Travel and World-Schoolingj

Our 6-7 month trip is coming to an end, and we have had the most amazing time! Lots of ups and downs, lots of last minute plan changes and we have all grown so close.

We have all learnt so much as a family and as individuals, and we are very grateful to be able to experience everything that we have, we feel very lucky.

Here are some things that me and Glen have learnt:

  1. Never plan ahead just take each day as it comes
  2. Possessions are not important
  3. Life is for living and loving
  4. You only live once
  5. Take risks
  6. It’s important to say “I love you” everyday
  7. Surround yourself with people who are happy and smile alot
  8. People can be incredibly generous
  9. Animal therapy is an actual thing, and cuddling a dog, cat, rabbit or petting a horse will make you happy
  10. It’s always best just to laugh at everything that goes wrong (especially if you break a bed in a lovely hotel)
  11. You will never get 1 minute to yourself when travelling with your children
  12. You can love and hate your children at the same time
  13. Our girls are more demanding and strong willed than we realised, and could probably run for prime-mister one day.
  14. You can teach maths pretty much anywhere everyday, using sugar sachets, counting objects under water, and lift buttons
  15. There is never a “language barrier” when you are a pro at charades….
  16. ….And you have google translate
  17. Booking.com will take your money regardless if you like your hotel or not
  18. Americans’ and Thais’ are the happiest people we have met on our travels
  19. Baths, dressing gowns and Yorkshire puddings are missed everyday (by Gemma)
  20. Glen has learnt how to play the ukulele
  21. The girls are now ready to settle somewhere for a while

What Ellie and Maisie have Learnt:

  1. To swim like mermaids
  2. They have both learnt how to belly surf and now they want to learn to do real surfing
  3. Both learnt how to horse ride
  4. Leant how to fish, gut and cook a fish
  5. How to feed a baby goat
  6. How to make friends and play with children from all over the world with out worrying about language. They have friends from China, India, Thailand, Japan, France, Russia, Netherlands, Germany, America, Fiji, New Zealand….
  7. How to say hello, goodbye and thank you in many languages
  8. How to get used to change and constant moving around, nothing fazes them now!
  9. How to pose for photos around 5 times a day for Indians, Thais And Chinese as they love their skin and hair colour!
  10. Learnt how to say goodbye without getting upset
  11. How to get used to only having a small bag of cheap 7-11 plastic toys
  12. Both can now walk for 3-4 miles with out complaining
  13. Both have tried new foods and realised they like new things
  14. Both of them are a lot closer as sisters than they were before we left
  15. Both of them want cats, dogs, rabbits, horses as pets, they have a list…
  16. Academic Lessons America– History, Cowboys, Tectonic Plates and mountains, astronomy, weather, wildlife, art, music
  17. Academic Lessons New Zealand– earth quakes, tectonic plates, and Thermal activity, wildlife, the sun and the moon
  18. Academic Lessons Thailand– Language, friendships, religion, culture, cooking and food, swimming,
  19. I’m sure they have learnt so much more than this list!

But now it’s time for a new adventure, in a new country with a different language that we have been practicing as much as we can!

Keep reading our blogs to find out what we are doing next!

Love Gem, Glen, Ellie and Maisie

Xxx

Have you ever wanted to visit Thailand or have plans to go, but wonder how you would get from town to town? If you are wanting to really immerse yourself in the Thai culture keep reading this blog has all the information for you!

Lets look at different types of transport in Thailand;

TuktukYou would only use this method of transport to travel a few miles, no further and you wouldn’t expect to pay more than 100-200 Thai Baht. This seems to be their starter price, any less then they will certainly be trying to sell you something else later (see more information on this further down in “Bangkok”). You can also use a Tuktuk for a day trip, taking you to many temples and other places of interest; we paid around 400 Thai Baht for 2 hours around Ayutthaya.

Taxi – Can be a more convenient way to travel somewhere that’s only around 1 hour away, for example we used a lot of taxies to get to different areas of Bangkok, as well as travelling down to Pattaya, and Koh Samet.  You shouldn’t be paying any more than approx 1000 Thai Baht per hour.

