The 2014 Bangkok Travel Guide

BangkokDavid.com – Updated June, 2014

Essentials

Bangkok Travel Guide

Q. When is the best time to visit Bangkok?

November to February is the cool season. The weather is perfect and this is the best time to visit Bangkok – though book hotels well in advance if you’re visiting during the peak season over Christmas and New Years.

From March to May is the hot season when the city is very hot and humid. The rains increase with each passing week but the skies are still largely sunny.

May to October is the wet season when Bangkok skies are overcast for large parts of the day and there can be some flooding (especially in September and October) – though most visitors won’t experience any great inconvenience. The sun does shine for at least a few hours every day – usually in the morning.

The best beach weather for southern Thailand’s islands are December to May. The worst months for a beach vacation are September to early November when rains and storms can hit both coasts of Thailand.

Where To Stay in Bangkok

There are 3 main areas of Bangkok that makes great places to stay for tourists.

The Siam Square/Sukhumvit area is great for shopping, markets, and easy access to the Skytrain. This is a large area that stretches over several miles. Most of Bangkok’s best and biggest malls are in Siam Square. As you move east into the Sukhumvit area the activity moves out onto the streets and alleys – though there are still some large malls in the area. You’ll find many great places to eat in Sukhumvit.

The Riverside area is where you’ll find some of Bangkok’s best hotels. It’s a good distance from here to the shopping of Siam Square but if you stay close to the Skytrain it’s very manageable. Many of Bangkok’s top cultural attractions are near the river so if you’re here for sightseeing it can make a great base. Trips along the river are a great outing and longer trips on private boats are easily arranged along the riverfront.

The Khao San Road area is historically the home of the backpacker but there’s lots in and around the neighborhood and it has some good mid-range hotels. It’s one of the cheaper areas to stay in the city and it’s also close to many cultural attractions. The big drawback is that there is no Skytrain near here so any trip will need to be by taxi, tuk tuk, or bus which can be slow in Bangkok’s chaotic traffic.

For more detailed information read the Neighborhoods of Bangkok.

Q. What are the best hotels near the airport?

Q. What hotels in Bangkok have swimming pools?

Most mid-range and luxury hotels in Bangkok have pools. For recommendedations read the best hotel pools in Bangkok.

Q. What are the best markets in Bangkok?

  • Chatuchak Weekend Market

    Time: Saturdays and Sundays 9am to 6pm
    BTS: Mo Chit Station (Exit 1)
    MRT: Kamphaeng Phet (Exit 1), Chatuchak Park (Exit 1)
    Bus: 36 (from Sukhumvit) / 524 (from Si Lom)

    Chatuchak is Thailand’s biggest market, and Asia’s largest weekend market. In its tiny lanes (sois) you can find a dizzying array of items like clothes, accessories, knick-knacks, household items, decorative items, antiques (real and fake), Thai handicrafts, and live animals (including endangered species).The best time to visit the market is 9am, when it opens, as the musty sois get hot, muggy, and crowded in the afternoon. The majority of shops will not accept credit cards, so keep cash handy. Bottled water, backpacks/foldable carry bags, and comfortable walking shoes are a must, as is keeping an eye out for pickpockets. There are small oases throughout the market that serve chilled soft drinks and beer, light snacks, ice-cream, and piping hot Thai food. The clock tower in the center of the market makes a good landmark and meeting place if you get separated from your friends. In 2008, a blanket smoking ban was enforced on the entire market, with a THB 2,000 fine for offenders.

  • Phat Pong Night Market – Silom

    Time: Everyday 6pm to 1am
    BTS: Sala Daeng Station (Exit 1. 2nd lane on your right called Thanon Phat Pong.)
    MRT: Si Lom (Take the Si Lom exit, follow the overhead BTS tracks and cross the road. Thanon Phat Pong will be a small lane chock-full of tourists, after the Burger King.)
    Bus: 4, 45, 46, 47, 109, 524

    The best time to visit Phat Pong is after 9pm. It is world-famous (or infamous) as Bangkok’s red light district with its numerous “Go-Go Bars”, “Ladyboy” shows, strip clubs, and pornographic and pirated DVD-vendors. It has recently cleaned up its act to some extent, but visitors are still bombarded with skimpily clad ladyboys screaming, “Can you help me?” and touts waving pictures of naked women in your face, all the while asking you, “Sex? DVD? Massage?”. If genuinely not interested in buying a product, do not haggle with a vendor, as it might lead to a tirade of the choicest words. Phat Pong is also famous for its fake goods – from Patek Philippe watches, to Mont Blanc pens, to Louis Vuitton bags. Vendors will show you catalogs of the brand you wish to buy, and when you point to a model and agree on the price, someone will scurry into some alley and come back 5 minutes later with the replica. You can also find vendors selling local Thai handicrafts, rude t-shirts, clothes, shoes, accessories, and most notably, beautiful hand-crafted soap ornaments which the vendors make on the spot.

  • Pratunam Market

    Time: General market open 24 hours, retail stores from 10am to 9pm
    BTS: Chit Lom Station (Exit 1. Walk toward Central World, take right on Phloen Chit Road, and walk straight toward the tall Baiyoke Tower – about 10 minutes.)
    Bus: 140, 183, 513

    Pratunam Market is arguably Bangkok’s best and cheapest retail clothes market. The logic here is simple – the more you buy, the cheaper it gets. Situated right under Thailand’s tallest building, the Baiyoke Tower II, it is a 24-hour market, though the dynamics change throughout the day. The retail shops within the market usually operate between 10am to 9pm. Apart from clothes, you can find lots of Thai souvenirs and handicrafts too. It is very common to see foreigners buying in bulk from vendors here to sell in their own countries. Buying 3 or more units of the same item constitutes bulk buying here which entitles you to ‘wholesale’ rates, and friendly bargaining is acceptable. The only rules in this market are, no trying-on, no refunds, and no exchanges. If it gets too hot, step into the Baiyoke Tower mall for air-conditioned coolness.

  • Khlong Toei Market

    Time: Everyday 6am to 2am
    MRT: Khlong Toei Station (Take the Rama IV exit, walk for 10 minutes on Rama IV till you come to the big intersection with Narong.)
    Bus: 45, 46, 72, 102, 107

    Khlong Toei is Bangkok’s biggest wet market. It’s a fascinating little hidden village amidst the concrete and glass jungle of the city. This is not a touristy spot, and you will not see many Westerners here. But a walk through this market, especially after 11pm, will open your eyes to how the markets work in Bangkok. You can find everything from fresh vegetables and fruits to butchers selling all kinds of meat. Many small vendors and shops buy from Khlong Toei at wholesale rates and resell the products in business and residential districts at higher prices. Be warned though, it is not the most hygienic or picturesque place to walk through. One needs a strong stomach to see the freshly butchered meat being sorted into different cuts for different customers. The smell and sight of blood can be overwhelming. If you are really adventurous, check out the vendors selling dead rats, and all sorts of roasted or grilled critters like cockroaches, bugs, scorpions, and grasshoppers.

  • Amphawa Floating Market

    Time: Fri-Sun 12 noon to 8pm
    Getting there: A taxi or tour is the best way to visit the market.

    Amphawa is the second biggest floating market in Thailand after Damnoen Saduak, but is located at half the distance (50 km) from the city. Even though the market starts early in the morning, the real action begins in the afternoon. It is not as crowded or photogenic as Damnoen Saduak, but at the same time, it is a bit more authentic. One will not find Europeans buying souvenirs here, but instead see Thai tourists enjoying the day with their families and friends, hence the ‘authentic’ tag. There are private residences within the market, many of which advertise homestays. Many of the boats have pulley systems hooked up with the riverbank and use this system to send up their wares in baskets and collect the money from customers. There are innumerable Thai food options available. About 100m from the river is a temple completely engulfed by the roots of an immense banyan tree. The scene is straight out of an Indiana Jones movie.

  • Bangkok Flower Market (Pak Klong Talad)

    Time: Open 24 hours, but more popular at night
    MRT: Hua Lamphong Station (Take taxi or tuk-tuk from here).

    It is Bangkok’s largest wholesale and retail flower market, located near the Memorial Bridge. You can find innumerable varieties of flowers and flora-related goods (flower pots, garlands, decorative arrangements) usually sold in packs of 50 and 100 each at very cheap prices. You need very little time to explore the market. It attracts tourists mainly due to the exotic and colorful nature of its products, which are extremely photogenic. It is best to stand back and observe if you visit during peak times like pre-dawn (4am), as vendors doing brisk business have very little patience then. Prices of products fluctuate throughout the year, depending on the demand or particular varieties during festivals and important holidays like Valentine’s Day and Songkran.

  • MBK Center

    Time: Everyday 10am to 10pm
    BTS: National Stadium Station (Exit 4 goes straight into MBK)
    MRT: Sam Yan Station (Take the Thanon Phaya Thai exit, and catch a tuk-tuk or taxi for a short 5-minute ride to MBK.)
    Bus: 15, 47, 48, 73, 204, 508

    MBK is arguably Bangkok’s favorite shopping destination. It is a cross between a mall and a market, as its 8 floors of air-conditioned retail, dining and entertainment scream “mall”, while its tiny shops and over-crowded passages and alleyways make one feel like they are in a market. In MBK, you can spend an entire day without leaving – there is even a movie theater and a bowling alley on the top floor with many well-known restaurants and fast-food joints (Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Dairy Queen). The rest of the floors are filled with thousands of vendors selling bags, shoes, accessories, clothes, handicrafts, souvenirs, perfumes, electronics, food, and even furniture and bathroom fittings. Bargaining is allowed, unless mentioned otherwise, even though prices are already very low. The hidden gem of MBK is the 4th floor, which is entirely covered in hundreds of shops, counters and kiosks selling, buying, trading, repairing, and even manufacturing mobile phones of every make and brand. It is an adventure to walk the entire floor and see the workers in action.

