Thailand as a backpacking destination is getting hotter and hotter these days. It’s been a tourism mecca for some years now but I feel like right now it’s growing even more. It’s cheap, safe, beautiful and full of variety.
Therefore I put together a 2-week-guide for you:
- Arrival in Bangkok
You’ll probably be flying in and out of Thailands’ capital, Bangkok. I believe two or three days will be enough time to explore the sights here. You can either do so in the beginning or the end of your trip. Check out my recommendations for those days:The Grand Palace isn’t included in this list because it’s just way too crowded so I, not liking crowds in humid hot weather, skipped it.
- Northern Thailand
To head north from Bangkok either take a flight or head to Mo Chit Bus Terminal for a more affordable transfer.
Two cities in northern Thailand are a must when visiting this country. On the one hand there is Chiang Rai with the beautiful White Temple
and on the other hand Chiang Mai which reminded me of a small cute Boston. Everything is in walking distance and there is so much to do. I highly recommend a tour to an Elephant Sanctuary (the options herefore are endless and prices vary from 25 to 50 US$ depending on the length of the tour).
On a one-day tour the organisation will pick you up from your accommodation (by the way: stay at DeeJai Backpackers Hostel, it’s the most social place ever!!) in the morning to take you to the Elephants. You’ll get to feed them, help to produce some medicine, give them a mud spa and a bath in the river. I loved this experience of my time in Thailand a lot and would definitely do it again. Other than that Chiang Mai offers a large amount of temples, great food and cooking classes if you like to know how to make those yummy curries.
- The islands
When backpacking in Thailand for two weeks I would decide on one side of the southern peninsula rather than trying to visit islands on both sides. You wanna give yourself a few days on each island to explore and relax. I’m just gonna go with the more popular side now since these are the ones I visited myself:
Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao
To head south I would recommend to take a flight from Chiang Mai/Chiang Rai because though taking a bus is cheaper it will take away a whole day of your trip for this distance of travel.
First things first. Koh Samui is like a little Germany, there’s German restaurants, bars and even a Hofbräuhaus. So for every German tourist who likes this, go for it. For everyone else I recommend staying here just two days or skipping it completely and spend more time on the other two islands.
One thing you should definitely consider is a day tour to Mu Ko Ang Thong National Marine Park.
This is a collection of deserted islands and just so unbelievably beautiful. I highly recommend that trip but you can also go directly from Koh Phangan.
Speaking of, that’s the island for all the party monsters under you. The full moon parties attract thousands of people to come and party at Haad Rin Beach every month. No worries if you’re traveling on a different time during the month bacause there are theme parties all the time (i.e. half moon party, black moon party, jungle party etc.).
When you’re sobered up the next day, rent a scooter and explore the island, head to some view points and walk from Koh Phangan over a sandbank to another little island – Koh Ma.
End your day with a swim and a cocktail watching the sunset overlooking the island and the ocean at Amsterdam Bar!Take the ferry to Koh Tao, my favorite island – it goes without saying that I recommend staying here a few more days. Scuba divers and beginners, this is where you should do your course and dives. Everyone else, this island is great to relax, enjoy the beach and pools with stunning views.
If you’re planing on visiting the full moon party on Koh Phangan I highly recommend staying on Koh Tao beforehand because after the FMP crowds and crowds of people will head over to Koh Tao and it’s super hard to get a hostel, plus prices will go up!
Once arrived, rent a motorbike and go to as many beaches as possible because they will take your breath away, I promise.
DO go to Koh Nang Yuan, but take a Kajak and head there before the boats with the crowds arrive around 9 or 10AM or after they leave at 5PM
DON’T run through the fire rope at the nightly beach shows when you’re drunk. I saw some bad injuries the next morning
DO hack some pools with stunning views overlooking the ocean. Most of the times we even asked the pool stuff if we could hang out at the pool of a resort for a little while and they said yes, so it wasn’t really hacking.
DON’T argue with a Thai on the island. I feel like they’re a mafia. So don’t get in trouble.
DO watch the sunset at Nang Yuan Terrace
- Take a ferry-bus ticket back to Bangkok or a flight from Surat Thani airport and give yourself one last night partying on Khao San or on Soi 11 before heading back home with plenty of new impressions, souvenirs and a nice tan : )