If I had it all over to do again...

I got in touch with an old friend of mine recently from elementary school. It didn't take long to discover that she is planning a two week trip to Thailand, and it immediately got me thinking about what I might recommend to her as an itinerary. Of course I don't want to assume that she hasn't already planned her two weeks, but still, it made me think:

Knowing what I know now having spent a little over three weeks in Thailand myself, what would my ideal two weeks look like, assuming I have never been to Thailand before?

The key of course is the "assuming I have never been to Thailand before" because if I were to spend an additional two weeks in Thailand, it wouldn't certainly be a different trip. But on with the assignment...

Day 1: Acclaimate yourself
The first day or two is the most critical. Restrain yourself from going out for too long. You only have two weeks, so you want to make sure you adjust to the new timezone, recover from jet lag, and ease yourself into the hussle and bussle of Bangkok. It can be an overwhelming place!

But where to stay? Well, I can't say that I would recommend either place that Arin and I stayed, but for totally different reasons. We started off at a wonderful hotel named Silom Serene which was wonderful, but a tad out of the way from many of the places we wanted to visit. On the other hand, the night life and street food on Silom was much more our speed, but we didn't discover that until it was too late. We ended up changing hotels mid-stay to be closer to some of the main attractions. The second place we stayed was near Khaosan - the Bourbon Street (New Orleans), or the 6th Street (Austin) of Bangkok. At the time it seemed like a good move, but for an old married couple like Arin and me, I felt a little out of place.

Days 2-6: Bangkok
Ok, you only have four full days in Bangkok, and there is a lot to do. More so than you could possibly hope to see. One thing to note about Bangkok is that the distances between places are misleading. Do not be afraid to take Taxis or Tuktuks from place to place, if only to make more effective use of your time. Before you get there, get a good map of the city, because the ones that come in the guidebooks: suck.

So here is my advice: plan on hitting one place in the morning, and one place in the afternoon. If you end up with more time on your hands great, see more in your immediate vicinity. Here are the places I would consider seeing:

Wat Pho - Perhaps this goes without saying, but the temple is amazing. Arin and I got a guide; we payed about 650 Baht for a guide to take us around the temple and the palace. I recommend getting a guide; they may not speak perfect English, but they help in by setting a pace to see everything. Also, be sure to leave some time to get your first Thai Massage from the Thai Massage School.

Royal Palace - This too is well worth the price of admission, and the tickets let you into other attractions throughout Bangkok, so keep the ticket stub. This is a great thing to do on the same day at Wat Pho.

Plan to go shopping and have dinner on Khaosan at least one night. It has a great night life, and is fun, despite it being overrun by farang. Also, don't forget to take a water taxi ride, visit Jim Thompson's House, and check out a Muay Thai fight (plan to have dinner right outside the arena where lots of street vendors set up and sell everything from roti to noodles). The rest is up to you. There are so many things to choose from depending upon your tastes, so have fun!

img-horiz10.jpg Days 7-8: Overnight trip to Ayutthaya
Arin and I were both disappointed we did not visit this World Heritage Site. It is a big site, but plan on taking a train from Bangkok and spending the night - the temples are supposed to be beautiful at night. The next day, take your time to tour the temples, and bring a camera with lots of film. This is a special place by all accounts.

Days 9-13: The Beach
You will probably be a bit overwhelmed from Bangkok if you have never been to Asia before which is why it is important to bring it down a notch and hit a beach for the last remaining portion of your stay in Thailand. Their beaches are famous, the food is cheap, the Thai Massages cost less than a long distance phone call! So relax and enjoy yourself. I would recommend staying on Koh Samui, or in Phuket depending upon the weather and time of year of your visit. They are not that far from each other, but the weather at one tends to be the opposite of the other because they face different bodies of water. As for what to do... well that depends on where you stay, but if Koh Samui is your choice...

Bophut Beach - Stay at Zazen Bungalows, a wonderful retreat with great food, impeccable service, and top-notch rooms. You can easily walk down the beach to the Fisherman's Village, which has a wonderful selection of places to eat.

By all means, rent a motorbike and drive around the entire island. Stop at Chaweng along the way, visit a waterfall, go to the Big Buddha, and stop at the roadside market near Nathon.

But remember, take advantage of the beach! Relax and enjoy yourself. There are a few things to do on the island, but nothing that you must see.

Angthong National Park - Do not miss these amazing islands. Hop on one of the tour boats, or ferries that leaves from the Fisherman's Village and enjoy the day. Holy moly, this has got to be one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Day 14
That's it. You're done. Fly from the beach directly to Bangkok to take your flight home. And remember, this is only your first trip to Thailand...

4 Comments

I concur! But I would add that if you're not a beach person (hard to imagine, but some people just can NOT nap in the shade of a palm tree with a cocktail close at hand for days on end), then replace the beach time with a stay in Chiang Mai. I loved this northern city tucked up against the mountains. Beautiful temples, lovely people, cooler weather, good handicraft shopping, and all very walkable. If you can score a deal on the Internet like we did, stay at Tamarind Village in the old walled city. And don't miss Doi Suthep.

Thanks for the information! Not anybody spend his time writing and posting helpful information for other travelers... and you did it! Great pics too!

The food on Samui is fantastic and not expensive, the bays are wonderful and all the Thais we met were very friendly and eager to advice use. We stayed at Lamai- a completely different place to the hectic tourist trap at Chaweng Beach.

The food in Bangkok is delicious and cheap, all the Thais we met were very nice and anxious to help. We stayed at Nirvana Thai- a completely different place to the hectic tourist trap in the west of Bangkok like that KhaoSan Road place.

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  • The food in Bangkok is delicious and cheap, all the Thais we met were very nice and anxious to help. We stayed at Nirvana Thai- a completely different place to the hectic tourist trap in the west of Bangkok like that Kh...

  • The food on Samui is fantastic and not expensive, the bays are wonderful and all the Thais we met were very friendly and eager to advice use. We stayed at Lamai- a completely different place to the hectic tourist trap a...

  • Thanks for the information! Not anybody spend his time writing and posting helpful information for other travelers... and you did it! Great pics too! ...

  • I concur! But I would add that if you're not a beach person (hard to imagine, but some people just can NOT nap in the shade of a palm tree with a cocktail close at hand for days on end), then replace the beach time with ...

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