Thailand is one of the most beautiful countries I ever visited. It’s home to amazing nature, transparent blue sea and some of the friendliest people I have ever met. It’s a place I could easily see myself living in for a longer period of time. Last month I spent ten days in Thailand, dividing my time between Bangkok and Phuket. And here is my Thailand travel guide with more about what to do, see and eat in Thailand.
Thailand Travel Diary
To be honest, Thailand wasn’t on top of my list of places I wanted to visit. Well, I did saw all the fantastic photos of the beautiful beaches and nature. But, I always thought it’s quite commercialised, busy and a place where kids from the west come to drink and party.
But, boy, was I wrong! Thailand is filled with culture, and beautiful, both modern and traditional, architecture. It’s capital, Bangkok was busy, but busy in a good way. And the country is so big you can actually find those calm, beautiful beaches, as well. And I did find it. But, keep on reading to learn more about what I did during my ten days in Thailand.
Ten Days in Thailand
We visited Thailand over the Christmas holidays, and it was a great time to be there. We flew with Qatar Airways (which is absolutely my favourite airline), and had a layover in Doha. The flight itself was quite long, but my tactic always is to try and arrive to a destination in a morning. Have a few hours of sleep and go through the day like I’m not jet-lagged at all. It works for now.
So, we did just that. We flew to Bangkok and got there early on the Christmas morning. After going through customs, we hop on the Airport Rail Link and took a ride to the city. It’s an express railway riding on the viaduct over the city, so it’s a great way to see Bangkok from a completely different perspective. While looking to the city that was just waking up, from above, I immediately liked it. It had that great combination of modern skyscrapers and traditional temples, it was already loud and busy. But, at the same time, while looking at the morning commuters at the train I could see it has a great personality, too.
*TIP: The best way to travel from Bangkok airport to the city is by using the Airport Rail Link. It’s fast, modern, and most importantly it’s above the traffic, so you’ll arrive quickly to the city centre. We were using it while in Bangkok, as well. And it was very convenient to travel around the city that way.
Bangkok Shopping Malls
After getting a few hours of sleep at our hotel, we were ready to explore the city. We wanted to take it easy on our first day in Bangkok, so we went to one of Bangkok shopping malls. And although I’m not really big on shopping, those malls in Bangkok were a completely different dimension of shopping. They are usually beautifully decorated, with many great shops that are not available in Europe or the USA.
And on top of that, they have some great food courts. It could get quite warm in Bangkok. While we were there, it was over 30 degrees Celsius all the time (and it was winter!). So, it’s also nice to get to some of the shopping malls to cool down a bit.
That afternoon we went to MBK Centre, which I had a feeling was a place where locals go. Prices are cheaper, you can find some really not expensive clothes. I learned later on it is the only shopping mall in Bangkok where you can actually bargain. And my favourite part of it was a huge food court, where we had some really delicious dinner and where I felt like we were the only foreigners. A good way to step into the local culture, right?
*TIP: Shopping malls’ food courts are a great place to eat while in Bangkok. They consist of many small restaurants, where you can buy food for cheap and eat in the area in between them. Meaning you don’t have to eat from the same restaurant as your travel companions. You’ll see a cashier at the entrance where you can top up your restaurant card with the amount of money you want. And scan it then in the restaurants you want to eat at.
Night walk in Bangkok
After spending some time there, we decided to take a night walk around Bangkok towards the Airport Rail Link stop. Just in front of our shopping mall was the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. There were some really cool light installations in front of it, with a theme of sustainability. It was great to see some of Thai contemporary and street art while there, as well (you can see more photos and videos in my Insta stories highlight on a link here).
One thing I really liked in Bangkok was that it’s such a safe city. We walked literally everywhere and haven’t felt anything else but being completely safe the whole time.
*TIP: Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, besides the light installations in front of it, in the end. But from what I’ve read online, it seems like a great place. So, be sure to visit it when in Bangkok.
Exploring Bangkok temples and the Royal Palace
After exploring some of the more modern and contemporary Bangkok a day before, we dedicated our next day entirely to Bangkok’s history. We joined one of the small group tours (and it was really small because there were only four of us on it) because we wanted to learn more about Buddhism and the history of Thailand.
*TIP: Here is a link to the tour we did, in case you would like to book it as well.
The Grand Palace
We met our guide in the morning, and after picking up two more people that joined the tour, we drove towards the Grand Palace. With its fantastic architecture, it soon became one of my favourite places in Bangkok. It consists of several buildings and temples, and all of them are painted in the most vibrant colours. I was especially amazed by the small tile decoration that could be found everywhere.
