COUNTRY VISITED #7
THAILAND IS HOME. Thailand is somewhere that I hold very close to my heart. It's where I fell in love, it's where I properly backpacked for the first time, it's where I've met life-long friends, it's where I've had some of my best memories and wildest nights out, plus it's where I taught English and lived for almost 3 years! It's the country that, apart from my own, I've spent most of my time in and where I continue to return to always!
THAILAND HAS IT ALL. There is a reason you never hear of anyone disliking this country after they've visited. The Land of Smiles has so much to experience: delicious food, majestic elephants, stunning beaches, exciting city life, chilled out island life, ancient temples, friendly faces, dense jungles and amazing diving / snorkelling.
ALL ROADS LEAD TO THAILAND! Bangkok will surely be the centre of your South-East Asia trip and should be the starting and ending point of your backpacking journey! Flights to and from Bangkok are only getting cheaper and it's the perfect place to touch base. It's extremely easy and safe to travel around and discover making it the sought after destination to start your world travels and build your confidence.
CAPITAL CITY: BANGKOK
POPULATION: BANGKOK (9 MILLION) THAILAND (OVER 68 MILLION)
CURRENCY: THAI BAHT (THB) FOR EXCHANGE RATE CLICK HERE
LANGUAGE(S): THAI (ENGLISH SPOKEN WIDELY THROUGHOUT ESPECIALLY IN AREAS VISITED BY TRAVELLERS)
BORDER COUNTRIES: MYANMAR - LOAS - CAMBODIA - MALAYSIA
WHERE TO GO
PLACES TO VISIT: BANGKOK - KANCHANABURI - AYUTTHAYA - LOPBURI - KHAO YAI - SUKHOTHAI - CHIANG MAI - PAI - MAE HONG SON - CHIANG RAI - ISSAN (EASTERN THAILAND) - PATTAYA (NIGHTLIFE) - KOH SAMET - KOH CHANG - KOH TAO - KOH PHA NGAN - KOH SAMUI - PHUKET - KOH PHI PHI - PHANGNGA - KRABI - KHAO LAK (SIMILAN & SURIN ISLANDS) - KOH LANTA - KOH LIPE
THINGS TO DO:
EXPLORE THE MARKETS:
Not only is spending time at Thai market stalls great for shopping because they sell everything but they can also hold amazing street food, quirky bars, live bands and a great atmosphere. I find them the perfect place to people watch and love to spend the day or evening hanging out at one.
Make sure to check out CHATUCHAK WEEKEND MARKET, ROD FAI MARKET, RATCHADA TRAIN MARKET (BANGKOK) and PAI WALKING STREET NIGHT MARKET (PAI, NORTHERN THAILAND)
GET A MASSAGE:
Massages and other lovely beauty treatments in Thailand are as cheap as they come! You will be positively shocked at the price and the quality of care you are given. Personally, I find a Traditional Thai Massage too painful so I go for a Coconut Oil Massage, Back, Neck and Shoulder Massage or Foot Massage --- it's the first thing I do when I arrive in Bangkok! There really is no better way to relax, unwind and chill out!
Massage shops are found throughout the country, from traditional, quaint shops in Chiang Mai and Pai, to hundreds of street shops in Bangkok, to wooden huts on the beaches of Koh Chang and Koh Pha Ngan and to elegant Spa's in Koh Samui. Hour long Traditional Thai Massages start from as little as 150Baht (£3) where Oil and Foot Massages start from around 250Baht (£5) or you can pay a little extra and indulge yourself in a luxurious treatment at a high-end Spa.
I'm in love with the chain that is Health Land Spa and Massage found throughout Bangkok and Pattaya and visiting one of the 'Maaasaaaage' shops on the famous Khao San Road or Rambuttri never disappoints.
Spend the day wandering around and appreciating Thailand's beautiful temples in either Bangkok, one of the surrounding ancient cities or Northern Thailand. They're great to be explored on your own by motorbike, hiring a driver with a Tuk Tuk for a set price or by bicycle. Temples are tranquil and Buddha images and statues are sacred. Here you can pray, be blessed by a monk and pay respect to Buddha with incense sticks, candles and flowers.
