Plan your trip

Thailand: Bangkok, Phuket and Koh Samui in 18 nights

Trip details:

We have a family group of 15 adults and 3 kids for a long vacation in Thailand. 4 days in bangkok, 7 in Phuket and 7 in Koh Samui. We have booked villas in all places but wanted help sourcing Gujrati chefs for our meals. Also needed ideas on things to do.

Thailand - broad plan:

Thailand is indeed a great place for people from all age groups to go on a holiday! With kids travelling with you, I have tried to make sure that everyone in the group has something to look forward to in each place. The broad itinerary and map for the same is as follows,



  1. Bangkok: 4-5 nights

  2. Naka Island: 2-3 nights

  3. Phuket: 4-5 nights

  4. Koh Samui: 5 nights

  5. Bangkok (again): 3 nights


Bangkok: 4-5 nights - palaces, Wats/temples, floating markets, visit to Kanchanaburi tiger temple, see the rustic village life/pottery workshops at Ko Kred off Bangkok - all touristy, but very interesting


Naka Island: 2-3 nights - this is more of a luxury resort sort of an island. Good for relaxation. If the objective is to just relax and enjoy, then I suggest you do Naka Island towards the last leg of your trip (do all the island hopping, adventure etc first and then do the luxury, relaxing part before flying back home). Of course if your tickets are booked then forget about this suggestion.


Phuket: 4-5 nights - Now there is a lot you can do out of Phuket (and Koh Samui): Island hopping - James Bond Island, Hong Island, Viking Caves etc, adventure activities/ay trips: jungle walk, elephant rides, white water rafting (very mild - not the rapids), ATV rides, explore the Phang Nga (mainland, off the island) - has little waterfalls, jungle walks, Thai cooking classes, scuba diving, exploring Phuket town & beaches


Koh Samui: 5 nights: Again activities similar to those mentioned in Phuket. Koh Samui preferable if you like less commercialised localities relative to Phuket.


Bangkok: last leg of 3 nights: In case members of the group love shopping, good to spend 2-3 days here towards the end so you don't have to lug around your shopping. If the group is interested in shopping - a visit to the Chatuchak weekend market would be great. This place is like a huge exposition ground that sells everything from home decor, interesting kitchenware, souvenirs, knick knacks, pets - you name it, they sell it. It’s an amazing experience even if you don't want to buy anything! And of course there are several other shopping areas from luxury brands to street shopping. 



Details on each city are given in separate sections that follow.

  • Comment (0)
  • Add a note to self (0) 
  • Log in as the trip owner to use these features.
Bangkok :

Day 1: Grand palace & Emerald Buddha temple (within the palace)


This place needs about 4-5 hours to see the Grand palace, The Wat of Emerald Buddha inside the palace, the murals and the intricate architecture. You will have to wear full pants/skirts and sleeved shirts/tops (that is cover your legs till the ankles and your arms) to enter the complex. Shirts & sarongs available for rent at the entrance, in case someone is wearing shorts/is sleeveless.


Day 1: Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha)


This is very close to the Grand palace and can be clubbed with Grand palace. Ideally, start your day with Grand palace, break for lunch and then do Wat Pho (picture below, of a line of Buddhas) and the finish the day with Wat Arun (next).



 


Day 1: Wat Arun


From Wat Pho, you can walk across to the river bank (Chao Phraya River), to Wat Arun. There are water taxis to get you across to the other side of the river.


Day 1: Others


Since you have seniors and kids, these three places should be enough for the day. Any more could make the day too packed.


In the event some of you wish to see more, there are some more places to see in and around the Grand palace area and so can be done on the same day:


a) City pillar shrine (opposite the Grand palace) - can pass by this place, don't think it is worth a stop unless you absolutely feel the need


b) National museum - again at a 5-10 mins walk from the Grand palace


c) Wat Saket (10-15 mins from Grand palace): this one requires a bit of a climb (stairs) and provides a great view of the city from the hill


Day 2: Day trip off Bangkok - Ayutthaya


You can book a private tour to Ayutthaya (the ancient capital of Siam and a UNESCO world heritage site now). This is both historic and spiritual. The drive outside Bangkok is beautiful through the countryside & lush paddy fields will keep you company.


In Ayuthaya, you can see Wat Phra Mahathat, famous for the Buddha head embedded in a tree’s roots, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, with its three dominant chedis, Wat Ratburana, and Wat Chai Wattanaram. It is fun to cover Ayuthaya on an elephant. Especially, the kids will enjoy it. Most private tours cover Ayuthaya and the Bang Pa in summer palace. If you take a private tour, you can pace your day according to the needs of your group.


Day 3: Day trip off Bangkok - Tiger Temple


The temple of tigers at Kanchanaburi is where you can walk with, pet ND feed tigers. Kids will love this. Actually everyone will. Again, take a private tour will be great for you.