Bus – we didn’t get to use this method of transport but here is a link that may help:

Train – All of the above will get caught in traffic at some point, plus there are a lot of accidents in Thailand, a lot more than anywhere else in the world. So with traffic, accidents and two busy children in mind, we felt the train would be more suitable for us; plus there are toilets on trains which is good if you are travelling with children.

The Northern Line Train goes straight up the middle of Thailand from Bangkok to Chiang Mai; there are many different types of train that run on the Northern Line, some run faster than others, some have aircon and some don’t. Prices range from 40 to 500 Thai Baht each depending on what class and train you choose to travel on, we chose to travel on all different trains so keep reading if you need help decided what kind of train is best for you.

Examples of Different trains:

Ordinary: No class choice, No aircon, Large open windows, 40 Thai baht, Slower

Express (71 & 77): 2nd class, Aircon 400 Thai Baht each,  or 3rd Class no aircon 50-60 Thai Baht each, Fast

Special Express (3 & 7): 2nd Class Aircon, 400-500 Thai Baht, Fastest

On our very first train experience we chose a 2nd Class Express train with, as we had heard some awful stories of 3rd Class and Ordinary trains, we will talk about 3rd Class/ Ordinary Trains later on in this blog.

www.thailandtrains.com has lots of information and timetables

BANGKOK

Bangkok is usually where most people start, so here are some tips on where to stay, what to do and how to get the train to your next destination.

There are many areas of Bangkok to stay, just make sure you don’t book the wrong area – otherwise you will be in the middle of a “business” area (Eg Silom) which is much like Fenchurch Street London with no restaurants or street markets. Siam is good if you like a busy town, links to other towns via the Skytrain and would like to do some shopping -at the Siam Square and MBK Centre.

Here are some good areas and hotels that we would suggest, and we have included some surrounding things to do:

Ramada Plaza by Wyndham, Bangkok, Menam Riverside (booking.com)

This hotel is higher end with a swimming pool, and right next to the river, so you can get a river taxi as cheap as 20 Thai Baht each (£0.50 / $0.65) to any town along the river as well as the main Koh San Road.

In the evening be sure to visit the night market, and book to watch the Muay Thai Kick Boxing show at Asiatique http://www.muaythailive.com. This is suitable for all ages, showing the history of Muay Thai through music, dance and martial arts. You can if you wish stay for 2 live fights at the end, which we did, our children are both girls aged 8 and 4 and they absolutely loved it!

Mango Lagoon Place, Koh San Road, Bangkok (agonda.com)

This hotel is a budget hotel with a swimming pool, its set in the middle of a very vibrant street full of street food, clothes stalls and restaurants. Only 5 min walk to the River (so you can get a river Taxie to any nearby towns) 5 mins walk to the busy Koh San Road, which has a fantastic night market! And an added bonus is that this is also 5 min walk to the famous Muay Thai Street boxing camp, and on Sunday evenings at 6.30pm you can watch a live match for free!

UPDATE: Soi Ram Buttri is achally much better and not as touristy as Khao San Road!

Just a few tips for Koh San Road area:

  1. TukTuks are on commission, so if you hire them to take you to some temples for a hour, they will take you to random shop at the end of your trip in hope that you will buy something (they will get a special stamp/ or money if you do) one place that we were taken to was a high end suit making shop, it was very awkward and uncomfortable!
  2. You will get told that Ko San Road is shut because there is a fight down there, OR that its a special day today, only today to see floating market! TRUST ME Do not believe them, they are trying to get you in their Tuktuk to make their money.
  3. You will be asked over and over by many Tuktuk drivers while on your peaceful stroll if you would like to go on a day trip to see the local Temples, or to the floating markets – if you don’t want to go just tell them that you have been already! Job done!

AYUTTHAYA

Getting there

Train from Bangkok (Hua Lamphong) to Ayutthaya, we caught the

71 EXPRESS = 10.05am arriving at 11.24am this cost approx. 1200 Thai baht for 3 of us (Maisie was free)

About Ayutthaya

If you listened to the history of Muay Thai when watching the Muay Thai Live you would have learnt that Ayutthaya is where it originated from. If you are also a fan of the films “Kick Boxer” and “Mortal Combat” you will certainly want to make a stop here, as this is where they filmed them! We will tell you where to go to get the best side by side photo from the films.

