The Ultimate Thailand Guide: Part 1 – Bangkok

IMG_5232.JPG

 

In 2018 we went to Thailand for our honeymoon. We had been eyeing Thailand since we back came from studying abroad in Italy. The reason we kept holding out on it, was because we wanted to make sure we had plenty of time there. The flights are typically all over twenty hours, so my number one recommendation if you’re going to Thailand, give yourself at least 10 days.

There is SOOO much to see in Thailand, it was very hard to limit it and create the perfect route. We wanted a good balance between adventure and relaxing. I read many blogs and specifically watched Lost Le Blanc’s Thailand video series to create the perfect Thailand trip.

Before you begin to plan your route, be aware of what season Thailand is in, because the weather will impact your itinerary!

 

This is the route we took

Bangkok -> Chiang Mai -> Krabi -> Phuket -> Koh Phi Phi -> Phuket -> Bangkok

originally we had planned to do Koh Lanta after Krabi,  since we went during rainy season, we heard most of the island of Koh Lanta was a ghost town and not very well picked up due to the rain and tide. We decided to go Phuket instead, since it was huge and had a lot to see, and we did not regret our decision!

Currency: Bhat is the currency used in Thailand, it is imperative to carry their cash at all times. There are a lot of places that accept cards,  but save yourself the hassle and pull out cash from Thai ATMS with your regular bank card, just don’t forget to notify the bank of your travel plans.

Affordability: Thailand is extremely affordable!!! To be honest we did not budget our trip since it was our honeymoon. We booked all of our hotels in advanced online using Hotels.com. Food and alcohol is extremely cheap as well, especially all of the delicious street food, which is a must!

Weather: Make sure to check the season you are traveling! We knew going during July, we would be in the middle of rainy season. This meant a lot of rain, hiding for cover from the downpour, but also less of a crowd.

In order to make this guide comprehensive and detailed, I will break it down into 3 regions, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and the Islands.

Bangkok

I read online many times to skip Bangkok when visiting Thailand, but that is not a good idea. We loved Bangkok, from the temples, to the rooftop bars, to the markets, the culture is so rich. Ed and I love the hustle and bustle that big cities bring, so we took advantage of our time in Thailand.

 

Day One:

We landed in Bangkok at about 4 am! From the airport we took a taxi to our hotel and we checked in at about 4:30 am. We were too antsy to sleep, especially since we had spent most of the time hibernating while on the plane. So we freshened up and left the hotel around 6 am to begin our adventure.

Surprisingly, I didn’t have an itinerary planned, but we had mapped out what we wanted to see. As we were walking to our first destination, we ran into a taxi driver, Mr. Saifon. I told him I wanted to go to the Grand Palace, he then showed us a brochure of places he could take us. I saw a market on the list then asked him if he could take us  to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Running into Mr.Saifon was one of the greatest blessings of the trip, we ended up having him as our personal driver for most of the day, and he only charged us $30 and we tipped him well!

Stop 1: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, wow this was one of the most iconic markets I’ve ever visited. It is pretty far from the city of Bangkok, about an hour and a half, taking a personal taxi like we did is the most optimal way. When we got there, our taxi driver arranged us to purchase our ride through the market. Make sure to bring cash with you, or ask your boat driver to stop for you. This market is a bit more pricey than most of Thailand, but you pay for the experience. There are also excursions you can stop and do while at the market, we chose to visit a settlement of women that wear brass neck coils around their necks to elongate them. There are also beautiful temples you can stop at, just make sure your shoulders and knees are covered.

IMG_5199IMG_8627

Here is some of the food we got at the floating markt , the icecream was soooo good, I wanted seconds. Also we HAD to get pad thai for our firs meal in Thailand.

 

IMG_2350

Stop 2: Mr. Saifon took us to grab lunch at a random but very cute outdoor restaurant, I probably will never find this place or Mr.Saifon again unfortunately 😦

 

Stop 3: Maeklong Railway Market

IMG_2407.JPG

I had seen this market photographed on Instagram and also asked Mr. Saifon if he could take us there. The market sits on the side of train tracks, the train goes by every so often about 8 times a day. We were lucky to arrive at a good time to walk the whole market, drink some coconuts, and watch the madness unfold. A bell will sound off and you will see all of the shops bring everything in and make way for the train to come. We made sure to get a good spot to see the action happen. This market was best to buy fruit, vegetables, and drinks! I bought my favorite fruit, which I can’t find everywhere in the U.S…lychee!

