The Ultimate Trip to Thailand: Top Places to Visit in Thailand
Thailand was on my list for many years and finally I decided to have a vacation in this tropical south Asian country. Its irresistible beaches, emerald waters, hidden lagoon, ornate architecture, glitzy Buddhist temples, and ancient ruins have been inspiring millions of globetrotters like me for ages. There was nothing to hold me back and hence I took a trip to Thailand, packed my bags, and left my worries behind for a few days to explore a new destination. I knew that this vacation was going to be the most fun-filled trip of my life.
Thailand is a popular destination on the backpacking trail. Everything here is convenient, pocket-friendly, safe, and simple. This post will help you find out the best season, a perfect Thailand itinerary, overall cost, and best places to visit.
Climate of Thailand
Thailand enjoys a tropical climate, highly influenced by seasonal monsoon winds. The weather can be classified as hot and humid. However, it remains cool throughout the winters. Hence, winter is considered the best time to book a Delhit to Phuket flight.
Facts About Thailand
- Thailand was originally known as Siam.
- Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of rice.
- Thailand is a constitutional monarchy.
- Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia that was never colonized by any European power.
- There is an annual festival dedicated entirely to the monkeys of Thailand.
- Paying respect to the royal family is a serious matter.
- Thailand is home to a fish species that can walk on land.
- It is considered disrespectful to touch anyone’s head, even a child’s.
- Thailand has the world’s largest reigning monarch.
Phuket City Tour
My first city was Phuket, the capital of Phuket province, which is known for its jade-hued waves, glitzy beaches, underwater wonders, and culinary delights. But if you venture a little beyond those postcard perfect spots, you will uncover a rich cultural heritage, which all Phuketians are proud of. Phuket Island hopping is another must-do activity, which one cannot miss.
We spent the first day exploring the Buddhist temples, and some religious and historic sites. There’s no doubt that Thailand is home to some of the most strikingly beautiful architecture, which is known for its elaborate design and ornate decor. If you talk about Phuket weather, it broadly varies between warm, cool, and rainy, which is perfect for sightseeing.
Our first stop was the Big Buddha statue, sitting atop the Nakkerd hills between Kata and Chalong. The cab or tuk tuk, whatever you take, will drop you a few meters below the statue. From there you have to climb steep stairs to reach the top. Once you reach the summit, you will hear the soothing sound of tinkling bells, and be greeted by the 360℃ views of the city.
Its serene and soothing aura was so hypnotic that we couldn’t leave the place soon. We spent some time, and then decided to visit our next stop.
Our next stop was Wat Chalong, the largest and arguably the most beautiful temples in Phuket. The temple is dedicated to two revered monks Luang Pho Chaem and Luang Pho Chuang. You can also find their wax models at the exhibition home. Another interesting fact about the temple is that the Grand Pagoda of the temple protects a fragment of Lord Buddha’s bone.
Wat Phra Thong
After that, our cab driver took us to Wat Phra Thong, which is a 40-minute drive away from Wat Chalong. This beautiful temple houses a half-buried statue of Lord Buddha, where only the head and shoulder is visible. Legend has it that anybody who tried to excavate the statue had met with serious consequences.
Our next spot on our trip to Thailand was Patong, the white sandy shoreline, often crowded with international globetrotters. Patong Beach is not just about the long-white sandy seashore, its clubs, bars, massage parlors, dance clubs, are what make Patong a tourist’s hub. Let the night fall, and you will find Phuket’s tourists taking over the street of Patong.
We spent the afternoon in the Patong beach sunbathing, swimming, taking great pictures, and relishing plenty of scrumptious Thai street delicacies and seafood. There are several shops, where you can buy anything at the right price. The area is always packed with tourists, who are here to enjoy the wild nightlife.
We decided to experience Phuket’s wild nightlife at Bangla Road. The street is lined with several bars with open facade, a few pubs, clubs, discos, dance bars, restaurants, and several shops.These bars mostly hire women, whose only job is to convince the passer-by to step-in and order beer and enjoy some bar game. No doubt this place comes to life only after it gets dark. You can easily spend the entire night experiencing the wild side of this city. However, we had to come back to our hotel as the next day was going to be more eventful.