Fun Fact: Each town has its own style of tuk-tuks, Ayutthaya’ are especially cool, and unique, and very brightly coloured!

Where to stay and what to do in Ayutthaya

P.U. Inn Resort (Booking.com)

This resort is absolutely beautiful, Mrs Pu has taken her time to make this place very welcoming and comfortable for her guests! Each room has a sofa inside and outside of the room, beds are extremely comfortable, and the style is clean and modern. If you book for a family ask for one of the rooms on the first floor, as you will get an amazing view of their pond at the back. By night you can watch the Fireflies twinkle, and in the morning you can see the beautiful pink flowers opening – which are closed during the day, absolutely magical.

Just 2 min walk from P.U. Resort there are many bars and restaurants which we highly recommend, the street is quiet all the chairs are outside and it has a wonderful warm feeling. One of the bars is called Jazz Bar, which has live music every Tuesday and Wednesday night.

Mrs Pu will offer you a boat tour, which is definitely worth every penny, its a late afternoon boat trip, that will take you to see 4 temples with a final ruin temple at sunset!

The next day hire a Tuktuk, we paid 400 Thai Baht (£10 / $12.50) for 2 hours to be taken to 4 temples of our choice, (they will show you a list and you can choose) and we chose them as Glen wanted to photograph the temples/ruins from scenes in movies KICKBOXER and MORTAL KOMBAT.

Glens side by side film photos:

If you are interested in seeing these filming locations then this is where you you need to go.

KICKBOXER :-Wat Mahathat and Wat Ratchaburana.

MORTAL KOMBAT :- Wat chaiwatthanaram , Wat Ratchaburana and Wat Phra Si Sanphet.

It can take some time pin pointing the exact filming location within the temple grounds, but it is fasinating slowly walking around these temples taking in the spiritual atmospher.

LOPBURI

Getting There

11.27am from Ayutthaya arriving at 12.39pm 201 Ordinary Train 3rd Class 40 Thai Baht each

As the train was only just over an hour we decided to brave the “Ordinary” train which was a fantastic choice, the windows were wide open, the views were spectacular and there was a very cool breeze.

About Lopburi

Lopburi town is located 130 kilometres north of Bangkok and only 60 kilometres north of Ayutthaya, this town is known for its resident monkeys that you will find swinging over the rooftops and climb on ancient ruins. Its definitely worth a visit, especially now (july) as all the monkeys have babies!

Where to Stay and What to do in Lopburi

Little Lopburi Village (Booking.com)

I can not recommend this homestay enough! Little Lopburi Village is run by a retired Thai couple, who are the most loving and welcoming people we have ever met! If you decide to stay here, please arrive with a smile, and be kind please, they deserve every ounce of respect. We decided to take their afternoon trip, which took us to 2 temples, a sunflower field (was not season for sunflowers but it was an amazing location) and a bat cave! This was one of the best few hours of our lives, and we totally recommend you go on this trip.

Their property is around 10 min walk to the monkey temple, if you decide to walk to see the monkeys, be aware that they are feisty, and will jump on you or chase you. If you are a little nervous you might be better off watching them in the nearby roads, as they are not as hostile, and will run away from you.

The Monkey Temple is their home, and I think that they are just protecting their area so please be careful – was was advised to take a stick to shoo them away.

Here is a little video Little Lopburi Village made for us

PHITSANULOK

Getting There

1.00pm arriving at 4pm, Special Express 3, 2nd Class 400 Thai baht each

Where to Stay and what to do in Phitsanulok

The Grand Riverside Hotel (booking.com)

IMG_3330

We didn’t expect too much from this stay, but we had a fantastic time staying here! Our rooms were interlocking so the children had their own room, plus I managed to have a bath! Every evening they have karaoke in the Restaurant which we all joined in with, it was lovely to let our hair down and have some fun!