IMG_5273IMG_5275

Finally, after spending about 6 hours with Mr.Saifon, we returned to our hotel in Bangkok and got ready for the nighttime.

Bangkok is well known for their elegant rooftop bars with the best views of the city, we decided to have dinner at one called Red Sky Bar. We dined like Kings and Queens and it was so inexpensive (thank you to all that gifted us cash for our honeymoon, you made this possible!)

IMG_2441IMG_5502

Day Two

For day two we decided to stay local and explore all the beautiful sights on foot. I wanted to ride a Tuk Tuk really bad, but heard to be cautious because of all the scams. We kind of got suckered into one, he took a picture of us, and then we realized he was a scam so we jumped out and set out on foot, afterall more walking means more room for food later.

IMG_8898

Our first stop was The Grand Palace. We purchased the self directed audio guide tour and walked around. Make sure you dress appropriately if you want to enter the Temples. I had to buy pants outside the Palace, and wore a kimono to cover my shoulders.

IMG_5371IMG_5427

After the Grand Palace, we stopped for some Thai food and then headed over to our next stop; Wat Arun. We took the ferry boat over to Wat Arun and explored its beauty.

IMG_5532

We wanted to check out another rooftop bar but were not dressed appropriately since we had left the hotel at 9am and had been exploring on foot all day. We stopped at a department store, and I used some makeup samples to freshen up….lol ratchet. Ed bought a cheap dress shirt from a street vendor, I managed to roll down my shorts to an appropriate length, ed wore my temple pants, we checked out backpack in, and they surprisingly let us in, talk about a story we will always remember.

This was my favorite rooftop bar for sure! The cocktails were delicious and the views were phenomenal, especially at the time we went.

IMG_5564IMG_5601IMG_2604

 

We ended the night by walking the notorious Kkao San Road. We had street food for dinner and tried the best deserts Nutella Roti.

 

Time to back our bags because we are headed to beautiful Chiang Mai next! Look out for part two and three on the blog!

My Experience Doing a Juice Cleanse (Recipes Included)

**I want to preface this by saying, I am NOT encouraging a juice cleanse onto anybody. This is simply my experience with a Juice Detox/Cleanse/Fast, whatever you want to call it. If you are offended by this and the content, simply don’t waste you time with negativity. This fast is not for everyone, you should have significant knowledge of nutrition before proceeding. There are many benefits to a juice cleanse, I’m not going to get into the detail of that, you can easily find the information on the web **

 

IMG_1396

 

I also want to say that everyone’s experience is different and everyone’s body reacts differently as well. I enjoyed the 3 day cleanse, I’ve done it as a reset twice. You will loose weight and tighten up. Personally I wouldn’t mind using this tactic to prep for something like  Vegas or a trip full of bathing suits. You will gain the weight back if you are not responsible with your eating after. Also, your skin will glow and feel so bright because of all the nutrients you take in.

 

After talking with a couple at my part time job, that gave me insight onto this cleanse, I decided to do my research. I watched over 10 youtube videos, read about 10 articles, and read through forums. This is pretty typical of me when I discover something new. I love watching youtube vlogs because I feel they are more raw and show you the daily step by step. Some videos did discourage me, and made me think this was going to be impossible and difficult, however I found this to be quite simple (after conquering your mind). I will say that this process was MUCH easier with my husband by my side doing it as well, and helping with preparation and juicing.

 

WE JUICED EVERYTHING OURSELVES. Yes this was extremely demanding, and cleaning the juicer is the worst part lol. If you juice everything yourself it is way more economical than buying a cleanse directly. However, I know most people don’t have time or a juicer, I have recommended Pressed Juicery’s cleanses to friends and they have enjoyed that as well. I don’t have a fancy juicer either, it is rather cheap from Amazon but it got the job done.

 

Here is the Juicer we used!

