Our travel review of 2023 looks back on the Chimptrips’ year of travel and adventures. It’s a round-up of the destinations we’ve visited, the best places we’ve seen and the highlights of our days out.
2023 was a good travel year for us, not in number of places, but with our longest family trip, 4 weeks in Thailand, thanks to a work sabbatical.
The other travel highlights of the year were Dorset, Northern Ireland, Yorkshire, London, and Spain.
Thankfully, it was also another extremely successful year for our travel blog. Site traffic rose and our Domain Authority improved from 26 to 30. We are grateful to our readers who follow our travels and come back for ideas and inspiration.
So, come with us on a journey as we recap our best travel moments in 2023.
Contents: click to jump to a section
January - March
Out and about in Surrey and beyond
Our travel review of 2023 starts at home, after a minor operation on my leg. Unfortunately, this meant our annual ski trip was off the cards.
However, by spring I was up and about and making the most of the lovely parks and gardens around Surrey, Berkshire, and Hampshire. Shortly afterwards, we were going further afield and loved our days out at Jane Austen’s house in Chawton and the Imperial War Museum in London.
Exploring Dorset's Jurassic Coast, UK
The first trip away in our travel review of 2023 is a visit to Dorset, a beautiful coastal county on the south coast of England. Although we’ve been to Dorset many times, we wanted to fully explore the Jurassic Coast and revisit some of the amazing sights and walks.
Afterwards, we visited some of Dorset’s best family attractions, with fun days out at Abbotsbury Swannery and Corfe Castle. On the way back we stopped off at Arne RSPB, a beautiful nature reserve near Wareham.
May - June
A road trip in Northern Ireland
At the end of May we crossed the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland. It’s an easy flight from London to Belfast, though coming back wasn’t quite so smooth with a last-minute cancellation by Easy Jet!
From Belfast, we embarked on our first road trip since our California adventure in 2018. To be honest, our initial plans just included ticking the Giant’s Causeway off our bucket list! However, once we’d started plotting all the other beautiful places we wanted to see in County Antrim , it made sense to visit them all.
The Causeway Coastal Route is a 130-mile stretch of dramatic coastline along the Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland. You could probably whizz through it in a couple of days, but we took a slow drive over 4 days, with 2 days to explore the capital, Belfast.
If you enjoy the outdoors, the Causeway Coastal Route is an amazing place to visit. We explored the Gobbins cliff path, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, several medieval castles, and the Glens of Antrim. In Belfast, you shouldn’t miss the Titanic Exhibition or the Crumlin Gaol Museum.
A visit to St Albans, Hertfordshire
If you like Roman history, St Albans should be on your must-visit list. Just over 20 miles north of London, it’s a prime commuter city, famous for its association with the Romans. In fact, St Albans was once the third largest Roman city in Britain.
We went to St Albans to visit family, who proved to be the perfect tour guides. They took us everywhere! We explored St Albans Cathedral, climbed the Clock tower, took a trip to the museum and a stroll round the park.
St Albans is a charming place and ideal for a day trip from London, or quick drive from Surrey!
A weekend in Halifax, West Yorkshire
At the end of July, I ventured up north for a long overdue trip to Yorkshire. We stayed with a friend in Halifax, the setting for the sensational Happy Valley tv series. (Watch it, if you haven’t already!)
Arriving by train from Kings Cross, we headed straight to its main attraction, the Piece Hall. Built in 1779, the Halifax Piece Hall is a former Georgian cloth hall. It’s now a music venue and home to independent shops, bars, and cafés. It’s generally a very cool place to hang out.
The next day we headed out to Hebden Bridge, a quirky Yorkshire market town with artisan shops and restaurants. Our last visit was to Ilkley, famous for its moor, though we just stuck to the shops and restaurants.
A 4-week adventure in Thailand
At the end of July, we headed to Thailand for the adventure of a lifetime. We had booked to go in 2020 but cancelled because of covid. However, this time Mr CT had a sabbatical from work, so we could go for a full month.