    There are forex counters where you can exchange currency, as well as ATMs, all over the mall.

  • Talad Bo Bae (Bo Bae Market)

    Time: Everyday 6am to 6pm
    BTS: National Stadium Station (Exit onto the road and take a tuk-tuk or taxi across the canal or “klong” – about 10 minutes away.)
    Bus: 53

    Bo Bae market is one of Bangkok’s oldest – and largest – wholesale clothing markets. You know you are close to Bo Bae when you see tuk-tuks stuffed with huge sacks of clothing forcing their way through traffic, almost doing wheelies. Vendors from all over the world come here to place bulk orders for clothes. The stall owners at this market even provide all the facilities to export the goods. Buying just 3 pieces of the same clothing will get you wholesale rates. Apart from branded western and traditional Thai clothing, you can also find fresh fruits and vegetables, Muslim (halal) food, and fashion/costume jewelry at very cheap rates.

  • Pantip Plaza

    Time: Everyday 10am to 9pm
    BTS: Chit Lom Station (Same directions as Pratunam Market. Take a left at the junction of Pratunam onto Soi Petchaburi and walk for 5 minutes. Pantip will be on your left.) or Ratchathewi Station (Exit 4. Turn right toward Soi Petchaburi and walk for 10 minutes toward Baiyoke Tower. Pantip will be on your right). It would be best to take a taxi or tuk-tuk from either of these stations.
    Bus: 113, 512

    Pantip Plaza is a non-descript white building that faintly resembles a mall. Inside this building is Thailand’s biggest electronics market which sells everything from computers, laptops, accessories, electronics, cameras, software, CDs, DVDs, movies, and more at wholesale prices. The entire 5 floors are littered with small and big shops buying, selling, trading, building and dismantling computers. There are two large retail outlets here, IT City and Hardware House. You can find deals, sales, and discounts on almost everything in Pantip. The dark side of the market is that a lot of counterfeit goods and pirated software and movies are also sold, not to mention touts pulling male foreigners into corners and trying to sell them “naughty DVDs”. This is a great place to find $10-$100 bargains, but you would need to think twice before spending $700 on a laptop or camera from a shop here.

  • Yaowarat and Phahurat (Sampeng Market)

    Time: Everyday 10am to 9pm
    MRT: Hua Lamphong (It’s a 15-minute walk to Chinatown, or a 5-minute taxi-ride from here.)
    Bus: 48, 204

    Yaowarat (Chinatown) and Phahurat (Little India) stand side-by-side in this part of old Bangkok, with the famous Sampeng Market right in the middle. The area is famous as the textile and gold hub of Bangkok. It is one of the most exciting and chaotic parts of the city. Bright red-colored Chinese shops selling gold by the pound dot the main road as you enter Chinatown. Phahurat, on the other hand, is composed mostly of the Indian Sikh community dealing in wholesale textile imports and exports. The grand Sikh Gurudwara (place of worship) is a must-see. Sampeng Market is famous for trinkets, souvenirs, handicrafts, clothes, accessories and costume jewelry. The area is filled with roadside foodstalls selling Thai, Chinese, and Indian food, as well as fresh fruits and desserts. One dessert you shouldn’t miss is “Thap Thim”, which is basically crushed ice in a bowl, covered in sweet condensed milk, with a huge choice of toppings like coconut, water chestnuts, fresh fruits, jelly, and bean curd. It is the best refreshment during a sweltering hot shopping spree.

Q. What are the best shopping malls in Bangkok?

All of these malls have huge food courts and cinemas, and are so large they could easily fuel several hours (or several days) of shopping. The 3 malls listed below and many others are located in the Siam Square neighborhood and

  • Siam Paragon – Bangkok’s luxury mall. Fashion and high end shopping with shops including Gucci, Chanel, Zara, Shanghai Tang, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Emporio Armani, Hugo Boss, and Prada. Linked to the smaller malls Siam Centre and Siam Discovery. Siam Ocean World aquarium, Kidzania, and a 15 theater cineplex are great for the kids. Linked to Siam BTS station.
  • MBK Center – A cross between a shopping mall and a market. Lots of small vendors good for budget items and imitation goods as well as the discount Tokyu Department Store. Linked to National Stadium BTS station.
  • Central World – Stores include Isetan, Zen, Toys R Us, SuperSports (athletic equipment), PowerBuy (electronics), and H&M. For amusement there are 15 movie theaters and an ice rink with skates for rent. Linked to Siam and Chitlom BTS stations but both are a 5 minute walk in opposite directions.

Q. What are the best hotels for shopping?

All of these hotels have connected access to the Siam Square malls and a BTS station.

Q. What are the best things to do with kids in Bangkok?

Bangkok has lots to keep kids entertained and engaged. Here are the highlights. (Photos of kid-friendly attractions in Bangkok.)

  • Siam Ocean World – One of Asia’s largest aquariums on the bottom floor of the Siam Paragon mall.
  • Lumpini Park – A great oasis of calm and green in the center of the city. A huge playground is in the center of the park.
  • Dusit Zoo – A little tired but still fun. Lots of exotic animals including a Bengal Tiger, camels, elephants, alligators, kangaroos, and a variety of monkeys.
  • Safari World – A huge open air zoo and safari park about an hour outside the city. Plan for a full day outing.
  • Funarium – A large indoor and air conditioned playground. Perfect for the hot season.
  • Kidzania – Kids ages 4 to 14 can play act out different professions from airplane pilot to doctor. Book early to gain a spot.
  • Siam Niramit – An elaborate and extravagant show with elephants, dancers, costumes, and music. Kids love it.

See Also

Q. What are the best beaches near Bangkok?

Bangkok is only 15 miles from the Gulf of Thailand but this stretch of coastline holds little appeal to travelers in search of a beach. To find any decent sand you’ll have to go southwest to Hua Hin and Cha-Am (3 to 4 hours by bus, train, or car), or southeast to Pattaya (1.5 hours), Jomtien (1.5 hours), or Koh Samet (4 hours).

Q. What are the best day trips from Bangkok?

  • Ayutthaya – This UNESCO World Heritage site is only an hour and a half north of Bangkok by bus. Ayutthaya was the old capital of Thailand until the Burmese burned it down in 1767. Ayutthaya is also home to Wat Phra Mahathat where you can see the famous Buddha head statue with a banyan tree growing around it. After exploring the old city, be sure to eat at Chao Phrom Market. This is a local market and offers authentic Thai dishes. The cheapest way of reaching Ayutthaya is by train and it is also the most scenic. The train departs daily from Hualamphong Train Station and the trip takes about 2 and a half hours. Second class seats with air-con cost 245 baht and third class is just 15 baht. Bus is the fastest way to Ayutthaya. Head to Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal where buses depart every 20 minutes until 8:00pm. The First class air-con ticket is 56 baht.
  • Kanchanaburi – Kanchanaburi is famous for the Bridge over the River Kwai and is also home to elephant camps, the Tiger Temple, and the waterfalls of Erawan National Park. JEATH War Museum is on the old grounds of a tiny Thai temple that’s run down, but it gives visitors a sense of how the prisoners of war lived. The Thailand-Burma Railway Museum pays homage to the prisoners of war who built the Death Railway. Buses leave the Southern Bus Terminal daily, every 15-30 minutes depending on class. The ride takes about two hours and costs between 95-110 baht.
  • Amphawa Floating Market – This isn’t a floating market for tourists but for Thais. Amphawa Floating Market is located next to the river with hundreds of shops and stalls built next to the river bank. The atmosphere is relaxed and many locals come here to shop, eat, and unwind. Don’t miss the boats selling noodle dishes. From the Southern Bus Terminal take a bus to Smoot Songkhrama then switch to a bus heading for Amphawa. You must ask locals because all the buses are in Thai. The ride only takes 15 minutes and it is obvious where to stop.
  • The Bat Temple – 90 minutes from Bangkok by train and the ticket is only 20 baht. Wat Pho Bang Khla has been dubbed The Bat Temple due to the thousands of fruit bats. Besides the bats, Wat Pho Bang Khla is an interesting place. It dates back to 1767 and is lined with beautiful images of the Buddha. The Bat Temple runs alongside the Bang Pakong River and through Chachoengsao city, both are lovely places for a stroll.
  • Koh Kred – A tiny island in the Chao Praya River, a few miles north of Bangkok. Only a few hundred people live on the islands, who are descendents from the Mon tribe. Koh Kred is famous for its pottery, Mon Culture and architecture. The island is quite busy on the weekends, best to get there early or on a week day. Take an Express Boat (with the green flag) on the Chao Praya River, north to Pah Kret pier. The boats run between 6:15am and 8am and 3:30pm and 6pm, every 20 minutes. The boat ride takes about an hour. At the Pah Kret pier, take another ferry boat across to Koh Kred. The total ride will cost 15 baht.

