Chiang Rai is one of Thailand’s largest cities in the north, aside from well-known Chiang Mai. There are many similarities between the two cities, but I found after spending time in both that they are both fairly similar, aside from Chiang Rai having a much more local feel. Though there may not be as much to see and do in Chiang Rai, it is completely worth the few hours’ drive north. One thing I love about Thailand is how each city/town has its own night market. The Chiang Rai night market has a decent selection of souvenirs that are comparable, if not cheaper, than those in Chiang Mai and a large outdoor seating area surrounded by food stalls to grab some dinner.
Koh Lanta is a very relaxed island where you can spend your days island hopping, lounging on the beach, diving, volunteering at Lanta Animal Welfare, or slinging back a beer while watching the sunset. This island is the perfect getaway if you’ve just spent a few crazy nights on neighbouring Koh Phi Phi. You might be able to easily keep yourself busy during the day, but at night the island really winds down (unless, to your surprise, you stumble upon a “half moon” party on the beach!). When we were staying close to the ferry pier in the northern part of the island, we were wandering about the town one night after yet another delicious dinner of Pad Thai and we found a night market. Now, this wasn’t just any market – the Koh Lanta night market is going down in the books as one of the most bizarre markets I have ever come across during my travels..
You just can’t leave without having seen the sunsets and night markets in Gili Trawangan. The views from the western side of the island are breath-taking (a great way to end the day biking around the island!). After you’ve finished watching the sunset, head on over to the night market to enjoy some hearty, local grub that is better (not to mention extremely cheap) than any of the tourist restaurants on the island!