Thailand offers a distinctive mixture of major cities, temperate mountainous escape, and idyllic islands. In 16 days, a new traveler may enjoy a bit of every piece of the country. The 16-day itinerary outlined below is intended to act as a springboard —assisting visitors to identify what it’s about Thailand that they love — in order to help arrange a second, more in-depth trip beyond just the highlights. The route starts to get into Bangkok before moving north, and finishing on a high amongst the islands of the south.
Days 1-3: Bangkok
Thailand’s capital town, Bangkok, could be a collision of contemporary cityscapes, small, impoverished neighborhoods, and ancient landmarks.
Activities may vary from wandering the town streets, tasting food and experiencing the chaos of Chinatown, to visiting ancient telephone lines (Buddhist temples) and pagodas.
The city offers a number of the best restaurants in Southeast Asia and also the opportunity to party at glamourous upside bars dominating the town skyline in an exceedingly unmatched by either Hanoi or Phnom Penh
What to Do
Be sure to visit the impressive statues at Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) and Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha.) These two ancient wats showcase beautiful Thai design and provide the chance to witness Buddhist prayer ceremonies.
Be sure to dress appropriately with shoulders and knees covered. The entrance is around 100 Thai baht per person.
Where to Eat
Raan Jay Fai can be found quite virtually in an alley simply outside of Bangkok’s Chinatown. An outdoors area resembling an older cafeteria, Raan Jay Fai serves superb inebriated noodles; none of its dishes disappoint.
Diners are likely to relax and drink a beer whereas looking at their food being prepared over a flame. Expect delicious, cumulous dishes for two to price around 520 Thai Baht. Worthy of its own article, Gaggan has been rated one of the top 20 restaurants in all of Asia, and for good reason. Its 22-course tasting menu is jam-packed with ironical plays with molecular gastronomy — real eating expertise. The small restaurant, in a British colonial-style building, has only two sittings a night, meaning advance reservations are required.
Where to Stay
Located across the river from the main part of the city, The Sukhothai Bangkok provides upscale lodging for visitors. Not far from the renowned Sky Bar, Sukhothai is located about 15 minutes by taxi from the city center, or to Lumphini Metro station. Alternatively, guests can take a nearby ferry to explore various parts of the city. The hotel features huge rooms in which to relax out of the warmth.
Days 4-9: Chiang Mai
In northern Thailand, on the point of the Golden Triangle, is the little, ancient town of Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai provides the perfect mix of twinkling town lights and mountainous retreats, a cosmopolitan yet deeply religious place.
The food of northern Thailand is completely dissimilar from that of the south, with coconut milk curries being replaced with fiery vegetable dishes and spicy sai oua (pork sausage).
What to Do
Visitors traveling to Thailand in November will witness the spectacular Yi Peng lantern festival. Translating virtually to ‘Second Month’ (of the Lanna calendar), Yi Peng may be a festival designed to indicate regard to Buddha through the musical organization, the coincidental mass release of thousands of paper lanterns at Mae Jo University, around sixteen kilometers from the town center. Tickets, which include transport and food, continue sale at the beginning of the year and sell out rapidly.
Yi Peng coincides with Loi Krathong, a festival where floating lanterns are free into bodies of water everywhere the country.
Thankfully, bareback elephant riding is decreasing in popularity with tourists, because the harmful impact on the elephants is being recognized. This has given rise to the creation of elephant sanctuaries. Here, guests will interact with, bathe and feed elephants of varied ages who are saved from abusive conditions.
We tend to suggest Elephant Nature Park or Elephant Jungle Sanctuary.
Where to Eat
The cafeteria-style eatery Huen Phen is easy to miss amongst the rows of houses and storefronts on Ratchmanka Road. a real native gem, the food is both superb and astoundingly low-cost. The restaurant provides rows of communal tables and benches, where guests are unengaged to seat themselves. The menu offers a wide sort of classic northern dishes; expect to run away with a stomach filled with great food and fresh beverage for about 150 Thai baht per person. Housed in the Anantara building, The Service 1921 offers a distinctive dining experience, where taking a walk through the building courtyard is definitely worth the trip alone. A play on 1920s spy culture, the restaurant decoration includes multifunction watches, gadgets, and period-appropriate wardrobe exhibits. Diners are given a playful
menu in a very manila envelope marked ‘Confidential’, that lists a stunning mixture of tapas-sized classic Thai meals and other Asian dishes. The intensive cocktail list can appeal to James Bond fans, as drink names are a play on the films or characters. The fun nature of the restaurant, mixed with authentic food, makes for an unforgettable dining experience.
