MY THAILAND TRAVEL GUIDE
I’m really excited to write this post because it’s the first time I’ve ever written a true travel guide for my blog. It’s somewhat surprising I’ve never written one before since I truly love traveling. Hands down Thailand is one of my favorite countries to visit so I decided it would be worthwhile to share the places I’ve fallen in love with there.
Five years ago after graduating from college, I visited Bangkok with some friends just for the weekend. Even though it was a short trip, I was hooked and knew I wanted to go back at some point. This past December, I finally had the chance to go back, however this time I was doing a solo trip. As an anxious person, I was definitely nervous to travel alone. It’s something I never thought I would be able to do, but I’m happy to say I proved myself wrong. One thing that did help me feel comfortable was the fact that I had traveled to Bangkok before. It was a nice feeling to have some places look familiar. That being said, I did try to take as many precautions as possible - like wearing a money belt rather than carrying a purse and mostly taking Grab taxis (aka cabs) to get places.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
Grand Palace - While this is one of the more expensive places (500 baht) to see relative to other temples (50-100 baht) in Bangkok, it’s definitely worth it! It’s a great place to see a lot of diverse architecture at one time. I will say it’s one of the more crowded attractions so be prepared for that. Didn’t want to share all my pics so you can go see for yourself :)
Wat Arun - When I went here 5 years back, we took a river boat to get there. The architecture is very ornate and colorful. One of the coolest parts about the temple, is that you are able to climb the steps of the center spire, and see views of the city.
Golden Mount - Similar to Wat Arun, I actually went to this temple over 5 years ago, but I think it was one of my favorites of all time. It’s a steady climb up a hill to get to the temple, but it’s beautiful because you walk through a garden/forest to get there. Once you get to the top, your greeted with an incredible view of Bangkok. The gold chedi at the top is beautiful as well.
Wat PakNam - This temple is a bit far from the center of the city so I had to take a taxi to get there. However, I found it worthwhile because it was one of the most unique temples I had ever seen. There’s a room on the top floor that looks like you are looking at the night sky and stars.
Chatuchak Market - I haven’t been to the weekend market in over 5 years, but it’s the largest market in Asia (boasting more than 15,000 stalls). It’s totally worth going to just see all there is to offer. I made one of my favorite purchases ever there - hand-painted converse sneakers!
Floating Market - Ok so the market (Bang Nam Pheung) I went to didn’t have *that* many boats that were floating, but it was still a really cool experience. At first I thought it was a small market with only a few stalls. However, the more I walked around the more winding paths of stalls I found carrying all sorts of items ranging from clothes to food. It’s a great place to try lots of different street food for very cheap and get away from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. Some of the best things I ate during my visit to the floating market were sweet potato donut balls, butter toast and pork with noodles in broth.
Chinatown - This probably should fall under the food section too, but I’m going to put it here since there are many streets in the neighborhood with market stalls. If you ever been to Hong Kong, this district was reminiscent of some of the markets there. I have to admit I spent most of time eating here. I went to Nai-Ek Rolled Noodles to try their famous dish which was only 50 baht (aka less than $2 USD) as well as their pork spare ribs.
Rooftop Bar - I’m never above going to a rooftop bar on vacation. Maybe it’s a bit tourist-y, but the view is always worth it in my opinion. Perhaps it’s the New Yorker in me. After googling the best rooftop bars in Bangkok, I decided to check out Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree Hotel. The view was breathtaking! I definitely recommend going right when they open at 5pm so that you can see the sunset. Just a heads up as well the dress code is smart casual so you need to be wearing pants and closed toed shoes. Also I will say the drinks are on the pricey side.
Get a Thai Massage - I didn’t have time to get a Thai massage during this trip, but I did get one 5 years ago. I recommend getting one just for the experience of it, not to mention they are really cheap. I was able to get mine back then for 280 baht (~$9 USD). The general price range still seems to be between 200 baht and 500 baht. I will say a Thai massage is unlike any one I’ve had before - be prepared to have someone walk on you. I generally am very tense so I found the massage somewhat painful, however my body felt very relaxed at the end of the massage. Not because it was over, but because the masseuse was able to relieve a lot of my tension. 😂
HOW TO GET AROUND
Grab - Thank goodness for this app! It’s basically the Uber/Lyft of Thailand. It makes getting around the city really easy. You can also rent motorcycle taxis this way, which is what I did. Due to the spread out nature of the city and the limited range of the Sky Train.
BTS Sky Train - This is Bangkok’s version of the subway. It’s pretty affordable and works well for accessing places close to the line.