The construction of Grand Palace began in 1782. But, many new buildings were added in the later years. Today it consists of numerous houses, pavilions and temples among which the Wat Phra Kaew or Temple of the Emerald Buddha is the most famous. Although to be precise, technically it’s not a temple, but rather a royal chapel. The royal family don’t live in the Grand Palace anymore. It’s open to the public, but there are still some royal offices inside of it. There is a dress code to visit the palace, though. Basically, your shoulders and knees should be covered, so be sure to dress appropriately for your visit.
*TIP: My top tip for exploring Bangkok’s temples and the Grand Palace is to wear shoes you can easily take on and off. When entering Buddhist temples, you have to take off your shoes and leave them outside. And you’ll be doing that several times throughout your day in Bangkok. That’s why footwear that’s easy to take on and off is definitely a must while exploring Bangkok. I think I had to take off my shoes at least fifty times during my ten days in Thailand, so, trust me, at one point, it will start to get annoying.
Wat Pho temple in Bangkok
Only a few steps away from the Grand Palace, one of probably the most famous temples in Bangkok, Wat Pho, is located. It’s maybe even better known by its other name, the Temple of Reclining Buddha. It’s home to the biggest collection of images of Buddha in Thailand. But, it’s famous all around the world for its 46 metres long and 15 metres tall statue of golden Buddha. Wat Pho is also quite important as being home to the first Thai massage school in Thailand, which is still functioning today. There are many ancient drawings of Thai medicine teachings you can see around the temple.
I also really liked spotting all the statues of Chinese guardians in front of the Buddhist temples in Bangkok. But the ones at Wat Pho were definitely my favourite.
The last temple we visited that day was Wat Traimit or the Temple of the Golden Buddha. It was built back in the 18th century and located in the heart of Bangkok’s Chinatown. However, its massive statue of golden Buddha is much older, dating probably 700 or 800 years ago. And there is an interesting story linked to it. The Buddha statue was covered in plaster before, and it was unknown there is a golden statue hidden inside. However, in the 1950s the statue has been moved away by a crane, when it accidentally dropped from it, broke and reveal the golden statue inside.
After saying goodbye to our guide, we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon by exploring Bangkok’s famous Chinatown. Founded back at the end of the 18th century, it’s one of the biggest Chinatowns in the world today. It’s like a city inside the city with many Chinese signs, shops and restaurants. While we were walking around it, every few seconds we would smell different flavours and spices, and were amazed by all the street food that could be found there. It’s such a colourful and vibrant part of the city, you shouldn’t miss it while in Bangkok.
*TIP: You can get to Bangkok’s Chinatown by using the metro system, as well. We hopped on it when getting back to our hotel. It’s easy to navigate, modern and most importantly, air-conditioned.
Here is a link to a nice walking tour around Bangkok’s Chinatown if you’d like to explore it more during your visit.
*TIP: Jump on one of the hop-on-hop-off boats cruising the Chao Phraya River if you’d like to see the city from the water. Here is a link to the boat pass.
After a long and exciting day in Bangkok, we decided to spend the evening at the swimming pool on the roof of our hotel. In Bangkok, life definitely doesn’t happen only on the ground, but up in the sky, as well. There are many rooftop bars, swimming pools or just some great views from the top of many buildings and skyscrapers in Bangkok. And enjoying that fantastic view on modern Bangkok while swimming in a pool was one of my top things to do in Bangkok.
We still had some energy that evening, so we decided to have dinner in one of the local restaurants in our neighbourhood. And that dinner turned out to be the one we’ll definitely remember. We saw what we thought was a nice barbecue restaurant. We went in (well, it was an open-air restaurant, so by saying in, I mean we sat at the table). The waiter told us we can pick up the raw food and barbecue it then. And here is where the misunderstanding happened. You see, I thought we’re going to pick up the food, and they’ll grill it for us. But, when I got to our table with the food, there was a small grill and some weird cooking device on our table. And, you’re guessing it, we had to prepare it ourselves. Well, it wasn’t the best dinner I had in my life, but it was definitely one of the most entertaining. We did cook our food, and just for the record, there were no ‘Bangkok Bellies’ anywhere near our hotel that night.
The next morning we got up early, had breakfast and went to the airport again. We had to catch a flight to our next destination – Phuket, the largest island in Thailand. Although you can get there by bus, we decided to fly, because we were spending only ten days in Thailand, and didn’t want to lose too much of our precious time on travelling. We flew with Thai Smile Airways, and it was a short one-hour flight, during which I enjoyed a fantastic view of the sea and islands. And while landing to Phuket, it really felt like we were arriving at the tropical paradise.
Proud Phuket Hotel
The idea behind our trip to Thailand was to spend the first part of our ten days in Thailand in Bangkok, exploring its temples and culture. And then, to spend the rest of our time by relaxing at the beach. That’s why we wanted to have a great hotel at Phuket, to make our Thailand holiday even more enjoyable. We booked Proud Phuket Hotel mostly because of the fact it had rooms with access to the swimming pool. How amazing is that?