I recommend visiting Wat Rong Khun (White Temple) in Chiang Rai, Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) Wat Saket (The Golden Mount) and Wat Pho (Temple of Reclining Buddha & Traditional Thai Massage School) in Bangkok and Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai.
GO JUNGLE TREKKING:
Head to Northern Thailand for multi day Jungle Treks that include chasing waterfalls, challenging hikes, sleeping in hill-top huts, bamboo rafting and meeting elephants. For shorter day hikes, the vast jungles of Central Thailand are perfect for this. Relax at the pool of your guesthouse or hostel and visit the beautiful National Parks.
KHAO YAI NATIONAL PARK - Lush green jungle, great for day hikes focused on seeing wildlife including wild elephants.
KANCHANABURI - Beautiful escape from Bangkok, relax in blue lagoons and explore some of the many waterfalls.
CHIANG MAI - The ultimate jungle trekking destination in Northern Thailand, this is where you will embark on 2 and 3 day treks.
EAT THAI FOOD EVERYDAY:
Thai food is amazing. It's cheap, fresh and delicious and best enjoyed at one of the many street food stalls across the country. Bangkok, Issan and Northern Thailand are the best places to find authentic Thai food. Tour the night markets or wander the streets and try something different each time.
If you enjoy eating Thai food as much as I do, you should try making your own by completing a Thai Cooking Course. Chiang Mai and Bangkok are both famous for them. During the class you will head to a local market for supplies and learn about Thai Fruits, Vegetables and Spices, be shown how to make different Thai dishes and then get to eat each of them!
I recommend Silom Thai Cooking School in Bangkok.
SCUBA DIVE & SNORKEL:
Thailand is where I first tried Scuba Diving and Snorkelling and fell in love with both! Stunning schools of fish, colourful coral, stingrays, turtles, eels, whale sharks and sea urchins are just some of the wonders you can see while exploring the warm, blue underwater world.
Head to Koh Tao if you would like to complete a Diving course. This paradise island is centred around Scuba Diving, filled with Dive Schools offering courses for cheap -- I completed my Open Water Diving Course in Koh Tao for 8000Baht (£160 including accommodation)
For scuba diving bliss, head over to the Andaman Sea (West of Thailand) where Khoa Lak, Koh Lanta, Phuket, Krabi, Koh Ngai, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lipe (and More) offer unforgettable (but more expensive) day drips. From Khao Lak you can dive the stunning Similan and Surin Islands by Day Trip or Live-Aboard Boat.
Snorkelling shouldn't be missed either! I love the SUNSET SNORKELLING TOUR you can do from Krabi. Spend the day at Railay Beach, snorkel in absolute paradise, finish with a BBQ and beers on a deserted island. It's one of my favourite things to do there!
Thailand holds unique and wonderful festivals and locals are more than happy for travellers to take part and enjoy along with them.
In April, celebrate Songkran (Water Festival) where the whole country takes part in the ultimate water fight. You will sure to be soaked when walking around but have some fun, buy a water pistol and join in. Personally I head to Bangkok and then onto Pattaya where the water celebration continues longer.
In November, celebrate Loi Krathong/Yi Peng (Festival of Lights) which is a much more peaceful and tranquil celebration. People of all ages build little rafts from flowers, leaves, incense sticks and candles which are placed in water and white fire lanterns are released to the sky. It's stunningly beautiful to see and should be experienced if visiting Thailand around that time. Head to Chiang Mai where thousands of lanterns are released and turn into stars in the sky.
EXPLORE ANCIENT CITIES:
Head North from Bangkok and travel around the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, Sukhothai Historical Park and the province of Lopburi.
In each you will find sacred ruins, ancient temples, peaceful towns, pretty surroundings and amazing food.
AYUTTHYA - Learn about the history, cycle round the temples and ruins and be sure to take a river tour.
SUKHOTHAI - Wander around the beautifully quiet Historical Park at your own pace. Take breaks to enjoy the amazing local food or get a cheap massage. Make sure to be at the park during sunset, where the scenes are breathtaking.
