Monday, July 3, 2017

Your Two Week Vacation Itinerary for Thailand

Having lived in abroad in Thailand I get many requests for itineraries and advice. Wanting to help my friends (and friends of friends of friends) I have spent umpteen amount of time on the subject, and thus merely wish to write my recommendations here once that will benefit the broader internet.

Here is the first question I want to annihilate: "I'm planing on coming to for 8 days, what should I do?"
A: The minimum amount of time you want to spend is two weeks if you're traveling from America. Coming here for less is a total waste. The expense of the plane tickets, the 24 hour journey from door to door each way, the jet-lag, and then the time returning to the airports when moving around the country, you'll feel positively cheated if you spend less time here.

With that in mind, here is your two week recommended itinerary, with three weeks being preferable.

Day 1- Fly to Bangkok

It might say your flight is 19 hours, it's still 24 hours door to door when you include traveling to the airport, immigration, bags, and getting to your hotel.

Day 2, 3, 4- Bangkok

Getting around in a taxi during rush hour (or worse- rain storm + rush hour) can be murder. You'll want to use the BTS Skytrain when possible. That said, taxis are cheap and efficient, but if you get unlucky, the taxi will take you for a ride.

It really doesn't matter what order you do these in, but I have grouped things together that are Close to one another to minimize the amount of time you spend taxiing about.

1. Silom District--
a) Lumpini Park- see the famed Monitor Lizards casually meandering around the Park as you stroll around Bangkok's most famous green space.
b) Snake Show- Walk over to Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute for the snake show where you'll see ultra-skilled/ brave handlers avoiding strikes from King Cobras. There are also a variety of snakes in cages as well as an accompanying museum. You can also witness venom extraction while you are there. Check the times of the shows here.

recommended restaurants in area: Beirut (Lebanese), Eat Me (fancy Western fare)
Night life: Maggie Choos (famous/ popular bar), Patpong (as Borat would say, "Sexy time.")

2.  Downtown/ Suhkumvit
a) Terminal 21 Food Court- the cheapest food court in one of Thailand's fanciest malls. You could easily eat lunch here for $2 a person, and $5 will positively stuff you. It will give you an idea of how cheaply you can live in Thailand. On the 5th floor.
b) Lavana Spa - There are millions of places to get massages in Bangkok, and most are cheaper, but Lavana Spa is one of the nicest and most professional.
c) Soi Cowboy- probably Bangkok's most famous adult entertainment areas, take a walk along the street and check out the bars. It's an ... experience.

Recommended restaurants: Charcoal Grill (Indian, fancy, excellent,) Marriott Breakfast Buffet (Thong Lo Soi 57. Really high quality, $20 a person, well worth it if you are hungry)

3. Khaosan Road Area (full day)
a) Wat Pho Reclining Buddha- a number one attraction on many Bangkok lists, the Golden Buddha is nearby as well.
b) Bangkok Flower Market - put a smile on the face of your honey buying some freshly cut stems directly from the wholesalers while taking in the rainbow of colors. Best in the evening.
c) Khaosan Road- If you're a backpacker you might stay here. Most alive at night, as long as you're in the area you might as well see it in case someone asks.
d) Grand Palace-  Built in 1782, and home to the Thai King for the last 150 years, the architecture and detail here is really exquisite. It currently has a shrine to the late Thai King who passed in 2016.
e) Taling Chan Floating Market- retains a local Thai flavor despite being a tourist favorite. You'll gain a first-hand appreciation of how some Thais live as you traverse the canals.

Recommended restaurants: Ethos (vegetarian) with a great apple crumble desert. Cheap. Right by Khaosan.

Days 5, 6, 7- Krabi 

Fly in the morning from Don Muang Airport to Krabi, which in my opinion is one of the most beautiful places in the world with stunning tropical forest covered cliffs jutting up from an utterly tranquil ocean.

