Darrin and I got to go on a trip to Thailand, just the two of us! It was truly a dream come true and we would recommend it to anyone. That being said, it was a ton of work planning out our itinerary and educating ourselves on all the options and ways of traveling there. So, to all our friends and family interested in going, we've done the work for you and honestly have no regrets about our itinerary. We felt like we had time to relax, time to explore and time to eat and eat. Check out our day to day with pictures. Also, HUGE shout out and THANK YOU to both sets of our parents for watching our 5 kids. We couldn't have done this without you and we know how precious the quality time with Grandma and Grandpa was to each of our kids.
Detailed Day Itinerary with link to our Google Photos from each day:
DAY 1-Getting to Thailand-October 15-17
-1st Delta flight from SLC-SANFRAN (1hr 20 min flight)
-2nd flight China airlines SANFRAN-TAIPEI (12 hr 30 min)
-3rd flight China airlines TAIPEI-BANGKOK (3hr 10 min flight).
I can honestly say I feel pretty energized and ready to go! Got pretty good sleep on the planes.
DAY 2-Bangkok-October 18
Breakfast at hotel
Train to Wot Pho (reclining Budda, King was coming to visit, only ones there besides those working since we got there right as it opened, incredible temples all over here)
Tuk tuk $150 baht to grand palace
Tour guide for 600 baht at Grand palace (emerald budah, kings 1-5 lived here, black and white magic, demons displayed, lots of monks, stories of Thailand's Shakespeare kings defeating demons, reincarnation, 3 books of Buddhism regular people only live off 1 which has 5 commandments they must live by (no whiskey, chastity, no lying, no stealing, no kill)
Delicious mango smoothie
Our tour guide took us to private long tail boat ride 1,500 baht for 2 people for an hour. It was amazing. Humongous iguanas, tons of houses on stilts some of which were completely collapsing and people still lived in them. We really saw how some of the Thai people live. We also got to feed fishes bread. There were loads of fishes which was fun.
Long tail boat dropped us off at a different stop than what we started
Tuk Tuk took us to a bank to get more money, a few sites and back to where we started for 100 baht ($2.62). (It turned out to be a little bit of a scheme though. He took us to a little temple a guy on the street recommended and there was a really nice guy there who talked to us in decent English. He told us about these two places we should go visit. One of which they could make Darrin a suit for cheap. He told the tuk tuk driver to take us there and so we went and got talked into buying a $340 custom tailored suit for Darrin (included suit, custom white shirt and tie). Then our driver wanted to take us to another store which we said no to and he told us if we went the government would pay for his gas so we said ok. They had a jewelry shop and a souvenir shop. Last stop was the standing Buddha.) We then rode the train back to our hotel stop and had dinner at our hotel again. About $4 per person.
Got back to our room at about 6pm to relax.
DAY 3-Bankok/Krabi-October 19
Today we relaxed all morning
The guys who made Darrins suit came and tried it on him. The sleeves on the white shirt are too tight so they are going to fix that and send it to Chang Mai. We are SHOCKED how quickly they finished it. Less than 24 hrs.
Our flight to Krabi ($30 pp) left at 1:45m. We took the tram to the airport-were pretty much pros now. It costs less than a dollar to go anywhere we've gone.
It was raining heavily when we got to Krabi. We got a ride to our resort from the airport for 150 baht pp ($3)
Our hotel (Avani Ao Nang Cliff Resort) is very nice. They served us a flower lemon cold drink when we got here. Our room has an incredible view with a tub on the balcony.
We went to dinner and got curry and got mango sticky rice to go. We came back to the hotel and checked out the infinity pool and rooftop.. It continued to rain all through the day and evening.
The mango sticky rice was AMAZING!
Our tour for tomorrow (phi phi island tour) was canceled so we quickly booked a kayaking tour for tomorrow knowing it’s going to rain but hoping it will work out.