 

I found most of my recipes through Pinterest. I aimed for juices that contained mostly vegetables and only one fruit or sometimes two to sweeten it up. It is really easy for someone to use a bunch of fruits because they taste the best, however that would be too much sugar and not beneficial. If anything the excessive sugar would make you extremely thirsty.

Water Consumption: When you are juicing you MUST MUST MUST drink a lot of water. I drink a gallon of water a day on the regular. When I was juicing, I found myself feeling more thirsty than ever, I would listen to my body and drink more than one gallon. I also drank Liquid I.V electrolytes and that curbed my thirst instantly.

Activity Levels:  I read many contrasting opinions, some people say not to workout when juicing. Others say to do something like light cardio, walking, or yoga. I messaged a friend who had juiced several times about this. She told me to listen to my body, workout, yet take it easy and make sure to consume a juice an hour before. On my first cleanse I went to spin each of the three days, I avoiding lifting because I didn’t want to feel lightheaded.

Sleep: The most essential part of a cleanse! I got my 8 hours of sleep each night, which only happens for me when I am on breaks from my education job. I will admit I woke-up extremely tired the second and third day of the cleanse. On the 4th day (regular non juicing day), I woke-up feeling like I had gotten hit by a truck, I felt really sluggish and my body felt heavy, I laid in bed for another hour.

I did consume half an avocado each night! I did this to ensure my body was getting some sort of healthy fats. This could also be done with Omega 3’s and fish oil. I enjoyed eating my avocado with some lime and pink himalayan sea salt.

 

How Much Juice: Pressed Juicery’s cleanse kit gives you 6 juices daily. I tried to model my consumption in a similar manner, except we did about 5 juices daily.  At night, instead of a juice, we would do a Banana and Almond Milk as a drink. We also drank coconut water, and sparkling water throughout the day.

 

Here are pictures of some of the juices we drank. I juiced for two people at a time, that is how much produce we used. I also added coconut water to fill the mason jars to the top!

 

JUICE 1: My favorite! We sprinkled chia seeds for extra nutrition. The chia seeds get gooeey and taste good in the juice.

IMG_0027IMG_0029

JUICE 2: Apple, Carrots, Turmeric, Oranges, Lemon (didn’t end up using the pineapple)

IMG_1900IMG_8750

 

Juice 3: Beets, Carrots, Apple, Lemon, Ginger & Turmeric

this juice is great to take before a workout because beets may help blood flow and exercise ability. Beets are very prone to stain, so drink this one with a straw.

IMG_7517

 

Juice Not Pictured: Carrot, Tomato, Bell Pepper, Lemon Juice… this was more of a savory juice.

 

 

 

Here’s a snapshot of some of the groceries we got for our juices.

Some of my staples for Juicing: Cucumbers, Celery, Carrots, Power Greens Mix, Kale, Ginger, Lemon, Turmeric, Beets, Apple, Pineapple, Oranges, Grapefruits.

IMG_1307

 

The key to survive a juice cleanse, it to ensure you’re getting proper nutrients through the fruits and vegetables you’re consuming, stay hydrated, and consume a juice periodically. Since I am someone who practices intermittent fasting, I did this while juicing and I did not feel starved, if anything practicing IF helped me adhere to the juices even when working at a Mexican food restaurant.

 

If you have any questions, ask below! or message me on IG @JessMarquezz, I would love to help and answer any questions. & Remember to ALWAYS do your OWN research before implementing something in your life.

 

IMG_1111

Christmas Date Ideas in Southern California

Tis the Season! I love Christmas, I’m the kind of person that envisions Christmas right when Halloween is over. I love the lights, decorations, vibes, everything about Christmas. From the smell of my Christmas tree walking into my house, to the classic movies we watch every year. I have compiled 5 Christmas date activities worthy of checking out this holiday season.

Ice Skating at Hotel Del Coronado

Location: Coronado / Cost: $30 online $35 in person

IMG_1781Iceskating is a must during the holiday season. There are so many ice skating rinks all over Southern California worth visiting, but my personal favorite is at the Hotel Del Coronado. The rink is spacious, and the quality of the skates is great. I love skating here because you are skating by the sea, the ocean and palm trees are in the background….only in California! The hotel is iconic and worth exploring while you’re there.

