My Thai Adventure: I Tried Our Most Popular Trip
By Caitlin Spouge
Last updated: 17th August 2023
I’ve never flown on a plane by myself, let alone flown out to a completely new country to meet a group of strangers. I was pretty nervous at first. Wouldn’t it be awkward having to hang out with all these people I’ve never met before? Isn’t a group trip kind of like school trip vibes? There was only one way to find out if the group trip experience was for me … go on our most popular trip - Thai Adventure!
Our first group meal was exactly what you would expect. The discussions were filled with ‘Where are you from’ and ‘How old are you’. After a couple of hours exploring Bangkok’s temples and slyly pulling people aside to ask ‘What was that person's name again?’, we were waiting to board the overnight bus to Chiang Mai and this is when I knew the ice had well and truly broken. Here we were, a group of practically strangers, discussing our bowel movements. That’s how things really are on a group trip. You become so comfortable with each other so quickly that you forget you just met. I also was able to pretty much nail everyone's names by the time we reached the Elephant Sanctuary on day two. The sleeping arrangements there were pretty unique - 23 of us on futon-style beds in one room. Still, I genuinely could not complain given we were literally staying on the grounds of the elephant sanctuary itself!
It took less than two minutes to walk from our accommodation to where we were able to feed and bathe the incredible elephants. If I was looking for a bucket list moment to kick off the trip, this was it. The elephant sanctuary was also the moment I had to accept that maybe not every core moment can be caught on camera. One of the local guides very kindly offered to take a video of me with the elephants. Unfortunately, due to no one's mistake but my own, my waterproof case was covering the camera the whole time and you actually can’t see anything in the video. Lesson learned! I have the memory of it and it was better than destroying my phone with elephant poop.
One of my favourite experiences of the whole trip was only on Day 3 - the homestay! But first, we had to set off on a 2-hour hill trek. After a dip in a waterfall to cool off, we made it to a rural village made up of 15 families, approximately 90 people. The homestay was an amazing experience as the locals very kindly took us to a sunset viewpoint, made us a delicious Masaman curry and we ate it looking over the most stunning view ever. If there is one word to describe our night at the homestay it would be wholesome. It was an evening of campfire games and playing cards. It was hard to believe I was in the middle of nowhere with 23 people I had just met!
Once we journeyed to Chiang Mai, it was back to bustling city life. One of my concerns before travelling to Thailand was the food. I nervously hovered around each of the stalls at the street food market in Chiang Mai, trying to figure out what would upset my stomach the least. Luckily, our local tour guide, Nylah, was always on hand to help with any concerns. Nylah reassured us that as long as we were buying food that we have seen cooked fresh in front of us, we would be absolutely fine. I quickly fell in love with Pad Thai so of course I had to have a go at making one at our Thai cooking class. I still dream about how delicious the food we made was. We were able to choose which dish we wanted to make from a variety of options. If you’re not ordering Pad Thai at every opportunity then I think you are doing Thailand wrong. I like to think I did a pretty good job with each of the dishes although Nylah did have some critiques for each of us.
The nights out in Thailand are as incredible as you expect - if not better! If you’re looking for a night out in Chiang Mai, Zoe in Yellow is the place to go. And nights out could only improve from here as our next stop was Koh Phi Phi, renowned for its beach nightlife. Our hostel could quite literally not get closer to the action. On our doorstep was the most popular strip of beach bars on the island and our evenings were full of impressive fire shows and plenty of cocktail buckets. The hostel was also home to the iconic Ibiza Pool Party (which is worthy of a TikTok search if you’ve never heard of it).
Of course, Koh Phi Phi isn’t just for the nights out. We couldn’t miss Phi Phi Viewpoint, worth all the sweat from the walk up in the boiling heat. And then there was the boat trip to Maya Bay which seriously is as dreamy as it looks. We paddled in the bright blue water and, even though you can’t swim in Maya Bay itself, we were able to hop off at plenty of swim spots in the surrounding area.
Another key highlight of Thai Adventure was our night spent in Khao Sok National Park. After a very scenic long-tail boat ride, we made it to our home for the night - floating bungalows on a lake! I couldn’t wait to jump straight into the inviting water before we went on our first safari. In the morning, we all woke up at 6 am to watch the sunrise over the lake. This is a memory I will never forget and completely worth the loss of sleep as we all sat on the little porches of our two-person bungalows admiring the pink sky.
My final stop was Koh Samui. My time here was spent at Ang Thong Marine Park, with more kayaking, and a pretty awful hangover that made me miss an optional boat trip to Pig Island.
I was surprised by how sad I was saying goodbye to the rest of the group as they continued their adventure to Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. The fomo mixed with the strange feeling of saying goodbye to friends I only met 18 days ago was enough to keep me distracted for the duration of my journey home. I would definitely pick a group trip for my next solo adventure!