Day 4: Floating market (photo of one below)



You can do this in the morning. There are many floating markets but the most recommended one is the Damnoen Saduak floating market. It is interesting but a caveat - it is very touristy. If you start early (say by 7.30 or 8 am), then you beat the crowds that come in by 9 or 10 am. There is another one - Amphawa Floating market. I have heard it is less touristy - but I have not visited it.


Day 4: Siam Ocean World


This can be done in the second half of the day. The kids will love it. Some of grown ups in the group can possibly use this time to relax/shop/walk around


Some other suggestions not included above


a) Jim Thompson Thai House: Sort of a museum of arts/Thai heritage with old Thai houses. It gives you a good flavour of the old world Thailand. It is very close to Siam Sqaure/MBK/ tc - which are the prime shopping places so you can choose to split the group, if required.


b) Cowboy Soi: If you wish to experience Bangkok (a little sleazy perhaps) nightlife, this street is THE place. 


c) Chatuchak weekend market: Apart from the usual MBK/Siam sqaure area shopping, I would recommend a visit to the Chatuchak market if you are in Bangkok on a Sat-Sun. This place is not really touristy, usually locals shop here for everything from home decor, household items, cheap electronics, pets, kitchen ware. It is like a huge expo ground, very colourful and interesting and with great deals (eg - souvenirs, vases, articifical flowers, cutlery, cheap electronics like bluetooth speakers/mobile accesories/fancy electronics/etc)


More on markets in Bangkok


a) Chatuchak Weekend Market: Weekend Market with 30-40 aisles (would take anywhere from 2 hrs to 10 hrs depending on what you what to experience). Everything from cutlery to furniture and from pets to electronics are sold here.. Only on Sat-Sun, though.


b) Damnoen floating market: Sells flowers, vegetables, food - ideal time to visit is between 7 am and 11 am


c) Pak Klong flower market: A variety of flowers - local and imported are sold here. It is a visual treat, even if you do not intend to shop for flowers


d) Rod Fai market: Interesting vintage Market - everything vintage - vintage cars, antique furniture, antique knick knacks are sold here


e) Pratunam market: Clothes - at wholesale rates


f) Ratchadapisek night market (Vespa market): A very happening night market and has a display of vintage vehicles - Vespas, VWs, Austins, etc. From 5pm to midnight, on Fridays and Saturdays.

  • Comment (0)
  • Add a note to self (0) 
  • Log in as the trip owner to use these features.
Phuket:

Day 1: Phuket Town (day)


This will be the day you arrive in Phuket and you do a light and short tour of the Phuket town. The town is beautiful with Chinese and Portuguese style houses, temples and markets. It is not a hectic ride to the town. While out in the town you should try a ride in the local open buses. They are fun.


Day 1: Phuket FantaSea (evening)


In the evening you can do the Phuket FantaSea


Day 2: Island hopping


Most private tours that you book (anywhere in the tour shops in Phuket) will have island hopping tours. You mention you have booked a boat ride to James Bond Island. On the same boat ride, you can also cover Hong Island and perhaps even Koh Phi Phi. Phi Phi is one of the most beautiful islands in Thailand - pristine and great for snorkelling. Half a day at Phi Phi and the other half at another island (James Bond, Hong, Viking Caves, etc) should be good.


Most of these tours also cover a trip to the beaches + a visit to the view point from where you can get a panoramic view of the beaches of Phuket


Day 3: Phang Nga bay & Phang Nga mainland


It would be good to spend a whole day here rather than club it with other islands because,


1 - Phang Nga bay has great sea caves that you can approach by a boat and then further explore by a kayak or a sea canoe (self paddled or paddled by a the tour guide for seniors in your group).


2 - Phang Nga mainland has a variety of things to do - jungle treks, waterfalls, elephant rides, whitewater rafting, etc. Something in it for each person in your group.


Do not club this with the other island hopping. Else it could be too hectic.


Day 4: Explore/laze on the beaches of Phuket


You can spend a whole day lazing on the beaches of Phuket. Patong, if you prefer touristy and action packed beaches or the other quieter beaches - Kata Thani, Nai Harn, Mai Khao, if you want lesser crowds.


Additional suggestions: You can choose to do (instead of the above or in addition to the above),



      1. Sailing trip to Phang Nga bay: You can book a sailboat (multiple boats if the whole group chooses to go) to the Phang Nga bay and explore

      2. Helicopter ride over Phuket: For a skyview of Phuket - approximately takes half an hour and costs about 8000 THB

      3. Bangla street for the nightlife: The famous nightlife street of Phuket

      4. Songkran festival: This is a major festival in Thailand. Seems like at least some of you will be in Thailand around that time (Apr 13-15). It would be great to experience it. It is the Thai new year and people celebrate it by, among other things, throwing water on each other much like during Holi

      5. Chalong bay rum distillery: Not really a market but interesting nevertheless

      6. Markets in Phuket:

        1. Karon temple market: Twice a Week - Tuesday and Thursday - get everything from food to jewellery to sunglasses to knicks knacks. Colorful market to see.

