If you are thinking of a tour through Thailand but not certain where to begin and having difficulties making up your mind on where to visit and what to skip during your short vacation, then you are not alone. We definitely have to choose between Bangkok nightlife, beautiful beaches, attractions, historical places, delicious Thai food, neighborhood, but that should not derail us from going forward. To make our planning process easier, I have put together a Thai travel plan to begin with.

Few Words on Thailand

Thailand is the most attractive traveler destination in Southeast Asia, and for a reason. You name it, and sure enough, you got it there almost anything a perfect tropical country has to offer. Crystal clear blue beaches, thick forest, excellent cuisine, good beachfront cottages, and some of the best luxury resorts in the world are there in Thailand. There is something for every interest and all budget.

Wat Arun, a Buddhist temple (Temple of Dawn)
Wat Arun, a Buddhist temple (Temple of Dawn)

The Capital Bangkok

Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, has two international airports, Suvarnabhumi (BKK) and Don Muang (DMK). Like Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok also leads as a global air-travel hub. So it’s easy to find bargain air tickets to Bangkok from the major international destination. Also, tourists use Bangkok as a hub to travel to neighboring countries like Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, and many more.

Grand Palace in Bangkok
Grand Palace in Bangkok

Getting to City Center From Bangkok Airport

The Bangkok Airport Rail Link that connects Suvarnabhumi International Airport to downtown Bangkok is a smart alternative to the airport’s express buses or taxis. The station is inside the main terminal. The ticket is maximum 45 baht (single trip per person) depending on where you are getting off and can be purchased from the machine or the ticket counter. The ride to Makkasan station (close to the Sukhumvit area) will take 25 minutes.

Metered taxi is also a reliable way to get to the city center from the airport. Just follow the sign to the taxi stand on the ground floor—a taxi ride from the airport to the city costs around 200 Baht. Sometimes I go to the departure level to flag down a taxi that saves me 50 Baht Airport fee.

Getting Around In the City

Getting around the city is pretty cheap. There are plenty of metered taxis available almost everywhere. They are pretty reliable and affordable; all you need to do is make sure that the meter is turned on. This elevated rapid transit is very popular among locals and foreigners alike.

BTS (Sky Train) is a great way to avoid Bangkok’s traffic and move around the city. But’s trains could be very crowded during office hours. 

The MRT (Metropolitan Rapid Transit), Bangkok’s subway consist of two lines. Tickets are purchased in the form of tokens from machines at the stations. The subway is connected to the BTS (the sky trains) at Asok station.

For those willing to take a risk, there are Motorbike taxis available for hire. Often seen at each street corner, locals use them to go up and down the Soi (streets).

The iconic Tuk Tuks are widely seen in the city’s designated area, especially in the evening. They are very popular among tourists, so watch out for a tourist trap. Since the ride is exciting and the tuk-tuks are open, so it is good to secure your valuables at all times.

Tuk Tuk in Bangkok
Tuk Tuk in Bangkok

Best Time to Visit

While planning a trip to Bangkok, the weather is possibly the most important thing to consider. Visiting during the wrong season could ruin your vacation. The best time to visit Bangkok is between November and February when the temperature and humidity are lowest. However, Thailand is a tropical country, so expect temperature around 90 deg C on any given day regardless of the time of the year. Irrespective of the weather, good or bad, it’s always a wise idea to protect your trip by getting good travel insurance.

Useful Information

Visa – No Visa Required – Foreigners from major countries entering Thailand falls under the Tourist Visa Exemption category so, 30 days visa-free stay is stamped at the port of entry. Provided your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your entry into Thailand. Thai immigration officials may ask for your onward/return ticket. Check with the Royal Thai Embassy if your country of citizenship falls under visa exemption.

Buying a SIM Card for Phone – Purchasing a SIM card is easy in Thailand if you are arriving at Suvarnabhumi Aiport (BKK). There are multiple places, including 7-Eleven, to buy a Thai SIM card. Note that your phone should be unlocked to be able to use a Thai SIM card. It’s cheap, only 299 baht (less than US$ 10) for a card with 1.5GB of data, plus 100 bath call credit valid for a month.

ATM – You will find ATMs all over the city, including Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airport. Currently, the exchange rate is 1US$ = 32.75 Baht at this writing. 

How to Spend 7 Days in Thailand

First 3 Days Itinerary in Bangkok

Arrival In Bangkok

It was early morning at about 10:00 am in Bangkok when we touched down at the airport. Flying time from Beijing was only 5 hours, so I was not tired. I withdrew a few local currencies from the ATM and took a taxi to my hotel in the Silom area. Quickly checked in, settled down, freshened up, and went sightseeing in the city. 