Tuk Tuk - It’s true, you really can’t go to Thailand without taking a tuk tuk. You might feel like it’s tourist-y, but I promise it’s worth it. Taking a tuk tuk makes you feel like you are experiencing the city, rather than just watching it through the window of taxi. Generally, tuk tuks are best for going short distances. Also make sure you negotiate the price and destination before hopping in.
WHERE TO STAY
Pinto Hostel - This hostel has a 9.6 rating on Hostelworld for a reason - it was such a cute place! The staff is incredibly nice and helpful. Even though I arrived earlier than my check-in time to the hostel and they let me go ahead and store my luggage as well as take a shower. Also, the staff was great about helping with directions and giving recommendations on where to go. Additionally, this hostel was located near the BTS Sky Train, which made it easy to get around.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
Walk around the Old City - One of my favorite things about Chiang Mai is that it’s an incredibly walkable city. It was a nice change of pace after traveling in Bangkok during the first part of my trip where I frequently had to take a taxi or motorbike to get to the next temple or landmark that I wanted to see. It took me about half a day to walk around the city and see the three main temples: Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chiang Man as well as the Three Kings Monument.
Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Phra Singh
Wat Chiang Man
Chat with a Monk - One of the coolest experiences I had in Chiang Mai, was having the opportunity to talk with a Buddhist novice at Wat Chedi Luang. They have the program so Buddhist monks and novices are able to practice their English with tourists and visitors. I enjoyed learning more about the religion and the rules they live by.
Visit the Elephants - This was definitely one of the highlights of my trip! I did a half day afternoon excursion (1,700 baht) with Elephant Jungle Sanctuary and it was amazing. The afternoon was focused on feeding the elephants and helping wash them. I didn’t realize how much I was going to love it or how enjoyable it would be to watch them eats for hours.
WHERE TO STAY
Hostel Lullaby - I found myself another amazing hostel to stay at in Chiang Mai, which had a 9.9 rating on Hostelworld! It definitely lived up to the reviews. The staff was friendly and welcoming. Every morning there was free breakfast, which was a legit meal (and not just toast!). They served pancakes, sausage, pork skewers, fruit, and toast. They also had a beautiful space with a nice common area for getting work done or connecting with other travelers. Their front courtyard was amazing too and had lots of seating. Overall the facilities (showers, rooms, etc.) were great.
WHAT TO EAT
Khao Soi - This dish is popular is Northern Thailand. If you’re a curry lover, then you’ll definitely be a fan. It consistent of egg noddles and meat (either pork or chicken) in a curry-esque sauce that’s thicker than a typical curry sauce. There’s also crispy egg noodles sprinkled on top which gives it a crunch. Hands down one of my favorite Thai dishes.
Green Papaya Salad - I never tried papaya salad until this trip to Thailand, but I got hooked. It’s made of green papaya, peanuts, and other veggies (carrots, green beans and tomatoes). The sauce it’s topped with is a little zippy and is made out of: fish sauce, palm sugar, hot chili, and sour lime.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
Hit the Islands! - I was only in Phuket for a short amount of time, so I’m not the best guide for this area. However, I did really love my trip to Phi Phi Islands! I ended up booking this excursion with V Marine Tours and had a great time. During the trip we did lots of snorkeling, went to the beach at Bamboo Island, and got to see some wildlife at Monkey Beach :)
Bamboo Island & Koh Phi Phi Lei Island
Kata Beach - One thing I learned the hard way during my trip was whatever you do, stay away from Patong Beach. It’s a very crowded area and the beach is not as nice. My recommendation if you travel to Phuket is stay by one of the other beaches. I was glad I had the chance to check out Kata because the water was much bluer and prettier than Patong. I’ve heard other good beaches are Karon and Kamala.
WHAT TO EAT
Street Food! - This is legit my favorite part of being in Thailand! There are so many vendors selling fresh fruit like mangoes and coconut as well as full meals. When I was in Phuket, there was a street filled with vendors selling seafood. At one stand I was able to get a whole red snapper cooked to order for 250 baht (~$8 USD) and fried calamari with veggies for 100 baht (~$3 USD). To finish off the meal, I treated myself to ice cream rolls :)
Tom Yum - This is another traditional Thai dish. It’s a hot and sour soup typically served with shrimp. It has a bit of kick, so be prepared for that. It was a great dish to order in Phuket because of all the fresh seafood.
If you read all the way to the end of this guide - thank you! I truly hope it was helpful and let me know if you want to see more content like this in the future! ❤️