        2. Fresh markets: Fresh food & vegetable markets - Banzaan fresh market (Patong), Nanai fresh market (Patong beach), Kamala beach market

        3. Thai cookery class (usually 3-4 hours): I think this is great for large groups. It is a great team activity (sometimes done by splitting the group into 2-3 teams). You also get a bit of the local flavour. Picture of a cookery class in Thai cuisine in progress, below. You can see the long greeen Pandan leaves. These provide a green coloring to food and impart a sweet taste.



  • Comment (0)
  • Add a note to self (0) 
  • Log in as the trip owner to use these features.
Koh Samui:

Day 1: Ang Thong marine park


Great for kayaking. The view from the top of the hill is amazing. Getting to the top is via steep wooden stairs.


Day 2: Wat Plai Laem


Only if you are in the mood for more temples after Bangkok


Day 2: Wat Khunaram - mummified monk


The mummified monk at this temple is interesting to pay a visit. The mummified monk wears sunglasses!


Day 3: Fisherman’s village (picture below)



This village at Bophut is a good peek into erstwhile Koh Samui before it got touristy. This place has good markets to visit (the old style markets and nothing fancy)


Day 4: Island tours


There two particularly exotic islands that you can visit ex-Koh Samui: Koh Tao & Koh Nanguan. Both these have pristine waters and are great for snorkelling (at the beach or in the middle of deeper waters). Great to relax on the the beach (smaller beach line) on the sunbeds.


Day 5: The big Buddha (Wat Phra Yai)


This is a huge Buddha statue. Good view from the top. I don’t see any other reason to visit this temple other than the view. It is en route the airport, in case the group wishes to plan it en route.


Other activities that can be done over the next few days



  1. Explore a village on Samui: There are many small villages to explore - one of the recommended non-touristy villages is Hua Thanon village. It is a Muslim majority village and has beautiful fishing boats and village life

  2. Buddha’s footprints: This is in a hilltop shrine that has 4 Buddha footprints. There are stairs which need to be climbed to reach the top.

  3. Traditional longtail boat ride: Slow ride to one of the islands, such as Koh Tan

  4. Chaweng boxing stadiums: While not as exciting as boxing stadiums in Bangkok which are bigger, the Chaweng boxing stadium is quite exciting with lots of action around Muay Thai match nights

  5. Na Muang waterfalls: Near Nathon bay. This is a good jungle walk, waterfall and elephant ride experience

  6. Silver beach: Small stretch of beach accessed off Lamai. Has a few restaurants to hang out at. Not very touristy.

  7. Koh Yao Noi: Just off Phuket - not touristy, not commercial. People are on bicycles - great experience I am told

  8. Phuket cable ski: At Kathu, you can cable ski - on an artificial lake (Skiing on the lakes pulled by cables). About 500 THB for 30 mins. Equipment can be rented.

  9. Orchid garden: I haven’t been here, but from what I understand from people who have is that it consists of rows of orchids. Unless you are very keen on studying varieties of orchids, it apparently is not worth USD 12 per person.

  10. The Gibbon rehabilitation project: A project to protect and rehabilitate gibbons which otherwise end up as victims of tourism. Visitors can watch gibbons in their daily life, help with chores at the centre etc. https://www.nileguide.com/destination/phuket/things-to-do/gibbons-rehabilitation-project/397307 

  11. Baan Chinpracha: A century old mansion of Sino Portuguese architecture with the first floor open to public. You can get a glimpse into houses in Phuket a century ago.

  12. Sirey island: This island is home to a community of 'sea gypsies' a name given to fishermen and their families who now live permanently on the island. Great place to walk around, watch the mangrove swamp and the wild monkeys. In essence, a great place to see what 'real' Thailand is like, away from the fancy hotels.

  13. Markets in Koi Samui

    1. Lamai Sunday night market: Food, street shopping, accessories etc.. Approximately 5 pm onwards on Sundays

    2. Bophut fisherman’s village: This village at Bophut is a good peek into erstwhile Koh Samui before it got touristy. This place has good markets to visit (the old style markets, nothing fancy) Daily 5 pm to 11 pm

    3. Nathon market: Saturdays 5 pm onwards. Great for street shopping, food, accessories, etc


  • Comment (0)
  • Add a note to self (0) 
  • Log in as the trip owner to use these features.
Food:

Since you mentioned the group is strictly vegetarian, there are two options depending on what ‘strictly vegetarian’ means to you:


a) If the group needs strict vegetarian food, that is if you do not want the restaurant/eatery to serve/cook no non-vegetarian food at all, and if the group needs only Indian food, I would strongly recommend taking a chef along from Mumbai. Simply because given the size of your group, this option possibly works out cheaper and will be more convenient


b) There are tons of Indian restaurants in Bangkok, Phuket and Koh Samui. But these are expensive and they also serve non-veg/ccok non-veg in their kitchens. If the group is fine with trying local cuisine (as long as no fish/meat/egg/mushroom is part of the recipe), then you can manage in Thailand without a chef from India. Most of the restaurants can serve up vegetarian Thai food and most items on the menu can be altered to make a vegetarian version of it. Although the only challenge here is the 5 odd mins that you will spend explaining your server what vegetarian means to you. This will happen at each place that you have a meal at, mostly. Other than that, you can have great vegetarian food in Thailand.


