The Ultimate 2 Week Thailand Itinerary 2016

Hiya, 

Thanks for reading, I don't usually write blogs but this one is pretty in-depth. This blog about Thailand will be my first but I felt compelled to write it after my amazing journey!

I've just come back from the most incredible 2 weeks in Thailand and I am so glad I did research before I went because there's just so much to do and see you're spoilt for choice. 

I started doing research about places to see and things to do 3 months before! Sounds crazy right, but it was my bucket list trip so I thought 'why not start early'. I'm glad I did. Be warned you'll get overwhelmed with the amount of things to do and see in Thailand, it's vast and more then I imagined. 

Well, to start there's a couple of key things about this itinerary you need to know: 

1. I went off season - I actually went in the rainy season 25th September - 9th October. Big risk! However, it completely paid off for us (Barrie my boyfriend and me). It was still ridiculously hot and there were a lot less people about, which meant everything you did was less packed and a lot cheaper due to off peak deals. If I was to go again I'd go in the rainy season no worries. Nonetheless, we did have a few rainy days but this is only a problem if you plan to spend all day on a beach. If you book tours/snorkelling etc on these days you don't waste a single day!

2. This itinerary is for 2 people who want to do as much as humanly possible in 2 weeks with a moderate budget. To be honest, you can't do everything we did on a back packing budget but you don't need much money either. We got cheap return flights due to off peak for about £450 each and we took about £800 spending money each. Sounds a lot but if you think you are out there for 2 weeks that's only £400 a week, which I think is good for including some hotels and the domestic flights we got around Thailand.
We took flights around Thailand because we only had 2 weeks there are of course cheaper options like trains and buses if you have more time! 

  So here it goes...


The Ultimate Thailand Itinerary - For someone who wants to see and do as much as possible! 


 Day 1 - Travel from London to Bangkok 

 Day 2 - Get a taxi from the airport to Bangkok hotel - £7 in total or 291 baht to central Bangkok approx. Quite easy to do just follow the signs out of the airport and down to the taxi rank.

We arrived in Bangkok early (like 9.30 am) so we checked into our hotel and planned to do temples, food markets etc. The hotel we stayed in was called Tara place and apart from having a weird window into the toilet from the bedroom (with blinds), it was clean, the staff were friendly and helpful and it was all you needed for a night in Bangkok. We then went sight seeing mad! The Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha were amazing but full of tourists- even so they are a must do! But the Wat Pho was my favourite temple and almost deserted compared to the Grand Palace plus they are right next to each other. We then saw Wat Arun too which was my lest favourite temple and possible to skip if you're pushed for time. However, we saw it when it was being renovated so maybe we didn't see it in its full glory. By the way, during this we stopped whenever we wanted to for food stalls and fresh coconuts! Also be careful when crossing roads, there is no system at all, it's just that you have to be brave and quick, the green walking man lights mean nothing! 
We then explored the famous Khao San road. Lots of bars and restaurants but it will be more pricey then most other streets in Bangkok for food. I wasn't blown away by the street but it's definitely worth a quick drink or two to say you've been. 

* Warning: We got stopped constantly by very helpful people asking us where we were from and where we were going. These people are trying to get you to go to certain shops or use certain tuk tuks. They will tell you temples are closed and to do something else first. As harsh as it sounds just say 'Thanks but I know where I'm going' and keep walking. Use tourist info shops instead for directions or get yourself a map. Massive help: Google maps still works even if you're on aeroplane mode! 

That night sleep over in Bangkok

Day 3 - Travel to Kanchanaburi for the Death Railway history experience. You will only like this day if you're interested in World War history, it's something that meant a lot to Barrie and myself. We got a taxi from our hotel which the hotel called us and we caught the 7.45am train (very early I know) from Thonburi station. A train ticket was about 100thb each (about £2) for a 3 hour journey through the country side to the Bridge over the River Kwai. The countryside was breathtaking. The train is ok for comfort but nothing special and the toilets are gross. But there's some really cool vendors who go up and down the train selling food and drink - BUY IT - honestly, the banana crisps were the best I've tasted and the rice and chicken in banana leaves were brilliant and all costing around 20thb (20ishp) and no stomach problems! 

