White Chocolate and Macadamia Nut Cookies VEGAN

Hi Savvys,

In a recent attempt to clean out my pantry, I noticed a small jar of macadamia nuts that I had purchased but never used.  Since my husband is currently laid off and watching the babe, I decided to bake some cookies.  Since my husband has lots of interviews this week, I decided that it would be best to get as much baking done while I can and to have them readily available in the freezer, since my time will be all consumed with watching the little one again.

This recipe uses my Best Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe as the base with the add in’s as the only modification.

See below for the full recipe – I will definitely have to pick up more macadamia nuts in the future so I can make another batch!

Now set forth and be savvy!

Makes ~72 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flax seed, 6 tbsp hot water)
  • 1 cup softened unsalted vegan butter (I like to use Melt or Becel sticks)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot starch (optional, I find it adds chewiness)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped macadamia nuts

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Make your flax egg by mixing the ground flax seed and hot water in a bowl, set aside
  3. In a stand mixer (or by hand), cream together the unsalted vegan butter with the brown and granulated sugar.
  4. Add in the vanilla extract and the flax eggs and mix until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl
  5. Add in your flour, arrowroot starch, baking soda and salt and continue mixing until the flour is well incorporated
  6. Taking it off the stand mixer, mix in your white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.
  7. With a mini cookie scooper, scoop out the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Make sure to space the cookies about 2 inches apart since they will spread
  8. Bake for 12 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through
  9. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about a minute before transferring onto a cooling rack
  10. Enjoy while they’re warm and gooey!

Vegan Blueberry Banana Bundt Cake

TheSavvyPantry-BlueberyBananaBundtCake_Title

Hi Savvys,

Blueberry season just ended and they have been plentiful in my fridge this summer.  Whenever they go on sale at the grocery store, I always make sure to stock up and have plenty of them frozen, ready for any use!  One of my favourite ways to use blueberries is in this blueberry banana bundt cake.  I like to use ripped bananas as it adds a natural sweetness to the batter while keeping it moist. You can easily make this in a loaf pan but I love the way it looks in a bundt pan.  I hope you guys try out this recipe – it’s packed full of blueberry goodness.

Now set forth and be savvy!

IMG_20200711_114513

Ingredients

  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax seed, 3 tbsp hot water)
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cup white all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 ripe bananas (aprox 1 cup mashed bananas)
  • Juice and zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Prepare the bundt cake mould by generously greasing it with coconut oil
  3. In a small bowl, make your flax egg by mixing the ground flax seed and hot water, set aside
  4. In another small bowl, make the buttermilk by mixing the soy milk and apple cider vinegar together
  5. In a large bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt
  6. Mash the bananas in a medium bowl.  Add the flax egg. soy milk mixture, lemon juice and zest and mix to combine
  7. Add the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix until just combined
  8. Add the blueberries and combine
  9. Pour the mixture into a bundt cake mould.
  10. Bake loaf for 45-55 minutes (depending on your oven)

Bon Appetit’s Pumpkin Loaf made vegan

TheSavvyPantry-VeganPumpkinLoaf_Title

Hi Savvys,

I have been obsessed with watching Bon Appetit on Youtube lately and when I saw Molly’s recipe for this Pumpkin Loaf, I knew I had to make my version of it!

Of course with being on mat leave now, I don’t have all of the time in the world to be baking like I had in the past, so the next time I make this I will definitely make 2 batches so that we always have a loaf in the freezer.  That is how good this loaf is!

I modified the original recipe slightly to make it vegan friendly, and also reduced the amount of oil and toppings to make it suitable for my needs.  This loaf is perfect for breakfast and as a dessert.  Hope you guys try this recipe – it tastes like fall with each bite!

Now set forth and be savvy!

IMG_20200711_123314

Ingredients

  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flax seed, 6 tbsp hot water)
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 15-oz. can pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tsp sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Brush some olive oil in a loaf pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving overhang on both sides, length wise so that the loaf can easily be taken out.
  2. Make the flax eggs by combining the ground flax seed and hot water in a large bowl, set aside.
  3. Combine the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cloves and ginger in a medium bowl.
  4. Add the pumpkin purée and 1 cup of sugar into the bowl with the flax eggs. Add olive oil and mix with a whisk until well combined.
  5. Gently fold half of the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until no dry spots remain. Repeat with remaining dry ingredients, stirring to combine but being careful not to over mix.
  6. Transfer batter to the prepared loaf pan; smooth out the top with a spatula. Scatter pumpkin seeds over batter, pressing lightly into the batter to adhere. Sprinkle the loaf with remaining 1 tsp sugar.
  7. Place the loaf pan on top of a baking tray – this loaf will rise when baking so ensure there is a baking tray under the loaf pan to avoid any spillage.
  8. Bake for 80 to 90 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.  The loaf is ready when a toothpick poked into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  9. Using overhang, remove the loaf from the pan and transfer bread to a wire rack and let cool before serving.  Delicious with butter or a dollop of coconut whip.

Easy Rustic Dutch Oven Raisin Bread

TheSavvyPantry-EasyRusticDutchOvenRaisinBread_Title

Hi Savvys,

Since the beginning of social distancing and working from home, which started in March, I’ve kept myself very busy and rekindled my love for baking.  I used to bake all of the time but haven’t had this much fun creating recipes in a long time.  A huge trend with social distancing is baking bread!  This is definitely a habit that I will continue into the future.

