The complete guide to an amazing trip to Thailand!

Despite the beautiful photos of Thailand, it was not supposed to be a country that I dream of visiting. I had the impression that it is a destination for guys or for honeymooners. Well I was wrong! Thanks to a dear friend who convinced me that winter vacation is not meant to be in the cold places only! It can be really nice to do some tanning and discover the other side of Earth. So we went in December for a two-week getaway just before the Christmas Vacation. It was just in the right time before the high season but in the same time, the weather was just starting to be very good!

On the other side, some pictures on the internet are retouched so you think that you might see less beauty in reality. But this is wrong too! Thailand has many regions that are the most beautiful my eyes saw in this life!

So let me tell you why you should put Thailand on your travel list!

General information

  • Thailand is located in the far east of Asia next to Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam & Malaysia. At first, we considered visiting another country along with it since the neighbor countries are really interesting as well. But it turned out to be very expensive. We didn’t know that two weeks can be filled easily in Thailand as it is much richer than we thought. Thailand map.png
  • We visited it for almost 13 days. Some people would go for one week. It really depends of how much you want to do in one vacation.
  • It is recommended between November and March when the weather is really good.
  • It has a tropical weather. So it can rain sometimes even in the summer.
  • Its time zone is UTC+07:00. So it is a nice getaway for those living on the other side of earth.
  • It  is cheap. You can have very big meals for 10$. An expensive restaurant can reach 20-25$ by person.
  • The local currency is baht. We exchanged few money at first in Phuket Airport and then we were exchanging few amounts every now and then in the regions where we were staying.
  • For shopping, they have malls like all countries. They have souks too where you should bargain to at least half of the price and sometimes it is not worth it as it is not a high quality. But if you are patient enough, you can make nice deals.
  • The main expensive thing is the flight which can have reasonable prices if you get it ahead of time. We chose Qataria which was impressive. The ticket was not super expensive and the plane was very big and comfortable.
  • To travel between the regions, we tried Bangkok airways and Air Asia. Try to do loyalty cards in order to benefit from extra kilos. We didn’t have to book flights before the vacation. But better to be on the safe side in the high season.
  • We were crazy enough to decide not to book all nights just to decide on the spot to which region to go in case we did not like it. This can have some risks in High season but definitely recommended. You like it, you stay longer. You meet people who recommends a new place and you feel like doing it, you just book and go.
  • For boat trips, you have two options: speedboats and big slow boats. We preferred the speed boat as it is open from the front and we can tan and it is fast whereas in the big boat you cannot tan unless you want to sit outside in the front and which is not very comfortable. Try to get first at the speedboat to be able to sit in the front. 😉 Don’t be fooled by the prices mentioned on the brochures. You can reach at least half of the price in Phuket and Bangkok but not easily in Krabi & Koh Samui. When you arrive to a region, start by booking the tours at the beginning.

Visited Regions

Many people I know went only to the famous Phuket (Pronounced Puket :)). But there are many other regions beautiful in Thailand. We chose the following and I specified how many days we stayed in each:

  • Phuket (4 days)
  • Koh Samui (4.5 days)
  • Krabi (1.5 days)
  • Bangkok (3 days)

thailand-tourist-map.jpg

Phuket (in 4 days)

Phuket is the most touristic region in Thailand. It is famous for the beautiful islands around.

What to do in Phuket

  • Visit Koh Phi Phi Island & its neighborhood (Maya Bay – Ko Phi Phi Leh – Ko Phi Phi Don – Monkey Beach – Ko Phi Phi Island) (Highly recommended16403054_10154379200968214_4974061192219411960_o

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    • You will Visit Maya Bay where the MovieThe Beach” Starred by Leonardo Di Caprio was filmed.thebeach.jpg
    • They pick you up between 7:30 & 8:30 am from the hotel. Don’t get fooled by the trip saying that the pick up is at 9 am. we took it and they came at 8 am.
  • Visit James Bond Island and its neighborhood (Panak Island, Koh Hong Leh, James Bond Island)(Highly Recommended) IMG_4133IMG_3396

    Something, we really enjoyed doing is canoeing! You don’t have to ride, there is very friendly guides to help you.

