Beautiful beaches, delicious food and a famously rich nightlife, Thailand has a lot to offer. One of our team recently spent two weeks exploring this amazing country, and has some great insider’s tips to share!
Here is her first hand account:
Last November I visited the beautiful country of Thailand. I was surprised by how reasonable the flight prices were, plus it’s a total paradise! We booked return flights to Bangkok with Qatar Airways, and with a stopover in Doha, this put our total flight time at 16 hours. That may seem like a long time, but with endless food and drink (and a good book), the time seemed to fly by.
As we only had two weeks, we wanted to make the most of our time, so we decided to plan our route. We decided to travel from Bangkok to Phuket, then onto Koh Lanta and Ao Nang in Krabi.
Two days in Bangkok
Bangkok is the capital city, so yes it’s busy and hectic and loud, but coming from London I really didn’t think it was too bad!
We stayed at the Rambuttri Village Inn and Plaza, which was just the next road along from the famous Khao San Road. Although the hotel was relatively basic, it was very clean with a lovely restaurant and helpful staff.
I understand that the Khao San Road might not be everyone’s cup of tea but we really had a great time. It’s very lively, with plenty of bars and live music. If it’s not your scene then the surrounding roads are quieter and have many nice restaurants.
After a night spent in Khao San, we were a little tired, but managed to grab a tuk tuk to the Grand Palace. If you only see one thing in Bangkok, then I’d recommend it’s this – it’s a breathtaking sight, and definitely one of the highlights of our holiday. Remember to cover your legs and arms to gain entry to the palace.
Also worth a visit is the Golden Buddha. It’s close to the Palace but we grabbed a tuk tuk again (they are very affordable – just make sure you negotiate and agree a price before you set off).
There are many markets in and around Bangkok to enjoy, but if you have a little extra time then it’s worth visiting one of the famous floating markets – all a taxi ride outside of Bangkok.
After that we decided to have a wind down in the hotel’s rooftop pool. The heat and humidity in the city can get to you after a while, so a dip in a pool is a nice treat.
Three days in Phuket
We flew from Bangkok to Phuket, which we had booked before travelling. The flight was just under one and a half hours and didn’t cost much – well worth it for the time saved, although train and car hire are also options.
The great thing about Phuket (and all of Thailand for that matter) is that you can stay in amazing 5 star hotels for a fraction of the cost elsewhere, so if you want a bit of luxury on a trip then this is the place!
We decided to stay just outside of Phuket Town in a small set of guesthouses. One of the best ways to explore Thailand is to hire out scooters and most hotels and guest houses will have these available – they are a brilliant way to explore. We drove around and visited empty postcard-perfect beaches and had lunch in a deserted beach bar with delicious food. One thing worth seeing is the Giant Buddha, it’s right on top of a hill and it really is spectacular! There are monks there, who sing and pray, and their chants echo over the hills, it’s very magical. You are advised not to wear short shorts or skirts, but they do hand out a wrap around sarong if you are not covered up.
The next evening we made our way into Phuket Town night market (weekends only), and this was really worth a visit. It had many, many stalls with everything you can imagine. I couldn’t resist buying some ‘designer’ leather handbags, and sunglasses (remember to barter).
Four days in Koh Lanta
After our Phuket adventures we caught a ferry out to the island of Koh Lanta. We booked the ferry with our guest house so that we were collected and transferred to the ferry, which costs about £15 each.
Koh Lanta has a very different pace compared to Bangkok and Phuket, a far more tranquil feel. Koh Lanta is half beach and half jungle, and I have to say my favourite of all the places we visited in Thailand, it’s so scenic and relaxing, and I had the best food I’ve ever tasted right here.
There is a mix of accommodation in Koh Lanta, again we opted for a guesthouse, the Soontreeya Lanta on Long Beach. There are only 12 bungalows, all within lovely gardens and just a few steps from the beach. It’s worth mentioning they have the best beds I have ever slept in!
Again we hired out scooters in Koh Lanta and explored the island. We visited the Khlong Chak Waterfall, which took about an hour to get to, after climbing through the forest, but it was well worth the trek.
Night time in Koh Lanta is very low key. We mainly just wandered around and went to a few beach bars and garden restaurants, all rather empty (maybe due to it not being peak season), but we liked this.
We did a snorkeling trip called the ‘4 islands’ and it was a really good day! We saw the Emerald Cave, a beach hidden within a cave (which we had to swim to via tunnel), lots of tropical fish when snorkeling off the boat, and visited Koh Mook for lunch – where I took the above photo on my phone, no filters! I’d definitely recommend this trip as you get to see more of the beautiful coastline, oh and the snorkeling is great too.
3 days in Ao Nang
After 4 blissful days in Koh Lanta we caught the ferry to Ao Nang in Krabi (two hour trip), which again we booked with our hotel. Ao Nang isn’t as pretty as Koh Lanta and it had more of a nightlife scene. That being said it is an excellent base for island hopping and you can catch a traditional Thai longboat to many islands, and we did just that.
We went to Railay Beach, which is quite small and flanked by the famous Thai limestone formations. The green surroundings were truly stunning, and it is a climbers paradise – the beach itself has a couple of hotels and small boho beach bars/shacks. If you venture into the jungle a little way back from the beach there is a penis cave – full of statues and models of the body part, this cave is a way for locals to worship and celebrate virility!
As I said, if you like rock climbing then Railay is an excellent spot, personally I preferred to lie on the beach and take in the views!
There are some really nice spa hotels in Ao Nang which are very cost effective, we decided to treat ourselves and got a boutique hotel with swim up rooms at the Red Ginger Chic Resort.
For the rest of our time in Ao Nang we chilled on beaches, going for lunch and having a few drinks in the evening, as we were winding down we didn’t do that many activities but there were a lot to choose from, I do wish I’d done a kayaking trip, but hey you can’t do everything!
Well, almost. We caught a flight to Bangkok from Krabi airport and had one night back in the city before our morning flight. We decided to really treat ourselves and booked the Lebu At State Tower. The hotel is 5 star, and the main appeal was the sky bar which has epic views of Bangkok (and one of the scenes from the Hangover Part 2). The cocktails were expensive (around £15 each), but we saw this as a treat and only had a couple. Staying at The Lebu set us back £70 for the night, which wasn’t too bad considering how special it was – something similar in London would easily be three or four times the price.
And that’s how we spent our two weeks in Thailand! Of course there are many other places to visit but for the time we had, seeing these places worked well for us.