Chiang Mai & Ubon, Thailand Itinerary: Week of things to do


Go in December or January. This is high season for all of Thailand as it does not rain (but is still very green) and not as hot as other parts of the year. Fly to Bangkok. Asian airlines have better food and service, and shorter routes. Your priority must not exceed 23 hours total travel time. I take Cathay Pacific when I can because Hong Kong airport has great layover food.

Rent a car at Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport from a major multinational car dealership like Hertz, Budget or Sixt. These are the only companies that do one-way rentals, and you’ll end up returning your car at Ubon Ratchathani Airport. I also recommend getting an international driving license to be safe. They drive on the other side of the road and the lane markings don’t mean much. You are technically not supposed to drive with a foreign driver’s license in Thailand, so if you were to have an accident, it would be good to be honest. You can do it through AAA for $20. While you’re at the airport, also buy a Thai SIM card for around $20. This journey is not possible without fast data.

Head north to Khao Yai National Park, Thailand’s most famous national park, where you will begin your next day. This trip wouldn’t have been possible for a non-Thai ten years ago, but now you can find everything in Google Maps, and a lot of the signs are in English. The first hour is the scariest part of the ride. Highway 1 is the industrial trucking route, so everything goes through it. After that, the rural part of Thailand will be flat, easy and open roads. Stop for about an hour at the Ho Watthanatham Phuenban Thai Yuan Saraburi Cultural Center, where there are a series of traditional Thai Yuan wooden houses on the river. Then go to Wat Khao Kaeo Worawihan temple. Many temples in Thailand are overrun with tourists, but there’s nobody at this one, and it has a lot of rural charm. There is a beautiful terrazzo mosaic staircase that goes through these trees. It’s not glitzy, but it’s gorgeous.

There are some crazy five-star resorts in Khao Yai, like the new Roukh Kiri Khao Yai Hotel (from $428), because this is Thai wine country. Bangkok’s wealthy have country homes here. I like to stay at a mid-range hotel, like the Moosiyard Hometel Khaoyai (from $56), which is an hour east of the Saraburi province you passed through. It’s nothing too memorable, but it’s located next to gardens and a river and is close to the entrance to the national park, which is good for an early start to the next day’s hike.

Moosiyard Hometel Khaoyai

Twenty-five minutes from the hotel is Pak Chong, which is the main town outside of Khao Yai National Park, like how Joshua Tree is just outside the National Park. The whole area has a Clint Eastwood-Western vibe, and there’s architecture that looks like Western saloons because Thailand had a Western craze in the 1960s. If you’re not eating on the street, you’re not eating the best food in Thailand. In this market, you will see fried foods, grilled meats, fresh fruits, Thai desserts, ice creams and things to buy, such as clothes. All. I always choose grilled chicken with sticky rice; it costs about $1. I also eat noodles no matter where I am in Thailand. Ba mee moo dang is actually a Cantonese egg noodle dish with roasted red pork and a clear broth that has become a classic Thai dish at this point. You can’t go wrong with this dish no matter where you are in the country. You dress the noodles yourself. There are spice racks with white vinegar with fresh sliced ​​green chillies, dry red chillies which are super spicy, fish sauce and sugar. I like to put a little vinegar.

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