Thailand, often referred to as the Land of Smiles, is a Southeast Asian country that attracts holidaymakers and travelers from all over the world.
So, why should you trust me when it comes to Thailand? If you have followed my website and adventures, you already know that I lived in Thailand on and off for around two years, and can say that I know the country pretty well!
From living in a super basic home in a rural village near Koh Tao, to experiencing the most luxurious spas and resorts on the beach in the Islands, I have really tried it all.
I can tell you what I think is the best way to plan a smashing & stylish vacation because whatever you’re interested in, you’ll surely find it in Thailand. If you have the right guide, of course 😉
If you’re planning a trip to Thailand, here’s everything you need to know to enjoy your journey in style, without too much stress or hassle. I am a nonstop traveler, but I get it: A proper vacation is that time of the year where you are finally able to unplug and spoil yourself a little bit, no guilty feelings, you deserve it!
So grab a drink and sit comfortably and let’s plan your exciting trip to Thailand!
As I always say, the vacation starts with choosing the right flights.
It makes a huge difference when you only have a week or two to relax and you are able to arrive fresh and rested at your destination.
Business Class and First Class flights are obviously the best choices when it comes to traveling in style: The luxury vibe, champagne, comfortable seats that turn into beds, and a mini bar all for yourself are everyone’s dream when up in the air.
SOME OF YOU MIGHT BE INTIMIDATED BY THE PRICES, BUT WORRY NOT AS I HAVE GOOD NEWS FOR YOU!
I am constantly checking the web to find interesting deals on flights & accommodations for my trips, and I was recently introduced to a super smart website for people who love to travel comfortably and in style without breaking the bank: Ultimate Class Airfares.
You can find and book – with no hidden fees – last-minute Business and First Class tickets with discounts up to 75% off the original price. They even have a dedicated team that handles travel to and from Asia.
HOW DOES IT WORK:
Simply go to ultimateclassairfares.com, enter your flight type, departure city, arrival city, preferred airline, class, passengers, departure date, return date, flexibility, email and phone — and a representative will be in touch with a free quote.
Even if money is not an issue for you, getting a discount or saving money when booking your flights is still a massive bonus. This allows you to splurge even more during your vacation, while being treated like royalty before, during, and after your flight. It doesn’t get any better than this!
Thailand’s main international airport is located in its famous capital: Bangkok. Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) is among the top ten busiest airports in Asia.
The capital is also served by a smaller airport, Don Mueang International Airport (DMK), which is mainly used for domestic flights and by budget carriers.
If you’re flying in style, you’ll likely arrive at the newer airport of Suvarnabhumi.
Other major air gateways to the Land of Smiles include Phuket International Airport (HKT) and Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX). There are numerous smaller airports around the country, many only served by domestic routes.
MORE INFOFor a complete list of all the airports in Thailand, check out the list in here and click on the relevant links to have more info on the airlines and routes served by a specific airport.
Getting sick is never fun. But getting sick when you’re away from home can feel a whole lot worse.
While things like an upset stomach, a cold, and other complaints can’t be avoided, there are some vaccinations that are recommended by health professionals to ensure you don’t pick up anything truly nasty.
While you should always consult a medical professional when planning your vaccinations, the most commonly recommended jabs include tetanus, hepatitis A and B, diphtheria, and typhoid.
If you’ll be spending a lot of time in the country, especially in rural areas, cholera, rabies, and Japanese encephalitis may also be advised.
Most parts of Thailand are Malaria-free but I still recommend you to wear white shirts and trousers in the evenings and spray yourself with an insect repellent containing DEET, as they say: better be safe than sorry.
Also, watch out for the mosquitoes during daylight as well, as they are the ones who carry the dengue fever, so remember to also apply the spray during the day if you are outside the main cities.
MORE INFO ON VACCINES & DISEASES IN THAILANDFor a comprehensive and detailed guide to preventing the most common diseases in Thailand, check out the Official website for travel heath in the US (it is obviously valid for all the western countries) It really has it all!
The quickest way of traveling longer distances in Thailand is to book an internal flight.