LOPBURI - A historic town where lots of wild monkeys live within the ruins and co-exist with locals.
ISLAND HOP & BEACH BUM:
There are so many paradise islands to choose from in Thailand and your trip should never limit you to just one! With numerous daily minivans, buses and boats heading to each of them -- multiple island hopping is perfectly easy!
Pristine white sands, crystal blue water, hammock vibes, wooden beach huts, pool parties, massages on the beach, reggae bars, waterfalls, bucket fuelled party nights, health spas and detox centres -- the beaches and islands of Thailand has it all but each with their own vibe.
ISLAND HOP YOUR WAY AROUND THAILAND:
GULF OF THAILAND (CENTRAL ISLANDS NOT TOO FAR FROM BANGKOK): KOH CHANG (for jungle scenes, golden beaches + fun) KOH SAMET (for a secluded, romantic getaway) KOH MAK - KOH KOOD
GULF OF THAILAND (TOWARDS THE SOUTH): KOH TAO (for scuba diving) KOH PHA NGAN (for hippies, party lovers + hammock chills) KOH SAMUI (for yoga, spas, detoxing + some luxury)
ANDAMAN SEA (SOUTH OF THAILAND): PHUKET (for ultimate tourism + exploring on scooters) KOH PHI PHI (for beach parties, blue lagoons + long tail boat rides) KOH LANTA (for golden sunsets, great diving + massages on the beach) KOH LIPE (for total, deserted paradise) KOH NGIA - KOH YAO NOI - KOH YAO YAI
This is my favourite city in the world. Each of my trips to Thailand always include numerous days enjoying the capital and it truly feels like home (I used to have an apartment in Banglamphu) Friendly faces, excellent street food, gorgeous spa's, stunning temples, market strolling, Tuk-Tuk rides, shopping days, roof top cocktails, wild nights and high rise pools are some of my favourite things about Bangkok.
Fall in love with this exciting city! Catch a motorbike taxi, train or water taxi and explore each area for yourself. I want others to appreciate and long for Bangkok as much as I do.
BANGLAMPHU / KHAO SAN / OLD CITY: Rambuttri - hipster bars - delicious street food - Khao San Road - temples - budget accommodation - bucket fulled nights - cheap Massage + Beauty shops - travel shops - flower + food markets - coffee shops - Chao Praya River
SIAM: ultimate shopping scene - MBK - Siam Paragon - Siam Square - cheap clothing stalls to cute boutiques - coffee shops - cinemas - cool restaurants + cafes - trendy youth culture - SeaLife Bangkok Ocean World
SUKHUMVIT: nightclubs - rooftop cocktail bars - excellent restaurants - spas - go go bars - trendy nightlife scenes (thong lor + ekamai) - modern high rise hotels - Soi Cowboy - Nana Plaza - street food
RIVERSIDE: Chao Praya River - luxury hotels - evening river cruises - asiatique - bangkok canal tours - riverside restaurants - temples - Siriraj Hospital (Forensic Museum) - ladyboy shows
SILOM: modern city life - rooftop cocktail bars - sathorn - patpong night market - Silom Thai Cooking School - fancy restaurants - lumphini park - gay scenes Soi 2 + 4 - fun nightlife
OTHER AREAS TO VISIT: CHINATOWN - CHATUCHAK - RATCHADA - PRATUNAM - VICTORY MONUMENT - LADPRAO - PINKLAO
EXPERIENCE MUAY THAI
Thai boxing is the much loved and respected sport of the country. You can find a Muay Thai match all across the country but the best places to watch are the stadiums in Bangkok. Book tickets in the city or online prior to the event and treat yourself to ring-side seats if it's something you're passionate about.
RAJADAMNERN THAI BOXING STADIUM
LUMPINEE BOXING STADIUM
Try out Muay Thai for yourself by taking a Thai Boxing class. Choose from a single session to Muay Thai Camps that you can practice for weeks at a time.
Head to Muay Thai Camps Thailand to explore what the country has to offer.
