The Best Of North Thailand and the Best Route

The Best of North Thailand and the Best Route

Here you’ll find the ultimate itinerary and route which means you’ll get to see the best of North Thailand.

We spent just under 3 weeks travelling around North Thailand. And with being our 3rd (Ells) and 4th (Steff) times in Thailand… we thought we knew what to expect! But Northern Thailand quickly became our favourite part of Thailand and proved all of our preconceptions wrong!

A quick run down of our route over the few weeks;

Bangkok – 2 nights

Chiang Mai – 5 nights

Pai – 3 nights

Chiang Rai – 2 nights

Sukhothai – 3 nights

Ayutthaya – 2 nights

Bangkok – 1 night

You could probably do this Northern Thailand route in 2 weeks, but we like to take our time and really soak it all in and we were also doing some remote work along the way!

Chiang Mai is definitely the main place to use as your base and to shoot off to each of the areas – from Pai, we headed back to Chiang Mai to then drive to Chiang Rai and then back again to Chiang Mai to get to Sukhothai. Below is a break down of what exactly we did and how we from A to B (to C, D, E F…)

Bangkok

We’ve both been to Bangkok multiple times before, but I think trip we explore than we had ever done before!

Steff and Ells at The Grand Palace Bangkok during their 2 day trip to Bangkok

How did we get there?

This part is the easy part, even though its the furthest distance! We flex with British Airway from London Heathrow Airport into BKK Airport in Thailand. It took around 12 hours and it was a pleasant flight as BA tends to have more legroom than most long distance airplanes!

What did we do when we got there?

For a full break down as to what we got up to across our 2 days in Bangkok click HERE

But on the first day we visited the following places;
– The Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha which cost 500TBH each to enter (£11.75/$15.00)
– Khao San road for some street food lunch!
– Phra Sumen Fort (a short walk from Khao San and is free!)
– Bangkok Ghost Tower
– Unicorn Cafe

The second day we had our flight in the evening but we got up early to explore;
– The Airplane Graveyard (it is a little far out so definitely schedule in at least half a day for this one).

For detailed information on the above places follow the link to How to Spend 2 Days in Bangkok

Where did we stay?

We stayed in a hostel/guesthouse in a private room which cost about £10 per night. It was super modern and really clean. So we highly recommend it!

You can find the hotel here – Dozeoff Guesthouse

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai has got to be one of the highlights for the street food we had here at both the Saturday and Sunday Night Walking Street Markets! I am latterly salivating at the thought of the veggie gyozas that cost 50 TBH for 5! (£1.17/$1.50) And of course you cannot forget the the temples!

Steff admiring The Silver Temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand

How did we get there?

There are 3 ways to get to Chiang Mai from Bangkok and that is to either fly, take the bus or take the train. We opted to fly because, although it was the most expensive option it was also the quickest! With just an hour flight at £20 each, you can’t really go wrong! Compared to the 10+ hours you’ll spend on a bus/train!

What did we do when we got there?

The main places we visited during our 5 days in Chiang Mai;
– Visited some of the main temples within the Old City Walls including Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Sri Suphan (Silver Temple) and Wat Phra Singh.
– Traditional Thai food market.
– Visited “The Iron Bridge” which crosses the River Ping.
– Ate a lot of food at both the Saturday and Sunday Walking Street Night Markets!

Where did we stay?

We actually stayed in 3 hotels across 5 nights. A budget hotel, a mid range boutique hotel and a luxury 5* hotel. We’d recommend all 3 of the hotels;

Tommy Huts Chiang Mai

Baan Saen Fang Hotel  you can also find our review of this hotel HERE

The Marndadee Heritage Hotel you can also find our review of this hotel HERE

Pai

Pai is definitely one of faves out out of all the places we have visited in Thaialnd. The food is amazing and the diverse amounts of attractions is awesome. Most of it either free or very cheap! If you are in North Thailand it certainly is worth the very windy 3 hour drive from Chiang Mai to visit. You’ll definitely regret it if you miss Pai!

Steff and Ells We Are Wandering muddy from climbing Pai Canyon in Pai, Thailand

How did we get there?

We took a 3 hour bus from Chiang Mai’s Arcade Bus Station to Pai. We booked our tickets online for 150 TBH (£3.52/$4.50). But you don’t have to book if you don’t mind waiting a little! You can pick up tickets from the counters at the station. It’s really easy  and is the same price as online!

What did we do when we got there?

For a more detailed breakdown of the top things to do and see in Pai click HERE

There was so much to do and we didn’t fit it all in, but I think we managed to tick off the best of Pai in 3 days;
– Pai WWII Memorial Bridge
– Pai Canyon (try and go for sunset if you can!)
– Pai Land Split (make sure you try some of the produce the farmer offers, we left a small tip on 100 THB)
– Bamboo Bridge, Pai
– The Temple on the Hill (The White Buddha)
– Pai Walking Street Night Market (the food is UNREAL!!)

Where did we stay?

We stayed in this quirky little place on the outskirts of Pai (a 6 minute scooter ride to the walking street). The perks of this little place is it has a fantastic swimming pool that had views of the mountains and The Temple on the Hill. Gorgeous!

You can find the hotel here – Baan Kung Kang De Pai

Chiang Rai

we had been dreaming of visiting Chiang Rai for quite some time as we really wanted to visit The White Temple, so we mace sure we did not miss out on the opportunity to visit whilst we were this far up in Northern Thailand!

Steff walking across the bridge to enter The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand

How did we get there?

As we were in Pai and there was no direct route from Pai to Chiang Rai via public transport, we jumped back on the windy bus ride and headed back to Chiang Mai. Here we took a metered taxi from the bus station to the Airport where we picked up a hire car! This to you may seem like a expensive option but by the time you calculate the cost of two return bus tickets and then getting taxis around Chiang Rai and trying to find a sketchy bus to Phu Chi Fa, £40 for 3 days car hire was a bargain!

So we highly recommend hiring a car if you’re heading up to Chiang Rai, especially if you want to visit Phu Chi Fa!

What did we do when we got there?

Chiang Rai is full of awesome temples, but we weren’t just there for the temples…

– The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)
– The Blue Temple (Wat Rong Sear Tean)
– Walking Street Night Market
– Chiang Rai Clock Tower
– Phu Chi Fa Viewpoint

Where did we stay?

We stayed in the cutest little hotel which over looked lush green rice paddies, offered morning yoga and had the yummiest whole foods cafe onsite which also catered for Gluten Free (Yey!) If you are visiting Chiang Rai we highly recommend you staying here – the owner and his wife are friendly and welcoming! The price for a comfortable double room with aircon is super reasonable too! We paid £27 for 2 nights for 2 people!

You can find the hotel here – Junsopa Resort

Sukhothai

As the first Capital of the Kingdom and after hearing that it is mega beautiful and still quite undiscovered we were super excited to reach here! We were not disappointed!

Ells admiring just one of the magnificent Buddhas - Wat Si Chum, part of the Sukhothai Heritage Park in Northern Thailand

How did we get there?

It’s super simple to get to Sukhothai, you can just head to Chiang Mai’s bus station and look for the Win Tour desk. It cost around 300 THB each for the ticket (£7/$9) and it takes around 6 hours. You can either get the bus to the Old City of to the New City. We opted for the Old City as that’s where our accommodation was!

Don’t book online as all that is quoted online is private transfers which are about 4000 TBH! There is no need as you can just rock up to the bus station and buy tickets on the day!

What did we do when we got there?

So the whole purpose of heading to Sukhothai (translates to “Dawn of Happiness) is for the ancient temples from the 12th and 13th century. You have to buy park tickets for Central, North and West areas. Each area is 100 TBH (£2.36/$3) per person and 10TBH (£0.23/$0.30)for your bike pass. You can hire bikes in Old City for just 30 TBH (£0.70/$0.90) for the day – we highly recommend doing this as the weather is seriously hot and humid here!

The temples we visited were;
– Wat Maha That (the Buddha amongst the pillars)
– Wat China Songkhram
– Wat Si Sawai
– Wat Si Chum

There are obviously a lot more temples, but there are only so many to fit, so we did a bit of research before hand and decided on the main temples we wanted to visit. I’m glad we did because some are about a 15 minute cycle and its hot, like really HOT!

