Thailand…the land of endless spectacular islands and deep, beautiful jungle. Thailand is full of so much history, culture and varied landscapes and it truly has something from everyone. Whether you’re looking for a jungle adventure in Chiang Mai or a tropical beach vacation in the south, you can find what you’re looking for in Thailand.
One of the unique things about Thailand is the fact that their monsoon seasons are split between the two sides of the south, so you can typically pick an island any time of year that falls outside the monsoon season. Max and I have spent quite a bit of time in Thailand and for those who don’t know, we got married on the beautiful island of Koh Yao Noi! Thailand holds a special place in our hearts because of our experiences and we highly recommend it to anyone looking to explore Asia. The value for your dollar on hotels is truly exceptional – there are few places in the world outside Thailand that offer such luxury at rock bottom prices. Bali may be the only other exception.
Thailand offers exceptional, world-class luxury at even better prices. When looking at hotels across the country, you can find deals under $300 for true, 5-star experiences. As a comparison, the Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Phulay Bay is frequently around $500. The Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Puerto Rico, on the other hand, is upwards of $1500. The value you get in Thailand is just exceptional. It’s also typical to find exceptional properties in the $100-range if you’re traveling in a shoulder-season or low-season. The service, luxury and unique room types make Thailand a perfect honeymoon trip for travelers.
Transportation between islands in Thailand can get expensive- our favorite company to book with is Lomprayah as they provide consistent service at good prices.They operate in the Koh Samui/Koh Phangan area and provide connections to Bangkok. If you travel on the Phuket side, you’ll have to rely on private ferries and boats. There are a number of hotels that offer transfers through them directly, so it’s worth asking to minimize the hassle.
Transportation in the major cities like Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai is extensive and frequently available via TukTuk. TukTuks are inexpensive taxis and it’s a lot of fun to explore in them.
You can also rent scooters to get around the cities and islands, but beware and be care who you rent from. Be sure to check TripAdvisor before booking with any company. Max and I had a number of negative experiences with our scooters and vehicles having bad brakes or other issues.
Food in Thailand is cheap, as is local beer. Expect to pay handsomely for imported liquors and wine, as well as resort food. Typically, we recommend indulging a few nights at the hotel restaurants an venturing into the little villages and towns to experience true, down to earth cooking the rest of the nights.
Typically, hotels in Thailand include breakfast in the rate and offer typical European style buffets and options.
Let’s just say Max and I ended up having to shove a lot of stuff into our tiny suitcases after both trips. Markets are everywhere in Thailand, particularly in the Chiang Mai area and Phuket. Many shop keepers are also the artists and take great pride in their work. From jewelry, to custom paper goods and passport covers, you can find anything in the markets. We typically seek out the stalls at the markets where the artists are literally crafting goods before your eyes. The markets are an incredible experience and we highly recommend spending the time to explore them.
Negotiating is expected and pretty necessary. We found that shop keepers typically price way higher than they expect to get so it’s important to remember to negotiate!
The hospitality industry is incredibly service-minded in Thailand. Some of the best hotels we’ve ever stayed at are in Thailand and a large reason for that is the incredible service they provide. You’ll constantly hear “sawadeekaaaaaa” as you pass by. Staff at hotels are always invested in helping you with just about anything you need, particularly at the higher end resorts.
In the markets, negotiation is 100% acceptable and we negotiated pretty hard for some of the things we purchased. We found people to be very enterprising and willing to negotiate. This also applied to some of our transfers and boat trips we took. We found ourselves negotiating for lower prices for long tail boat rides and the like.
Thailand is incredible. The landscape, the cities, the people- its an experience like none other. Whether you're looking for a beach escape or a wild city experience, Thailand has everything.
Thailand is a very reasonably priced country overall. Hotel rates range dramatically depending on the season and many hotels do come with breakfast in the rate. Be sure to review this before you book, as we have often found that booking direct yielded better offers than booking in a third party. Dining at 5 star resorts will cost you about double to triple, depending on the hotel. On most of the islands, we splurged on a dinner or two at the hotel and spent the rest of our nights exploring the restaurants in town that were more casual. Don’t skip the Thai massages! For around $7-20 USD, you can get exceptional massages everywhere.
Suggested daily budget – Depending on the type of trip you’re looking to have, the prices will really vary. Dinner out in most towns and cities will cost you around $5-10 per dish. Beer is very cheap at around $2 for a large bottle, but wine and imported liquors will cost you more, usually around $6-8 a glass.
We find restaurants at the main hotels to cost around double to triple the cost of the in-town restaurants. The advantage of the hotel restaurants are the “vibes” and locations. We spent a couple nights at the hotels and the rest of our time exploring the towns to give ourselves a good balance.
Activities are fairly standard pricing with many countries. Scuba Diving will cost around $100-120 for two dives, for example. Be sure to budget for some activities as there is so much to do and explore in Thailand. Should you choose to explore the Elephant Sanctuaries, we recommend doing your research beforehand to ensure you go to a quality sanctuary. Our favorite is the hands-off Phuket Elephant Sanctuary and it costs around $95 per person.
The great thing about Thailand is the fact that you can visit all year because different parts of the country provides different types of weather. However, the best time to visit Thailand is during the cool and dry season between November and early April. On the west coast, the heaviest rainfall occurs from April to October; while the east coast receives the most rain from September and December.
Check out some of our favorite Thailand resorts and what we like and don’t like about each of them.
Endless, spectacular islands in the south and pristine, massive jungles in the North steal your breath away at every turn. Thailand is filled with incredible history and kind people. There is so much to do in Thailand, it’s almost impossible to plan for less than 12-14 days for a full experience. You can expect delicious food, exquisite luxury experiences and incredible cultural offerings anywhere you go in the country. While many destinations around the world offer the best luxury at big brands, consider some of the smaller boutique properties in Thailand – you will not be disappointed.