Sanda Muni Paya is noticeable, the many pagodas are a beautiful photogenic whole ,here also a few tourists. When we walked out around 12:30 we saw about 10 vans arriving with tourists. I think they all do the same route here, so we were very lucky with this and a tip for you as the next visitors.
At the exit we met the same taxi driver as in the morning and decided to let us drive back to the hotel even if it was only a fifteen-minute walk. After Mandalay we did not have any transport and so we could check whether the driver could drive a bit and is reliable. We decided that he would pick us up again in the afternoon to watch the sunset at the U Bein bridge.
Because it was so hot we skipped the palace and Mandalay hill and were looking for refreshment at the hotel's swimming pool with fresh cocktails and fruit.
After our refreshment and a nap by the pool our taxi picked us up at four o'clock just in time for the sunset at the U Bein bridge a long teak wooden bridge over a large lake, certainly a photogenic place but also very touristy, the tourists we had not seen in the morning were certainly present, we walked a bit over the bridge but there were so many people that we decided to take some pictures next to the bridge on a sandbank. You can also sail around with a boat and enjoy the best view from the water. We went around with a boat for 15000 Kyat and enjoyed the beautiful sunset from the water. Around the lake are many restaurants and bars where you can buy something to drink or eat dinner.
We decided to go back to the hotel to enjoy the food in the Spice Garden, which is definitely recommended if you stay in Mandalay.
The next morning the alarm wake us up early again for a early breakfast after the taxi picked us up at 8 o'clock for the boat to Mingun. We bought tickets for 5000 Kyat a person and wait until 09:00 the departure time of the boat. The rickety old wooden boat with some chairs brought us in an hour upstream to Mingun where we visited some temples.
The main attraction here is the gigantic white pagoda from the ferry about 10 min walk and a nice half day trip from the city.We took the boat back at 12:30 and there is another one day goan.
Back at the hotel, we enjoyed a delicious massage after which we went to the Mandalay palace to watch the sunset. The next day we took the taxi to Bagan which is about 4 hours away.
Top List to do in Mandalay
l Kuthodaw Pagoda
l Sandamuni Pagoda
l UBein Bridge
l Hsinbyume Pagoda
l Shwenandaw Kyaung (Teak Temple)
l Mandalay Palace
l Climb Mandalay Hill
After a drive of 4 hours on the bumpy roads of Myanmar, we arrived in Bagan on the way we already saw some beautiful temples and pagodas and I could imagine how great it would be here during sunrise or sunset. Our hotel Amata garden resort is located in New Bagan where many luxury hotels are located and the perfect place to discover all the temples and pagodas of Bagan. A haven of peace and tranquility, Amata Garden Resort Bagan offers easy access to the famous Bagan temples and more. We stayed here 3 nights so we could see at least 3 sunsets and 3 sunrises. After lunch at the pool, we rented an electric scooter to explore the area and visit a temple rooftop before sunset. We followed a route of temples that we had read on the internet about ,the best temples of Bagan, but most temples are closed, at least the roofs of it. This was done because after a number of earthquakes and monsoon rains they almost collapsed under the pressure of tourism which massively wanted to see the sunset on the roofs (a must-do in Bagan). In short, all the guides and reviews can be put in the trash because if you are traveling there it might be a lot different and that temple is closed too.
We used Maps.me the app is well kept which temples are closed and which still open. This app is much better to use in Myanmar as google maps because google maps many temples missed and does not offer route guidance in Myanmar. So many of you send me emails and dm about what temples we shoot just download maps. and you will find there are just a few open for rooftop access.
So after some disappointment of closed temples, we finally found a nice place to view the sunset, we enjoyed the sunset and drove back towards our hotel. On the way we stopped at a restaurant for dinner, the price level here is even lower than in Thailand and for 5 euros you eat extensively in a restaurant, not on the street, I say for 5 euros 2 people in a restaurant we chekt the bill three times.
The next morning we were dropped of by a tuk-tuk at one of the temples to watch the sunset, the first temple was the roof full of cameras and tourists we decided to try the next temple, but here the roof was full of Chinese people who were quite cheeky, noisy and unmannered a great annoyance of every traveler and normal person. We had no choice and could not waste time so decided to make the best of it. At a given moment I got space from a nice man from southeast Asia to stand between the Chinese and also to catch the sunrise it was a great sight to see the sun come up behind the pagodas and see the air balloons take off during sunrise.
Our days in Bagan we actually did not that much during the daytime by the pool and in the afternoon and morning temple hopping with our electric scooter. We discovered two temples without tourists and decided that we would come back here more often though the view was not as in the other temples we could honestly enjoy the peace here it was just the two of us.
Most temples of Bagan I have made a list of below are easy to find with Maps., please note that in some temples the roofs are already closed and overgrown with trees and nature.
