Welcome to Thailand – A place where you can travel with luxury on a budget
Thailand is paradisiacal. Its natural scenery is breathtaking with the stunning South Islands and its evergreen rice fields in the north. Its street food is delicious and its people are so welcoming, you will immediately feel at home.
Even if you only have a limited time at hand, Thailand can be explored from north to south in less than two weeks. But if you do have time for a longer vacation, you can always stay longer in the places mentioned than the suggested amount of days or just add another of the south islands to your Itinerary.
Starting off in the Cultural Center of the North (3 days)
I started my Thailand adventure in Chiang Mai. It’s less touristy than the south and offers a much more relaxed pace of life. Wander along some hidden lanes, enjoy a stroll along its famous night market and rent a scooter to the Chiang Mai Grand Canyon to jump off some cliffs or simply enjoy a nice swim.
I would recommend staying in Chiang Mai for three days. Because it is surrounded by some beautiful scenery, it is a good jumping off point for day trips within Thailand’s North. I went ziplining out in the jungle with Flight of the Gibbon. It was pure adrenaline soaring through the rainforest above emerald green rice fields.
Other trips you can do are visiting the stunning white temple in Chiang Rai or go bathing with elephants in the eco-friendly elephant sanctuary.
A quick stopover in bustling Bangkok (2 days)
From Chiang Mai you can either take a cheap inland flight to Bangkok, which takes just about an hour, or enjoy a more authentic Thai experience and hop onto the night train (it will take you at least 10 hours, however).
Once you get to Bangkok, you shouldn’t miss out on taking a tuk-tuk around the city – particularly because it is hard to explore everything by foot. Walk around Chinatown, take a water taxi along the river, visit some of the temples and don’t forget to treat yourself to some delicious Pad Thai – a traditional Thai fried rice-noodle dish that you can often get for just 1 dollar.
After a day of exploring, your feet might hurt so enjoy a foot massage on famous Khao San Road for as little as 5 dollars an hour. Finish off your night on one of the rooftop bars watching the sun set over the glittering Bangkok skyline with a fruity cocktail in your hand.
Since I didn’t particularly like to stay in Bangkok longer than a day because it is, after all, a dirty and smelly place, I headed out to Ayutthaya. This world heritage site, which can be reached from Bangkok in about an hour, takes you back in time when you wander along its ancient temple ruins.
Enjoying the jetsetter life in Phuket (2 days)
After mostly travelling on a budget the last days, it is time to leave the backpacker life behind.
Escape the crowds of tourists and the hustle of Bangkok and dive into tranquil luxury in Phuket. There are lots of five-star resorts that are affordable. And since they are probably 10 times cheaper than back home, I was ready to spend the money. Believe me – treating yourself like that just for a couple days is worth it.
I stayed at Nook-Dee, a five-start boutique resort close to Kata Beach. I really felt like a princess. In my room, I had my own jacuzzi and the view from my balcony out on the sea was simply magical.
Starting my morning with a delicious breakfast buffet and a jump into the pool was amazing. I spend all day reading, tanning at the beach and just filling up my energy resources. After that, I was ready for some last party nights out on Koh Phi Phi.
Paradisiacal party beaches on Koh Phi Phi (3 days)
A ferry from Phuket will take you to Koh Phi Phi. In two hours, you arrive on this tiny island that is surrounded by so much natural beauty, your eyes might hurt. You won’t need to stop treating yourself here. A hotel room with beach view and breakfast in bed is just about 40 dollars a night.
Regarding the scenery, Koh Phi Phi is my absolute favourite place in Thailand. I felt like I had arrived in paradise. Its most famous beach is also its most beautiful. Maya Bay, which served as the filming spot for “The Beach” with Leonardo Di Caprio, is just a short boat ride away. The sand is white and pure and its waters are crystal clear. The only thing mildly interrupting the bay’s beauty are the hords of tourists gathering on the beach every day. If you want to experience Maya Bay without the crowds, you can book an overnight tour and watch it when the stars come out.
You can also take the boat a bit further and explore other stunning places such as the Viking Caves, the Blue Lagoon or Bamboo Island.
Another view you shouldn’t miss out on is the one from the Phi Phi View Point, one of the classic postcard motives best appreciated during sunrise or sunset.
Since Koh Phi Phi is, after all, a party island, check out the bars and live music places scattered along the island or attend one of the Full Moon Partys with its fire shows and wild drinking games.
When to go
The best time to go is from November to April to avoid the rainy season. Festivals you could attend during your stay here are either Songkran in April, when the Thais celebrate the new year with water fights in the streets, or in November during the famous lantern festival, Loy Krathong.