BE ENCHANTED BY PAI:
Pai is a hippy mountain town around 3 hours from Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. Its stunning -- with lush green valleys, waterfalls, epic viewpoints and countryside scenes. You will be sure to extend your stay or be excited at the thought to return! It shouldn't be missed when heading North of the country. Explore the town and surrounding area by motorbike, swing on a hammock, chill out in one of the funky and delicious cafe's, watch the sun go down with friends, stroll round the night market, catch a live band at a raggae bar and then sleep in a wooden hut under the stars. It's a travellers dream destination!
NATURE: BOON KO KU SO BRIDGE - PAI CANYON - HOT SPRINGS - PAI RIVER - MOR PAENG WATERFALL - HUAI NAM DANG NATIONAL PARK - MAE YEN WATERFALL - PAMBOK WATERFALL - THAM LOD CAVE
CHILL OUT SPOTS: LOVE STRAWBERRY PAI - PAI RIVER - THE CONTAINER - PAI CANYON - FLUID POOL
ACTIVITIES: RENT A MOTORBIKE + EXPLORE - HIKING - PAI PIRANHA FISHING PARK - THAI MASSAGE - COOKING SCHOOL - THOM'S PAI ELEPHANT CAMP
FOOD: PAI NIGHT MARKET - FATCAT CAFE - LEMON THYME CAFE (BREAKFAST + BRUNCH) - ARMINA - OM CAFE
SUNSET: PAI CANYON - WHITE BUDDHA - SUNSET BAR - YUN LAI VIEWPOINT
NIGHTS: PAI NIGHT MARKET - DON'T CRY BAR - SUNSET BAR - SPIRIT BAR - ALMOST FAMOUS - YELLOW SUN BAR
One of the best things you can do in Thailand is to get up close to majestic elephants. They're my most loved animal (ECHO EARTH EFFECT logo) You just cannot experience Thailand without spending the day at an Elephant Sanctuary. Avoid the sad, tourist traps where elephants are kept in chains and ridden hour after hour with riding chairs. Alternatively, head to an elephant oasis refuge (I recommend Northern Thailand) where you can help take care of them, feed, wash and play with them.
ELEPHANT NATURE PARK, CHIANG MAI
ELEPHANT JUNGLE SANCTUARY, CHIANG MAI, PHUKET + PATTAYA
THONG ELEPHANT SANCTUARY, CHIANG MAI
PARTY & CHILL ON KOH PHA NGAN:
Koh Pha ngan on the Gulf of Thailand is my favourite Thai tropical island. For me it has it all -- backpacker beach vibes, chilled out viewpoints, wild beach parties, secret raves, hippy detox zones, raggae bars -- basically boozy nights and hammock filled days -- there's a magic about this island I can't describe. It's the perfect place to live life and then self cleanse.
FAVOURITE THINGS ABOUT KOH PHA NGAN:
NIGHT: FULL MOON PARTIES - JUNGLE PARTIES - 360 BAR - EDEN - GUYS BAR - PANTHIP FOOD MARKET - THONG SALA - AMSTERDAM BAR - SLUMBER PARTY - SECRET PLACE
DAY: COCONUT BEACH - INFINITY BEACH CLUB - FINDING VIEWPOINTS - HAAD YAO - BOTTLE BEACH - FUNKY CAFE'S - CHALOKLUM BEACH - HAAD MAE HAAD + KOH MA - MASSAGE ON THE BEACH - HAAD SALAD BEACH - MOTORBIKE OR JEEP AROUND THE ISLAND - BAN TAI - THAN SADET - LANGUAGE LESSONS - SECRET BEACH
CHILL OUT + DETOX: HAAD YUAN - THE SANCTUARY - ORION HEALING CENTRE - YOGA - THE DOME SAUNA - HAAD YAO - SRI THANU - SARIKANTANG - EAT.CO - PURA VIDA CAFE - SPA DAY
OVERALL COSTS: CHEAP (NORTH OF THAILAND IS VERY CHEAP AND IT GETS MORE EXPENSIVE AS YOU GO DOWN)
DAILY BUDGET: 1500 BAHT (£30) TO TRAVEL COMFORTABLY - CAN TRAVEL FOR LESS OR MORE
ACCOMMODATION COSTS: HOSTEL / GUESTHOUSE (100BAHT £2 - 600BAHT £12) MID RANGE HOTEL (800BAHT £16 - 1500BAHT £30) LUXURY HOTEL (2000BAHT £40 - 15000BAHT £300) BEACH HUTS (100BAHT £2 - 800BAHT £16) AIRBNB (300BAHT £6 - 1000BAHT £20 FOR SHARED ROOM - ENTIRE APARTMENT)
Wooden huts in the mountains, authentic guesthouses and boutique hostels are all very cheap up north. The price will increase in Bangkok where I would recommend staying in a hostel, guesthouse or Airbnb. (I like to book myself a night or two in a fancy hotel at least once during my trip for a treat as you get a lot for your money)
As you head south and to the islands, prices for accommodation increase again. Head for hostels, cheap guesthouses or rustic beach huts to save money. Rooms are usually differentiated by fan rooms or air con rooms.
