2 Weeks in Thailand: The Ultimate Guide
I walk off the plane and am immediately hit with the humidity, it sinks deep into my pores and I wait as my hair starts to show signs of frizzing at the ends. I'm back in Asia and couldn't be happier despite how my body reacts in this weather. Arriving in Bangkok is the best way to go (it's cheaper) but there's a lot going on so you immediately get thrown into the craziness that is Asia. The hustle and bustle is taken to a new level in this city. Bangkok will offer you fun nightlife, lots of street food options, shopping beyond compare and plenty of rooftop views. This isn't usually my vibe however, so I didn't stay here long. Don't get me wrong, I love a good night out as much as the next girl but ultimately, if I had to choose I think I'd rather be outdoors or by a beach. Still, Bangkok offers you a part of the culture so it still is a must see in my opinion.
Starting in Bangkok, this is my guide to traveling in Thailand for your first time. In two weeks. Let's do this.
Bangkok: 2 days
Where to Stay
Bangkok is where I went a little boujee because, well it's Bangkok. So it's up to you on what kind of experience you decide on. I will start with the cheaper hostels and such that were recommended to me. Click on each name if you want to book anything.
- Once Again Hostel - Average price approx. $14/night. Superb reviews. Fairly close to everything in the heart of downtown.
- Bed Station Hostel - Average price approx. $14/night. High in cleanliness. Close to city center.
- Slumber Party Bangkok - If you want something real cheap this is the one for you, about $6-8/night. Great reviews. Farther from the city center.
- Shangri-La Hotel - Average price approx. $140/night. Very nice hotel! Highly recommend if you're going all out, and walking distance to most night markets, etc. High in customer service. Worth the money.
- Mode Sathorn Hotel -Average price approx. $70-100/night. We stayed at this place and the only issue I had was the customer service. Our flight arrived very early in the morning and they charged us another night for coming in so early which I thought was ridic. Other than that it is a lovely place, they have a very nice pool, a very cool rooftop bar, a massage and spa area and the bathtub had a view so overall still a good experience but customer service needs work.
- Park Plaza - Average price approx. $63-85/night. Great outdoor area, and has great deals for the location to be honest. A great option to have a boujee experience but on a budget! Great reviews.
What to See
1. Floating Market: this one is up to you, I personally didn't think I would like it because I was warned it would be extremely touristy and people would milk you for money the whole time. So I have no regrets on leaving this out of my schedule. But if you want to experience it I also understand that! It's a personal choice.
2. Wat Pho: The reclining Buddha is a sight to see, be respectful this is a temple so wear the appropriate clothing. Cover shoulders and knees.There is so much history to take in in Thailand, this is just the start.
3.Chatuchak Weekend Market: This is the place to shop. Forget anything else. Save your money and take it here. You'll find everything you need and more.
4. Khao San Road: Another one located in old town, here you'll find the heart of the hustle and bustle. There's lots of great food in this area and little shops to check out.
- If you get run over by a motorcycle, know you are not alone. It sucks. People are very friendly however and will most likely come to help you. Stay calm and if you feel you need to, head to the main hospital. Otherwise just clean wounds, bandage and rest up. DO NOT get thai massages until bruises heal. It will be painful. Instead, choose oil massages as they are gentler on the muscles.
- If your phone shatters in said motorcycle accident, or in any other unfortunate event. You'll want to probably fix this if you want to use your phone. The main mall (Terminal 21) in the city center does have an apple store that will repair within a few days. Even more in a rush? The Icon Siam is what you'll want, is has the largest Apple store in the country and they will fix screens in 2 hours. Of course, the price will be steep but if you're desperate you're desperate.
Day Trips to Consider
1. Ayutthaya: The top temple that is usually recommended as a must see. It is a very old ruin rich in history. A great choice to go with plus it is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
2. Kanchanaburi: This is a stunning sight to see with a giant golden buddha, truly incredible if you get the chance it is highly recommended.
3.Khao Yai National Park: from stunning waterfalls, hikes and luscious greenery you'll get a great day out of this getaway from the city life.