 

Mission Inn Festival of Lights

Location: Riverside / Cost: Free

IMG_0849

Although the Mission Inn festival of lights is not that big, it is such a beautiful display of lights and very romantic and cute to visit. The hotel is also very historic and worth visiting. There are also a lot of cute outdoor christmas shops and spots to get hot chocolate and snacks.

Tip: Visit the Riverside Food Lab when you’re there, its a 2 minute walk from the Mission Inn, save your appetite and grab dinner!

 

L.A Zoo Lights

Location: Los Angeles / Cost: Value Night $15, Premium Night $ 22

IMG_0853

So much fun! Lots of walking and intricate light displays. I’ve only been here once but each year it keeps getting bigger and better.

 

Christmas on the Farm & Bainbridge Circle

Location: Peltzer Winery (Temecula), Bainbridge Circle (Murrieta)

IMG_5855-e1420394147346

Believe it or not, Temecula has high Christmas spirts. There are so many different christmas stop spots. Two of my favorite are Peltzer Winery and Bainbridge Circle. Peltzer Winery has an Ice Skating rink and has a ton of festive activities for all ages.

Bainbridge has been a tradition for some time, Ed and I have gone together the past 8 years, this will be our ninth…wow. You can tune your radio to the designated radio station and drive through it, or find parking and walk around the magical street. There is a lot of traffic due to the popularity so be patient and don’t forget your Christmas spirit when visiting.

 

Here are some other recommendations I’ve seen, but have not had a chance to do! Comment below any of your favorite ones worth visiting, even in other states!

 

-Enchanted @ Descanso Gardens

-Moonlight Festival @ LA Arboretum

-Newport Beach Boat Parade

-Queen Mary Christmas

 

 

The Ultimate Guide to La Riviera Maya (Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, & Tulum)

IMG_3096La Riviera Maya is hands down my favorite place to vacation to, because there is so much to see and do. I have been fortunate enough to travel there a couple times, and every time I leave, I am left wishing to come back and do something we didn’t have the opportunity to do. One of the best parts of traveling to this region, is the water. Cancun is located in the Caribbean Sea, so the water is warm and turquoise. There are parts of the Riviera Maya, where the water is nicer than others, the best water is closer to the Islands, such as Isla Mujeres & Cozumel.  Aside from the ocean, the Yucatan peninsula is home to more than 6,000 cenotes, each one is unique and an adventure visiting. The adventures are endless in La Riviera Maya, and this place is great to travel to for families, friends, but my personal favorite is with my significant other. This post is going to highlight some of the must see & do things while in the Riviera Maya, as well as food recommendations.

I’ll be moving down this list region by region geographically! When you fly in, you fly into Cancun so it is typically better to work your way down from Cancun -> Playa Del Carmen -> Tulum.

Getting Around: Renting a car is the best option if you are up for driving in Mexico. You can either rent a car for your whole stay or for certain days of your trip. If you are driving in Mexico, it is imperative to make safety your priority. If you would rather not worry about driving there are private shuttles which can take you around. If you are staying in Cancun & Playa Del Carmen, a car is not necessary at all, you can walk to most places or take the local bus or collectivos. You can also take ADO busses from Cancun, to Playa Del Carmen, and to Tulum. Make sure to check their schedule at the station to plan your trip accordingly! Tulum is also easy to move around in, the best way is through bike rental!

Cancun

IMG_0843

Many people insist on skipping Cancun, because of how oversaturated it is with tourism, I strongly disagree and love visiting the area. Cancun actually has way nicer beaches than Tulum does. Tulum is more for the Instagram and Cancun is more for the nightlife/ beaches. Cancun is also located north in the Yucatan peninsula and it is most optimal to visit certain tourist spots from this area.

Chichen Itza

IMG_9413

Known as one of the 7 wonders of the modern world, Chichen Itza is a must visit. In my opinion, the most optimal way to visit Chichen Itza, is through a tour. The tour company will pick you up and take you home. They often pair this with a visit to one of the most beautiful cenotes.

Cenote Ik-Kil

This is my favorite cenote to visit. It’s huge and super refreshing, it is also very deep, so if you are not comfortable treading water, I recommend you grab a life jacket. You can also jump into the cenote from various altitudes if you are seeking some adrenaline.