Where did we stay?

We stayed at the cutest little boutique hotel which only had 3 rooms, it was just a 4 minute walk from the Old City Main Street and right in the middle of all of the Sukhothai Historical Park Temples!

You can find the hotel here – Old City Boutique House

Ayutthaya

The second Capital of the Kingdom of Thailand – got to get both the kingdom capitals under out belts haven’t we!?

Ayutthaya was supposed to be more “touristy” according to blogs and other travellers we had spoken with. And yes admittedly there were more tourists than Sukhothai but it was still was busy like we’re used to! It was a nice slow flow of tourists at arch of the historical sites, still giving you that opportunity to snap the perfect snap!

Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya, North Thailand

How did we get there?

So this was a little more difficult than the trip from Chiang Mai to Sukhothai and that is because there isn’t a direct bus or train that goes from Sukhothai to Ayutthaya. But nether the less we found the trip fairly stress free even though there wasn’t much info online!

From Old City you can catch the public bus (near the Historical Park Entrance) to the New cities bus station – apparently the locals are only charged 20 TBH but they charge foreigners 30 TBH – we didn’t even ask how much as at the end of the day 10 TBH really is nothing to us and we were happy to pay the extra!

From the station you jump on the bus heading to Phitsanulok which cost just 40 TBH each (£0.94/$1.20) which takes around an hour.

From Phitsanulok you jump in a Songthaew to the train station, which costs just 30 TBH each and then in the main entrance head to the ticket counter and ask for the next ticket to Ayutthaya. The trains tend to go pretty regularly as this is the train that goes straight through to Bangkok from Ayutthaya!

Be prepared for this train journey – its about 6 hours and it gets pretty sweaty! There are a lot of people that get on and off and there is no air con – just a fan and the windows open!

What did we do when we got there?

We arrived fairly late and after being ripped by the tuk tuk driver to take us to our hotel because it was after 7pm we didn’t feel up to much so we just chilled out in our beautiful apartment. But the next day we got straight to it! The temples that we visited in Ayutthaya were;

– Wat Mahathat (confusing because there is also one in Sukhothai!)
– Wat Ratburana (literally right next door)
– Wat Lokkayasutharam (the reclining Buddha)
– Walking Street Night Market

We also used bikes to get around here as it was super handy getting to and from places! Our hotel actually let us use the bikes for free too! RESULT!

Where did we stay?

We stayed in a brand new guesthouse/hotel which we were super impressed with! Run by Bonnyawat and his wife who were super accommodating and even helped us with some meditation… you can read all about the the hotel and our experience HERE

You can find the hotel here – Krodyle Mindfulness House

Back to Bangkok

From Ayutthaya we headed back to Bangkok to catch our flight to New Zealand!

We took the short 2 hour train journey from Ayutthaya to Don Maung in Bangkok (we were flying out from Don Muang)

If you’re visiting Ayutthaya in Thailand, you MUST stay here at Krodyle Mindfulness House!

If you are paying a visit to Ayutthaya in Thailand then we highly recommend that you spend at least 1 night in this beautiful city and we have the perfect place for you to stay!

We have recently stayed at Krodyle Mindfulness House and it was probably one of the best experiences we’ve had since being back in Thailand!
Krodyle is a brand new hotel/guest house that only opened 3 months ago and the whole concept of the place is gorgeous. Entwined with nature and mindfulness it has a beautiful calming effect – just what you need after a long hot day exploring the temples of the second Siamese capital (after Sukhothai).

Krodyle Mindfulness House in Ayutthaya. Beautiful garden.

It is a mindfulness house, so there is the opportunity to participate in meditation and yoga, but this is absolutely optional! Both Ella and I are complete novices when it comes to meditation but as we were there, we wanted to give it a try. After a brief conversation with Boonyawat about meditation and the simple steps to free your mind of chatter or as he put it to “silence your monkey mind” we joined his wife and family in some walking meditation.

Steff and Boonyawat practising walking meditation at Krodyle Mindfulness House

We each took up our positions dotted around the house on each level and spent 30 minutes meditating. It was an incredible experience and something that Ells and I have agreed to incorporate into our daily routine – to say we slept well that night is an understatement!

The beautiful grounds of Krodyle Mindfulness House in Ayutthaya, Thailand

Boonyawat and his wife were so accommodating to us and proudly offered a wide selection for breakfast and a fridge full of free refreshments that we were to help ourselves to.

The room was gorgeous, light and airy with an enormously comfy King size bed. A balcony to the back of the room looked out over some woodlands and the bathroom was simple and stylish with colourful tiles. We especially liked the single star shaped light bulb hung on the wall.

King size bed in room at Krodyle Mindfulness House in Ayutthaya, Thailand

The Facts

  • An easy 10 minute drive from Ayutthaya Train Station, or a 26 minutes walk if you fancy a little journey along the river. TIP: TukTuks will try and charge you 150THB however if you hail a metered taxi (and ask for it to be on the meter) it should cost you half that price!
  • Krodyle offers free use of their brand new bycyles to all who stay which is an excellent way to explore the temples and the city!
  • Krodyle is a short 4km ride from Ayutthaya Historical park which only takes a maximum of 15 minutes to cycle.
  • Breakfast is included with the room and there is a selection of fruit, cereal and cooked meat and rice. Along with tea, coffee and soft drinks.
  • There is a beautiful “loft” space for yoga/meditation that overlooks woodland.
  • Boonyawat and his wife are the kindest people you will meet (Ells had a horrendous tooth ache and Boonyawat happily offered to drive Ella to the dentist and then to the pharmacy).
  • Based on a quiet road that runs adjacent to the river.
  • Air con works perfectly
  • Hot shower that is separate to the toilet (unusual and a real luxury in Asia!)
  • The WiFi is excellent!
  • Krodyle Mindfulness House offers free bicycles to explore the city of Ayutthaya with!
  • What would we rate it out of 10?
  • We would happily give this place a 10/10 score.
  • The location is spot on, the hospitality was by far the best we’ve come across in Asia and the hotel itself was spotless.
  • Would we stay again?

    110% we’d stay again! We only had one full day in Ayutthaya, so I can imagine if we are ever back in Thailand we’ll be taking another trip to Ayutthaya and we will most certainly be booking into Krodyle Mindfulness House. They made us feel so welcomed, and after a few weeks on the road it was nice to be welcomed into a friendly and peaceful place!

    How to book?

    You can book Krodyle Mindfulness House HERE this link will take you through to booking.com for the best prices (between £40-£45 per room per night).

    Yoga and meditation room at Krodyle Mindfulness HouseYoga and meditation room at Krodyle Mindfulness House

    The gorgeous breakfast area below and the rooms above at Krodyle Mindfulness House in Ayutthaya, Thailand

    Things to do in Pai, North Thailand

    Pai is by far one of our favourite places not only in Northern Thailand but in the whole of Thailand and we can fully understand why once people arrive in Pai… they never leave!

    Fortunately (or not so fortunately) we already had a car hire booked to get us from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, so after our 3 nights stay in Pai we HAD to leave, even though we really did not want to!

    Pai is a small town set in the Mae Hong Soon Province in North Thailand, it is known for its laid back vibes, amazing food and incredible scenery. And for such a small town, it can really make a BIG impression.

    Here’s our list of some of the BEST things to do in Pai in Northern Thailand.

    TIP: You WILL need to rent a moped/scooter if you want to get around cheaply and easily! There are limited taxi and they cost a bomb… and the “tours” aren’t much cheaper either… you can pick up a scooter for as little as 120 THB a day!

    And the best thing about all of the below is that they are absolutely FREE (minus a small donation to the guy who owns the land where the land split is!)

    1. Pai Memorial Bridge

    The original bridge was built during WWII by the locals of Pai. Not by choice, but under the demands of the Japanese army so that they could launch an attach in Burma (Myanmar). The original bridge was burned down by the Japanese once the war was over, but the locals soon rebuilt it as by this point it made life a lot easier crossing the river here!

