Text: Marcella van Alpen & Claire Lessiau Photographs: Marcella van Alpen & Claire Lessiau
As I am passing by the train station of Chiang Mai, I recall the 1937 photograph I was looking at a bit earlier. It has not changed much, but the samlors – or bicycle taxis, often referred to as trishaws in China – with their proud drivers awaiting travellers to take them into town are long gone. Tuk-tuks have taken over, hassling tourists. In the streets of Chiang Mai, the samlors are hardly anywhere to be seen, and I feel even more privileged to be seated in one of the last few to take in the atmospheric “Rose of the North”.
Text: Claire Lessiau & Marcella van Alphen Photographs: Claire Lessiau & Marcella van Alphen
With its vibrant markets, plentiful food stalls and world-famous umami, the food culture of Thailand is not to be missed! Follow us on a food tour in Chiang Mai and dig into the wide variety of Thai (or are they?) dishes, authentic family recipes and wide assortments of exotic fruits, vegetables, spices and herbs!
Here is a compilation of the photos of the day of Thailand and some others of our best shots capturing the essence of Thailand to inspire you (to receive our photos of the day and articles, follow us!). All of these photos are available in a high definition upon request. For the story behind a specific photo, look for the corresponding photo of the day, or browse through our articles. Keep travelling/
If Southern Thailand has been a victim of its own success by developing mass tourism in an unsustainable way like in Koh Phi Phi, some islands remain barely touched. Ko Yao Noi is such an island, with a stunning setting, paradisiac beaches, and kind inhabitants. Its low key atmosphere makes it a real heaven best discovered by scooter. Keep travelling
Ironically, the largest flower in the world is hard to spot! Growing in South East Asia, it can be found in the forests of Khao Sok National Park in Southern Thailand. The lucky hiker may come across one while exploring the trails of the park which lead to natural pools and waterfalls. Keep travelling!
With its vertical limestone cliffs covered in lush vegetation dramatically plunging into the turquoise waters and white sand beaches, no wonder why Maya Bay, a stone’s throw from Koh Phi Phi Island was chosen as the filming location for the Hollywood blockbuster “The Beach”, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. However, Keep travelling!
After setting off in the pitch dark night, we are amazed by the beauty of the landscape surrounding us as we peep through the window of our cabin aboard the Mariner the next morning: dark grey granite boulders rise up from the turquoise Andaman Sea, palm trees are lined up on a white-sand beach, contrasting nicely with the deep blue sky, and a lush vegetation covers the North Surin island, 70 kilometres off the West coast of Southern Thailand and only a dozen kilometres away from the border with Myanmar. We are extracted from our contemplation by the bell, signalling our first dive briefing of our three-day-nine-dive live-aboard SCUBA diving expedition. If the island looks paradisiac, we are eager to explore the underwater world of the Surin and Similan Marine parks that contain some of the world’s best dive sites! Keep travelling!
The chanting of the few dozen of monks, dressed in their traditional orange robes, continues. The monks pray, their voices low in the large and dark atmospheric prayer hall made of teak that is decorated with flapping orange flags. Keep traveling!
He comes back from his 40-minute run in 33 degrees Celcius. He is given a rope and starts rope skipping for a full 10 minutes in a row, focussed and with a straight face. The veins on his temples start showing and when he is done he gets rid of the jacket that must feel extremely suffocating. Pearls of sweat start dripping from his muscled body which he shyly reveals in the burning sun. Without hesitation he starts doing his push-ups. Keep traveling!
South East Asia with its emblematic and exotic landscapes has long seduced Hollywood: Angkor Wat, Cambodia in Tomb Raider; Koh Phi Phi, Thailand in The Beach; or the karst formations of Phang Nga bay, Thailand in the 1974-James Bond movie The man with the golden gun. If the sites are stunning, visiting them can often be disappointing Keep reading
Tall thin trees with only very few leafs are planted in perfectly aligned endless rows that cover hundreds of hectares of Thai soil. They provide a little bit of shade during the hot summer months, give off a slightly offending smell and supply their owners and their farmers with an income. We are talking rubber trees and are about to discover the ins and outs of rubber making.
“There is a big hole in the ocean where all the fish sleep. When these millions of fish wake up every day, they are hungry and come out of the hole to eat. As they empty this hole, the sea water gets into the hole instead and the sea level lowers: this is low tide. After eating, they get back into the hole to rest, squeezing the sea water out, and raising the ocean level as a consequence: this is high tide.” Lena passionately tells us the story the way she learnt it from the Moken people. These sea nomads of the Adaman Sea have been passing this legend on for generations, saving thousands of lives. Keep reading
Lime stone karst formations are gradually revealing themselves as the morning mist on the Cheow Lan Lake slowly rises. The sun bathes the rocks in warm colours and highlights the jungle growing on their steep flanks. I slowly crawl out of my bed to take a morning swim in the surprisingly warm lake. While climbing back up to the pontoon of my floating bungalow, I notice a familiar rising and falling of shrills that gives me goose bumps: a family of gibbons starts to sing, Keep reading
My eyes catch something massive crossing the river in a slow but steady pace. It is an Asian elephant carrying a man on its neck, seated in a lotus position. Fresh water from the river splashes my face and startles me. “Paddle forward! Keep reading
Article updated on October 19, 2022 Text: Claire Lessiau & Marcella van Alphen Photographs: Claire Lessiau & Marcella van Alphen
I am savouring what must be the best pad Thais I have ever had: bitterness, saltiness, sweetness, sourness and spiciness are perfectly balanced. My taste buds are in awe as I dig into the nicely presented green curry. I look at Oay with a big smile of satisfaction as I slowly raise my head. Having fantastic food in Thailand is the norm, but what is all the more surprising is that I cooked these myself. My pride enhances my senses!
The weight my backpack suddenly becomes a lot heavier and I struggle to keep my balance. I turn my head and my eyes meet the one of a macaque who grabs my shoulder and checks my backpack in search for food. As soon as Keep reading
I am contemplating the serene smile on the 2.5-metre-wide delicate face of the golden reclining Buddha. I try to step back in the finely decorated chapel to take it all in. The whole figure is 46 metres in length and 15 metres in height. It is one of the largest Buddhas of Thailand, here in Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, in the heart of Bangkok and it is truly majestic. Keep reading
“This one is really bad-ass!” we shout, holding on tight to the wooden side of our old sturdy rowboat while a young Thai speeds through the canal of Lat Mayom with his pimped longtail, as a teenager would do a wheelie on a scooter. Keep reading