DAY 4-Krabi-October 20
Kayak Tour. They picked us up at our hotel at 8am, it was about a 40 minute drive to get to kayaking point. The weather said it would rain all day today and we knew that ahead of time. It rained on and off on the drive and when we got into our kayak's it was raining. But soon after it cleared up and was absolutely gorgeous weather the whole 3 hours of kayaking. This kayaking tour was absolutely breathtaking! I just couldn't stop saying "wow!". The limestone cliffs, the thick mangrove trees, the caves and the wildlife. Here's some of the animals we saw:
Long tail monkeys
Blue king Fisher
When we got back to shore they served a snack and we saw tons of monkeys hanging out there. Soon after we got back from kayaking it was pouring and rained most of the way back to the hotel.
Lunch at “Family Restaurant” where Darrin had the best yellow curry with crab of his life and I had an amazing kiwi juice,
Back to the hotel due to rain to play games.
Got a Traditional Thai massage. It was 250 baht ($6.50) for an hour massage! Some things to note: they rushed us in very quickly after washing our feet outside, the ladies were REALLY strong and they bent and pushed my body in ways I didn't think was possible. Painful but good? They used their feet and elbows a lot.
Link to our tour: https://www.viator.com/tours/Krabi/Mangrove-Kayak/d348-65885P1
DAY 5-Krabi-October 21
Once again today was supposed to rain all day and we were blessed with incredible weather. Our Phi Phi tour took us to 4 different islands plus several others we stopped at to see but didn't get off plus breakfast, plus lunch, plus snacks and they picked up and dropped off at our hotel for $78 pp.
This trip was amazing! We had such a wonderful time!
First stop we had breakfast (sweet sticky rice, muffins, fruit and fried dough) on an island we had to ourselves (our group). so many fun shells and I found a starfish right away! It was still alive so I had to put it back but it was so fun to have found it!
Phi phi Maya Bay was the second stop and it was honestly one of the most beautiful beaches we've ever been to. The white sand was almost like powdered sugar texture. The water color was so blue green and we were surrounded by limestone cliffs and islands. You couldn't actually get in the water here but it was heaven.
We stopped for swimming which was fun. The water temperature was quite warm and perfect for getting in. We jumped off the speed boat and did a bit of snorkeling which was mostly large sea urchins and a few fish.
We stopped somewhere else to go snorkeling and it was ahhmazing! We saw huge clams which would open and close and some empty ones too. Some of which were probably 10 inches long. We also saw a few different types of sea anemone with fish in them, a lion fish, and tons of black tipped sharks! Also a huge drop off (big deep ocean) with many colorful fish, parrot fish, rainbow fish and more.
Bamboo bay was nice. Darrin snorkeled and I relaxed on the beach. It was the perfect temperature and just the right amount of overcast.
Monkey island was so cool. We saw lots of monkeys swimming and climbing and two babies on their Mom's. One on the back and one on the tummy. Some people threw in fruit for the monkeys and they'd jump into the water and eat it. We also saw a monkey fight over a piece of fruit.
When we got back to the hotel (picked us up at 6:10am and got back at 4:30pm) we went swimming in the beautiful infinity pool, then to dinner, then to get a foot, back and neck massage (60 min for 250 baht/$6). Then we bought mango sticky rice for 60 baht and ate it at our hotel.
Perfect day! We LOVE Krabi.
DAY 6-Phuket-October 22
Shared van ride (Booked on the street with vendor) to Phuket. It cost 600 baht per person. We were the last to be picked up and it was FULL of luggage and people. We got to squeeze into the back seat. It was long, hot and squishy but we made it! It took from 10:30am-3pm to arrive. By private taxi (triple the price) it would have been 3.5 hrs.
The hotel (The Sea Galleri) is beautiful! Our room has a huge bed, gorgeous view out the massive sliding doors and a bathtub inside that has the view. It was $50 per night with breakfast included. Wow. There are two infinity pools and one with a waterslide plus a glass walkway with a view.
After we settled in we took the included hotel shuttle to Kata Beach. There are two beaches by the hotel Kata and Katanoi Beach. We walked the beach a bit, then got dinner at "Kata on Fire Grill" which was really good! Darrin got a whole fish. I got panang curry (don't like as much as yellow and massaman but still good). We then walked around a lot. We walked to a night market which was cool.
Caught a taxi back to our hotel since it would have been a 30 minute walk.