Day 5- Railey Beach area
Get a place to stay in Ao Nang (40 minute taxi ride from Krabi airport,) check in, go to the pier and buy a round trip ticket (10 minutes) for Railey Beach, one of the jewels of Thailand. Make sure to walk around to Phra Nang Beach which I consider even prettier and go for a swim. If you want, there is a climbing school nearby and you can with the assistance of instructors safely attempt to ascend some of the cliffs described earlier. At night purchase tours for the next two days for ...

Day 6- The Islands Tour
You'll get on a boat in the morning destined for several islands off the Thai coast, with the final stop being either James Bond Island or Koh Phi Phi. Both are spectacular and you'll be given the chance to snorkel in warm, crystal waters. It's a highly enjoyable trip and you'll return with photos that will be the envy of many.
You also could rent a private boat and go to Hong Island before the tourists flood the beaches. Some of these islands (Hong amongst them) are Stunning.

Day 7- The Emerald Pool
Choose between climbing to the top of a cliff where a cool Buddhist temple awaits, or take a ride on an elephant. Then head through the jungle on a short walk to the emerald pool which is quite spectacular. Cool off in her waters.

Days 8, 9, 10 - Phuket or Koh Samui 

Phuket is Thailand's largest and most famous island. You can get there by car from Krabi, it will be about the same amount of time as flying when all is said and done.
Frankly I'd prefer you to go to Koh Chang or Koh Kood, but they are so much harder to get to, and you're the one who only budgeted two weeks, so Phuket is the logical choice. There are lots of things to do on the island, and really all I can recommend is that you avoid Patong Beach, which is just a big brothel.

If you chose to spend the time on Koh Samui, you can still fly there from Krabi and spend a day on Koh Phangan which you can reach by boat from Samui.  

Days 10, 11, 13 - Chiang Mai 

Day 11 - Fly to Chiang Mai, check into your hotel, then spend a few hours at Wat Phra Singh Temple, a gorgeous Buddhist Monastery up the mountain which is well worth seeing. Then come back, grab some food and make sure to book an excursion for-

Day 12- Flight of The Gibbon **** (#1 recommendation for Thailand)
the jungle of Flight of the Gibbon, you can see one of the platforms
the northern Thai jungle
Easily the best zip-lining experience I have ever been on. Experience the heart of the jungle zipping from tree to tree. Exhilarating, beautiful, and you're likely to see wild gibbons. Simply the best thing you can do in Thailand. That said it's not cheap (in excess of $100 a person) but it honestly is well worth the money, and it helps preserve the forests as they are. It's a majority of the day.

Day 13- if you wish to spend an extra day here, then go to the Elephant Nature Park- worth the experience.
Avoid the Tiger Kingdom though. Waste of time and money.

Chiang Mai notes- when I first went in 2007 the night market was awesome, with a lot of cool local crafts and art. Today, it's almost all Chinese factory made trinkets and super-crowded. You can find cheap Thai handi-crafts outside the city if you seek them out.
If you wish to spend an extra day/ something else to do, Thai cooking classes are quite popular, or if you're adventurous then do the mountain biking experience. (both bookable with any local tour company)
Make sure to try khao soi soup while you're here, it is a staple of northern Thailand.

Day 14- Fly Home
Fly directly to BKK airport (Not Don Muang serviced by Air Asia) and allow a little time to connect to your flight as you'll have to go through immigration. It will cost you a few dollars more to fly into BKK but you'll more than save that in taxi fare and time avoiding Bangkok's infamous traffic.
Fly home and enjoy the jetlag.

Notes: if you are a nature lover and have extra time I highly recommend a trip to Erawan National Park and the more hidden Maekhamin Waterfall + National Park. This is nature in SE Asia at it's best, and you can swim in the pools around the falls. A lot of fun. They aren't the easiest to get to, but well worth it.
Enjoy your trip. Have a comment/suggestion enter it below!


  1. Flight of the Gibbons has had multiple deaths and injuries over their operational period...something to be wary of.

    1. hey Matt, I have only heard of one in Cambodia version I believe and that was found not to be the operators fault. Do you have any articles on the subject? Cheers.


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