Where to stay
Meaning ‘heavenly’ in Thai, Panviman Resort and Spa live up to its name. The secluded mountainside resort provides superbly tranquil rooms, breathtaking views of the villages below, and one of the best spas in the Chiang Mai region.
Days 10-16: Island Hopping, Koh Lanta
For the Thai island experience, we tend to suggest visiting Koh Lanta on Thailand’s West Coast, offshore from Krabi.
With fantastic resorts and beaches on each Koh Lanta Lai and Koh Lanta Don, the island offers a quieter alternative to the east coast’s tourist-centric islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phi Phi, or Phuket. The island offers a variety of accommodation from rustic bungalows to luxury resorts.
What to Do
Animal lovers should make time to call in at Lanta Animal Welfare.
Founded in 2005, the shelter helps homeless and abused animals on Koh Lanta, treating the sick and injured. The shelter receives no public funding and depends entirely on funding provided by a cooking college, Time for Lime, along with charitable donations.
Visitors to the center can be valuable by socializing with the many dogs and cats that reside there, including taking dogs out for walks on nearby beaches. Koh Lanta may be a good base for visiting close islands and well-known beaches.
The near Trang Islands are remote and quiet with fantastic and easy snorkeling.
A highlight, Emerald Cave on Koh Muk, is accessible only when the tide is out. An emerald glow emanates from the entranceway to the cave; swimming into the cave, visitors will suddenly find themselves surrounded by total darkness and feel the push and pull of the tides. The swim through the cave is short, but the mystery of the experience, and effort to swim against this, makes it feel longer. Once through the cave, swimmers will quickly find themselves in shallow waters walking onto a small, secluded beach. Hotel staff or tour operators on Koh Lanta can arrange trips
Decimated by the 2004 tsunami, the small pedestrianized island of Koh Phi Phi is once again a thriving island destination. It will simply be reached from Koh Lanta by public ferry, which runs many times per day. For those searching for additional intimate experience, travelers will charter a private longtail boat or motorboat. Koh Phi Phi makes a decent base to explore the further afield attractions of Maya Bay — the beach created renowned by Leonardo di Caprio within the 2000 movie The Beach — and Monkey Beach. Both are popular with tourists however they are worth visiting. Chartering a longtail boat from Koh letter of the alphabet for 3-5 hours is that the best thanks to visiting each attraction.
Where to Eat
Food choices on Koh Lanta include the gamut of traditional southern Thai dishes, Muslim-influenced curries, and a treasure trove of contemporary food. Look out for locals eating at unidentified street stalls for an authentic dining experience at an implausibly low-cost price. Tides restaurant situated in Layana Resort & Spa could be a fabulous five-star choice and is extremely suggested for both its wonderful food and exquisite service.
Where to Stay
Layana Resort and Spa offers incomparable service, accommodations, and excursions for guests, including mention a private beach, two phenomenal restaurants, a gorgeous infinity pool, and a full-service spa.
Who This is For
While Thailand offers stunning resorts and five-star experiences, the Thailand of every day will be a bit rough around the edges, with problems with impoverishment and pollution — especially in the capital of Thailand — being evident at every turn. It is ideal for people who relish hopping between destinations, taking inside the frantic buzz of the capital before traveling additional afield to take in the peace of the mountains, the islands, or both.
When to Go
Visitors to Bangkok are met with an oppressive wave of heat in spite of the time of year. During the cooler, drier months (December to March) the evening temperature will drop to a tolerable 20 degrees Celsius. The rainy season packs a punch from May to October, beginning with short, sharp bursts of tropical rain punctuating otherwise blue-sky days, and reaching a monsoon crescendo come September time. Around Chiang Mai, in the elevated north part of the country, the climate is more pleasant than the humid south. The cool months of December to February are a wonderful time to visit, ideal for hiking and motorbike touring. The heat increases from March forward, with the rain incoming in June and hanging around till October, just like the south.