Thailand 2017 | Bangkok - Phuket
We just returned from an amazing trip to Thailand, Bangkok and Phuket to be exact. I did a ton of research before the trip and it really paid off. If you're thinking about heading to Thailand, these tips and information should come in handy.
Travel dates: Friday, March 3rd - Sunday, March 12th, 2017 (we got to enjoy 2 full weekends)
We flew from New York, USA (JFK) to Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) with a short connection in Doha, Qatar (DOH). It was a long travel day of about 24 hours if you count the time spent at the airport. By the time we arrived in Bangkok we were so ready for a hot shower and clean clothes. I felt tired, but once we landed and the excitement kicked in I kind of forgot about my exhaustion.
For a long travel day, I definitely recommend wearing the coziest leggings and sweatshirt you own and downloading shows to your iPad in case the airline you're on doesn't have a good entertainment selection. Also, pack a zip-lock with sleepy tea, sleeping pills, tylenol, vitamins, wipes, and anything else that will help you get through the rough times in transit.
Flight was booked via: QatarAirways.com
We chose Qatar Airways for our journey to Thailand for several reasons:
- It's one of the best long-haul airlines in the world.
- The planes are modern and seats were comfortable and wide, with more leg room than other economy seats I've had in the past.
- Great selection of in-flight entertainment.
- Plenty of food options and snacks throughout the course of the flight.
- Friendly staff.
Thailand Currency: Baht (1 Baht = 0.029 USD)
Weather: Temps are in the high 80s-90s. Dry Season is between November & May. Rainy/monsoon season is between June & October.
Hotel: So Sofitel
- Party: We arrived around 8PM, showered and decided to go bar hopping in the Thonglor area ending our night at Beam nightclub, which attracts a young/hip crowd. We had a blast!
- Activities: The Grand Palace and Wat Pho Temples (it's easier to visit them in this order, but get there early)
- Lunch: Head to the Thonglor neighborhood and check out The Commons - It's a food mall (yes, food mall - no clothing shops). Seems to be where the cool locals hang out. We ate at Roast and LOVED it. Boyfriend had an iced coffee at Roots on the lower level and I grabbed a beer at The Beer Cap (they had a great selection).
- Late afternoon: We headed back to our hotel's rooftop for a swim and some cocktails.
- Dinner: Thonglor neighborhood again. We visited another foodie plaza called 72 Courtyard (It's kind of a thing in Bangkok) and had dinner at Touche Hombre (loved the tacos and margaritas). Yes! We ate tacos in Thailand, judge if you must, I really can't eat the same thing every day.
- Party: When in Bangkok, you must check out Khao San Road at least once. It's one long street filled with bars, restaurants, hostels and madness. I've never experienced anything like it. I won't ruin it for you, just dress comfy and go check it out.
- Activities: Wat Arun Temple, China Town, the malls at Siam Square (what better way to understand the locals than at the mall, haha!)
- Lunch: Food Republic (food court) at Siam Center - I had the yummiest Tom Yum Soup and rice there for like $2 USD. We then headed across the street to Maygori for dessert.
- Late afternoon: Chill time at our hotel's pool.
- Drinks: Our friends checked out Sky Bar before dinner, but said the prices per drink were outrageous. However, the view from that rooftop is spectacular.
- Dinner: Bad Motel Bangkok - So delicious! Just be patient with the staff, the language barrier was real! We did not mind though and you shouldn't either. You're in Thailand! Just point at what you want and always be polite.
We checked out of our Bangkok hotel and took a 20 minute ride to DMK airport for our Phuket flight via Air Asia. The flight was only 1 hour long. Once we landed, we grabbed a taxi from a counter near the terminal exit and were shocked by how much more expensive taxis are in Phuket.
In Bangkok, taxi/ tuk-tuk drivers charge whatever they want because they think you don't know any better. Once I saw how much cheaper Uber was, we stopped taking street cabs all together. Uber is 100% the way to go in Bangkok, too bad that wasn't an option in Phuket.
Where to stay on the island?
- Patong - The rebellious child - If you like noise, busy streets/beaches, and want to be able to walk to bars and restaurants this is the area for you.
- Karon/ Kata - Patong's well behaved sister. This is where we stayed! Our hotel was on a hill, but we were still able to walk to the beach and restaurants.
- Surin/ Kamala - Patong's rich aunt. If you want peace, quiet and more of a high end feel this is the area for you.
Taxis or Scooter?
Most hotels offer scooter rentals. Ours offered them for as low as 300Baht a day (less than $9 USD). Taxis charge 300-700 Baht just to take you down the road, which is outrageous! Save yourself the headaches and money. Scooters are safe and you can park them anywhere. We never felt like it was going to get stolen by anyone.
Highlights of our days in Phuket
It was important for us to relax while in Phuket so we kept the activities to a minimum except for 2 boat excursions via Simba Sea Trips (we booked way in advance through their website - communication was excellent).
Here's the thing about me; I don't enjoy excursions with big crowds or feeling like I'm just another $1 to a vendor. I like things to be a little more exclusive and on the chill side, which is why Simba Sea Trips was the perfect choice.
- They will pick you up and drop you off at the hotel in an air conditioned vehicle
- Max amount of people per boat is 14-15
- Breakfast, snacks, lunch and soft drinks are included
- Staff was kind, knowledgable and fun
Tours booked with Simba:
Must See in Phuket:
- Paradise Beach Club (no pool, but worth it)
- Surin Beach: HQ Beach Club (no pool) / Cafe Del Mar (has a pool)
- Bangla Road - It's ridiculously busy, picture Times Square on steroids. It made for a fun night out.
- Nightclubs: Seduction and Illuzion (both on Bangla but attract a cooler crowd)
We ate a lot of Thai food in Phuket, but we picked random restaurants along the way so I don't really have a list for you. However, two memorable ones were No. 6 Restaurant (near Bangla Road - super casual) and Absolute Mango (amazing mango sticky rice near Karon Beach). On one of our last nights we also had dinner at Rustic Eatery & Bar (not Thai food). It was incredible!
Why I stood away from Tiger "temples/zoos" and Elephant excursions:
Tigers - There is absolutely nothing normal about a tiger "sleeping" all day chained to the ground while tourists come into its cage to pet it and take selfies next to it. I've done my research and the abuse is obvious. I refuse to spend money on such a thing.
Elephants - These animals are captured illegally, abused into submission and forced to live in chains when they're not carrying tourists around. Riding elephants can cause serious long-term harm to them. Their spines are not made to support the weight of humans. Please do your research before booking any of those excursions. I suggest looking into reputable elephant sanctuaries instead.
Final thoughts on Thailand:
I'm really happy with our experience and I think everyone should visit. Just do your research, have an open mind & heart and you'll have a fantastic time just like we did. Experience does for the soul what education does for the mind.
Ways to save towards your next vacation:
- Sign up for easy savings accounts like Digit and Qapital.
- Digit - checks your spending habits and moves money from your checking account if you can afford it. Easily withdraw your money any time. It's so painless! Sign up
- Qapital - has a similar concept except you choose your goals and set up rules to trigger deposits into your Qapital account! Sign up
- Use Ebates when booking flights and hotels, my favorite site to book with is Expedia. They give 10% cash back once you've completed your trip. Pretty sweet! Sign up
Check out my recap:
Song: Inukshuk - Happy Accidents