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  • We went with Leader Marine
  • Visit Similan Islands (We did not have time to see it)
    • It is known to be in the top 10 beaches for scuba diving
    • It is far away. The bus will come and pick you up starting 6 am and you won’t be back before 7 pm.
    • Many people recommended it but it was too late for us.
    • You can take it from Krabi but it is much more expensive.
    • The cost was 1800 baht for a couple we know in phuket. In Krabi, the price was 3500 baht per person.
  • Tiger Kingdom (Entrance: 800 baht/person to see big tigers + 500 baht for photographer by cage)

I was happy to see tigers in real but I admit that this is against nature rights. It is sad to see such powerful animals in cages.

They have small, medium and big tigers and the price is different to see each category. I took a photo with the big one.

IMG_3486

  • Patong Beach: It is not amazing but it is clean enough and good if you want to have a rest in the first day of vacation.
  • Freedom Beach (we did not have time to try it)
  • Elephant Trekking (we did not do it here)
  • Thai Massage (Check the section for massages)
  • Eat Fresh Mango & Coconut
  • Eat Coconut ice cream
  • Tattoo
  • Phuket old town (weekend market starts at 4pm – we did not have time to do it)
  • Big Buddha (wear long pants with tshirts or get a big scarf – you can still borrow from there)
  • Ping Pong Show

Where to Party

Patong is well known for partying. But we did not enjoy it much. It is more oriented to a girls’ show.

  • Bangla Street
  • SeductionIMG_3211.JPG
  • Moulin Rouge, Pink Paradise IMG_3210.JPG
  • Swedish Pub, Viking Club, Tiger (we did not have time to try them)

Where to Stay

  • We chose Patong as it is well known for Partying. We knew that during the day, we will be touring on other islands like Koh Phi Phi, James Bond Island.
  • I did not like Patong that much. Patong beach is not beautiful as the islands. But it was a good stay as we were able to reach everything. It is very crowdy.
  • If you want a more relaxing region, you can consider another region.
  • Since I did not have the chance to try other regions and give you recommendations, I found a very interesting article that compares the regions in Phuket.
  • We tried the Grand Mercure Phuket Patong, a 5 star hotel. It was a very nice stay. we had access to the pool and the rooms are very clean. The breakfast was not perfect but good enough with some tropical fruits, cheese, cold cuts, eggs.

Restaurants & Pubs we tried

  • Hard Rock Cafe – Phuket (Drinks)

We went there on a Wednesday evening. The bands were very talented but too bad that the audience was barely dancing. The drinks are a bit expensive but good.

  • Euro Thai Restaurant (Thai)

The restaurant is located in an internal street which has a dead end. The service was very friendly. We ordered Silky Prawns, Tiger Prawns & Lobster with three spices and egg fried rice. it was delicious! the three spices sauce is tasty, not too spicy! it was not expensive at all. we paid around 17$ per person. The only comment is that the lobster was a bit small.

  • Bubbles in Grand Mercure for Breakfast
  • Starbucks

There is always Starbucks to be on the safe side. 🙂

  • Roma Restaurant (Italian)

We ordered a pizza having eggplants and a seafood pasta. The pasta was really good. but we asked in the pizza to add some ingredients and they forgot to add them. The pizza taste was good. It opens till midnight and it is very affordable. We were annoyed by a tuktuk near the restaurant putting lousy music.pastaseafood.jpg

  • Halfway inn (Thai)

One of the things that I keep in mind from this place is the friendliness of people. They are very welcoming. It is owned by non locals. The restaurant offers Thai food. The taste is really good! You can play billiard if you want. Plus You can offer a drink to the stuff and ring the bell. 😀 You can enjoy as well a Chang beer.

Since the owner Dave is really friendly, he replied to my review on Trip Advisor stating the following:

“Every bar in Thailand has a bell that customers can ring if they want to show their appreciation for having a good time by buying a drink (usually a shot) for everyone else in the bar. But beware, look for a sign that clearly states ‘Ring the bell 1,000 baht’ otherwise you could end up being faced with a hefty bill if there are a lot of people in the bar drinking spirits at 150 baht (or more) per drink!