Q. What are the best restaurants in Bangkok?

  • Issaya – The flagship restaurant for Chef Ian Kittichai. It’s location is in a historical colonial 1920’s Thai home in the center of Bangkok. The atmosphere has amazing ambiance and serves exceptional modern Thai dishes with a twist.
  • Water Library Chamchuri – Located in Chamchuri Square on Rama 4 Road, next to Chulalongkorn University, Water Library is led by German Chef, Mirco Keller. The kitchen serves a set lunch and tasty dinner menu, as well as a wine list with over 370 labels and an extensive drink list.
  • Sala Rim Raam – This outstanding Thai restaurant is part of the Mandarin Oriental but located across the river from the hotel with stunning views of the Chao Praya River. The cuisine is traditional Thai dishes and every night there is a well-regarded dance performance.
  • Vertigo and Moon Bar – Located 61 floors above Bangkok, atop the Banyan Tree hotel, this rooftop lounge offers some of the best views of Bangkok. It’s one of the highest bars in the Asia Pacific and a must-visit destination. Extensive drink list and contemporary dishes.

Q. What are the best cooking schools in Bangkok?

All of these schools allow you to make your own dishes (you’ll usually pick 3 or 4 from a list) and cook them from scratch (including the curry paste). You’ll eat whatever you made at the end of the class.

  • Blue Elephant – The morning class includes a tour of a local Thai market. One of the oldest cooking schools around. Expensive but top notch.
  • May Kaidee’s – One of the few vegetarian cooking schools in Bangkok. Hard to find so give a little extra time to get there.

Q. What are the best tours in Bangkok?

  • Bangkok Food Tours – Food is the crux of all cultures and exploring Bangkok by food is one of the best ways to experience authentic Thai culture. Bangkok Food Tours takes participants to a variety of eateries and markets to truly experience this foodie paradise. The owners are Thailand born and raised, and pride themselves for knowing the story behind each menu. All tours highlight culture, as well as delicious dishes.
  • Spice Roads Bicycle Tours have been running bicycle tours for over 10 years and offer an array of tours, including overnight and mountain biking tours. Bangkok is full of hidden gems and Spice Roads knows them. Day trip tour-routes include visits to floating markets, the countryside, canals, and jungle around Bangkok. If you have an extra day to spare, you can escape Bangkok. The tours reach the coastal village of Hua Hin, the jungle of Kanchanaburi, and the River Kwai. There is very little riding done within Bangkok proper so most rides are through quiet suburbs and countryside.
  • Tours with Tong is a popular tour among tourists. Tong is a very passionate, enthusiastic lady who goes above and beyond (though there are other guides as well). She modifies every tour to be personal, so never hesitate to make your preferences heard. Besides doing the regular sights, she pulls away from large groups and gives you a local experience. A small drawback is that Tong is very busy and emailing and planning can take a backseat to the everyday demands of leading a tour. Be patient when waiting for an email response – and start the booking process well in advance to avoid being disappointed.

Q. What airlines fly to Bangkok?

Bangkok is an important international hub and most major airlines have flights to Suvarnabhumi International Airport. To find the best fares to Bangkok use Kayak or Travelocity.com.

For flights around Southeast Asia and between cities within Thailand the following budget airlines offer the best fares.

  • Air Asia (route map) — Asia’s biggest budget airline and my favorite for getting around SE Asia on a budget. Destinations include cities in: Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Indonesia, Australia, China, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and London, England.
  • Nok Air (route map) — Flights to many destinations within Thailand including Phuket, Surat Thani, Pai, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Udon Thani, Sakhon Nakhon, Buri Ram, Khon Kaen and Mae Hong Son.
  • IndiGo (route map) — Flights from Bangkok to Delhi and Kolkata. Also flights between Singapore and Chennai.
  • Cebu Pacific (route map) — Based in Manilla with flights within the Philippines and from Manilla and Clark to Bangkok.
  • Tiger Airways (route map) — Flights from Bangkok to Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and Clark, Philippines. Also flights from Krabi and Phuket to Kuala Lumpur.
  • Orient Thai Airlines (route map) — Flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Phuket, Pai, Hong Kong, Guangzhou.
  • Bangkok Airways (route map) — Flights from Bangkok to Koh Samui, Krabi, Phuket, Pattaya, Lampang, Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Rangoon, Singapore, Dhaka, Mumbai, Bangalore, the Maldives, Abu dhabi, Muscat, and Hong Kong.
  • Jin Air — Flights between Seoul and Bangkok.
  • SEAIR — Flights between Bangkok and Manilla.

Q. How do I get to and from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport?

Suvarnabhumi International Airport is 25km east of the city and well connected to downtown Bangkok and other nearby towns and beach resorts.

  • Airport Rail Link – The Airport Rail Link is the cheapest and (when traffic is bad) can be the fastest way into Bangkok. You buy tickets and board the train in the basement of the airport. The Rail Link (express service) costs 150 baht and takes 15 minutes to central Bangkok. It stops at Makkasan station (transfer to the metro blue line Phetchaburi station) and Phaya Thai station (transfer to the BTS Skytrain station Phaya Thai). The slower city link (commuter service) costs 15 to 45 baht and takes 35 minutes into the city. It stops at 8 stations along the route including both Makkasan and Phaya Thai. Both lines run from 6am to 11:55pm.
  • Taxi – Metered taxis are the easiest way to Bangkok. Once you clear customs and immigration, walk downstairs to the first level and you will see a taxi line outside. (Ignore anyone inside the airport that’s offering you a taxi.) Tell the clerk at the taxi desk your destination and the clerk will assign you to the next available taxi driver. Trips into the city cost between 250-400 baht, depending on your location. However, you must pay an additional 50 baht meter fare plus tolls. It’s nice to have small change to pay the tolls but if you don’t the taxi driver will pay and then add the charge to your fare. The expressway toll costs 70 baht and any other highway tolls cost between 25 and 45 baht. The ride takes between 45-75 minutes depending on traffic and location.
  • Bus – Express buses no longer run from the airport to the city. There is a shuttle that runs to a bus station 3km’s from the airport with service to the city from there, but there’s little need and buses aren’t any cheaper than the rail link.
  • To Hua Hin – Buses to Hua Hin from Suvarnabhumi Airport take 3 hours and cost 305 baht (schedule here). Buses arrive and depart from the Hua Hin bus station at soi 96 and from level 1, gate 8 of Suvarnabhumi Airport (down the escalators from arrivals). For hired cars Oriental Escape are reliable and offer luxury sedans, suv’s, and large vans (can fit up to 12 passengers) for between B2,700 and B3,900. There are touts in the airport that you can bargain down to about B1,500 but these people are not licensed so you’re opening yourself up to scams – or worse. A taxi to Hua Hin from the airport will run around B2,000. From Hua Hin to the airport by taxi should be about B1,200.
  • To Pattaya – Buses to Pattaya from Suvarnabhumi Airport take 2 hours and cost 250 baht (schedule here). Buses arrive and depart from the Pattaya Bus Station on North Pattaya Road and from level 1, gate 8 of Suvarnabhumi Airport (down the escalators from arrivals). For hired cars Oriental Escape offer luxury sedans, suv’s, and large vans (can fit up to 12 passengers) for between B2,000 and B2,700. Walking out the door of the airport and getting a taxi will cost about B1,500. From Pattaya back to the airport it will be closer to B800.

Q. How do I get to and from Don Muang Airport?

Don Muang Airport is 25km north of Bangkok. It serves all flights for the budget airlines Air Asia, Nok Air, and One-Two-Go.

  • Taxi – Get a metered, licensed taxis from the taxi desk outside arrivals. Ignore touts and limousine drivers who approach you inside the airport. Taxis will cost 300 to 400 baht including the tolls and the B50 airport fee.
  • Skytrain and taxi – A little cheaper (and if traffic is bad also quicker) than taking a taxi the entire route is to take a taxi from the airport to Mo Chit Skytrain station on the Sukhumvit line – then Skytrain into the city. It works fine going to the airport as well.
  • Rail – There is a train station a 15 minute walk (across an overpass) from the airport. Follow signs for Rail or the Amari Hotel. There are regular, though erratic, trains from here to Hualamphong Station in Bangkok and to cities of northern Thailand. Travel time to Hualamphong is about an hour.
  • To Suvarnabhumi Airport – There is a free shuttle bus between Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Muang for travelers with onward ticket. Show your boarding pass or ticket to dispatcher at level 2, door 3.
  • To Hua Hin – A taxi from Don Muang to Hua Hin B2,500. A hired car from Don Muang to Hua Hin with Oriental Escape will be about B3,000 to B4,000.
  • To Pattaya – A taxi from Don Muang to Pattaya will run about B1,700. hired car from Don Muang to Hua Hin with Oriental Escape will be about B2,200 to B3,000. Or you can take a taxi to Morchit Bus Station, costs about 100 baht, and then a bus to Pattaya for about 140 baht (schedule here).

Q. How do I buy train tickets in Bangkok?

Bangkok’s main train station is Hualamphong Station. The ticket office is located on the main concourse and is well-organized. A TV screen is stationed above each window to indicate what tickets each window sells. It’s usually possible to get a seat on the day before or even the day of travel. But trains do get fully booked during peak Thai holiday periods and the December and January high season so if you’re on a tight schedule then you should book in advance

Ticket windows 15-22 are open for advance ticket sales while the other windows are for travel in the same day. All long-distance express trains require a reservation. It can be made on the day of travel or up to 60 days in advance. Local trains to Ayutthaya and Kanchanaburi don’t require a reservation. You can book with the State Railways of Thailand by emailing them at least 15 days in advance but be patient.

There are three different classes on Thai trains. 1st class is an air-conditioned sleeping-car. 2nd class has seats and sleeper cars available, but no air-con. 3rd class has seats only and only enjoyable for shorter trips.

Q. How do I get around Bangkok?

Map of Bangkok's Skytrain, MRT, and Airport Train.

