Why the AirAsia Asean Pass is Perfect for a First Time Visitor

Planning to travel to Thailand, Vietnam, or Indonesia? Read Why AirAsia Asean Pass is Perfect for a First Time Visitor to SEA. #explore #wanderlust
Last year, during a craving for adventure, I hopped on a flight to Singapore knowing jackshit about SEA. I had added it to my bucket list years ago and completely forgotten about it. Until (there’s always an until šŸ˜‰) my parter in crime asked me to meet up with her during her world travels.
Generally, my protocol is to wing it when I get there. but since I only speak English and a decent amount of Spanish, I was making myself slightly nervous. Having a history of getting myself in pickles, I decided to look into a little something called AirAsia Asean Pass.

What is the AirAsia Asean Pass?

For about 120.00 USD, you are given 30 days to complete 10 credits worth of travel. What does that look like? Kuala Lumpur > Chiang Mai > Bangkok > Ho Chi Minh CityĀ > Bangkok > Penang. The majority of flights are 1 credit, although some longer routes, like Bali to Bangkok, are 5 credits. We were able to do Sing(1)> Kuala Lumpur(1) > Bali(5) > Bangkok(1) > Chiang Mai (then took overnight train to Bangkok to catch flight to)> Phuket (1)>Bangkok (1).

Over 140 Routes between Kick-Ass Destinations

The worst part about it was simply not having enough time! Bali? Philippines? (Am I saying this right?/A place I can’t yet pronounce?) The pass allows you plenty of options, with multiple cities in each country. Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, and Cebu are a few of the cities that are available, but you can find a full list here.

Narrows Down the Playing Field.

Some travelers like to do a ton of research before visiting a new destination… Some prefer to arrive with no expectations. Being part of the latter group, I had no preference for our SEA trip, other than some white sandĀ beaches and an elephant or two, of course. If you start looking on Pinterest for “Southeast Asia”, you might become slightly overwhelmed with the options. I sure as shit was! The destinations on the AirAsia Asean are all easy to deal with as a first time traveler and offer plenty of options. Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos are some of the most popular countries for backpackers.

Forces You to Plan Ahead

As I’ve mentioned before, my fear of commitment has bitten me in the ass before. This is especially true for flying, when a slight fluctuation in tickets prices can destroy a simple budget. Since you cannot change tickets after 14 days prior to take off, we had our itinerary set. This also gave me the opportunity to narrow down the search on a massive, unique part of the world. I was able to find the water ceremony in Bali,Ā Ā an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai, and comfy hostels. Even the most spontaneous of travelers can benefit from a little structure.

Things to note

You HAVE to choose your destination two weeks out, or you lose the points and thus the chance at an adventure!
Ā 
You do not have to depart from your most recent arrival. Which means you can use other forms of transportation to explore, like overnight trains and busses.
Ā 
There may be airport taxes. Imagine my surprise to see an email 24 hours before my flight that says I owe taxes – 142,900 IDR šŸ˜± But don’t fret! The most I spent was 10 USD, the equivalent to 142,900 IDR. Don’t let the exchange rate scare you.
Ā 
If you are planning on checking a bag, consider paying ahead of time to avoid extra fees. From our experience, different airports had different protocol. But, it was almost always cheaper to pay online instead of at the airport. You are allowed one carry-on up to 7 kg as well as one small personal item.
Some destinations are more popular during the summer months, like Bali and Phuket. You might want to base your travels around your most desired destination and go from there. Every place is worthy of a visit!Ā 

Phi Phi Island, Thailand AdventuresĀ 

Have you ever heard of Phi Phi Island? 
 The most beautiful thing Phuket has to offer- Phi Phi Island || a tipsy gypsy life #travel #thailand #female
It’s basically the best place effffer…
 Have you heard of Phi Phi Island? Now you have ... || a tipsy gypsy life #travel 

Oh don’t mind me, loving life šŸ˜Š

You can get a tour company to deliver you straight to multiple islands for some aquatic fun.
 Have you heard of Phi Phi Island ? oh you have now || a tipsy gypsy life #travel #thailand 
We loved our tour company, but certainly would have been happy aboard this one …

 Have you heard of Phi Phi Island in #Thailand? Oh my... || a tipsy gypsy life #travel #explore 
Did you know I learned how to swim before walking? 