As you also noticed, there is a smaller bell which you can ring if you want to buy all the Thai Staff (not the Owner) a drink in appreciation of their hard work. These are known as ‘Lady drinks’, typically cost around 150 baht a drink, and each waitress gets around half as her commission. You can also buy an individual waitress a Lady Drink if you thought her service was good, our ladies can also ask for soft drinks as we don’t want them turning into alcoholics!”

  • Burger King/McDonald
  • The Current of the Sea Restaurant 

We arrived late on a Saturday rainy evening. It was empty. The stuff does not speak English but they are friendly. We ordered prime steak. It is good but not exceptional although it is prime. It is considered expensive.

the-current-of-the-sea

Where To shop

  • Jungceylon Mall
  • Streets away from the main street of Patong
  • Patong Beach

Massages

  • Vayo Massage & Beauty Salon

The place looks like many massage places in Thailand. A very average shop where the ground floor has people having manicure, pedicure, foot or head massage. I was not impressed when I got there but the therapists that did for us the Thai massage were really good. It is tough during the massage but it feels very good when done. It costs 300 baht per person which is really nothing. The stuff is friendly and they are open till midnight. It was ranked number 1 on TripAdvisor while we were there.

  • Grand Mercure

Grand Mercure’s spa is very neat and trim. It is not at all like any massage place in Thailand as Grand Mercure is a 5 star hotel. We tried the oil massage and it was really amazing and relaxing!

Transportation

  • Airport (Mini Bus, Taxi)

Once you arrive to the airport, you will find it easily and the price is almost fix. Mini Bus is for sure cheaper than Taxi but less comfortable.

  • Tuktuk

You cannot visit Thailand without taking a tuktuk. The only thing you might escape from them if you don’t have the patience to bargain for the price. DSC_0273

Koh Samui (in 4 days)

We took Bangkok airways for one hour and we moved from Phuket to Koh Samui. We hesitated a lot before going there. We knew that it was very beautiful but while seeing the weather on the internet, it was supposed to rain all the days. But apparently, the weather is not accurate yet on such islands. So we were glad that we did not skip it. Koh Samui is such a cute beautiful island. We did our research and were convinced that Chaweng is the right region where we should stay in the island. Basically, it has nice beaches as well as beautiful mood partying and we did party here! In Phuket, we did not enjoy partying as we did here. So I definitely recommend putting Koh Samui on your list in Thailand.

What to Do

  • Speedboat to Koh Tao and its neighborhood (Koh Nangyan) (Must Do)

They pick you up at 7 or 8 am from Chaweng and it is a long way to take the boat and start the adventure. We started by Ao Muang (Mango Bay) and we did some snorkeling. I enjoyed every second as I saw lots of fishes of many colors. I wish I had a go pro to picture the moment!ao_muong_mango_bay_koh_tao_008.jpg

Then we headed to Koh Tao to have lunch. Then went Koh Nang Yuan, one of the heavens on earth!

This is the most beautiful scene I have ever seen. 😉 It is actually made up of three little islands connected by a massive sandbar. It’s a place where you shoot your post cards and it is always beautiful!

This is a private island. You pay 100 baht to enter. There is a resort on it and people come for diving. But you can visit for the day to swim, do some snorkeling and of course go to the view point where we took this amazing photo!

IMG_4090

  • I read that you are able to do the zip line. But unfortunately, we did not have the time to do it.
  • Anthong Maritime National Park
    • Another trip to amazing places. we went to see the blue lagoon. We got to do some Kayaking here but this is the only day where it really rained and we had to go early. The come back in the speed boat was scary. But we returned safe home.

