Our winners of the Thailand Shot by You competition, Cara and Steph Bono, are here to present all the highlights from their time in Thailand after taking part in a shoestring tour in classic Thailand and absorbing everything what Thailand has to offer.
1. What was your route and where did you land?
With STA we travel on a shoestring tour through Thailand, which begins in Bangkok and ends in Koh Tao. During the 15 days of this trip we were able to get to know the best highlights of Thailand. We spent our first days exploring the bustling streets of Bangkok, enjoying incredible street food, visiting beautiful temples and experiencing the vibrant nightlife.
Our next stop was Chang Mai, which feels much more relaxed than the Thai capital. We visited Doi Suthep and Wat Chedi Luang temples for two days and hiked the monk's path up to Wat Pha Lat, which is hidden in the jungle. We spent the evenings here trying local dishes on the street markets, strolling through the night bazaars and celebrating at the Chang Mai bar hub.
Next up were our jungle tours north of Chang Mai, where we stayed with host families in the hill tribes. This was one of the coolest and most unique experiences of our trips so far. We took cooking classes, learned how to weave bamboo baskets, spent time with locals in the village, and spent the evenings sharing great food and watching the night sky. We left the villages with a bamboo raft and had a three-hour expedition through the jungle. That afternoon we drove to Khao Sok National Park and had a day swimming and boating in some beautiful landscapes.
Next we made our way to the islands. We spent two nights in a fantastic party hostel on Koh Pangan, spent our days in hammocks and enjoyed the beautiful beaches. We ended up in Koh Tao, a much smaller island with a more local and relaxed atmosphere. It is also known to be one of the best marine areas in all of Thailand, which is why we have spent most of our time here exploring the vibrant underwater world around the coast.
2. What is the best thing about culture in Thailand?
Our favorite feature of Thai culture should be how friendly and open people are. Wherever you go, many people will try to help you and will always try to communicate in a way that you will understand. We also love how the Buddhist religion is interwoven with the entire lifestyle of the Thai people. They exude a deeper understanding and understanding of the simple things in life and everyone is extremely respectful. And known as the "land of smiles", it is true that their smiles are contagious.
3. What was something completely unexpected that you saw / experienced in Thailand?
What I didn't expect from Thailand is how much people here believe in magic. In shops and many tuk-tuks, they have embroidered protective yantra patterns high on the walls or on the roof to protect them from traffic accidents and to protect their branch from negative energy. Many Thai people also firmly believe in the magic of the Sak Yant tattoos and use them to stay safe and healthy and achieve their life goals.
4. What was your favorite place to see and capture content?
Our favorite place on this trip would be Koh Tao. The island was breathtaking and had great energy. We spent most of the day taking underwater photos of all coral reefs and marine life, and then came back just in time to capture the vibrant sunsets over the water. Despite everything, Koh Tao was the best snorkeling experience we've had so far. The water was clear and there were so many beautiful schools of fish.
We never tire of photographing and recording content from Bangkok! The number of unique places you can go is endless. From street photography in local markets, alleys from Chinatown to extravagant golden temples, we have never been bored to explore this city. The city shines with life at night. Night photography is just as exciting here as night life.
5. Recommendations for future travelers to Thailand
Here are our top tips for future travelers planning their first trip to Thailand:
Pack very light clothes as they get very wet and hot, and wear light pants and overalls to visit the temples.
Pack up bug spray and coral reef sunscreen. • After a night on Koh San Road, you can head to the many other beautiful bars that Bangkok has to offer. Our favorites were the Iron Fairies.
Always a bargain, as foreigners many people double or triple their prices, bargain by half.
If you buy a SIM card, your trip will run much more smoothly.
The prices in northern Thailand are much cheaper than on the southern islands. If you want to shop, try most of it in Chaing Mai.
Always have cash with you as most places don't take cards.
Be a responsible and ethical visitor, don't ride the elephants, and don't give your money to tourist attractions that mistreat animals.
Don't be afraid to walk instead of always taking tuk tuks. You will pass a lot off the tourist trail and in interesting places.
6. Describe Thailand in one word or a short phrase.
It invigorates your senses.
Looking for more? Check out the Bono twins on Instagram, @thebonotwins, and check out our sweepstakes page to win an epic journey!