The country is also very well served by rail and bus networks, with first-class and VIP options available on most routes, to give you a little bit of style while moving from point A to point B. Chartering a taxi for the day, or hiring a car with a driver, can be ideal for shorter distances.
What about the tuk-tuks? I was not a huge fan of them, overpriced and super touristy, but in the end, I caved in.
One or two rides in Bangkok just to try the experience didn’t harm and were actually quite fun. Always negotiate the price and say, “No” if the driver wants to stop by a friend’s shop for you to buy a souvenir. It’s a very common trick in Thailand.
MORE INFO: BANGKOK BY BUSDo you want to dive in the Thai culture a bit more? Even if you are traveling “In style”, one day spent using the buses like locals can be a great option for you to see the real deal. I wrote an article on how I tried the public transport in Bangkok with detailed info, bus numbers and more. Check it out in HERE!
Thailand is used to seeing tourists in droves, and attitudes towards foreigners are fairly relaxed. Bikinis and bathing suits are fine on most of the popular beaches, both on the mainland and on the islands.
If you head off the beaten path, however, you should consider covering up with a t-shirt and shorts when bathing; look at what the locals are wearing and take your cue from them.
You should be especially sensitive in the predominantly Muslim southern provinces.
Wherever you are, beachwear should only be worn on the beach; change before wandering around local towns, restaurants, and bars.
While walking around in shorts, t-shirts, sundresses, and so on is okay in popular hotspots, do remember to cover up when visiting a temple, monastery, or other religious sites.
As a general rule, your shoulders and knees should be covered, with no sheer or torn items of clothing. This applies to both men and women.
If you venture into smaller villages, rural areas, and places that don’t see many foreign visitors, you should dress more conservatively than you would, say, in Phuket, Bangkok, or Chiang Mai.
Traditional Thai communities are fairly modest in their dress and older generations especially can be offended by people wandering around in skimpy outfits. Respect their culture.
A sarong is a great item to carry with you; both men and women can use it to cover shoulders and plunging necklines. Wrap around as a skirt when wearing shorts, as a head covering when the shade is difficult to find, and even as a beach towel.
MY TRAVEL PACKING LISTDo you want to know what I packed for my first trip to Asia (my first stop was Thailand), check out my Packing List article with all the items, including clothes and accessories!
As with anywhere in the world, there are a few common tricks and scams that you should be aware of when visiting Thailand. That said, most Thai people are very friendly, helpful, and welcoming towards foreigners.
Taxis/ Tuk-Tuks scams:
You should always use a taxi that operates the meter. If a driver refuses, find another vehicle. If you take a tuk-tuk, negotiate the price before your trip; asking your accommodation beforehand for a fair price can help immensely.
The “Closed temple” scam:
If people approach you saying that attractions are closed, take the time to go and see for yourself. This is particularly common around the Grand Palace and other Bangkok hotspots, where touts try to set you up for a day of sailing around in a tuk-tuk, visiting shops, and tailors from where they will make a commission.
While not a scam as such, it’s worth knowing that haggling is expected in many markets. The starting price is often inflated.
The Gambling Scams:
Never agree to a card game or other form of gambling. Gambling is illegal in Thailand. There are two common scams relating to card games; one involves paying hefty bribes to corrupt officials who “catch” you engaging in illegal activity, the other relates to rigged games that you will never win.
The Drugs Scams:
There are also scams related to drugs. Drugs are also illegal in Thailand, and penalties can be severe. It’s not uncommon for people to offer to sell you drugs and to be working in cahoots with a corrupt police officer. The end result is a significant bribe being paid.
MORE SCAMSFor the most comprehensive list of scams to be aware of in Thailand, check out this article, it gives you details and variations of every possible scam, from the most popular to the new ones.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand splits the country into five regions: Central, Northern, Northeast (also known as Isan), Eastern, and Southern.
Northeast Thailand sees the least international visitors. Northern, Southern, and Central Thailand see the most visitors, though tourism is often centered around a few key cities, towns, beaches, and islands. Let’s see them one by one so you can choose what suits you the most
The nation’s capital of Bangkok is home to numerous attractions and activities. Cultural highlights include the Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Pho, with its large reclining Buddha statue, the riverside Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of the Dawn, and Wat Saket.