Image credit: Wikitravel

  • The Skytrain operates from 6:00am to midnight daily. There’s not a schedule but the Skytrain frequency is less than 5 minutes during peak hours (06.00 – 09.00 am. and 04.30 – 07.30 pm) and less than 10 minutes during off-peak hours. The ticket fare costs between 22 baht and 55 baht per person depending on the distance. Tickets are dispensed from ticket vending machines at all stations (most of which require change). Alternatively, ticket booths are staffed during operating hours if you need to talk to a person (they’ll usually speak some english) or need change for the vending machines. Both the ticket machines and booths can have long lineups. If you’re in Bangkok for longer than a few days you should buy a rabbit card which is a magnetic card with stored value. It’s main advantage is that it allows you to bypass the queues at the vending machines and ticket booths. It costs 300 Baht, which includes 150 Baht issuing fee, 50 baht deposit and 100 Baht stored value for spending. As you use the stored value on the card you’ll need to top it up at a ticket booth. The deposit and any unused value is refundable if you return the card to a BTS station.The track and stations are elevated above ground and all stations feature lifts and ramps for disabled passengers. Doors on the trains open and close automatically and a beeping sound warns passengers when the doors are about to close. All signs and announcements are in English and Thai. The only drawback to the Skytrain is that it doesn’t go anywhere near the airport, railway station, or Khao San Road area.
  • The Bangkok bus system is intense and intimidating for newcomers. It has 108 lines and is complicated to take as a foreigner – but it is also the cheapest transportation in Bangkok. There isn’t a set bus map, drivers rarely speak English, and the stops aren’t clearly marked. If one can figure out the bus system, fares will range from 7 baht to 24 baht. Most buses run from 5am to 11pm. The night bus charges an extra 15 baht.
  • The MRT/Subway mainly covers the suburbs and isn’t as useful for tourists unless they’re going to the train station (which isn’t served by the BTS). The subway uses tokens or stored value cards but these do not work on the BTS. There are interchange stations at Silom and at Asoke which connect with the BTS.

Q. Can you recommend a taxi driver for Bangkok?

  • Tip: Have the phone number of wherever you’re heading. Every taxi driver in Bangkok has a cell phone and will call the restaurant, museum, hotel that you’re heading to get directions. Having the address is, ironically, not as helpful as even taxi drivers have trouble with Bangkok’s chaotic address system – especially if it’s written in english.
  • Pradit is a trustworthy taxi driver who (along with his brother) has several taxis including a large van-style taxi that is good for families and groups. His phone number is 082-679-9807. He speaks good english and will act as a makeshift tour guide taking you about to the top tourist sites.
  • Taxis should use the meter for short trips. If you’re hiring a taxi for the day negotiate a price before starting out. Don’t pay more than 2000baht for a full day of sightseeing. A taxi from Bangkok to Ayuthaya is about 800 to 1000baht. A taxi from Bangkok to Pattaya runs about 1000 to 1500baht.
  • For taxis from the airport don’t bother pre-arranging. Go downstairs one level from arrivals and join the queue for taxis into Bangkok. There will be van-style taxis available for large groups.
  • There are tuk tuks all over the place in Bangkok so I can’t see why you’d need to phone one. But if you did, Mr Bus is good. He has a large tuk tuk (it has an extra seat) that should fit 4 adults. His number is 089-523-3829.

Q. Where and how do I rent a car?

Avis and Budget both have offices in downtown Bangkok and at Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

But unless you really know what you’re doing you’re much better off hiring a car and driver. Oriental Escape is a reliable company with service to pretty much everywhere.

Q. What neighborhood of Bangkok should I stay in?

An overview of the Bangkok’s most popular and interesting neighborhoods for travelers.

  • Siam Square
    Siam Square is a shopping mecca, full of luxury shopping centers and bargain department stores, designer labels and trendy fashion boutiques. The small sois of Siam Square are alive with record stores, bookstores, cafes, and bars. Siam Square has by far the best shopping in Bangkok and is full of amenities, like cinemas, massage parlors, and salons. Siam Square is busy and safe at all hours. Neighborhood Attractions: MBK shopping center, Siam Center, Siam Discovery, Siam Paragon, Cenrtral World, APEX, Siam Vintage, Tokyu, ZEN.
  • Sukhumvit
    If you want luxury hotels, top notch restaurants, and lively nightlife, Sukhumvit is the place to go. This is where many expats live and where tourists can find the top facilities in Bangkok. Many cosmopolitan clubs, and restaurants line Sukhumvit while calm and atmospheric cafes are hidden in the sois leading off the main street. The Skytrain runs the length of Sukhumvit making it easy to explore. Also, Sukhumvit is famous for two red-light districts, Nana Plaza on Soi 4 and Soi Cowboy, just off Soi 23. Prostitutes on the streets are a common sight and someone may be put off by the blatant sex industry. Neighborhood Attractions: Benjasiri Park, Khlong Saen Saeb, Soi Arab, WTF Gallery and Café, Cheap Charlie’s.
  • Silom
    Silom is Bangkok’s Wall Street (through the day). After nightfall, the people and environment changes considerably. The skyline is lined with skyscrapers boasting the names of local and international financial institutions, law firms, and corporations. The small sois between Silom Road and Surawong Road become alive with people, street life, sidewalk stalls, and street food vendors. Tourist and locals come here to see the infamous Patpong red-light district. It’s filled with go-go bars and brothels. Luxury hotels are found along nearby Sathorn street. Neighborhood Attractions: Bangkokian Museum, Indian Hut, Daimasu Izakaya, Patpong Night Market, Sky Bar.
  • Khao San/Banglamphu
    Khao San Road is a 1 km stretch of shops, bars, restaurants, and street vendors and is home to the backpacker scene – though it is adding more mid-range hotels and boutiques every year. People either love it or hate it but it is well worth a visit. It’s centrally located and close to many of Bangkok’s top attractions (like the Grand Palace). If you’re arriving late at night and don’t have a hotel reservation it should be your top choice as the neighborhood stays up late and is easy to traverse on foot. The nearby sois are are offbeat arty areas that surprisingly retain a genuine Thai feel. The Skytrain and Metro don’t connect to the Khao San area, so you’ll be dependent on buses, taxis, and tuk tuks to get in and out of the area. However, amenities like ATMs, money exchanges, and internet shops are plentiful. Cheap accommodation and food is a big perk of staying here. Neighborhood Attractions: Soi Rambuttri, Baghdad Café, Gecko Bar, Mr. Yim’s, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Poutine sans Frontieres, Santichai Public Park.
  • Chinatown
    Chinese merchants moved to east bank of the Chao Phraya River in the early 1780’s, making Chinatown the oldest neighborhood in Bangkok. The neighbored was defined by trade then and still is today. These days, Chinatown isn’t set as a tourist attraction. It is a genuine Chinese neighborhood where people work and live. The streets of Chinatown are vivid and hectic – packed full of people, market stalls, and a concentration of gold shops. The only drawback is there isn’t much nightlife or amenities aimed to the typical tourist. Neighborhood Attractions: Yaowarat Road, Wat Traimit, Saphanthawong Museum, Rut and Lek Seafood, Pak-Khlong-Market.
  • Rattanakosin
    Rattanakosin is a historical area, bordered by the Chao Phraya and canals which served as moats for the old city. Bangkok’s most revered historical attractions are located in Rattanakosin. The area is home to a plethora of Buddhist temples, palaces, monuments, and museums. Rattanakosin is relatively small and ideal for walking to explore the area. Remember to always dress appropriately for the temples: cover your shoulders and no flip flops. Neighborhood Attractions: Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Mahathat, National Gallery, Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall.
  • Dusit
    Dusit is most famous for the Dusit Zoo and for being the political center of Thailand. The neighborhood is home to the National Parliament, The Royal Palace, and wide boulevards shaded by large trees. There isn’t too much to see in Dusit besides political institutions and international organizations. One might want to visit the traditional Thai dance performances at the Dusit Palace. 10 years ago nightlife, shopping, and accommodation were nonexistent in Dusit but things are changing and the area feels like it could be the next trendy Bangkok neighborhood. Neighborhood Attractions: National Library, Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, Vimanmek Mansion, Ancient Clock Museum, Dusit Zoo.
  • Thonburi
    Thonburi comprises the entire west bank of the Chao Phraya River opposite the cities center. On this side of the river is a slower, more relaxed Bangkok that gives visitors a glimpse into traditional Thai culture. Canals make their way through the relatively isolated neighborhoods. Vendors sell noodles from old Thai long tail boats and locals prefer to bicycle through the sois. The most popular tourist activity is to hire a long tail boat and explore the waterways and floating markets. The Skytrain only reaches to the Southern Khlong San area, so most of the transport in Thonburi comes from tuk-tuks or boats. Neighborhood Attractions: Khlong Bang Luang Artist Village, Taling Chan Floating Market, Princess Mother Memorial Park, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre, Wang Lang Market, Arun Ammarin Road.

Q. What are the best hospitals in Bangkok for tourists?

96 questions and comments

  1. Anni

    Where would you recommend in Chiang Mai? A swimming pool is a must. We’ll be flying to Chiang Mai from Hong Kong via Bangkok and I imagine will be hot, sweaty, and ready to relax. Our budget is around $150 to $200. Our daughter is 4 years old. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Anni. The Chedi is great and seems to be what you’re looking for. Its official rate is probably over your stated budget – cheapzebra.com has the best rates in Thailand and I bet you’ll find something that fits your budget. Good luck.

      Reply
  2. Ethn

    Looking for a nice (boutiquish) place in Patong. We’re a little worried that Patong might be too touristy and wild for us so something a little removed and quiet would be nice. We’re a couple with no kids. We’ll be there for 5 to 7 nights. Budget isn’t a big concern, just want something nice. ideas?