    Pai Memorial Bridge, moped and sidecar with rainbow umbrella

    Where is it?

    As you approach Pai from that hideous windy drive through the mountains from Chiang Mai you’ll actually pass right by it. The road into Pai is fairly straight forward. From Pai the bridge is simple 10 minute drive away!

    Best time to go?

    Between 11am – 3pm is the “busy” period, we visited smack bang in the middle of the busy period and there was only maybe 3 other people there. You don’t have to wait long to get the perfect picture opportunity

    Pai Memorial Bridge, north Thailand

    2. Pai Canyon

    Well this certainly was a lot of fun! Thailands very own version of the Grand Canyon, obviously a lot smaller, but no less of an incredible view!

    With narrow walk ways and 40 ft drops either side, it certainly isn’t for the faint hearted, but it really is fun and worth the sweat! The best view is is across the canyon where you first have to manoeuvre your way down part of the canyon (one person at a time) and then climb back up the other side, but trust me, its worth the climb!

    TIP: Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty… as you can see below we got covered in mud and clay!

    The incredible view of Pai Jungle from Pai Canyon

    Where is it?

    Just South of Pai, its about 8km South it’s another easy drive. And if you’ve just come from the Memorial Bridge it’s quite literally 2 minutes down the road from the bridge!

    Best time to go?

    Pai Canyon is meant to have the most spectacular sunsets, unfortunately for us we visited in peak rainy season, so there was no sun to be seen. If you think you’ll have a good chance of catching the sunset head there for around 6pm-6:30pm. However it tends be more quiet during the day. We got here around 4pm and although there were quite a few people here, the place is so big you can easily escape them!

    Peaceful views of Pai Jungle from Pai Canyon

    3. Pai Land Split

    Like I mentioned earlier, we visited North Thailand smack bang during monsoon season, so the weather was pretty rainy! But that didn’t stop us! We jumped our our scooters and headed out to the Land Split.

    The land split used to be farm land where the owner grew crops, but back in 2008 there was an earthquake which caused a massive crack in the land. A further two more earth quakes in the following years led to the now massive land split!

    There is no cost to visit the land split, however the land owner offers a selection of snacks and juices which come from the land. You can leave a donation, we aren’t sure about others but between us we left 100 THB donation after we had some yummy snacks after our visit!

    Pai Land Split sign in North Thailand

    Where is it?

    About a 15 minute drive South of Pai (nothing is very far from Pai!). You turn off the main highway and follow the little road for about 2km before you arrive at the land split which is on the right.

    Best time to go?

    Opening times are 9am-5pm, but as a general with most of Pai there are visitors at most places but it is always a steady flow. Just as we reached the Land Split another couple were leaving, making us the only people there for the duration of our visit!

    Ella stood in the middle of Pai Land Split

    4. The Temple on the Hill (or The White Buddha/Wat Phra That Mae Yen)

    This gorgeous Temple on the hill has exactly 297 steps up (yes! We counted!)it actually isn’t;t that difficult – well it wasn’t for us since it was a lot cooler as it was absolutely bucketing it down with rain!

    The views you get here at the top looking down over Pai are incredible.. even when its cloudy and raining!

    The WHite Buddha at the Temple on the Hill in Pai (Wat Phra That Mae Yen)

    Where is it?

    I’d probably say that The Temple on the Hill is actually within walking distance of the main walking street in Pai. It would probably take you about 20-30 minutes to walk from Pai to the entrance as it only took us about 3 minutes to drive it on a scooter!

    Best time to go?

    As per above… Pai is one of those places you can go and avoid all of the crowds! When we were here, we were the only ones at the top. It was so peaceful!

    5. Pai Walking Street

    Okay so OBVIOUSLY whilst you’re in Thailand you must try the street food and if you visit Pai then you CANNOT leave with out trying all of the delicious food from the Walking Street!

    Where is it?

    Smack bang in the middle of the main part of Pai – if you’re in Pai you cannot miss it as they close the road off to cars (though some locals do still drive down it!).

    Best time to go?

    It starts around 6pm and finishes at about 10pm. The best food gets sold real quick, so your best bet is to get down there for about 6pm – oh and do not miss the gyozas… they are to die for!

    6. Pai Bamboo Bridge

    You definitely need a scooter to get to the Bamboo Bridge! A gorgeous 800m bridge made solely from bamboo spanning across rice paddies with an incredible mountainous back drop – what more could you want!?

    Incredible views of the rice paddies and mountains in Pai from the Bamboo Bridge Pai

    Where is it?

    South of Pai, in the same direction of the Land Split, but you keep on going once you’ve passed the split!

    You will get to a fork in the road, to the left it will take you across a bridge but this way is extremely muddy, as we unfortunately found out as we tried to drive through the mud pit, got stuck and Ells fell off the back! If you go right it does look a bit gravelly but the ground is a lot more firm – we tested it out on the way back and wished we had gone this way on the way there too!

    Best time to go?

    Anytime between 9am-5pm! Again there were a fe other visitors but nothing that would disturb the beauty of this place!

    Incredible views of the rice paddies and mountains from thee Pai Bamboo Bridge in Pai


    Pai really is one of those magical places that most, if not all who visit fall in love with!

    We spent 3 nights here in Pai and could even do 10 more if we had the time!

    We certainly will be back one day to visit the amazing Pai, but the question is, when will YOU be visiting!?

    Baan Saen Fang Hotel – A Blissful Hotel in the Heart of Chiang Mai

    This hotel was a peaceful little property that gave us sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of Chiang Mai Old City!

    We did start off our stay here on the wonk slightly… and that’s because when we got to the hotel to check in, we realised we had left our passports in the drawer of the bedside table at the last hotel! So we had to spend a couple of hours trying to retrieve our passports! But, very kindly the reception staff helped us get in touch with the other hotels staff which resulted in a smooth collection of our passports! Gold star from us for Baan Sean Fang Hotel customer service.

    Once we were both back at the hotel, passports in hand, we were taken to our villa. Well, we certainly were not expecting the size of this villa! We had our own dining room… yes you heard that right, we had a dining room! A massive King sized bed, a little kitchenette area and a big bathroom – it’s fair to say this villa was bigger than my 2 bed flat back in the U.K.!

    Baan Sean Fang Hotel, Chiang Mai

    The lovely hotel staff showed us around and informed us that there was an a la carte menu to chose from in the morning for breakfast and that all we had to do was ring up and order it to our room… amazing! I love it when hotels go that extra little mile to provide awesome customer service… Isn’t it just a drab having to get up and go down to breakfast? Much prefer breakfast in bed thanks!

    Baan Saen Fang Hotel - Breakfast in our villa

    It rained for the best part of our stay so we didn’t get to utilise the hotels facilities as much as we’d like to have done, but on the second day there was a glimpse of sun, so we jump at the chance and got straight in the pool. It really is a beautiful infinity pool – which looks onto the incredible Baan Sean Fang Temple.

    Baan Saen Fang Infinity Pool overlooking the Temple

    We also took the opportunity to get a few snaps in whilst it wasn’t raining, but not long after, the heavens decided to open, so we headed back to the villa where we finished off some work.

    Baan Saen Fang Hotel Infinity Pool

    Whilst we spent the day in the villa we ordered room service, and for such a small price we had some really yummy traditional Thai food that the hotel offered! We really recommend eating at the hotel for at least one of the nights, you won’t regret it!

    We ordered Morning Glory, Fresh Spring Rolls and Pad Thai which was all delicious and the cost came to under 300 THB (£6.85/$9) for all of it!

    Baan Saen Fang Hotel Food

    The Facts:

    – The Hotel is a 7 minute walk from Tha Pae Gate which is the East entrance to the Old City and also the start of the Sunday Walking Market.

    – There are only 4 villas, which each have two rooms to them. So a real boutique hotel.

    – Only a 15 minute drive from Chiang Mai Airport.

    – They offer a FREE Airport drop off service

    – The WiFi is REALLY good!

    – An affordable price for those who look at mid range hotels, but want luxury treatment. 2140 THB per night (£48/$64) which you can book HERE

    – Free use of the bicycles.

