Written By Katy Johnson
Having seen photos of of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia I knew I had to visit. I’ve always been obsessed with history, ancient civilizations, and old abandoned temples, castles, and ruins. It has fascinated me to see the structures and buildings and imagine how people lived in them before. Also, being on Instagram and seeing countless photos of Phi Phi Island I knew it was also a place top on my list.
I decided one November day to book a ticket to Thailand, I couldn’t find anyone to go with me so I just thought “Why not just go alone?” I didn’t want to miss an opportunity or experience because no one else was as interested as me. I booked Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phi Phi Island, Krabi, Koh Samui, Kuala Lumpur, Siem Reap and Singapore.
I boarded my plane excited for my new journey, only to be quite nervous upon landing in Bangkok as it was the first time I had ever traveled somewhere where I knew no one. One of the most important planning details was to ensure I’d arrive in a city during daylight hours. I stayed in 4-5 star hotels, booked in advance, as it was my first time traveling solo and I wanted to be as comfortable and feel as safe as possible. It was important to me to book my airport transport in advance through a trusted travel siteI used Uber in every city that offered it which was Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore. I didn’t go out alone after dark except if I visited very public area.
I loved the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, it was so interestingly busy to me. I visited the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (A wat is a temple basically). Wow! Photos and words do not do these places adequate justice. I stayed two days in Bangkok and headed to Chiang Mai. I adored Chiang Mai and the many temples it offers. I visited the long neck tribes which was an eye opening and amazing experience. I fed baby tiger cubs at a tiger sanctuary. I made cool friends and explored the biggest and best (in my opinion) Wat in Chiang Mai, Wat Doi Suthep. I explored and found some amazing treasures at the night markets for next to nothing. I was then off to Cambodia, the place I was excited most to visit. I’d awaken every day at 4:30 a.m. to get ready and get to Angkor Wat by 5:30 a.m. for sunrise; Angkor Wat and the other temples are majestic at that hour and so mysterious.
After exploring every crevice of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, I hired a tuk tuk driver for the rest of the day to drive me to all the other temples. Plan on two full days to see them all without rushing. Again, I can’t describe adequately the intricate beauty and precise details of the carvings and stone work. It’s something you must see to really understand and appreciate. It’s still one of the most fascinating places I’ve seen.
Next, was a visit to Malaysia for two nights to shop and see the Batu caves. The shopping mall was incredible as were the twin Petronas towers, but I was quite disappointed with the Batu Caves and the rest of Kuala Lumpur as there isn’t much else to see. I recommend spending no more than one day here if you must, and see the Caves and the mischievous monkeys who play there. Watch your cameras and jewelry as those monkeys will steal anything they can from you.
After Kuala Lumpur, onward to Singapore to stay at my bucket list hotel “Marina Bay Sands”, the popular hotel with the hugely long rooftop infinity pool that looks over the Singaporean skyline. This hotel was pricey but so worth the experience; sadly unless you’re a hotel guest you’re not even permitted access to go near the infinity pool. I wandered across to “Gardens by the Bay” to experience its beauty and then I was out again back to Thailand to do the islands. Singapore was so nice, clean, and super safe. It’s a city to stop through again for a full day or two. I found it to be the safest and cleanest city I visited.
The islands in the South of Thailand were lovely. I loved Krabi the most. Phi Phi was so beautiful but you must go early to avoid the crowds. Monkey Beach was amazing as you get to play with all the monkeys. Onward by flight to to Koh Samui, another stunning Thai island that’s a little touristy but you can expect that with Thailand. I recommend staying on the north side of Koh Samui as the south is for honeymooners with a lot less activities to do. You must do the early morning temple hike. There are stunning views of the Thai coast; the sunrise is amazing and you may even get lucky and have a little doggy companion to walk up the 1,200 plus steps with you.
All in all, I adored my time in S.E Asia and truly can’t wait to go back very soon.