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  • Walk on Chaweng Beach
  • Fresh Coconut & Mango
  • Koh Phangan (known for full moon partying, very crowdy on new year, we did not have time to do it)IMG_6272
  • Bo Phut Elephant Trekking

Yes I know it is against animal rights! But I couldn’t help myself seeing them…

  • IMG_3742
  • Waterfalls (Na Muang 1 Waterfall)IMG_7526
  • We spent the morning at Chaweng and then went for the afternoon to see the Elephants & the waterfalls.
  • Some plans suggested but we chose not to do them:
    • Floating Market
    • Koh Samui Tour
    • Big Buddha
    • Tigger & Crocodiles
    • Momified Monk
    • Chaweng Night Bazaar

Where to Stay

  • We chose Chaweng as it is very recommended and it was very comfortable for us.
    • Akyra Chura Samui: This is the cutest hotel we got in the trip. There are many bungalows style rooms and it is next to Chaweng. The staff is really nice and the breakfast is very good. The pool is very nice too for some relaxing moments.

Where To Party

  • Green Mango

This is one of the most famous places to party in Koh Samui. It is a big place where there are 2 djs. The music is nice but you hear it several times in the same night. You can switch between both djs to change. There are lots of foreigners. You can have absolut vodka or beers mainly. Don’t go there before 12:30 am. IMG_3605

  • Ark Bar Beach Party

We enjoyed it a lot! Dancing bare feet on soft white sand with beautiful music next to the beach is just amazing! It is definitely recommended. We watched as well a fire show that was amazing!

  • Chacha Moon

It was not our favorite music place. But it is nice for a change. We discovered it while walking along Chaweng Beach to check all the bars with nice music.

  • Bondi Aussi Bar and Grill

It is a nice Australian pub with nice music and band.

Where To Eat

  • Lazy wave (Akyra Chura Hotel) (Thai)
  • Fresh Coconut at Elephant Beach ClubIMG_3682.JPG
  • Moonlight Pizza
  • Red Snapper Bar & Grill

The food is delicious. if you are interested in a twisted way of sea food, it is the right place to be. They have a cute band that plays all kind of international songs. The singer is nice and tries to say hi to everyone. Too bad the place was not crowded.

We tried many starters and 1 main dish which is the red snapper specialty. It was really good. I did not like the rolls containing carrots, salmon and mango. they were tasteless. the tiger prawns were tasty. The crab salad was good.

  • Giulietta & Romeo

Best Italian Restaurant!! we tried the fresh pastas and we were amazed how they are perfectly prepared! we tried the pomodoro pasta with basil and mozza and the pesto pasta! The Tiramissu is really tasty! the decoration is just perfect!
The most beautiful experience is when the chef prepared the pomodoro pasta in front of us!

They are very friendly people. The owner took the time to explain to us everything and helped us choosing the platters while explaining the history of the restaurant!

Do not forget to pass by the toilets! they are just beautiful! 🙂

  • Stacked Samui

    It is located in the South of Chaweng. We ate the Aristocrat Burger and Beef Cheek platter. The burger is yummy and the beef cheek is exceptional much more yummy than a boeuf bourguignon. We ordered a mokhito and margarita. The mokhito is a must! We paid around 1600 baht for two.

  • The coffee club
  • The Larder

The food is really tasty but the ambiance is very calm. There were not many people in the restaurants. We tried the goat cheese salad with beetroot. It was very delicious. We tried the taco belle which are tacos with fresh tuna. It is the most fresh tuna i ever tasted. We tried as well the lamb and the white fish. They were delicious as well. Try the passionista as a drink. It contains passion fruit and it tastes really good.

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Where To Shop

  • Chaweng & South Chaweng
  • Ms Carino

Massages

“My friend holiday Thai massage”: We did a hot stone massage there but it was not the best experience.

Transportation

  • Airport (Mini Bus)
    • Cutest and Most Beautiful Airport Ever
  • Tuktuk tuktuk koh samui

Krabi (1.5 days)

I mentioned before that we did not plan all the trip ahead of time so we decided to come to Krabi from a recommendation of people we met in Koh Tao. It was really worth it and if I have the chance to visit Thailand again, I would spend more time here.