There are many markets around Bangkok, including the enormous weekend Chatuchak Market. There are plenty of modern shopping malls too, great for picking up the latest fashions.
Museums are plentiful and diverse, including Bangkok National Museum, Jim Thompson House, Bangkok Folk Museum, Bangkok Doll Museum, and Kamthieng House Museum.
Talk about traveling in style, why not unwind with a spa day when in the capital? There are many massage joints, but for something unforgettable, head to one of the many luxurious spas for some top-notch pampering.
The Siam Niramit show is a great way to pass an evening, complete with folkloric dancing, costumes, music, food, and elephants. Alternatively, you can experience the buzz of a Muay Thai fight. There are many bars and clubs around Thailand.
Thong Lor is home to swanky wine bars and RCA is the prime part of the city for clubbing enthusiasts. Watch the sun go down from one of the trendy Sky bars; Sky Bar at Lebua is the highest.
Accommodation in Bangkok
My favorite website to find great deals on hotels and resorts around the world has always been booking.com, because most of the properties have the free cancellation policy and competitive prices.
Spend a few days exploring the ancient city of Ayutthaya, with its many splendid ruins.Observe the mischievous monkeys that roam around Lopburi’s Old Town, visit the floating market at Damnoen Saduak, and see the famous Bridge Over the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi.
A word of advice for responsible tourism: In Thailand, especially in the Kanchanaburi area, there are a few attractions that I DON’T recommend you to try, as this is a business that threatens the animals’ safety and health and promotes animal cruelty.
Before leaving for my long-term trip to Thailand, I was intrigued by this attraction, and I was planning on visiting. I’m glad I didn’t as the tigers in there are kept in chains and in order for the tourists to take a picture with them they are drugged. Such a disgrace for these poor animals. If you want to know more about this delicate issue, read this interesting article. I happened to meet the journalist who wrote the piece in person while I was in London and he is very into exposing the truth about ethical tourism and environmental issues.
Another activity that is, still to this day, very popular amongst the tourists is elephant riding. You should know that in order for you to have 30 minutes of “fun” riding the poor animals, they are badly beaten up and mistreated, another blog post will definitely open your eyes on the topic. It gives you all the information you need to make a conscious and responsible choice and gives you a healthier alternative to interact with these beautiful animals.
Sometimes the travel guides only tell you what to do in a certain place, completely disregarding the activities you shouldn’t do.
I was also a victim of ignorance and wanted to try both activities because I didn’t know what was behind the scenes.
Now that I have a website I feel that this is my responsibility to warn you against this type of tourism.
Thailand is packed with stunning locations and adventurous activities to experience that don’t involve ruining the environment or animal abuse. Just choose wisely and when in doubt, don’t do it.
Accommodation in Central Thailand
Chiang Mai, with its 500-plus temples, is a major destination in Northern Thailand.
Often referred to as the Northern Capital, it offers a much more laid-back vibe than Bangkok. Wat Doi Suthep, Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chedi Luang, and Wat Umong are among the most famous temples in Chiang Mai.
Conquer Thailand’s highest peak, Doi Inthanon, for incredible views, shop till you drop at the lively Night Bazaar and get up close and personal with graceful giants at Elephant Nature Park.
Jungle treks can be arranged for various durations. If you just want a quick taster, day treks are possible. For longer experiences, don’t worry about having to rough it.
Luxury camps and stunning treehouse resorts are just a few options you’ll find when it comes to sleeping in style while surrounded by lush nature.
The jungles are filled with an abundance of flora and fauna, as well as many beautiful waterfalls. The unusual Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls is highly recommended.
Chiang Rai offers even more jungle trekking, with a less-commercialized vibe than trips taken from Chiang Mai. There are also more opportunities to visit local hill tribes. Wat Rong Khun, also known as the
Wat Rong Khun, also known as the White Temple, is a stunning sight to see, and other attractions include Baan Dam (the Black House), hot springs and a geyser, and the Golden Triangle where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet.
The ancient city of Sukhothai, the backpacker favorite of Pai in Mae Hong Son, and charming Lampang are a few other Northern gems.