Planning the next part of your trip is going to be a doozy. Anyone who has been to Thailand and planned it out before will understand what I mean. There's so much to see in all directions so it can get a little stressful to figure out what direction you want to go. We decided to go to the islands first and relax before heading to Chiang Mai but it truly is up to you so I put this in no particular order.
*Also sidenote if you are #VEGAN Chiang Mai is going to be your jam, the islands? Not so much. Egg is literally in everything. So keep your dietary needs in mind as well.
Chiang Mai: 3 days
(More days if you can miss out on Phuket) Chiang Mai is going to be the Bali vibe, it is surrounded by mountains, a little cooler in climate so if you're sweating too much and need a break this is the place for ya. Looking for some healthy eats? Come up to Chiang Mai. They have unbelievable healthy options that are all recommended on trip advisor. So much good food. Maybe you want to volunteer to feed elephants? You'll find that here too.
Where to stay
My recommendation is to stay in Airbnb's because you can get full on villas with infinity pools for the same amount if not slightly more (approx. $25-30 USD per night at MOST). So seriously keep this in mind. I will still give you a few hostels and hotels as well that are highly recommended.
- Family Home: pretty basic place with simple amenities but runs approx. from $8 - 20 depending if you want a private double or bunk style room with other people. If you're on a budget consider that you are just going to sleep in this bed, the rest of the time you'll explore the sights and relax.
- Tangmo House: very high ratings! And is known for being close to everything. Pricing starts at $5 USD for a bed in a mixed room.
- About A Bed: I added this one in because it is even closer, right up in the middle of everything but looks basic and chic. And has received 10/10 reviews from most people. Prices start around $11/night.
(Starting from the least expensive)
- Duangtawan Hotel Chiang Mai -approx $34/night, large pool with view, gym included, steam room and more! Very well priced for the amenities they include. Many reviews state that the customer service was excellent. Surrounded by 7-11's and grocery markets nearby as well.
- North Hill City Resort - approx. $66-105/night. Free shuttle service, free breakfast, gym and pool included and childrens activity center is also available. What I like about this one is you can get a room with an outdoor patio view, and look out at all the greenery surrounding you. They actually have their own greenhouse and grow a lot of the fresh food right there so that's pretty cool!
- Le Meridien - approx. $105/night roughly $20-30 more with "tax and fees". Get a room with a view with this one. Pool included, and the bathrooms are fairly large. A spa is also available, along with a gym open 24-7 and fitness classes available for purchase. Full buffet spread is also available.
Ranges from approx $15-38 usually or higher if you're looking for a more expensive place. I highly recommend this just because it is easy to get around, you get a more local feel but the benefits of staying in a hotel if you make the right choice. I always chose places with a gym and infinity pool (I really love infinity pools).
We stayed in the Astra & I highly recommend staying there! Very nice hosts that helped us self check in very easily and overall just a beautiful place to stay with a great location within walking distance of most things.
What to See
1. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep: A beautiful temple with a bit of a long ride up to the top of a mountain. Make sure you plan ahead for this. Once up on the top you can see most of Chiang Mai on a clear day. There are little shops and food around the entrance to the temple. This is a famous temple with golden statues, and monks praying around the area. There is a small hike you can take to see the meditation center where people are practicing full buddhism. A difficult task to take on.
2. Visit Doi Inthanon National Park: home to the highest mountain in Thailand. The view is honestly to die for and worth the trip over. Here you can also find different species of birds and enjoy the nature outdoors.
3. Weekend Market: an experience everyone must go through. Never pay the full price for the items you buy here, always try going half of that price and see what you can get it down to. You can find all types of food, clothing, jewelry and more here. No need to pay full price in the states for this stuff.
Day Trips to Consider
1. Pai: This is a place I was dying to go to and never got the chance. It is recommended highly for all my yogis out there, known to be a hippie town. There are hikes, canyons, waterfalls, hot springs, caves and so much more. Honestly I would highly recommend coming here if you can!
