Updated: Oct 28
When we hear the name Thailand, we dream of nice sky blue beaches, amazing hospitality, bustling city of Bangkok, numerous islands dotted on the Andaman or Gulf of Thailand and of course a few advices for place to get good body massage from few people who are addicted to Thai Massages. We at Hilltrotters too had the same expectations and also a little cravings to know the rich history and culture of Thai people and also their natural wonders like hills/valleys and national parks and of-course some amazing Thai Vegetarian food :)
How did we end up planning Thailand Trip:
Our Thailand trip plan was accidental to be honest, all thanks to the Europe (Greece) Schengen Visa being rejected at the last moment in last week of May 2023 (a big story for a detailed blog some other day). As, we had to look for alternatives for our June Travel plans, We quickly decided to prepone Bali/Indonesia plan to cover it (which was originally planned for Sept.2023).
But our Europe Trip was planned for 3 weeks and Indonesia plan was for 15-days and that is where we thought of adding an additional destination to this Indonesia (Bali) plan to complete 3 weeks. And nothing could be easier than choosing and plan for Thailand as a advance destination to our main Bali/Indonesia plan.
So, In short we just had 2-3 days to come up with Thailand plan and we just had a 6 days to devote for our Thai Trip to be squeezed in between Indonesia (Bali) tour plan in June'2023.
Below are the few websites we referred in order to get to the places we added to Our Itinerary which might give a fair idea to carve out your own customized Itinerary.
https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/thailand-for-first-timers - A beginner guide for planning Thailand trip
https://www.tourismthailand.org/Home - Thai official Tourism Website for latest updates
https://www.thaievisa.go.th/ - Thai e-visa process for Indian Travelers
Our Short Itinerary for Thai - First Glimpse - June'2023
We travelled around Thailand between 04-June-2023 to 09-June-2023 and as this was our first glimpse (more to come) we picked the usual suspects for this trip. Go through the below story blog which is more of a Itinerary blog to know the places we visited and our experience overall with Travelling across Thailand.
Day #1: Arrive in Bangkok | Explore Bangkok
Direct flight from Bengaluru (Flight Details – IndiGo 6E-1055 – 05:35AM @BLR, 11:20AM @BKK - Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Bangkok)
A superfast Visa on Arrival (VOA) process and we pick up the True Move SIM card at Airport before exiting the Arrival terminal.
Hassle free Airport metro experience to reach Bangkok City and check in to our hotel room.
A first Thai food experience for lunch at Try me Thai Restaurant in Khaosan Road
A quick bargain for a auto ride and visit Wat Noranarth Soontarikaram Temple.
Took a Ferry ride to get across river to Wat Arun & Visit Wat Arun Ratchawararam Temple (a special day for Thai people on the occasion of Buddha day, so we could see lots of people in their traditional attire with all smiles for photo shoots and social media posts)
Took another Ferry ride to Ratchawong and a long walk on the China Town Street, A heritage street bustling with food stalls, Shopping and street events and commercial hubs dotted with parlors.
As night fall, we took a ferry from Ratchawong to Phra Arthit with a mesmerising sunset over Wat Arun Temple and a then short walk on Khaosan Street back to our hotel.
Stay for the night (New Siam Palace Ville Hotel, Near Khaosan Road area, Bangkok)
Due to our time constraint, we had to skip many places from our bucket list in Bangkok.
Other Places of Interest in Bangkok City:
The Grand Palace Bangkok
Wat Phra Chethuphon Temple
The temple of Emerald Buddha
Wat Traimit Withayaram Temple
Day #2: Travel to Phuket | Explore Phuket
A domestic flight from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport to Phuket (Flight Details – AIR ASIA FD-4112 – 06:35AM @BKK, 07:55AM @HKT)
Airport shuttle service to Phuket / Karon Beach Area and check into our Resort hotel.
Our Resort provided Shuttle service to Phuket main beach and a short walk on the Phuket Beach (less activity as it was early morning).
We had a sumptuous brunch at Eurothai Restaurant at Phuket Town (Tried Pad Thai Stick noodles with Tofu & Veggies)
We wanted to visit Bangla Night market in the evening during when it's bustling, but decided against it and took a walk around the Bangla Night Market during the afternoon heat just to give some exercise to our tummy's. It was not even 10% its capacity and we knew it, but we anyway are not the party people so, we were good with it.
After getting back to our Resort and a much needed rest - We devoted the entire evening to Karon Beach which was the highlight of Phuket for us.
The relaxing, white sand and crystal clean Karon Beach with tree cover and road next to it, made a picture perfect beach for us to enjoy the sun setting over the Andaman Sea and time passing by in a slow-mo.
A treat for our tummy at Soul Vegan Cafe & Restaurant at Karon Beach area, right next to our resort and on the Karon Beach Boulevard. This place was heavenly and a must visit if you like Vegan food.