 Ever heard of Phi Phi Island #Thailand? Oh my... || a tipsy gypsy life #travel  
I mean… Heaven is under de sea
 Ever heard of Phi Phi Island #Thailand? My oh my... || a tipsy gypsy life #travel 

If you haven’t been, why don’t you add it to your bucket list? 
If you have been, why don’t you bring me with next time? 
šŸ˜Š

 Have you ever heard of Phi Phi Island #Thailand? My oh my... | | a tipsy gypsy life #travel 

The Guest House you must stay at in Chiang Mai

*This is NOT a sponsored post- we had an almost scary situation and as female travelers, the Chaing Mai Royal Guest House made us feel safer than a child in the womb.*

 

I know, the options seem endless. Choices can be daunting, you hop off your train and 20 hostel owners are trying to lure you into their property. Don’t fall for it! I’m sure there are plenty of respectable and beautiful places, but I can only vouch for one. The Royal Guest House Chiang Mai is a charming (in the looks, not size sense) place to stay for any traveler. We saw the traditional gap yah backpacker, families, older couples, and of course, female travelers.

  

There are plenty of options in Chiang Mai, #Thailand. Read why you must stay at The Royal Guest house #Chiang #Mai  

You walk up a lush, vine covered walk-way to a beautiful pool where just enough people are to make you comfortable, but not too many to disturb your peace. The open-air lobby is traditionally decorated with a fountain and gorgeous, thick wooden furniture. There is a bar and restaurant serving amazing Thai and some Western food. The music is great, relaxing during the day, and a little more upbeat as the night goes on and guests trickle in to chat and laugh. Don’t worry, the music doesn’t get loud enough to reach the rooms. You can even drop off your laundry to be done by the evening- and it smelled AMAZING!

You have multiple room options for every budget. From shared bathrooms, to fanned rooms, to AC, to second floor with exquisite decor, any one can feel comfortable at The Royal Guest House Chiang Mai. The front desk girl is SO sweet and helpful, always smiling and ready to answer questions. Oh, and free wi-fi.

  

There are plenty of options in Chiang Mai. Read why you must stay at the Royal House #Chiang #Mai || a tipsy gypsy life  

As female travelers, we felt extremely safe, even though we had a precaution to take. We had a slightly concern about some men that were making us very uncomfortable and unfortunately they knew our room numbers (now brothers and boyfriends, don’t jump me. It was via a tour) Although it wasn’t that big of a deal, we were still concerned. When we returned to The Royal Guest House Chiang Mai, I spoke to the front desk agent, a young man. He took it very seriously, asking plenty of questions, letting me know about the cameras, and spoke to both the security guard and the bartender. I even sat in the lobby area for an hour calming myself down. Every time a man walked in, all three of them perked up. I can’t express how relieving that was, because sometimes people don’t take these things seriously. The professionalism of the employees made the experience all that much better.

The best part? It is family owned and operated. As we were checking out, I was able to talk to the son, and compliment him on his employees. He was very interested in what we genuinely thought of the place and approved of his employees behavior. You can tell he truly cares about his visitors and his families business. I highly recommend this place for any traveller. Here is a link to their and hostelworld account –

http://t.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/The-Royal-Guesthouse/Chiang-Mai/13171

As I said, this is not a sponsored post! I was so ecstatic to have The Royal Guest House Chiang Mai take our female traveler concerns seriously and hope the best for them.
  

There are plenty of options in #Chiang Mai, #Thailand. Read why you must stay at The Royal House Chiang Mai || a tipsy gypsy life  

 

First time in Thailand? Don’t make these rookie mistakes

First time in Thailand? Don’t be like me Avoid these rookie mistakes in Bangkok and beyond to ensure a majestic trip. 
I’ll admit it. I’m a Thailand rookie. I booked my trip 3 weeks before I made my first trip and did minimal research, just like I did on my Europe trips. 

Silly, silly girl.

Rookie Mistake # 1

Imagine this. Arriving at your Bangkok airport earlier than usual, about 1.5 hours before the flight, patting yourself on the back. You leisurely stroll into the airport and check the screens… Alas, your flight time isn’t up… Strange… You look around, realize this wasn’t the airport you flew into. In fact, you have no idea where the feck you are. Except that it’s the WRoNG FECKING AIRPORT !

Rookie Mistake # 2

So you sprint outside with bags and dismay in your face. A cabbie grabs you, gets you in the car, and then while driving says he will charge you 1700 baht- over 3 times the amount it took to get there. Your friend starts pleading for the meter, you start screaming to be let out of the cab. Your friend finally calms you down because of your first rookie mistake, you are in no position to bargain. He is the first person you don’t tip in Asia. 