We got off at River Kwai station. This stop is just before the bridge and you have to walk about 2 minutes along the station to see it and you can then walk over the bridge (if there's a train coming you just step to the side!). It's an incredible piece of history. From there we got a motor bike taxi for 60thb to Kanchanaburi station. Right near the station is the War Cemetery. This was one of the most emotional visits of our journey. Seeing all the graves of the people who died building the bridge and track you just travelled on was difficult. Our plan was to stay about 3 hours and do all this and catch the train back from Kanchanaburi to Bangkok at approx 14.45pm. So, even after all that we had about an hour to kill and there's a really interesting, informative and air conditioned museum about the Death Railway which is worth the 120thb (£2.70) each visit right next to the cemetery. After this we got the train back but this meant we hit Bangkok at rush hour and getting a simple 15 minute taxi back to our hotel was nearly impossible (they were there but were charging ridiculous fares like 300thb and refusing to turn on meters). In the end we walked from the station to the nearest pier about 5 minutes away (turn left out the station and keep walking until you see a hospital then you'll see signs from there) we got a boat to our nearest pier and walked about 5 minutes to our hotel. 

*Tip: Ferrys in Bangkok are a good cheap way to get about, we got a ferry from Wat Arun to our hotel for 14thb (32p)

Our plan was to pick up our bags from the hotel (they kindly let us store them there for free) and catch an 8 o'clockish plane that night. However, we soon realised the reason the taxi drivers were being such idiots is because of Bangkok rush hour traffic. Luckily, our hotel flagged us a taxi who would put a meter on but we sat in traffic for at least 30/45 minutes barely moving so if you've booked connecting flights bear this in mind. Luckily, we hadn't booked anything because from getting into the taxi at 7.10pm we just only made the 21.10pm flight to Chang Mai. We slept that night in Chiang Mai.

Flights cost around - £70-75 each

 Day 4 - We booked ourselves for Chiang Mai a big treat. It was a value deal on booking.com and we stayed at the Sirilanna hotel- we got it at a deal for £62 a night so £30ish between two. This is cheap for London but expensive for Bangkok so the room was amazing with its own balcony, Jacuzzi and four poster bed. We loved the Jacuzzi and used it every night! Just what you need after city sight seeing. 

We woke up early as we had booked ourselves onto a Jungle trekking/water fall tour in the Mae Tang Region which included Elephant riding. We booked via Travel Hub because they've got amazing reviews and it's good to have a 3rd party to contact if needs be. I'm so glad I did. This was the biggest mistake of our holiday! We did a very strange tour where the trekking and waterfall were brilliant but the elephant riding was horrendous. The place they took us to didn't treat the Elephants well which of course is what we researched into and really cared most about. As soon as we finished the tour we contacted Travel Hub and explained what had happened. They offered us a full refund and explained that we had been booked onto the wrong tour! They usually only use that group for the trekking but never the elephants. 

This taught me one huge lesson - NEVER book a tour with anything but an Elephant sanctuary or conservationist. Do the bathing and feeding it's amazing and you can ride them but only bare back. See Day 10 in this itinerary for how I know this. 

 Day 5 - We are still in Chiang Mai and a bit nervous because we booked via Travel Hub a Chiang Rai day tour at the same time as the trekking and they assured us this would be of their usual standard. The tour included the Golden Triangle boat ride across the Mekong river and into Laos, the White temple, Karen Long neck tribe and more. 

It was great, Phew! The tour guide spoke excellent English and was really informative and funny. If you are in Chiang Mai it is so worth the 3 hour journey - even if you make it yourself - to Chiang Rai's White Temple. It was hands down the most amazing thing I saw and breathtakingly beautiful. 

The rest of the tour was good fun and I felt I got to see the difference between Chiang Mai and Rai. It's a long day of travelling in the mini bus though so if you're not up for that don't book. 

 Day 6- No rest for us! We booked ourselves into a half day Thai cooking class at the Thai Orchard cookery school, I can't rate this school highly enough and half day is all you need unless you're dead keen. It was brilliant! The lady who taught us spoke perfect English and we cooked three dishes. The best bit was that in-between she took us to the local food market and taught us all about the different fruits, veg and meats they have and we tried some too. 

After this we had the rest of the day to explore Chiang Mai which is relatively small within it's walls. We went to the Wat Chedi Luang which was a beautiful ruin and spoke to the Monks there at the conversation tables. This was fascinating and if they are there do it! It's a little weird at first but hearing about their reasons to become a Monk I felt so privileged to be talking to them. 

We relaxed in our hotel pool for a bit then did some gift shopping in the night bazaars. 