BEWARE: During high season, prices are a lot more expensive than usual, sometimes double. During the Full Moon Party period, prices increase dramatically on Koh Pha Ngan and you may have to stay at your hotel for a minimum of 3/4/5 nights.
TRANSPORT COSTS: CITY BUS (2BAHT >£0.01 - 15BAHT £0.30) BANGKOK WATER TAXI (5BAHT £0.10 - 15 BAHT £0.30) MOTORBIKE TAXI (20BAHT £0.40 - 200BAHT £4) TUK-TUK (50BAHT £1 - 300BAHT £6) SKYTRAIN (BTS) + METRO (MRT) (15BAHT £0.30 - 50BAHT £1) SONGTAEW (BAHTBUS) (5BAHT £0.10 - 250 BAHT £5) TAXI METRE (START AT 30BAHT £0.60) LONGER DISTANCE MINIVAN OR BUS (60BAHT £1.20 - 1800BAHT £36) LONGER DISTANCE TRAIN (300BAHT £6 - 1800BAHT £36) DOMESTIC FLIGHTS (1000BAHT £20 - 6000BAHT £120)
Transport around Thailand is very cheap as long as you know or negotiate the price first. For Taxi's, always request they turn on the meter, if they say no, leave and find another Taxi. Whatever price they offer you will always be more expensive than if you go by meter.
For Tuk-Tuk's and Motorbike Taxi's, always ask and bargain for the price first. If you don't do this, it lets the driver charge whatever they please when they arrive at your destination. Public buses, songtaews, trains and water taxi's have a set price already and are the cheapest way to get around.
Book longer distance buses, trains and boats through a travel tour shop in the country or at the station/pier yourself.
Domestic flights are cheaper if you book them in advance. It's great because there are a number of budget air lines flying around the country.
BEWARE: During high season especially Christmas and New Year, flight prices are a lot more expensive. Expect to pay a much larger amount than usual especially when booking last minute.
FOOD & ALCOHOL COSTS: STREET FOOD (20BAHT £0.40 - 80BAHT £1.60) THAI RESTAURANTS (50BAHT £1 - 300BAHT £6) WESTERN FOOD (100BAHT £2 - 700BAHT £14) FAST FOOD CHAINS (100BAHT £2 - 300BAHT £6) SMALL BEER (30BAHT £0.60 - 150BAHT £3) LARGE BEER (80BAHT £1.60 - 200BAHT £4) COCKTAILS (100BAHT £2 - 350BAHT £7) BUCKETS (150BAHT £3 - 500BAHT £10)
You will find the cheapest, most authentic and delicious quality Thai food on the street at little food stalls. If you stick to street food everyday, you will save so much money. Head to markets or follow the crowds. I like to eat in a mixture of street stalls, shopping centre food courts, chain restaurants (Sizzler) and Cafe's!
When heading to an island or up north, ask you hostel or guesthouse for local recommendations. For chilled nights or pre-drinks, head to 7/11 or the small 'Mam & Pop' Shops for cheap beers. You're allowed to drink on the street the majority of the time. It's a great way to save money than heading straight to the bar.
