This interview series features interviews with travel bloggers and writers. If you are a travel blogger and a writer and have something to share with your readers, please get in touch with me at [email protected] I look forward to hearing from you!
In this interview, let us meet a travel blogger, Mariska. She and her boyfriend Sander are both from the Netherlands and have been traveling in Thailand since 2014. Before then, Mariska was a copywriter and Sander was a pre-school teacher. They quit their jobs, sold their possessions, and traveled to Thailand indefinitely. Now, they spend six months each year in Thailand and another half year back in the Netherlands sharing their travel tips and findings on their website Go to Thailand.
Welcome, Mariska! Please tell us about yourself, your blog, and your adventure.
Hi, my name is Mariska van Brederode and I’m from the Netherlands. Together with my boyfriend, Sander, I run Go To Thailand, a travel blog for Thailand lovers – just like us!
Thailand is the first destination outside of Europe that we’ve visited, and it was love at first sight. We were 21 years old at the time and traveled around for four weeks, which seemed like the longest time. We explored Bangkok, went trekking in the jungle, and chilled out on beautiful beaches. The locals were super friendly and the food was awesome-we had the time of our lives.
After that trip, I knew I would go back to Thailand. But I never thought that I would run a website about it!
Thailand is a great country and I always wanted to go back there. What made you decide to visit Thailand for six months each year?
A few years later, I was working as a copywriter for a travel company, but never actually got to travel to the places I was writing about. It was all fake, and I felt stuck and unhappy.
That’s when the idea grew to write about destinations that I’m passionate about, real stories from my own experience. I knew I loved Thailand, so the decision to go back was pretty straightforward. My boyfriend jumped on the idea and quit his job as well, and we launched our Dutch travel blog – which is now the biggest and most visited Thailand blog in The Netherlands. Last year, we launched the English version of our website, Go To Thailand, so we could reach and help even more people who love Thailand as much as we do.
What is your favorite destination in Thailand?
That’s a hard question, as there are so many beautiful places to choose from! So, I’ll share a few if you don’t mind.
My favorite island is Koh Phayam, a small, unspoiled island with empty beaches and hardly any tourists. There are no cars, ATMs, or big resorts. You stay in a rickety bamboo shack on the beach, often with no power. The main attraction of the island is the vast jungle, with lots of rare birds, smelly cashew trees, and monkeys. Life here is blissfully uncomplicated, and that’s why I love it so much.
Sukhothai is a favorite city of mine. It used to be a capital of Thailand and has a lot of beautiful old temples that are overgrown with jungle. You can rent a bicycle and paddle from one temple to another.
Another destination I think fondly of is Pai, a small mountain village in Northern Thailand. Nature here is amazing, with loads of waterfalls, viewpoints, hot springs, and a beautiful canyon. We’ve lived here for six months in a wooden house, surrounded by nature. We ran out of money and had to make a decision: call it quits and return to the Netherlands to get a job or keep blogging.
We chose the latter. My boyfriend got a local teaching job and I found a freelance gig. In the meantime, we kept focusing on growing our blog. I’m really happy we did!
And I am happy for you both! On your website, you mentioned that you “always keep an out for that one golden tip: the nicest guest house or the best restaurant”. Do you have any restaurants or guest houses to recommend to your fellow travelers?
There are so many!
Like Blue Lagoon, an eco-friendly art resort in Koh Chang Island, where you stay in a bungalow on a lagoon. The restaurant here is amazing too, with cushions and hammocks on the water.
We also love iSanook in Bangkok, where you can rent a room the size of a small apartment- right outside of Chinatown. The area there is not touristy, and in the alleyway, you’ll find a couple of great local restaurants.
Our go-to restaurant in Pai is Charlie & Lek. The restaurant might look a little shabby but looks can be deceiving. The food is fresh, cheap, and served quickly and the guys that work here are really sweet. If you are there, try the flat noodles with sesame oil and the crispy pork.
I was in Koh Chang and Bangkok, but I have never been to these two restaurants. I will have to visit when I get back there. What has surprised you the most about Thailand?
The way of life. Thai people are really friendly and genuinely interested. If your motorbike breaks down, someone will pull over to help you. I always feel welcome in Thailand.
Dutch people keep to themselves. It feels like we are all so disconnected from the outside world, which is a real shame.
Have you had any bad experiences when traveling there?
We got really sick on our last trip. We were stuck on a small island, Koh Kradan, and just couldn’t get away.
After a week, we felt healthy enough to take the boat to the mainland, where we were stranded for another week. I recovered after about two weeks, but my boyfriend felt ill for two months and had to make a couple trips to the clinic – which wasn’t fun.
We ended up renting a beautiful villa near Hua Hin with a large pool, to make the experience a little bit more enjoyable. Thailand is a tropical country, so stuff like this happen. Luckily, we recovered at the end!
Do you have any places you always want to visit in Thailand but have not?
Yes! Even I don’t get to see every destination.
There are lots of small, local places that I really want to visit. Like Chiang Saen, a sleepy river town in Northern Thailand with a lot of old temple ruins. And the island Koh Libong, with a small Muslim fishing community and lush mountains. And Thi Lo Su Waterfall in Umpang, the largest and highest waterfall in Thailand.
What is one piece of advice you guys would offer to fellow travelers planning their trip to Thailand?
There’s more to Thailand than Bangkok, Phuket, and Koh Samui. Yes, these destinations are great and worth checking out, but don’t be scared to go off the beaten track and visit lesser-known places, like my favorite island Koh Phayam, located near the Myanmar border. Other great destinations are Chiang Dao near Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son near Pai, and Koh Yao Noi near Koh Phi Phi.
Discovering a ‘new’ place is exciting and adventurous, and will often be the highlight of your trip!
These are some great ‘new’ places! What do you miss the most about the Netherlands while being in Thailand?
Bread and cheese – haha!
No really, I miss my friends and family the most. Being away from them made me realize that they are what’s most important in life. That’s why we decided against living in Thailand and instead travel there for about six months a year, which is still a substantial amount of time. Plus, we get to escape the rainy, Dutch winter – a great bonus!
Thank you Mariska for sharing your experience and tips on travelng in Thailand. Enjoy your travels there!
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