    Reply
  3. MK

    Hi Dave, Need your help with hotels in Thailand. It’s my first holiday there with my wife and my 4 year old girl, this May (May 1-7 2013).
    It’ll help if you could recommend:
    a) A budget hotel for a night in a central location (for sight seeing) in Bangkok
    b) A boutique or 4*/5* resort in Krabi for 4 nights-5 days. We could do two different hotels in two different parts of Krabi two night each. Would that be possible ? We would like to be in hotels that are quiet with easy access to the restaurants and cafes.
    Many thanks.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      The Viengtai Hotel in Bangkok is great. Cheap, nice pool, great location. I suppose I wouldn’t call it quiet, but without paying for a 5 star hotel it’s hard to get quiet in Bangkok.

      In Krabi The Sunrise Tropical Resort is one of my favorites. It’s in Railay (not sure if you had a specific destination in mind but Railay is awesome). One thing to note: In Railay there are 2 beaches that are a 3 minute walk from each other. The Sunrise is located at the not-so-great beach that isn’t fit for swimming. On the plus side it makes it much cheaper (for a really nice place) than the hotels on the “nice beach”. It’s also much quieter. It’s a very short walk down a sort-of golf-cart path to the other beach.

      If you had to have the beach right at your door then the Railay Bay Resort & Spa is very nice.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  4. MG

    Hi Dave
    Thanks for your advice in your blog – great work.
    I have a challenging request for you now:
    Need your help with hotels in Thailand.
    My girlfriend and I finish our 6 month world tour in Thailand
    We want to finish it with two distinct weeks. One at a fitness, possibly Thai boxing camp and the final at a relaxing spa resort (to recover from the camp mainly)
    It’d be great to get your ideas on where you’d recommend:
    We’re not too fussed where we go, however we would like luxury on our final week.
    We fly out of Bangkok
    Many thanks.

    Reply
  5. Heather

    We’ll be arriving in Koh Samui from Chiang Mai and going directly to Lamai to be near friends that are staying there. What’s the nicest resort in Lamai? We have only 3 nights there so are willing to pay more and have something truly luxurious. How far in advance should I reserve? Thanks, Heather.

    Reply
  6. blakery family

    Is Koh Pha Ngan worth a day trip visit? We’re not interested in the Full Moon Parties but would consider a trip over for the day. Is it easy to arrange?

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Scheduled boats to Koh Pha Ngan leave from Mae Nam, Bophut, Big Buddha Beach (Bang Rak) and Nathon. There are more than 10 a day so it’s easy to find some departure (and return) that works. There are also speed boats that will take you over from Chaweng or Lamai though these will be much more expensive than the ferries/scheduled boats.

      Is it worth it? I love Koh Pha Ngan but I’m not sure I’d recommend just a day trip. Go for a few days or a week and explore the island but for only 5 or 6 hours I think that time would be better used touring Samui which has more “attractions”. Koh Pha Ngan has more of a vibe which eludes the daytripper. The ride over is beautiful on a calm day though.

      Hope that helps.

      Reply
  7. mark

    hi david, i’ll be in chiang mai mid-late november and wish to go to ko samui afterwards from roughly 2nd december for a week or so. i’m just concerned it might be too wet still. Would you suggest heading somewhere else? I’m 21, male and travelling by myself. cheers.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      The west coast (Phuket, Krabi, etc) recovers from the monsoon a little sooner than the east coast so you might want to consider that. The rains should be ending by early December in Samui though so you should be OK.

      Reply
  8. Karen Stuart

    Hi Dave
    My husband and I both in our early 60′s would like to escape Melbourne’s winter for 2 weeks in July 2013.
    We have not been to any Asian countries before. We like playing golf and thought 2-3 games each of the 2 weeks, relaxing by the pool and the option also to enjoy a lovely beach, some sightseeing and also some shopping.
    My initial thoughts were to stay at Koh Samui – though it appears there is not much choice for golf, whereas Phuket does have a number of courses.
    On the other hand golf does not have to be the main priority and I believe there is a 9 hole golf course called The Royal Samui Golf Club in Koh Samui.
    Where would you suggest we could stay that could meet our needs and also be a good introduction to enjoying Thailand without being overwhelmed?
    Your suggestions/advice would be very much appreciated.
    Thank you
    Karen

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Karen. I don’t play much golf but I think you’re right, you would find more courses on Phuket. I think Koh Samui would be a great choice too though. Lots to do and not as touristy as Phuket while stilling have a good tourist infrastructure, great hotels, and a good quality hospital on the island. Also, the weather in July will likely be nicer in Koh Samui than in Phuket.

      Hope that helps a little. Good luck.

      Reply
  9. Sandeep

    Hi Dave,

    We are planning to go to phuket on October end (Oct 25-29). From there i want to go to either Koh samui or Koh yao nai. Need your advice as which part will be good to visit during this time.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      There is a possibility the boats to Koh Yao Nai could be canceled due to rough seas at that time of year. The weather on either coast can be lousy in October. But it can also vary a lot on each side of the country – so you might want to hedge your bets and split your time between Phuket and Samui. Good luck.

      Reply
  10. Justin from Bhutan

    Fantasic Site! I’ve been told by the boss that I have a month in Thailand to plan for our family. Talk about overwhelmed when looking at all the options & places to stay.
    I do have one question/concern, since my 2 boys are between 2&4 years old. Do you know whether Koh Samui has medical facilities, in case they are needed?
    Thanks

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Justin. If you look above you’ll see 2 suggestions for medical treatment in Samui (under Essential Info). They’re pretty good but anything serious and you’ll be airlifted out to Bangkok (where there’s top notch care).

      Reply
  11. Pockets

    G’day Dave! Congratulations and many thanks for a hugely entertaining and informative site!! We’ve never travelled OS, so it’s great to get a fresh & down-to-earth perspective on the experience :)

    We’re looking at a trip to Thailand in mid-late March 2013 with our 3 kids (aged 8/6/4) for a friend’s wedding on Lamai Beach and then a bit of an explore. At this stage, we have a VERY rough idea of a plan, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on how practical this will be with the aim of not arriving home exhausted and wishing we’d tried to stuff a bit less into our time. Our budget in the end will determine duration of trip (we certainly won’t be staying in 5-star digs), but hopefully 18-20 days. From your comments around the place I’m planning on roughly max $200/day including accommodation (excl long transport trips) when we get there…

    So, a rough plan is…arrive Bangkok, have a couple of nights there, fly or train to Koh Samui and stay 4-5 nights around the wedding, then somehow head up to Chiang Mai for a good week or so, back to Bangkok for a night or 2, then home to NZ.

    Online accommodation options seem to be a shade limited for families with more than 2 kids and we’re hoping to be able to find places where we can all squeeze into one room rather than have to split up nightly – so suggestions from yourself or other would be welcomed on this front too! Also on how much we should pre-book and how much to “wing it” in terms of travel & accommodation while we’re there.

    Sorry, big post, but fizzing to get locked in and underway!
    Thanks lots,
    Pockets

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      The first thing I’d do is book your tickets for Samui to Chiang Mia (http://www.bangkokair.com) as even now the cheapest tickets for March are selling out.

      I’ve never had to find rooms for 5, but in my experience most places should be able to accommodate you just fine. This is one advantage of “winging it”. You’ll be able to walk around the town and find the hotel that best suites your family. Pay a little more for the first night in a place (and book the largest room they have) then search about and find a cheaper place after you arrive. (Though, admittedly, this does eat up some time.)

      The outline of your plan sounds good though. It’s very easy to get around Samui so don’t feel you have to stay in Lamai to be near the wedding.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  12. Leigh

    Hi Dave

    LOVE your blog its been the most helpful by far!

    Myself and my boyfriend are planning our first trip to Thailand end March beginning April 2013. As first timers we’re a little stumped.

    We’re looking to spend: 3 days on Chaweng, 2 days on Koh Phangan for the full moon party, 2 days on KOh PHi PHi, 4 days on Phuket and 4 days in Bangkok.

    Should we book our flights now or wait until we arrive in Thailand.
    Since our time in each place is limited should we book our accomodation now? (especially for the full moon party?Can you reccomend any 3-4 star hotels, close enough to walk to the party but far enough from the noise)
    Is Koh Phi Phi worth spending 2 days on or should we extend our stay on one of the other islands and only do a day visit to Phi Phi?
    Any interesting tours,sites,restaurants,shows,,bars etc you can reccomend? (we would also like to do a rural village tour of some sort).

    Looking forward to your advice and suggestions:)

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Leigh. Sounds like a great trip. I’d definitely book the flights as soon as possible as they can fill up quickly and once the cheapest seats are gone they’re not coming back. I’d book hotels in advance for Bangkok but the other spots you can get away with finding something after you arrive. (Though you do end up wasting some time hunting for hotels when you could be doing something else.)

      Three good mid-range places near the Full Moon Party on KPN are:
      Best Western Phanganburi Resort Koh Phangan
      Palita Lodge Koh Phangan
      Delight Resort Koh Phangan

      Another option, if you’re already in Chaweng and only interested in the party then you can take a motorboat over from Samui to Haad Rin in the early evening. Then the next morning take a return boat (http://www.samuispeedboat.com/fullmoonpartycharter.html gets good reviews). Just an idea.