*Tip: Next time I go I'd see a Muay Thai boxing match there as it only costs 400thb and the rest of Thailand costs about 1,000-1,750 thb. 

Day 7 - Go to Krabi! There's only 2 flights a day from Chiang Mai so we picked the crazy early one so we could have a full day there. 

Flight cost around £50 each.

We then got the ferry to Railay beach (450thb/£10ish) where our hotel was. I loved Krabi and adored the cliff-side bungalow we booked with a sea view at Railay Garden View Resort. It had no air conditioning, the toilet was basic and the stairs going to the bungalows nearly killed me (don't book this if your bringing suitcases- we used back packs) but the views were worth it! 

Our original plan was to go to Railay beach but the hotel staff said the nicest beach was Pranang Cave beach. The beach was great and the sea was beautiful. There was loads of caves to explore and rock climbing outings if you're into that kind of thing. As we were walking back to our hotel we saw a family of monkeys! Yep with little baby monkeys too! 

That evening we went to Railay beach to see if we'd picked the right one. Railay was lovely too but Pranang Cave beach was far less busy and had all the caves to explore. 

Day 8 - Guess what! We moved again and got another early morning ferry to Phi Phi about 9am costing about 500thb (£11). We dropped our bags off at an ok hotel called Panmanee which was basically right next to the pier as we knew we were only doing a night there and wanted to make the next morning easy. The hotel was clean and well located but nothing special. The weather wasn't great for us on Phi Phi so we booked into a half day snorkelling trip around the island including Monkey beach, Viking cave and the beautiful Maya beach made famous from the film 'the beach'. This only cost us about 1,500thb (£34) because they were out of season normally you'd pay an extra 1,000thb for this. It was a well organised trip and not as busy as we expected due to being off peak. That night we headed to the beach, drank some very strong cocktails and saw a fire show. 

*Be-warned: health and safety doesn't exist in Thailand so only sit front row at a fire show and participate at your own risk. Barrie nearly got set on fire a few times! 

 Day 9 - Even though we had a drink we still got up early again (mental I know) but this was because we arrived around 12pm in Phi Phi yesterday and just managed to get on the 1pm half day snorkelling tour and this meant we missed out on seeing the Phi Phi viewpoint. So yep we got up and out for 7am to walk to the viewpoint which takes 45min-1hour one way. 

*Be warned: it's a hard walk/climb, we accidentally went the back way through the town and up the hill and that was hard, but on the way down we went down hundreds of concrete steps. Which I think if you pick this way up will be exhausting! I sweated a lot and that was in the early morning heat! 

We caught the 9am ferry to Phuket which cost about 600thb each (£13) and stayed in Barrie's friend Gail guesthouse, now owned by her brother Paul in Karon Beach. It's called the Oasis Bar and Guesthouse and for the price was a brilliant place to stay. Really clean and tidy with big rooms and a great location. It was raining this day but we were lucky because we had a local (the lovely Gail) to show us around and she took us to this view point restaurant you'd never find if you didn't know about it called Sabai Corner in Kata Noi. 

 Day 10 - Yep, that's right another early start but this time for a speedboat tour of Phang Nga bay. We visited Panak Island, the famous James Bond Island, had lunch in the floating Muslim village of Panyee, went canoeing around Hong island and had some chill time on the beach at Naka Island. It was a fantastic day out, we had a tour guide that was hilarious, the lunch at Panyee was delicious, and the full day out everything included cost about £25 each. This night we got very drunk in Phuket! 

Day 11- Stupidly of me I had the biggest hang over of the entire holiday for the most expensive day trip we booked! To make up for the horrible elephant experience we had in Chaing Mai I researched ethical companies in the South of Thailand. I could find literally one in Phang Nga called Phang Nga Elephant park which included pick ups from your hotel. Their website stressed about how they care for the elephants and it was a completely different experience. The elephants were happy and healthy, you learnt about they're stories and mahout's, fed and bathed them and got to cuddle them a lot! It was an awesome day. It costs a lot, well 3,900 thb each person (£90) which is very expensive for Thailand but ok for the UK prices. 
We had one problem and it was the fact that we wanted to catch the 3.30pm flight to Ko Samui that day. The half day was meant to finish at 1.30pm we thought that would give us enough time to catch the plane. But our driver in the morning was 1 hour late! So we had less time at the park and got a discounted price due to this but we had to leg it to the airport, use all our charms to literally queue jump past people to get our flight which by the time we got to the airport only gave us 15 minutes to catch. Needless to say I never want to do that again! If I were you just do an ethical tour in Chiang Mai or make time for this down south as Phuket airport is a disgusting mess with queue's out of the door!