When my sister sent me the recipe for Le Creuset’s No Knead French Oven Bread, it was so easy to make that I’ve been making it every other week.  I also have a few loaves in the freezer just in case!  Using this recipe as a base, I turned it into my favourite: Raisin Bread!  This Raisin Bread is delicious toasted with some vegan butter and jam.  Try it out for yourself!

Now set forth and be savvy!

TheSavvyPantry-EasyRusticDutchOvenRaisinBread (3)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp instant yeast
  • 1 ½ cup warm water
  • ½ cup raisins

Directions

  1. In a large bowl combine flour, cinnamon, yeast and salt. Add water and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover the bowl with a large plate or towel. Let the dough rest over night at room temperature.
  2. The next morning, remove the dough from the bowl and lightly sprinkle the bowl with some flour. Place the dough back into the bowl and spring a little more flour on top and fold it over on itself once or twice. Place plate or towel back on top of the bowl/dough and let rest 15 minutes.
  3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to your fingers, gently and quickly shape the dough into a ball. Generously coat the bottom of the bowl with flour, put dough seam side down at the bottom of the blow and dust the top with more flour. Cover with a plate or towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it’s ready, the dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
  4. Place a Dutch oven into your oven and preheat to 450°F.  Once the oven is heated, carefully remove the pot from the oven. Turn the dough over onto your hand and place onto a piece of parchment paper, with the seam side up. Place the parchment and dough into the Dutch oven, shaking the pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.
  5. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

The Balanced Snack Box Review

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxReview-Title

Hi Savvys,

I am always on the look out for new vegan snacks to try.  This year, my siblings sent me The Balanced Snack Box for my birthday and I figured I’d do a taste test and review!  If you haven’t heard of them already, The Balanced Snack Box is a subscription box service created by Evie Levitin, a registered holistic nutritionist.  There are different types of boxes that you can subscribe to which cater to your own dietary needs.  My siblings sent me the vegan box which came filled with sweet and savoury vegan snacks!

Keep reading below for my review on each product.

Now set forth and be savvy!

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxVeganrReview (1)

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxReview-Title-1LightPops

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxVeganrReview (2)

The Light Pops – Brave BBQ flavour snacks are made from popped lotus seeds, which is a popular ingredient in Chinese cuisine.  I had never had it in this form before and usually have it in soups.  When we first tried it, I must say I didn’t think that it was going to be one of my favourite snacks out of the entire box.  It is light and airy like popcorn and has a great crunch.  I especially love that it came in a sweet BBQ flavour, which is one of my favourite flavours for popcorn as well.  I highly recommend adding this to your snack repertoire.

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxReview-Title-2GoGoQuinoaChocolate

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxVeganrReview (3)

The GoGo Quinoa Chocolate Crunchies resembled more of a cereal.  This was my husband’s favourite snack out of the entire box since he loves cereal and was looking forward to having this in a bowl with soy milk.  I do like the crunch on this and the chocolate flavour wasn’t too artificial which was great, however I wouldn’t purchase this as a snack but would as a breakfast cereal.

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxReview-Title-3SahaleSnacks

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxVeganrReview (4)

I have been seeing lots of advertisements for Sahale Snacks and was delighted to see that it was included in this box for me to try.  I received the Tangerine Vanilla Cashew-Macadamia Glazed mix and you can really taste the tangerine flavour come through.  The flavours were a nice pairing and I really liked the crunch from the nuts.  I highly recommend this snack!

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxReview-Title-4RawcologyCoconutChips

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxVeganrReview (5)

I’ve had coconut chips before and like the light chocolate flavour of the Rawcology Organic Coconut Chips.  I wouldn’t necessary purchase this to eat on its own since I prefer more savoury snacks, however this would be great if you were making homemade trail mix.

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxReview-Title-5EnergiveCrackers

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxVeganrReview (6)

I love crackers as a snack and was excited to see that the Enerjive Multigrain Crackers came in Ranch flavour.  The cracker itself looks very healthy and I like that you can see all of the different nuts and grains within the texture of the cracker itself.  I also liked seeing the spices like dried chives and salt in the cracker.  However, the ranch flavour was very lacking – it didn’t taste like ranch at all.  The cracker itself is good paired with dips and peanut butter, however I would not purchase this in product in the future since the ranch flavour was not apparent at all.

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxReview-Title-6Bobos

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxVeganrReview (7)

I didn’t know what to expect from this Bobo’s Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Oat Bar.  To mu surprise, it had a lovely toasted oat flavour and was balanced well with the chocolate chips.  This ended up being my favourite sweet snack from the entire box.  This is a product that I would purchase in the future since it tasted like I could make it at home, which I may try in the near future!

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxReview-Title-7EattoLifeKinwa

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxVeganrReview (8)

I am always a bit weary when it comes to vegan protein bars as they tend to have a very grainy flavour to them.  The Eat to Life Kinwa Bar in Apple Cinnamon Vegan Protein Bar was not my favourite of the box.  The apple cinnamon flavour did come through well however I did not like the protein flavour with the bar.  I would not purchase this in the future, however if you are used to this type of product then definitely give it a try.

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxReview-Title-9LebbyChickpeaSnack

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxVeganrReview (9)

I’ve had roasted chickpea snacks before in a savoury form but never thought of it in a sweet form.  The Lebby Dark Chocolate Chickpea snack really satisfies your craving for chocolate and crunch, but is light from the chickpea.  This snack gave me the idea to try to make it myself in the future.

