As many of you might know, I spent about 3 weeks traveling around Thailand at the beginning of this year. I by no means saw ALL of the country, but I did get a taste of some of the most popular destinations in the Land of Smiles while I was there.
It's a place that I most definitely want to return to someday.
But, for now, these photos will have to suffice to transport me (and you) back there:
Golden Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
On top of a mountain that overlooks the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai sits Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Covered in rich reds and reflective golds, this temple was definitely one of the most eye-catching I visited in Thailand. It's also VERY popular, though, so I would suggest visiting as early in the morning as you possibly can!
Pranang Cave Beach
Often referred to as the most beautiful beach in Thailand, this beach on the Railay peninsula certainly made an impression on me. The longtail boats, the turquoise water, and the tall limestone islands made for some of my favorite Thailand photos.
Details at Wat Pho
Located near the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Wat Pho is known for its giant Reclining Buddha. But the temple is actually large and sprawling. I loved the intricate details on these stupas.
I spent one week of my time in Thailand volunteering at Elephant Nature Park in the northern part of the country. There, I got to get up close and personal with these beautiful creatures and develop a deeper love and appreciation for them — and to learn what they suffer through in other parts of Thailand.
Looking for fine sand and clear turquoise water? Look no further than tiny Bamboo Island (and head to the opposite end of the island from the swimming beach for views like this).
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha
Located within the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Wat Phra Kaew (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha) is absolutely stunning. The opulent details here are well worth seeing.
Monks collecting alms in Chiang Mai
Every morning, monks descend from the mountain to collect offerings in the city of Chiang Mai. While I felt slightly weird participating in a ritual that was not my own, I did learn a lot about the lives of monks.
Riding in a longtail boat
When staying in Ao Nang or Krabi, the only way to get to the Railay peninsula is by longtail boat. I had no qualms about this mode of transport, however. The cliffs we buzzed by were so impressive.
Tranquil Wat Pha Lat
Hidden in the jungle on the side of Doi Suthep mountain in Chiang Mai lies Wat Pha Lat. This tranquil temple was just about empty when I was there, and so much more beautiful because of it.
I spied these colorful prayer ribbons at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai. Not that this temple NEEDS more color to make it beautiful, but I really liked them.
Snorkeling the Phi Phi Islands
The Phi Phi Islands on Thailand's Andaman coast were devastated 10 years ago by a tsunami. Thankfully, the are recovering nicely. We saw plenty of colorful fish while snorkeling in this beautiful bay.
I actually hated visiting Monkey Beach — tourists were giving the poor animals bags of potato chips and cans of Coca-Cola, which made me sick to my stomach. I was just as scandalized at the monkey in this photo looks.
There's no denying it – even on a perfectly clear day, Thailand can produce some gorgeous sunsets. Then again, is a beach sunset EVER bad?
A glimpse at some small golden buddhas for people to pray to at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
Elephant Nature Park
I mentioned before that I volunteered at an elephant sanctuary while in Thailand. There, I learned about the fascinating family and social structures that elephants form. Here's a family group at ENP made up of abused and rescued elephants.
Even though this bay is now usually crowded with tourists who want to see where Leonardo DiCaprio filmed the movie “The Beach,” it's still kind of worth going to see anyway.
Hidden jungle temple
Here's another shot from Wat Pha Lat on the mountainside in Chiang Mai. I love how peaceful it looks.
Relaxing on Koh Lanta
I spent my last few days in Thailand chilling on the beach in Koh Lanta. I spoiled myself at a nice resort, and barely did anything other than swim and read. It was amazing.
Grand Palace in Bangkok
Thailand's royalty lives in a sprawling palace complex in Bangkok. It's a bit over-the-top, to be honest, but I'm still glad I went to see it.
Kayaking in Krabi
One of the coolest things I did while on the coast was going kayaking through some of the canyons and mangrove forests just outside of Krabi.
Longtail boats lined up
This is a typical scene at the beach on Railay — longtail boats lined up to ferry tourists to and from the mainland.
Grand Palace guard
I sure wouldn't want to mess with this guy… he guards one of the entrances to the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
Railay is known for its limestone cliffs — especially popular with rock climbers. I didn't do any climbing myself, but I took plenty of photos.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Whether you want to do some serious shopping or just experience some of the chaos that characterizes Bangkok, a trip to the Chatuchak Weekend Market is an absolute must. You can literally find anything and everything here.
Which photo makes you want to go to Thailand the most?