BEWARE: With cheap buckets and strong cocktails on Khao San Road / Koh Pha Ngan, it's easy to get crazy intoxicated. Be careful of your belongings, cash and avoid being taken advantage of. (never wander alone drunk at night)
VISA REQUIREMENTS: MANY NATIONALITIES RECEIVE 30DAY VISA-ON-ARRIVAL (NO FEE) AT AIRPORTS & 15DAY AT THE BORDER CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS
ONWARD TRAVEL: USUALLY YOU'RE NOT REQUIRED TO HAVE PROOF OF ONWARD TRAVEL BUT THIS HAS BEEN GETTING STRICTER IN RECENT YEARS
BANGKOK: For flying Domestic, budget airlines travel around the country from Don Muang Airport. Bangkok Airways and Thai Airways continue to fly from Suvarnabhumi Airport. There are airports in Chiang Mai, Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi and more. I recommend getting the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai for a pretty special experience. Relaxing and unique, you should try it at least once! Long distance public buses leave from Mo Chit Station, Ekamai or the Southern Terminal (Sai Tai Mai).Tourist buses leave usually from Khao San Road or nearby but please be careful of your valuables because theft on these buses are common. Public minivans (which are faster than buses but more dangerous) can be caught at Victory Monument. Travelling within the city is fastest and cheapest by Skytrain (BTS) or Metro (MRT) or water taxi. City buses are by far the cheapest but take much longer waiting in traffic. When you can't get one of these options, take a taxi. Always ask the driver to turn on the meter! I like to take motorbike taxi's to be extra quick. Tuk-Tuk's can be a rip off but a lot of fun especially on nights out -- just remember to set the price first!!
CHIANG MAI: The main form of transport within the city is jumping on a Songtaew (Bahtbus) let the driver know where you want to go and set a price (usually charged per person). Minivans and buses can be caught very easily to other parts of the north (and the rest of the country) -- just head to the Arcade Bus Station.
BEACHES & THE ISLANDS: Cheap boats run multiple daily trips from island to island. Book tickets at the airport on arrival or at a travel shop on the mainland/another island. I would rent a scooter to explore the beaches and islands - it's the cheapest form of transport. Taxi's, minivans, Songtaews and Tuk-Tuks are more expensive in the south -- especially Phuket.
BOOK TRANSPORT, DAY TOURS & ACTIVITIES IN PERSON ONCE YOU'RE THERE. THERE ARE MANY TRAVEL SHOPS THROUGHOUT TOURIST AREAS OR ASK YOUR HOTEL WHEN OFF THE BEATEN TRACK.
BEST TIME TO GO: OCTOBER - APRIL
HIGH SEASON/COOLER SEASON: NOV-FEB - Beautiful weather but higher prices
SHOULDER SEASON:APRIL - JUNE - Very hot weather
RAINY/LOW SEASON:JULY-SEPTEMBER - Cheaper prices but monsoon showers
DO'S & DON'TS:
NEVER: BRING SHAME ON A THAI OR THEIR FAMILY (LOSE FACE) - SUNBATHE NAKED/TOPLESS - WEAR SHOES IN SOMEONE'S HOME OR TEMPLE - WEAR BIKINI'S OUTWITH POOL/BEACH AREA - SPEAK BADLY OF THE ROYAL FAMILY - HAVE YOUR FEET ANYWHERE NEAR SOMEONE'S HEAD
ALWAYS: POINT FEET AWAY FROM BUDDHA IMAGES INSIDE TEMPLES - COVER UP INSIDE TEMPLES (SHOULDERS TO KNEES SHOULD BE COVERED)
SAWADEE KA (FEMALE FOR HELLO) SAWADEE KAP (MALE FOR HELLO) KOP KHUN KA (FEMALE FOR THANK YOU) KOP KHUN KAP (MALE FOR THANK YOU) SABAI DEE MAI KA? (FEMALE FOR HOW ARE YOU?) SABAI DEE MAI KAP? (MALE FOR HOW ARE YOU?)
