We were fortunate to get 3 weeks in the amazing and vibrant country of Thailand, and I can’t wait to go back! Elephants, temples, beaches, ancient ruins, cities and friendly people, this country seriously has a ton to offer for anyone who wants to travel to Thailand. Here is our 3 week Thailand itinerary, including where to stay in Thailand, attractions and our budget, all wrapped up into a mini guide to Thailand!
It was always on my “bucket” list. Even as a kid I was strangely fascinated by southeast Asian culture, food and religion. Also, it was my turn to pick.
What’s the best way to get around?
We flew almost everywhere in Thailand, which is decidedly the most expensive route. We heard the trains are nice and super easy, but there was construction on much of the tracks heading north due to some derailments. Flying also saved a lot of time, and with only 3 weeks, that was worth some extra cash. For local transportation, public transit is great and inexpensive. Cabs are pretty cheap and tuk tuks are very cheap. Renting a motorbike in some areas can be a fun way to explore, especially in the islands.
Should’ve left at home: My nicer dress and flats, which I never used. Most places are casual, but we originally wanted to get drinks on a rooftop bar in Bangkok, which typically have strict dress codes. Instead, we chose to get massages (poor me). Dan’s dressier shoes especially took up a ton of space.
Wish I’d packed: A lightweight jacket. The buses are so cold, and my super thin sweatshirt and sarong left me pretty uncomfortable.
Best souvenir: Sarongs – they are so cheap! I had zero luck with buying clothes made for tiny Thai folks, and I wouldn’t try again.
Best Accommodation: BLES! This elephant sanctuary in Thailand had the best breakfast views and most unique experience I have ever had. W Home Bangkok was a close runner up due to their second-to-none hospitality.
Worst Accommodation: Taraporn Bungalows in Koh Tao. I will never forget the awful river of sewage that went right under our bungalow at 2AM. At least the views were fantastic, and at $18 a night, my expectations were quite low.
Favorite spot: Freedom Beach in Koh Tao. Such a cute little beach with some great views of the island just a short hike away.
Favorite thing we did: Scuba diving for the fist time in Koh Tao!
For those of you interested in the nitty gritty, below you can find a breakdown of our Thailand itinerary and budget.
We started off with three days in Bangkok, where I promptly fell fast and hard for the city. We stayed at W Home Bangkok, which I highly recommend. A decent chunk of our time was spent visiting the typical touristy spots (Wat Pho, Grand Palace, Khao San Road, Chatuchak Weekend Market, Asiatique). Highlight: street food and Wat Pho. Next time: more street food on Sukhovmit Soi 38.
Next, we Flew to Chiang Mai for 4 days via Air Asia. We stayed at Early Bird Guesthouse (fantastic location!). Visited loads of temples and markets and ate some fantastic food. Highlight: Thai Secret Cooking School and the Sunday Night Market. Next time: Visit Doi Suthep, a temple outside of the city.
A 6 hour bus trip brought us to Sukhothai for 2 days. We spent all of our time at the Sukhothai Historical Park checking out some fantastic ruins. We stayed in the old town at Thai Thai Guesthouse, which offers cute little bungalows. Highlight: The school kids at the park were so cute, curious and frendly! The park at dusk is also pretty amazing. Next time: find better food.
We were picked up by Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (BLES) early and rode for about 1.5 hours to the sanctuary. We spent the entire time chatting with Katherine, the founder, and just being around the elephants. They only had one night available, unfortunately. Highlight: EVERYTHING. Next time: Book in advance for a longer stay.
We flew out of Sukhothai via pricey Bangkok Airways to Koh Samui, where we spent 2 days relaxing by the beach. We stayed at Sibaja Palms Resort. Highlight: the quiet beach of Taling Ngam. Next time: visit Angthong National Marine Park.
A short ferry ride away (2 hours) is the smallest of the three islands in the Gulf of Thailand: Koh Tao. We spent 6 days on the island, hiking and beach hopping as well as scuba diving. We stayed at Taraporn Resort in the small bay of Chalok Baan Kao.
From Koh Tao, we took another ferry to Chumphon and flew back to Bangkok (via Nok Air) for 2 more days before making the long trek home. We happily stayed at W Home again.
What I would change: I would try to make it to Chiang Rai or Pai, (possibly in place of Chiang Mai, which was little too touristy). Overall, though, we were very happy for our first trip to the country!
Thailand Budget breakdown:
Total spent: $6150 for 2 people
Flights from the US: $3425 got the two of us into Bangkok
Flights in Thailand: $745
Activities, diving, shopping, local transportation, souvenirs and food: $890
Where we could have saved: Taking less flights, but it would have cost us a lot more time. Skipping Koh Samui, if we could have found a way, would have saved a lot too. The majority of our money was spent on the tickets to get into the country, and there wasn’t really much we could do about that.
We didn’t want for much while in Thailand. I have a feeling that traveling to this part of the world is definitely going to spoil me!
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