What to do

This tour is to be planned in the afternoon. The guys owning this beautiful boat are one from Australia and another from Argentina. They are super friendly. They pick you up from Railey Beach and the adventure begins. There are 3 stops: Railey Beach, Poda Island, Tup Island, Chicken Island. In each stop, you can swim or do some snorkeling and they encourage you to jump from the top of the boat or go to climb a rock and jump. You can eat or have a drink on the boat. We met very nice people and enjoyed the sunset. (Some photos are taken from their Facebook page)

You think that’s it! Well you are wrong! The best part is to swim in the dark night while glowing. They dropped us in a dark corner and it was MAGIC! Whenever you move, there are Plankton around you that won’t harm you and you become light! AMAZING! This is a picture that I took from another site. Too bad we didn’t have to stay longer. we had to run and catch our plane to Bangkok to one last adventure. Check the link to understand why they glow!

plankton

  • Railey Beach
  • Ao Nang Beach
  • Ao Nang Festival (If you are lucky enough)

It is a street food festival. The music is nice and the ambiance is good. We got a Chang beer and some food and enjoyed a very entertaining band!

  • Fresh Coconut

Where to Stay

  • Ao Nang beach
    • Krabi Resort

This is not the best hotel we have been to in Thailand but it was ok for one night. We got a frog in the bathroom… 🙂 Not a cute green one but a brown ugly one. The reception is dark. The location is amazing since it is at Ao Nang Beach and you are one boat taxi away from Railey Beach and next to a shopping street where the festival took place.

Transportation

  • Airport (Taxi & Mini Bus)
  • Tuktuk

Where to party

  • Chang Bar

Bangkok (in 3 days)

We finally reached Bangkok taking Air Asia coming from Krabi. You cannot compare the other islands with the capital. It is good to visit it but don’t stay long! 2-3 days are enough to see the main temples, the floating market and the ancient city. I felt the stress of the city and we looked as tourists so tuktuk, taxis and tours tried to take advantage and we had to bargain a lot! (I would stay only 2 days)

It is known as the City of Angels.

What to Do

  • Wat Pho:

This is a well know temple. There is the sleeping Buddha that is magnificent. When you arrive there, go to the massage school and book your Thai massage because there is a big crowd there. The massage is really worth it. Then go and visit the temple. Some friends had more time and took a workshop of how to do a thai massage.Wat-Pho-Temple9.jpg

  • Grand Palace – Temple of the Emerald Buddha
  • Wat Arun
  • Damnoen Floating Market

We took a private taxi to go there. We paid him around 800 baht. But when we arrived there, they wanted us to pay 3000 baht for the entrance. It is much less. But we were able to bargain and pay only 1000 baht. We had our luggage with us and were afraid to lose it. So we didn’t bargain more. It is nice to do it. We went in a small boat and you can bargain and buy food or clothes or anything while in the river. But you have to be patient again. We only bought Mango with rice which is super yummy!

  • Ancient Siam

This is a must in Bangkok. It is the old city. When you arrive there, you can take an audio guide and either a bike or golf car. It is very beautiful. I just love the reflection of the beautiful old houses in the water.

  • Rooftops (Check next sections)
  • Patpong Night Market (Souk for souvenirs and lots of patience and bargaining; Personally, I didn’t like it)
  • Recommended things that we didn’t do:
    • Chatou Chakk Market
    • Ping Pong Show
    • Swan Palace
    • Cobra and Elephant Show

Where to have drinks

  • Rooftops
    • Moon Bar/Vertigo at Banyan Tree Hotel

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    • Sky Bar/Sirocco at State Tower Hotel
      • Dress Code must be repected
      • it is very obvious that many people come to visit this place mainly because of the view. make sure that you respect the dress code else you will be kicked out. no torn pants! it is quite expensive but the stuff is friendly and helps you taking photos!

