Do you guys remember our whirlwind tour of Peru? That time we went to Machu Picchu, the desert dunes of Paracas, and the mesmerising salt ponds of the sacred Inca Valley? Well, our recent trip to Thailand was equally jam-packed, and just as magical (if not more so…we’ll let you be the judge 😉)
The timing of this trip was centred around the annual Yee Peng Festival (which is celebrated on the full moon of the twelfth lunar month), which meant we had to be in Chiang Mai on November 3rd to take part in this bucket-list-worthy mass-release lantern fest. But traveling all the way down to Thailand means you have to see more, experience more, and discover more. Thailand has so much to offer – the jungles in the north, the islands in the south, the bustle of the capital, Bangkok…could we squeeze it all into a week?
Of course we could!
And we did.
And it was the most crazy week of our lives.
So, our dear readers, if you too are looking for the ultimate Thai itinerary – one where you get to experience EVERYTHING Thailand has, and you’re limited to only a week, we assure you it can be done. Keep reading, and try time your trip with the festival like we did, as it sure is worth ALL the hype (literally had me in tears #whatsnew).
DAY 1 – ONE WEEK IN THAILAND
Begin with a calm arrival on Koh Samui – the island of Samui. The airport itself is unlike anything we’ve ever seen, and it will surely get you into the ‘island life’ mind-frame almost immediately. If you’re staying at the Vana Belle Resort like we did, they will collect you from the airport (bonus), and upon arrival at the hotel, we recommend making your way immediately to your room (yes to take a plunge in your own private pool, but also) to book yourself their 90-minute Spa Experience aka Four Hands Massage With Thai Herbal Compress – the absolute best massage we have ever had, with tiny Thai masseuse climbing on top of you, et al.
DAY 2 – ONE WEEK IN THAILAND
After a swim in the ocean and a couple coconuts in your belly, make your way to the SuperPro Samui for some real life demonstrations of the famous Muay Thai boxing routines. If you’re lucky, you’ll bump into some Olympic champions, and if you have the gear, get involved and kick some butts (or boxing bags – your choice). If you’re still feeling energised, take a ride through coconut forests with the guys from Samui Bicycle Tours, and see some of the sacred temples (and monks who frequent said temples), or if water’s more your thing, you can catch a boat to the Koh Samui archipelago for a wet experience you’ll never forget (snorkelling included), or a sunset catamaran cruise for stylish champagne chatter and views.
DAY 3 – ONE WEEK IN THAILAND
Before heading off to the airport to catch your flight to Bangkok, swing past the Big Buddha, and admire his magnitude. There’s also several cute stalls around at the bottom, in case you’re in need of a souvenir or some fun summery clothing. Once you’ve arrived in Bangkok, and checked in at The Athenee (like us), grab either a motorbike taxi or traditional Tuk Tuk, and head down to the Chao Phraya Central Pier for a traditional long-tail boat tour of the city (probably the best way to see it) before ending off at one of the bars across the river from the Temple Of Dawn (Wat Arun) to admire the sunset and the striking temple in the golden light. Still up for a night cap? City views atop the Octave Rooftop Bar are pretty damn spectacular.
DAY 4 – ONE WEEK IN THAILAND
Hope you’re in the mood for markets, because (if you’re still following this itinerary) today you’ll be seeing all three types – railway markets (where locals sell clothing and food stuffs up to the last second, before a raging train comes straight through the market stalls), floating markets (where you’ll enjoy a slow ride along the water, with market stalls at arm’s reach on either side), and night markets (where you absolutely have to do some food tasting of the exotic kind – like we did on Khaosan Road back in 2015 during our ‘one night in Bangkok’ trip)
DAY 5 – ONE WEEK IN THAILAND
A trip to Bangkok would be incomplete if you didn’t visit some of the godly temples that are scattered around the city. Our favourites had to be the Grand Palace (one of the most gorgeous structures we have ever laid eyes on), the Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho), and the Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun), which you admired at sunset two days ago. After such a cultural day, you’ll need to eat (a lot), and for a dinner experience like no other, we recommend ‘Dining in the Dark’ at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit. The food is sensational (although you cannot see what you’re eating) and by the end of the night you’ll be left both humbled and full, in more ways than one.
DAY 6 – ONE WEEK IN THAILAND
Upon arrival in Chiang Mai, we’d highly recommend a trip to the Ginger Farm (no matter your age). You can learn about rice planting traditions, meet a buffalo named Sticky Rice, and even get a chance to plant some of the rice in the mud (don’t worry, outfits will be provided so no need to worry about getting those new summery clothes you bought on Koh Samui dirty). After enjoying their vegetable tempura and blue rice (tinted using Butterfly Pea flowers – AMAZING!), head back to your hotel and get ready for the Yee Peng festival (assuming you timed your trip right). If planting rice ain’t really your vibe, and you still want to do something memorable during the day before the festival, a visit to the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, one of northern Thailand’s most sacred temples, is a must (although visiting it at sunrise on day 8 might be a better option for a crowdless experience).
DAY 7 – ONE WEEK IN THAILAND
As you wake up from what you thought was a dream (because the lantern festival was otherworldly), get ready for an experience you’ll never forget – feeding and bathing orphaned elephants at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, a completely ethical and sustainable eco-tourism project and sanctuary. Bananas, sugar cane and leaves are what’s on the menu, and as you get up close and personal with your new four-legged friends, you’ll have to remind yourself that you’re actually standing next to an elephant (because it’s really easy to forget, as you’re hugging and cuddling them). Finally, to end your amazing Thai experience, opt for a traditional dinner near the Lok Moli Temple, and if it’s the right time of year, take part in the Loi Krathong festival, releasing decorated baskets onto the Ping river nearby.
*BONUS* DAY 8 – ONE WEEK IN THAILAND
If there is time before your flight, and you planted rice a couple days ago, brave the 309 steps and make your way to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep for one of the most gorgeous sunrises. As you’ll be there in the morning, you’ll be able to see monks performing their morning rituals, and you can even get blessed by a monk as the perfect send off from your magical week in Thailand.
Side note: Whether you choose to follow the above itinerary or not, one thing is for certain – the people you travel with will make or break your trip, so if anything, ensure your #ThaiTeam is filled with a bunch of passionate, fun-loving, and open-minded individuals (just like the amazing ones we got to travel with).
>>WE’RE OFF TO SOME INCREDIBLE DESTINATIONS SOON SO FOLLOW ALONG ON INSTAGRAM<<
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