Initially, I was planning on heading over to Cambodia from Pattaya, but I decided last minute to tag along with the guys that I had been hanging out with back up north to Chiang Mai since they were going over to Laos for their visa run.
When you arrive in Thailand by flight, you get a 30 day visa. The guys had 60 days since they had applied for it beforehand in Canada, but had to leave the country and come back in order to renew it. Thailand is very strict about overstaying your visa (unlike my experience overstaying my visa in Egypt) and will charge 500 baht ($15) per day that you go over the stamp in your passport.
We took the overnight bus, which went really well. We had heard horror stories about it, but the driver was good and we got tons of free snacks, drinks and meals along the way. Gotta love Thai VIP buses ;)
It was like coming home, in a way, when I got to Chiang Mai. I knew the layout of the city a bit already. I wanted to catch a bus to Laos as soon as possible since I was cutting it close to my departure date, but the earliest one was the following morning. Womp womp.
I checked back into the amazing Rose Guest House, with the lovely smiley guy who works at the counter. He set me up with a dorm for special price ;)
I reconvened with the guys, who had rented scooters. We headed up the mountain to Wat Doi Sutthep, and found an awesome waterfall along the way.
We hiked up to the top, which was so much fun!
A nice Thai man helped us maneuver the trail. I expected him to want a fee at the end, but he just wanted to chat.
We continued on past Wat Doi Suthep to the palace on the top of the hill. It had some amazing views of the city, and it was so cool to see the sights and jungle from the back of a scooter. We almost ran out of gas at one point - it's quite a ways up the mountain - but thankfully found some just in the knick of time. Those sneaky bike rental places, not giving you enough gas. Sneaky, sneaky.
When I returned to my hostel, the smiley man asked me what my plan was the next day. I told him I was signed up to take the bus the following morning to Laos, and he said 'No, I think you take the slow boat instead. I take it three nice. So nice'
It didn't take much convincing ;)
So, I'm all set up to take a slow boat to Laos! I have absolutely no idea what to expect, but I'm excited to take in the sights along the Mekong River soon!
I guess no plan is the best plan :)