I had written a paragraph about it in one of my blogs that includes top 5 vegetarian food you can have in Thailand: http://neverjetlagged.blogspot.in/2014/02/top-5-street-food-stuff-in-thailand.html It might help you get an idea.

  • Comment (0)
  • Add a note to self (0) 
  • Log in as the trip owner to use these features.
Background By Nav Shah
Replies (+)

Nav Shah wrote:  

Hi Deepti

We are due to go to Thailand on 29th Mar.  We land in the evening and then have 4 nights in Bangkok (self-catering apartments).  After this we leave for Naka Island (stay at hotel) on 2nd Apr and then to Phuket (self-catering Villa) on 5th April for 4 nights.  On the 9th the group goes to Koh Samui for 9 nights (self catering Villa).  Our main concern is food as we are Gujrati and strict vegetarian.  We are thinking about taking a chef from Mumbai to help but any guidance you can provide would be welcome. Also - may extend Phuket and reduce Koh Samui.

The background on the group is that we are 16 adults (6 > age 55 and 10 between 20-50)  a and 3 children (ages 12, 7 and 6).  We are travelling from India, UK and Kenya.  Some of the group have been to Thailand before (for a wedding - so not done much sightseeing or relaxing).

We mainly want it to be a spiritual relaxing holiday but need to have things to do daily.  I have done some research myself and booked us on a boat ride to James Bond island (from Naka) and Phantasea (Phuket).  I needed a few more ideas on what to do especially unusual activities in Phuket and Koh Samui.  I think Bangkok should be OK but your input here would also be welcome.

Look forward to your reply

Nav

 

Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

Hi Nav,

Thanks for your background note.

Allow me to go through and respond.. Will try by tonight, latest by tomorrow morning.

Thanks


Broad Itinerary + Food By Deepti Gadekar
Replies (+)

Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

Hi Nav,

Thanks for providing your broad itinerary, interests and background of the group … it’s a good starter.

Since you have just about 10 days left for your vacation, I understand that this planning has to be quick and we cannot go back and forth with too many iterations over days as we would have if we had 1-2 months to go. Therefore, I am jotting down some initial notes/ suggestions:

Your current Itinerary:

Bangkok: 4 nights

Naka Island: 3 nights

Phuket: 4 nights

Koh Samui: 9 nights

 

Initial Notes:

 

  1. Firstly, are your destination tickets within Thailand booked? i.e. Bangkok/ Phuket/ Koh Samui? If no then, given that you have 20 nights, you can spread out time between destinations a little more evenly (eg - 9 nights in Samui is a bit too much according to me… but so would 9 nights in Phuket). How you would spread out your days would depend on interests of the group. But given your stated interest of spirituality and relaxation, here are my thoughts:
  • Bangkok: 5 nights
  • Naka Island: 2 nights
  • Phuket: 5 nights
  • Koh Samui: 5 nights 
  • Bangkok: 3 nights

 

  • side note: huge overlap between the kind of stuff you can do between Phuket and Koh Samui… Ideally, since you have 20 nights, you can choose (any 1) between Phuket and Koh Samui and possibly venture up north of Thailand into Chiang Mai / Chiang Rai (although that wouldn't really be spiritual or relaxing). 

 

  1. Food: Since you mentioned the group is strictly vegetarian, there are 2 options depending on what ‘strictly vegetarian’ means to you:
  • If the group needs strict vegetarian (the place should not at all serve non vegetarian food otherwise as well) and is keen on Indian food only, I would strongly recommend taking a chef along from Mumbai. Simply because given the size of your group, this option possibly works out convenient (and as expensive as restaurants or possibly cheaper). There are tons of Indian restaurants in Bangkok, Phuket and Koh Samui - but these are expensive and they also serve non veg. 
  • If the group is strict vegetarian as in - okay to try local cuisine (as long as no fish/ meat/ egg/ mushroom/ etc) - then you can manage in Thailand without a chef from India. Most of the restaurants can serve up vegetarian Thai food - most items on the menu can be altered to make a vegetarian version of it. Although the only challenge here is the 5 odd mins you will spend explaining your server what vegetarian means to you. Other than that - you can have great vegetarian stuff in Thailand. I had written a paragraph about it in one of my blogs that includes Top 5 vegetarian foods you can have in Thailand: http://neverjetlagged.blogspot.in/2014/02/top-5-street-food-stuff-in-thailand.html

 

  1. Broad things you can do within these 4 places (and we can detail out/ refine this as required):

 