Our next stop was Krabi Island, which is just a 2 hour 40 minutes drive from Phuket. Krabi is a postcard-worthy destination, known for its limestone karst tall vertical islands, jade-hued ocean, and pristine beaches. However, if you keep the beaches aside, it has another side to show off too. From party-wizard’s island Koh Phi Phi to laid-back Koh Lanta, from serene Buddhist temples to bustling markets, Krabi can be overwhelming for anyone. We chose James Bond Island to be our first destination in Krabi.
James Bond Island
This remote exotic location was originally called Khao Phing Kan Island. However, it came to be known as James Bond Island, after some shots of 1974 film ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ were taken here. The tall vertical shape of the island, emerging from the Bay of Koh Khao Phing Kan, is one of its most striking features.
The island is protected under Ao Phang Nga National Park of Phang Nga Bay. The 250 million year old limestone formation along the bay is what captivates the tourist’s attention. Speed boats are available for those who want to sail through the turquoise water and get a close-up look at the limestone terrain. Kayaking, swimming, and sailing are the most popular activities. It takes almost an entire day to explore the rugged beauty of this island.
How to Reach James Bond Island
The only way to reach James Bond Island is by booking a tour of Phang Nga Bay on a boat. A Thai long tail boat, speed boat, or big wooden boat will take you to the island. We booked a speed boat tour, which cost us around 1,300 Baht. It took us just an hour to reach the island, full of limestone karst rock. However, the tour of the island takes an entire day.
The tour included Phang Nga Bay, James Bond Island, Hong Island, Koh Panyee floating village, and a few limestone caves.
Furthermore, while booking a tour, ask the provider about the entire itinerary, and whether activities and the National Park fee is included. Try to book a speedboat, which generally provides everything, including lunch at Panyee Island.
It took us almost an entire day to explore the rugged beauty of James Bond island. By the time we reached our hotel, we were exhausted.
Phi Phi Island
The limestone hills, turquoise lagoon, and world-famous Maya Bay make Phi Phi Island one of the must-visit destinations in Krabi. Ths uninhabited land is a natural reserve and hence boasts an unadulterated landscape. Basically Phi Phi Island is a group of six islands in the Andaman Sea. Among them Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh Phi Phi Leh are the two popular islands. However, Phi Phi Don is the only inhabited island, where you find some local villages.
Although many call it a tourist trap, there’s no denying that it is extremely beautiful. Apart from its breathtaking vistas, the island is dotted with several party hotspots. We took a speed boat to reach the island, which took us 90 minutes from Krabi. Public ferries are budget-friendly and offer regular service from Krabi.
Koh Phi Phi Don, being the only inhabited island in the Phi Phi island group, has several accommodation options. There were plenty of activities to do and sights to see and without wasting any more time, we started exploring the island.
From taking an arduous climb to Phi Phi viewpoint to swimming in the azure water of Ko Phi Phi Leh, and exploring the hidden caves, our day here was full of fun and excitement. Our guide took us near one of the limestone hills in the middle of the sea, where we saw a cave full of monkeys. No idea how such a large number of monkeys made this isolated cave in the middle of the sea their home.
Scuba diving was next, which was included on the package. We rented scuba diving gear and prepared ourselves for the underwater adventure. There are several diving spots available in Phi Phi islands, where you can admire the exotic marine creatures, coral reefs, and even ship wreckage.
On the fourth day of our trip, we had a flight to Bangkok. Bangkok is one of Thailand’s most bustling metropolises. Its rich heritage, culture, and captivating tourist spots make it one of the most sought-after destinations. Bangkok is dotted with grand palaces, sacred religious temples, towering skyscrapers, and swanky shopping complexes. And Bangkok nightlife for singles is worldwide popular. However, that doesn’t mean committed can’t enjoy its thumping nightlife. Overall, Bangkok has an emerging metropolitan vibe.