Book a taxi asking to visit the Large Water Lilies, its around 10 min drive from the hotel and totally worth a look! If you are under 120 ib you can pay 100 Thai Baht to stand on a Lilly pad and have a selfie!

More information on https://www.thailandee.com/en/visit-thailand/giant-water-lilies-pond-phitsanulok-398

SUKHOTHAI

Getting There

There are no direct trains from Phitsanlok (I didn’t realise this before booking) you can book a taxi for 800 Thai Baht to get there in 50 mins.

About Sukhothai

Where to Stay and What to do in Sukhothai

Foresto Sukhothai Guest Home (booking.com)

We had been travelling for sometime by now, and decided to take a break for a few days, and relax somewhere with a pool! And this is what we did, along with some Spanish lessons, Ukulele lessons and reading for the kids! We took one day out to the Old Town, via wooden bus – that cost 100 Thai Baht for all of us which was wonderful! We hired bikes when we got here for the kids, which cost 30 Thai Bahts, and took a leisurely stroll around the ruins in the Central Zone. Once we had finished looking around the ruins, we were told about a ceramic making place.

 

LAMPANG

Getting There

Taxi back to Phitsanlok Train station 800 Thai Baht

13.22 Special Express 7 train arriving at 17.30 we opted for 2nd Class as it was a longer journey and cost us approx. 1200 Thai Baht for all of us

Where to Stay and what to do in Lampang

Kanecha’s Home (booking.com)

Kenecha’s home is probably one of the most beautiful houses we have stayed in, wonderfully decorated rooms, comfortable beds and welcoming staff! We booked a two bedroom villa, so our girls had their own room and shower which they loved, travelling as a family doesn’t give you any privacy!

If you visit here at the weekend, take a walk to the weekend night market, this for us was a beautiful walk taking in the atmosphere and smells. It was such an odd experience walking through a very busy market, but being so calm and quiet; I have never felt so relaxed in such a busy place.

Lampang is known for its Horse and Carriage, so we decided to book a trip around town for 1 hour costing 400 Thai Baht, where we were taken to a few temples, and a street party! We did feel bad for the horse as we are not the smallest of people, but luckily we only travelled for 4-5 mins at a time and then the horse relaxed in the shade for 10-15 mins.

Weekend Street Market Lampang

Horse and Carridge Ride Lampang

 

CHIANG MAI

Getting There

The Journey from Lampang to Chiang Mai is approx 2 hours, and we decided to take the 12.36 Diesel Train that only cost us 70 Thai Baht for all of us (£1.80 / $2.40) Here is a little video of our journey that we really enjoyed!

Where to Stay and what to do in Chiang Mai

Baan Sang Singn  (Booking.com)

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This resort is run by a wonderful family, and has many room options suitable for families eg Bunk Beds, a beautifully clean swimming pool, and a few ride on toys for the kids. The family have children themselves, and definitely have thought carefully about travelling families and their needs.

This is by far the cleanest hotel we have ever been in, rooms are cleaned every day, windows are cleaned, pool side toys, tables and chairs. The cleaners work hard all day to keep the resort spotless, and you can tell that the family have alot of pride in their business. The food here is very well priced, and very tasty, and if you would like breakfast its best to order the night before to be ready at a certain time in the morning.

We stayed in a special room for our daughters birthday which we would highly recommend, its a Family Suite (with Bunkbed) it even has a bath! see photos below:

The girls were very excited, and even spent some time playing with their toys on the bus,  we had some very happy children – Thank you Baan Sang Singh for an incredible stay we will be recommending you!

The resort is approx 10 min tuktuk drive from the train station, and 10 min walk to the main walls of Chaing Mai.

There are many things advertised to do around Chaing Mai, but with us looking into them further they seem to be either cruelty to animals or cruelty to the village people, too expensive or unappropriate for children. Here is an example of what is on offer in the Tuk-tuks:

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One place we wished we could visit was 2-3 hours drive away was the Golden Triangle, White Temple – if you have young children this can be a very long day for you all. Maybe staying at Ching Rai or further north might be a better option.

