If you’re completely new to Taipei, there’re quite a number of things to see, take a walk around Ximending, visit the National Palace Museum, check out the night markets, have drinks around Xinyi Road or the National University, or simply, gorge yourself with the glorious food the Taiwanese are rightfully proud of. But if you feel a little restless in the city (Really?), there are always options to venture out a little for something closer to nature. Taipei, and generally the whole of Taiwan, is pretty convenient to get around. There are also local trains, and buses that connect you to most places. The inter-town railway line basically encircles the entire island. Continue reading Taipei: Half Day Trips
We got ourselves some affordable tickets to Taipei for the week just before Chinese New Year. On one of the days, we decided to venture a little out from the modern city to the North Coast. For that, we got in touch with Christine via her page on ToursByLocals. Her husband, Jan, came along on the trip, as well as her brother, Leo, who was our driver for the day. Below were some of the main spots we managed to visit.
The government protests happened during our visit. Despite the sensational headlines in newspapers, we did not come across the protests first-hand. Not even once. The only inconvenience we felt were some of the main roads being cordoned off, and so alternate routes had to be taken, and traffic jams were lengthier and more common. Talking of alternate routes, the roads surrounding the Grand Palace have been blocked that day, and so we decided to take the river taxi instead.
We had some trickier-to-get-to places we wanted to see in Bangkok – the Artists’ House, and Khlong Lad Mayom, for example. So on our third full day in Bangkok, we decided to hire a small teak boat to leisurely to head to these few places as well as explore the places along the route. We first met up with Nui, our guide, before taking a cab down from our hotel to the hidden off boat pier.
Not being able to fly back to Germany for Christmas, we selected a location a wee bit closer (well, on the same continent at least), and ended up in Thailand, mainly Bangkok & Chiang Rai. Despite only having 3½ days in Bangkok, we managed to squeeze in a little day trip to Ayutthaya (1-2hours from Bangkok). We got a private guide for our trip (Thai Private Tour Guide). Though you can definitely do the travel up on your own. There’s a site listing the different travel options in great detail here: Getting to Ayutthaya from Bangkok
On our last day in Chiang Rai, we made a trip down to Wat Rong Khun, also known as The White Temple, before our flight back to Bangkok. The moment we arrived, we knew it was worth the trip. The temple was unlike any other we’ve seen – it’s exceptionally new (and still unfinished), with modern motifs and controversial art.
Continue reading Chiang Rai: Wat Rong Khun (White Temple)
(Click on photos for gallery view)
Another activity we selected on our stay at the Anantara, was the private Golden Triangle Day Tour. The guide and driver themselves are not part of the Anantara group, and are from an independent tour company. The tour covered the old city of Chiang Saen, Tachilek in Burma, and Don Sao Island of Laos.
As all our meals were all-inclusive in the room rate, the resort staff kindly made us select dishes from a print out menu for them to prepare in advance. The food was then packed and passed over to our guide and driver. Talk about service!
One of the popular activities to do when in Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai is visiting an elephant camp. Anantara Golden Triangle actually offers it as one of the free activity per night stay options. If you were wondering where these elephants come from, they belong to the Golden Triangle Asian Elephants Foundation (GTAEF), a non profit organization.
Continue reading Chiang Rai: Elephant Camp
Happy 2014! We hope everyone had a good sliiiide into the new year. We spent ours at the Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai, with a bunch of awesome people at the Anantara Golden Triangle.
They managed to beat all of our expectations. Yes it’s admittedly not the cheapest place to stay, but you get the full worth (and more) of every penny you spent. All meals, drinks, alcohol (champagne on NYE?) are inclusive of the room price, and you get a choice of one free activity for every night stayed. This ranges from visiting the wet market with chef and cooking lesson, mahout training with the elephants from the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, Elephant Treks, Golden Triangle tour (border crossings to Tachilek in Burma, and Don Sao island in Laos), Anantara Spa etc.