For first-time visitors, Bangkok can be overwhelming. Since we had a very limited time, we decided to visit only the main attractions. However, deciding which are the main attractions is another Herculean task.
Anyway, our guide was already awaiting us. We hopped in his car and began our Bangkok tour. Our first stop was the Grand Palace.
The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is the city’s signature landmark and an unmissable sight. The palace is standing proudly on the banks of Chao Phraya River. The design of the palace is a blend of Thai and European style architecture and is indeed a sight to behold. This royal palace was the erstwhile residence of the Siam kings and even today, it is used for royal ceremonies.
The palace follows a very strict dress code and hence, you must wear your clothes responsibly. The female visitors must cover their head and shoulders.
The main highlight is Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It covers more than 94.5 hectare grounds, and encompasses more than hundreds of buildings. Each building represents Thailand’s 200 year old royal history and architectural brilliance.
Visitors are allowed to explore the Grand Palace grounds and four of the palace buildings, and the sacred temples. It took us two to three hours to explore the palace complex entirely.
We headed to Wat Pho on Rattanakosin Island, which is just a few minutes away from the palace. There’s hardly any tourist monuments, and sacred sites in Bangkok that don’t captivate the onlookers. The only way to reach this sacred site is by ferry. The temple is also known as the temple of Reclining Budha. Moreover, it has the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand. It also houses the country’s earliest center of public education.
We donated coins at the metal bowls placed in a long row. The temple has a soothing aura and it is impossible to leave its premises. The temple is open for visitors from 08:30 am to 06:30 pm and a ticket for one person costs 200 Baht and you will be given a complimentary water bottle.
Our next destination was Wat Arun, which is just 15 minutes away from Wat Pho. This tall structure standing on the banks of river Chao Phra was named after the Indian God of Dawn Arun. The 82-m tall missile-shaped golden tower of the temple is one of its characteristics and can be seen from anywhere. We climbed the steep stairs and were stunned by the panoramic view of the river and the city.
It has a floral mosaic and the detailed carvings attract anyone’s attention. The temple remains open for visitors from 08 am to 06 pm and the ticket per person costs 50 Baht.
Bangkok’s Street Food Tour
By the time we explored Wat Arun, our stomach started crumbling and hence our next stop was the street food vendors of Bangkok, who are worldwide famous for their delicious Thai dishes. Khao Pad Gai, Khao Man Gai, Pad Thai, Khao Soi, the list is endless and each one is better than the other. It’s tough to decide what to relish. My advice is, keep your stomach empty for the day if you are planning to go on a street food tour in Thailand.
The nightlife in Bangkok is electrifying. For many, Bangkok is all about its vibrant nightlife, which one must experience. From shopping at Bangkok’s bustling markets to enjoying tansgender’s glamorous cabaret shows, and clubs with dance floors, Bangkok has it all. If you are looking for an immersive experience of cultural display, you can visit the Siam Niramit cultural show.
From massage parlors to go-go bars, and high-end clubs, there’s no dearth of entertainment zones at night in Bangkok. Its roaring nightlife tourism attracts millions of tourists from all over the world.
It takes just two hours to drive from Bangkok to Pattaya. We decided to take a rest for the day. In the evening, we visited the nearby flea markets and street food vendors.
Pattaya City Tour
This roaring coastal Thai city on the Gulf of Thailand is famous for its pristine beaches and vibrant nightlife. There are plenty of other diversions than just crazy beach parties and nightlife in Pattaya. We dedicated the entire day to exploring its amazing places. It has some beautiful beaches and islands, where you can enjoy water sports.
The Elephant Village
The noble cause behind this village is to provide this majestic retired animal a life of freedom and dignity. Take a guided tour to the nearby jungles to get a closer look at the happily roaming herd of elephants, who are finally receiving a life of freedom in their natural habitat. We found three / four curious baby elephants playing around.
If you want you can also donate to the non-profit organization to take care of these innocent animals.