  • Bangkok: 5 nights - (Palaces, Wat/ Temples, Floating Markets, visit to Kanchanaburi Tiger Temple, see the rustic village life/ pottery workshops at Ko Kred off Bangkok - all touristy, but very interesting).
  • Naka Island: 2 nights - this is more of a luxury resort sort of an island… good for relaxation. If the objective is to just relax and enjoy - then I suggest you do Naka Island towards the last leg of your trip (ideal to do all the island hopping, adventure, etc bit first and then do the luxury, relaxing part before flying back home). Of course if your tickets are booked then forget about this suggestion :-)
  • Phuket: 5 nights - (Now there is a lot you can do out of Phuket (and Koh Samui). We can refine this over the next 2 days or so, broadly: 
    • Island hopping - James Bond Island, Hong Island, Viking Caves, etc - good flavour of various islands around Phuket. Or visit Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, etc 
    • Adventure activities - day trips: Jungle walk, Elephant rides, White Water Rafting (very mild - not the rapids), ATV rides, etc
    • Explore the Phang Nga (mainland, off the island) - has little waterfalls, jungle walks, etc
    • Thai Cooking Classes (half a day types): I think this will be an exciting activity for the whole group to do together (not just from a cooking pt of view but a great group activity)
    • Scuba Diving: great to do since you have the number of days there that people often don't have.
    • Explore Phuket Town (not for the sights, but to see how the local life of Phuket is). We had taken the local buses (open on the sides) to go around - it was great fun.
    • And of course spend a day (at least) lazing on one of the less crowded beaches in Phuket.
  • Koh Samui: 4 nights: Again activities similar to those mentioned in Phuket. Personally I prefer Koh Samui since it is less commercialised (relative to Phuket).
    • Some places that you can visit from Koh Samui: 
      • Koh Nanguan - small beach but very beautiful - u can spend a day here. 
      • Ang Thong Marine Park (slightly overrated I thought, but worth one visit for the breathtaking views from the cliff). Because of the calm waters, kayaking here is good for your group of all ages.
  • Bangkok: Last leg of 3 nights: In case members of the group love shopping, good to spend 2-3 days here towards the end (so you dont have to lug around your shopping). If the group is interested in shopping - a visit to the Chatuchak weekend market would be great. This place is like a huge exposition ground that sells everything from home decor, interesting kitchenware, souvenirs, knick knacks, pets - you name it, they sell it. It’s an amazing experience even if you don't want to buy anything :-). And of course there are several other shopping areas from luxury brands to street shopping. 

Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

Hope this has been helpful. Do let me know your thoughts and I can refine/ provide further inputs.

 

Happy Travels!

Nav Shah wrote:  

Very helpful insights...

Unfortunately all flights and accomodation is booked (blame my cousin!)- so will be difficult and expensive to change!  Is there a chef who does Gujrati/Indian food that you can recommend that can come at short notice?  Preferably in Thailand or even one we can have from Mumbai?

Please do a suuggested daily itinerary for Bangkok /Phuket /Koh Samui along the lines you suggested.  Don't mind going to the market everyday if interesting!

In Phuket the whole group is there but then 5 of us are not going to Koh Samui.  Are there any unusual markets in Phuket or places we can go for longish walks?  We want to do a few buzzing activities but unlikely that the seniors will join!

Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

Hi,

 

Unfortunately dont know any chefs in Thailand or in Mumbai who can travel. I will ask some people in Mumbai and let you know if I do find out.

I will make an itinerary for Bangkok, Phuket and Koh Samui, including suggestion for the 5 who will not go to Koh Samui. Shall the send the same by tonight if possible, else by tomorrow afternoon.

Happy Travels!

Nav Shah wrote:  

The 5 who are not going to Koh Samui are going home - so no need for any planning for them!

Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

Hi,

 

I am in the midst of drawing up the itinerary for BKK/Phuket/ Koh Samui. Meanwhile, happened to look up a little for chefs on various travel sites/ expat blogs and the likes.

Found this one to be very popular - they cater and not really provide cooks... but worth a check: 

Mr Hari Babu - he has his restaurant but also caters for parties and functions. Not sure if this works for you... but worth a check if he can provide cooks for 20 days. 

http://www.letseat.at/indianfoodbangkok

 


Bangkok Itinerary By Deepti Gadekar
Replies (+)

Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

Bangkok

 

 

Day

Itinerary

Remarks

Day 1

Grand Palace & Emerald Buddha Temple (within the palace)

This place ideally needs 4-5 hours to see the Grand Palace, The Wat of Emerald Buddha inside the palace, the murals and intricate architecture. You have to wear full pants/ skirts and Sleeved Shirts/ Tops (basically no shorts or sleeveless) to enter the complex. Shirts & Sarongs available at the entrance in case someone is wearing shorts/ sleeveless. 

 

Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha)

This is very close to the Grand Palace - can be clubbed with Grand Palace. Ideally start your day with Grand Palace, break for lunch and then do Wat Pho and Wat Arun (next).

 

Wat Arun

From Wat Po, you walk across to the river bank (Chao Phraya River). There are water taxis to get across to the other side of the river. Right across is Wat Arun - you can end the day with Wat Arun.