    Would we stay again?

    Most definitely, the location of the hotel is perfect – close enough to be able to walk straight into the heart of Chiang Mai, but far enough out that you can get a peaceful nights sleep!

    How to book?

    We’ve checked the prices out and you get the best deal booking directly through the hotel website, which you can access here;

    Baan Saen Fang booking page

    Baan Saen Fang Dining RoomBaan Saen Fang BedroomBaan Saen Fang BarBaan Saen Fang VillaBaan Saen FangBaan Saen Fang

    How to spend 2 Days in Bangkok

    This is the ultimate guide to spending 2 days in Bangkok if you want to dose up on your temples but also want to throw something a little different into the mix!

    This is how we spent our 2 days in Bangkok!

    To be honest with you… we were actually in Bangkok for 3 days, but as we landed in the morning and were extremely tired, the first day was a write off. But, resting on the first day meant that we had all of the energy that we needed to explore to the max on the following 2 days!


    Day 1

    The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha

    This is a must do if you’re visiting Bangkok, and especially if its your first time in Thailand, it will really set the tone for the rest of your trip!

    How to spend 2 days in Bangkok - The Grand Palace

    • Where is it?

    The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha is in the heart of Bangkok. The best way to reach it is by boat – the river Chao Phraya is the main water way in Bangkok and is very important to the Thai people. You can pick up a one way ticket for as little as 15 THB each.

    The closest pier to where we were staying (in Si Lom) was Sathorn Pier, which is right next to Saphan Taksin BTS station. Ask for a ticket to The Grand Palace and make sure you get off at Tha Tien pier which is 7 stops (15 minutes)

    How to spend 2 days in Bangkok - The Grand Palace

    • What is the cost of entry?

    It’s a little steep… but well worth it as your introduction to Thailand! It costs 500 THB (£11.50/$15) each to enter.

    • What to wear?

    Both men and women should dress appropriately. They both should cover their knees, so men, if you want to wear shorts make sure you have and are comfortable with wearing a sarong. And women… if you’re wearing s tank/vest top wearing a shawl over your shoulders apparently is not enough! – I had long trouser on with a vest top and used my sarong to wrap around me which completely cover my shoulders and chest and I was still sent to the little shop to buy a t-shirt. I was told it was “too sexy”. Luckily I had a shirt with me which I put on.

    TIP: Also NO RIPPED JEANS! We totally didn’t even think about the fact that Ells had the smallest rips in her jeans ever, but because it exposed part of her knee it was not allowed and she had to wear my sarong round her waist!

    How to spend 2 days in Bangkok - The Grand Palace

      Best time to visit?

    The Palace and temple are open from 8:30am – 3:00pm. We thought that by getting there just as it opens that I would be really quiet, however, we were wrong! It was absolutely heaving which leads us to believe that regardless of what time you go, there will always be big crowds!

    If we were to go again, we’d probably try just before it closes, to see if there is a reduction in the crowd! But make sure you allow yourself at least 30-45 minutes to walk and observe all that there is to see! (Maybe longer if you’re a slow observer!)

    Khao San Road

    EVERYONE knows about Khao San Road, and if you don’t… what cave have you been hiding in!? A road bsustling with bars, bands, booze, market stalls, massage places and FOOD! After the Grand Palace we were super hungry so we jumped in a Tuk Tuk and headed for our favourite little street food market stall for some Pad Thai.

    • Where is it?

    As the traveller hub of South East Asia, Khao San Road is in the heart of Bangkok. If you get lost, just ask someone, anyone – they’ll be able to tell you. Even the Tuk Tuk drivers see your backpacks and assume that you are heading to Khao San Road even if you are not!

      Cost of entry?
  • There is no cost for going to Khao San Road, but if you don’t want to walk the 20-30 minutes from The Grand Palace then a Tuk Tuk cost 100 THB (£2.28/$2.99)
  • Phra Sumen Fort

    Not that far a walk from the Khao San Road is the Phra Sumen Fort – one of two forts left in Bangkok built to protect the city in the 1700’s. As it’s so close you must add this to your itinerary, especially if you want a little peace and quiet after the madness of the Grand Palace and Khao San Road.

    How to spend 2 days in Bangkok - Phra Sumen Fort

    • Where is it?

    Just a 10 minute walk from Khao San Road, it would be a crime not to take the short journey here! If you don’t have google maps, just head to the river, as the fort over looks the river closest to Khao San Road!

    • Cost of entry?

    You can’t actually go inside of the Fort but the park and the area around are free to all who stumble upon it!

    Bangkok Ghost Tower

    The Ghost Tower is Bangkok’s infamous abandoned building! Once upon a time it was going to be a skyscraper, a premium usury apartment complex but due to Asia’s 1997 financial crisis the Thai baht severely dropped and the building works were brought to a halt!

    How to spend 2 days in Bangkok - The Ghost Tower

    • Where is it?

    If head back to the Sathorn Pier (you will have probably noticed the building on your way to the pier for the boat ride to theGrand Palace). When you hop off the boat head towards the MRT station to the right but instead of heading up the escalators, just keep walking! Once you get to the crossing at the lights, cross over and walk to your right. At this point you would have noticed the tower by now (if not, you must have really bad eyesight!).

    How to spend 2 days in Bangkok - The Ghost Tower

    As you get closer to the tower, locals will stop and tell you not to climb the tower, and if I were you (unless you’re an amazing free runner) I wouldn’t climb the tower. A. You will be trespassing and B. The ground floor doors are welded shut, so you’ll have to climb the exterior of the building to the first floor before you can free roam/climb. And C. It’s an abandoned building in Asia… no health and safety!
    We promised the locals that we wouldn’t be climbing it… we just wanted to get a little closer to take some pictures! They let you pass, as long as you promise not to climb!

    • What is the cost of entry?

    Obviously free as it is private property and not open to the public to actually go inside.

    Unicorn Cafe

    Now this may not be for everyone, but if you like Unicorns (who doesn’t!?) then this place is a cool place to stop off for a coffee and cake (if you’re not Gluten Free). Everything, and I mean everything is covered in Unicorns!

    How to spend 2 days in Bangkok - Unicorn Cafe

    • Where is it?

    Funnily enough, the Unicorn Cafe was a 5 minute walk from our hostel… didn’t plan that one at all… *cough*cough*

    The closest station to the cafe is Si Lom or Chong Nonsi (Chong Nonsi is the closest out of the two).

      • What is the cost of entry?

    No cost of entry, but obviously you do have to buy a drink/cake to sit down in the cafe. As you’d expect, the coffee and cake are a little over priced but nothing compared to U.K. prices!


    Day 2

    We were due at the airport at 7pm for a 9pm flight to Chiang Mai so we had to squeeze as much as possible in. So up we get, early doors, to get a head start on our last day in Bangkok.

    Airplane Graveyard

    We had recently heard whispers and seen a few posts about the Airplane Graveyard, and after our experience with the abandoned aircraft in Bali (Click here to find out more on Abandoned Aircraft in Bali) we were determined to get up close and personal with these ones.

    • Where is it.

    How to get to the Airplane Graveyard – Again, travelling from Si Lom, we opted for the train/boat to avoid taxi’s/grabs/tuktuks and find our way by public transport. Catching the train (subway) to Phetchaburi was only 25 TBH each (£0.57 / $0.75) and for the sake of a 10 minute journey with air conditioning – an absolute bargain.

    From here we needed to get on the boat to Wat Sriboonreung. This was different to the boat we had taken to the day before, it was a smaller boat on a much smaller river. At the pier (just a short walk from the train station) there was limited English on the signs and not a lot of people around to advise us. Still, we persevered and a kind local pointed that we wanted the boat going right down the river.  When that boat came along, we hopped on board (literally, you have seconds to think about it) and realised within seconds (via GoogleMaps) that we were going in the opposite direction.

    TIP: if you get the boat to the Airplane Graveyard, you want the boat going in the opposite direction from Central Bangkok.