Our 4-week trip to Thailand was an amazing adventure for us and without doubt, the highlight of the year. We wanted to see and do as much as possible, without making the trip a tick-box exercise. We divided our time between 5 places, with a long rest at the beach in Koh Samui.
I won’t include all the details in this travel review of 2023, but you can read all about it here: Our 4-week itinerary in Thailand.
Our trip to Thailand started and ended in Bangkok, with a few days to see the sights at each end. Firstly, we tried to see all the main attractions, including the Grand Palace, Wat Po, Wat Arran, Wat Saket, China Town and the Khao San Road. However, later we explored some more unusual attractions, like the Snake Museum!
Read more: 5 days in Bangkok itinerary
From Bangkok we flew to Chiang Rai in northern Thailand. Here, the must-see attraction in Chiang Rai is the magnificent White Temple, but we also visited the Blue Temple, Big Buddha, and Singha Park.
Read more: Best things to do in Chiang Rai in 2 days
Having seen a lot of temples at the start of the trip, we arrived in Chiang Mai looking for adventure. We picked a mix of activities, including a visit to an ethical elephant sanctuary, bamboo rafting, and a jungle hike. However, the highlight was a white-water rafting excursion, which was just awesome (even if it was a little scary at times!)
We also signed ourselves up for a half-day visit to Smile Organic Cookery School, for a master class in Thai cooking.
Read more: Chiang Mai Travel Itinerary: 5 days
From Chiang Mai we headed south to Koh Samui, where we spent 8 days enjoying the beach life. The views from our villa were stunning and we enjoyed a slower pace of life. However, we did take time out of doing nothing for a trip to Pig Island and a highlights of Koh Samui tour.
Read more: Things to do in Koh Samui with kids
Khao Sok National Park
Our final destination before returning to Bangkok was Koh Sok National Park, where we had a treehouse in the jungle. Now, you really can’t beat waking to the sound of monkeys on the roof!
Activities in Khao Sok included a trip to Cheow Lan Lake, tubing down the River Sok, kayaking and a jungle walk. We loved it!
September - October
As we headed back to school our 2023 Year of Travel crashed back to earth with just weekends away and days out. However at the end of the month, I abandoned the family for a girls’ weekend in Spain.
A minibreak in Malaga, Spain
Malaga is extremely accessible and a fantastic destination for a weekend getaway in Europe. It’s one of the oldest cities in the world, is the birthplace of Picasso and has its own city beach.
Luckily all the top sights are walking distance from Malaga city centre. In one weekend we climbed up to Gibralfaro Castle, visited the medieval fortress, Alcazaba, and saw the Roman Amphitheatre. We also fitted in a mooch around the market, wine tasting, and a trip to the beach.
Plus of course, we tried plenty of tapas, which was delicious!
A day trip to Chichester, West Sussex
Regular readers will know we often take a day trip to Chichester, which corresponds with the kids racing in the school team at Goodwood.
This time, after breakfast and a visit to Chichester Cathedral, we headed to Chidham. You can do a pleasant walk around the Chidham Peninsula, which is central to the Chichester Harbour National Landscape. It’s directly opposite the picturesque village of Bosham, where we went on our previous visit.
Read more: Things to do in Chichester
Much as we love a winter break, December is a brilliant time to be in the UK. There are just so many fantastic festive activities. We enjoyed several illuminated trails, Wisley Glow and Leonardslee Illuminations, a night out at Woking Panto, ice-skating in Windsor, and our first visit to Winchester Christmas Market.
We popped into London several times to see the lights and enjoyed the Christmas Actually show at Festival Hall. Who needs to go away with all that going on?
Looking forward to 2024
As we look forward to next year, I know our travel plans for 2024 will be slightly hampered by the twins’ revision for GCSE exams (or so they promise!). We already have plans for Portugal and Sweden but are still thinking about the summer – any exciting recommendations would be very welcome!
Finally, we wish all our readers a wonderful 2024 with good health and lots of exploration and adventure! Don’t forget to share your best travel moments of 2023 in the comments.
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Pin for later: Travel Review of 2023: A year of travel with Chimptrips
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