DAY 7-Phuket-October 23
Rented a motorbike for 250 baht ($6.50) for 24 hours. Rode to Kata noi Beach and spent a few hours there body surfing (or trying to 😁). The water temperature was so nice!
Dinner at Chai Thai which was good and one of the cheapest we've had. I got massaman curry and Darrin got a soup thing with prang shrimp. Of course we got mango sticky rice too.
It was raining pretty hard when it was time to leave and we were on the motorbike but it was all part of the adventure 👍.
DAY 8-Phuket-October 24
We still had the motorbike rental from yesterday (24hr rental) so we ventured out again. After breakfast at the hotel we drove 30 minutes to "The Big Budah" which is a taller than Christ the redeemer statue in Rio white statue of Buddha up on a tall hill with beautiful views.
It was such a pretty drive up and we also got to see elephants on the drive-probably 7 or so at various places off to the side of the road-places you pay to visit the elephants. It was completely free to go to the monument and we almost had the place to ourselves. It was cloudy but not raining and we saw SO MANY MONKEYS here.
JET SKI TOUR-The drive to get to the starting point of the tour took at hour and a half and once again we got the two seats on the very back smashed in there. Darrin drove the jetski the first half and I drove the second half. We went from island to Island most of which were very short stops to get out, look, take a picture and go. The first stop we found many sand dollars. The two tour guides were really great at taking pictures of us the whole time with their phones. One of our favorite spots was the island that looked like the "James bond" island- so beautiful and green. The listing said it included lunch so we didn't eat lunch and were starving wondering if we'd ever eat. Finally one of our last stops at 4:45 was "lunch" which was chicken fried rice and water. The last stop was "monkey island". This was a different monkey island than our phi phi tour. When we pulled up monkeys dotted the beach. The guides had some fresh fruit and the monkeys got on our jet skis with us! They handed me some fruit and a monkey CLIMBED ON MY SHOULDER to get it! It was hilarious and unexpected. He stayed there for a while just sitting. The sun started to set and it was BREATHTAKING as we made the journey back to Phuket. It was so much fun driving the jetski. In the end we really loved this tour.
Less than 24 hours later I was sent 70 photos of us! That was cool!
We got back pretty late so we got room service for dinner.
DAY 9-Phuket-October 25
We had no plans today. We’ve concluded that Phuket has the best beaches and that's why people go there. Not to snorkel but just for good ones. There aren’t many tours offered here that we haven’t already done or are going to do in other areas.
We rented a motorbike again today for the day and went exploring. We started at Kata Beach, swam there for a couple hours body surfing (have I mentioned how perfect the ocean water temperature is?!) and decided from there to drive the southeastern coast of Phuket to Kamala Beach as the final destination (about a 40 minute drive total) where they had a tsunami memorial. We stopped where we wanted to stop. Once for shopping and once for Patong Beach. The tsunami memorial was a bit underwhelming but the beach there at Kamala and the lunch spot we found were awesome. Lunch was the cheapest we've seen and it was delicious! We got sweet and sour, yellow curry, kiwi smoothie, fanta, rice, and a banana Nutella pancake for under $10 USD. We played on this beach in the ocean for well over an hour.
We decided it was time to head back from Kamala Beach at about 5:20pm. On the way back we pulled over at a rocky ocean point to watch the sunset. We watched for a while and then continued on watching it from the road. There came a point near Patong we HAD TO stop to watch the sunset more. It was incredible! Where we stopped there was tons of street food vendors so we had dinner. Best pad Thai of my life for only 60 baht ($1.50). Darrin had fried mussels. We went along and came to the famous Patong beach street (not sure what it's called but you know when you see it). We parked and walked the street. It was loud, very bright, colorful and people were in your face trying to get you to come into their shop. It was quite the experience.
We made it back safe and ate the mango sticky rice and fruit we bought on the way home.
DAY 10-Phuket/Chang Mai-October 26
It cost about $30 for the private taxi booked through our hotel to take us to the airport which was about an hour drive.Our hotel was kind enough to pack us a boxed breakfast for the road.
