After a month and a half in Thailand, I don’t think I’ve seen as much as I would have liked to. However, after all of this time, we felt like it was time to get out and experience the rest of Southeast Asia. So in case you’re interested in visiting Thailand, here’s my little guide to this amazing country. Some of my advice might be obvious, but I’ll try to be as insightful as possible! We didn’t do everything each place had to offer, so I would recommend doing a bit of your own researching as well.
BANGKOK: I only stayed for about 2 nights and 3 days and went to the major touristy areas. As we traveled on throughout Thailand, we heard about an area called Khao San Road that is incredibly touristy and has most of the hostels. Instead, we booked an Airbnb. If you’re a backpacker, I would definitely suggest booking a hostel, but have heard mixed reviews about booking on Khao San Road. It can get pretty crazy, so if you’re looking for something quieter you might want to find somewhere that’s a couple streets away.
PHUKET: There are different areas in Phuket. Where we stayed was much quieter and farther away from the bigger town. The area was close to Nai Harn Beach- it was definitely more a family friendly area. We stayed there for longer than we should have (6 days), but wanted to get work and writing done. If you’re going to hang around, I would suggest going for 3 days. You can rent motorbikes for about 150 baht per day (5 USD) to get around to other beaches close by.
PHI PHI ISLANDS: I was in Phi Phi for about 3 days, which I think was enough time. I don’t think it really matters where you stay since it’s a small island. We took a boat tour and went snorkeling to different islands. We didn’t have the chance to finish the day because it started to storm, but I would definitely recommend doing it.
KRABI/AO NANG: Krabi didn’t have much to do, but the town close by, Aonang, was fairly lively. I don’t think I would recommend going to Krabi, but it definitely does have things to see and do. I was only there for a day before going to Koh Phagnan. If you have the chance, take more time for the islands, but keep in mind they are pretty touristy. We stayed at a hostel called Pita House. I'm sure there are other places to stay that are more social, but this place was one of the cleanest and most comfortable hostels I've been to thus far.
KOH PHANGNAN: Wanderlust Hostel was previously another hostel, so it looks pretty new. Koh Phangnan, known for the famous Full Moon Party, has a major beach called Haad Rin Beach. It can get crazy around that area, so I would suggest staying away from that area. Wanderlust Hostel was perfectly located, was pretty clean, and had a very social environment. Keep your things locked up because it’s very common to have your things stolen both on the beach and in the hostels (I had my phone and wallet stolen on the beach).
KOH TAO: We went to Koh Tao mainly for its diving, but after leaving we found that the Gilli Islands (off the coast of Indonesia) is also a common place to do some amazing and cheap (!) diving. Big Blue Diving is a large school and there are other diving schools on the island that are known to be much better. We had a great experience anyway and would definitely do it again. To become certified it was around 9,000 baht, which is equivalent to $250. In the US we heard it was closer to $1000, so you’re definitely getting a better deal out here in Southeast Asia.
CHIANG MAI: We stayed in Chiang Mai for about 3 nights and 4 days. The hostel we stayed at, At Bang Khun was really clean, social, and worth our money. We could book tours straight from the hostel and the staff was really helpful. We booked half a day of cooking and another half day to go to an elephant sanctuary. If you were to pick one or the other, I would definitely go for the elephant sanctuary. In Chiang Mai you’ll find a lot of different elephant sanctuaries where you can either volunteer for a couple days or just go for a day. We had a chance to feed the elephants, give them a mud bath, and wash them in the river. If you are going to do anything elephant related, I’ve heard Chiang Mai is one of the best areas to go to in Thailand for that. They treat the elephants really well.
PAI- In Pai, we rented motor bikes and went to the Pai Canyon and waterfalls. We stayed for about 3 days and had an amazing experience. I would recommend staying at Common Grounds Hostel and booking a dorm with Air Conditioning. We paid about 200 baht per night (5.5 USD) which is pretty normal. It was really clean and had a pretty social environment.
Money: Thailand is pretty cheap compared to other places. It was about 35 baht per 1 USD. In most places it’s common to get a meal for 50-60 baht. We found transport to be our biggest expense, especially if we were flying (we tried to avoid that as much as possible). In the 1.5 months I was there, I spent about $10-$15 per day. $15 is definitely pushing it, but if you are traveling around and doing activities then you may find yourself spending a little more.
I may have left some things out, so shoot me an email if you have any questions about Thailand or other countries I’ve visited!