Thailand is awesome! I totally get why this is the first country in Southeast Asia where (mass) tourism really took off.
While I only spent 10 days in Thailand, you could easily spend here. The people are incredibly friendly and the food is delicious. Thailand is a cheap country to travel, though probably nowhere near as cheap as it was 10 years ago.
The nature in Thailand is beautiful and varied with mountains in the North and tropical islands in the South. There is lots of culture (Ayutthaya, Sukhothai and Kanchanaburi) and backpacking Thailand is very easy!
10 days in Thailand
Let me begin by explaining that my 10 days in Thailand actually consisted of 3 trips. Jup, I entered Thailand 3 times during my 5 month trip, something that probably sounds familiar to many travelers.
Since Bangkok is a major travel hub in Southeast Asia, chances are pretty much 100% you’ll end up there at least once. I ended up at Don Muang Airport 3 times!
Which isn’t a particularly good thing, Don Muang is actually one of my least favorite airports (nothing is worse than Manila Airport though, read here why).
Thailand 10 day itinerary
I spent a couple of days in Bangkok and a week on Koh Tao, so I haven’t nearly seen it all… But I guess that can be said for all the countries I visited, there is always more to see and do!
If you are interested in the costs of a trip to Thailand, check my budget breakdown post. For our 10 day itinerary, travel info and the accommodations I stayed at, keep reading!
Also read this great 3 week Thailand itinerary
Trip 1: Days in Thailand: 2,5
Day 0: traveling from Cambodia to Thailand
This doesn’t really count as a Thailand day because I spent pretty much the entire day at the Thai-Cambodian border at Poipet and only arrived in Bangkok around 10pm. I was pretty happy to find Au Bon hostel and fall asleep in seconds…
Where to stay in Bangkok: Au Bon hostel
Our first accommodation in Thailand was the Au Bon hostel. The hotel is only a 5-10 minute walk from Khao San road, the main backpacker area. I actually liked that the hotel was in a quieter area (yes I realize this makes me sound old;-).
The room we had was tiny but clean, comfy bed and good shower. You can get free tea and coffee in the lobby. And the most delicious banana crisps, so yummy! I may have eaten an entire jar by myself…
Agoda rating: 8
Price paid for a night: 600THB (€16/$18).
Day 1: exploring Bangkok
Bangkok was a bit of a blend between all those interesting cities… High-rise buildings like in Hong Kong but also narrow streets where you can find countless restaurants with tiny tables and chairs like in Hanoi.
Street food on every corner like in Ho Chi Minh and the occasional stench from the gutters, reminding me off the infamous open sewage system in Phnom Penh.
But I shouldn’t compare, Bangkok is unique and so are those other amazing Asian cities!
Nevertheless, Bangkok is definitely a mix between old and new, between modern and tradition and between ‘West’ and ‘East’. I was surprised, not in a particularly positive way, by the amount of Starbucks cafes and fast-food chains.
Who would want to eat a burger when you can have delicious Thai food… Anyway, I am rambling.
On my first day in Bangkok, I visited Wat Pho, a large Buddhist temple complex, most well-know for the huge Reclining Buddha statue. The entrance fee for Wat Pho is 100bath per person, this includes an information leaflet and a small bottle of water. Speaking of water, make sure to take enough water with you, particularly in the hottest months of the year (March – June).
There is much more to see at Wat Pho besides the Big Buddha, the entire complex is filled with beautiful statues and buildings.
Nevertheless, the famous Reclining Buddha is impressive, over 15 meters high and 46 meters long!
After our visit to Wat Pho we needed to cool off, so we explored a couple of shiny and air-conditioned malls in Siam, a luxury when it’s 40 degrees Celsius outside!
I particularly liked Terminal 21, a shopping mall where each floor is completely built in the theme of a famous city in the world. We visited Tokyo, Paris, London, Istanbul and San Francisco in a mere hour!