Our flight left at 9:10am and it was a couple hour flight. We grabbed a taxi from the airport to our hotel that was 150 baht ($4 which was pretty expensive since our hotel was only 8 minutes from the airport)
Our hotel "99 Heritage Hotel" is nice. We got in before check-in and they held our luggage for us while we walked around. We went to walk around the temple across the street from the hotel called "Wat Phrasing" which is quite large, beautiful and has the most blinding golden buildings ever seen. Then lunch at "It's Good Kitchen" which was very good and then since we still had time I got gel polish done on my toes for $10. Our hotel has complimentary ice cream at any time which is a nice touch. The whole hotel is a black and white theme. This hotel cost about $55/night. The breakfast you can order included from the restaurant which is nice.
We had a bit to rest at the hotel before we got picked up for our "Smile organic farm cooking class" at 3. It cost $21 pp and it was a 6 hour experience that included hotel pickup and drop off and all the food! Here's the link of the company we used
We really liked our group. We've been meeting people from all over the world here-it's so neat. We good to go to the market to buy some ingredients, then to the farm to walk through the garden and talk about what each thing was and taste it.
We got to pick 4 things to cook.
My menu: pad Thai, spring rolls, coconut creamy soup and massaman curry.
Darrins menu: cashew chicken, hot and creamy soup with shrimp, spring roll, khao soi
We made two dishes then ate them, then made the next two and ate them. We even made our own curry paste with fresh ingredients in a mortar and pestle stone. This class was such a fun experience!
DAY 11 of Thailand-Chang Mai-October 27
We got picked up for the Patara elephant tour at 7:30 am. 45 minute drive. The driver didn't speak to us at all. We picked up one other couple who was on their honeymoon and drive there. Once we got there we saw three elephants right away. Our guide told us to play with them for about 10 minutes. There was a 2 year old elephant as one of the three. They were adorable. We got to pet them and hand them food. I wish the guide taught us about them but it was pretty awkward they just watched us and this other couple playing with the elephants. It ended up being about 20 minutes of petting them. We learned that the guide spoke a little English and none of the trainers spoke any English. They were all from the Karon tribe but a different tribe than the long neck Karon tribe. The elephants like them better than Thai people because Thai people used to poach the elephants. Petting the elephants was our first station.
Second station was feeding the elephants bananas. You'd say "bone" for them to open their mouths. And "dee dee" for good girl. We only worked with female elephants. It was so cool to feed them.
Then he gave us some capris to wear over our shorts to protect our legs for riding. He taught us how to get onto the elephant. We rode bare back no blankets or baskets on the elephant. We only paid to share one elephant which meant I rode on the head and Darrin ride on the spine. It was extremely uncomfortable for both of us with her spiky hairs and having to hold on for dear life with our legs. We were to ride for 45 minutes to a waterfall. It was uncomfortable but ok at first. We went uphill and downhill quite a bit which started to get scary and on the way all our elephant (Mai Mai) wanted to do was eat. It was so scary being on her head while she was moving around pulling trees and eating. Then the trainer would tell her to come and she would get mad and started growling, blowing and shaking her head while I'm on it. I screamed-i was more scared than I ever remember. Shaking and wanted to get off. This was probably half way into our ride. They didn't understand English because it was only the trainers with us not our guide. So we went on and I couldn't stop shaking thinking I might die on this elephant. They even hit our elephant with a stick once to get her to go and she certainly didn't like that either. She literally just wanted to eat. Finally the other girl asked to get down and walk the rest of the day and her trainer understood her and so I asked again to get down and the message was received. We all 4 got down and walked the rest of the way to the waterfall (about 7 minutes walk).
You'd randomly hear our elephants and elephants in the distance growl so loudly like Jurassic Park. No joke.
We had a lovely lunch overlooking the waterfall before getting in.
Bathing the elephants was pretty fun scrubbing and splashing them.
Then we all got a ride back in the car to the place we started.
Other than feeling like I could have died it was a great day. We did love the elephants and interacting with them but for whatever reason they did not want to do what they were told and ours especially was a bit kranky.