Stay for the night at (Karon Sea Sands Resorts, Karon Beach Area, Phuket)
Other Places of Interest in & around Phuket:
Kata Noi Beach
The Big Buddha Statue
Wat Chalong Temple
Nai Han Beach
Rock Viewpoint, Paradise Beach
Phuket Indy Night Market
Day #3: Travel to Ko Phi-Phi | Explore Ko Phi-Phi
Early morning pickup from our Resort for our drop to Rassada Pier Ferry Terminal, Phuket Old town and onward Cruise journey to Ko Phi-Phi Island (Ferry Ticket booked through Klook app and got a free pickup as well)
The Cruise experience with Phi-Phi Cruiser was one of a kind and we just stayed on the deck the whole time, catching sea wind on our faces and getting a close view of Ko Phi-Phi Islands as we got closer and closer.
Our resort had arranged a pick up boat for us at Ton Sai Pier (Phi-Phi) and it was a bumpy long tail boat ride of 15mins to our Resort on the other end of the Island.
Before heading on our half day afternoon long tail boat tour from the Ton Sai Pier, we had a nice brunch at Anna's Restaurant (We tried Pineapple Fried Rice, literally came in the pineapple fruit shell and also tried Veg Spring rolls and smoothies for our bumpy ride to Maya Bay)
After a short but impatient wait at Ton Sai Pier, our long tail boat arrived and we were taken to Viking Cave and then Phi Leh Lagoon where I literally jumped into the sea and came out in an instant as I was not feeling confident of floating (should have thought before jumping).
The boat master showed us a few places like Monkey Beach (due to sea swell, no beach spotted, but cliff full of monkey's hanging to grab some fruits if we being their close cousins, share some).
Finally the grand Maya Bay Beach (we made an entry to the Maya Bay from the exterior for conservation reasons, which gave us a short walk in the woods to reach the Maya Bay beach). The beach was amazingly beautiful, but hard to take pictures if you are not a drone warrior or have a great idea of capturing the grand view on a short go pro or mobile phone.
There were a loads of tourists on the beach, but none were allowed to swim in the beach, you could just take a walk. We were told its for the safety of swimmers, but could also be to avoid making a rowdy crowd at Maya Bay. The beach was windy at times, and ferocious sand storm would make you show your back to the beach.
On the return ride, the boat master gave enough time for our snorkelers (a group from Australia on our boat) to enjoy the under water beauty and marine life and they appreciated it a lot. We were not ready to snorkel yet and I was still in the trauma of my recent jump episode an hour ago.
The return ride back to Ton Sai was the epic one (at least so far in my life), the long tail boat was nothing in comparison to the ferocious waves which was hitting our boat while we had to cross the Maya Bay over to Ko-Phi Phi via open sea, under the cover of evening sun. The sea swell and waves were so hard in the open sea, we used to feel the waves crashing under our boat and we were constantly worried about toppling of our boat and even captain was using all his strength and experience to negotiate the waves and we were busy holding on to our life jacket and thinking about how to stay a float if we have to ditch the boat or get thrown to the sea.
Finally, we crossed the open sea area and back to the bay area, under the shadow of cliffs surrounding the bay and it meant waves are dull and not crashing anymore, but it was a breath-"taking" ride back to say the least. But we had one more short ride from Ton Sai Pier to our Resort, and that was another short but bumpy ride as well. Later we came to know, that the sea was real rough indeed on that evening and all the sailors were complaining to each other about the rough sea.
Stay for the night at (Phi-Phi the Beach Resort, Phi-Phi Islands)
Other Places of Interest in & around Ko Phi Phi Islands:
Loh Dalum Beach
Phi-Phi View Point 1&2
Loh Moo Dee Beach
Day #4: Travel from Ko Phi-Phi to Chiang Mai
Early morning ferry from Ko Phi Phi to Rassada Terminal, Phuket.
We had booked the Cruise tickets for this, during the journey from Phuket to Ko Phi Phi directly with Phi Phi Cruiser ticket vendor so it was a hassle free boarding on our return journey.
We enjoyed the return cruise on the deck as we wanted to as much raw experience as possible of cruising in the open sea. The sky was cloudy and it rained a lot and we had to take cover on the deck and sea swell was massive, but unlike the Long tail boat, this was a Sea Cruiser and well equipped to negotiate the rough sea.
After reaching the Rassada Ferry terminal, we booked direct Airport Shuttle service at the Ferry terminal itself thanks to the ever helping staff.
We reached the Airport and during our boarding, for a moment the boarding gate and time were mixed up and we thought we had missed the flight, but ended up reaching the gate and witness that, there was a delay again.
Flight from Phuket to Chiang Mai (Flight Details – AIR ASIA FD-3167 – 16:15PM @HKT, 18:15PM @CNX)
Reached Chiang Mai and a express Cab to our Hotel for a check-in & much needed freshen up.
An evening stroll from our Hotel in this Heritage Chiang Mai (walled city) and it was a peaceful walk in the clean & lit up city.
We had a sumptuous tummy full Vegan food at Goodsouls Kitchen Vegan Restaurant, Chiang Mai and a walk back to our Hotel to make it a memorable first day in Chiang Mai.
