Thailand is a gorgeous place with tons of hidden gems and beautiful city views as well as beaches. To travel here, you will definitely need to bring your sense of adventure and maintain flexibility. When traveling to any new place, especially one with a culture very different from yours, I think it's important to do a little research beforehand to familiarize yourself and gain a sense of what to expect.
We started the trip in Bangkok, a very...lively city...to say the least! Lots going on here! Luck have it, our trip was planned around the same time major burial ceremonies were happening for their late King. This means literally everything was shut down, even the 7-11 (which there are thousands of in Thailand - I never knew). So for the first day or two, we had to get creative with the itinerary. We stayed in Airbnb's so finding food was a challenge. We went to the W Bangkok and paid for breakfast there, luckily you didn't have to be a guest. This was the perfect time to travel a little outside of the city and visit the floating markets!
We visited the Damnoen Floating Markets through a booked Viator tour. Highly recommend! The floating markets, although slightly touristy, are still an amazing sight to be seen. I've never seen anything like it - it is quite unique. Buy some coconut ice cream while you're floating along - it's delicious! The market is about a 2 hour ride outside of the city so you'll need a half day for this tour and can plan for lunch when you're back.
When we got back to Bangkok we needed something to do for the next day. As you'll learn, I love to cook, so it's important to me to find local cooking classes when I'm traveling. We took the Silom Thai Cooking Experience (Evening Class) and it was absolutely amazing! The food was authentic, delicious and cooking (in a 100 degree kitchen) was quite an experience. We all had our own cooking areas for a small class of about 12-15 people. Our class was filled with people from all over the world: France, Vietnam, you name it. The cutest students were a french family of sisters and their Mom. They traveled to Thailand together for holiday and decided to take this class together. It was beautiful to witness and adorable when the sisters had to translate all of the jokes for Mom.
Silom Thai Cooking School
Here's my suggestion for temple runs (Nickelodeon anyone?) in the most efficient order based on location and travel times. To get around, you can take Tuk Tuk's but you've got to be on your toes so you don't get scammed. If you're uncomfortable with saying no, a lot, and being very firm about it, then you can take an Uber or taxi. If you take a taxi, make sure you agree on the price BEFORE you get into the vehicle. Please, for the love of God, be respectful at the Temples. Yes, there are lots of tourists but there are also people worshipping here. These are historic religious sites and are to be treated as such. You are encouraged to wear short sleeves and pants with knees covered. Here's a website that offers some tips on temple etiquette. Treat the temples the same way you would your grandmother's church - don't embarrass Grannie.
Closes 3pm. Cost ฿ 400
**GOT SCAMMED HERE, BE CAREFUL.**
Although the Thai people are extremely hospitable and super accommodating to tourists, scams are everywhere in Thailand and even as a savvy, researched traveller, it still happened to me. Don't let anyone tell you the palaces are closed, go to the front gate and see for yourself. There are fake guards, dressed in uniforms, who will give you incorrect information costing you time and money. Luckily we were safe and didn't lose too much but we did lose the opportunity to go inside the palace. By the time we got back it was closed and it was our last day. Looked beautiful from the outside *eye roll*.
Wat Pho | +9 min. Walk from Grand Palace
Cost ฿ 100
From Sapphan Taksin boat pier take river boat to Pier 8.
Take small shuttle boat from one side of the river to the other. ฿ 3
**DO NOT PAY MORE THAN 12 BAHT!
DO NOT TAKE THE RIVER TOUR OR “THAI BOAT TOUR”...ISSA SCAM**
Wat Arun | +14 min. ferry/walk from Wat Pho
Cost ฿ 50
Pak Khlong Talat Flower Market (bc duh) | +9 min taxi from Wat Arun
Flying to Phuket from Bangkok could not have been any easier. We took Uber to the airport in Bangkok and had our resort pick us up from the airport in Phuket.
Indochine Resort, Sky Suite
Gorgeous views and great location to everything. They had an awesome shuttle service that took us to Patong and back. Oh, Patong, you either love it or hate it. Maybe less intense with a large group but it was like college spring break meets Asia meets sex market. Worth the visit to see for yourself. Lots of sexiness going on down there but also can be fun too if that's not what you're looking for. We were happy to find some good eats, get regular massages (look for the "no sex" signs on the door to be sure lol ) and some super cheap drinks. If you love people watching like I do, this is the perfect place for you. We went back to the resort before it got too late as we just wanted to relax and weren't up for a party scene of any kind.
Nice free-roaming, family owned elephants on the beach! Secluded and great experience, one of the highlights of the trip. There isn’t really info you just kinda show up and ask where the elephants are.
