Thai takeaway - need to know
Caitriona travelled with Thailand adventure operator Intrepid Travel (0044 203 147 7777; intrepidtravel.com). Her 15-day trip costs from €765, excluding flights. The price includes accommodation, transfers, some meals, hill trekking, elephant riding, boating in Bangkok and a trip to the Bridge over the River Kwai. Tours are limited to a maximum of 12 people.
The cheapest flights right now cost €619 return from Dublin via Copenhagen to Bangkok with SAS. See Trailfinders (01-677 7888; trailfinders.ie).
A double room in the three-star Viengtai Hotel in Bangkok costs €42 per night. A stay in the two-star People Place Hotel in Chiang Mai costs €14 per room per night.
When to go
November to February is the coolest time of year in Thailand. March to May is the hottest. June to October is rainy season.
Consult your doctor, but hepatitis A and typhoid vaccinations are recommended, along with mosquito spray, sunscreen and loose cotton clothes.
Five great things to do
- Wander through the packed Chinatown region of Bangkok, where hundreds of traders sell silk, gold, gems and antiques.
- Visit the Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital at Lampang, 100km south of Chiang Mai, to see Mosha, the first elephant in the world to be fitted with a prosthetic leg after she was injured by a landmine on the Cambodian border (pictured below).
- Stroll around the bustling Night Bazaar on the Ping River in central Chiang Mai and haggle with stall traders for jewellery, clothes and souvenirs.
- Jump on a tuk-tuk (motorised rickshaw) for a rambling tour of Bangkok. Visit Wat Pho, the centre of Buddhism in Thailand, then weave through the streets to Phahurat Market to fill up on tasty snacks in Little India.
- Visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok, a huge complex built in 1782 and still the spiritual heart of the Thai Kingdom. Stroll past Wat Phra Kaew, a temple that houses the revered 14th-century Emerald Buddha.