 

Others

Since you have seniors and kids, these 3 places should be enough for the day. Any more could be too packed. 

In the event, some of you wish to see more, there are some more places to see in and around the Grand Palace area and thus can be done on the same day:

City Pillar Shrine (opposite the Grand Palace) - can pass by this place, dont think it is worth a stop

National Museum - again 5-10 mins walk from Grand Palace

Wat Saket (10-15 mins from Grand Palace): this one requires a bit of a climb (stairs) and provide a great view of the city from the hill

Day 2

Day trip off Bangkok - Ayutthaya

You can book a private tour to Ayutthaya (the ancient capital of Siam, a UNESCO world heritage site) - this is both historic and spiritual. The drive outside Bangkok is beautiful thru the countryside/ paddy fields/ etc. 

Ayuthaya: you will see Wat Phra Mahathat, famous for the Buddha head embedded in a tree’s roots, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, with its three dominant chedis, Wat Ratburana, and Wat Chai Wattanaram.  

It is fun to cover Ayuthaya on an elephant - the kids will enjoy it too.

Most private tours cover: Ayuthaya and the Bang Pa In Summer Palace. If you take a private tour, you can pace your day.

Day 3

Day trip off Bangkok - Tiger Temple

The temple of tigers at Kanchanaburi - where you can walk with, pet, feed tigers. Kids will love this (actually everyone will). Again, take a private tour

Day 4

Floating Market

You can do this in the morning. There are many floating markets but the most recommended is the Damnoen Saduak floating market. It is interesting but a caveat is also that it is very touristy. If you start early (say 7.30 or 8 am) then you beat the crowds that come in by 9 or 10 am.

There is another one - Amphawa Floating market. I have heard it is less touristy - but I have not personally visited this one. 

 

Siam Ocean World

This can be done in the second half. The kids will love it. Some of grown ups in the group can possibly use this time to relax/ shop/ walk around

Some other suggestions not included above

Jim Thompson Thai House

Sort of a museum of arts/ thai heritage with old thai houses. It’s a good flavour of the old world Thailand. It is very close to Siam Sqaure/ MBK/ etc - which are the prime shopping places so you can choose to split the group if required.

 

Cowboy Soi

If you wish to experience Bangkok (sleazy) nightlife, this street is THE place. If not, pardon me for suggesting this.

 

Chatuchak weekend market

Apart from the usual MBK/ Siam Sqaure area shopping, I would recommend a visit to the Chatuchak market if you are in Bangkok on a Sat-Sun. This place is not really touristy, usually locals shop here for everything from home decor, household items, cheap electronics, pets, kitchen ware. It’s like a huge expo ground - very colourful and interesting and great deals (eg - souvenirs, vases, articifical flowers, cutlery, cheap electronics like bluetooth speakers/ mobile accsories/ fancy electronics/ etc)

Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

Hi,

 

Above is the Bangkok Itinerary... will share the Phuket and Samui itinerary by end of Sunday... Is that ok?

 

Thanks 

Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

Day

Itinerary

Remarks

Time required here

Time taken from your hotel (by road)

Day 1

Grand Palace & Emerald Buddha Temple (within the palace)

This place ideally needs 4-5 hours to see the Grand Palace, The Wat of Emerald Buddha inside the palace, the murals and intricate architecture. You have to wear full pants/ skirts and Sleeved Shirts/ Tops (basically no shorts or sleeveless) to enter the complex. Shirts & Sarongs available at the entrance in case someone is wearing shorts/ sleeveless. 

4 to 5 hours

20 mins

 

Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha)

This is very close to the Grand Palace - can be clubbed with Grand Palace. Ideally start your day with Grand Palace, break for lunch and then do Wat Pho and Wat Arun (next).

30-40 mins

20 mins

 

Wat Arun

From Wat Po, you walk across to the river bank (Chao Phraya River). There are water taxis to get across to the other side of the river. Right across is Wat Arun - you can end the day with Wat Arun.

30-40 mins

25 mins from your hotel (should ideally do after Grand Palace & Wat Pho from where Wat Arun is 15 mins away)

 

Others

Since you have seniors and kids, these 3 places should be enough for the day. Any more could be too packed. 

In the event, some of you wish to see more, there are some more places to see in and around the Grand Palace area and thus can be done on the same day:

City Pillar Shrine (opposite the Grand Palace) - can pass by this place, dont think it is worth a stop

National Museum - again 5-10 mins walk from Grand Palace

Wat Saket (10-15 mins from Grand Palace): this one requires a bit of a climb (stairs) and provide a great view of the city from the hill

‘- 10 mins

1-2 hours

1.5 hours

Refer Remarks Column

Day 2

Day trip off Bangkok - Ayutthaya

You can book a private tour to Ayutthaya (the ancient capital of Siam, a UNESCO world heritage site) - this is both historic and spiritual. The drive outside Bangkok is beautiful thru the countryside/ paddy fields/ etc. 