Tonight at 7 we had our Street food tour with Coco (a local Thai who picked us up in his personal vehicle with two other tourists couples. One from Ireland and one from England). We took us to two different night Street food markets and we for SO FULL from all the food -we liked everything we tried except for the sausage. So many fun unique things we tried and loved! We loved the other couples and our guide -it was such a fun night out trying new foods! He even gave us a paper listing the foods we'd try and explaining in English what was in it. The paper also included common Thai phrases in English and what to say to order. Darrin ordered one of the dishes in Thai.
Some things we tried and loved on our tour:
Pork salad with soy sauce and sticky rice (rolled the sticky rice into balls and grabbed the pork salad with it and ate. Seriously so good!)
Soy sauce tender pork
Kaoi Soi (specially to Chaing Mai-really good)
Mango sticky rice
Bua loi-a Thai dessert. It consists of rice flour rolled into small balls, and cooked in coconut milk and sugar-so good!
Coconut and corn ebvelskeever things-yummy!
Sausage skewer (did not like)
Such a fun evening!
DAY 12 of Thailand-Chang Rai-October 28
We got picked up at 7:15am to head on our Chang Rai Day trip. The van was not near as squishy as others. It was quite nice! I really appreciated the regular bathroom breaks and enjoyed all the stops. Our guide also stuck with us (Darrin and I) much of the time explaining to us things in a bit difficult to understand English.
Hot springs-about 1.5 hours outside of Chaing Mai. Just a pit stop where they have very hot hot springs you can buy eggs to boil in them.
White Temple-3 hour total drive from Chaing Mai. Seriously incredible to see and a large property to look around. You couldn't take pictures inside but they had a wall mural inside with the circle of life they believe in kind of stuff. You are born, you live, you get sick, you die, you are born again etc. But they also had murals of random stuff and characters representing today on earth such as Harry Potter, iron man, pokemon etc etc. And of course a large Buddha was there. We also had lunch at a restaurant there with three others from our group. Two from Ireland and one from England. It was a delicious, cheap lunch, and fun to talk with them.
Blue Temple- really blue and really beautiful and unique in color. Much smaller property than the white temple.
Black House Museum-many many many animal skins, shells, furniture made from horns, skeletons etc. Unique and interesting to look through. We bought black charcoal ice cream-it was discusting 😁.
The trip took the entire day. We had dinner when we got home and went to bed.
DAY 13-Chaing Mai-October 29
Picked up at 8am for our blue Elephant Sanctuary tour. WE WERE THE ONLY ONES TODAY FOR OUR TOUR so it was private! Wow! Very unexpected. It was an hour an a half drive there. Our tour guide, Leeda, was very friendly and spoke good English. She's from a karon tribe. Not the long neck tribe. Beautiful drive in the farmy jungly mountains albeit very windy and curvy roads. On the way we saw:
Hand pump gas station
Vibrant red orange dirt
Gorgeous mountain views unfortunately mostly covered by tall trees but you'd get glimpses.
We "arrived" at a road that was too muddy to keep driving on so we stopped and walked the 10 minutes to the elephant sanctuary. On the way we got to walk through rice fields that were being harvested as we walked! What a treat to see! Really only one day of the year we could have seen that! Very neat to see how it's done. Tons of people working together all by hand chopping the stalks and tying them up in bundles. To dry out.
The elephant location seemed like just a locals farm. Very local feeling not touristy feeling especially with our own local guide to ourselves.
We got changed into their poncho shirts and shoulder bags with their rain boots for mud. Then we made treats for the elephants with bananas, sticky rice and uncooked rice with the shells on. We mashed it all up and made them into tennis ball sizes to leave out to dry while we hiked.
We met our two female elephants and got to feed them a basket each of bananas and sugar cane sticks. They both wanted bananas first and then sugar cane sticks they made that clear 😁. They were VERY FRIENDLY with their trunks all over us. They KISSED us with their trunks and wrapped their trunks around us. I couldn't stop laughing. They also had one of the elephants put a hat on Darrins head, take it off and put it on my head.
We hiked through the jungle with the two elephants for about an hour and a half and it was so beautiful! We saw many variety of wild mushrooms, found a plant that closes when you touch it which was awesome and of course the waterfall was beautiful. We hate lunch they packed for us in a treehouse overlooking the waterfall. The lunch was all individually wrapped in banana leaves like little presents and was all really good. They had fried rice, crispy chicken, omelette, banana sticky rice and a potato for lunch. Then we went in the water with the elephants and had a bit of a water fight. It was fun.
