We left for Thailand during a low tourist season, July. I’m not sure if this applies to all seasons but we started ignoring the weather app because it was far from the truth. Due to the high humidity, it seemed the forecast called for rain every day, but really, there were only light sprinkles in Chiang Mai and a single downpour in Phi Phi for twenty minutes. So please don’t fret if the internet weather appears “gloomy.”
Breakdown of our trip:
1.5 days Bangkok
4 days Chiang Mai
4 days Krabi Town, Railey Beach, and Phi Phi
BUT your trip may look completely different because you are a different traveler with a different vacation style. Here’s a general rule of thumb…If you’re a city person, stay longer in Bangkok. If you adore nature and traditional culture, extend your stay in Chiang Mai. If you crave the sun and sand, invest in an island resort. This travel blog helped shift the timeline according to our preferences.
Bangkok was SO HOT in July. We survived, barely. We glistened throughout our tour of the palace and temple, and then bought the best coconut juice from a lady on the corner. I would have hugged her if I wasn’t so sticky.
- Airbnb: Pay for their breakfast! You get courses of delicious, fresh Thai food and dessert. The rice cake was wrapped in a banana leaf and I drank sweet Thai iced tea every morning…need I say more?
- Transportation: Make sure the taxi driver hits the meter. Anyone who tries to bargain before you get in the cab, let them go. The meter will always be fair and much cheaper.
- Attractions: We are not city people but our short time in Bangkok was quite satisfying. We visited the following spots…
The Grand Palace
Reclining Buddah – walking distance from the palace
Chatuchak Market – weekends only
Pak Khlong Talat Flower Market – we like plants
p.s. If anyone makes a calendar of all the lazy cats in Bangkok, please let me know ❤
I would have traded a day in Phi Phi for another day in Chiang Mai. Maybe we came to the city with zero expectations. Maybe it was the green mountains and restful pace of life that attracted us. Maybe it was the free papaya.
- Airbnb: This place is incredible. The host gave us fruit from her garden and sent us a detailed list of restaurants and coffee shops nearby. Morning breakfast is a growing phenomenon in Asia so we appreciated the open hours.
- Transportation: Mango Bikes!
Chiang Mai is a major bike city. There are way more scooters on the road than there are cars. A family of four cruising down the highway on one scooter is normal. It’s also very normal to drive a car with a child on your lap too.
If you don’t want to rent a scooter, rent a car. If you don’t want to rent a car, there are taxis and Songtaews (red pick up trucks) available everywhere.
- Attractions: There are many neat things to do in Chiang Mai, but please research the facility before spending your money. For example, we were interested in the Night Safari until we read about the terrified animals and how the elephants rocked side to side, a sign that they were restless due to their small living space.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep – great scooter ride
Wat Phra Singh – best to see at night with its Indiana Jones vibes
The Grand Canyon – there are two sections ran by two separate companies. One side has music blasting and slippy sides. We went for the more relaxed section that had no music and was reserved for swimming, floating on blow up tubes, and cliff jumping.
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary – the half day trip was perfect
Muay Thai Fight – there are numerous venues
Sunday Walking Street Market
Bua Thong Waterfalls – pack a lunch, great for couples and families
All About Coffee – perfect breakfast spot
- Helpful blog that doesn’t include the drugged tigers and sad night safari
Ideally, we wanted to travel to Krabi Town and then start island hopping but our flight was a late one and the long tail boats don’t operate at night.
- Airbnb: This place was cheap and surprisingly bigger and better than we expected. The link says that the bathroom is shared…but the building is a legit hotel with private rooms and bathrooms. The bathroom wasn’t even attached to another hotel room so maybe the description is wrong? Either way, it’s a lovely deal! The front desk also has a stack of maps of the town.
- Transportation: We took a bus from the airport to Krabi Town. From there, the people were divided into Songtaews that dropped off each group at their hotel.
- Attractions: This town is a great lil’ pitstop. Go walk the pier, browse the markets, bar hop, and listen to live music.
The Krabi Weekend Night Market – live entertainment onstage too
Searching for the perfect island to stay overnight hurt my brain. It’s such a first-world problem scrolling through all these magnificent rock formations rising from paradise waters. Yet you can’t go wrong. Pick one island (or two) as a home base and then sightsee all of Phi Phi by ferry and/or long tail boat. There are multiple booths that sell tickets so you can plan and then hop in a boat an hour later.
- Hotel: Sand Sea Resort – Our credit card had hotel points so we snagged a sweet deal. Cheaper deals are on the east side.
- Transportation: It’s a five minute walk between the east and west side of the island. You’ll need to take a long tail boat to explore surrounding caves and sister islands.
Railay View Point – The hubs was sick so we didn’t go…but it’s really worth a sunrise or sunset hike.
Phra Nang Cave – The shrine is a pile of colorful, male genitalia offered to an Indian princess. Check out the legend and history here. I recommend renting a kayak from West Railay Beach and padding out to its neighbor beach, Ao Phra Nang. Or take a long tail boat.
p.s. coffee and food prices are much cheaper the farther you are from the port.
Phi Phi Island
This little island is packed with life! I’ve never seen so many businesses and tan bodies on a cobblestone path. We ate pizza on the beach and were ready for our final adventure.
- Stay: Maya Bay Sleep Aboard
Singles and young couples would adore this tour. Instead of island hopping on our own, we just booked it and headed for the horizon. My favorite part was kayaking and snorkeling Ko Phi Phi Lee. We slept on the upper deck and my hair kept tickling my face throughout the night. But then I woke up to the sunrise and my tiredness didn’t matter anymore.
- Transportation: The ferries and long tail boats are for island hopping. Like Railay, everything is walking distance on the main island.
- Attractions: There’s too many to list! You can scuba dive, zip line, rock climb, swim, kayak, go on a cruise, attend a thai cooking school, lounge on the beach, forget about home and live out of your suitcase for a year.
Phi Phi Viewpoint – Take water. You can also buy some at the shop before all the stairs.
I hope this itinerary helps you plan and lessen any dwindling nerves. When in doubt, just ask questions. Thailand is tourist-friendly and the people are beyond kind. I chatted with a local about the difference between Thai and American handshakes. It was best conversation I’ve ever had at a coffee shop. Someday we’ll go back.