It is such a beautiful and romantic hotel at Phuket, and sometimes we would just stay on our balcony, drink Singha beer (I completely fell in love with, by the way) and look to the starry sky.
I’m planning to write a full Proud Phuket Hotel review soon. So, keep an eye on the blog for it.
Sirinat National Park & Nai Yang Beach
We were staying in the northern part of Phuket, just next to the Sirinat National Park and Nai Yang beach. Phuket is well known for parties and the nightlife. But, we were looking for a more quiet area and have definitely found it in the northern part of the island.
When on that afternoon, we saw the Nai Yang beach for the first time, it was almost like some kind of a mental switch happening in our brains. It was that perfect calm place we were dreaming of since we started to plan our ten days in Thailand. With its long white sandy beach, palm trees and amazing vast turquoise sea, we decided not to leave it for the whole next week. Although we did plan to visit some famous places like the James Bond Island or Phi Phi, we just didn’t want to spoil our perfect little week. So, we decided to just enjoy and relax in our paradise.
*TIP: Just in case you have decided to explore those islands, here are some of the best tours I found to James Bond Island and Phi Phi. Click on the links to read more.
So, during the next week, we would come to the beach early, swim and enjoy being pulled away by the waves. A little note here: most of our swimming in the past was done in the peaceful Adriatic Sea. So, swimming in the Andaman Sea was like being at the amusement park for us. We’d spend the rest of our morning having a late breakfast at a local beach bar called Jack’s where we became regulars for that week. When the sun would become too strong, we’d go back to our hotel and just chill in a shadow next to the swimming pool, have a massage or just do nothing completely.
We continued exploring the Thai food during that time, as well. I enjoyed it so much, I’m now on a lookout for some good Thai restaurants back home. Recommendations anyone? My favourite food there was grilled, well, almost anything, and Papaya salad. And especially a combination of the two. I also had a banana pancake for breakfast nearly every single day. And although I didn’t really like them at first, I got completely hooked on drinking fresh coconuts.
*TIP: There are many cooking classes you can take while in Thailand to learn more about Thai food. Here is just one of them you can take in Bangkok.
Back to Bangkok
After spending a week on beautiful Phuket, it was time to go back to Bangkok, before we flew back home the day after. We went to our beach one last time in the morning, had a banana pancake at Jack’s and said goodbye to the lovely people working there. And slowly picked up our luggage, took a taxi and went to the airport. Little did we know that one of our most adventurous days was just about to start.
We slowly strolled to the check-in at the airport, and after the lady working there couldn’t find our names in the system for some time, she asked us to show her our flight reservations. When she looked at them, she very calmly told us that those tickets were booked for March 3rd. And that today was January 3rd. Luckily we were still in that ‘beach-chilled-life’ mode, so we just looked at each other in slow motion and smiled like that has nothing to do with us. She sent us to the Thai Smile Airways office, where they told us all flights were fully booked. And how they have some available seats on a flight that’s departing in three days. Well, the only problem with that was that we had to be back to the Netherlands before that. It’s somewhere around that moment that we realised this could actually be a big issue.
After some time, the Thai Smile lady told us there were two available seats on a plane that’s leaving for Bangkok in 15 minutes. And this is when some ‘Home Alone’ style running started. We had to get the tickets, check-in our luggage, go through the airport control and be at the gate within that time. We were running like crazy, but luckily for us, the flight was delayed for half an hour, and we made it.
Still, under the impression of everything that happened, we arrived back to Bangkok to our hotel, only to realise we booked it for the wrong day, as well. However, we were lucky again, and there was a free room available, so we could stay in it. Well, one more lesson learned: always check your bookings twice.
Our flight back home was leaving in the evening on the next day. So, we had one whole more day to spend in Bangkok. We took a taxi in the morning and went to the Museum Siam. It’s an educational museum about Thailand’s history, culture and everyday life. It’s a great museum in Bangkok because you get to learn about this interesting country, its food, architecture and culture in a fun and entertaining way.
*TIP: When we weren’t using Airport Link or metro in Bangkok, we would use Grab, which is almost like Thailand’s version of Uber. We downloaded their app, and it was easy then to just choose our destination, know the price in advance and pay online. All the drivers were great, and it was a safe and convenient way to get around Bangkok.
After having lunch at the food court of one of most beautiful Bangkok’s shopping malls, Terminal 21, where each floor represents the different city, it was time to say goodbye to Bangkok and finish our amazing ten days in Thailand.
This beautiful country surprised me in the most positive way, and I truly enjoyed every single moment during my ten days in Thailand. I feel like we’ve seen just a tiny part of it, and that we could spend so much more time there exploring different parts of Thailand. It’s a place I’ll definitely be visiting again.
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