    After jumping off, waiting for the correct boat, and 17 THB each later (£0.39 / $0.51) we were on our way, amongst the locals on their daily commute, cruising along the river, looking forward to seeing the shells of what once carried travellers like ourselves around the world. 45 minutes later and we arrived at Wat Sriboonreung pier, just a 10 minute walk from our destination.

    TIP: if you’re hungry when you arrive, we grabbed some food from one of the restaurants in the supermarket on the way. Freedom supermarket, a couple of dishes and two drinks for around 250 THB (£5.70 / $7.50). Not the cheapest, but certainly not the most expensive meal we’ve experienced here in Thailand!

    How to spend 2 days in Bangkok - Airplane Graveyard

    • What is the cost of entry?

    There is a family that have unofficially claimed the land as their own and charge you an entrance fee, bit cheeky but eh what the heck! They’ve got to make a living some how!
    There were rumours that they charge as much as 600 THB (£13.70/$17.99) per person but others had said that they had gained entry upon paying just 200 THB (£4.57/$5.99) – so that’s what we had in mind to barter down to. Luckily when we arrived they immediately asked for 200 THB so there was no need to barter!

    • What to expect upon arrival

    You’ll see the planes before you see the gate to enter, more than likely. The land is almost ‘manned’ by a family that have set up home there.

    It was quite eerie at first, just like it’s weird to see anything like an airplane, boat or building that’s now left, abandoned and derelict. Straight away though we had the urge to check out the biggest one there, a Boeing 747 – often referred to as a ‘Jumbo Jet’.

    How to spend 2 days in Bangkok - Airplane Graveyard

    Luckily, as it isn’t your ‘everyday’ tourist attraction, there was no one else there. The only time we have ever stepped on to one of these beasts was through a typical jet bridge. Never, have we stood at the base of such an aircraft and admired the size of it. We walked round the jumbo jet at first, just checking it all out and taking it all in. We were also looking for our perfect photo opportunity! Then we headed to where the opening was, climbed into the belly of the beast and found a ladder taking you up onto the first deck.

    How to spend 2 days in Bangkok - Airplane Graveyard

    We spent a good hour or so exploring each of the planes before heading back to the pier.

    TIP: please, please, please take extra precaution when exploring the planes. There are sharp rusty bits sticking out everywhere and holes in the floor which aren’t very well covered. As this is Asia there obviously aren’t any safety precautions, so just make sure you are super aware of your surroundings and make sure you wear trainers at least – NO FLIP FLOPS!

    TIP: As it took at leats an 1.5 hours from the moment we left our hostel to get to the Airplane Graveyard and scheduling in grabbing some lunch, we recommend that you allow the day for this trip – getting there and back is a 3 hour round trip on its own, so make sure you have plenty of time!


    If you manage to get to all or even just one of these locations we’d absolutely love to see your pictures! Tag us (@we.are.wandering) in them on your Instagram.

    All You Need to Know About The Marndadee Heritage River Village in Chiang Mai Before You Stay!

    So you’ve probably landed here, on our blog because you are looking for reviews on the Marndadee Boutique Hotel in Chiang Mai, or as it is now known The Marndadee Haritage River Village. Well you’re in the right place! Here is all you need to know about the Marndadee Heritage Heritage River Village Hotel!

    The Marndadee Heritage River Village Hotel has got to be one of the highlights from our recent visit to Chiang Mai.

    Although it is set slightly South of Chiang Mai Old City, its within reasonable distance to reach the hotel or the City – depending on which way you are going!

    Once we were checked in, we were led down to the golf buggy and driven to our room… well, when I say room I actually mean the most beautiful villa you will ever see. We were accommodated in the Rice Barn Villa with a river view. Standing on stilts, beneath it was a beautiful area to dine or to relax back in the hammock strung between the pillars! After gawping at this, we were then led up the stairs to our balcony and into our room. What awaited us was a beautiful vintage styled room with a massive King sized bed (and trust me, it was the most comfy bed I have ever slept in!). The bathroom was to the back of the room, and it was quite literally to die for. A gorgeous vintage shower greets you as you first enter and then to the right you immediately notice the stand alone bath tub. Next to be noticed were the incredible vintage wardrobes and trunk! As we turned to our host, she met us with a gleaming smile as I literally exclaimed that this room was “gorgeous I never want to leave!”

    You don’t often find a hotel that looks exactly like its pictures, but I’d go as far as saying this hotel goes above and beyond its pictures, in real life! A peace haven amongst the jungle.

    Check in at The Marndadee Heritage River Village

    Check in at The Marndadee Heritage River Village

    The Facts:

    – 80% of the furnishings and decor are antiques, distinguishing every room with an individual touch.

    – A wellness resort where they believe in the love of Mother Earth, offer plant based meals and practice yoga and meditation.

    – Winners of Thailand Boutique Award of 2014-2015 and 2016-2017.

    – 20 minutes drive from Chiang Mai Airport and/or Old City.

    – Offers a free daily shuttle service into the City where they will drop you off in the morning and pick you back up in the evening. But if the times do not suit it is only a mere 200 THB in a taxi (£4.56/$5.99).

    – Offers free activities on a daily basis between 2pm-3pm.

    – Price of rooms range from 1968 THB (£44/$57) – 10,578 THB (£214/$317) per night, so there really is a room for everyone.*

    – The rooms all include an al la carte breakfast which is served from 7am-10am and is located on the terrace overlooking the river.

    – The hotel offers the most beautiful infinity pool providing serene views of the river Ping.

    – All of the rice is produced here on the property from their lush green rice paddies.

    – The staff are the friendliest Thai people you will ever meet!

    – It is a LGBT friendly hotel.

    Rice Barn Villa at The Marndadee Heritage River Village, Chiang Mai

    Would we stay again?

    100% without a doubt we would stay again should we ever return to Chiang Mai. And we shall certainly be recommending The Marndadee to all of our family, friends and followers who are considering visiting Chiang Mai. We had a truly serene jungle experience.

    How to book?

    We’ve checked the prices out and you get the best deal booking directly through the hotel website, which you can access here;

    The Marndadee booking page

    Rice Barn Villa at The Marndadee Heritage River Village, Chiang Mai

    Relaxing into the jungle vibes of The Marndadee Heritage River Village, Chiang Mai

    Rice Barn Villa at The Marndadee Heritage River Village, Chiang Mai

    How to reach 10K followers on Instagram (in just 6 months)

    So as many of you may know, this month we hit our first milestone of 10,000 followers on Instagram and since we announced this, we’ve had a lot of people asking us how we did it! So we thought it would be a lot easier to write it all down in a blog for you all.

    So here are our top tips for reaching your first 10K followers on Instagram;

    1. Engagement

    The biggest and top tip we can give you is that engagement is EVERYTHING! What with Instagrams ever changing algorithms, one thing we do know is that their algorithms are based on who you engage with. And the ones that you engage with more frequently show at the top of your feed. So if you reverse that… the more people that you engage with, you increase the likelihood of them engaging back with you (and you showing up in their feed there after).

    Main types of engagement include;

    – Commenting on posts from accounts that are similar to yours. Make sure your comment is genuine and not generic!

    – Follow other accounts. More importantly, follow accounts that you like, but if you make sure they are similar to your account/within the same niche then even better.

    – Watch peoples stories and reply to them when they are asking questions/using polls/votes etc.

    – If you particularly like something that an account is doing, drop them a DM and let them know!

    2. Follow followers from accounts similar to yours.

    Do a bit of research and find accounts that have a good amount of followers that post similar content to yours and follow their followers. If you post content in the same niche the likelihood that their followers will follow you is quite high!

    We’ve found that it doesn’t work so much for very large accounts, but if you follow the followers from accounts between the 5k-10k follower mark works really well!

    3. Offer shoutouts on your story (or your page if you’re up for having other peoples work on your page)

    By offering shoutouts you are offering a sort of reward to your followers. Make sure you have your own hashtag and ask ask people to use this on their pictures, but also ensure they are tagging you in their pictures to for them to be able to gain a shoutout.

    We offer a Wednesday Shoutout where our followers use #wearewandering and tag @we.are.wandering on their pictures. We then shout out 3 of our favourite pictures on our story on a weekly basis.