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxReview-Title-8BadaBean

TheSavvyPantry-TheBalancedSnackBoxVeganrReview (11)

I really liked the crunch from the roasted broad bean.  Bada Bean Bada Boom Mesquite BBQ broad beans was a great snack and I really liked how hearty it was.  I would definitely buy this again in the future.

Chrissy Teigen’s Spicy Miso Pasta made Vegan

ChrissyTeigenSpicyMisoPastaVegan_Title

Hi Savvys,

If you haven’t already seen Chrissy Teigen’s recipes all over the internet, you definitely need to check them out. Her recipes are full of flavour and always so craveable.  When I saw a post on Instagram for how to make it vegan, I knew I needed to make my own version using ingredients that I always have on hand.

This recipe is easy to whip together during the week and so full of flavour you can easily serve it for a dinner party (post COVID of course).  See below for my version of this delicious recipe.

Now set forth and be savvy!

ChrissyTeigenSpicyMisoPastaVegan (3)

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 340 g of pasta your choice (I like to use linguine)
  • 1 package silken tofu (300 g)
  • 3 tbsp sambal oelek
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp white miso paste
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 package king oyster mushrooms, sliced (optional)
  • 1 packaged smoked tempeh (or other vegan bacon)
  • 340 g of pasta (I like fettuccini)
  • ½ cup reserved pasta water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Green onion to garnish

Directions

  1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions
  2. In a food processor, blend the silken tofu, nutritional yeast, miso paste, sambal oelek and onion powder until smooth.
  3. In a large frying pan, heat up the olive oil over medium heat
  4. Add the minced garlic and sautee for about 3 minutes
  5. Add the king oyster mushrooms and sautee for another 4 minutes until browned
  6. Crumble the smoked tempeh and sautee for another 2 minutes until browned
  7. Turn down the heat to low
  8. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and toss in with the mushroom and tempeh mixture
  9. Add the tofu mixture and the pasta water
  10. Toss with tongs to combine
  11. Serve with vegan parm cheese

Lentil Bolognese with Catelli Smart Spaghetti

TheSavvyPantry-LentilBolognese-Title

Hi Savvys,

I love pasta and love how versatile it is.  I especially love Catelli’s Smart pasta since it has 2x the amount of fiber when compared to the regular white pasta, but it still satisfies my craving for pasta.

IMG_20200229_191324 (2)

I developed this lentil Bolognese recipe years ago but am finally sharing it with you.  It is perfect for meal preps and can easily be doubled so you can always have a few jars available in the freezer.  You can swap out any of the veggies in the below and use whatever you have on hand such as zucchini, eggplant and even cabbage.

This recipe is super easy to make and pairs perfectly with Catelli Smart Spaghetti.  Hope you guys try this recipe out and let me know in the comments below what you think!

Now set forth and be savvy!

IMG_20200229_191203 (1)

~Makes approximately 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4-6 garlic cloves (the more the merrier!)
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 package of cremini mushroom (~227g), chopped
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 156 ml can of tomato paste
  • 2 cup red split lentils
  • 4 cups water

Directions

  1. Sautee the garlic in the olive oil over medium heat for about 2 minutes
  2. Add the leek and sautee for another 3 minutes
  3. Add a splash of water if needed
  4. Add the grated carrots and mushrooms along with the parsley, basil, oregano, salt and pepper; cook for 4 minutes
  5. Add the soy sauce, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, lentils, water and let simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are cooked through, stirring occasionally to prevent the sauce from sticking to the pot, turning the heat down to medium low halfway through the simmering time
  6. Serve over your favourite Catelli Smart pasta

IMG_20200229_191446 (1)

Vegan Caesar Salad Dressing

Hi Savvys,

Summer might be almost over but it won’t stop me from eating salads!  My favourite salad to eat growing up has always been Caesar salad and I am happy to have been able to re-create the flavours in this vegan version.  It is easily made in a jar, no other equipment necessary.  It is creamy, salty and full of traditional Caesar dressing flavours.  This will surely leave you satisfied. 

This dressing is great with traditional romaine lettuce, but it’s delicious on massaged kale as well.  Top your salad with vegan bacon bits, croutons and beans for a full meal.

Now set forth and be savvy!

Makes enough dressing for 4 large salads

Ingredients

  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp capers, chopped
  • 2 tsp caper brine
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced, or 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • Juice from half a lemon

Directions

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a mason jar and shake well
  2. Drizzle over your greens for a delicious Caesar salad
  3. Dressing can be kept in the fridge for up to a week, but it won’t last that long!

Bangkok, Thailand 3 Day Itinerary

TheSavvyPantry-BangkokIn3Days_Title

Hi Savvys,

If you read my previous post where I shared my 2-day itinerary in Chiang Mai, Thailand, then you already know that this is the third city in Thailand that we visited on our 16-day Asia trip that spanned 4 countries and 6 cities!  As mentioned, we had started and ended our trip in Singapore because it was the cheapest way to travel to Asia from Canada (Toronto specifically).  We had decided to spend 7 days in Thailand in 3 cities, and since it was so jammed packed with activities, I decided to create a post for each city we visited to really highlight everything we did and loved.  To get to Bangkok, we flew from Chiang Mai, Thailand via Vietjet Air.

Here is some general information of our time in Bangkok, Thailand:

Transportation from the Airport to our Hotel: We had arrived to Bangkok Airport (BKK) at around 8PM.  Since we had picked up our Pocket WIFI device at the airport, we decided to use it and call a Grab to take us to our hotel.  The taxi and Grab both ended up costing about 500 TBH ($21 CAD) but we opted to take a Grab for the convenience.