Bangkok at night
Street View of Bangkok at night

Khao San Road at Night

Khao San Road is not so far away from the hotel I am staying, so I took a Tuk Tuk and headed over there. Less than a mile-long colorful and vibrant stretch of the road where you will find some of the best bars and clubs in Bangkok. By day you can explore the plethora of souvenir shops and Thai and international cuisine, but with the sunset, the entire area becomes alive with music, street food, and tourists. No wonder why it’s called a backpackers heaven. I highly recommend visiting and seeing it for yourself and trying out some of their exotic street food.

Khao San Road
Khao San Road – Street Food at the night market

The Asiatique Riverfront by Chao Phraya River

Not far away from the typical Thai Khao San night market, the Asiatique the Riverfront is a modern night market located right on the Chao Phraya River, a place you should not miss while visiting Bangkok. The atmosphere here is exciting. Hundreds of shops and different boutiques, many good restaurants, and fun activities like Thai boxing, cabaret shows, and a small amusement park will definitely keep you engaged for the evening. In addition, the spectacular Ferris wheel, the Bangkok Eye, can be seen from miles away. If you stay at one of those riverside hotels, you may get here via their free shuttle boat service; otherwise, from Saphan Taksin boat pier takes about 10 minutes by shuttle boats.  

Asiatique The Riverfront, Bangkok
Asiatique The Riverfront, Bangkok

Have some authentic Thai food at one of those many restaurants to choose from. Then take a boat back to your hotel for an exotic experience. In my opinion, this is the best way to enjoy the evening on your arrival day in Bangkok.

Shuttle boats from The Asiatique Riverfront
Shuttle boats from The Asiatique Riverfront, Bangkok

My first day in Bangkok was fantastic, and I had a sound sleep last night as well. Therefore, I am geared up today to take a guided floating market trip.

Day Trip to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

A great way to experience the Thai custom of trading on the boat goes back to the Ayutthaya Period (1350-1767) because many neighborhoods had connecting canals and waterways, So floating market became a popular and convenient way of trading all kinds of goods from the boat.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is known for its maze of canals and is considered one of the most popular among Bangkok visitors. It is about 68 miles away from the city and takes about 90 minutes to get there. We took a guided tour that included hotel pick-up and drop-off, and on the way to the floating market, we took a quick stop to see how brown sugar was made from coconut by the locals.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Later we took a longtail boat along narrow canals through the waterfront houses and restaurants to the floating market. We had a great experience seeing vendors selling fresh products, such as fruits and vegetables to cooked food, at the floating market. The total tour was about 6+ hours, so we returned to our hotel before dark after a long day of sightseeing.

Busy Market place

Dinner at Seafood Market & Restaurant

After day-long activities, all we needed was good food. This Seafood place is huge and totally different from any other Bangkok restaurant. I like the concept of buying your grocery from their supermarket, paying at the cash register, and bringing the food cart to your table. Then, a waiter will attend to you to note your cooking instructions or sometimes recommend cooking for a better authentic local taste. Finally, a chef will prepare them as instructed. The entire process is exciting and having something freshly cooked is fun and definitely worth trying.

Bangkok, Thailand
Seafood restaurant in Bangkok

Visit Grand Palace

Your Bangkok trip would be incomplete without visiting the Grand Palace, which was the home of the Thai King for 150 years. It is the most famous landmark in Thailand that was built in 1782.

Grand Palace, Bangkok
Grand Palace, Bangkok

Chao Phraya River Dinner Cruise

The Chao Phraya River, also known as the River of Kings, is the heartbeat of Thailand. This 2 and a half hours dinner cruise is the perfect way to experience the City at night. You will get to see some of the oldest historical buildings surrounding the river while enjoying Thai hospitality.

Chao Phraya River Cruise
Chao Phraya River Cruise

Next Stop Phuket Island

Phuket is Thailand’s largest island, and often it is called the Pearl of the Andaman. Over the years, it has positioned itself as one of the top destinations in Southeast Asia and gained popularity among foreigners and locals alike.

How to Get to Phuket

Phuket International Airport (HKT) is the second busiest airport in Thailand. Many domestic and international passengers fly to Phuket from Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, China, Indonesia, Japan, India, and other countries, making this paradise one of the major getaways to famous beaches and fascinating tourist attractions. 

There are buses to Phuket from just about everywhere in Thailand throughout the day and night. This island is also reached by boat from the surrounding islands of Koh Lanta plus from Koh Phi Phi, Ao Nang, and Krabi on the mainland.