Coco Bongo

You can’t visit Cancun and not go to Coco Bongo, the experience is worth every penny. It is not like a regular club, its an immersive experience that blows your mind. The performers go all out, there is acrobats, stunts, live covers of favorites from Queen, Michael Jackson and many more. The ticket also includes open bar so make sure to get there early and get a good spot because it does get packed.

Isla Mujeres

IMG_0847

IMG_3069

IMG_3088

If there is one place of the Riviera Maya, I could go back to today, it would be Isla Mujeres. Since it is an island, the water is the best in the region. The island is beautiful, I recommend staying there for a night, you can find many affordable hotels and air bnbs. Isla Mujeres is accessed from Cancun from the multiple ferry ports, the ferry is cheap and a nice ride itself (as long as its not raining lol). Now the first thing you need to do when you arrive to Isla, is to rent a golf cart. Pack a day bag and wear your bathing suits, you can drive through the whole island and make pit stops to hop into the beach. There are even bar stops along the way for you to grab a cold cerveza or coco. Playa Norte is the most popular region on Isla and has the best sunsets.

Where We’ve Stayed

-Real Inn Cancun

-Hotel Bahia Chac Chi (Isla Mujeres)

Both of these hotels are super affordable yet still nice and enjoyable!

Restaurants

While were in Cancun, we typically do tours which feed you, so I really don’t have many places to recommend for eating except one.

Mextreme- Located on the strip where the nightlife is, this place has really good mexican food and even better margaritas. The restaurant is also super fun and has live music and the workers get into it by stacking drinks on their head.

and now we work our way down the Peninsula to……….

 

Playa Del Carmen

IMG_0845

Playa del Carmen is definitely worth visiting, especially if you love shopping. They have a main strip with a ton of restaurants, bars, and shops, the decor is beautiful especially at night with all the twinkle lights. Playa del Carmen is the most centrally located and is a good spot to stay to visit the most in the area. Tulum is only an hour away by car and, the island of Cozumel is also a ferry ride away. The best part of staying in Playa Del Carmen, is how close the excursion parks are, such as Xel-Ha, Xcaret, and Xplor. Finally, Playa Del Carmen is also close to many beautiful cenotes worth visiting.

Getting around Playa Del Carmen via Collectivo

My best recommendation to visit the cenotes/Akumal, is to take the collectivos from Playa Del Carmen. I should explain what this is, a collectivo is a local shuttle van that picks up people in Playa Del Carmen to take them to various stops along the highway which ends up at Tulum. The locals take these collectivos everyday to get to work at the various resorts along the highway, so they are super safe, just be aware of their times of operation so you do not end up stranded. The collectivos are cheap make sure you have small pesos in hand. Collectivos can be found on Calle 2 between 20th and 25th avenues. 

Xel-Ha

IMG_0846

Xel-Ha, if I could live here, I would. The ticket comes with all you can drink all you can eat. Did I mention, it’s all you can drink ALCOHOL? The buffet food is also really delicious. This park blows any disney resort out of the water. From the snorkeling, lazy river, cliff jumping, cenotes, and much more, this places is for everyone. There are even hammocks for you to take a nap in post alcohol binge.

Xcaret

This is the parent of the parks, its huge and best for families. There is a beautiful cultural show that will marvel the beauty of the Yucatan culture. To be honest, I haven’t been to this park yet, Ed and I always say we will come back to it when we have kids.

5th Avenue

The best shopping in La Riviera Maya. From local artisan crafts, to chain stores like forever 21, you are bound to find your perfect souvenirs here. Pro-tip: buy your souvenirs at the local wal mart, you will find the exact same things at cheaper prices (we were told by locals).

Akumal Bay

Have you ever wanted to swim with sea turtles? This is the place to go. We took a collectivo for a couple pesos from Playa Del Carmen to get to Akumal bay. We also bought our own snorkel mask and stick from Wal Mart and brought it with us to swim with the turtles. You do not need a tour to do this, and you can save money by doing it on your own. Swimming with the turtles was a beautiful experience, just be cognizant and respectful of their environment.