Most beautiful temples of Bagan
l lAnanda Pagoda
l lMahazedi Pagoda
l lShwegu Gyi Phaya
l lDhamma Yan Gyi Temple
l lShwesandaw Pagoda
To view the sunset or sunrise from the roof of a temple I recommend using Maps.me or asking the locals to bring you to a temple for a small fee, this is perhaps the safest way to be sure of a nice place.
I almost forgot to tell you about our great flight with Balloons over Bagan, we were picked up at 05:00 in an old school bus to a place about half an hour away from New Bagan. We drink coffee while getting a briefing on the safety rules and meet the pilot, the pilots are all European and professionally schooled. We enjoyed the view over the temples from the air definitely recommended to do when it fits your budget, for 2 people 700 euros.
After three days in Bagan we drove back to Mandalay airport with our same taxi driver and took a flight back to Thailand Chiang Mai for the Yi Peng light festival.
Chiang Mai / Mon Cham Thailand
A short flight took us to Chiang Mai airport where we picked up our rental car and again within an hour we were outside the airport. We stayed the first night in a low-budget hotel close to the airport because it was already evening and so the next morning we could drive in daylight to Mon Cham. The hotel was really low budget and not recommended I leave the name even, the breakfast was soluble coffee with a sandwich. Hungry and disappointed we drove to Huay Tueng Thao lake to have breakfast and lunch. Huay Tueng Thao lake is a big lake just outside the city with floating huts on the water where you can eat swimming chilling these kinds of places you come across a lot in Thailand and the food is honest. We enjoyed the peace and the food and after the battery was recharged we drove towards Mon Cham to drive around there and spot some photo locations. Mon Cham was formerly known for his mountains and great heroin harvest and smuggling, after the king started a program for the people with an alternative to the poppy cultivation for the mountain tribes now you can find all kinds of vegetables, and fruit. The population lives from tourism and the produce of fruit and vegetables. In Mon Cham we stayed in an Onsen resort, a spacious resort in Japanese style with an eye for details, the guests walk around in bathrobes so you do not have to worry about your clothes. The resort consists of 16 rooms from lux to super lux and regular rooms. We enjoyed the afternoon in the Onsen Spa. The hotel Onsen at Moncham is located at 1200 meters above sea level in a green landscape in the middle of the Jungle and between the farms of Mon Cham. In the evening we enjoyed Japanese cuisine in the open-air restaurant, a spacious restaurant with Thai and Japanese cuisine, the food was great and definitely recommended if you are in the area and want to eat Japanese, it deserves 5 stars the tuna melted in our mouth so fresh.
The next morning the alarm went back early to see the sunrise between the mountains, a magical sight with the mist rolling through the mountains we picked some fresh strawberries and drove back to the hotel. After breakfast, we drove to the Mae Sa waterfall just 10 min from the hotel I had already been here 5 years ago and came back here because the waterfall is really great. In the 5 years time the park has deteriorated everywhere you find collapsed and poorly maintained huts lookout points, I wonder where the money goes to because the park gets a lot of visitors and that is not reflected in the maintenance. The waterfall has 10 floors nr. 5 is the best but we decided to walk a bit to the top to take some photos in peace. Tired and satisfied we walked down again at our leisure, after which we had lunch somewhere on the river in a hut. In the afternoon we enjoyed the tranquility and nature and the spa in the Onsen.
The next morning we checked out and drove to an elephant farm. Pantara Elephant camp is a shelter for elephants where the elephants walk around freely in a nice atmosphere in a large park in the middle of the mountains with Lonelyplanet certification and Natgeotravel recommended its as a good choice.
Patara Elephant Farm is unique because of their Elephant Owner for a Day program. Together with the regular caretaker of the elephant you are responsible for one day for the care of the elephant you get assigned. The nice thing is that they choose an elephant that suits your character, we got a very quiet elephant because Ho was afraid of the big mammals. After we were a little accustomed to the elephant and had given him to eat we had to work the elephant had to be washed and scrubbed in the river. After that, it was time for a little movement and we drove back with the elephant through the mountains in the jungle to the camp a really nice day.
In the evening we picked up the rest of Ho's family to celebrate Yee Peng or Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai. The alarm went back early to see the sunrise at Doi Suthep (I become a morning human ) a great sight to see the sun rise and set the temple in a nice soft light. After breakfast we visited the Zoo from Chiang Mai where you can drive your car through, we were especially interested in the Pandas. Arriving at the pandas it was not so special, one was sleeping and the other was eating something uninterested. After lunch, we were picked up or we would be picked up but never saw anyone for the commercial Yee Peng festival where a mass release of 10 thousand lanterns is held in the air. Because there was never a van appeared to pick us up, we went by taxi and we were not the only ones, it seems that hundreds of people had to arrange their own transport. The festival itself was so busy and poorly organized that this is not really recommended, there are two commercial events organized 1 by the Cowboy rank the other is Mae Jo University We had paid 70 euros for a VIP ticket and included a Thai dinner, Thai boxes, dancing, and a Loi Krathong ritual but because it was so badly organized we got nothing to see and the food was also worthless no one had a place to sit. The Thai ceremony was so uninspiring, I think they did not really know what they were doing or just don't care, but fortunately, we did not come here either for this. We had come for the mass release of the thousands of lanterns and this was indeed a great sight that I will not soon forget.
