Many friends, family and even clients reach out to us when they want to visit Thailand for a holiday. Where are the best beaches? How much money do I need? What should I bring? Do I need to learn Thai? Is it safe? These are just a few of the questions we are regularly asked.
Although we now live on Koh Chang, Trat, we still love to travel and often find ourselves on a road less traveled around the Kingdom. We certainly are not travel guides but we believe we can go a long way in making your holiday a memorable one, for all the right reasons.
We recently put the following itinerary together for a friend of a friend, her husband and two teenage children. So what can you do and see over 10 days in Thailand?
Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush
Visit Thailand in 10 Days
The doors pops open from your double-digit hours flight and you are immediately hit by the heat and humidity. You need to get from the Suvarnabhumi Airport, also known as the Bangkok International Airport to your hotel. You have two options, Taxi or Airport Link Train.
An automated Taxi rank now exists at the airport. Insist the driver turns on his meter and you should be at your hotel of choice in central Bangkok within an hour for around 500 Baht. Add an extra 100 Baht to cover Expressway toll charges.
A train will take you from the airport to Phaya Thai Station stopping at six stations on route in about 30 minutes. The cost of this air con ride is only 45 Baht for a single journey. Once you arrive at Phaya Thai Station you will have to walk to the connecting BTS Skyrain and forward to your destination.
Welcome to Bangkok
Have you booked a hotel? We would suggest a hotel close to the Chao Pryha River. You can then easily navigate by boat from Central Pier, BTS (overhead trains) and on to the MRT (underground trains) all around the city. Alternatively, seek out suitable accommodation on AirBnB.
Many of the sights are close to the river – Grand Palace, Wat Pho (best massage here and a favorite of my parents), China Town, Wat Arun (directly opposite on the other side of the river are some lovely restaurants too, Arun Residence’s The Deck to name but one).
Shopping in Bangkok
In the evening head to Asiatique for more shopping, eating, drinking, shows and Maui Thai Boxing.
You can also take a public ferry and just ride down the busy working river for less than 20 baht or hire a longtail boat and have a tour of the canals (klongs) and local water based neighborhoods and floating markets. Negotiate for the best prices.
Eating and Drinking in Bangkok
The State Tower is not far from the river and is a great place to have cocktails over looking the city at sunset. The Movie Hangover II was also shot there. Another great rooftop bar and restaurant I would recommend is the Banyan Tree.
To get a taste of ‘real Thailand’ head to my old local Be Cool Bar for cheap but delicious eats, beats and beers. Everyone is super friendly and there is live music most nights.
Not many locals or tourists go to Bangkok Lungs but it’s worth the short taxi ride and rowing boat crossing to this hidden gem. Once you reach the other side, hire bicycles and enjoy a very different and laid-back side of BKK. There’s a floating market and great food to be savored any time of the day.
Pace your self, It’s hot and humid here (80% humidity, so always drink plenty of water and fresh coconut juice or you’ll get dehydrated quickly).
Heading North to Chiang Mai
Head north to Thailand’s second city, Chiang Mai. You can take a sleeper train directly from Bangkok or take a short flight.
Where to Stay in Chiang Mai
On recent trips to Chiang Mai we stayed at funky little places called Mo and the Nimman Mai Hotel. Mo only has 12 rooms but each is a living art space around the concept of the zodiac. Since you’re asking we stayed in the ‘Goat’ room. We have to mention this… at the top of the street on the Nimmanhaemin Road we found the best restaurant of our journey, gormet food at cafe prices, the incredible Tryumm – New York Cafe.
For one of the largest and conveniently located hotels in Chiang Mai visit the Shangri-La.
A tour guide friend of ours recommends the Denaga Hotel in Chiang Mai although we have never stayed there ourselves… yet!
There are also many hotels and guesthouses not listed on Trip Advisor or in your copy of the Lonely Planet. So don’t fret if you haven’t booked anywhere, chances are you’ll find somewhere to kick off your flip-flops and rest your weary head.
Things to see and do in Chiang Mai
I would spend a day walking of cycling around this old walled city. Enjoy all the coffee shops and soak up the cafe culture during the day and head to the night market or Walking Street in the evening. I have fond and fuzzy memories of drinking cocktails while watching Thai kick boxing many years ago.
Elephant/Jungle trekking is a must for many while visiting Chiang Mai. To visit an Elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai to ride, feed and bathe the elephants, you will be able to book locally either through your hotel of a local agent or visit this recommended sanctuary’s website. The best value package includes elephant trekking, white water rafting on a bamboo raft and ox cart riding etc.
If you have time, visit the nomadic tribes of the Mong and Karen people.