For many, playing with elephants is a dream come true and an absolute Thailand bucket list. Again, I encourage you to do your research and make an informed decision on how you choose to participate. There are lots of safe and ethical elephant sanctuaries but there are also "Elephant Trekking" tours where they are poked and prodded all day to take tourists around on their backs. This is not something that I support so it was important to me to find a safe alternative. We found a random Trip Advisor post about a family that has elephants free roaming on the beach so we decided to explore. We found these cuties and played with them in the water for a bit (for a small fee of course) and did not ride them. The family seemed nice and did not touch the animals once. This was an amazing once in a lifetime experience! Being this close to such a massive creature was intimidating but their demeanor is like that of a puppy! So sweet and loving.
Amazing! -or- Yacht Day Party
We booked our tour through the front desk at the resort but we were going to do the ones below if that wasn’t an option. A friend did the sunrise tour and highly recommends. If you like to swim, make sure you book a tour that includes snorkeling. The water is unbelievable and just gorgeous for swimming. It is HOT, take lots of water on your tour and sunscreen - my fellow brown friends I'm looking at you, put the sunscreen on!
Others we considered/referred to us:
Must see islands/beaches
Phi Phi Islands (Ko Phi Phi, etc.)
James Bond Island
Every day. Places all over. Just make sure it’s not a “happy ending” spa, unless that’s what you’re looking for then do you, boo.
FYI masseurs are literally blind which is big in Thailand and how they help socialize and support the visually impaired. We were unaware and very confused when they were assisted into the room. It was a wonderful experience and we felt good contributing to a good cause.
Damnoen Floating Market Tour
Link to book:
Note: This was about a 2 hour ride outside of Bangkok but well worth it! It took about a ½ day and we were back by lunch time.
Pratunaum Night Market
Pratunam Market is one of Bangkok's major markets, and is Thailand's largest clothing market.
Address: 869/15 Ratchaprarop Rd, Khwaeng Thanon Phaya Thai, Khet Ratchathewi, Krung The Maha Nakhon 10400, Thailand
Rot Fai Train Night Market
Bustling outdoor night market specializing in antiques & vintage memorabilia, plus bars & eateries.
Address: Thailand, Srinagarindra Rd - Soi Srinagarindra 51, Nong Bon, Prawet, Bangkok 10250, Thailand
Pat Khlong Talat Flower Market
Breakdown of markets - https://nerdnomads.com/6-markets-in-bangkok-you-should-not-miss
The others on here are mostly food markets - I don’t recommend buying skinless produce.
Sky Bar (Hangover II)
Breeze, Lebua (same location, different floor - $$$ but amazing view and ambience for a nice dinner, worth it just for that. Food was good.)
Above Eleven Bar
Speakeasy Rooftop Bar
Broccoli Revolution (Vegan/Vegetarian) - Regular restaurant, casual.
We used Airbnb and loved it!
Disclaimer: There were always giant signs in the lobbies of the condos threatening travelers renting but we didn’t have any issues and stayed at two different places. We looked up the law and the issue arises with the owners, who are essentially renting multiple units, and operate as mini hotels within the condos. We met another Airbnb couple and their experience was fine as well. As just two people it was fine. For a larger group or if you think your group may be loud/need more service/amenities, I would stay in a hotel. There were some nights we wished we were at a hotel to order things like bottles of water and food when we were too tired to go out late or things were closed. Remember you CAN NOT drink the water or even brush your teeth with the tap or else you run the risk of getting sick. This has happened to me in South Asia before (slipped up and got shower water in my mouth) and it wasn’t pretty.
(Didn’t stay here but went for breakfast one day because the city was shut down for the King’s funeral and it was so so good. Great service and amazing Asian buffet breakfast. Facilities looked nice. Even if you don’t stay I would go for breakfast one day.)
$83/night, rooftop pool, considered best value in the area
$58/night, rooftop bar/pool (looks great at night)
$112/night, indoor/outdoor pool
$180/night, 35th floor infinity pool
$118/night, coolest rooftop bar in the area, also a fire rooftop pool
VACCINES: Typhoid, Malaria, Hepatitis A, Rabies (If you encounter monkeys, etc. - if you do, don't, know what I mean? )
Your insurance should cover some if not all. If not, check your local govn’t health department, they often have them at significantly lower price.
Print backup copy of travel docs
Email copy of passport to emergency contacts
Print extra copy of passports
Register trip on us travel gov https://step.state.gov/step/
Find address for closest Thailand embassy - jk I did it for you:
95 Wireless Road
Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Telephone: + (66) (2) 205-4049, 02-205-4049 (within Thailand)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(66) (2) 205-4000, 02-205-4000 (within Thailand)
Fax: +(66) (2) 205-4103, 02-205-4103 (within Thailand)|
Find address for your closest Thailand hospital! Better safe than sorry amirite?
Thailand has been on my bucket list for years and I'm so happy I finally was able to experience it's beauty and culture. It was the trip of a lifetime and one I'll never forget. Have you been to Thailand or are you planning a trip? Tell me in the comments below!