We planned to be busy every other day, so the children can play by the pool and relax on the others. Thailand is very hot, and you will all get very tired if you have long busy trips booked everyday. Here is our list of things to do in Chiang Mai that is suitable for children, that you can either walk or organise transport yourself with a Tuktuk or Taxi:

Cat Café – They Call Me Cat (15 Min walk)

https://www.facebook.com/Cat-cafe-They-call-me-cat-403918557032783/

This was a fabulous little time spent petting 25 cats, all different breads and all absolutely beautiful! We paid the 100 Thai Baht each to enter, the money goes towards running the small business, and keep the cats well feed and pampered! All the cats are happy, healthy and love lots of attention! Be prepared to have the puuuurrrrfect time!

 Old Chiang Mai Cultural Centre – Khantoke Dinner Show (10 min drive- 150 Thai Baht)

https://www.facebook.com/OldChiangmaiCulturalCenter/

We had a fantastic time here, we sat at the front on traditional Thai mats, and ate our food from a small platter in the middle. For us it was an opportunity for the children to try new foods, as so far they havnt been very adventurous. The food is wonderful, – (some spicy some not) and they do come around and offer more when you run out, so don’t worry if you are feeling hungry you will be well fed. The show itself is a mixture of all Thai dances from Traditional thai to Hill tribes. We thoroughly enjoyed our evening, and both the girls were both memorised by the fingernail dance!

Ploenrudee Night Market (5 min tuktuk 100 Thai Baht)

https://www.facebook.com/ploenrudeenightmarket/

Vibrant market place with fusion food stalls, funky cocktail bars made from converted busses, and live music! We had a wonderful time here, and once you have finished eating and dancing you can have a lovely stroll up and down the night market outside – what more would you want?

Lucky Bunny Cafe – (10 min walk)

https://www.facebook.com/luckybunnycafe/

Or

https://www.facebook.com/Pinny-House-by-Lucky-Bunny-Cafe-269179213734435/

If you love a fury friend, you have to visit Lucky Bunny Cafe! They only allow 8-9 people in at a time and it cost 200 Thai Baht per person to enter. So when you arrive grab yourself a table in the cafe and wait for a bit untill they are ready for the next group!

I assure you the wait and the cost is totally worth it! You will meet several bunny’s of different breeds, each can do a different trick from kissing, high 5s and standing, and you will get a chance to practice the tricks yourself with the bunny’s! All of them are well looked after, coats are shiny, and they bright eyed and happy – definitely well loved and looked after.

If your looking for something to do with the kids while in Chiang Mai this is definitely one of our top choices- the kids will be “hopping” for joy!

Hmong  Hill Tribe and Wat Phrathat Doi Suthed Temple

Since we have been in Thailand all of the trips we have done, we have always made our own way there, and not booked any organised trips; we find them very expensive and time limiting. For our trip to Hmong Hill Tribe and Temple we booked a red TukTuk van for 1200 Thai baht, instead of 900 Thai Baht per person with a tourist operator.

Hmong Hill Tribe was not what we expected, I had a secluded warm welcoming village in mind, with everyone dressed in tribal clothing, all running at us open arms- but unfortunately this was not the case. The whole town is commercialised tourist trap full of hundreds of stalls, and children asking for money if you take their photo! I am assuming they are dressed in the morning, and briefed for their days work, making sure they collect as much money as possible. We were very gutted about this, and feel it’s a real shame that what probably was once a beautiful village in the mountains, is now just a huge money making town.  But we did have a wonderful day out, driving up the mounting, having fun as a family and seeing all the beautiful views!

The Temple down the hill from Hmong was beautiful, we had to climb many steps to get to the top and was just 30 Thai Baht to enter (adults) We purchased flowers, and incense from the bottom, and all made a wish to Buddha at the top.

 

Chiang Mai Elephant Home (Free transfer) 

https://m.facebook.com/CmElephantHome/

https://chiangmaielephanthome.com/ 

If you love elephants, and really disagree with riding them this is the place to go, no chains no saddles, just love! Chiang Mai Elephant Home is a team of people who rescue Elephants from Riding camps, where they have been treated badly, and offer them a beautiful home in a small village surrounded by mountains. The whole experience is calm, nothing is rushed and you are welcomed with a smile.