Transportation in and around Bangkok: Since we had access to our WIFI device, we used Grab to get from our hotel to anywhere that might be far.  Outside of this, we didn’t need to book any transportation as it was included in our excursions or in walking distance.

WIFI Access:  I will leave the same comments as my Singapore post as it is still relevant here.  Connection was only available in our hotel room and some public establishments.  To get around this, what I have done in the past, and also implemented on this trip, was to load our itinerary on Google maps and download the map for offline navigation.  This method works most of the time, however sometimes the GPS gets confused and doesn’t know where you and ends up restarting.  You end up having to use the map the old way (aka without a GPS and finding your own directions like a traditional map).  However, I do recommend just purchasing an international SIM card that you can use and be connected to at all times (if you need to).  Personally, for me, I preferred to be connected the entire time since the offline google maps kept restarting and was unable to locate us.  It is also useful if you plan on using Grab while in the city.  This was the first time travelling internationally where we had purchased an international SIM to be able to be connect to internet and I must say that now I am a converted.  The international SIMs are very affordable and offer a lot of data (we would also turn it off if we were going to be in a given location for an extended amount of time to preserve data and batter power) and we were able to use the same SIM for the remainder of our entire trip in all of the other countries.  We did end up using 3 different types of connection, but I recommend the last option so that you can be connected the entire time:

  1. International SIM (purchased at the airport) – Once we left Singapore and arrived to Phuket Airport, there were lots of boots that were selling international SIMs. We ended up purchasing one of these at a booth called Smile and they connected it for me – it was super easy to use however kind of confusing because I couldn’t understand how much data I had left so we used it sparingly during our visit in Phuket and Chiang Mai.  Because we paid in cash, I unfortunately do not recall how much we spent, but it was definitely less than $10 CAD.
  2. Rented WIFI Device – I had actually rented a device when we were in Singapore for our visit in Bangkok since we were going to be here for 3 days without any excursions. We rented a pocket WIFI which we picked up at the BBK airport via Klook.  In total it cost $26 for the 3 days (which at the time we thought was a bargain) – they do have to hold a deposit which is refundable once you return the device, so make sure you have enough cash to avoid the change in exchange rates on your credit card.  It was also not clear how much data we had but I think it was unlimited.  I didn’t mind the hand held device since we had used one when we visited Tokyo, however I definitely would recommend an international SIM when possible.
  3. International SIM (purchased online and picked up at airport) – After doing more research while in Bangkok and realizing that the convenience of being connected to data became a growing need, which was already 6 days into our trip, I did more research on Klook. I found SIMs available for 15 countries in South East Asia, which meant that for the remainder of our trip (still 7 days), we could be connected in all of the countries (Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore) and not have to worry about finding WIFI.  We found a great deal with the SIM only costing $8.90 for 4GB of data from Klook.  This option ended up being the best because not only is it a one-time purchase (no need to return anything like we had for the rented WIFI device), but you can actually download an app that came in English that tracked how much data you had.  If you did go over the allotted data, you had to option of adding more data if necessary.  I really liked the convenience and visibility of this option the best and felt in full control.

Hotel in Bangkok:

We stayed at the Novotel Bangkok Silom Road.  Being a large chain hotel, it was conveniently located and had lots of restaurants and convenience stores near by.  The room was quite large and very modern looking.  I also liked how much storage we had so that we can hide our luggage away without it being in the way.  We didn’t get a chance to check out the pool however we had a view of it from our room, and the view from the pool looks out onto the city.  It would have made great photos.  They also offered breakfast at the hotel for about $30 CAD per person which we thought was too expensive so we just opted to purchase breakfast at the convenience store and store it in our mini fridge in our room.  This hotel is also about a 30-minute walk to Chinatown and about a 12 minute walk to the pier, which you can take a river taxi to visit the temples.  I recommend this hotel for the location and the quality.

Budget: We had budgeted $70 CAD cash per day, which was meant to be used for food, transportation and shopping.  We knew credit card wouldn’t be readily available in most establishments so we carried more cash than Singapore, but less than the other countries we visited.  Again, I also used Budget your Trip to gauge how much expenses to expect per day.  See below for the breakdown of our actual expenses (keep in mind this is for 2 people):

  • Airfare from Chiang Mai to Bangkok for 2 people: $146
  • Hotel: $270 (for 3 nights)
  • Cash (mostly for meals): $214 CAD
  • Shopping and other expenses (on credit card, which includes our excursion): $177
  • Transportation (credit card): $48 (Grab)
  • Total cost of trip for 2 days: $856

Excluding airfare, we actually spent $236 per day, or $118 a person.  If we exclude the cost of the excursion, we actually only spent $107 per day per person, which is closet to the $92 per day approximation found on Budget your Trip, however we did splurge on the shopping and the Grabs, so I still highly recommend this website as a great resource in budget planning.

See below for the full details. Don’t forget to also check out some highlights from our trip (video above).

For the itineraries from the other areas we visited, see below:

Singapore in 5 Days 

Phuket, Thailand in 2 Days

Chiang Mai, Thailand in 2 Days 

Now set forth and be savvy!