MEMORABLE TO ME
LOI KRATHONG FESTIVAL - SLEEPER TRAIN UP NORTH - ABOVE 11 ON SUKHUMVIT or VERTIGO @ BANYAN TREE BANGKOK ROOFTOP BARS - WAT ARUN (TEMPLE OF DAWN) - SUNSET SNORKELLING TOUR IN KRABI - COCONUT BEACH KOH PHA NGAN - BANGKOK MOTORBIKE TAXI RIDE - KHAO SAN ROAD - KOH PHI PHI -THAI STREET FOOD - LUMPHINI PARK - BOTTLE BEACH KOH PHA NGAN - PAI
ELEPHANT SANCTUARY - SONGKRAN WATER FESTIVAL - SUKHOTHAI HISTORICAL PARK - CHATUCHAK WEEKEND MARKET - SPA DAYS - PAI CANYON - HAAD TIEN KOH PHA NGAN - HAAD YAO KOH PHA NGAN - RAILAY BEACH KRABI
PAD THAI GOONG (THAI NOODLES WITH SHRIMP) - KHAO MAN GAI (HAINANESE CHICKEN RICE) - KUAY TEOW MOO DAENG (NOODLE SOUP WITH RED PORK) - TOM KHA GAI (THAI COCONUT SOUP WITH CHICKEN) - PAD KRA PAO MOO (STIR FRIED PORK WITH THAI HOLY BASIL AND CHILLI) - PAD NUEA SAPPAROT (STIR FRIED BEEF WITH PINEAPPLE) - CHAI YEN (THAI ICED TEA WITH MILK)
BEST PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES:
KOH NANG YUAN (KOH TAO) - WHITE TEMPLE (CHIANG RAI) - SUKHOTHAI HISTORICAL PARK AT SUNSET - BANGKOK CANAL TOUR - BIG BUDDHA PIER (KOH SAMUI) - RAILAY BEACH (KRABI) - BANGKOK ROOFTOP BAR - ELEPHANT SANCTUARY (CHIANG MAI) - LONG-TAIL BOAT TRIP (KOH PHI PHI)
MY POSTS ABOUT THAILAND
DAY 1: BANGKOK: Head to Chatuchak Weekend Market for shopping and a first taste of Thai street food. Get a Massage then catch a motorbike taxi (coloured vests) to Saphan Taksin for a Canal Tour. Take a boat over to Khao San Road for the evening -- enjoy the shopping, food, buckets and another massage.
DAY 2: BANGKOK: Temple hop for the day by visiting Wat Saket, Wat Pho and Wat Arun. Head to Amorosa Bar at Arun Residence for some refreshing drinks before getting a Tuk-Tuk over to Siam. Eat delicious Thai food at the International Food Court at MBK before exploring the mall, head to Siam Square then onto Siam Paragon. Catch a Ladyboy or Muay Thai show then onto Above 11 Rooftop Bar on Sukhumvit for dinner and cocktails. If you still have time to party, head to Nana Plaza or Soi Cowboy in the same area.
DAY 3: DAY TRIP TO AYUTTHAYA: Leave early and spend the day exploring the temples and ruins of Ayutthaya. Rent bicycles, see the reclining Buddha and enjoy yummy Thai food.
DAY 4-9: KOH SAMUI & KOH PHA NGAN: Fly to Koh Samui from Bangkok and spend 3 days enjoying the island. Make sure to attend one of Ark Bar's famous Pool Parties and recover with a Spa Day. Take a boat over to Koh Pha ngan and spend 2/3 days exploring the island on motorbikes. Stay in either Ban Tai or Haad Rin and hopefully catch a Full Moon or Jungle Party.
DAY 9-13: PHUKET OR KRABI: Fly to either Phuket or Krabi for your final days. I would stay in Patong in Phuket or Ao Nang in Krabi. Take a Snorkelling Tour and visit an Elephant Sanctuary.
DAY 14: BANGKOK: Spend your final day shopping in Bangkok and getting that last Massage. Head to Khao San or MBK for souvenirs.
DAY 1-3: BANGKOK: Follow itinerary above for Bangkok but add in Chinatown, Lumphini Park and a night out in Silom at Patpong Night Market.
