Thailand Travel Guide

thailand-travel-guide

18 Days from Bangkok to Phuket

I took a solo trip to Thailand in 2015 and am just getting around to writing about it.  I traveled there by myself, but joined a tour which I highly recommend if you don’t want to take the time planning.   If you are deciding whether or not to go to Thailand, GO!  It is cheap, beautiful, friendly and safe.  You won’t regret it.

Destinations

Since you will most likely fly into Bangkok, you should spend a little time exploring before heading south.  Check out the craziness on Koh San Road, eat as much street food as possible, shop your heart out, get a Thai massage, check out some temples and take a river cruise.

Fish Pedicure – I loved this experience; cheap, fun and relaxing after a long trip.  Don’t forget to enjoy a Thai Iced Tea while you sit there, unreal!

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Coconut Ice Cream –  Please find this guy if you go!  He makes his own ice cream inside of a coconut and was the sweetest.  Everyone in Thailand was so warm and friendly.

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Shopping-  The shopping was better than expected!  So many amazing colors and textures and so affordable.  Definitely under pack so you can stock up for yourself and for friends and family back home.

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Street Pad Thai – I think I counted 17 times that I ate Pad Thai during my trip.  So good and so cheap!  Many street vendors sold it for around $2 USD

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Temples

You should at least go to one temple while in Thailand.  For a list of the most popular, check out  10 Thailand Temples .

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Located in the center of the country, this gem is quite spectacular.  It takes a little coordination to get to, but once there, it is tranquil and breathtaking.  The warm green water and towering rock formations are a true natural treasure.  I stayed in a floating bungalow at  Plern Prai Raft House.  Very simple, but delicious food, gorgeous views and an untainted view of the night sky.

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Located to the east, Koh Phagnan is home to the popular Full Moon Party, but has a ton to do including snorkeling, boat trips, beaches, cooking classes and relaxing.

Bottle Beach – Escape the party scene for a relaxing beach bungalow on Bottle Beach.  Relax and enjoy hammocks during the day and floating lanterns at night.  Accessible by a VERY steep road, or by a long tail boat.

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Haad Rin (Full Moon Party)

During the days, Haad Rin is filled with food, drinks and sun; night time brings the party.  Each month, the famous Full Moon Party takes place on Sunset beach.  If you are not here at this time, there will still be beach parties going on: buckets, music and plenty of fire.

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Koh Tao was one of my favorite spots.  There are so many cool restaurants and bars along the beach, great sunsets and amazing diving.  I also took an awesome yoga class here, got a 90 minute oil massage and zenned out at some of the beach cafes.  Catch a Thai Lady Boy show here if you dare.  This sunset palm tree photo is one of my all time favorites.

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Mojo Divers Koh Tao – Whether you head to Mango Bay or the Japanese Gardens, Mojo Divers Koh Tao  is the way to go!  They go out twice a day and stop at two dive sites each time.  A mix of sheltered bays, caves and sheltered dive sites, great for first timers or professionals.

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Railay Beach seems like an island, but is really located on the West coast of the mainland. With beaches, cooking classes, kayaking and exploring caves, there is plenty to do.

I stayed at Diamond Cave Resort – simple and clean, but nothing to rave about (nice pool though!)

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Phra Nang Cave Beach – What you think of when you think of Thailand.  Long tail boats selling food, crystal clear water and towering rock formations.

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Railay Cooking Class – This cooking class was fun, right on the water and the food was amazing!  You prepare five dishes from scratch  including a curry, Pad Thai and spring rolls.  Mr. Chef was friendly, funny and a great teacher.  Educational, fun and delicious.

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Sea Cave Kayaking – Take out some kayaks and explore the sea caves and private beaches.

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Krabi Sunset Cruise –  This sunset cruise was top notch!  Start off cliff jumping then onto snorkeling, jumping off the top of the boat, eat delicious food and watch another amazing sunset.  Finish your night by night swimming with the bio-luminescence.  All around great day.

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Newly recovered from the 2004 tsunami, Koh Phi Phi is where you will find the famous Maya Bay, Monkey Bay, beach parties and more.  I thought I would fall in love with Maya Bay, but it was low tide and not how it was in the pictures.  I also found it to be overcrowded.  There are so many islands in Thailand so don’t hesitate to go to the quieter locations; it will still be amazing.   Below is a picture from the Koh Phi Phi viewpoint; definitely worth the short hike.

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Phuket has a mind of its own.  I was not able to enjoy the beaches since this was my last stop, but did experience a ping-pong show, which was pretty horrifying.  Patong Beach is super crowded.  I ended up staying my last night in a quiet hotel by the airport , Perennial Resort Phuket, a relaxing way to end the trip.

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Helpful Tips

Travel InsuranceWorld Nomads is affordable and offers good coverage at a good value.  I don’t usually purchase this, but felt it was a good idea since it was on the other side of the world.

Communication – Free WiFi can be found at most places

Packing – Pack extremely light!  Yes, people always say this, but really, pack light.  There is so much awesome stuff to buy, you are going to regret it if you don’t have room.  If you are going to be moving around a lot, I would recommend a backpack vs. a suitcase with wheels since you will be getting on/off boats etc.  I used the Osprey Porter 46 and was happy with it since it opens up like a suitcase instead of a top-loading only pack.  Don’t bother with a hair dryer since the humidity is so high it won’t help.

Another must have, a portable charger.  Someone recommended this Anker  charger from Amazon and it was a life saver on long routes and in bungalows that didn’t have in room plugs.

anker - Portable Chargers - PowerCore 13000 # 1

Transportation – Since I was on a tour, the transportation for me was included.  We did an overnight train from Bangkok to Surat Thani  (first picture), an overnight boat from Surat Thani to Kho Phagnan (second picture – to be honest, this felt like a slave ship), many longtail boats, Tuk-Tuks and cabs.  I would recommend working on your patience and just going with the flow. I felt just as safe as I would on public transportation in a major US city.

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Money – Many places do accept the dollar but you will probably need to exchange your USD for Thai Baht.  I would advise not to do this right at the airport since the exchange rate they offer isn’t normally as good.

Elephants –  If you are interested in spending time with the elephants, I would recommend the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai,  which offers an ethical, sustainable place for tourists to enjoy these creatures.

I hope you are reading this because you are thinking about taking a trip to Thailand.  It is really a magical place that I cannot recommend enough!

Sà-wàd-dee(kâ/kráb)!

ks

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