TheSavvyPantry-BangkokIn3Days_Day1Title

Since we had arrived the previous night pretty late, this was our first official full day of our visit to Bangkok.  Of course, I wanted to hit up all of the sight seeing on the 1st day just in case we missed anything, we could revisit again on our last day.  From our hotel, we walked over to Sathorn Taksin Pier which was about a 12-minute walk.  Once we reached the pier, we took a ferry to no. 9 Tha Chang and walked over to the Grand Palace to start our walking tour.  I recommend taking the ferry since this is an attraction and activity in itself.  I did read online that there were different types of taxis that you can take that would be cheaper, however we weren’t able to find it on our way to Tha Chang, though we did find it on our way back.

The Grand Palace really is grand.  We wanted to come here first because we knew it would get busy and to beat the lines and crowds.  You do have to pay 500 BHT per person (about $21 CAD), but it does come with a water bottle and bathroom use (note that a lot of bathrooms in Asia require you to pay to use them).  We spent about 2 hours here, not because we were walking around sight seeing but because it had rained and we took shelter for about 45 minutes.  However, because of the rain, the crowds did disperse and we were able to walk around and take lots of lovely photos.  All of the architecture is really quite amazing – definitely worth taking photos and selfies here.  Since it is a temple, do dress modestly and bring a kimono.  The staff also seemed to be preparing for a festival so unfortunately there were lots of areas that were closed off to the public, however since this place is quite large, there was more than enough space to explore.

After visiting the Grand Palace, it was already lunch time.  There are many exits to the Grand Palace, and the exit that we took led us to the restaurant Baan Tha Tien.  Upon entering the restaurant, we did notice many other tourists in here.  The décor was also very trendy and had large windows to let in the sun.  The food was pretty affordable – we ordered green curry and shrimp.  It was the perfect portion size and gave us energy for the rest of the day.

After lunch, we headed over to the Reclining Buddha.  It is hard to describe just how large this Buddha is.  It’s so large that it’s almost impossible to take a photo of it from end to end.  Of course, there were lots of other tourists here visiting, but it wasn’t too crowded.  It being a temple, there were also people praying so do be mindful and respectful.

After visiting the Reclining Buddha, we took the ferry across to visit Wat Arun.  This side of the pier had less tourists, but everything seemed to be spaced out a lot more, giving you more room to walk around.  There is no entry fee here, and you are free to roam around.  It was almost set up like a garden with paths for you to walk on through the temples.  It was quite nice to have the breeze from the river while taking in all of the beauty of the sights.  I absolutely loved all of the tiling and colors on the temples.

After visiting Wat Arun, we found the cheap river taxi and took it back over towards the Reclining Buddha.  This river taxi only cost us about $1 CAD each.  We had intended to visit Khaosan Road, but underestimated all of the walking we had done in the heat.  Unfortunately, we did not get the opportunity to visit it on this trip but do hope to do so when we visit again.

We ended up heading towards Chinatown and the Flower Market which we also didn’t get to visit on this trip but will definitely add it to the list for next time).  We decided to take a grab from the Reclining Buddha to Chinatown.  We arrived around 5PM and the sun was starting to set.  Most vendors were just starting to set up and we could already feel the energy of the city start to open up.  We were lucky to arrive at 5PM because we were able to grab some street food which there were still tables available.  This was probably my favourite part of Bangkok – Chinatown ended up being a haven for street food at such cheap prices.  Most dishes cost under $3 CAD and were as delicious as eating in a Thai restaurant in Canada.  Since a lot of people practice Buddhism in Thailand, there were lots of Buddhist friendly food stalls, which meant that they were also vegan friendly.  We had pad Thai, dumplings and noodle soup.  We honestly could have spent more money here if our stomachs were larger.  There also seemed to be some kind of Chinese holiday going on and there were lots of activities in the streets which really added to the experience.  After our visit in Chinatown, we walked back to our hotel which was about a 30-minute walk and called it a night.

Access the walking tour map here:

TheSavvyPantry-BangkokIn3Days_Day1Map

TheSavvyPantry-BangkokIn3Days_Day2Title

When in Bangkok, visiting a floating market is a must.  Most of the floating markets are quite far from the city center, so you do have to either find your way over through the public transportation, Grab or tours.  We ended booking a tour for convenience and the price was quite affordable.  The tour we booked was through GetYourGuide.com called Damnoen Saduak Floating Market 6-Hour Tour and only cost $65 CAD for the both of us.  What I liked about this was that the shuttle from and to our hotel was include as well as the boat ride inside the market itself.

After being picked up from the shuttle, our tour guide brought us to a Coconut Sugar Farm for a quick history lesson on coconut sugar, some shopping for souvenirs and a bathroom break.  This visit was quite short, maybe only 30 minutes, but we got to see how they boil down the coconut to make sugar.  They also had various sizes of coconut sugar blocks that you can purchase to bring home.

After the visit, we arrived to Maeklong Station which is a famous market where the train drives right through it.  We were able to see how the vendors quickly cleared the path for the oncoming train.  From what I experienced, this seemed like an attraction in itself.  After watching the train pass by the market, we headed for Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.

TheSavvyPantry-Day2-1FloatingMarket (1)

This market has both a land and water market.  Upon arriving, we wasted no time and was immediately put onto boats to start our tour.  The boat ride to the market in itself was quite lovely and it was nice to see all of the homes that are still occupied along the river.  Once we got into the actual market, there were lots of opportunities to try food, drinks and even buy souvenirs.  I was surprised to see a lot of the souvenir places took credit card as payment.  There was so much to see and to eat on the river as well as on land.  After our boat ride ended, we were given some time to explore the land markets as well.  There is lots of opportunities here to try food as well.  We got to try noodle soups, coconut crepes and mango sticky rice.  Everything was delicious and very cheap – you could also bargain with the vendors.