Best Time to Visit Phuket

Jan-Feb is the peak season. If you are not an enthusiast of crowds, then try to avoid this period. Hotels are sold out, and pricy so are all other activities.

Apr-Oct is the Rainy season, and the weather is hot and humid or raining heavily most of the time. As a result, you may find great hotel deals, and beaches will be less crowded. 

Nov-Dec is the best time to visit in my opinion in terms of beautiful weather, usually sunny and pleasant. But Hotels will still be pricey, and beaches will be crowded.

Getting to City Center from Phuket Airport 

Phuket International airport offers two main transportation options to the town of Phuket. The most popular and trustworthy choice is to hire one of the airport taxis, which are usually available 24/7 in front of the airport. The second option is the airport bus which is available every 1 to 3 hours, depending on the time of the day. A trip with a Phuket airport taxi usually takes around 45 minutes and costs about 600 Bath (US$ 20). The bus, on the other hand, takes 1 hour and 30 minutes for the same trip and costs about 120 Bath (US$ 4).

Next 4 Days Itinerary in Phuket

Arrival In Phuket

We took an early morning flight from Bangkok Don Mueang International Airport (DMK) to Phuket International Airport (HKT). Flight time was a little over an hour (1 hr. 25 min). Phuket airport is about 30 miles (47 km) from the Kata beach hotel; it took us about an hour to get there.
I usually don’t have any problem with early check-in at the hotel. Still, a prior email request to hotel management is recommended considering it is one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations. So, after settling down at the hotel, I hired a taxi and headed for a sightseeing trip.

Phuket International Airport
About to land at Phuket International Airport

Self Guided Tour to Big Buddha

The 45 meters tall Big Buddha is one of the iconic landmarks of Phuket that is worth visiting. It is located on top of the Nakkerd Hills with a breathtaking panoramic view of Phuket Town, Kata, Karon, Chalong Bay, and more. 

Buddha in phuket
The 45 meters tall Big Buddha is one of the iconic landmarks of Phuket

Visit Wat Chalong in Phuket

This Buddhist temple is most visited by Thai and tourists alike. Local Buddhists go there to pray and foreign tourists to learn about Buddhism. Wat Chalong is very colorful has many Buddhist statues inside the building. This temple is open between 7 am to 5 pm. 

Wat Chalong, Phuket
Wat Chalong a Buddhist Tempele in Phuket

Beach Hopping in Phuket

Patong Beach – Patong Beach – This beach is the heart of Phuket, the center of all attractions, and one of the most visited among all others. It is a family-friendly beach, and there are always lots of activities to keep the entire family entertained.

patong beach, phuket
Visiting Patong Beach early in the morning, Phuket, Thailand

Kata & Karon – 
For a more lay-back Phuket beach experience, start heading to the beautiful sands of Kata and Karon beaches. A lot is going on around these bays to keep you occupied. Despite being less busy than Patong, there are some great beachside bars and restaurants plus fantastic viewpoints close by, definitely well worth checking out. 

karon Beach, phuket
Early morning view of Karon Beach in Phuket, Thailand

Day Trip to James Bond Island

One of the best benefits of Phuket is its vicinity to plenty of other breathtaking islands to explore. Without a doubt, Phang Nga Bay and James Bond are worth a visit. Nothing can beat the excitement of a boat trip through the impressive limestone drops (karsts) extended all over the Andaman Sea. Therefore, our 2nd day in Phuket started with a day trip to Prang Nga National Park, particularly exploring, kayaking, swimming, and Sea Caves Canoeing in the vicinity of the few breathtaking islands. Absolutely, at the end of the trip could not miss a photo opportunity at the most touristy James Bond Island, which got its popularity since the filming of the Man With The Golden Gun.

James Bond Island
James Bond Island a Day Trip Location from Phuket

Phi Phi Island Trip

The breathtaking sights of Koh Phi Phi are the most popular of all the islands around Phuket. In fact, the guided trip will lead to two islands in this part of the Andaman Sea. Phi Phi Don is the main island where most visitors head to (mainly backpackers) for the overnight stay or as a hub for the day-trippers to all the other attractions around there. On the other hand, Phi Phi Leh is the quieter southern island. It has no overnight accommodation and highlights many coves and caves and Maya Beach–the famous setting for the film, The Beach.

