Thailand Travel Guide from My 2-year Stay in the Land of Smiles
This coming 7th of March marks my second year of staying here in Thailand.
It has been a beautiful and eye-opening experience, to say the least. It has not been a bed of roses of course, just like in any other place. Yet the wonderful moments far outweigh any setbacks.
Working abroad as a mom has been difficult but there have also been advantages; one of them is travel. Since my husband and I worked as teachers, we had ample weekends, holidays, summer and semesterly breaks. We used some of these breaks to explore the beauty of the land of smiles. The farthest I’ve been is only 200+ kilometers away from Bangkok, but it had been enough for me to fall in love with this country.
Here are some of the places I’ve been here in Bangkok and nearby provinces. I also shared some travel tips towards the end.
- Ancient City
Location: 296/1 Moo7 Sukhumvit Road, Bangpoo Subdistrict, Samut Prakan, Thailand (around 1 hour from Bangkok)
Entrance Fee: 700 baht
Features: Temples, Monuments, Gardens, Outdoor Museum, Floating Market
I’ve been here because of a school field trip and I loved it. There are so many instagrammable corners, picturesque scenes, and surreal architecture. They also have performances in some areas.
2. King Rama IX Park
Location: Sukhumvit 103 Road, Nong Bon, Prawet, Bangkok
Entrance Fee: 10 baht (Free during flower festival)
Features: Gardens, Large Lake, Swamp, Pavilion
I went here during their annual flower festival so its beauty has tripled. The flower festival happens from December 1st-10th to commemorate King Bhumibol’s birthday. Though it’s a bit far from the city center, the travel is worth it. It has been a feast for the senses. There’s a plethora of plant species, birds, and even monitor lizards and turtles.
3. Historic City of Ayutthaya
Entrance Fee: FREE except for major temples which charge 50 baht
Features: Ruins, Temples, UNESCO World Heritage Site
We reached Ayutthaya through the SRT. The ticket caused only 20 baht and the trip took about 2 hours. The temples are located far from each other so it’s best to rent a tuk-tuk to take you around.
4. Koh Kret
Location: Chao Phraya River, Nonthaburi
Entrance Fee: FREE
Features: Local Shopping, Thai Food, Pottery, Arts, Traditional Community
Koh Kret is a man-made island along the Chao Phraya River. It’s a nice place if you love the country-side vibe and you’re a foodie. We went there on a week-day so not many stalls were open so it’s best to go there on weekends to experience the best of the island.
5. Koh Samed
Location: Rayong Province
Entrance Fee: 200 baht for tourists
Features: Beaches, Island-hopping, Snorkeling
This is my personal favorite among all the places I’ve been to in Thailand so far. It has lovely beaches with different assets. We rented a motorbike so we were able to check out most of the island. There are serene beaches with almost no tourists. We went there in October so the crowd was reasonable. The island-hopping tour has been great too.
6. Suan Phueng
Location: Ratchaburi Province
Entrance Fee: Depends on sites
Features: Nature and adventure
My trip here is also care of the school so I don’t know what the rates are. We stayed in a resort situated on a mountainside. The resort has activities like paintball fight, ATV rides, and kayaking. We also went to Huai Khok Mu Viewpoint which can be reached by a rough road, adding to its excitement. The viewpoint is lovely for sunset viewing. It has abundant green scenery overlooking the boundary of Myanmar and Thailand. They also organized a tour in a forest reserve where we made seed bombs, river barriers, and deer salt licks. It was my first time to see a wild deer in that area and I was so elated.
7. Siam Amazing Park
Location: 203 Suan Siam Rd, Khwaeng Khan Na Yao, Khet Khan Na Yao, Bangkok
Entrance Fee: Adult: 900 baht, Child: 750 baht (101–130cm). Inclusive of all rides. You can get cheaper rates if you book through agencies. We booked ours from Melody Marfil Rafael ( https://tinyurl.com/y3fotaem ).
Features: Theme Park, Water Park, Adventure Rides
The park is divided into four zones including Waterpark, Adventure Park, Fantasy World, and Family World. If you’re a fan of extreme rides, they’ve got you covered. If you’re don’t have a brave heart for heights like me, there are gentler rides perfect for our soft heart. I personally enjoyed the waterpark, buffet, and the family world the most.
8. Talad Rod Fai
Location: Srinakarin Soi 51, Srinakarin Road, Nong Bon, Prawet, Bangkok
Entrance Fee: FREE (But get ready to shop and eat till you drop)
Features: Vintage Shops, Shopping, Arts, Food
If you love to explore, eat, and shop, Talad Rod Fai Train Night Market is for you. It is an open-air bazaar offering a wide array of unique collectibles, souvenir items, vintage pieces, everyday wear, costumes, accessories, toys, and more. We didn’t plan to buy anything when we went here but we ended up buying a few items.
- Icon Siam
Location: Soi Charoen Nakhon 5, Charoen Nakhon Road, Khlong Ton Sai, Khlong San, Bkk
Features: Luxury Shopping, Thai Products, Nightly Fountain Show
Icon Siam is a grand mall with sophisticated architecture. I love the ambiance and the intricate details of every corner. They have a nightly light and water show and they often have gimmicks on different occasions.
2. MBK Shopping Center
Location: 444, Phayathai Road, Pathum Wan, Pathum Wan, Bangkok
Features: Fashion stores, Electronics, Thai Handicrafts and Souvenirs
MBK Shopping Center is conveniently located beside a BTS station, other malls like Siam Paragon are just nearby. The mall is filled with imitation items and affordable souvenirs.