    4. Take advantage of Insta Stories

    People want to get to know you, they want to see what you get up. People don’t follow accounts, they follow personalities! So get your face on the stories! Video you going about your adventures and even your day to day life. Speak to your followers!

    5. Post on a regular basis

    We post daily. Always once a day and on the rare occasion twice a day (but never any more than that!). If you swap your profile over to an Instagram Business Profile you can use the analytics feature to work out when is your best time to post too. This will provide you with maximum exposure.

    Our peak times tend to be around lunchtime (12-1pm), 3pm and 6pm. But this could vary from country to country so find an app that provides good analytics and insights into when your followers are most active/engaged.

    6. Use relevant hashtags, but not necessarily the biggest ones!

    On Instagram, you can use up to 30 hashtags. Take advantage of this and use all 30 hashtags! The most effective hashtags for smaller accounts like mine and yours will be those that are 100,000 and below. Anything bigger and your post will just get swallowed up. Don’t get me wrong, we do still use a couple of bigger hashtags for good measure as there is a chance of reaching the top post and high exposure but mostly focus on those relevant hashtags (to your post) that are below 100,000. We find the ones between 20,000 – 70,000 are the most effective!

    You can use particular apps to target specific hashtags or you can just do a bit of research on Instagram itself as to which hashtags you want to use.

    7. When you get new followers, send a thank you message

    I know it’s hard to keep up with every new follower you gain, but every now and then try and engage with your new followers and thank them for joining your adventure. It adds a little personal touch!

    8. Tag shoutout pages in your posts

    Do some research, find pages that offer shoutouts on their page (make sure they are in the same niche/market as you) and use their hashtags and tag them in your post. Aim for accounts with 10K+ followers. If you get a shoutout from them that exposure to whole new lots of potential followers!

    I’m sure there are other things you can add to the list, but these are the main tips that we have followed over the last 6 months that saw us grow our following from 400 followers to 10K followers.

    Don’t get us wrong, this hasn’t been a fast and easy process, we’ve put a lot of effort and time into growing our account. But it has all been worth it and we’ve made some awesome friends along the way, whom we plan to meet up with once we’re back on the road (next week OMG!)

    Give this a go and if you need any help or support along the way feel free to drop us a message on here or on our Instagram @wearewanderingtravel

    The Vespa Trip – Amalfi Coast

    If you’re into travelling and have a slight obsession with Europe, then you might just have heard about The Vespa Trip – be it through someone who has taken part in the tour or from it being cleverly advertised through your social media platforms!

    Through Facebook is how we found about the trip! I think I had been researching a trip to the Amalfi Coast when we came upon this organised tour, and having just returned from a 3 month trip around Asia, I was wanderlusting HARD. So it was a no brainier to book this trip… after a little research to see if I could do the same thing but organised by ourselves at a cheaper rate, I soon realised that this trip actually offer the best rate going, so we booked it that same day!

    What is The Vespa Trip?

    It is a tour group that actually offers 3 routes through Italy; Amalfi Coast, Tuscany and Sicily. It is a self-drive tour where you join up to 20 others with the same goal – to explore Italy on a Vespa!

    How much does it cost?

    The Amalfi Coast trip cost us €590 per person, but that includes your vespa rental, hotel stays, breakfast at each hotel and the van transportation of your luggage. So, an absolute bargain! The only things you have to pay for are your transport to Naples and your lunch/dinner!

    What do you do on the trip?

    With two tour guides – one up front leading the way and the other at the back driving the van with all of our luggage in, it was actually quite a flexible tour. At the beginning of the trip you are offered a GPS in case you decide you want to venture off on your own – very handy!

    So here’s a run down of what we got up during our Vespa Trip along the Amalfi Coast;

    Monday:The tour begins on the Monday, as in everyone arrives and checks in with the tour guides, but the official road trip starts the next day when you walk with everyone to the Vespa rental shop – in this case (Amalfi Coast tour) you head to Vespa Sprint. From there the group heads out of the city along the coast.

    Tuesday: At the beginning of the trip you are handed a road book which gives you suggestions for stops – we decided that we would ride with the group for the first destination which was Pompeii and there after we would head out on our own so that we could take as little or as long as we wanted in each place!

    From Pompeii we headed on to Sorrento and had a little walk around this seaside town and stopped for a coffee, before our final leg to our hotel just outside of Sorrento in Sirenuse.

    From Sorrento we then took a very winding, but picturesque ride down to Sirenuse where our next hotel was situated. The tour guides had booked a table at one of the restaurants on the beach (they will ask you each morning if you’d like top join the group for dinner that evening). So we dined on the beach as the sunset, which was very beautiful.

    Wednesday:This is the day that you get to experience the Amalfi Coast – setting off in the direction on Amalfi, we set off an hour earlier than the group as we had planned an extra pit stop in Positano for a drink on the terrace of Le Sirenuse, which is apparently has the best view of Positano. But also comes at a ridiculously high price and really stuck up waiters, as we unfortunately found out (after paying €10 for a 200ml coke!!!)

    I’d recommend heading to Le Sirenuse, but not going in, if you carry on a little up the hill past Le Sirenuse, you will find yourself an excellent view without the price tag!

    After our stop off in Positano, we carried on to Marina Di Praia – the first recommended stop in the road book. It was a beautiful little swim spot with crystal clear waters, but because we had spent a little too long in Positano (trying to get our moneys worth at Le Sirenuse) we didn’t stop for a dip. We admired the view and then hopped back on the Vespa! From here we headed up to Ravello, which is slightly tucked away from the coastline, but has spectacular hillside/vineyard views and a cute like square. Here we sat down to eat some really yummy (gluten free!) pizza!

    The next part of the route, there were two options – to carry on along the coastline or inland to complete the Amalfi Hinterland (loop). We chose to do the loop, which at times became quite cold, but was incredibly beautiful and worth being cold for all of 5 minutes! The green scenery was so dreamy!

    From here we carried on to our resting spot for the night in Salerno – it was quite a shock coming into Salerno from the coast as its quite a built up city. But still holds that cute little Italian charm. We dined separately from the group this night, but found an authentic fish restaurant in the town, it was a fun experience trying to order in extremely broken Italian (on our part) and extremely broken English (on the waitresses part) ! Amazingly we got served exactly what we asked for!

    Thursday:The penultimate day, where we once again headed off an hour earlier than the group. We left the coast and headed inland, not forgetting that we spent about 45 minutes going round in circles! – The GPS that we were given has two options for this route, long or short. We, of course, chose the long route but we just couldn’t quite get back on the right tracks so we ended up using google maps! I’d highly recommend spending this day following the group, i’d also recommend wearing trousers and taking a jumper because once you get up into the mountains it gets extremely cold on the Vespas!

    Another reason to go with the group is, when we arrived at our first stop for lunch, we were just finishing as the group turned up and they had been to a lake in the mountains which we had completely missed!

    After lunch we continued on our way with our GPS, got lost again and had to go back to the group to ask Hans (the tour guide) for help! Once he pointed us in the right direction we were off, heading for the inland town of Avellino. Although it wasn’t a coastal drive we absolutely adored this ride, weaving up and down the mountains and driving through cute little villages!

    Avellino is a traditional inland town, and the best thing about it is that it is not touristy in the slightest! In the evening we had a walk round the central square whilst looking for a place to watch to World Cup!

    Friday: The last day! Although for most of us this was a sad day, it was also an exciting day as we were heading for Mount Vesuvius!

    We had spent the evening before watching the footie, so we got up early and headed out for golden hour to capture a couple of pictures of Avellino before we left! It was a beautiful way to start the day!

    As it was the last day, and we were fed up of our GPS taking us in circles, we stuck with the group. It was quite a feeling following the group, snaking up and down the mountain side whilst locals looked on, sometimes waving and sometimes honking their horn (in a good way) at us!

    After a pit stop at a supermarket to pick up lunch and a sit down in a cute little terrace to eat lunch we were back on the road heading for the volcano!
    Toward the top of Vesuvius there is a ticket desk, it costs €10 for the entrance ticket and €3 to park the Vespa. Once you’ve parked the bike it is then about a 30 minute steep, gravelly up hill climb to the top. But the views on the way up are oh so worth it!

