Right now I have a couple of friends who are planning trips to Thailand. Knowing that I have already been there, they asked for my advice on how to spend their short holiday. Here’s what I told them…
In my opinion, 1-2 weeks is hardly enough time to see this amazing country so you’re really going to want to leverage your time wisely. With shorter trips, your biggest commodity is your time. That being said, here’s some good general tips to keep in mind:
- Do your research: When you don’t have a lot of time, it’s best to know what you want to do and what you want to avoid ahead of time. This way you spend less of your travel time on TripAdvisor and more on the actual trip.
- Don’t backtrack: This goes with the first tip, but if you can plan your stops in advance then you can prevent yourself from backtracking. This can save you time and money. Even if the flight into BKK is cheaper than Chiang Mai, you’re still gonna end up paying to get back to Bangkok and unless you take a new route, you’re not going to see anything new.
- Don’t over-pack: This applies for just about any trip, but it’s good to know. Save yourself the cost of an extra bag (if that applies), save some room to bring stuff back, and keep in mind that anything you might need they probably have…for cheap. For a list of ideas on what you might bring, you can read this post. It was written for longer trips, but it’s got good ideas for all trips.
You guys probably already knew that, but I feel obligated to say it (like a nagging mom). So now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff. This is a list of the best destinations (in my opinion) that you should try to get too. Some places are better suited for different people so I will include a short summary of how I feel about it. (I also put them in the order that I would most likely travel just to make it easy for ya.)
This is the old capital of Thailand and one of my favorite spots. It’s definitely a big city and has a lot going on, a lot of cool attractions, and a lot of good food. There’s also a lot of cool tours you can do to ride elephants and pet tigers. You also go through Chiang Mai to get to Pai which for some people will be like heaven on Earth. It’s a small little village with amazing views and a super laid back hippie feel. I could have done without the hippies, but great place for a relaxed bungalow holiday.
Temples and MONKEYS. It’s crazy. The temples here aren’t the greatest, but I really liked how the city was a symbiosis of old and new. One block you’re walking past an ancient ruin, then next block you can stop at a McDonald’s. But the best part of the city is the monkeys. They are EVERYWHERE. So much so that the side of every building is barricaded. It’s also on the bus route to Bangkok.
This is the ancient capital of Thailand, and I think this is one of my favorite places to see ruins by far…even compared to Ankor Wat. You’re really just going to have to trust me on this one. There are so many really cool and completely different kinds of ruins to go see here. You can hire a boat tour, but I highly recommend just grabbing a map and hiring a bike. Give yourself one LONG day to spend here. Also, this is where the tournament in the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie was filmed. How could you not go?
Bangkok is one wild ride. Sure Khao San road is known as a backpackers mecca, but there is so much more to it. You have all the modern luxuries, tailored suits for $100, amazing street food for $1, and let’s not forget the Ping Pong shows (that’s all I will say about that), but you should definitely give yourself a few nights here to see and do everything…then sleep off the hangover. Also, try to remember two things: if you take a cab always insist on using the meter, and that one super hot girl you were talking to at the club last night…probably wasn’t a girl. And if you want a kick ass guide to getting around that crazy city, check out One Way Ticket Phil’s guide.
Koh Tao/Koh Samui
Koh Tao and Koh Samui are two islands in the gulf of Thailand, but you probably already knew that. They are some of the bigger targets for Thailand tourists. Koh Samui is the bigger island and offers a lot more to do so if you plan on being on the islands a while, you may want to stay there. However, Koh Tao has pretty much become the number one diving spot for South East Asia, and rightly so. You can get your open water PADI cert for around $300, and it really is world class diving.
The reason I am counting this in separate from the other two islands above is simply because of the world famous Full Moon parties (although now there are Half Moon and even Quarter Moon parties). Sure there’s some other cool things to do, and the island itself is beautiful, but the reason people come here is to paint themselves with highlighter war paint that glows under the blacklights, get dazed by fire dancers, drink obscene amount of terrible vodka and amphetamine-rich red bull out of a sandcastle bucket, listen to terrible music, and make even worse decision. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it is a once in a lifetime experience that you may not want to pass up.
I can’t really say much about my experience in Krabi because I have none. What I do know is that it is a central sort of hub for the south of the country. It is supposed to have some amazing beaches, but there are two main reasons. If you want to amazing islands and beaches with sheer rock cliff like the one’s you can see in the movie The Beach, then why not go to the beach where they filmed it? It is on Koh Phi Phi which you get to from Krabi. The second reason is Railay beach. If you are a rock climber then you already know. This is the mecca of climbing. Imagine getting sessions in on the side of crazy cliff faces out of the ocean.
Last but not least is Phuket (say it right). This area has a bit more of a resort type feel, and I can see why. It has amazing beaches and beautiful scenery. If by now you haven’t gotten enough beach life, then it’s a great place to get that last taste before going home and showing off you’re new tan to all your jealous friends.
Well, that’s about all I got for you. You may not be able to get everything in depending on how much time you have, but I hope you found this post very helpful and informative. If you did, please comment and share it because that helps me out. If you want more regular updates then follow me on social media. And if you need any more help or have questions about planning a trip, feel free to drop me a line.