But we made our flight yay! This meant we got an extra evening in the beautiful Ko Samui.  We got a transfer from the airport for 150thb each and we stayed near Bophet to see the Fisherman's village (lots of markets and restaurants) in a guesthouse resort called Freehouse Bungalow which is right on the beach front. It was the cheapest place we stayed in, really small and basic but the bed was the softest. 

 Day 12-  We had heard great things about the snorkelling in Ko Tao (Barrie's favourite thing to do) so from Ko Samui we got another early ferry to Ko Tao (we took a 300thb/£7 taxi to the ferry pier and the ferry cost around 600thb again one way each ). Once there we did another half day island snorkelling trip, finishing up at the amazing Kho Nang Yuan where the water was so clear and the view from the viewpoint was to die for. This trip was incredibly cheap 400thb each (£10) and had some really lovely snorkelling spots. We stayed on Ko Tao that night in a place right near the pier called Bro and Sis Place. The room was minimal and it could get loud at night but was adequate for a quick stop over. That night we had dinner at Whitening restaurant which had good reviews. It's all white and you can eat on the beach, the food was good too.  

 Day 13- From Ko Tao we got the 9.30am ferry* back to Ko Samui. By this time I'm loving Thailand but pretty tired of all the travelling so we agreed to chill out finally! We booked into another side of Ko Samui right near the more popular Chawang beach. We stayed in a hotel right near the beach but cheap called Samui Green Hotel. The room was big and clean but there was potential for noise from the street. However, being off peak this wasn't a problem. We just chilled on the beach and went to the walking street that night. 

*Warning: There's only a few ferry's off peak from Ko Tao a 6.30am ferry, a 9.30am then only one more at 3pm. The 9.30am was packed and that was off peak! It had massive queues for checking in the ferry. If I went again I'd just get the 6.30am as I'm sure it'd be more pleasant then queuing lots and fighting to get on. 

Day 14 - We loved the beach day yesterday so much we had another one. But we walked to the north of Chawang beach where the snorkelling is much better. That night we got a traditional Thai massage for 200thb for 1 hour (£5) and do try the ice cream rolls when you see them in the markets they are lush! 

Day 15- We got up at silly o'clock again to catch the 6am plane from Ko Samui to Bangkok, this was so we could catch our connecting flight back to London at 11.40am. However, this meant we literally spent 24 hours travelling. But, it also meant we had an extra night on an beachy island rather then flying back to Bangkok the night before to stay in a smelly hotel near the airport. But the choice is yours! 

Day 16-Rest day! Trust me after doing all this give yourself one full day back home to slob out and recover! 

I really hope this helps anyone out there. 

I've also written a girls packing guide to Thailand below... sorry not to write a guys one but you can use this list too and replace shorts with man shorts :) 

Have an amazing adventure x 

Packing Essentials
  • Travel insurance
  • Ear plugs/ eye mask
  • Drugs- Imodium, antihistamines, contraceptive 
  • Beauty: Shampoo/conditioner, toothpaste/brush, deodorant, hair brush & ties, sun cream, insect repellent 
  • Electrics: Underwater phone case, socket adaptors and charges
  • Beach towel 
  • Hat & sunglasses 
Clothes:
  • 2 pairs of comfy harem style trousers 
  • Comfy sandals 
  • 2  dresses – For nice dinners 
  • 2 dresses for every day wear 
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 2 tank tops & 2 T-shirts 
  • 1 Long dress or skirt 
  • Lightweight rain jacket
  • 1 pair of wedges/heels
  • 2 bras
  • Comfy trainers 
  • Underwear x days your there or less if you plan to do some washing out there
  • Socks, 1-2 pairs (if trekking and for travelling in airports)
  • Swimsuit suit x 2
  • Sarong - buy out there! 
  • * Leave room in your backpacks to buy little bags and gifts for yourself and loved ones. Thailand is all about buying the bits on the markets and do haggle! It's amazing how much you'll get the price down but don't be unreasonable about it. £3 for us isn't much and don't forget that even though everything out there is so cheap. Thai beer is only 70-120thb which is about £1.60-2.80!