    After the Mount Vesuvius climb we made our way back to Naples where we said our goodbyes to our beautiful Vespas and headed back to the hotel for one last night (same hotel as the first night). As it was the last night we decided it would only be right to have one last dinner with the group. So we headed to the restaurant that the guides had booked – it was really yummy and cheaply priced too! We were impressed.
    After a couple of shots of Melonchelo, we said our goodbyes to the group and made our way back to the hotel.

    Our overall opinion of the trip!

    Overall the trip was incredible, very tiring but incredible! Although at times we got lost and went in circles (we blame the GPS…) it was all part of the adventure, and my gosh what an adventure it was! From turquoise, glistening coastlines to vast rolling green hills to gravelly volcanoes we cannot recommend The Vespa Trip – Amalfi Coast enough! And once we are back from our round the world trip we will be making sure we get a taste of some of the other Vespa Trips they have to offer!

    If you’d like more information you can find it here at The Vespa Trip

    To follow along with our travels and to see more beautiful pictures of what we got up to in Italy please give us a follow on our Instagram or Facebook Page

    Top 10 FREE things to do in Bristol

    Top 10 FREE things to do in Bristol and Somerset.

    For those of you who don’t know, Steff is from Bristol and before she moved to Essex she lived in Bristol for 19 years of her life. Over the last couple of months, since being home in the UK, we’ve been exploring as much of the UK as possible and Steff has been our self-appointed tour guide around Bristol!

    Situated in the South West of England its positioned in a really accessible part of the country – with regular trains going direct to London Paddington. Wales is just a 45 minute drive across the Severn Bridge and its quite literally situated on the cusp of Devon and Cornwall.

    Bristol is one of those cities where you just can’t help but smile, the warm South Westerly accent is just utterly charming and you can’t not giggle when getting off the bus and a local chimes “cheers drive!”

    Here are our Top 10 FREE things to do in Bristol and Somerset;

    1. Clifton Suspension Bridge / Avon Gorge
    2. Clifton and Dudham Downs
    3. Cabot Tower
    4. Bristol Harbourside (SS Great Britain)
    5. Ashton Court Estate (Bristol Balloon Fiesta)
    6. Cheddar Gorge, Somerset
    7. Axbridge Square, Somerset
    8. Glastonbury
    9. Dundry Hill
    10. Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

    1. Clifton Suspension Bridge / Avon Gorge

    As the perfect introduction to Bristol we highly recommend taking a visit to Clifton Suspension Bridge which sits over Avon Gorge. The suspension bridge is iconic to Bristol and IKB (Isambard Kingdom Brunel). IKB engineered the Great Western Railway which still serves us today. You’ll see a reoccurring theme throughout this blog with a few other destinations involving IKB and other engineers.

    Where is it?

    Clifton Suspension Bridge spans the Avon Gorge and the River Avon. It connects Clifton in Bristol to Leigh Woods in North Somerset.

    There are many places to view the bridge, but our absolute favourite is from the veranda of The White Lion pub in Clifton. You don’t have to buy a drink to go onto the veranda, but if it’s a warm summers day/evening it will certainly add to the experience!

    What is there to do?

    As mentioned above, The White Lion is a great spot for a pub lunch and a beer, but being right up in Clifton there are plenty of things to do, including taking a walk around the boutique shops of Clifton. Or just going for a little meander through the hilly streets of Victorian terraced houses.

    Best time to visit?

    Depending on what season you visit Bristol in depends on what time sunset and sunrise are, but we highly recommend going for Sunset. Whether you visit The White Lion or you go to another spot in Clifton, sunset is always magical. The busiest times at The White Lion will be a Friday and Saturday evening.

    Sunsets during the summer are around 9pm and in the winter you’re looking at about 5pm – but check it out on google when you’re here because it can vary!


    2. Clifton and Durdham Downs

    Clifton really is our favourite place in Bristol, its full of Victorian terraced houses, classy cocktail bars, cute little English pubs and views for days. And you can’t forget The Downs as most Bristolians refer to it as. A 400-acre green space sitting at the top of Clifton with magnificent views over the Avon Gorge.

    Where is it?

    Sitting on top of the cliff side overlooking the Avon Gorge/River Avon its easily accessible either through the city centre and up through Clifton, or if drive down under the suspension bridge along the Portway and then take a right up Bridge Valley Road. There is always plenty of parking around the edges of the downs. Sometimes there are festivals on at which point you can actually park on the grass.

    What is there to do?

    The Downs are very famous for leisurely activities such as BBQs, Kite Flying, Games (such as rounders, cricket or frisbee). So get to your local Lidl, grab a disposable barbie, couple of bottles of pop and your checked picnic blanket, invite a tonne of friends and have some good ol’ English summer fun!

    There is also some crazy views of the river and cliff side from up here! And lots of big old Victorian houses that are super pretty!

    Best time to visit?

    English summers can be a little hit and miss, but if you’re in Bristol between late May – early September any day/every day is a good time particularly if the sun is shining!


    3. Cabot Tower

    On your way down from Clifton, if you head toward the legendary Clifton Triangle and Park Street (known for its bars and restaurants) just off one of the side streets you’ll find another beautiful green park on Brandon Hill. A short, and I mean SHORT, trek up and you’ll reach Cabot Tower – built in 1897 to commemorate John Cabot’s famous voyage from Bristol and the continent of North America four hundred years earlier.

    Where is it?

    Situated in parkland on Brandon Hill, its in between the City Centre and Clifton.

    What is there to do?

    Of course, the main attraction is Cabot Tower, which you can actually climb up (via stairs inside). You will definitely want to do this, because you get panoramic views of Bristol, particularly Bristol Harbourside!

    Best time to visit?

    It’s fairly quiet in this area of Bristol all year round, but we took a visit to Cabot Tower at around 4pm and we managed to capture a couple of Hot Air Balloons in the sky. If you want to catch a sunset with literally hundred of balloons in the sky then I’d recommend coming around the end of July/beginning of August as Bristol will be getting ready for its annual Balloon Fiesta and many people take to the skies around this time! It’s a really beautiful sight!


    4. Bristol Harbourside (& The SS Great Britain)

    Steff spent her childhood down on the docks (or Harbourside as it is now known as). Every Saturday she’d come down to the waterfront with her family for a bacon butty or pasty at Brunel Buttery and a ride on the steam train. So we’ve spent a lot of time here over the last few months!

    Where is it?

    The Harbour is situated smack bang in Bristol City Centre. It was, after all, the pulse of the city back when Bristol relied on the Harbour to provide goods and exports from over seas! The Harbourside is actually made up of a number of different areas; Wapping Wharf, Cannons Marsh and Spike Island. We recommending starting with Wapping Wharf as this is where you’ll find the main attractions.

    What is there to do?

    As I mentioned earlier, there are a few different areas that make up Bristol Harbourside. But in Wapping Wharf alone there are multiple restaurants, and bars – some are actually in shipping containers. There are a few little cafes such as Brunel Buttery and The Olive Shed, but the main attractions are below;

    M Shed
    The M Shed which is home to displays of Bristol artefacts and stories, showing Bristol’s role in the slave trade and items on transport, people, and the arts. The admission is actually free!

    Bristol Harbour Railway
    On a Saturday and Sunday, you can actually take a short ride on the old working steam trains that are down on the Docks, this isn’t free but it doesn’t cost very much (£2.50 single or £3.50 return)

    Bristol Steam Crane
    The only surviving Fairbairn Steam Crane, that still functions, in the world. And every now and then they do special displays of it working. Mainly during the Bristol Harbourside Festival.

    The SS Great Britain
    Okay so admittedly, if you want to go into The SS Great Britain and have a tour then that’s not free, it’s £16.50 each but that ticket then allows you to return to The SS Great Britain unlimited times for next 12 months, which is great because they often have different activities and shows going on throughout the year.
    However, you can get some really pictures of the beautiful boat from a few different angles – the best being across the water from either Anchor Road or Hotwells Road

    Best time to visit?