We decided to book a full day elephant experience, which starts off at 8am when you are picked up from your hotel and driven south of Chiang Mai approx. 1 hour 30 mins away. When you arrive you are greeted by the team, and given some clothes to put on. The first part of the morning is very relaxed, you will be given lots of information about the elephants, while you are making a yummy treat for them while watching them play in the field behind you!

Once you have made your elephant treat, you will be given a bag of food, and taken to meet the elephants to feed them! They are always very hungry, and the babies will hunt down your bag for bananas, they are very cheeky and playful!

Once you have fed the Elephants you will be asked to give them huge leaves, which they play with and eat, which gives you an opportunity to have a photo with them. Around 12-12.30 it’s your turn to eat, and the food offered is very yummy – curry, rice, vegetables, omelette and some fruit. We were very lucky to have cake, as they kindly made one for my daughters 5th birthday as a surprise, which we were incredibly grateful for.

After your lunch, your afternoon consists of washing the elephants with mud, and then splashing them with water in the river, an absolutely incredible experience, especially watching the babies who were obviously very happy rolling around in the water. On your way home you will be taken to a waterfall for a dip, perfect end to the day.

Chiang Mai Elephant Home Full Day Experience was the highlight of our Thailand trip, most  magical experience being so close to these incredible animals, If you love Elephants I would highly recommend booking here! If you would like to see our experience in full please watch our YouTube link below:

Places to eat near to Baan Sang Singh:

B Samcook – Outstanding Breakfast and Dinner very high standard https://www.facebook.com/thebfamilycnx/

Chiangmai Breakfast World – beautiful garden and large selection of breakfast https://www.facebook.com/cmbreakfastworld/

 

BACK TO BANGKOK

Getting There: Night Train! 14 hours in a 1st class private sleeper cabin 19th July 2019 VIDEO AND REVIEW TO COME!

 

 

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The Big Bend National Park, BBNP for absolute beginners, children and non-hikers!

The Big Bend is an 801,163 acre park at the border of Mexico, separated by the 100 mile Rio Grande River; the park is named Big Bend after the bend in the river in west Texas. The BBNP has been attracting tourists for many years, who either choose to cycle, hike, or drive miles through the park to see the beautiful mountains, waterfalls and forests.

“No fire can burn so bright, no projection can duplicate the colours that dance over the desert or the bare rock formations that form the backdrop. No words can tell you, and no painter can hold it. Its only to be visited and looked at with awe” Ledwig Bemelmans 1956.

Imagine smelling the sweet smell of bluebonnets perfuming the air as you drive through the long smooth roads, surrounded by miles of monstrous mountains; This place is not just for full time enthusiastic hikers, it’s also suitable for young children, the elderly and ofcourse photographers/artists – This is The Big Bend National Park, Texas!

In this blog we will be going over The Big Bend National Park for absolute beginners/Non-hikers telling you where to stay, where to go, what roads you can access with an RV, roads to avoid with an RV, how to get amazing photos of stars and landscapes, and finally where to hire a 4 x 4 (which is an absolute must!)

Is there anything I need to know before I go down to the Big Bend?

There are a lot of things that we come across that we wasn’t aware of before we left, and we would like to share this with you to make sure you are fully prepared!

  1. There is no Wifi and no service what’s so ever within a 50 mile radius away from the park, as soon as you start your way down there you will find even when you are an hour away you will not be able to make any phone calls or check on places to stay. (you can get Wifi in the park at Panther Junction, Chisos Basin, and Rio Grand Visitors centre)
  2. Do not rely on RV park Wifi If you need to make bookings for later on in your trip, the Wifi is also limited here too (we spent 24hours without Wifi at our RV park)
  3. With the above two points in mind, we would advise to Book up and make all your calls you need to do before you leave, as if there isn’t any space, you will not be able to call or email any other park as you wont have wifi or service. Once you are there you are off the Grid.
  4. The RV parks inside the Big Bend are booked up weeks in advance.
  5. First stop you should make is Panther Junction Visitors centre – or any Visitor Centre that you past first, they will give you all the information about what places are suited for you.
  6. The winter is still hot (esp for us Brits) it will get cold at night, as cold as -2 degrees but during February it has been 18-25 degrees. If you are planning on going in the summer be prepared, as it will be extremely hot.
  7. End of Winter/Spring is highly recommended as all the flowers begin to blossom.
  8. It will take you a long time to get through the park, the first road is 20 miles before you get anywhere so if you are planning lots in one day just take that into account.
  9. You can’t drive an RV over 24 foot down some of the roads, take this into account when planning your day.
  10. If you are a photography enthusiast take a tripod.