After returning to our shuttle, our guide actually gave us a few options of where we wanted to get dropped off based on where the other people in the tour group were being dropped off.  This was great for us because we didn’t have to travel back to our hotel.  We got dropped off at a subway station and headed towards the Chatuchak Weekend Market.  This market is huge and you can definitely spend hours here exploring, eating food and getting a massage.  The shops are also very trendy – I would almost consider this like a mall but in a market setting.  When we first arrived here, we did get a well-deserved foot massage, which was the first massage we received on our entire Asia trip.  After the massage, we walked up and down all of the aisles taking in all that the market had to offer.  They do have the aisles numbered which helped with navigating around.  We took our time here, stopping at a café to have some iced coffee and Thai milk tea and shopped around for some souvenirs.  I was happy to have found this shop that sold all kinds of wooden household products like trays, cutting boards and spoons.  I did purchase a few things from here but because of the lack of luggage space that we had, I was limited to what I could buy.  We also had dinner here, trying out lots of different foods from the various booths.  It was a great way to end our second day in Bangkok.

TheSavvyPantry-Day2-2ChatuchakWeekendMarket

TheSavvyPantry-BangkokIn3Days_Day3Title

This was our last day in Bangkok.  We had our flight at 7:30 PM to Malaysia, and since it was an international flight, we had to be at the airport for 3:30PM, which meant we only had about half a day in Bangkok.  We had originally wanted to hang out by the pool and visit Lumpini Park but we were so exhausted at this point in the trip that we just took it easy and decided to visit Chinatown again because of all of the food.

We started our day and had breakfast at Jok Prince for some cheap and comforting congee.  This place was packed when we entered but the staff was really nice and found 2 seats for us to sit at.  They didn’t speak English but they did have English menus with lots of choices.  I ordered a plain congee while Sean ordered a chicken congee.  I did find that mine had a bit of a burnt taste however it was very affordable and nothing really to complain about.

After breakfast, we started walking towards Chinatown but really took our time.  We ended up stopping at a little coffee shop called Alice Café where we shared an iced coffee and a piece of Thai Milk tea cake.  It was delicious and a great mid-morning break.

We continued our way over to Chinatown where luckily there were lots of food stalls open.  We took our time looking at all of the stalls and ate as much as we could before having to head over to the airport for the next adventure!  I am glad we made a second trip to Chinatown because we were really able to savour and indulge in all of the street food.

Chiang Mai, Thailand 2 Day Itinerary

TheSavvyPantry-ChiangMai2DayItineraryTitle

Hi Savvys,

If you read my previous post where I shared my 2-day itinerary in Phuket, Thailand, then you already know that this is the second city in Thailand that we visited on our 16-day Asia trip that spanned 4 countries and 6 cities!  As mentioned, we had started and ended our trip in Singapore because it was the cheapest way to travel to Asia from Canada (Toronto specifically).  We had decided to spend 7 days in Thailand in 3 cities, and since it was so jammed packed with activities, I decided to create a post for each city we visited to really highlight everything we did and loved.  To get to Chiang Mai, we flew from Phuket, Thailand via Air Asia.

Here is some general information of our time in Chiang Mai, Thailand:

Transportation from the Airport to our Hotel: We had arrived to Chiang Mai Airport (CNX) at around 11PM.  We were in communication with our hotel before hand to let them know about our late arrival and they had advised that we can take a taxi from the airport to the hotel, which only cost about 250 THB (about $10 CAD).  It was only about a 15-minute ride to the hotel and there was no traffic at this time.

Transportation in and around Chiang Mai: Since we had access to an international SIM, we used Grab to get from the hotel to the night bazaar.  Outside of this, we didn’t need to book any transportation as it was included in our excursions.  We also took taxis to and from our hotel.

WIFI Access:  I will leave the same comments as my Singapore post as it is still relevant here.  Connection was only available in our hotel room and some public establishments.  To get around this, what I have done in the past, and also implemented on this trip, was to load our itinerary on Google maps and download the map for offline navigation.  This method works most of the time, however sometimes the GPS gets confused and doesn’t know where you and ends up restarting.  You end up having to use the map the old way (aka without a GPS and finding your own directions like a traditional map).  However, I do recommend just purchasing an international SIM card that you can use and be connected to at all times (if you need to).  Personally, for me, I preferred to be connected the entire time since the offline google maps kept restarting and was unable to locate us.  It is also useful if you plan on using Grab while in the city.  This was the first time travelling internationally where we had purchased an international SIM to be able to be connect to internet and I must say that now I am a converted.  The international SIMs are very affordable and offer a lot of data (we would also turn it off if we were going to be in a given location for an extended amount of time to preserve data and batter power) and we were able to use the same SIM for the remainder of our entire trip in all of the other countries.  We did end up using 3 different types of connection, but I recommend the last option so that you can be connected the entire time:

  1. International SIM (purchased at the airport) – Once we left Singapore and arrived to Phuket Airport, there were lots of boots that were selling international SIMs. We ended up purchasing one of these at a booth called Smile and they connected it for me – it was super easy to use however kind of confusing because I couldn’t understand how much data I had left so we used it sparingly during our visit in Phuket and Chiang Mai.  Because we paid in cash, I unfortunately do not recall how much we spent, but it was definitely less than $10 CAD.
  2. Rented WIFI Device – I had actually rented a device when we were in Singapore for our visit in Bangkok since we were going to be here for 3 days without any excursions. We rented a pocket WIFI which we picked up at the BBK airport via Klook.  In total it cost $26 for the 3 days (which at the time we thought was a bargain) – they do have to hold a deposit which is refundable once you return the device, so make sure you have enough cash to avoid the change in exchange rates on your credit card.  It was also not clear how much data we had but I think it was unlimited.  I didn’t mind the hand held device since we had used one when we visited Tokyo, however I definitely would recommend an international SIM when possible.
  3. International SIM (purchased online and picked up at airport) – After doing more research while in Bangkok and realizing that the convenience of being connected to data became a growing need, which was already 6 days into our trip, I did more research on Klook. I found SIMs available for 15 countries in South East Asia, which meant that for the remainder of our trip (still 7 days), we could be connected in all of the countries (Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore) and not have to worry about finding WIFI.  We found a great deal with the SIM only costing $8.90 for 4GB of data from Klook.  This option ended up being the best because not only is it a one-time purchase (no need to return anything like we had for the rented WIFI device), but you can actually download an app that came in English that tracked how much data you had.  If you did go over the allotted data, you had to option of adding more data if necessary.  I really liked the convenience and visibility of this option the best and felt in full control.

Hotel in Chiang Mai:

We stayed at the Peaberry Hotel in Chiang Mai.  This hotel doesn’t look that big from the outside, but once inside it has many floors.  It has almost a resort feel, since only the café and the front desk have a closed roof – the areas where the rooms were situated are open like you would find in resorts.  There are no elevators, but there are ramps on the side of the staircase where you can easily wheel up your luggage.  The hotel was great and contacted us right after we booked the hotel to ensure they received our flight information.  The hotel does lock their doors after 10PM for security reasons and they were very accommodating with our late arrival.  They also answered emails very quickly and provided great information for getting to the hotel from the airport.  It was also great to see that there was breakfast included, however it was a smaller selection and included mainly cereal, toast and fresh fruit, they did have a menu where you can choose hot items (1 per person) that they make upon request.  The manger, Lee, was very friendly and made us our omelettes in the morning.

Budget: We had budgeted $70 CAD cash per day, which was meant to be used for food, transportation and shopping.  We knew credit card wouldn’t be readily available in most establishments so we carried more cash than Singapore, but less than the other countries we visited.  Again, I also used Budget your Trip to gauge how much expenses to expect per day.  See below for the breakdown of our actual expenses (keep in mind this is for 2 people):

  • Airfare from Phuket to Chiang Mai for 2 people: $190
  • Hotel: $105 (for 2 nights)
  • Cash (mostly for meals): $20 CAD
  • Meals (on credit card): $52
  • Shopping and other expenses (on credit card, which includes our excursion): $257
  • Transportation (credit card): $8.5 (Grab)
  • Total cost of trip for 2 days: $632

Excluding airfare, we actually spent $442 per day, or $221 a person.  If we exclude the cost of the excursion, we actually only spent $92 per day per person, which is higher than the $56 per day approximation found on Budget your Trip, however we did splurge on the meal and could have gotten cheaper food if we just ate at the night market, so I still highly recommend this website as a great resource in budget planning.

See below for the full details. Don’t forget to also check out some highlights from our trip (video above).

Now set forth and be savvy!

TheSavvyPantry-ChiangMai2DayItinerary-Day1ElephantHappyHomeNightBazaar

This was the first (and only) full day of our visit to Chiang Mai.  When we were planning our Asia trip and planned to visit Thailand, I knew that I wanted to make a visit to Chiang Mai to check out their elephant sanctuaries.  There is so much information out there and it’s hard to tell which companies are truly ethical.  I was lucky to have a friend visit the year before who had done extensive research and she recommended the Elephant Happy Home Sanctuary, and I am glad that she did.  We had booked directly through their website, which contained lots of information about their elephants and their practices.  Transportation was included to and from the sanctuary.  Technically we booked the half day morning excursion, thought it felt like it a full day adventure with these elephants.  The day included taking care of the elephants like feeding them, walking them and giving them their bath.  Keep reading for more details!

After being picked up from our hotel, it was about an hour ride to the sanctuary, which is up in the mountains.  The guide picks you up with a driver and the ride includes a break at the halfway point where we could pick up snacks before making our way to the sanctuary.  Upon arrival, we are immediately taken to a cubby area where we could safely leave our belongings and change into what they call their native wear.  It is recommended that you bring a bathing suit and a towel since you will be giving the elephants a bath.  I also liked how changing into the clothing meant that we didn’t get our own clothing dirty.  They also give you a pouch where you can keep your phone on you for photos.

TheSavvyPantry-ChiangMai2Days-Day1-ElephantHappyHome (5)

After changing, our guide Apple gave us an orientation, describing the differences between Thai and African elephants and giving us a background history on how elephants became domesticated within Thailand.  She also gave us background knowledge on what signs to recognize as being inhumane and unethical when researching sanctuaries, such as riding an elephant on their back or having the elephants tied up.  It was very eye opening and you can see the passion and love that the sanctuary has for their elephants.  We also learned about how they acquire their elephants, mostly through donations where they purchase elephants from circuses or other unethical establishments.