Cenote Jardin Del Eden

IMG_0844

 Cenote Jardin Del Eden, is actually the first stop of 3 cenotes worth visiting. It costs 5$ to get in, if you have your own snorkel gear, bring it with you to see the fish and underwater life. You can cliff jump into this cenote & it has some of the most beautifully colored water.

Other favorite cenotes to visit that are close by, Cenote Azul, Cenote Chickin Ha.

Where We’ve Stayed Before

-La Pasion Hotel Boutique- WE LOVE THIS HOTEL and it is also super affordable, just researching the name right now and the hotel costs 50$ a night. It is in a perfect location super close to all the walking shops and restaurants. It has a rooftop pool, rooftop bar, and another pool in the hotel. You also get free breakfast (sit down, restaurant style), and the amenities of the hotel are pretty sweet.

-Grand Mayan at Vidanta- I only stayed here because my mom has a timeshare. This resort is freaking awesome. Its huge and there is SO much to do, it probably would take two days to cover and explore everything this resort offers. One of the best things this Hotel offers, is its proximity with Cirque Du Soleil, where you can watch Joya! We loved watching the show here, it was much more affordable than Vegas and you can order packages where you you get drinks and appetizers.

Restaurants in Playa Del Carmen ( we have two favorites that we always make it a mission to visit to when were in the area).

-El Oasis Mariscos Calle 12 (best seafood ever) So many options to choose from and it is not that expensive

-El Fogon (there are various locations) best place to go for quality mexican food like tacos, especially el pastor.

and finally we head down to Tulum!

 

Tulum

 

IMG_9684

Tulum is every avid Instagrammer’s heaven, people go for the aesthetic and are drawn in by beautiful photos shared online. Because of how popular it is, this region is also much more expensive but it depends on which side of the town you are on . Typically most tourists go to the Tulum Hotel Zone, and if you are only there for the day, this is the region you want to visit and stay at. If you are in Tulum for an extended amount of time and are looking for a much more affordable stay with gorgeous AirBnB’s look into staying in Tulum Town. The only difficulty with staying in Tulum Town, is getting to and from the Hotel Zone where most of the attractions are located. Some of the airbnb’s do offer bikes which make traveling to the Hotel Zone a fun adventure.

here are some of my favorite spots to visit in Tulum

Azulik Hotel

IMG_4693

This hotel is so dreamy, I dream of staying there one day. For now i’ll just visit the beautiful attractions they offer. In this hotel you can find Kin Toh (restaurant), Sfer Ik (immersive art gallery that changes), and suspension bridge walkway at Azulik.

IMG_0481

Pro-Tip: Dining at Kin-Toh is pretty pricey and tbh the food was alright in my opinion. I did enjoy their cocktails and & bread they brought, but the food was kind of average. It is extremely expensive to dine on the nets and birds nests, but most people stop in for a drink at their bar, hop on the net for a quick picture and head out.

IMG_0647

 

Matcha Mama

IMG_9356

By far the best Acai Bowls i’ve ever had! They sell Acai bowls, smoothies, coffee, matcha, juices, and my personal favorite immunity boosters made out of juiced ginger. I love riding bikes here, and making this a pitstop. Aside from all the delicious food options, it makes for a perfect picture stop.

 

Coco Tulum

IMG_9675

One of my favorite stops for a drink and some beautiful beach views. This is also a great place for groups, in particular bachelorette parties. It has an all white aesthetic and has a great vibe to it.

Other Places worth Visiting in Tulum

-Casa Malca (Pablo Escobar’s Mansion)- Been dying to go here, last two times I was in Tulum it didn’t work out. Super cute and trendy for photos, check out the restaurant so you feel comfortable hanging around since it is a hotel.

-Coba Ruins ( you can climb these ruins, further away so you definitely need a car)

-Tulum Ruins (beautiful & by the water, there is also a trail that leads to a beach, can be accessed by bike coming from the hotel zone)

-Grand Cenote

-Cenote Calavera

 

 

 

 

since this blog is getting long, I will cap it off here. There are honestly SO many places to visit, you will love any region you travel to. These are just some of the highlights from the past times I’ve been. There is still so much I am yearning to see, I can’t wait to go back.