Do I need to be a Hiker to Visit Big Bend National Park?

Our children are 8 and 4, and not good at long walks and we spent 4 days at the park and still felt as though we could of done more! There are plenty of overlooks, mini trials, drives you can do so don’t worry if you cant walk for long you should still visit!

How Much does it cost to visit the Big Bend National Park?

It cost us $30 for a 7 day pass into the park, you can go in and out as you please for the whole 7 days.

What are the Gas/Petrol Prices at Big Bend National Park?

Gas is very expensive at the Big Bend, Marathon was at $3.79 and Sturdy Butte was $2.77 so I would suggest waiting until you got to Sturdy Butte before you fill up. There is another in the park at Panther Junction if you are getting empty.

Where can I sleep over night with an RV in Big Bend National Park?

Rio Grand Village is a very popular RV site, if you cant get booked up there (we would advise booking well before you arrive as this one is always fully booked) any of the RV parks along the 118 from Sturdy Butte/ Terlingua, or within the Ghost Town (approx. 5 mile radius around that area) is a great “base”. Unfortunately we didn’t realise that we would need to book beforehand, and we ended up in a beautiful RV park called Terlingua Ranch, we had 2 nights here. It was within the mountains, absolutely fantastic stars to see, but it was down a long 16 mile road to nowhere, and then 3 miles off road! We had to drive 30 miles before ending up anywhere near the park.

We then stayed at Big Bend Rv Resort and Adventures, which is a lot closer to big bend national park, we opted for dry camp at $20, and our last night we asked to hook up so we could dump/get water. This cost $39.

How many days should I plan to spend at Big Bend National Park?

We spent 5 nights at the Park and we found something to do and see everyday – and this did not include hiking, you can easily drive around in a day and see a few spots but if you want to explore and see some back roads we would suggest at least 3 days.

Can I drive my RV round the whole of Big Bend National Park?

We were unaware of the difficulties driving around Big Bend with an RV/ motorhome until we arrived. We just assumed we could turn up, find a spot and that’s it. You can only drive on around 2 roads with an RV over 24 foot – for example you can’t get to Chisos Basin (access to the Window) with a larger vehicle, or close up to the Hot Springs. These routes are either full of sharp twists and turns, or off road. We were advised not to drive down Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive but we found that ok with our RV which is 28 foot.

If you are wanting to explore more of the park and have an RV over 20 foot we would highly recommend renting a 4×4 Jeep!

How do I rent a Jeep and what Roads can I drive down off road at Big Bend?

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We rented a Jeep from “Far Flung” which is along the 170, off of the 118 (opposite the Petrol Garage, and RV Park) They charge $189 for a days hire from 9am to 7am the next day. It sounds like a lot, but honestly this was by far the best day of our travels so far! We left our RV in their carpark, and picked up our RV at 6pm (posted the keys in the letter box)

Our first trip was off to the Window, driving down Chisos Basin Road, this road has sharp turnings, and is not recommended for RVs over 24 foot. We then travelled down a road called Glenn Springs Road, onto River Road East towards the Hot Springs. The map says its around 22 miles, but this thrilling off road drive took us around 3 hours, and was unforgettable! The Road is very off road so do not attempt this unless you have a 4 wheel drive, you will drive along narrow roads full of gravel and stones hanging over a cliffs edge! The views are spectacular and felt like we were ontop of the world.

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Subscribe to our Youtube channel for a video on our jeep adventure: The England Family Travels

I am not a Hiker what Trials can I go on at the Big Bend National Park?