Rookie Mistake #3 

You finally get to Chaing Mai, one of the most beautiful places you’ve ever seen. You’re comfortable, because you’re staying at -The Royal House Chaing Mai (lovely place- post coming soon!) and already have an overnight train booked. You and your friend are ecstatic about your first overnight train together, with AC and some wine… But then, the day before you leave, you get “the email”. In this email, you find out you are being bumped from a train to a friggin overnight bus. They swear up and down its very nice, has wifi, clean bathrooms, and you even get food! Lies from the tablecloth, my friends, lies from the muffuggin tablecloth. It was definitely an experience, but not one I’d recommend.

So in a nutshell



1) There are 3 airports in Bangkok. Remember which one is yours.
2) Always always ask the price before getting in a cab. We were properly screwed on this one, as most of Bangkok is metered. But in the rest of the world, I always ask šŸ˜¤
3) DO NOT BOOK A TRAIN THROUGH 12GO! We had a reservation number and everything and they still bumped us. Bullshit in the purest of forms.
Overall, Thailand is super easy to navigate and 99.9% of people are genuine. Don’t let my mistakes deter you from visiting, learn from them loves! 

 First time in Thailand? Don't make these rookie mistakes in Bangkok and beyond || a tipsy gypsy life || #travel #thailand #tips 


Have you ever made a drastic rookie travel mistake?

An Ethical Alternative to Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai

looking for an ethical elephant experience in #Thailand ? Try the Elephant Retirement Park in Chaing Mai || a tipsy gypsy life || #ethical #elephant #experience

There is an extremely responsible and ethical alternative to riding elephants in Thailand. No, I’m not referring to elephant nature park. Although they are a legitimate sanctuary, they aren’t the only one. Since last April, the Elephant Retirement Park has been housing and caring for former work elephants. Located about an hour from Chiang Mai, the operation is much smaller, only housing 6 elephants currently. There is absolutely no riding on the elephants. They don’t use bull hooks, which many people insist are necessary to make these majestic creatures “obey.” We were shown this is simply not the case.

Ā an ethical alternative to #Elephant Nature Park || a tipsy gypsy life
There was even a mother and her 4 month old calf.

Trying to find an ethical alternative to Elephant Nature Park? look no further || a firsthhand experience in #Thailand #elephant || a tipsy gypsy lofe

Looking for an ethical alternative to Elephant nature park? look no further || a tipsy gypsy life

  1. Baby Lanna being clumsy- the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!

These two were the only ones separated from the group because the baby could get crushed and the mother is still extremely protective. However, they were very trusting of humans which is beautiful.

looking for an ethical alternative to Elephant Nature Park? look no further || a tipsy gypsy life

We walk about a mile up the road to the sanctuary itself. After hearing each elephants back-story and details of the history of elephants protected status, we were able to meet them and feed them. Elephants are extremely sensitive creatures- they can die from broken hearts just like humans. So, you must meet them and earn their trust before playing.

 

Want an ethical alternative to Elephant Nature Park? look no further || a tipsy gypsy lifeĀ After the meeting and feeding, we had lunch.
Looking for an ethical alternative to Elephant Nature Park? look no further || a tipsy gypsy life
All you can eat Thai food, water, and tea/coffee.
We discussed more how to approach the beautiful creatures and avoid injury before swimming / bathing them. Then, we went out in the pouring rain and played.

We helped them cool down with mud. Had some fun, and then bathed them.

Without any hooks or harsh commands, the elephants honestly loved the attention. They weren’t made to do any tricks at all, and all the visitors were respectful.

an ethical alternative to #elephant nature park #thailand || a tipsy gypsy life

That night, Tara and I went to the owners house and had dinner. We discussed that they are doing okay but without government funding, money is tight. I don’t even think they have a donation option online, so I’m setting one up. Medicine is the main thing they are worried about.
Not only should you research the park, and potentially donate, but if you have the chance to visit as an alternative to Elephant Nature Park, you should! The small scale offers more room and attention for each elephant from the handlers. They are given water to play in, bananas, sugar cane, and so much love. I fell in love with the Elephant Retirement Park and will be returning to volunteer šŸ˜Š

 
* you shouldn’t ride an elephant because it can seriously injure them. They are not designed to be ridden. If you notice, their backs have a hump, unlike horses which are curved and are able to hold riders. Elephants strength comes from pulling and pushing with their trunks and strong legs. Not the back!