2. Elephant Nature Park: I recommend finding a program like the Elephant Nature Park that is animal friendly. We are not meant to ride elephants or any animals meant to be wild, so I support camps that raise funds to help put a stop to animal abuse. This one lets you feed, bathe and play with the elephants.
3. Wat Rong Khun or "White Temple:" A ways away but definitely a stunning site to see, I would also say another option would be Wat Phra That Doi Kham where you get to see a massive white and gold Buddha. Honestly you could head to any temple and probably be happy with what you find. They are stunning.
4. Long Neck Hill Tribes: To get a chance to meet one of the most famous tribes in all of Asia, I would go here just to meet the people and hear there story. They have a lot to tell and I think it would be fascinating. There are caves and other options to check out here as well.
Phuket: 2 days
Phuket is beautiful, and there's so much to see in this part of Thailand that I would definitely say two days isn't enough so if you're worried about the schedule as is, I would say spend more time in Chiang Mai and come back again to Phuket. But Phuket has some gems that are on my must see list for you guys. Let's start with where to stay.
Where to Stay
Again, I would recommend staying in an AirBnb. It's just a better experience in my opinion.
- The Neighbors Hostel - Put this in here if you're looking for something cheap with good reviews, that's close to everything. This is not the four seasons, just so you're aware it is just your standard place with hospitality. Price varies for dorms approx. $6/night, for privates about $17/night.
- Baan Baan Hostel - Free breakfast, similar in price to the one above, and very close to the city center. They also provide an airport bus to take you to and from the airport. Another option with great reviews. (Approx. $6/night).
- Beehive Phuket Old Town - A great option for those who want a larger bed to yourself, they are fairly new but with great reviews on cleanliness and hospitality! Privates approx. $18/night, dorms approx $5/night. Pool included and basic amenities.
- Thavorn Beach Village Resort & Spa - Approx. $70-90/night. Large outdoor pool, spa, beautiful secluded spot with the beach right in front of you. You can get large rooms that literally walk out to the beach. Goals, am I right?
- Phuket Graceland Resort & Spa - Definitely the usual hotel experience, very large spacious rooms with large restaurants and bars all around. A very large Vegas-like pool to also get you out and about in the sun. Approx. $68-80/night (this really depends though, as it is a very popular option!)
- Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort - Man, this is goals. Stunning outdoor lounge areas, buffets right on the beach (for a price of course), easy beach access and full villas to yourself. Approx. $112/night. They will often also do family activities, movies in the pool, etc.
- Twin Palms Phuket - Approx. $215/night. You get a large maze- like pool with waterfalls coming down in areas, and a few steps away you can jump in the ocean. Do both all day if you choose. Infinity pools slightly more private are also an option. Full villas to yourself with views of the lush greenery in the distance. Worth it?
Where I stayed is two separate places one more local and another all the way on Coconut Island. This island is secluded and completely worth the trip. It's so quiet, peaceful and completely romantic so if you're looking to get away this is the place for you.
Here is the place we stayed on Coconut Island: Click here
And this is the local spot with a gorgeous view! Click here
What to See
1. Sunday Night Market: Explore the shopping market and some incredible street food. Remember to take some probiotic for your stomach if you explore some of the different foods.
2. Bangla Road (for nightlife): You'll get every kind of bar around here, lots of excitement and cheap alcohol prices. Enjoy the night.
2. Beaches - Kata, Nai Harn, & Patong: You can't go wrong with any of these options, I would just look to see which is closer to where you're staying. Patong I believe is the one most known by tourists so keep that in mind that it might be packed.
3. Old Town: Houses and shops of all different colors are going to be in this area. It's honestly a sight to see and there are lots of shopping opportunities here. At times there may even be festivals in the streets here so definitely check before your trip!
Day Trips to Consider
1. Phang Nga Bay or James Bond Island: I wanted to see this so so badly so I booked a day trip out here to see the floating rocks and man, they are unreal. Spend a beautiful day canoeing out near the rocks and under caves. It's probably one of my favorite memories in Thailand.
2. Khao Sok National Park - I wanted to head here but time wise there just wasn't enough. You get to hike, be surrounded by lush greenery and waterfalls. Head to the beach after to cool off and relax. You get a little bit of everything at this place.