For dinner, we headed to Khao San road to eat Pad Thai for the first time! Prepared on a tiny street cart by a friendly old Thai lady for 35 bath, it was delicious! Just writing about Pad Thai makes me hungry…
Day 2: more exploring in Bangkok
Another day of exploring in Bangkok, starting with breakfast at Saneh, recommended by a friend of mine who spent 4 months living in Bangkok. I definitely wouldn’t have found this place on my own! There are lots of great breakfast spots in Bangkok, you just have to know where to look.
If you are looking for a quirky place to eat, check out the Unicorn Cafe in Bangkok as well!
I walked along the canal, had some coffee at Cafe De Canal, did laundry at Smile guesthouse before heading to Terminal 21 to check out some more shops (but mainly to make use of the air-conditioning) and see a movie.
Also check out: 7 great places to visit near Bangkok
From Thanon (Thai for major road) Ratchadamnoen Klang you can easily catch a local bus to the malls in Siam, which will costs you a mere 6,5THB! This website is helpful in getting around in Bangkok.
The BTK, the sky train of Bangkok, is also a very convenient way to get around the city and reminded me of the DLR in London. Of course there are tuk-tuks and taxis as well, but in the end I preferred the buses because it’s how the locals travel (we were often the only foreigners in the bus, surrounded by Thai) and it’s much cheaper too!
In bus #59 to Don Muang Airport the bus driver didn’t speak any English and didn’t understand where we wanted to go (which was kind of obvious since we were both carrying around a big backpack and daypack), but he motioned us to sit so we did.
It took a couple of stops before a nice English speaking Thai girl boarded the bus and translated between the bus driver and us.
When everything was sorted out and we had paid 23THB each we drove on the bus for an hour and when we arrived at Don Muang airport (which wasn’t very obvious), the bus driver made sure to signal us to get out. Good times:-)!
Where not to stay at DMK Donmuang Airport
DMK Donmuang Airport Hostel basically has 2 things doing for it: it’s cheap and very close to the airport. Other than that I don’t particularly recommend staying here unless you have a really early flight from Don Muang airport.
We had a flight at 8.20am and thus needed an affordable hotel close to the airport and that’s just what DMK was. No more no less. Check-in after 6pm and check-out before 9am. Basic room, no blankets and shared air conditioning. Reasonably clean though and inexpensive.
Oh, what’s really great is the nearby 7-11. I recommend stocking up on food and snacks there because at Donmuang Airport you can only find really expensive food and drinks…
Agoda rating: 5,8 (the pictures on Agoda look a lot better than the room we stayed at).
Price paid for a night: 600THB (€16/$18).
Day 3: traveling from Bangkok to Laos
As I mentioned above, DMK Donmuang Airport Hostel isn’t a particularly nice place to stay but it’s within walking distance of the airport. It made catching our early flight much easier.
You can read all the details about getting from Chiang Rai to Huay Xai in my 2-week Laos itinerary.
Trip 2: Days in Thailand: a little over 30 hours…
Travel through Thailand day
This doesn’t really count as a Thailand day because I was really just passing through, but I did want to include it because it shows just how much of a travel hub Bangkok is!
From Laos we took the night train to Don Muang Airport. Well, technically we boarded the night train in Nong Khai after a short train ride from Thanaleng, the only train station in Laos. But anyway, we took the train, spent the morning at Don Muang Airport and boarded a flight to Singapore.
Trip 3: Days in Thailand: 6,5
Day 4: traveling from Langkawi (Malaysia) to Surat Thani (Thailand)
The 3rd time I entered Thailand I finally spent some time there, almost a full week! I entered the country from Malaysia, all the way down south at a tiny Thai village called Sadao-Dannok. Because of a delayed train, it was one of my longest travel days, you can read all about it in my Malaysia travel itinerary.
Where not to stay in Surat Thani (train station)
Another not so great hotel and one I would gladly have skipped. But after a long journey from Langkawi in Malaysia, made even longer by a train that was delayed for 4 hours, I was pretty happy to have finally arrived at Surat Thani train station.
The plan was to take the night boat to Koh Tao, but because of our delay that plan fell through. Ah well, that’s travel too! Things don’t always go the way you planned.
