We landed at Bangkok’s Don Muang airport at 1515 on Monday 2nd December after a short flight from Chiang Mai. We had booked a room at the Holiday Inn Express Siam, right in the middle of the CBD, but our first challenge was to work out how to get there! We would normally have taken a taxi from the airport, but with Bangkok being so big we decided against that idea as it would take a long time and cost a small fortune. Instead we opted for public transport! We had done some research before leaving Chiang Mai about public transport options, but these all looked quite complicated.

Looking out over Bangkok from a Skytrain station


We arrived in the ancient city of Ayutthaya on Wednesday 3rd December following a two hour train journey from Bangkok. It was the first train I can remember being on where the train stopped for vehicles at a level crossing! Once out of the station it didn’t take long for a tuktuk driver to pounce on us, offering to take us to our hour l hostel for 100BHT. We were prepared for this, having asked the hostel how much a tuktuk from the station should cost and were informed it should be around 50-60BHT, and turned down the 100BHT offer. We eventually managed to get a price of 80BHT, which we accepted. The drive to the hostel only took five minutes, by which time we were right in the heart of the old city.

Wat Chaiwattanaram in the late afternoon sun

Chiang Mai

We spent 11 nights in Chiang Mai in total, across two visits. This is the longest time we have spent in any one city on our travels, making it a pretty special place! We loved the relaxed atmosphere in the city, the cafe culture, the ability to walk most places and the variety of things to do – there was something for everyone! So how did we fill all these days I hear you ask? Well, here are some of our highlights from Chiang Mai…

Sunday night market

Vietnam by train

After arriving in Ho Chi Minh City by bus from Phnom Penh we looked at a map and realised that it was quite a long way from there Hanoi – more then 1500km in fact. Speaking to friends from home, travellers we met and researching online we did not have the highest impression of bus travel in Vietnam. We heard stories of bad roads, ‘interesting’ drivers and poor vehicles and, when combined with the distances between the places we wanted to visit, we weren’t particularly keen to try them out.

Fortunately Vietnam has an excellent railway system that seems fairly well geared up for tourists. Further research showed that all of our stops between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi were along the main line that runs from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City.

Relaxing on the train from Hue to Hanoi