3. Terminal 21
Location: 88, Soi Sukhumvit 19, Sukhumvit Road, Khlong Toei Nuea, Watthana
Features: Luxury shopping, My favorite food court in Bangkok, World icons
This was one of the first malls we’ve been to because of its accessibility. It’s near Sukhumvit MRT station and connected to Asok BTS station. I loved the creativity of the mall and their dedication to making it aesthetically appealing. Each floor has a theme country, which is reflected in its architecture, shops, and even the toilets. Toilet selfies are forgivable in restrooms like Terminal 21’s. They also have the best food court in terms of price, cleanliness, and taste. Their Pad Thai is only at 32 baht and their mango sticky rice is at 35 baht.
4. Chatuchak Weekend Market
Location: Kamphaeng Phet Road, Lat Yao, Chatuchak, Bangkok
Features: They sell almost all you can think of.
Chatuchak Weekend Market is not just the widest market in Thailand, it’s also one of the most exciting and easiest to access. It’s great for shopping for your personal stuff or souvenir items. It’s also nice to just stroll and window shop since there are several interesting items on display.
5. Pratunam Market
Location: Ratchaprarop Road, Phayathai, Ratchathewi, Bangkok
Features: Mostly clothes and accessories
This is one of the first shopping centers I’ve been to but it isn’t that remarkable for me. Their items are reasonably priced and you can get better deals if you buy in bulk.
6. Bobae Market
Location: 488 Damrongrak Road, Bobae Tower, Bangkok
Features: Wholesale Clothes
Be here early because they start closing shortly after lunch. This is the ideal place if you plan to buy in bulk. They have a wide selection of clothes for all ages. They have Thai traditional clothes, Thai inspired clothes as well as everyday wear.
7. Platinum Fashion Mall
Location: 222, Phetchaburi Road, Thanon Phetchaburi, Ratchathewi, Bangkok
Features: Fashion Shopping
Platinum is a great place for your OOTD shopping. Need to attend a wedding? Get your dress here. Need a summer outfit? You have loads to choose from. Having a role-play? You can find your costume and accessories here. They have an extensive collection at competitive prices. Most of the items have good quality.
1. MRT (Metropolitan Rapid Transit)
MRT and BTS are the cheapest and most convenient mode of transportation if you’re still new to Bangkok. There are English translations in signages and announcements so it’s easy to follow. The fare starts at 14 baht per station.
2. BTS (Bangkok Skytrain)
There are many BTS stations that are near or connected to tourist spots and malls so the BTS is a great transportation choice, especially for tourists. It’s also great to get a view of Bangkok from above. The minimum fare is at 15 baht.
If you’ve become more familiar with the places, learned some basic Thai, or you just want some transportation adventure, then go for buses. Their routes are more specific to where you want to go and they are cheaper. You can go to the next province for as low as 8 baht for ordinary buses. Airconditioned buses are around 14–20 baht.
I personally don’t recommend Tuktuk because they’re more expensive than other modes of transport. For example, one charged us 300 baht when a taxi would have a rate of 70 baht for the same distance (We were new then and there were no taxis around). But if you really want to try a tuk-tuk ride or it’s your only choice, haggle with the driver, start at half of what he offered.
This is the usual mode of transportation on the outskirts of Bangkok and residential areas. It’s Thailand’s version of a jeepney. If you plan to stay longer in places where there are songthaews, better learn their routes. The fare is usually at 8 baht.
Aside from above, underground, and on the road, you can also go around Bangkok through the Chao Phraya River. The fare ranges from 9–32 baht depending on the kind of ferry and destination. There are also more expensive tourist boats at around 60 baht but beware of boat scammers who charge up to 2,500 baht for a private boat which you can get at 15 baht by a public ferry.
Many tourist spots are beside boat piers like the Grand Palace and Wat Arun. There are also free shuttle boats going to malls like Icon Siam and Asiatique.
If your destination is not accessible by BTS or MRT and you’re new, then go for a taxi. It’s best to use grab especially if you’re also not sure how to go to your destination because most taxi drivers cannot speak in English.
They have motorcycle taxis in Bangkok, you can see them wearing orange vests and IDs. It is convenient if you want to avoid traffic. Be warned though, they’re really brave in getting through traffic it can get scary.
9. SRT (State Railway of Thailand)
I only tried the SRT once going to Ayuthaya. It’s really cheap but it can get hot and crowded. It can be inconvenient for a long ride especially if you have a standing ticket.
Useful Apps for Navigation
1. Google Map
If you still don’t know how to use one, it’s time to learn it. It’s very useful in navigating new places. It even indicates possible modes of transportation.
2. Via Bus
This shows the bus routes and the bus numbers passing through a bus stop.
Grab is great in cases where other modes of transport are not available.
1. Personal Favorites: Pad Thai, Mango Sticky Rice, Chicken Barbeque, Som Tam, Coconut Pudding
2. Easiest and cheapest to order: Khao Pad (Fried Rice), Khao Man Kai (Chicken, Rice, and Soup)
3. Must find: Cheap fruits in local markets, Cheap buffets
4. Warning: Many dishes are spicy even if they say it’s just “a little bit”.
1. It’s either hot or very hot. There’s around one week of cool weather in December.
2. It can go for months without rain. If it rains, it’s really strong, but it usually stops after a few minutes or hours.
3. The pm 2.5 can go bad especially during the months of November- January.
I tried to make this article comprehensive but of course, one article will not do justice in fully describing a country. Feel free to comment if you have questions and I’ll try my best to answer them.
Fun facts about my early days in Thailand…
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