      The best place to see rural villages is in Northern Thailand. Not much to see on the touristy islands like Samui, Phuket, or Phi Phi.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  13. MAX

    Hi Dave,
    Really like your blog. My wife and I are planning to travel to samui on 6th Dec for a week. We have read that this is monsoons and not good time to visit. Just wanted to ask you if the sea is yet swimmable or will it be impossible to swim. Also will we be able to do any kayaking/snorkelling etc. I am worried that we may not be able to do any typical beachy activities. Is that true, or should not reallly be a problem. Also we planning to stay in sala samui or zazen, which do you think will be better keeping weather in mind.
    Thank you very much for the help.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      It should be good weather by early December though there are no guarantees and some years it can be well into December before the seas are calm and the cloudy days have passed (though the big storms should subside by November).

      Reply
  14. Alex

    Hi Dave,
    Thanks for the informative site. We are planning to spend a few days in mid-May on Koh Samui and were thinking of heading to Bophut and/or Mae Nam. Would you be able to advise if these beaches are OK for swimming in May or do they suffer from the low tides making swimming impractical?
    Thanks!
    Alex

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I’ve been in early April and late June and July and both were fine so I’m thinking/hoping you’ll be ok.

      Reply
  15. Sherri

    Hi, My husband and I are going to Thailand from 2/14-3/3. Our route is Bangkok-Beachy ( not sure where yet)- Chiang Mai. I think…. Bc Im not 100% sure, most people that had experience Thailand told me not to book anything except the first few nights of hotel at Bangkok. Is that a good idea? Most people told me just book any hotels, trips, and excursion when I get there.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Sherri. Yes, I’d generally agree with that. It’s fairly easy to book hotels after you arrive and it also allows you to see the place you’re booking. The one downside is that you do “waste” some time looking for your hotels. When they’re booked in advance you can devote more of your time to sightseeing, relaxing, eating, sitting on the beach. Myself, I sort-of enjoy hotel hunting but can see how many would wish they’d done all that in advance. But definitely on tours and excursions, book after you arrive. Hope that helps.

      Reply
  16. sarah

    Hi David, Thanks so much for sharing your wealth of information– it’s fantastic!
    We’re spending 10 days in Thailand in February with our 5 year old son. We have 2 days in Bangkok, 3 days in Chaing Mai and then 5 days left for beaches.

    I’m considering 3 days in Koh Samui and 2 in Krabi, but it may end up just being a lot of travelling. Any recommendations for a “base”?

    We’re very active and big foodies, so I’m inclined to pick somewhere with beautiful beaches and lots of activities (some at least appropriate for a 5 year old!).

    Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks,
    Sarah

    PS I briefly considered Phuket, but we’ve been there before and didn’t love it. It was a little too touristy.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      With that amount of time I would do Koh Samui or Krabi but not both. I tend to think of Krabi and the west coast as more activity-oriented that Koh Samui. I think Koh Samui has better food. The beaches are great on both. Railay is a good base in the Krabi area. Bophut, Choeng Mon, or Chaweng are good bases in Koh Samui. Hope that helps.

      Reply
  17. Andy

    Great site with plenty of useful tips. On the subject of swimming pools I don’t usually recommend people “Splash out” the extra cash on booking into a hotel with a swimming pool unless they are traveling in a group or with a young family. This is purely for safety reasons as Pattaya beach (My favorite resort) can be a little dangerous at times with the number of jet ski operators working there. As a single guy I like the beach as its a great place to meet and make new friends.

    Reply
  18. Evan

    We’re taking the train from Bangkok to Koh Samui. Is it best to buy the ferry ticket in Surat Thani or to purchase the train/ferry combo ticket from the train station in Bangkok?

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      It’s easier (and a little cheaper) to buy the combo ticket. When you get off the train in Surat Thani there’ll be people directing you to the appropriate bus (to take you to the ferry port). Flash your bus/ferry ticket at them and they’ll point you in the right direction. It all happens quite quickly so there isn’t a lot of waiting about – hardly time to go to the toilet or grab any snacks – it’s just bang bang you’re off the train, onto the bus and rolling to the ferry. Once you get to the ferry there usually is a bit of a wait. Good luck.

      Reply
  19. Cristina Harman

    Hi Dave,
    What a great site. Very informative. My husband and I are planning to travel to Thailand for two weeks in December. What do you recommend as far as flying into Bangkok and departures from Los Angeles. We only plan on being in Bangkok for 3-4 days and going to different islands so I am not sure if we fly out of Bangkok as well or fly back home from the last island that we will visit? Which tours do you recommend as far as the tiger tours, elephant tours,the James Bond tour, etc?
    Thanks in advance for any guidance you can provide us.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Wildlife tours are best done in Northern Thailand. There are lots of snorkeling and island tours (mainly on the west coast around Krabi and Phuket, not so many around Koh Samui) that visit different beaches, islands, and national parks. So many that it depends what you’re looking for. In general it’s best to spend more and go with a smaller group than a cheaper one with lots of people. The extra money spent is almost always worth it. There are no guarantees but most tour operators are reliable. If you’re on a budget and have enough flexibility (and patience to search them out) use kayak to look for tickets to Hong Kong or Seoul, then use Air Asia to fly into Bangkok but fly out from Phuket or Koh Samui back to HK or Seoul. If you can get a direct flight across the Pacific this make your trip home much faster than having to go back through Bangkok – and you might save some money. Good luck.

      Reply
  20. Patton

    Dave,

    Thank you for this blog and your expertise. I am 46, business executive travel to Tokyo from USA for a week, and was thinking about bringing my wife along since she has never been to Asia. After Tokyo, I wanted to fly to either Bali or Thailand to get some relaxation and do some scuba diving. We are looking for a nice clean beach with luxury (money no object) resort with great food and no kids/singles looking to party all night. The big wild card is that we will be there Nov 11-16 and not sure of the weather and the rain??? Based on your previous recommendations, would you recommend Koh Phi Phi or Krabi “Rai Leh West on Railay Beach”???? which resorts are the most luxurious… Thank you Dave!!

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      If your priority is a luxurious resort then Rayavadee Resort on Railay is fantastic and one of the best in Thailand. But … Railay is pretty mellow so if you’re wanting to party you might be disappointed.

      Koh Phi Phi is very lively by late November. The Phi Phi Island Cabana Hotel is the nicest hotel near the action. Far nicer is the Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort & Spa (which has its own in-house scuba school) – but it’s a 30 minute boat ride from the main area. So you might want to do a few days at each.

      The weather should be good (possibly great) by November but it’s still, technically, the tail end of the rainy season so don’t be surprised if you see a (brief) downpour or two.

      Hope that helps. Good luck.

      Reply
  21. Christine Filipski

    Great info here! My husband and I are planning 3 months in SE Asia. He is a scuba diver so thinking March 14, 2014 fly from Bangkok to Phuket. Rent a car and drive north a bit to Khao Lak. Stay there from March 14th until March 20th when we will drive down to Phuket to meet daughter and grandson. Husband will want to have some time diving in Phuket also. We will be in Phuket until March 30th when we head back to Bangkok. At this time of year is the western coast better than the east coast? I read some posts that said Koh Samui is nice until end April so now I’m confused. Will the weather be nice in KL and Phuket? We are coming from the cold and snow of western New York, US.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Christine. The weather should be great on both coasts in March. Most years, the storms don’t arrive until May or June – and even then the weather can still be beach-friendly.

      Reply
  22. Jennifer H

    Hi Dave, Thank you for all the useful info!! Its Great! My Husband and I are looking to travel to Thailand Dec 15th ish to maybe Jan 20th 2013. We are both in our early 30′S and are looking to formulate the itinerary loosely. Prob booking major flights and hotel around New Years in advance but kind of winging the exact days spent in each spot. We will be flying into Bangkok of course and would like to go north first, then make it to the beaches by the middle and end of trip. We are looking for fun, somewhat lively and unique spots while trying to avoid some of the overly touristy spots. We love reggae bars, beautiful scenery, decent amenities, spas etc.. Do you have any specific suggestions of places to visit along those lines? how many places do you suggest visiting in this timeframe? Are there any really cool places to spend New Years that aren’t rave like but still lively? Thanks so much for all your advice!!

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Two places I love that fit what you’re looking for are Koh Pha Ngan and the Ao Nang/Railay area. Koh Pha Ngan is more lively in terms of nightlife (though it’s easy to get away from the real party scene to the quieter north part of the island). Ao Nang has more to do (cliff climbing, island hopping, sea kayaking) but not as much partying (slightly older crowd too). Your general itinerary sounds good but I would mention that I quite like arriving at an island (especially Koh Pha Ngan) about a week before Christmas, scout the island looking for a cool place to stay that suits my vibe, then take it for a 10 day or 2 week period. For one it’s good to secure a place before Christmas and New Years. And two, with a little luck you’ll get to know everyone at the hotel (assuming it’s not a big resort, the cheaper the place the more people you’ll meet). If you ask (and I always do) the hotel will put together a dinner party for the whole gang (or as many as want to join in). It’s a great way to meet people and it’s something you only get if you’ve had a week or so to get to know people and plan it. It’s fun to hunker down in one spot over Christmas and New Years and it’s pretty common so there’ll be lots of people that have similar itineraries. (Which is why you don’t want to show up on Dec. 24 looking for a room.) Just an idea – the way you’re doing it sounds fine too. And admittedly the weather does tend to be better on the islands the farther into January you get, so that’s a small tradeoff. Good luck.

      Reply
      1. Jennifer H

        You are awesome! I love the idea of staying in Koh Pha Ngan longer and have heard amazing things about Railay area too. Do you have any recs of specific fun little bars or places to stay that you love? Would it be rediculous to try to see Bali too?

