Our Thailand Shot by You Sweepstakes winners, Cara and Steph Bono are here to dish out all the highlights from their time in Thailand, after participating in the classic Thailand on a Shoestring Tour and soaking up all that Thailand has to offer.
1. What was your itinerary like, and what places did you hit up?
We went on the Thailand on a Shoestring tour with STA travel starting in Bangkok and ending in Koh Tao. During the 15 days of this trip, we’ve been able to experience a taste of all the best highlights of Thailand. Our first few days were spent exploring the energetic streets of Bangkok, enjoying incredible street food, visiting gorgeous temples, and experiencing the vibrant nightlife.
Our next stop was Chang Mai, which has a much more relaxed feel than Thailand’s capital. We spent two days visiting the temples Doi Suthep, Wat Chedi Luang and hiked the monks trail up to Wat Pha Lat hidden in the jungle. The evenings here were spent tasting local dishes at the street food markets, wandering the night bazaars and partying at Chang Mai’s bar hub.
Next on the itinerary was our jungle treks north of Chang Mai where we stayed at homestays in the hill tribes. This was one of the coolest and most unique experiences of our travels to date. We took cooking classes, learned how to weave bamboo baskets, spent time with locals in the village, and spent the evenings sharing amazing food and watching the night sky. We left the villages by bamboo raft and had a three-hour expedition flowing through the jungle. That afternoon we headed down to Khao Sok National Park and had a day of swimming and boating around some gorgeous landscapes.
Next, we hit the islands, we stayed two nights at an awesome party hostel on Koh Pangan, spending our days relaxing in hammocks and enjoying the beautiful beaches. Finally, we landed in Koh Tao, a much smaller island with a more local and relaxed vibe. It’s also known to be one of the best marine areas in all of Thailand, which is why we spent the majority of our time here exploring the vibrant underwater world surrounding the coast.
2. What have you found is the best thing about the culture in Thailand?
Our favorite trait of Thai culture would have to be how friendly and open the people are. Anywhere you go there will be plenty of people going out of their way to help you and they always make an effort to communicate in a way you’ll understand. We also love how the Buddhist religion is entwined with the Thai people’s whole lifestyle. They exude a deeper understanding and appreciation of the simple things in life and everyone is extremely respectful. And being known as the “Land of Smiles” it’s true that their smiles are contagious.
3. What was something totally unexpected that you saw/experienced in Thailand?
One thing that I didn’t expect about Thailand is how much the people here believe in magic. Inside businesses and many tuk tuks they have embroidered protective yantra patterns placed high on the walls or on the roof to keep them safe from driving accidents and to protect their place of establishment from negative energies. Many Thai people also strongly believe in the magic of Sak Yant tattoos and use them to keep safe, healthy and to aid them in reaching their life goals.
4. What was your favorite place to see, and capture content from?
Our favorite place to see on this trip would have to be Koh Tao. The island was stunning and it had great energy. We spent most of the day capturing underwater photography of all the coral reefs and marine life and then would make it back just in time to catch the vibrant sunsets over the water. Koh Tao was defiantly the best snorkel experience we’ve had so far. The water was sparkling clear and there were so many schools of beautiful fish.
We never get tired of photographing and capturing content from Bangkok! The amount of unique places you can venture to is endless. From street photography in the local markets, alleyways of Chinatown to extravagant golden temples, we could never get bored of exploring this city. At night the city glows with life. Night photography here is just as exciting as the nightlife.
5. Any recommendations for future travelers going to Thailand
- Here’s our top tips for future travelers about to experience their first trip to Thailand:
- Pack very lightweight clothes as it gets very humid and hot, and make sure to have a few lightweight pants and cover-ups for visiting temples.
- Pack bug spray & coral reef safe sunscreen • After spending a night experiencing Koh San Road, venture out to the many other beautiful bars Bangkok has to offer. Our favorite was the Iron Fairies.
- Always bargain, as a foreigner many people double or triple their prices, bargain your way down to half.
- Buy a sim card, it will make your travels run a whole lot smoother.
- The prices in Northern Thailand are much cheaper than the southern Islands. If you’d like to shop, try to do most of it in Chaing Mai.
- Always have cash on you as most places don’t take card.
- Be a responsible and ethical visitor, don’t ride the elephants or give your money to any tourist attraction that treats animals badly.
- Don’t be afraid to walk places rather than always taking tuk tuks. You’ll come across a lot more off the beaten path and interesting places.
6. Describe Thailand in one word, or a short phrase.
It spices up your senses.
Looking for more? Make sure you check the Bono twins out on Instagram, @thebonotwins, and keep your eyes pealed on our Sweepstakes page for your chance to win an epic travel trip!