We then hiked back and on the way saw another tour group with a baby elephant who was nursing with her Mom. So sweet to see. When we got back we fed them our snacks we made and a whole other basket of bananas and sugar cane. We said our goodbyes😥 and the elephants even waved goodbye 🥰. Then Leeda made us a snack of fresh fruit, French fries and fried bananas with Sprite. She also prepared foot baths with fresh flowers and hot water to soak our feet in after our hike!
Leeda told us that the Saturday walking night market was tonight and about a 20 minute walk to our hotel. We did that. It was like a humongous farmers market that went on forever and ever. So many fun and unique foods and souvenirs.
DAY 14-15 Getting Home-October 29-30
General Notes about Thailand from our perspective:
-We spent an estimated $4,000 total for this trip with everything including tours, food, transportation, souvenirs etc. You could certainly do it for cheaper but we “splurged” some.
-Chang Mai=beautiful jungly mountains
-Chang Rai=home to the white and blue temples-very impressive
-Phuket=Best city side Beaches great for beach hopping on a mortorbike. Also Patong= party town if you're into that.
-Krabi=GORGEOUS limestone cliffs everywhere and quieter than other areas..
-Bangkok=busy city life with some cool temples and we loved the long tail boat tour and seeing the LDS temple
-It’s so cheap once you get there!
-People selling on the beach or street don't approach you for the most part very respectful (Patong Beach aside)
-monkeys- so many monkey's
-tours are the way to go-they include hotel pickup and you get an english speaking guide
-we really liked the amount of time we spent in each area
-mango sticky rice every day
-smoothies every day
-Roti are Thai Pancakes (think fried crepes) are delicious
-pad thai, yellow curry, massaman curry and Khao soi were our favorite entrees
-in Phuket we loved renting a motorbike. So cheap at $6.50 per 24 hrs- a bit scary at first but got used to it. Highly recommend it.
-we personally didn’t have a great experience buying a custom suit there-I’ve heard of good experiences but if we had it do to again, we wouldn’t have. It didn’t end up fitting him right in the end and we felt like we overspent.
-we didn't need masks. Most every person in Bankok wears them, other areas were less. Many places had signs to wear masks including the planes announcing it but we didn't and no one looked at us funny.
-you need cash for pretty much everything with the exception of tours and hotels booked online. Even our elephant tours that we booked online needed cash. Bring more than you think you'll need. We got away with $850 cash total.
-they are so appreciative of tourists. They were closed down for 2.5 years due to covid and have now opened and are so happy to see tourists.
-they are very kind people
-traditional thai massage. Try it at least once
-you don't have to know Thai. You can get away with English
-bathrooms-most with "kitchen sprayer" bidets some without toilet paper-carry around tissue with you just in case.
-breakfast-traditionally they eat dinner food for breakfast but in hotels you’ll find some americanized breakfast options too.
-phone plan-for the most part with t mobile we had service and we didn't need to buy a travel sim card. Plus most restaurants and certainly hotels have WiFi.
-we didn't need any plug adapters or inverters. We could just plug into their plugs no problem
-have to ask for your check at restaurants or they won't bring it to you
-no tipping is expected!
-the domestic flights from city to city all had weight limits of 15 pounds! That's practically impossible and we really worried about it. We got around it by only having carry ons and checking into our flight online rather than at the counter. They only weigh the bags at the check in counter.
List of Tours we did:
Grand palace (Bangkok)
Long tail boat Canal tour (Bankok)
Kayaking Tour (Krabi)
Phi Phi Island tour with snorkeling and monkey island (Krabi)
5 hour jetski tour includinga different monkey island (Phuket)
Rented a motorbike for two days (not a tour but still very fun) (Phuket)
Thai Cooking class (Chang Mai)
Patara Elephant Farm (Chang Mai)
Street food tour with a local Thai (Chang Mai)
Chang Rai Tour (Chang Mai)
Blue Elephant Sanctuary (Chang Mai)