Stay for the night at (Hotel M Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai)
Day #5: Explore Chiang Mai | Flight to Bangkok
We had plans for Chiang Mai and had already booked a Day Tour with a local group for Doi Inthanon National Park on Klook App.
The pickup from the group was smooth just in front of our hotel and a quick intro with the group.
As part of the Day Tour, we visited Sirithan Waterfalls to start with and then proceeding to Doi Inthanon National Park, the highest point in Thailand.
We also paid a visit to the Holy Twin Pagodas (Phra Mahatat Noppamethanedon) in Doi Inthanon National Park.
The group had arranged a nice Village dining for us and offered us Vegetarian food, the dining experience was great.
We were also taken to the village exploration to Ban Luang Tribal village and then to the coffee / tea tasting in the same village which was a blissful experience and we got learn a little about the close nit tribal villages and their daily routines and their craft.
At the end of the day tour, we visited Watchiratan Waterfalls which was nice way to close the day tour as the falls was majestic and easy to get to and nice place to spend time amidst nature.
After getting back to Chiang Mai - We visited the famous Wat Chedi Luang Temple, 15th Century heritage temple in Chiang Mai. We also proceeded to visit Wat Phra Singh temple as well in its much grandeur.
Before we close out Chiang Mai and get to Airport, we tried another Vegan Food hotspot in Chiang Mai, The Downtown Vegan Garden Restaurant.
We took our Flight from Chiang Mai to Bangkok (Flight Details – AIR ASIA FD-3420 – 23:30PM @CNX, 00:40AM @DMK)
We reached our Hotel in Bangkok at midnight for a much needed rest after the long day travel.
Stay for the night at (Citrus Sukhumvit 13, Bangkok)
Other Places of Interest in & around Chiang Mai:
Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail
Ang Ka Nature Trail
Wat Umong Suan Phutthatham Temple
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
Wat Lok Moli Temple
Day #6: Last day at Bangkok | Onward to Bali (Indonesia)
We took a good morning rest and directly Head to Don Mueang International Airport, Bangkok for our Bali Indonesia Flight.
Flight from Bangkok to Bali (Flight Details – AIR ASIA FD-398 – 13:00PM @DMK, 18:20PM @DPS)
We reach Bali for the nice evening sunset from our flight and finish the long Visa on Arrival formalities.
Head to Kuta & Check-in to our Hotel and get ready for the next 2 weeks of Indonesian adventure.
Our Experience of Travelling in Thailand
Thailand being our first visit outside the Indian Subcontinent (we visited Sri Lanka but, it was part of Indian Subcontinent), the expectations were a bit high. Below are some of our observations on what we expected and what we thought what we got during our travel in Thailand.
Our Visa on Arrival experience was great, we got our VOA within 10 mins done right after reaching the Immigration section.
The travel experience within the city be it Airport metro / Ferry / Tuk Tuk was just like Indian experience and was more or less hassle free.
The city/walkways/road traffic and cleanliness of the cities like Bangkok/Phuket/Chiang Mai was great and felt like we are in a clean and decent environment.
The long tail boat / cruise experience was good, but we felt really unsafe in long tail boat ride in Ko Phi Phi, there was no safety briefing or checks like are we being given the life jacket or are we wearing one or not, which is a usual in Indian case within our tourist circuits.
The experience of taking service from Tour organizers in Chiang Mai was good and they made sure, we are well taken care of, be it pick up / guiding on the tour or explanation during the sight seeing or during foo distribution and the vehicle arrangements were hassle free.
The domestic flight experience between Bangkok - Phuket - Chiang Mai - Bangkok was exactly as what we usually get in India and it was easier to get to the airport thanks to airport shuttle and no surprises during the boarding of a flight.
Thai food experience:
Being a Vegetarian and travelling out of your comfort is always a bit challenging, but we don't shy away from trying the local cuisine wherever we travel, so here is our Thai food experience during our travel.
We tried well known Thai cuisine like Pad Thai with Tofu & Veggies / Khao Soi / Mango Sticky Rice / Pineapple Fried rice and we felt it was decent experience though we could not be sure, if we could eat these on a daily basis :) And also we got opportunity to try the Thai local food during our Day Tour in Chiang Mai, which was delicious and healthy and they did serve lots of fresh veggies along with Sticky rice.
Khao Soi was our favorite local dish that we enjoyed in Thailand and a must try.
Below are the restaurants where we did try some local Thai food.
Try Me Thai Restaurant - Khaosan Road, Bangkok
Eurothai Restaurant - Phuket
So, we stuck out for Vegan Food wherever we could, and you would be surprised to hear, there are a lot of good cafe's or restaurants serving delicious Vegan Healthy food, on all the places we visited in Thailand. Below are some of the places we enjoyed having Vegan Food.
Soul I Vegan Cafe & Restaurant, Phuket
Goodsouls Kitchen - Vegan Restaurant, Chiang Mai
Downtown - Vegan Garden Restaurant, Chiang Mai
For more detailed itinerary on our Thailand Tour , please contact HillTrotters@gmail.com or visit our Facebook page "HillTrotters".
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Please contact HillTrotters@gmail.com for any suggestions or travel related queries.