Ayuthaya: you will see Wat Phra Mahathat, famous for the Buddha head embedded in a tree’s roots, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, with its three dominant chedis, Wat Ratburana, and Wat Chai Wattanaram.  

It is fun to cover Ayuthaya on an elephant - the kids will enjoy it too.

Most private tours cover: Ayuthaya and the Bang Pa In Summer Palace. If you take a private tour, you can pace your day.

Full Day

1.5 to 2 hours from your hotel (by a car)

Day 3

Day trip off Bangkok - Tiger Temple

The temple of tigers at Kanchanaburi - where you can walk with, pet, feed tigers. Kids will love this (actually everyone will). Again, take a private tour

Full Day

3 hours (by car)

Day 4

Floating Market

You can do this in the morning. There are many floating markets but the most recommended is the Damnoen Saduak floating market. It is interesting but a caveat is also that it is very touristy. If you start early (say 7.30 or 8 am) then you beat the crowds that come in by 9 or 10 am.

There is another one - Amphawa Floating market. I have heard it is less touristy - but I have not personally visited this one. 

1.5 to 2 hours

About an hour  at 7 am

 

Siam Ocean World

This can be done in the second half. The kids will love it. Some of grown ups in the group can possibly use this time to relax/ shop/ walk around

2-3 hours

10-15 mins (by car)

Some other suggestions not included above

Jim Thompson Thai House

Sort of a museum of arts/ thai heritage with old thai houses. It’s a good flavour of the old world Thailand. It is very close to Siam Sqaure/ MBK/ etc - which are the prime shopping places so you can choose to split the group if required.

1-2 hours

20 minutes by car

 

Cowboy Soi

If you wish to experience Bangkok (sleazy) nightlife, this street is THE place. If not, pardon me for suggesting this.

Nightlife

20 minutes by car

 

Chatuchak weekend market

Apart from the usual MBK/ Siam Sqaure area shopping, I would recommend a visit to the Chatuchak market if you are in Bangkok on a Sat-Sun. This place is not really touristy, usually locals shop here for everything from home decor, household items, cheap electronics, pets, kitchen ware. It’s like a huge expo ground - very colourful and interesting and great deals (eg - souvenirs, vases, articifical flowers, cutlery, cheap electronics like bluetooth speakers/ mobile accsories/ fancy electronics/ etc)

Half day (at least)

30 minutes (by car)


Phuket Itinerary By Deepti Gadekar
Replies (+)

Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

Day

Itinerary

Remarks

Day 1

Phuket Town (day)

Phuket FantaSea (evening)

To keep the day you arrive a bit light, you can do a tour of the Phuket Town. The town is beautiful with Chinese and Portuguese style houses, temples and markets. It’s not a hectic ride to the town. While out in the town you should try a ride in the local open buses, they re fun.

Evening you can do the Phuket FantaSea

Day 2

Island Hopping

Most private tours that you book (anywhere in the tours shops in Phuket), will have island hopping tours. (You mention you have booked a boat ride to James Bond Island). So on the same boat ride, you can also cover Hong Island and perhaps even Koh Phi Phi. Phi Phi is one of the most beautiful islands in Thailand - pristine and great for snorkelling. Half a day at Phi Phi and the other half at the other island (James Bond, Hong, Viking Caves, etc) should be good.

Most of these tours also cover a trip to the beaches including a visit to the view point (from where you can get a panoramic view of the beaches of Phuket)

Day 3

Phang Nga Bay & Phang Nga Mainland

This according to me would be good in a whole day than clubbed with other islands. 

1 - Phang Nga Bay has great Sea caves that you can approach by a boat and then further explore thru a kayak or a sea canoe (self paddled or paddled by a the tour guide - for seniors in your group). 

2 - Phang Nga Mainland has a variety of things to do - jungle treks, waterfalls, elephant rides, whitewater rafting, etc. Something in it for all in your group.

Ideally dont club this with the other island hopping else it could be too hectic.

 

Day 4

Explore/ Laze on the beaches of Phuket

You can spend a whole day lazing on the beaches of Phuket - Patong if you prefer touristy and action packed beaches or the other quieter beaches if you want lesser crowds - Kata Thani, Nai Harn, Mai Khao

 

Above are tours that are good to do within 4 days and that are suitable for all in the group.

Additionally, suggesting a few more things that you can choose to do (instead of the above or in addition to the above):

 

 

Sailing Trip to Phang Nga Bay

You can book a sail boat (multiple boats if the whole group choose to go) to the Phang Nga Bay and explore.

 

Helicopter Ride over Phuket

For a skyview of Phuket - approx half an hour .. costs about 8000 THB

 

Thai Cooking Class (usually 3-4 hours)

I personally think this is great for large groups - it is a great team activity (some times done by splitting the group into 2-3 teams) and also getting a bit of the local flavour 

 

Bangla Street for the nightlife

The famous nightlife of Phuket

 

Songkran Festival

This is a major festival in Thailand - seems like at least some of you will be in Thailand around that time (Apr 13-15) - would be great to experience it.. It’s the Thai new Year - and people celebrate by (amongst other things) throwing water on each other - much like we do at Holi.