DAY 4-11: CHIANG MAI & PAI: Take the night train to Chiang Mai and explore the temples including Wat Phra That Doi Suthep and then wander around the Night Market. Make sure to take a Thai Cooking Class and spend a day at a Elephant Sanctuary. Take the bus to Pai and spend a few days relaxing, renting motorbikes and exploring the hippy town. Check out the Waterfalls, Pai Canyon, Boon Ko Ku So Bridge. Eat at Lemon Thyme Cafe for brunch then onto Armina or Om Cafe later. Get a Massage, go hiking and watch the sunset. Spend the evenings at the Night Market then onto Yellow Sun Bar and Don't Cry Bar.
DAY 11-13: SUKHOTHAI: Get a bus from Chiang Mai to Sukhothai and spend a day exploring the Historical Park. Take breaks for delicious Thai food, foot massages and make sure you're in the park for sunset when the scenes are epic.
DAY 14-28: ISLAND HOP: Take a bus to Bangkok then onto Surat Thani or fly. From Surat Thani take the boat to Koh Tao, then to Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan. Book a transfer or fly to Phuket and head over Koh Phi Phi for beach parties and scuba diving. Rent a long-tail boat for swimming and snorkelling.
WEEK 1: BANGKOK, KANCHANABURI, AYUTTHAYA: Follow itinerary above for a few days in Bangkok to start off the trip. Get a bus to Kanchanaburi and spend a day or two exploring the waterfalls, the death railway and enjoying the town. Next head to Ayutthaya to see the ruins, temples, reclining Buddha and take a river tour .
WEEK 2: LOPBURI, KHAO YAI NATIONAL PARK & ESSAN: Head up to Lopburi to see the historic town and famous wild monkeys who co-exist with the locals. Spend a day or two in Khao Yai for a hiking trip at the national park. It's focused on wildlife and there's a chance you could see wild elephants. If you want to get off the beaten track, head to Essan which is North Eastern Thailand. You can explore unique temples, taste the best Thai food in the country and have some fun nights out.
WEEK 3 & 4: CHIANG MAI, PAI, CHIANG RAI: Spend a couple weeks up north and fall in love! First in Chiang Mai, take a cooking class, roam the markets, hang out with elephants at a sanctuary and go on an overnight jungle trek. Next, take some time out in Pai to relax and chill out. Rent a motorbike and explore, eat some amazing food and get more than one massage. Head further north to Chiang Rai to see the extraordinary White Temple. If you have time, do a day tour of the Golden Triangle if you are interested in seeing Loas and the Burmese border.
WEEK 5-7: KOH TAO, KOH PHA NGAN, KOH SAMUI : Take the train to Bangkok, stay on Khao San Road then head to Koh Tao when you're ready. Take your Open Water Diving Course on the island before going to Koh Pha ngan for a full moon party. Explore the islands, chill out at the beach and take yoga and meditation classes. Head to Koh Samui to party at the Ark Bar and the pubs in Chaweng. Detox at one of the gorgeous spas on the island.
WEEK 8-10: PHUKET, KOH PHI PHI, KHAO LAK, KRABI, KOH LANTA: Transfer to Phuket for a night out on Bangla Road in Patong. Get a boat over to Koh Phi Phi and spend the days snorkelling and nights partying at the beach. Next head to Khao Lak to try out your Diving Certificate by scuba diving the Similan Islands. Take Muay Thai Lessons back in Phuket and explore the surrounding areas or head over to Krabi and Koh Lanta. Make sure to go to Railay Beach in Krabi and you can even volunteer at an Animal Shelter on Koh Lanta.
WEEK 11: KOH LIPE: Go even further South and spend some time in absolute paradise on Koh Lipe.
WEEK 12: PATTAYA & BANGKOK: For your final week in the Land of Smiles, Pattaya is great for some fun nightlife. Experience a Ping Pong Show, Go-Go Bar and Insomnia Night Club. Treat yourself to a a couple nights in a luxury hotel in Bangkok to celebrate your epic trip! Shop in Siam and end on cocktails at the Banyan Tree or Lebua.