We went to the following:

  • Talinguar Ghost Town before Big Bend off 118, along the 170
  • Santa Elena Canyon Trail – 1.2 miles 1 hour (but we just walked ¼ mile to the river/opening)
  • Chisos Basin Over Look Trial – 0.5 miles ¼ hour walk
  • Hot Springs – 1 mile ½ hour walk
  • Rio Grand Overlook – Park and look
  • Boquillas Canyon Overlook – Park and look
  • River Road East Scenic River (4x4s only) Scenic Drive with a Jeep
  • Boquillas Del Carmen Port of Entry to Mexico

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You could do but we run out of time; Basin Loop – 1.8 miles one hour walk, Sam Nail Ranch – 0.5 miles half hour walk, Fossil Discovery – 0.2 miles 15 minutes walk, Rio Grande Village Nature Trial – 1.2 miles 1 hour walk

Is it worth doing the Boquillas Del Carmen Port of Entry to Mexico?

We were not sure if we wanted to go across to Mexico –

  1. We were not sure if it would be safe for children
  2. We were told by others its just a old run down town and there is nothing to see

The Port of Entry to Mexico was probably the most random day we have ever experienced, ever! and so glad we did it! You start off by showing your passports at the Port at Texas (this is only open Wednesday – Sunday 9-5pm) You then go to the river, get onto a small rowing boat. The little Mexican man will then row you over the river (approx. 30 seconds) when you get to the other side you are then Mexico – you can choose from walking ¼ mile, or taking a DONKEY ride to town. If you opt for a donkey you will also get a guided tour, we had a man called Lopo, he was fantastic!

On our return we had to check in in Texas like you do at the airport, but via one of them digital passport machines, a camera and a telephone call – also a very strange experience!

There isn’t a lot to see in town (people are right) just a few old Mexican restaurants and lots of locals trying to sell handmade items – but the experience of being about to hop over to another country in 30 seconds, and doing that via a boat and a donkey is an experience like no other!

You must do it, but remember if you go over there on a Sunday, and miss the last boat back you’ll be in Mexico until the Wednesday.

Subscribe to our Youtube channel for a video on the crossing – The England Family Travels https://youtu.be/I2vlV382tyQ

Will I see Stars?

Pictures abov: 1st picture just after sunset, 2nd picure 2-3 hours after sunset.

When it gets dark, look up and you will see millions of stars; there isn’t any light pollution at the Big Bend so you will be able to see the Milky Way. If you would like to photograph the stars, you will need a tripod with you, and preferably a Mirrorless camera – I have a Sony 7 II its absolutely fantastic!.

To achieve the photos below I set my Sony camera up using the following settings:

– Photo Style: Night Sky

-Shutter Speed “25

-ISO 4000

-I have a 14mm 2.8 Stigma Lens so I was able to put the F stops right down to 2.8, if you have other lenses just put it to the lowest F stop possible (usually F4.5)

Point the camera up at the sky, on the tripod and take the photo! You might have to adjust the settings depending on the outcome. Please comment below if you have any other photography questions.

Before you leave, don’t forget to take a visit to Talingua Ghost Town

Driving through the local Ghost Town is a very unique experience, lots of old fallen down derelict buildings contrasting with new buildings, and residence staying in teepees, cool RVs and some of the old buildings! If you fancy eating there, we ate at Starlight Restaurant and Saloon www.thestarlighttheatre.com it has a calming atmosphere tables with candle light and warming décor. We were there on a Thursday evening, as the sunset, with live music playing – it felt as though we were somewhere else intown! Our food was absolutely perfect, probably the best meal we have had yet! Highly recommended.

Final Words

The Big Bend is a must on your to do list while visiting Texas, its suitable for all ages/abilities and is rated one of the top place to go to escape every day life. The vast contrast between mountain, desert, and river will dazel you, the bendy roads will excite you and the nature will amaze you. If you are one of them that are able to trek miles to the top of mountains, the views will be out of this world.

If you are going to the Big Bend or have been and want to add please comment below.

 

 

 

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