( Update, after we complain on PayPal about the transport we get all our money back and the organiser, say sorry for the lack of transport it was there the first time to organize a big thing like this)
To experience the mass release, you do not actually have to have a ticket. You can also see it just outside the fence and make even better pictures. We had VIP cards and were completely in the front, a Chinese woman made an attempt to light her lampion and at the same time her chair a whole row of lanterns, and the neighbor set on fire. After this, it looks safer to run out of the VIP area with lots of Chinese who don't know what they doing because they never listen to someone.
We looking for a place in the back to take some pictures in peace. A great sight to be able to experience this.
The next day we visited the white temple (Wat Rong Khun) and blue temple (the Wat Rong Suea Ten) in Chiang Rai its a 2,5-hour drive from Chiang Mai. I had been here once again about 6 years ago and the temples were not finished that time and not touristy at all. Now we arrived and you could walk over the heads so busy 50 Bath was the entrance that was the only thing that remained the same. After the white temple, we visited the blue temple here also too busy. I notice that Instagram actually does more harm than good, a few bloggers make some pictures and the crowd follows them here and thinks they can take those photos too but this is usually not possible or you just have to be on the spot just after sunrise when there is no tourist to be seen. Back to Chiang Mai, we visited a natural Onsen Spa where you could sit in different pools very good for your skin, some water was so hot that you could cook an egg. I decided to retreat myself while enjoying myself of a Thai massage.
In the evening we took the Taxi to the Ping River where they held the Yee Peng festival at the Narawat bridge in Chiang Mai. We left our lanterns between local and tourists. We bought a floating flower bouquet to float in the river. The candle and the incense sticks are lit and the Krathong is launched. It is believed that the longer the candle burns, the better your happiness will be in the coming year. The Thai couples also often let their krathongs together. The longer they stay close together, the longer and nicer the relationship between the living. Some couples smuggle by connecting their krathongs with a small string.
Then we walked to the bridge to light our lanterns, it was busy but I must say the police and volunteers kept everything sharp in mind that it is so much better here organized as the commercial events. After we had let go of our lanterns, we had a dinner appetite and afterward, we were so exhausted that we honestly crawled under the wool to go to the airport again early in the morning to fly back to the coast.
Things to do in Chiang Mai
Mon Chaem farms
Old city temles
Visit an Elephant farm,chek before ow they threat the elephants
Doi Inthanon, the highest peak in Thailand
Visit theKaren and longneck tribes
Bo Sang handcraft village
Near my wife's house is an airport where AirAsia offers different flights. In 1.5 hours we were back on the coast to check in at our first hotel Dvaree Jomtien beach a large hotel with lots of rooms at the beach of Jomtien and less crowded than the big Pattaya a bit further. Without all the noise of bars, you can sit here quietly on the beach or take a morning walk. The hotel has 5 restaurants a spa, 2 swimming pools a kids club and a Sky bar. I enjoyed the pool all day while Ho was arranging some stuff to take home. In the afternoon I took an oil massage at the spa and ordered a ice cream banana split by the pool and enjoyed the peace until a Thai came up with the idea here it is very quiet I'm going to turn on the radio on Mach 10.
We watched the sunset from the Sky bar where a table was reserved for us at the most beautiful spot exactly in the middle of the dome, a great view and we were lucky with the sunset all colors came over. The next morning we got a breakfast in bed a fair Sunday morning feeling with fresh rolls the smell of coffee and fresh fruit.
The rest of the days we had a private pool Vila at our disposal at Nusa Chivani Pattaya this spacious villa in Tuscan Italian style with a private pool. Our Vila had four bedrooms with all their own shower. A perfect place to spend the rest of the holiday in peace to enjoy with Ho her family. In the morning breakfast was booked and in the evening you could also order from the restaurant at the entrance of the park. We enjoyed our own place with a large swimming pool and did nothing else for the rest of the day. At the beginning of this blog post, you can read all about what to do in Pattaya / Jomtien. The villas are highly recommended and a 10-minute drive away is the most beautiful beach in the area where you can watch the sunet alone on the beach or enjoy fresh fish in the many restaurants.
Our trip to Thailand and Myanmar came to an end and I hope you enjoyed as much as we do