In my quest to visit every continent (excluding Antarctica) by the time I am 30, I recently made the trek to the Land of Smiles a.k.a Thailand. It’s a truly beautiful country with mountains, sunshine, and absolutely breathtaking beaches.

I was there for two weeks traveling around Bangkok, one night spent in Phitsanulok, three nights in Chiang Mai and the next week in Koh Samet. It was a truly amazing trip and I’m still in shock that I was able to experience Southeast Asia!

Thailand is Buddhist nation and there are an absurd amount of Buddhist temples all over the country. Just look at this architecture. This is Wat Arun which means “Temple of Dawn”. This temple was made with Mosaic tile and was located in Bangkok.

This is part of the Grand Palace. The Grand Palace consists of the palace, the offices of the King, and several temples. The famous Emerald Buddha is located in the Grand Palace temples. This is the permanent home of the king.

The view from our longboat on the way to the Damnoen floating markets. The floating markets are literally markets that are on the river. You can get off the boat and walk around the markets or you can purchase or barter for items while remaining in your boat and just gliding up to the vendors’ boats. They had food, and mostly touristy things for purchase. There are other floating markets but this one is the most famous for tourists.

Isn’t this the prettiest ice cream you’ve ever seen? This is freshly made coconut ice cream in a coconut shell that I got at the floating market.

Chicken and Rice Stir fry with a heart shaped egg! It was so good!

Outside of every home are these little shrines. They are supposed to be a place for the spirits to reside and it shows respect to the earth by honoring the spirits that protect the land. This shrine was located at a Coconut plantation outside of Bangkok.

This photo was taken at Wat Maha That. It’s the ancient capital of Thailand. The dark colored stones were caused by the fire that the Burmese set to the city.

Thailand is an incredibly beautiful country! This is a just a glimpse of the countryside with the mountains in the background. Much of our trip was spent traveling through the countryside by bus. This photo was taken as we traveled to Chiang Mai.

This Pad Thai was as amazing as it looks. Thai food is completely different in Thailand than stateside. There’s a lot of grains such as rice and noodles. The food is also incredibly spicy, they like their spices such as cayenne pepper and eat rice/noodles for every meal including breakfast.

One of the highlights of the trip and probably one of the greatest experiences of my life was the opportunity to go to the Ran Tong Elephant Sanctuary. They rescue elephants from abuse and as a visitor you get to feed them, give them a mud bath, and wash them off in the river. Here’s me feeding the oldest elephant Ruby.

Mango Sticky Rice. Tropical fruits such as mangoes, dragon fruit, and pineapple are really popular in Thailand. There’s a fruit called Durian that is famous for its strong smell. It smells kind of like a sour, rotten pineapple and it’s actually illegal to bring it in certain areas such as planes, buses, and trains.

We went snorkeling off some of the islands and these were the fishes in the water! This was on the island of Koh Thalu. During my time I only noticed these kind of fishes and they were everywhere in the water even by other islands but some of our travel companions saw an octopus and a coral reef further out!

The islands were so amazingly gorgeous that the pictures honestly don’t do them justice.

My two weeks spent in Thailand were nothing short of life changing. I've been back for over a month now and the top three experiences that I've told everyone about were the elephant sanctuary, the Thai massage from Chiang Mai, and the islands. I've been asked where my next trip is, and I'm not sure yet! I have two more years until I hit 30, and the only continents left to visit are Africa and South America...