Thailand. One of our favorite destinations, although we usually prefer places less obvious, less popular, less visited… But there’s something enduringly tempting and magnetising about Thailand, something addictive. The food, the views, the people… The climate that makes you want to come back after your first visit. It’s not the first time I’m writing about why you should go there. There are plenty of posts about Thailand on our blog because we go there systematically. In 2012 we crossed it, north to south… And still, you keep asking us what to see and how to plan your stay.
We’ll make it easier for you 🙂 Here is a short compendium of places to see – what we’ve seen, what mode of transport we’ve used, what we recommend 🙂
We always recommend a start in Bangkok. It’s just inappropriate to not come here if you’re going to Thailand – even if you care mostly about sunbathing, spend at least 3-4 days in Bangkok. It’s enough to love and hate this town… although most people definitely fall in love with it! 🙂 We told you what you absolutely have to do in Bangkok HERE!
Where should you live in Bangkok? We usually recommend Chinatown – the most colorful and climatic neighborhood in Thailand with the amazing Shanghai Mansion (with Asian breakfast) right next to the main street Yaowarat Road, or way more low-budget Pho Place Guesthouse – in a backyard by Yaowarat. We also happened to stay nearby the loooong Sukhumwit by Soi 8 – if you choose this place, we recommend Adelphi Suites.
You can read more about Bangkok in the following posts:
2) DAMNOEN SADUAK
What to do in the capitol’s neighborhood? For us, one of the best places was a floating market in Damnoen Saduak (circa 100 kilometers from Bangkok). It’s very tourist, huge crowds go there and some prices are extremely high, but on the other hand it’s full of picturesque boats, tons of fruits and even more picturesque female sellers. You won’t buy much, though, because the prices are high – you’d better drink a cold coconut and soak in all the sensations.
If Damnoen Saduak is included in your plans, it’d be nice if you found a hotel near the floating market. That’s what we did and in the morning, right after breakfast, we got on a boat and went to the market.
80 kilometers away from Bangkok. You could go there during your stay in Bangkok, but it’d be best if you could go there on your way north. We’re still fans of using a rented car to move through Thailand. Once you’re used to having a steering wheel on the right side of the car, it’s pretty nice to drive. A car always means more independency and a possibility to go everywhere you want.
Ayutthaya is Thailand’s old capitol. Back in the day, at the turn of the 16th century, it was one of the richest cities in Asia. You can see the remains of old palaces and temples there and countless Buddha’s statues. We wrote more about Ayutthayi HERE.
On your way to the north of Thailand, about 470 kilometers away from Bangkok, you will find Sukhothai – it’s one of our favorite places. It’s a beautiful region with the remains of an old kingdom listed on a World Heritage Site. You can sightsee while walking or biking. Considering a long distance from Bangkok and other crucial destinations for every tourist, there are no crowds there and it’s very peaceful. I wrote about Sukhothai HERE.
5) SI SATCHANALAI
Si Satchanalai Historical Park can be found near Sukhothai. I love the pictures of us taken there and I love looking at them over and over again. I often get asked why there’s nobody except us in these pictures. Because of the localization, Si Satchanalai is not a very popular place – but we find the least visited places the most beautiful ones.
6) CHIANG MAI AND THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Chiang Mai – a perfect base to sightsee the north of Thailand. If you don’t want to rent a car and you don’t have time for a long Bangkok-north trip, you can always take a plane to Chiang Mai. The town itself is pretty crowded and very popular. But this means a lot of various cafes, pubs and restaurants. You can see dozens of smaller and bigger temples there. In the evening you can visit the climatic Night Market, where you will buy souvenirs, various gadgets, clothes and, of course, you will eat loooots of Thai treats for a little money.
In the neighborhood, you should see a beautiful Doi Suthep temple, although it’s not easy to get there (lots of siwitchbacks!), and small villages near Chiang Mai and their colorful residents, Hmong representants.
7) CHIANG RAI AND THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Chiang Rai is located very close to the border with Burma and Laos. It’s about 200 kilometers away from Chinag Mai. It doesn’t seem like much, but this part of the road is not easy to cross. If you’re travelling by car, you should go there during the day, while you can still see clearly, because darkness and millions of turns won’t make getting to Chiang Rai any easier. The city itself is not that fascinating, but it’s a great place to go to if you want to drive around the neighborhood and… there are a lot of places with delicious food there. The fact that Chiang Rai is by the Kok River makes it a cool idea to go somewhere on a longboat. It’s a nice way to spend your morning. In the neighborhood you can see a village where “dragonesses” live – Padaung women with metal hoops around their necks – a Chinese Mae Salong village and surrounding tea plantations or temples – Monkey Temple and the fairy White Temple – a perfect place for little girls.
Another often visited place is the Golden Triangle, an area that overlaps the mountains of Maynmar, Laos and Burma.
8) HEAVENLY ISLANDS OF THE SOUTH
You keep asking: what place in Thailand is good for sunbathing?? Which island? Which one’s the prettiest, which one is the best if you’re with a kid?? I’ll tell you this: unfortunately, we don’t know every island and beach of Thailand. But we’d looooove to and maybe we’ll get there one day 🙂 We sunbathed only in two places – on Krabi and Phuket.
Krabi and the Railay beach are perfect for relaxing. There are a lot of hotels, restaurants, small shops and a nice beach there. It’s heavenly and carefree, although many people want to spend their time there. You will find one of the most beautiful resorts in Thailand and in Southeast Asia there. It’s called Rayavadee. Almost everyone will find a hotel and a restaurant they can afford on Krabi. So Krabi is a YES, YES, YES! 🙂
The second time we stayed on Phuket. We didn’t really see the island because we’d spent the last three weeks sightseeing. Our hotel was great – beautiful and perfect for families with children, but there was barely anything interesting in its neighborhood… there was no point in walking around or going out to eat dinner… A big street with a few lousy bars was the closest thing to us. We relied on our hotel and its offer. But if you want to stay at a hotel – an enclave with beautiful houses, pools, a pool and a playroom for kids and a very good Thai cuisine, we strongly recommend Vijitt Resort.
That’s it when it comes to our knowledge about Thai beaches. I would love to see every island and create a big guide for you where I would tell you which one is good for children, which is for a romantic getaway and which one has the best beach, but it’s still ahead of me 🙂 Oh, my friends say Koh Samui, Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe are worth recommending too 🙂
P.S. If you’re going to Thailand soon, I’m already jealous. We miss it! 🙂 Share your experiences with us! 🙂