Phi Phi Island, Krabi, Thailand

A full-day tour covers Loh Samah Bay, Mai Ton Island, Maya Bay, Pileh Cove, Viking Cave, Monkey Beach, Phi Phi Don, and Bamboo Island. Most tour departs from mainland Phuket by speedboat or regular big boats with free hotel pickup and dropoff, lunch, and snacks. Activities also include swimming and snorkeling in the turquoise water, sunbathing on white sandy beaches and photo opportunities at Maya Bay, and much more.

Maya Bay, Krabi
Long Tail Boat in crystal clear Maya Beach

Visit Bangla Road for Nightlife Experience

Bangla road stretches from the beach all the way to Rat-U-Thit Road across the Jungceylon Shopping Mall. It is the notorious soul of Phuket Nightlife, where all the action takes place after the sun goes down. A great place to enjoy live music, check out beer bars and nightclubs. Unfortunately, there are few Go-Go bars on both sides of the streets, and touts will definitely approach you for all sorts of offers, so don’t fall into their trap.  

Nightlife Scene in Phuket Walking Street

Fly Back to Bangkok

Return to Bangkok and transfer to your International flight back home. Most of the European and North American flights are late at night and fly out of Bangkok Subramaniam Airport (BKK), so if you are transferring on the same day, you need to make sure that you are arriving at BKK airport. If you are arriving at Don Muang Airport (DMK) from Phuket, you need to consider an extra two hours to transfer from DMK to BKK airport by Taxi. Few budget airlines offer a direct flight between Bangkok Subramaniam BKK and Phuket HKT, such as ValuJet, Thai Airways, Thai Smile, Bangkok Airways, etc.

Chao Phraya River
A view of the Chao Phraya River from the air

Where to stay in Phuket, Thailand

If you like to be in the City Center, and don’t mind dealing with the traffic jam, and like to experience the look and feel of any other metropolitan city in the world then the Sukhumvit area is right for you. It is a little touristy and pricey though. Here are a few hotels where I stayed and recommend based on my experience.

Jasmin City Hotel, Sukhumvit Soi 23, Bangkok

This is a service apartments facility in the Sukhumvit area. They have Studio, 1 bedroom with a living room, 2-bedrooms with a living room available for rent. Most rooms are available with complimentary breakfast. 

Centre Point Silom River View Hotel, Bangkok

This hotel is in a great location, only a 5-minute walk from Saphan Taksin BTS Station. Beautiful views of the Chao Phraya River. Just a 10-minute drive from MBK Shopping Mall and 16 miles from Suvarnabhumi International Airport. A great on-site restaurant serves a wide variety of traditional Thai and International dishes. 

Where to stay in Phuket, Thailand

Katathani Phuket Beach Resort, Kata, Phuket

Katathani is an ocean-front resort is located near the beautiful Kata Noi Beach, one of the quietest beaches in Phuket. It is only 20 minutes ride to Patong and other touristy beaches and nightlife. All of the rooms and pools are very close to the beach. Although hiring a sun lounge is inexpensive, only 200 Baht for the day, few of them are available for resort guests complimentary. The rooms were spacious with modern, clean restrooms. We enjoyed our stay here especially the spectacular sunset scene was unforgettable.

Happy Holiday Resort & Apartments, Patong, Phuket

Happy Holiday Resort & Apartments is located near Patong Beach, not far from Bangla Road and within walking distance of the largest shopping mall (Jungceylon) in Patong. The hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool and a garden, terrace, air-conditioned, and has a dining area and a seating area with a cable flat-screen TV. There’s also a kitchen in some of the units equipped with a microwave. I enjoyed staying there.

My Opinion and Last Word

Best viewpoints in Phuket 

Promthep Cape –  until the end of the day and enjoy a beautiful view over Phuket. Phromthep Cape is a popular and often busy tourist hub–but this shouldn’t distract from the incredible sunset views from Phuket’s southernmost point.

Karon Viewpoint – Confusingly named Karon Viewpoint, this viewpoint is in fact in Kata. Those who climb the steps to the top of the pavilion here on a clear day will be rewarded with sweeping views across Kata Noi Beach, Kata Beach, and Karon Beach in the north.

Food & Drinks

Natural Restaurant is located in the heart of Phuket town, serves delicious Thai and international food.

Mom Tri’s Kitchen is located in Kuta beach for the best dining experiences during your visit to Phuket.

Have you been to Thailand? Any cool tips to share?

Over the years I have visited Thailand multiple times, during this trip I had only 7 days to spend and decided to stay in Bangkok for a couple of days and then fly down to Phuket for a few days. It was a great experience and definitely loved it. Hope my story has given you some idea and motivated you to plan a fall trip. 

Please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you to improve my knowledge. 

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Hasan Mahmud

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