You can also enjoy spa treatments and massages just about everywhere in Thailand and Chiang Mai is no different. Expect to pay around 200 Baht for a Thai or oil massage.
If you have a head for heights and a love of nature, venture a short distance out of town to the newly opened tree top canopy walkway. Love exotic flowers? Visit Sainamphung Orchids or the Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden.
Everyone who visits Thailand wants to hit the beach for the white sands, clear blue water and palm fringe shoreline depicted in a million picture postcards. Phuket in the south of Thailand has all this and more…
Phuket Old Town has some interesting colonial architecture. The Blue Elephant Restaurant is in the old Governors Mansion (Learn Thai cooking there too) next door is the oldest house in Phuket and several Chinese Temples.
It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you visit Phuket during the colorful Vegetarian Festival which is held over 9 days in October, you are in for a real treat to witness people piecing their faces and walking on hot coals.
Tours and day trips can be easily booked locally to go to James Bond Island and other places of interest swim in the ocean to deserted beaches etc.
On the other side of the island are the busy beaches and bars of Patong, I personally don’t like or recommend it but if you want to party that’s the place to go. Kata and Karon beach are far nicer places to kick back and relax.
Hints and Tips
Thailand is a pretty safe country and I have never had any trouble here but as tourists be aware of your possessions and don’t be afraid to say no to pushy tuk-tuk drivers etc.
Taxis are cheap in Bangkok but the road are congested, even more so then LA. When I used to live there, I’d only get them in the evening when the roads were clearer. A ride across town on a meter taxi is around 100 Baht. Make sure they have the meter on and working before you get in. Taxi’s in Phuket are notoriously expensive, you’re on an island, whatcha gonna do!
Motorcycle taxi’s are a convenient and scary way to get through the traffic in Bangkok. However, you are taking your life in your own hands or rather the hands of someone with an orange bib with a Thai number on their back.
Tuk-Tuks are fun but very expensive. Worth doing once just for the experience but agree on the price before you all get in. You’ll be offered a ‘free ride’ but this will involve visiting a number of tailors. Don’t waste your valuable time. If you want a good tailor, I’d recommend Gulati. They were originally recommended to me and I had my wedding shirts made here. Allow time for 2 or 3 fittings.
Tours – I don’t think you need to worry about booking tours before you depart your own country. Every hotel can accommodate your requests and you will also see plenty of tour operators locally. Even the taxi drivers will help (everyone make a little commission). I think you will get a better deal and have no problem booking things when you get to Thailand.
Money and Tipping – The average service worker in Thailand earns around 300 baht per day. Tipping is nice for good service but not expected. 100 baht is a good tip on a family meal.
Street food (safe and clean) starts around 50 baht for a Phad Thai or noodle soup. Restaurant main courses can be had for 200-300 Baht. Of course you can pay a lot more too. There are many great restaurants and food is literally everywhere in Thailand. Eating is a national pass time. Also, try some of the many seasonal fruits, mangosteen, rambutan and if you like the smell, durian, Arroy!
Phones – You can buy a 3G Sim card for your phone + credit from any 7/11 shop for a few hundred baht. They’ll even set it up for you. Well worth doing if you want to stay connected. You’ll need your passport and hotel address to register the SIM card.
Customs and language – A very polite society… generally! Thai’s don’t raise their voices even in arguments, they simply say nothing or just walk away! Thais also smile a lot, hey it’s the Land of Smiles, but it could mean anything (This can be confusing and takes some getting used to). Generally if you smile and remain cool, calm and collected, Thais will love you and you’ll have a great time.
Most people you encounter will speak some English, so ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ always goes down well. A ‘wa’ is the normal greeting for Thais and a show of appreciation. (A wa is placing the hands together as in prayer). As a tourist, there is no need to worry about this though.
If you go to national parks, islands or waterfalls etc. you will be asked to pay an entrance fee. They have dual pricing. One for locals – 40 baht and another for foreigners (ferrang) 200 baht. Not much you can do about it. Just the way it is here; (
Basic Thai Language
Thank you – Khop Khun Ka/kap (Ka for female – Kap for male)
Hello – Sa-wat-dii Ka/kap
Cheers – Chok-dii
Tasty – Alloy Mak
A little – Nit noi
Hot/Spicy – Pet
Farrang – foreigner (you may hear this word a lot when people talk about you)
555 – LOL (the number ‘five’ when spoken sounds like ‘ha’, so 555 is hahaha or LOL when written typically on SMS and social media posts)
Have you been to Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Phuket? Can you add to this post. Let’s hear your experiences traveling in Thailand in the comments below. Please ‘like and share this post with your friends on Facebook and Twitter
10 Days in Thailand Tour Itinerary