Booking a ticket across the world to a tropical paradise, like Thailand, is quite a romantic notion… at first. After taking the first step of booking that plane ticket, the anxiety and lists start to kick in and may overwhelm your mind as you begin to feel a bit unprepared and not sure what to expect.
There is countless option of areas to go, places to see, and experiences to have. I find the best way to narrow down the list is to read up on recommendations from travelers that have been to the areas. Luckily, I spent two months in the beautiful country of Thailand and have narrowed down top favorites of a few select categories to help you on your way!
Where to Go
Let’s start with a list of the top places to travel to!
The Southern islands are a must when journeying through Thailand. There is a huge variety of islands to travel to but here are a couple of my favorites and specific beaches you need to check out:
Nai Yang Beach, Phuket
Close to the Phuket airport, Nai Yang Beach is the perfect place to head to fresh off your flight. This small beach village has much to offer and is off the radar of many tourists so you can get a shaded beach spot to yourself without fighting for sand amongst the crowds compared to other islands. There are beachfront hotels and restaurants if you wish to live in your swimwear while you stay! The vibe is very relaxed as you head barefoot to the street stalls for some fresh pineapple or head over to the spa for a traditional Thai massage.
Tip: Take a long tail boat out to Banana Beach and have complete privacy to lounge around on the beach, swim, and snorkel with a small group of friends or a romantic partner.
By far, Krabi is one of the most beautiful areas I have ever seen in all of my travels. The aesthetic appeal of the jagged, heavily forested limestone cliffs are hard to resist. Krabi is a province in the far south, home to numerous small islands. Although the islands may now have quite a touristic reputation, there are a few that still offer the quixotic seclusion. One of the best islands in the Krabi province is Ko Lanta – avoid going during peak season to avoid crowds of hundreds. One of the best beaches is Railay, it is known to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
The Big Mango is a must-see for many people touring in Thailand. With a population of over 8 million people and over 10 million tourists every year, Bangkok is a very bustling city. Although busy, there is so much to see and do that you should plan to stay at least a couple days. Bangkok is home to some of the largest markets with endless shopping, Khaosan Road, the Grand Palace, and live Muay Thai.
Take a short journey out of the city to the historical Kingdom of Ayutthaya. Rent a pedal bike or motorized scooter for the day, grab a map from the local shop, and head out to explore the remains of the ancient city. Brush up on the history and you will be amazed at the last standing architecturally beautiful structures.
Chiang Mai is one of the largest city in Thailand and offers a unique perspective into the old culture. The city is broken into two parts, the old square, and the new city. The old square is enclosed by the preserved brick walled remains of the ancient Asian civilizations.
Pai is known for a laid-back, relaxed hammock culture. This small town is the perfect place to catch your breath and take in the scenery of the north. The center has new cafes and restaurants popping up all over that offer vegan and organic options. As well, there are many beautiful places to check out on a short scooter trip out of town. Fair warning though that if you decide to go, you may want to stay much longer. Pai is home to many expats that have made the quaint small town their new home.
Tip: Create ease in booking your accomodation through a website called HotelWorld and follow the link here: https://www.hostelworld.com/
Thailand has a delicious cuisine with a huge variety of dishes. The dishes can vary from hot and seasoned to sweet and savory – but be prepared for a lot of spice!
Below is a select list of must-try dishes:
Pad Thai is an obvious one but still, a must try in the local cuisine. The flavors in this stir-fried rice noodle dish are sour, salty, and spicy! In addition to the noodles are green onions, sprouts, scrambled egg, and crushed peanuts.
Khao Soi is a spicy soup dish made with egg noodles, greens, lime, and doused in a curried coconut milk sauce.
This spicy salad is made with green papaya, tomatoes, fish sauce, chilies, and shrimp.
Tom Yum is a hot and sour soup made with lemongrass, mushrooms, chili peppers, and shrimp.
Mango Sticky Rice
Mango sticky rice is a traditional Thai dessert made with glutinous rice, freshly sliced mango, drizzled with a mixture of coconut and condensed milk.
There are many ways to get around in Thailand, depending on the region you are traveling, some forms of transportation may be more convenient and accessible than others. Listed below are the top forms of transportation.
Rent a scooter
In my opinion, renting a scooter is the best way to get around. It gives you the freedom to go where you want, the speed you want, and make stops whenever you’d like. Just remember to stay safe on the road as many drivers may be careless around motor scooters and make sure to have an international driving permit to not risk receiving a large fine if pulled over by the police.
Uber / Grab
Uber and Grab Taxi are widely available throughout Southeast Asia and is a very convenient mode of transportation – but beware as these forms are not widely accepted and some places may harass tourists for attempting to use anything other than a tuk-tuk or proper taxi cab.
The songthaew is a pickup truck and the main form of local transportation. Keep in mind to barter with the driver ahead of time as most drivers jack up their prices for tourists. Pay attention to what the locals pay and barter to pay the same ahead of time.
For those that do not know, a tuk-tuk is a small three-wheeled rickshaw motorized vehicle that is used more or less as a touristic experience. It can be quite fun to ride in the back of one of these but just make sure to barter with the driver for a fair price!
For more information, visit my link for tips on traveling through Northern Thailand!