    Harbourside in general – If you want to take a ride of the steam train then you would need to go on the weekend, however if like us you prefer to avoid the crowds we advise going mid-week outside of the school holidays!

    The SS Great Britain – If you don’t have kids and prefer not to be surrounded by kids then we highly recommend checking when the school holidays and avoid going during this time. You do still get school trips to the boat, but we got there super early and were the first people in when it opened at 10am. Ideally you want to look at going mid-week during term time to avoid the crowds of children! That way you have the whole ship to yourself and like us you can pretend to be pirates who have commandeered the boat!



    5. Ashton Court Estate

    The Ashton Court Estate, once belonging to the Smyth Family (a famously rich family in Bristol), now a historical park which cover 850 acres of woodland is really something spectacular to visit!

    Where is it?

    Just a 10 minute drive from the city centre – it really doesn’t take very long to get to somewhere green in Bristol!

    What is there to do?

    The mansion house in itself is a sight to see, and every now and then they hold exhibitions in the house so you can take a sneak peak around!

    Along with the many walks that you can take through the rolling fields and vast woodland, the annual Balloon Fiesta is held here – which might just be my favourite thing about Bristol! At the beginning of August, or there about Hot Air Balloon fanatics group together and take daily flights over bristol. They set off from Ashton Court and on the finale night they hold a night glow – where the owners light their balloons up in time to music! It can be seen from the hills surrounding Bristol or you can go down into the Balloon field in Ashton Court to witness this!

    Another awesome thing about this estate is that you can actually bring BBQs here – Steff has spent many family days out here where the whole family have gathered on the field to have a day of BBq’ing!

    Best time to visit?

    If you want to see the balloons then you have to come end of July/beginning of August. However this place is pretty massive so if you don’t like the crowds – you’re in luck the majority of the year there is hardly any body here – so its an all year round kind of place!


    6. Cheddar Gorge, Somerset

    If you really want to get to know the South West, then we highly recommend taking a little trip out into Somerset… or Zomerzet as us locals pronounce it! And first place we recommend starting is Cheddar… and YES Cheddar Cheese IS from here – its matured in the caves!

    Where is it?

    Cheddar Gorge is a mere 30 minute drive from Bristol, situated in the Mendip Hills near the village of Cheddar.

    What is there to do?

    Considering it is a meandering Gorge, the best thing you can do is walk up (or down) the Gorge. Along the way you’ll probably spot a few mountain goats up on the jagged rocks! They are pretty cute.
    If you’re into rock climbing then you can actually scale the Gorge too. And if you’re into hiking there’s an awesome walk which takes you up onto of the Gorge.

    You can also explore the little village of Cheddar which is based at the bottom of the Gorge – there are cheese factories and sweet shops, where can actually watch a live demonstration as to how the candy maker makes hard boiled sweets! (Steff used to love this as a kid!)

    And we can’t forget to mention the caves that line the Gorge – admittedly these aren’t free but they are well worth the admission fee!

    Best time to visit?

    Another one that’s popular with the kids, so you’re best off checking when the school holidays are and avoiding going during the holidays!

    Other than that, Cheddar Gorge is gorgeous all year round!


    7. Axbridge Square, Somerset

    Whilst you are in Somerset and with Axbridge being literally 10 minutes down the road from Cheddar, we highly recommend visiting this sleepy little town!
    This little town has a lot of history behind it and certainly has its charm, what with its thatched cottages and cute little English houses.

    Where is it?

    Situated in the Sedgemoor District on the River Axe, near the south edge of the Mendip Hills, it is just a 25 minute drive from Bristol.

    What is there to do?

    In the square there are a lot of the original buildings still present. Which makes it a beautifully little square. One of those buildings being King John’s Hunting Lodge – which is now a museum.

    The beautiful little church – Church of Saint John is a grade 1 listed building and sits atop the steps overlooking the square.

    And of course, you can;t go to an English Town without visiting a very English Pub! The Lamb is one of our favourites!

    Best time to visit?

    Nothing beats a good old walk on the Mendips and then a pub lunch as a reward, this is always better when its sunny and warm weather! So going in the summer would be ideal. But again, this is somewhere that is an all year round kind of place!


    8. Glastonbury, Somerset

    We’re guessing you’ve heard of Glastonbury Festival right? Well other than the festival, the town of Glastonbury is actually a super quirky, colourful and interesting place! Full of healers, crystals and witches it really is somewhere you cannot miss off of your itinerary! It also has a lot of mystical and medieval history!

    Where is it?

    Glastonbury is a town situated in Somerset, which is about a 45 minute drive from Bristol.

    What is there to do?

    Well for one, just walking up the high street is massively entertaining! What with all of the quirky little shops selling jewellery, crystals, home shops and healthy cafes. The colourful delights are enough to win you over straight away.

    If you manage to pull yourself away from the main high street then make sure you head to Glastonbury Abbey, it costs around £6 for admission, so although not free it is still super cheap! (And if you are a student or concession you get a discount too!)

    If you don’t fancy paying the admission fee to the Abbey then you can always take the walk up to Glastonbury Tor where St Michaels Tower sits on top of it – get speaking to a local and along with Glastonbury Abbey they’ll tell you about the medieval and mythical stories about these places.

    When is best to visit?

    Personally, we’d recommend visiting Glastonbury during the summer, it may be a bit busier, but because of how colourful the streets are, in the sun they look incredible! Also, its much nicer to walk around in the sun, than in the horrible English rain!


    9. Dundry Hill

    So this one, we’re guessing isn’t going to be on many blogs, but we really feel this place is over looked! About a 20 minute drive out of the centre of Bristol, its a beautiful little village and civil parish sat on top of a hill which gives you fantastic views of Bristol!

    Where is it?

    Just past Bishopsworth which is in the South of the city, the village of Dundry sits on top of Dundry Hill which gives you beautiful views of sunset over rolling hills and to the other side is fantastic views of Bristol!

    What is there to do?

    Asides from the magnificent views and beautiful country side walks, there is the cutest little parish church which every now and then opens its tower to the public. Right next to the church is a typical country pub for a well deserved pint after your walk.

    For the best vies of sunset over the two reservoirs, when you get to the church (to the left of you) turn right where you will immediately see a small parking area and some fence. Park up, walk through the fence and just head toward the bottom of the friend where you’ll find a couple of fences you can hop over. Take the right field and keep walking down, you’ll soon get to a point where you can view the lakes and country side!

    When is best to visit?

    For sunset during the summer months you’ll want to aim to be in Dundry by 8pm to give you enough time to park up and walk to your spot for sunset – the colours and stages the sun goes through are incredible just before sunset! And the reflection of the sun on the reservoir is awesome!

    But if you’ve come just for the views over Bristol and the walks, around 2pm would be perfect as you can reward yourself in the pub after a couple of hours walking!


    10. Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

    Probably one of Steff’s favourite buildings in Bristol. Aesthetically pleasing from the outside – a grade 2 listed building from Edwardian Baroque Architecture. The museum holds sections on natural history as well as local, national and international archaeology.

    Where is it?

    At the very top of Park Street just before the Clifton Triangle, it is literally a 10 minute walk (uphill) from Bristol City Centre.

    What is there to do?

    Other than exploring the museum itself, the museum also hosts some really awesome events! The best event Steff has been to there was a Burlesque night on Halloween called Hoochie Coochie- so its well worth checking out what might be going on whilst you’re visiting as you may also get to see the museum at night!

    Best time to visit?

    The museum is completely free to visit, so be sure to be aware of the school holiday time tables as this is a big attraction for the kids during the school holidays! The summer holiday which is the longest one in the UK usually runs from the end of July through to the start of September.


    And that just about concludes our guide to the Top 10 Free Things to do in Bristol and Somerset!

    As budget travellers ourselves we’ve been trying to explore Bristol as much as possible without absolutely breaking the bank (as we’re due to set back off again soon!) so these above are tried and testing FREE and fun things to do in Bristol!

    Let us know if you’d add anything else to the list that is Free to do in Bristol in the comments below!