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Where to Stay

  • Sukhumvit (Our Option)
    • Majestic Grande The hotel is good. It is not in the center of the touristic landmarks but everything is reachable through taxis, metros and tuktuk. Don’t be fooled by the pool. It is very small and there is no sun from its side.
  • Siam Center
  • Patpong

Where to shop

  • Siam Center
  • Siam Paragon
    • Very nice mall. You can find all the high brands and it is a good getaway from bangkok and its taxis and stress. You can find as well affordable shops like zara and h&m, etc… Plus there is a big food court and many restaurants.
  • International shops: Uniqlo, Forever 21, Sephora (if you are interested)

Transportation

  • 2 Airports:
    •  Don Mueang International Airport (Internal Flights)
    •  Suvarnabhumi Airport (International Flights)
    • Take a taxi meter
  • Taxi Meter (Ensure that the taxi driver uses the meter)
  • MetroIMG_4209
  • Never take a tuktuk!!! It can look cool but you need to be very cool and bargain well.

What to eat

Other interesting regions in Thailand

I was very curious to check the other regions that we did not get the chance to visit. So here’s the list recommended by other tourists we met during the trip and few friends who visited Thailand differently:

What to eat in general in Thailand

  • Spicy Food (Tom Yam)
  • Pad Thaipadthai1.jpg
  • Curry Sauces (Yellow is the mildest)
  • Mango with Sticky Ricesticky-rice-with-mango
  • Fresh Fruits Smoothies (Mango, Ananas)bangkok-fresh-mango.jpg
  • Fresh Coconut/Mango/AnanasIMG_4120.JPG
  • Dried Fruit
  • They eat insects, chok, chim chum (didn’t try it)
  • A friend told me that you should always keep a bit of food in your plate as a sign that you are full 🙂
  • Chang beerchang
  • Tiger beertiger

What to buy in general

  • Elephant Pants for women and menelephant
  • Incense
  • Essential Oil
  • Pashminas/Traditional Costume
  • Wood Handcrafts (example: Wise Buddhas Statues)
  • Hat
  • Ocean Pack (It is waterproof and can be practical for boat trips)  [highly recommended]
  • Cellphone waterproof pocket  [highly recommended]
  • Aloe Vera After Sun [highly recommended]
  • Souvenirs (I found them the cheapest in Phuket)

Sim Cards

I always like to stay connected especially to be able to find recommendations about places & restaurants and be able to check google maps although there are offline versions available nowawadays

  • We got TrueMove Sim Card for free from the airport. It was unlimited 3G/4G at 350baht for 15 days.  We recharged it from 7 eleven or Family Mart. Then you have to call a number to recharge else the unlimited data won’t apply and you will pay as you go and it won’t last 15 days. People at 7 eleven and Family Mart barely know how to speak English. They won’t always help you. This is the website in order to check the latest deals: http://www3.truecorp.co.th/home?ln=en

What to pack with you

  • For islands
    • Anti-Mosquito (Must)
    • Gravol
    • Sunscreen
    • Sunglasses
    • Towels
    • Comfy flip flops
    • Decent clothes for temples if you plan to do it
  • For Bangkok
    • Socks and Jacket (it is cold usually in the evening)
    • Long pants or skirts – decent clothes for temples (be careful do not wear torn clothes, they are not accepted in temples)
  • Umbrella (it can rain anytime. The weather is tropical)

 

If you are still reading, thank you for your time! I hope that you will enjoy Thailand! It is indeed a wonderful country in all aspects! Cheers to Happy and Healthy days!IMG_3311IMG_4124

10 comments

  1. Well, this is a wonderful review! My brother is there now, this is the third time he visits Thailand. I never understood why he loved the country that much… but after seeing those beautiful pics and this fully detailed review, i bet i can go there and live anywhere and never come back.
    Reading your post made me feel like: okay! i can go to thailand now and walk there as if i know every corner! Loved it 😍 and i loved the pics!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Nah! 😏 He’s too lazy to give tips or even talk about it! 😂
        He’s chilling in Cambodia right now. I hope he read well your post, so he can choose many gifts and souvenirs for me 🙈

        Like

  2. I read every single word in this trip and I just can’t believe the amount of details you remembered to include! I felt I toured Thailand with you while reading your adventures there. Thank you for the helpful guideline and I am looking forward to read about your next trip to New York City 🙂
    Cheers to you 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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