After the orientation, we were put straight to work!  We grabbed baskets and had cut down sugar cane small enough so that the elephants can eat them as a snack.  There were tree stumps where we would cut the sugar canes with a machete against, which was actually harder than it looked.  After we each cut and collected our baskets full of sugar cane, it was time to meet the elephants.  We got to meet a baby elephant which was kept in the stables and wasn’t going to be joining us for the day, so we got to visit him before we continued our activities with the other elephants.  This is also where we met the former baby, Halloween, a.k.a Naughty Boy, who stole my heart.  He was very rambunctious and very curious, which is why he has the nick name Naughty Boy.  He would also run after you and put his trunk straight into your basket to steal food.

After going into the field to meet and feed the rest of the elephants, we were taken to a mud pit where we got to throw mud on the elephants which is supposed to help protect and keep their skin moisturized.  This did get quite messy, so make sure you have flip lops you don’t mind getting dirty!  We spent quite some time here with the elephants, and it was great because one of the other guides walked around taking photos for us to retrieve on Facebook later, which made for great souvenirs!

TheSavvyPantry-ChiangMai2Days-Day1-ElephantHappyHome (3)

After giving them a “spa” bath, it was time for us to have lunch.  I really enjoyed the family style set up.  We got to portion and cook our own food (they had an option for tofu and veggie broth which was great) and top it with traditional toppings like fried onions and fresh herbs.  The lunch was light but comforting – perfect fuel for the rest of the day.

After lunch, we prepared the elephants daily dose of vitamins, made into giant energy balls.  Each elephant is allowed one per day and it consists of ingredients that would be found in energy balls for humans, such as dates and nuts.  We got to feed the elephants a bit more sugar cane before taking a walk to the river where it was time to give them a bath.  On our walk, we did see another sanctuary that was much larger on the other side of the pond.  Even though they are technically a competitor, it was nice to see the community that these sanctuaries had with each other.  These animals are large and surprisingly the walk did take some time because they do walk quite slow and often got distracted and would stop for some fresh greens.

Once we got to the river, we got to go into the water and play with them.  The water itself wasn’t deep however the currents were really strong and it was scary at some points, but we stuck together and made it in and out safely.  It was funny to see how much energy Naughty Boy had, and was trying to mount all of the other elephants.  This ended up being our last activity for the day and once we returned to the sanctuary, we were able to take a shower to wash off all of the dirt.  After this, we were taken back to our hotel.

After getting dropped off at our hotel, we decided to take a grab and have dinner at the vegan restaurant The Whole Earth.  The restaurant is situated right off the main street and upon entering, we are advised to take off our shoes before entering the actual restaurant, however they did also offer slippers.  Taking off our shoes didn’t bother us and it just added to the ambiance of the restaurant.  We ordered pumpkin red curry, tempeh sautee, laarb tofu and pad thai.  We also enjoyed a fresh cocktail and beer.  The service was very friendly and they spoke English and was able to answer any questions we had.  Everything was amazing and I highly recommend it here.

After dinner, we walked over to the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar.  This is where you can do some shopping for clothes, souvenirs and teas to bring back home to share with your family.  There was also lots of food and you can really stretch your money by having dinner here.  We spent about 2 hours walking up and down the night bazaar since there was so much to see and so much to do.  I highly recommend visiting when in Chiang Mai.

TheSavvyPantry-ChiangMai2DayItinerary-Day2ThaiFarmCookingSchool

One of the must do activities when visiting Chiang Mai is a cooking class!  This was our last day in Chiang Mai and it was only a half day which was perfect for our half day cooking class at Thai Farm Cooking School.  They do have an option for a full day, so if you do have a full-day available I highly recommend it.  Our flight was leaving at 6PM and the cooking class ended at 2PM and was about a 20-minute walk from our hotel so it was perfect timing.

The day started early with a visit to the local market where our guide, Wass, explained to us the different types of rice, herbs and vegetables commonly found in Thai cooking.  It was also great because she gave us time to roam around the market and purchase anything for personal consumption.  Unfortunately, because this was our last day in Chiang Mai, we didn’t get a chance to purchase anything but all of the fresh fruit and Thai desserts were so tempting.

TheSavvyPantry-ChiangMai2Days-Day2-ThaiCookingClass (1)

After our tour in the market was over, we went over to the farm where we would spend the morning exploring their organic farm and cooking methods.  The farm itself is large and has so many fruits and veggies, ranging from pandan leaves to start fruit.  There were multiple large outdoor cooking stations for the various classes.  The way that it was set up was very nice with a community feel even though you had your own cooking station.  We also got to choose what type of soup and curry we wanted to learn to make as part of our cooking class.

Wass took us on a tour of the organic farm where we got to pick fresh ingredients for our dishes, such as bird eye chilis and edible flowers for our dessert.  She also showed us all of the veggies that the garden grows and is used in the cooking school for all of the dishes.  After the tour, we learned how to make steamed jasmine rice.

For the actual cooking class, we learned how to make soup (choice between Tom Yum or Coconut soup), curry (green, red or yellow), veggie spring rolls and of course mango stick rice.  I am so happy to have experienced how to authentically make Thai curry paste and sticky

jasmine rice.  These are skills and techniques that I have used back home when re-creating these recipes.  The cooking class showed us that it isn’t so intimidating making these Thai dishes and that it can easily be conquered at home.  We were also given a cook book at the end of the day full of all of the Thai recipes that they teach at their cooking school.  Many of the recipes have become household favourites since returning from Thailand.  The cookbook serves as a great souvenir and reminder of the flavours of Thailand.