I began travelling to Thailand from Australia in 2009 which started a love affair beyond recognition. Not the hot and steamy holiday affair you are all conjuring right now, but the kind of love that lasts a lifetime. The love affair I am talking about is with Thailand as a country and more specifically with the little local haunts that no one has ever heard of! Thailand is a diverse land housing over 60million people – coming from Australia that is a BIG number for such a small space, but it is the sheer volume of people in this place that gives it life.
I never thought I wanted to go to Asia, after years of travelling to the South Pacific, it just didn’t register on my radar so when I told my husband-to-be that I wanted to honeymoon in Thailand he was a little shocked and, quite frankly, so was I. But I could have never known then that this strange new place would become the only place that we call home in the world. When people ask where we live and Thailand is our response, most will think that we have a beach shack set up somewhere near Phuket, that we eat Western food and drink our days away with an endless flow of other tourists… This couldn’t be any further from the truth! The place we call home is a small town in the northern regions of the country. The closest beach is an 18 hour train journey away and we often find ourselves in situations where we are the only non-Thai’s in the group. We live our life on 30 baht meals and the two of us exist on no more than $30AUD per day.
The place is speak of is a city called Chiang Mai. Home to over 1million people but with a small-town feel. This is a growing tourist destination for Thailand which has not yet reached Australians and as I write this I am almost worried to be giving my secret away. The main city is 1 square mile and houses so much culture and authenticity that I am surprised it doesn’t burst! A treasure trove of extraordinary experiences and wonderful friendships is to be had in this place and yet most that visit will spend a couple of days en-route to somewhere else. They come for the trekking and the elephants but we stay for the atmosphere and the lifestyle.
If we are looking for a weekend away then we go local… Places like Chang Dao for the caves or Pai for the alternative lifestyle – we will even go into the jungle to spend a peaceful weekend in rustic cabins on Thailand’s tallest mountain, Doi Inthanon. There is so much on offer within a couple of hours drive that you could spend years exploring just the surrounding regions. If it is a beach holiday that we are looking for then we avoid Phuket like the plague! Instead we take the local’s advice and head to secluded spots like Koh Lanta (in the Krabi district) or Khao Lak. Both of these areas have all the merits and more of Phuket without the seedy tourist trade (or tourist price tag) to boot, it is just that nobody has ever heard of them.
In an average 6 month stint, we might meet 3 or 4 other Australians in these places which tells me that us Aussies are really missing out on the true Thailand experience. Instead they head for packed beaches which, let’s be honest, pale in comparison to some of Australia’s finest and a pseudo Thailand experience, but nothing can match the authentic Thai experience. This statement alone is why we decided to start The Austin Experience in the first place… To give our customers real places, real people and real experiences. To check out our range of authentic Thailand experiences CLICK HERE.