Wat Phra Yai
Our next stop was this beautiful sacred shrine of Lord Buddha, which is just 23 minutes away from the Elephant Village. Located atop the Pratumnak hills, this biggest golden statue of Lord Buddha is 18 m tall and is a popular highlight of Wat Phra Yai. We offered our prayers and sought blessings and headed to our next stop.
Sanctuary of Truth
The structure of the Sanctuary of Truth was carved entirely out of wood, without any metal nails. This serene sight overlooking the ocean has art installations, cultural monuments, and religious shrines. The sanctuary is covered with wood carvings of Hindu and Buddhist Gods and Goddesses.
You will find guided tours in multiple languages here. We had the chance to enjoy a cultural Thai dance performance by the local artists.
Anek Kusala Sala
Our next stop is this museum, which gives an insight to Thai history and culture. The museum houses more than 300 Chinese artworks, statues, depicting historical figures, Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist deities. The second floor has some of the larger-than-life statues of monks. It is one of the city’s best places to learn about Pattaya’s rich history and its relation with China.
The best place to experience Pattaya’s wild nightlife on your trip to Thailand is to explore the Walking Street. This entertainment zone and red-light district is always packed with tourists from all over the world. The party capital of South East Asia is brimming with tons of fun and activity. From go-go bars to clubs, flea markets, dance clubs, you will find everything here. Its roaring nightclubs offer great ambience, signature cocktails, international performers, and crazy nights. The vibe of Pattaya at night keeps you hooked and before you realize, the dawn breaks.
Coral Island is seven kilometers from Pattaya and can only be reached by ferries or speedboats. We booked a chartered speed boat from Pattaya’s Bali Heir and took us 1500 Baht. The entire journey from the mainland to the island is just 45 minutes. If luck favors you, you may find a pod of dolphins playing.
As we reached the island, we knew that this pristine white island is perfect to enjoy sunbathing, tanning, swimming, and board a glass-bottomed boat to see the underwater world. Coral Island is locally known as Koh Hae and is the largest of all islands near Pattaya. This little patch of paradise boasts white sands, emerald water, a long shoreline, coral reef, and hilly terrain.
In Coral Island, you can either bask in the sun, and get hunky tanning or go for some exciting water adventure. Snorkeling, swimming, kayaking are some of the must-do activities here. The island is also dotted with some restaurants, where you can indulge in gastronomic delight. However, everything fails, when you get the glimpse of the setting sun over the ocean. Tourists wait all day long to get a glimpse of it. We were thrilled too!
Repley’s Believe It Or Not
On our last day in Thailand, we visited Repley’s Believe It Or Not, which is a world-famous walkthrough. This family-oriented park originated in the US. The museum has over 350 collections of oddities, which are known for their unique and strange appearance and facts.
We truly had an unrealistic and unbelievable experience here. The museum has housed ancient torture tools, a wax figure of a four eyed man, and replica of the titanic, made from one million match sticks. If you are brave enough, go through the haunted zone to be a part of a foul play, and get to experience the eerie presence of periodic spirits and unseen ghosts. However, these are all done by creating illusions with lighting and atmospheric effects.
Another experience it offers is the 9Dx Moving Theater, where the lifelike special effects allow the audience to be part of the action. In addition, finding our way through the laser maze in the Vault Zone was the toughest for us all. If you have the skills and intelligence, try to find your way out of the maze.
Louis Tussoud’s Waxworks
Louis Tussoud’s Waxworks is just a seven minute walk from Replye’s Believe It or Not. It has 70 wax figures of popular Thai and international celebrities. It is divided into various zones like Chamber of Secrets, Horror Den, British royalty, Pop Stars, etc, where you will find the lifelike wax figures of your favorite artists. From fun Mr. Bean to cannibal zombies, it has got everything to keep you entertained throughout your trip.
Thailand is blessed with abundant natural beauty, which is enough to inspire anyone to visit this beautiful paradise. However, its promising nightlife attracts millions. Its grand architecture, sanctuaries, islands, beaches, and delicious Thai food is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. Even if your trip to Thailand is basically for its nightlife, mainly because of its impressive nightlife, make sure to visit its religious sites and royal palaces.