Asia is my favourite continent. It is an amazing continent. Full of adventure, culture and style. How did our adventure begin? The plan was to go to Seychelles in November. My travel partners (made of a group of about seven to eight people) and I had spent about four to six months planning an amazing vacation, checking out rental apartments, things to do, islands to visit and so on.
About three months to the agreed time for the proposed trip, the cost for the Seychelles holiday trip was way above budget, partly due to cancellations from people. Therefore while surfing through various travel sites (which I do often), I thought why not Thailand?
It just seemed so adventurous and affordable (it was really affordable). So I called two of my friends that had not backed out and asked if changing our itinerary to Thailand was ok and they were excited. One of the two finally backed out but my eventual travel paddy was still in the game and that was all I needed.
The planning began (the planning is such an exciting phase for me), we planned everything to the very last detail. After weeks of researching, we considered our available leave days and the cheapest return ticket. We finally decided on ten days to visit three amazing cities in Thailand.
We picked these three cities (Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Bangkok) because they offered different atmosphere. Chiang Mai was our first destination; it offered traditional and cultural Thai scenery. Pattaya was all beach and chilling then finally Bangkok, the city life filled with shopping, spa, nightlife and eating.
Thailand is not a very expensive place to visit being that it is far from Nigeria. It was such an amazing trip. I had saved a minimum of N30, 000 to N40, 000 a month to afford the trip, which came to about N500, 000 (we could have done with less). We bought our tickets on “Travelstart” for N165, 000 from Abuja to Bangkok on Egypt Air (I would however encourage purchasing tickets directly from the airline, as it’s easier to make changes to your trip. Except of course you get a better deal somewhere else. I only use ticket agency sites to compare prices).
We each budgeted a minimum of N5,000 a night (N10,000 per night), which got us rooms at amazing 4 star hotels, giving a total of N50,000 for 10 days (did I mention that Thailand is very affordable). We kept aside another N30, 000 for tours and adventure, N25, 000 for our return ticket and transportation within the three cities and N5, 000 per day for feeding (total of N50, 000 each), N50, 000 for other expenses such as cab, train, beach chairs, food market, and so on with a final budget of N100, 000 for shopping (it was more than enough, they have so many quality items at very affordable prices). We each ended up spending a total of about N450,000 on the entire vacation (kindly note dollar was N195). Using today’s rate that is about N704,550 ($2310) each. If we really wanted, we could have spent less by staying at three star hotels, doing less tours and less shopping. Therefore you can still have a fabulous time for between N450,000 to N550,000.
Phase One: Travelling from Abuja to Bangkok
I was super excited and so was my friend. We got to the airport and it was as if the Nigerian immigration officers were sent to dampen our joy (mchewwwwwwww). Due to a lot of drug trafficking that happens in Thailand it was like a red flag saying we were going to Thailand. We also had to show we had enough cash (dollars) for our trip and that we were honestly just going for a nice vacation. We finally boarded and the flight to Egypt (transit) was smooth, but there was no entertainment for the first leg. Our flight from Egypt to Bangkok was so amazing, not necessarily because the flight was smooth, or that the food and in flight entertainment were good, but because the flight was not full (I am sure some of you understand the feeling). I guess that was the advantage of travelling to Thailand on a weekday in November. We just took a full four seat row and felt at home. Talk about feeling like a first class flier on an economy budget.
Phase two: Chiang Mai (4 Nights)
So after a long nice flight, we landed at Bangkok International airport. We took a cab to the local airport and boarded Air Asia to Chiang Mai (we bought our ticket on Air Asia site).
Someone from the hotel (The Opium Serviced Apartment and Hotel) came to pick us up. It was such an amazing place and the customer service was great. We rested well and started our adventure the next day. We took a small Keke-like truck to a temple (Wat Phra That Doi Suthep). We climbed 320 stairs, bought roasted corn, hats, badass Ray Ban shades (of course it was a knock off) and a Thai native trouser (wanting to feel among). It was such an amazing day. The highlight was meeting these two little lovely native girls, one was so active. She took our phones from us and showed us how to pout, I kid you not.
There was a point in the temple where we actually became the tourist attraction. We had a lot of Asian peeps come up to us and take pictures with us. It didn’t last for too long, because another African girl appeared from nowhere dressed like a true African princess with her dada hair, I still beef her till this today (next time I am travelling to Asia I am making braids or crochet). Throughout our trip we had people try to take pictures with us or of us.
We went to a mall not so far from our hotel to window shop and have dinner (there were so many options and different national meals to pick from). As long throat people, we entered a fancy restaurant, on getting the menu the food was so cheap we ordered a three course meal and even had an actual coconut with a straw as drinks. The three-course meal my friend and I ordered, cost less than N3, 700 for both of us.
The next day we went to “Maetaman Elephant Camp”. We were picked up from our hotel. It was such an amazing tour. It started out with an amazing experience with the elephants. We played with them, watched them take a bath in the river, paint a tree and played football. We also rode on them over the mountains. We went on a rack, rode on some oxen, had an amazing lunch and met some other amazing tourist from different countries (their adventure seemed more fun because they were going to about two or more countries in Asia, they don’t have visa palava). We also visited the long neck tribe village (they are Vietnamese) were we learnt about the community and how these few people are here to help raise money for the country.
Our last but not the least adventure in Chiang Mai was the flying squirrels (Zip lining). It was so amazing. Imagine Tarzan and picture me being Tarzan (without the baboon and gorillas). Our instructors were the best. We had about 20 ziplines, one bicycle ride and two ropes and a slide at the end. The ropes got higher and longer the further we went. I am an adrenaline junkie and it honestly did it for me. Our tour also included lunch, which was provided to us by flying squirrels.
We visited a beautiful butterfly garden with different flowers and types of butterfly it was such a lovely place and a depth of knowledge. On our way back to our hotel we stopped by a strawberry farm and got some lovely strawberries (guess what…we forgot it in the bus *Tears).
Chiang mai was so amazing, the street food and art was lovely, the Sunday evening market (where we got some nice handmade vases for 100baht each). Do not pre book your tours in advance, you have a lot of options and the prices do not change. However if you are an “I must get everything set kinda person’ then please do book it in advance.
As a typical Nigerian, watch out for PART 2!!!
I hope with this experience we have encouraged you to add Thailand to your wish list and we are sure you won’t be disappointed.
Mychoicevacation is happy to share this amazing story from its first guest.
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Editor: Usoko Ngubane