        Reply
      2. David Post author

        There are no direct flights from Koh Samui to Bali so you would need to go through either Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, or Bangkok. A combination of Bangkok Airways and Air Asia would probably work best. You’re looking at a full day of travel each way but it’s doable if you have the time. For cool bars and places to stay I like exploring the area north of Thong Sala up towards and around the northwest corner of the island. Good luck.

        Reply
  23. Amy

    Hi Dave,

    What a fantastic blog you have here! I’ve just spent a lot of time reading through.
    My partner and I (Newcastle, Australia) are considering a visit to Thailand for our honeymoon in Sept/Oct (I know – not a great time) for 2-3 weeks. Neither of us have been before.
    We are after a relaxing time, hopefully near the beach somewhere. Can you offer any suggestions for us, as we are in two minds about going due to the time of year.
    We’d love somewhere with great food, not too touristy and reasonably private.
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanking you. :)

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      The north Gulf Coast doesn’t get the rain that south Thailand gets. Two good places Hua Hin and Koh Samet would probably be good. Koh Samet, in particular, has great weather all year round. It can get busy mind you, especially on the weekend, as it’s a short trip from Bangkok, but there are always quiet corners to be found if you’re looking.

      Reply
  24. Al

    Great site! Meeting our son & his family (w/3 year old) in Thailand for Christmas holiday. (They are teachers in Bangladesh.) Looking for kid-& grandparent-friendly beach, walkable to local food & shopping, with interesting day-trips possible. Would love a house/villa where we could all relax together. Flying in/out pf Bangkok, with a day or two there before hitting the beach. Any ideas?

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I would search on VRBO and AirBnB. As for location, Koh Samui and Phuket are both kid-friendly places that are great at Christmas with nice beaches and a nearby airport. Hope that helps.

      Reply
  25. Anna

    Hi Dave – Great site!
    Wanted your opinion on a great in between island during my 3 week solo trip this July 2-24th.
    I am arriving in Bangkok then heading north to Chiang Mai for around 5 days. I have 4 days to play with then going to a yoga retreat on Koh Samui.
    I have heard great things about Railey but would like to know where (southern island, 4 days, guesthouse accommodations) you reccomend to spend some time, don’t like to party party but would still like to meet fellow travellers!
    Thanks! Anna

    Reply
  26. Alana

    Hi Dave,
    I would love to know where you would recommend for my partner and I (we are 22) to stay in phuket as it is our first time and I have already spent hours/days trying to find the right place!
    We are very interested in staying close to the shops & beach, but not too close to hustle & bustle. We are staying for 7 nights and are looking for a modern, relaxing resort for approx $800 for the 7 nights.
    I have no idea which is better out of patong, kata & karon beach!!
    I would really appreciate and ideas you have!

    Thank you
    Alana

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Alana. Kata has a slightly nicer beach (and is more calm during the wet season when the sea can be rough on Phuket’s west coast). Kata is a bit more intimate and romantic. Karon has more shops, restaurants, and bars. It’s a little closer to Patong. Patong is very touristy and a bit seedy but has the best shopping. The beaches at Kata and Karon are nicer than Patong. Hope that helps.

      Reply
  27. manob

    Hi, I like to travel by bus from Bangkok to Phuket on 26 July and come back on 30 July by air asia. I already purchased air ticket for return journey but waiting to buy bus ticket. We are five family members including our 3 kids ( 11, 9 and 6 years). Please suggest us how to buy the bus ticket and cost of ticket. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Go to the Southern Bus Terminal in Bangkok about an hour before departure. You should have no trouble getting seats for the next departure (especially in low season). Here’s information on departure times from Bangkok to Phuket: http://www.sawadee.com/transfer/bus-phuket.htm. I don’t recommend taking the buses from Khao San Road which are run by private companies and have a history of theft. They’re also very cramped. So go to the bus station to get your bus.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  28. Andres

    Hi Dave, congratulations on the excellent website!

    We spent New Year’s in Bangkok back in 2009 and it was awesome, so now we would to go back again this year; however, we would like to go to the beach this time. There are so many options that we have no idea where to start. We have two kids ages 14 and 4, so we are looking for somewhere that is child-friendly, yet somewhat lively. Any recommendation would be really helpful!

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Andres.

      A couple suggestions: Bophut on Koh Samui, Railay near Krabi, Khao Lak just north of Phuket. All have a great family-friendly vibe with wonderful beaches.

      Check out my site on family travel in Thailand for more ideas: thailandwithkids.info.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  29. BARBARA SHAPIRO

    We are looking to go to Thailand and Luang Prabang for 2 weeks in January. We are interested in culture and the people and some ancient sites. No beaches. We did an amazing 2 week trip to Peru independent travel with wonderful guides through a tour company who are experts on Peru. Should we do Thailand through a tour company? If so, do you have recommendations? Or is it easy to do it on our own?

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Gap Adventures offer good quality tours of Thailand (with excellent guides) but I’d still do it on my own. Find local guides for each individual location (it does take some research) – it’s cheaper, funner, and more flexible (for the morning you just want to sit by the pool instead of getting on another bus tour).

      Reply
  30. Mehmet

    Hi Dave,
    Thank you for very useful information. Me and my wife will visit phuket and ko samui at october from 8 to 20. Unfornutanely i had learned that in october sea can be rough in both phuket and samui. So which locations or beaches do you advice for relatively calm ones?
    Thanks. Sincerelely,

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      In October I would recommend Phuket over Koh Samui. The monsoon season is at its end on the west coast and just starting on the east coast. In Phuket Kata is one of the calmer beaches. Karon beach is consistently very rough (so avoid). Hope that helps.

      Reply
  31. Tania

    Hi

    Thanks for a fantastic site! We are planning a very last minute trip to Thailand for 3 weeks (leaving in 4 days hopefully) and your site has answered most of our questions.

    At this stage we are looking to fly into Bangkok, out of Phuket and do all the rest of the booking (travel to Chiang Mai, Koh Samui and Phuket as well as accomodation and tours) when we get there. We are travelling with a 5 and 7 year old. Any specific suggestions you would have?

    Thanks again

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Tania.

      Sounds great. I would book any air tickets as soon as possible. Flying from Chiang Mai to Samui (most go through Bangkok but there is at least one direct flight per day) would save a lot of time. There’s also a direct flight from Samui to both Krabi (one a day) and Phuket (5 a day) with Bangkok Air – which isn’t very far but when you do it by boat and bus it takes a full day of travel. Next I would book train tickets and try to do this the first morning you’re there by going to Hualumphong train station in Bangkok.

      I imagine riding an elephant is high on your list of things to do. Chiang Mai is the best place to ride an elephant, Koh Samui the worst, Phuket is OK but not as good as CM.

      Oh, and do a cooking course (preferably one that tours a market) – your kids will love it.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  32. Phil

    Hi Dave,
    Very informative website! Glad I discovered it! My wife and I are planning a trip to Khao Lak in late April – early May. In fact, we’ve got reservations at JW Marriott Resort, Khao Lak. What will the weather be then…no heavy rains, hopefully? We intend to go on some day trips from the resort – which tour organisers are better – Khao Lak Vista Tours & Travel…or Eco Khao Lak Tours? Any idea of how much these tours would cost: (1) khao sok National Park (2) James Bond Island (3) Elephant trekking & bathing (4) Three Temples Tour and (5) Bamboo rafting? Have sent emails to both companies but can’t seem to get through.
    Even if we’re staying at the Marriott, it would be too expensive to take all our meals/drinks there. Are there any nearby economical restaurants and bars, and would they be safe in terms of cleanliness and hygiene? I’m particularly susceptible to the stomach bug.

    And how much would taxi or any transport cost between the
    resort and the downtown area?

    Would greatly appreciate all your help/knowledge on these matters.

    Cheers,
    Phil

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      The weather in Khao Lak in April and May will be nice. It’s the hot season and the heavy rains will not have arrived yet (though anything is possible). It should be great. I’m not familiar with the tour operators in the Khao Lak area. Tours are easy to arrange once you’re there if you’re flexible with your dates. It’s not high season when you visit so tours will likely not be fully booked.

      The JW Marriott does have a handful of restaurants nearby but most are in the main town and will require a taxi ride. This should cost around 300 or 400 baht. Taxi from Khao Lak to Phuket will be 1500 baht or more and take about an hour. Hope that helps.

      Reply
  33. MARK CHURCHEY

    Dave,

    I am considering moving to either Bangkok or Ko Samui for work. Great job…solid income. I’m a single, health conscious guy. My main concerns are meeting friends and a maintaining a healthy diet.

    What are your thoughts on Samui vs Bangkok?

    Thank you,

    Mark

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Mark. Both are great places. Bangkok is a huge city, Koh Samui is a tropical island – so very different. Bangkok is loaded with expats so you’d have no problem meeting people. Koh Samui has some long term residents but not nearly as many. A healthy diet should be easy in both locations. Not sure if that helps. Good luck.

      Reply
  34. jenny

    We are flying to Bangkok on the way back from Tanzania. Family of 4 (children 15 & 10). We want to spend a week relaxing on a beach and are wondering which area might be best weather wise. We fly in dec 3.
    Thanks for your help
    Jenny

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      The weather on the west coast (Phuket, Krabi, Koh Lanta) will be the best. Koh Samui and the east coast can sometimes have rain into early December.

