As the country responsible for getting me infected with the Travel Bug, Thailand is still one of my absolute favorite Southeast Asian countries. In 2016 a whopping 32 million tourists made their way over to The Land of Smiles. That Thailand is becoming ‘overly touristic’ is one of the reasons some travelers shy away from this country nowadays, but after having been there three times I am very sure there will be a fifth, sixth and even a seventh time. Thailand always knows how to bedazzle me. From the comments on my latest Instagram posts I noticed that there are still many people who haven’t yet paid a visit to the country formerly known as Siam. Therefore I decided to write this Travel guide for Thailand newbies.
Where your journey starts: Bangkok!
It all starts in The City of Angels. Bangkok is a true experience in itself and I would recommend staying at least two or three days in this awesome city. You can spend one day exploring the wonderful temples of Wat Arun, Wat Pho and, in this case all that glitters is cold – the Royal Palace. Other things that you should add to your Bangkok to-do list is exploring Bangkok and its surroundings by bike (I had a great time with Co van Kessel), buy some souvenirs at the hated-by-many Khao San Road (I love it) and taste the delicious Thai Street food (Pad Thai, Pad Thai, Pad Thai!).
Take a train and head up North
The South of Thailand is where you’ll find stunningly white beaches but you really cannot skip the north of Thailand. As beautiful as the Thai islands are, they’re, in my opinion, not the ‘real’ Thailand. From Bangkok you can take the night train to Chiang Mai which is quite a comfortable way to travel! Chiang Mai is also well-known for it’s many stunning temples so make sure you visit a few while you’re there, including the breathtaking Doi Suthep. Should you have fallen in love with the Thai Cuisine (you most likely have after your first bite) then you can also opt for taking a cooking class in Chiang Mai.
Head further up to the little hippie village Pai, where you’ll find tranquility, mountains and loads of travelers who never left this charming place. You can rent a motorbike to explore Pai’s surroundings and visit sights like the Pai Canyon or you can just kick back and relax in your hostel or resort. Tip: the two times I visited Pai I stayed at Pai Chan. Beautiful wooden bungalows situated in a lush green garden with views on the rice fields. And oh, I shouldn’t forget to mention the deeeelicious food! I’m not getting paid to say this neither did I stay at Pai Chan for free, but I just loved this place and it’s people so much I’d like you to have the same wonderful experience there 🙂
Down down down down down!
And now, what all sunbathers and tanorexics have been waiting for: let’s go south – let’s go to the islands! There are many Thai islands that are worth visiting, and I have been on Koh Chang, Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta. My two absolute favorites were Koh Chang and Koh Lanta, but the other islands are also very much worth a visit. I’ll tell you in a bit about these islands in short so you can decide yourself which one(s) fit your travel expectations best.
Located about 5 hours from Bangkok you’ll find Koh Chang, a beautiful getaway with tons of pretty beaches. The vibe is super friendly and you’ll come across many families enjoying their well deserved holiday here. But party animals are also at the right spot at this island as the lonely beach area has many bars and clubs where you can dance the night away until late.
This island is divers paradise. There are many dive schools where you can get your PADI for nearly nothing and the surrounding reefs are stunning. Koh Tao is also a great place to dance with your feet in the sand and a bucket in your hand. The island is quite small, so if you’re not into diving/snorkeling there’s not an awful lot to do except for renting a motorbike to explore this cute little island.
You must have heard of the (in)famous full moon party at Koh Phangan. Some people love it, some people hate it. Me? I LOVED IT (and I’m not even 18!) Next to being a party hardy island, Koh Phangan also has many beautiful and quiet beaches. The island is fairly large so if you’re not into binging buckets you can also find many hidden spots far away from the hustle ‘n bustle.
Koh Phi Phi
Did I hear someone say party? Ah, yes, Koh Phangan is not the only party island in Thailand. Koh Phi Phi is like Lloret de Mar, Magaluf or Cancun: straight up trashy partying. But that’s a shame, because on Koh Phi Phi you’ll also find some of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand, like the famous Maya Beach. My advice? Definitely go to Phi Phi but just stay for two nights or so. Unless you love massive hangovers, in that case go to Phi Phi for as long as you like…
Ohhh Koh Lanta, with your beautiful long-stretched beaches and stunning sunsets! Koh Lanta is known as ‘the couples island’ and even though there are indeed plenty of lovebirds vacationing on this island, I can assure you it’s also a great place to go for solo travelers. You can rent a motorbike and explore the island (don’t forget to go to Bamboo Bay) or you can just chill at the beach. There’s also a nice couple of bars where you can go for a Chang (or two!)
Whether you’re temple hopping in Bangkok, sunset gazing on Koh Lanta or picking up the relaxed vibe in Pai – Thailand is always a good idea. Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions about travelling in Thailand. And when you’ve been there, then don’t forget to read my article on 25 things you’ll recognize if you’ve ever been to Thailand.
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