Accommodation in Northern Thailand – Chiang Mai/Chiang Rai
Southern Thailand is a beach lover’s dream!
Phuket is one of the most-visited destinations in the south. The large island is lively, though it is still possible to find relatively quiet stretches of sands if you venture away from the main resort areas.
Kata, Kamala, Nai Harn, and Surin are among Phuket’s beautiful beaches.
Patong is the liveliest area, known for water sports galore, bars, clubs, and revelry. There are luxury accommodations, top-class restaurants, and decadent spas to be found all over the island.
Stroll through Phuket town, with its blend of Chinese and Portuguese architecture, meet the Moken sea gypsies at Rawai Village, and get close to nature at Sirinat National Park. Watch the sun go down from one of the many viewpoints and have a day filled with fun at Phuket FantaSea.
Wat Phra Thong is a traditional temple and the Big Buddha is one of the island’s most famous sights. Boat trips around the coast and to nearby islands are popular.
Snorkeling and diving trips are perfect for spotting the teeming underwater life. From culture and history to nature and wildlife, with plenty of activities, family fun, and nightlife, Phuket really does offer something for everyone.
Watch this jaw-dropping video showing the best beaches and islands in Southern Thailand!
Another top spot on the Andaman coast is Krabi. The Phi Phi Islands attract dedicated sun worshippers and beach lovers, whilst Koh Lanta offers splashes of luxury along its sun-kissed shores. Railay, on the mainland, is known for its great diving opportunities.
Head over to the Gulf coast and visit Koh Samui, an island that’s known for its verdant golf courses, luxury spas, and stylish facilities for people looking for an up-market vacation.
Koh Tao draws divers and snorkelers, and Koh Pha Ngan is known for its party scene but also offers stunning resorts with breathtaking views. (I tried one with the infinity pool over a gorgeous sunset in a super quiet area of the island.)
Accommodation in Southern Thailand
I’ve been to all of these places and my absolute favorites were Koh Tao for the snorkeling and Krabi for the amazing boat trips
Eastern Thailand’s Pattaya is notorious for its adult entertainment and night scene, although there are several great attractions close at hand, such as the Sanctuary of Truth and Silverlake Winery. Farther down the coast, Koh Samet and Koh Chang are pleasant islands in the Gulf of Thailand.
Just into the Isan region, you’ll find one of Thailand’s most popular national parks: Khao Yai National Park. Stunning scenery, varied wildlife, and beautiful waterfalls are a few things you can enjoy in the large national park.
Accommodation in Eastern Thailand – Koh Samet/Koh Chang/Khao Yai
Accidents do, unfortunately, sometimes happen. Don’t even think about visiting Thailand (or anywhere else) without adequate travel insurance. Whether you become sick or get injured, if you lose belongings or are a victim of theft, or if your flight is canceled or delayed, travel insurance covers so many eventualities to give you greater peace of mind when away from home.
I know this very well, one moment of distraction or a smart thief can literally ruin your holiday (It might have happened to me many times without my insurance!)
I have a long list of calamities to report and every time I am so glad that I was smart enough to get insured.
My preference goes to World Nomads, by Bupa. Unfortunately, I had to test them on several occasions, and they were brilliant every time.
Among small travel incidents, they refunded me more than 4000 euros when I got sick in Africa.
I was once also robbed of 1000 euros on a night bus in Thailand (more on that story in a separate article coming soon) and yet again they were there to assist and help me in getting my money back.
The good thing with World Nomads is that you can reach them at any time and you can renew your insurance when on the road. But most importantly, they are TRUSTWORTHY.
They cover basically everything, from travel issues to legal and medical problems. I had offers to try other insurance companies – for free- and I declined. I will always choose them and I recommend them to everyone online and offline.
You can check it out in here and see if it’s the right insurance for you:
As you can see, there are many ways to enjoy Thailand in style; it’s not just a destination for backpackers.
Have a fantastic time exploring the diverse Land of Smiles 🙂
Disclaimer: This article contains sponsored material. All the opinion expressed are, as usual, my own. Thanks for Reading!