3. Coral Island or Ko He - Another popular option to be able to see some crystal clear water and snorkel a bit. Highly recommended on Trip Advisor.
Thai Islands: 4-5 days
For the Thai Islands, I personally wanted to see Ko Phi Phi and Krabi but would see them all if I could here are more options that are recommended: Ko Samui, Ko Ngai, Koh Tao, Koh Kut, and many more. Like I said, Thailand is a doozy to plan out.
Ko Phi Phi Island
Where to Stay
Hostels are going to be around in the city center, only slightly more to get a little away from the noise that will happen at night here. Hotels are going to be on the other side of the island and it'll be a bit of a commute to get to where everything is happening so again, personal preference. Booking hostels can also be done through Airbnb since some are separate and have more privacy.
-The Pier - Pretty basic place with curtains on each dorm bed though for privacy which is nice. Wifi is available and it is smack dab in the center of everything. Average price around $10/night. One thing I want to warn you guys about if you do the hostel in the center of everything, know it is party central till about 2 am so bring earplugs or stay out that long, up to you on that one.
- Voyagers Hostel - the one above and this one where the two with the highest reviews, honestly everything else I would say is way below 6 out of 10 stars. This one has superb hospitality and large rooms with basic amenities. Approx. $12/night. Wifi included.
- Phi Phi Banyan Villa - #1 recommended by most that I talked to at the time, I just wanted to go cheaper on Airbnb, you know me. But actually this is very reasonably priced at approx. $46-80/night. Again, take in that it would be a farther walk though to get to the main part but they have lots of amenities. Large pool, gym, the works.
- Phi Phi Island Resort - 4 star option with a massive pool just steps away from the beach, a large restaurant with full buffet access as well. Approx. $100/night.
Where I stayed: Click here
What to See
Most of these are going to be a full day anyways so I'm leaving out the day trips for this one. Enjoy.
1. Hat Yao - try out snorkeling at this beautiful location, a great getaway from the main part of the island. Plus, it's known for being extremely clear most days.
2. Phi Phi Le National Park: known to be where the filmed the Beach an extremely picture-esq location with the usual light blue crystal clear water. Crazy that that becomes the norm huh?
3. Ao Lo Dam - One of the popular hiking options for you on this island (most islands won't have hiking options like this so take advantage!)
4. Kayak around the island - my little suggestion to you, and if you can, get your hands on a clear bottomed canoe or kayak and explore a bit.
Where to Stay
For Krabi, I actually booked a hostel since the Airbnb's were either severely lacking or just not as popular on this island. My suggestion is book through Hostelworld at this location. There are nice places for an extremely cheap price here.
- Reset Hostel - Approx. $10/night, close to the beach and plenty of options around you. Free breakfast and Wifi included.
- Tan Hostel x Cafe - Approx. $12/night. I love the pictures of this one, it is rustic and chic but fairly simple, and very highly recommended on ratings. Free Wifi and breaky.
- Nomad Hostel - A cheap option for ya, at about $8/night known for it's cleanliness and getting away from the party vibes. Very close to the city's center also. Wifi included.
- Centara Anda Dhevi Resort & Spa - Another stunning option to stay at for the reasonable price of about $38/night. You get full pool access, and it's about a 13 minute walk to the beach. Great location choice.
-Railay Beach Resort & Spa - Railay is the top recommended beach to be at in Krabi, so it'll be packed but for a good reason, it is stunning. You are a 7 minute walk away from the Railay caves and surrounded by luscious jungle. Approx. $68/night.
- Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort - A mouth full. But worth it. Approx $181/night. "Facing the sea at Klong Muang Beach, a tranquil area on Krabi Coast, its size and elegant colonial architecture makes it an outstanding place." Definitely looks like it is straight out of a catalog.
Read more at: http://www.krabi-hotels.com/hotels/recommendations-krabi-resorts.htm?cid=ch:OTH:001
Hope you enjoyed reading this post! Stay tuned for next weeks post on more travel tips and tricks!