Tips for Where to Go and What to Do

I once spent a summer in Thailand. I knew nothing about what to expect and looking back, there were a few things I wished I’d been told. In case anybody else find themselves in the position I was in, I’ve put together a few tips which you should find useful if you are heading towards the Land of Smiles any time soon.

Destination: Bangkok (Capital)

Description: Polluted, dirty and very busy... sounds awful, but it's really not. In fact, it's one of the most amazing places I've ever seen.

Top tips:

  • Go straight to Khao San Road when you arrive, it's where most of the backpackers stay and will help you settle in.
  • If you’re on a tight budget, go into the back streets around Khao San Road where accommodation is cheaper.
  • Haggle with Tuc Tuc drivers (similar but more fun than taxis) as they will try and rip you off. We only found this out because we made a Thai friend who told us to hide while she asked the fare. It turned out to be quarter of the price for the same destination. Be strongwilled or you will be taken for a (very expensive) ride.
  • Always use a taxi meter rather than agreeing a price as they often change their minds about the cost halfway through and you might not make it to your intended destination.

Must see:

  • The Golden Palace, Bangkok.
  • Golden Palace, Bangkok

    Destination: Chang Mai (Northern Thailand)

    Description: Beautiful, quiet, clean, hospitable and friendly.

    Top tips:

    • Not as many people speak English here as in Bangkok so you will need a translation guide.
    • Arrange somewhere to stay before you arrive as there isn’t one particular area in the city like in Bangkokwhere everyone heads. My recommendation is the Same Same hostel on Ratzinger Road.

    Must sees:

    • Go on an adventure day. For £8 we went trekking, rafting and elephant riding.
    • Try a Thai cookery course for £10; a great laugh and lasted the whole day. Impress your friends when you get home with an authentic Thai Green Curry.
    • The night markets are great and the cheapest place to buy things.

    Chag Mai

    Destination: Pai, Pronounced Bye (A Tiny Village, Two Hours North of Chang Mai)

    Description: Tiny, beautiful, authentic and gorgeous.

    Top tips:

    • Only stay for a couple of nights; it’s lovely but you probably will run out of things to do before too long.
    • Hire mopeds or bikes and head up into the hills or to the surrounding waterfalls.
    • Go to the bars - there is a vibrant live music scene around the area.

    Must sees:

    • We went walking in the hills and the views were amazing. Plus it's free - so go for it!
    • Go to a bar called Beebop; it had amazing live band that got everyone rockin’ all night.
    • Go to a bar called Bamboo; where everything is open till late and yes, everything is made of bamboo.


    Destination: Phuket (On the Southern Tip)

    Description: Clean, beautiful beaches, good nightlife and great markets.

    Top tips:

    • Stay in Patong beach - it’s the most popular part.
    • Pay a little bit more for accommodation as it could make the difference about where you’re located and if you enjoy it.
    • Be warned that on the beach you will be approached near enough every 30 seconds by locals with things to buy such as jewellery and henna tattoos.

    Must sees:

  • If you don’t stay there, then visit Patong beach at least once.
  • Make the most of the markets.
  • Go to Scruffy Murphy’s bar, it plays live music and everyone gets up for a good dance.
  • Destination: Ko Pha Ngan (Southern Island)

    Description: We didn’t get to see much of the island as we only stayed two nights for the Full Moon Party. The area around the Full Moon Party is Hat Rin and it's packed at this time of year for a couple of days which makes accommodation expensive. There were six of us in our group and we were approached on our coach for a room to share. We ended up paying £1.50 each and it was a really nice bungalow on the beach - however, we could have been stuck looking for a place for ages. We were 20 minutes from the Full Moon Party and we got a taxi which cost a few pounds. It was definitely well worth it but we just struck it lucky.

    Top tips:

    • Go to the Full Moon party.
    • Wear shoes as there is often glass and sick on the beach ... yes, it sounds manky but you don't really notice it and it won't ruin your time.
    • Get a good sleep the night before as the party goes on from 7pm to 11am the next day!
    • There are undercover police all over the party on the look out for foreign people dealing or taking drugs - don't do it, it's not worth it...
    • Pace yourself, we lasted a long time by alternating beer and coke in each bar and there are 40 bars!
    • Be careful in the sea there is are estimated five deaths at every party.

    Must sees:

    • Obviously the Full Moon Party, we started at one end of the beach and worked our way down. There were around 12,000 people there and that was at low season. Other than that, the beaches are nice too. You could also visit Kho Samui for diving as it’s the next island along.

    Ko Pha Ngan

    Destination: Kho Phi Phi (Southern Island)

    Description: Absolutely amazing - by far the best place we went in Thailand. The Boxing Day tsunami devastated the island but they are slowly rebuilding it. It's pretty tiny, you can walk around it in 30 minutes, you get a real community feel just by spending a bit of time there.

    Top tips:

    • If you are staying for a while, volunteer with the organisation Hi Phi Phi. It’s a lot of fun, we made loads of friends through it and it’s all for a brilliant cause.
    • The Thai people are so glad tourism is starting to return after Boxing Day. Spend a lot of money on Phi Phi - and spread it around by going to a different restaurant every night.
    • Buy from lots different stalls too.

    Must sees:

    • Long tail boats will take you and up to eight people to any island surrounding Phi Phi. It should not cost any more than 200 baht each.
    • Go to Maya Bay where The Beach is filmed - it's so beautiful and it didn't feel like a tourist place at all as noone lives on the island.
    • Go to see some Thai boxing in Reggae bar.

    Ko Phi Phi

    There is one more pointer in general for anyone travelling to Thailand. My travel mate and I didn't realise until we got to the airport that you have to pay 500 baht to leave; so don't spend up completely. We did see one man asking to borrow the money from a stranger!

    I hope these pointers have helped a bit if you're planning a trip to Thailand soon. Have a wonderful time as it's an amazing place and I am more than a bit jealous.

    See the Best of Thailand

    Thailand is renowned for its beaches for a very good reason - they simply are some of the finest in the world. There's also no shortage of sunshine, warm weather and smiles, but to top it off you really have to try that stick mango rice, it's delicious. You'll get all that and more on our Sun, Sand & Stick Rice tour, plus the chance to see some more of Thailand's natural beauty in Khao Sok National Park.

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