Anyway, arriving at Surat Thani train station around midnight wasn’t ideal but I was glad there was at least a hotel around where we could finally get some rest…
Queen Hotel happened to be that hotel and it was cheap but not very good. It was actually pretty terrible: dirty, dark and old. But there was a bed and I was so tired I probably could have slept anywhere. I think we spent less than 8 hours in the hotel. Bottom line: not recommended unless you have no other option;-).
Agoda rating: 5,5 (it was actually pretty funny to check the pictures on Agoda, they are a perfect representation of the condition of the hotel..).
Price paid for a night: 250THB (€7/$7,50).
Day 5: Scuba diving on Koh Tao
Luckily I could relax on beautiful Koh Tao for a week after this long travel day, where I did my PADI Advanced Open Water Course and stayed at the most luxurious accommodation of my five-month trip: the Tarna Align resort, with my very own semi-private pool with ocean view. It was a great way to end our RTW trip…
Where to stay on Koh Tao
Hotel 1: Jomthong Guesthouse
I stayed here because this accommodation was included in our Advanced PADI package. But even if you aren’t scuba diving, I can totally recommend staying here though, it’s a nice, clean place in a very central location.
The manager is friendly, the room was very big and light. We even had a big balcony and the bed was comfortable. The hotel was around the corner of Impian Divers, our dive school, and there were lots of restaurants around.
Agoda rating: 7,5 (it’s actually nicer than the pictures on Agoda!)
Price paid for a night: we didn’t pay at the hotel, we paid the dive school for our PADI course which included 2 nights at Jomthong Guesthouse. The price I found on Agoda on a random date was 850THB (€23/$26).
Hotel 2: Tarna Align resort
Last but certainly not least, we stayed 2 nights at the brand new (in May 20150) Tarna Align resort. By far the fanciest place we stayed at during our 5-month trip.
We definitely ended our trip in style! The price per night was way more than we usually paid for accommodation. However, it was awesome to stay at this beautiful resort with a semi-private pool. Worth every Baht!
Service was impeccable! A hotel jeep picked us up from the dive school after we had finished our course. And on the last day of our stay, we were driven to the pier to catch the night boat to Surat Thani.
We had booked a ‘regular’ room for 1 night and a room with a semi-private pool for our final night. However, we got upgraded for our first night and got to stay at the room with the pool for 2 nights, lucky us!
There were two massive beds in our room, beds that felt like they were made out of clouds. There was a waterfall shower, five kinds of towels and bathrobes and a semi-private pool with an ocean view…
We ordered dinner via room service, just because we could and had never done that before:-). Breakfast was very extensive and prepared to your preferences (scrambled eggs, omelet, boiled, poached, you name it;-). It’s the most luxurious hotel I have ever stayed at and I loved every minute of it.
Yes, it’s a lot of money to spend on a room… Nevertheless, for us it was the perfect way to end our phenomenal 5-month trip around the world!
Agoda rating: 8,5
Price paid for a night: 3240THB (€88/$98)
Day 9-10: traveling from Koh Tao to Bangkok
The longest travel day (or days actually) of our 5-month trip. We traveled by night boat from Koh Tao to Surat Thani and from Surat Thani to Bangkok.
Because of an unknown reason the night boat didn’t dock at the pier in the center of Surat Thani. Instead, the boat stopped at a pier a few kilometers away from the city center.
On the plus side, all passengers were hushed into tuk-tuks which drove us to the city center without additional charges. Nowhere on the internet have I found any stories about the boat not docking in Surat Thani center. Apparently this was an unusual situation!
Anyway, we made it to Surat Thani where we ate some more delicious Thai food and waited for our tuk-tuk ride to Surat Thani Airport. We got on a plane to Don Muang airport (visit #3), took a shuttle bus to Suvarnabhumi Airport and got on our flight home…
Note: in July 2016 I took another trip to Thailand and visited Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi, Sukhothai, Chiang Mai and Koh Samet. Read more about my second trip to Thailand.
Thailand 10 day itinerary: in conclusion
That’s our Thailand itinerary, I hope this post will help you plan your trip to Thailand! Below you can download our 10 day Thailand itinerary and the accommodation we stayed at during our trip (only the ones I recommend).
Feel free to ask any questions you may have by leaving a comment or sending me an email!