      Reply
  35. Kerry

    Hi Dave
    My partner Mike and I want to visit Thailand next year. We have decided on Bangkok and Chang Mai and want 6 nights on the beach. It needs to be fairly relaxed and quiet but we want to be able to go to restaurants that serve good food. I’ve looked at Kata beach in Phuket and in particular was recommended the Kata Palm Resort and Spa. I can’t decide if this will suit or to go to another island completely. I especially wanted something close to the beach and a bit of luxury approx £75-£100 GBP per night. Also time of year is something to decide… mid November seems to be the best time for us, what do you think weather wise?

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      The weather should be good my mid-November but you could still get some rain. The longer you can put it off the better the weather will be. Into early December the weather in Phuket is (usually) ideal and yet the big crowds (and prices) don’t arrive until mid-December. Kata Palm is great but, fyi, not right on the beach – it’s about a 5 minute walk or take a free shuttle. Good luck.

      Reply
  36. Anke

    Hi Dave,

    this really is a nice website you have. It gives a great overview of all information needed.

    I am visiting Thailand (together with my partner) from 26 December 2012, travelling back to Belgium on 11 January 2014. We have already plannend on visiting Bangkok and Chiang Mai till 1 January 2014. The rest of our stay we would like to use for the south of Thailand. The places we had in mind here are Phuket or Krabi or both and Koh Samui.

    Do you think this is possible or is it a bit to much? I am struggeling with the most convenient order to travel to these places and the cheapest way in doing this also. We also need to keep in mind that we need to get back to Bangkok for our flight home. Would it be an option to rent a car (pick up in Phuket or Krabi and drop off in Surat Thani to take the ferry or is this not possible?)

    Also, do you advice booking the hotels out of Belgium before we leave or just see when we arrive in Bangkok?

    Any advice on this?

    Thank you.

    Anke

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Anke. I would choose one coast or the other (so Phuket and Krabi or Koh Samui). Getting from one side of Thailand to the other – though not far – is usually a full day of travel.

      For getting north and south: If you book early and get the cheapest tickets flying can be really cheap. Look at Nokair and AirAsia. Train is also cheap (and fun) but for these dates you’ll need to book in advance – and booking in advance from outside Thailand is a pain. Be patient with emails if you go this route.

      It’s fun to search for hotels in person but at this time of year things can be booked solid so I’d recommend having (at least) your first night pre-booked at any new town. You can search for something for the following days after your arrival. Some people do rent cars but I would be wary myself. Road culture is very different than in Europe or North America and drivers can seem, well, crazy by Western standards. There are buses from Phuket to Surat Thani or you can even hire a taxi to do the trip (which wouldn’t be as expensive as you might think).

      Good luck.

      Reply
  37. Ruthie

    Fantastic site! Everything is so informative and streamlined.

    Do you have any suggestions/recommendations on how soon to arrive at the various airports (specifically, Bangkok-BKK, Phuket and Samui) prior to a domestic flight within Thailand? How long are security lines, etc.? I will be traveling during the low season as well (late Oct. early Nov.) if that makes any difference in congestion or crowds.

    Coming from a major metro area in the States and as someone who arrives at least 2 hours prior to a flight here, I just want to prepared.

    Thanks in advance for any information you can provide!

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Over the last 3 weeks I’ve been through security at Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket and check-in and security never took longer than 25 minutes. For Samui and Phuket I’d recommend arriving 75 minutes in advance. For BKK I’d say 90 minutes. But … of course … there are always exceptions. I’ve had to wait 30+ minutes (at a separate counter) to pay the extra baggage fee on Air Asia. So be prepared for anything. Cheers.

      Reply
  38. kim

    Im planning a trip to bangkok and some beach time in may for 2 weeks, there will be 2 adults, 2 kids (4 &2) and 2 grandparents. For the beach stay i was looking to go to 2 places mabey krabi and phuket? Which islands/beaches would you recommend to stay at, and if not krabi and phuket where you think is best? I will be having a ‘Milestone’ birthday aswell so want somewhere nice and a bit of luxury whilst still kid friendly and the other place can be a normal resort if that makes sense. Also what will the weather be like in mid-end may?

    Are island hopping day trips to phi phi islands, james bond island etc easily accessible from these places?
    thanks!

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I would focus on Railay beach near Krabi (incredible beaches, nice resorts) and Karon and Kata beaches on Phuket (a nice mix of budgets, great beaches, lots to do).

      The weather in mid-May should still be good (though hot and humid). Be prepared for some rain and the sea could start getting rough as the monsoon weather approaches.

      It’s easy to get to Phi Phi and Bond island – unless the weather gets stormy in which case the ferries will be canceled. But that doesn’t usually happen until July.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  39. Vicki

    Hi Dave, my friend and I are travelling to Thailand at the start of December and flying into Bangkok. We are thinking of taking a connecting flight to Chiang Mai for a few days then return to Bangkok before flying home. We have 9 nights, what timeframe would you suggest for Chiang Mai? and how many days would be reasonable in Bangkok?
    Thank you

    Reply
  40. sarah

    Hi Dave,
    Could you offer your thoughts regarding housing in Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai the last two weeks of the year?
    We are on a 6 month journey with our two daughters (2 and 3 years old).
    We will be in Southern Thailand the first two weeks of December and have found villas to rent.
    But, I have yet to find any villa type lodging in the North.
    My Mom and sister will be joining us so I’d like to find a place that would house us all.
    I’ve looked at the typical sites: vrbo and air bnb etc.
    Any thoughts?My Mom has been many times before but it is our first time to Thailand.
    Any accommodations that would house us all would be great.
    Thank you!
    Sarah

    Reply
  41. Ellen

    Hello Dave,
    I am planning a trip to Thailand for 14 days by myself. I would like to have an awesome time and see as much as possible in that period of time. From what I’ve read in the blogs is very confusing, people have completely opposite opinions about the same cities. I would like to experience uniqueness of this country like petting a tiger, touching elephant visit the market I read about maybe the floating market as well as having a famous Thai massage etc.
    I would like to be in a small group of people and to have an excellent guide which is able to show less touristy places at the same time. I would also like to arrage everything ahead of time so that I do not waise any time upon arrival. Is there a local agency you would recommend that can help me pick out tours that would be a lot more than experiencing everything from a bus and only visiting churches?

    Reply
  42. Jeff

    Hi Dave, thanks so much for all the work you’ve put in, the info here is outstanding. We are a family of four (2 adults, 2 kids under 8) planning on 7-8 days in Thailand after seeing family in Taiwan. We’re very interested in spending some time with elephants (preferably in an ethical environment) and got a recommendation for Anantara Golden Triangle. We don’t mind paying the price per se, just want to make sure its worth it and that we won’t be saddened at the treatment of the animals. Or would we be better off just staying in Chiang Mai (Chedi or Shangri La) and doing a day trip or two to a local sanctuary?

    Also we’d love to try to get some time in Koh Sumui, but we’re planning on being there the last week in November…. would you chance it with two kids, or will we all be sad and wet?

    Thanks so much!
    Jeff

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      The Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort is awesome and definitely worth the effort. But do be prepared for a bit of a trek to get there. The camps around Chiang Mai are great too so if you feel it’s too much getting up to Chiang Rai and then on to the Anantara then staying in Chiang Mai is perfectly fine.

      The weather in November will be better on the west coast so I’d recommend a stop in Krabi or Phuket.

      Reply
  43. ginna

    Hi Dave,

    Im travelling next week to Thailand (8th oct) and the idea was to travel to Chiang Mai by train from Bangkok but I just read the news an it said that trains have been cancelled until end of october. How can I go to Chiang Main? Thanks

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      There is still a train that goes part of the way so you can take it and then switch to bus – or just take the bus the whole way. Lots of flights too. Try Air Asia or Nok Air.

      Reply
  44. Pepimelbourne

    Hi Dave,
    Love,love,love your site. Question? Do you have information on Singapore?
    Hubby and I have been to Phuket four times, our next trip we would like to try either, Singapore or Bangkok, what would you recommend?

    Reply
  45. Jon Wolf

    Hi Dave, looking to go bangkok then of to Ko samui and Kon phangan then Pattaya on the way back to bangkok on April 4th to 21st. Family holiday. Is walk in Accomodation and travelling alright over this period as its Songkran New Year Festival .

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I think it should be fine. Bangkok would be a small concern but even there I don’t seeing it being a big problem. Good luck.

      Reply
  46. Anita from BC Canada

    Hi Dave .. Great sight .. Well arriving in Bangkok July 3rd from Beijing with my 16 year old daughter ..would like to see sights around Bangkok for a few days then we have till July 15th to head to the beach for snorkeling and swimming and maybe boating to some beautiful islands ..love the pictures of Railey and Phi Phi but I’m hearing the weather not so great on that side in July ..so should we skip that side and just do the gulf side .. The thought of sailing or boating around those beautiful islands in the background that you see on post cards is what I want …and swimming in clear beautiful water with lots of fish to see but all that seems to be on the Andaman ocean side ..is that possible in July and where do we stay in the gulf and is it just as beautiful …. ..maybe you can clear up my thoughts ..Thank you kindly Anita :) also we would fly to make it faster to get to the islands than the bus I’m thinking and should I book that from home

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      The weather on the Andaman coast can be hit and miss in July. And while the you can get sunny beautiful days the sea is usually rough and boat journeys of any kind are regularly canceled due to choppy seas. Water visibility is often not good. The weather on the gulf coast is usually better (no guarantees of course). I actually prefer the islands of the gulf coast (Koh Samui and Koh Phangan) but they don’t have the same natural beauty with lots of small islands and imposing cliffs over the water. They’re beautiful but in a different way. You can take a tour to Angthong National Park from Koh Samui that does have a similar topography. Both Koh Samui and Koh Phangan have many great beaches. Good luck.

      Reply

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