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Are you planning a trip to Asia? Have you thought about booking on to Ultimate Thailand but not sure you want to commit? Want to get an insider’s point of view? Having never travelled to Asia, we sent our Ultimate travel guru Max on the 10 day Ultimate Thailand tour. Here’s what he thought..

So Max, you’ve just got back from 2 weeks in Thailand… Nice tan! What was your favourite part?

The best bit of the tour for me was chilling out on the floating bungalows in Khao Sok National Park. After a few days partying hard in Bangkok it was the perfect chilling spot! I spent my days kayaking in the lake, searching for wild monkeys and eating fresh fish from the lake! It was awesome to wake up in the morning to the sound of silence and a still lake- I actually felt like we were in paradise!

Khao Sok NP

What was it like travelling with a group of people on a guided tour? How would it have been different to travel alone?

Before I met the group I had travelled for 4 days by myself through Northern Thailand. It was a completely different experience compared to travelling with the group: it was my first time travelling through Asia and by myself, I found it a bit daunting and hard to meet people. I don’t normally have any problems with this but I just didn’t meet that many solo travellers where I was! As soon as I’d met the rest of my group, I had 15 other people I could instantly talk to and spend time with. It was great to meet other people on the same wavelength as me and to share travel experiences with people that I probably wouldn’t have met unless I’d done a guided tour.

Ultimate Thailand group

Would you recommend it?

I’d 100% recommend it to anyone looking to meet people instantly and experience Thailand stress free- the tour guides are experienced and have the knowledge needed for us to feel safe on the tour and just be able to focus on having fun!

Ultimate Thailand group

Was Thailand as you had imagined it? In what way?

​No. To be honest I thought Bangkok would be similar to Sydney and other Western cities. It was a bit of a surprise to be surrounded by lady boys in Bangkok! It was much more of a party place than I thought- so much fun- just not what I had expected. The hostel in Koh Phangan where we stayed was one of the best I’ve ever stayed in! The National parks we went to (Khao Sok) and Thai countryside was so much better than I expected! The photos you see just don’t do it justice!

Ultimate Thailand group

Did you encounter any animals along the trip?

​I went to visit an elephant nature park which I’d highly recommend to anyone! They focus on rehabilitation for elephants instead of using elephants as a tourist attraction (as unfortunately so many do in Thailand!) so it’s great to see those charities first hand helping injured elephants​ recover. We also saw LOTS of wild monkeys! I was actually surprised how close up to you they’re happy to get! You can feed them bananas and they’ll come and sit on your shoulder – way more interactive than I thought. Just a word of advice.. If you buy bananas to feed them, don’t let them out of your sight- they’ll be gone within seconds!

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What is your best/funniest memory from the Ultimate Thailand tour?

Total Wipeout! Have you seen the TV show? It’s basically an obstacle course on the water with loads of inflatables, rolling barrels and rope swings. It’s in Koh Phangan and you get the option to go there for about 400TBH (Appox £8) Had such a fun day- it’s definitely my most memorable moment in Thailand!

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Would you recommend others to go to Thailand? Why? 

Definitely! It’s amazing to experience travelling around an Asian country, experience Asian culture and customs and gain new experiences. If you’re planning a trip and Thailand isn’t on your list, you’ll be missing out!

 What experience did you have with Thai people?

Before getting to Thailand, I had heard that Thai people were really friendly and I definitely noticed it, especially outside of tourist areas. Everyone I met was really helpful, very friendly, polite and always smiling!​ At one point I had actually left my wallet near the street food stalls by accident and the Thai guy who owned the stall came running after me to give it back to me!

Would you go back? If so, where? Or another Asian country?

​Yes! I’ll definitely be going back to Thailand at some point. I’d love to go back to Koh Phangan for the full moon party and I’ll definitely make sure I go back to the floating bungalows in Khao Sok National park. Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam are also still on my bucket list!

Did you eat anything weird? Did you enjoy the food in Asia? Street food?

​I tried a scorpion in Koh San Rd in Bangkok which kind of tastes like crispy chicken. I definitely didn’t enjoy it but it was an experience! I loved trying all of the Thai food, especially the street dishes like Pad Thai and chicken satay with rice. It’s all so much cheaper than the western food you can get and tastes awesome! Some restaurants do better food than others- the trick is to see how many locals are eating in the restaurant – if it’s good enough for the locals…!

Any other moments/events you want to talk about?

​ We had so much fun tubing near the jungle village in Khao Sok! We spent 2 hours tubing down the river, drinking beer and chilling! Also the temples in Bangkok were another highlight- it was great to experience some of Thailand’s history.

Got any tips for travelling to Thailand?

Learn to haggle! Haggling is expected in Thailand and haggling when buying things in markets will make sure you’re not getting ripped off! Ask the vendor what their price is and if it seems too much, tell them. Be polite, keep it light hearted and never get angry. You can usually get down to about half of what was originally offered and pick up some bargains!

Check out the 10 day Ultimate Thailand tour online and get in touch with us for more info!

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As we reflect on 2013, well after the Christmas and New Year buzz trails off, we at Ultimate Thailand are remembering all the wonderful things we saw and did last year. 2013 really was an ultimate year for Ultimate Thailand, and not just because it saw the beginning of our Thailand adventure!

Our tour guide Rich Ford, gives his personal highlights below:

“Growing up reading National Geographic and dreaming of travel, the first time I pulled out onto the lake in Khao Sok National Park on a long tail boat I felt like I’d driven into a spread from the magazine. It’s hard to describe that first experience, even harder to have it matched without fail every trip. The breath taking views, the fresh air, the uncanny experience of being on a long tail boat heading into, in my opinion, one of the most pristine National Parks in the world. For me, as the guide, it was a highlight every week to look back at the group as we round that first corner into the vast expanse of the lake and see, etched in every face, the same awe and wonder I myself experience on every excursion.

Koh Phi Phi is a stand out for the mixture of scenic serenity in Maya Bay, the beach from the film ‘The Beach’ and chaos in the nightly beach parties that combine pumping rhythm, neon face paint and epic fire shows. There’s no such thing as a dull night on Koh Phi Phi, beach parties frequently leading to bamboo tattoos and fond memories. The ferry over to the island is full of scenic views of the islands of the Krabi Province, culminating in arrival at the island without cars, Koh Phi Phi.

Full Moon in Koh Phangan started out calmly but boy did that one escalate quickly. Fire shows turned into fireworks, crowds turned into dance parties, mechanical bulls threw guests off left and right, face paint turned into body paint and as the night progressed the tide went out leaving a small sand island that turned into the greatest dance floor of all time. The scene was manic, a beach packed full of parties, fire shows, fireworks, lanterns, signs aflame and our group on our own ‘private’ sand island dancing till dawn.

The night train down south is always eventful but there’s one group that stands out. Some of the group had teamed up to buy speakers, a laser light machine and a box of mixed alcohol. We had the whole car rented out for the group and needless to say nobody slept as we staged our own cart wide private party. The party climaxed when one of the ladies working on the train selling beer had a dance off with one of the group members and turned out to be one of the best pop n’ lockers I’ve ever seen. At one point the police officers on the train came down to see what all the commotion was about and with the sternest face he could muster the lead officer looked as though he was going to scold us but instead broke into dance.

There’s no telling what’s going to happen in Thailand and the surprises always come from the most unlikely places for the best memories.”

Our tour dates for 2014 have just gone up until April, so help us make 2014 even more unforgettable. Book your spot now!