Nav Shah wrote:  

I need a few more ideas of different markets that we could spend a few hours at on a daily basis?  ie not just the touristy places - any suggestions?  Have you any ideas for Koh Samui?

Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

Hi ... Sure, will send in some market areas for Bangkok/ Phuket/ Samui as well as itinerary for Samui by tonight.

 

Just so I have a further understanding, when you say different markets - you mean to get a local flavor right? Or from a shopping point of view?

Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

Hi,

Below are some interesting markets you can go to in Bangkok, Phuket and the itinerary of Samui.

I have assumed (based on above question) that you mean interesting local markets - where you get to see colorful local sights/ flavor of local markets. If you meant shopping places - then some of these may not be. In any case if it is shopping - then you should largely do it only in Bangkok and not Phuket/ Samui.

Here goes:

 

Bangkok

 

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Weekend Market with 30-40 aisles (would take anywhere from 2 hrs to 10 hrs :-)).. sells everything from Cutlery, Furniture, Pets, Electronics, Herbs, etc. Only on Sat-Sun

Damnoen Floating Market

Sells Flowers, Vegetables, Food - ideal from 7 am to 11 am

Pak Klong Flower Market

A variety of flowers - local and imported

Rod Fai Market

Interesting Vintage Market - everything vintage - vintage cars, antique furniture, antique knick knacks

Pratunam Market

Clothes - at wholesale rates

Ratchadapisek Night Market (Vespa Market)

Happening Night Market - has a display of vintage vehicles - Vespas, VWs, Austins, etc. From 5pm to midnight Friday and Saturday night.

 

 

Phuket

 

Karon Temple Market

Twice a Week - Tue and Thurs - get everything from food to jewellery to sunglasses to knicks knacks. Colorful market to see… 

Chalong Bay Rum Distillery

Not really a market but interesting 

Fresh Markets 

Fresh food & vegetable markets - Banzaan Fresh Market (Patong), Nanai Fresh Market (Patong Beach), Kamala Beach Market

Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

Day

Itinerary

Remarks

Time needed at the place

Time taken from your Villa / Kamala Beach

Day 1

Phuket Town (day)

Phuket FantaSea (evening)

To keep the day you arrive a bit light, you can do a tour of the Phuket Town. The town is beautiful with Chinese and Portuguese style houses, temples and markets. It’s not a hectic ride to the town. While out in the town you should try a ride in the local open buses, they re fun.

Evening you can do the Phuket FantaSea

1.5 hours

20 minutes

Day 2

Island Hopping

Most private tours that you book (anywhere in the tours shops in Phuket), will have island hopping tours. (You mention you have booked a boat ride to James Bond Island). So on the same boat ride, you can also cover Hong Island and perhaps even Koh Phi Phi. Phi Phi is one of the most beautiful islands in Thailand - pristine and great for snorkelling. Half a day at Phi Phi and the other half at the other island (James Bond, Hong, Viking Caves, etc) should be good.

Most of these tours also cover a trip to the beaches including a visit to the view point (from where you can get a panoramic view of the beaches of Phuket)

Full Day

Usually hotel pick up arranged by most tours

Day 3

Phang Nga Bay & Phang Nga Mainland

This according to me would be good in a whole day than clubbed with other islands. 

1 - Phang Nga Bay has great Sea caves that you can approach by a boat and then further explore thru a kayak or a sea canoe (self paddled or paddled by a the tour guide - for seniors in your group). 

2 - Phang Nga Mainland has a variety of things to do - jungle treks, waterfalls, elephant rides, whitewater rafting, etc. Something in it for all in your group.

Ideally dont club this with the other island hopping else it could be too hectic.

 

Full Day

Usually hotel pick up arranged by most tours. Road Pick Up followed by a boat/ ferry ride - approx 3 hrs

Day 4

Explore/ Laze on the beaches of Phuket

You can spend a whole day lazing on the beaches of Phuket - Patong if you prefer touristy and action packed beaches or the other quieter beaches if you want lesser crowds - Kata Thani, Nai Harn, Mai Khao

 

 

 

Above are tours that are good to do within 4 days and that are suitable for all in the group.

Additionally, suggesting a few more things that you can choose to do (instead of the above or in addition to the above):

 

 

 

 

Sailing Trip to Phang Nga Bay

You can book a sail boat (multiple boats if the whole group choose to go) to the Phang Nga Bay and explore.

Full Day

Usually hotel pick up arranged by most tours

 

Helicopter Ride over Phuket

For a skyview of Phuket - approx half an hour .. costs about 8000 THB

2 hours

Usually hotel pick up arranged by most tours

 

Thai Cooking Class (usually 3-4 hours)

I personally think this is great for large groups - it is a great team activity (some times done by splitting the group into 2-3 teams) and also getting a bit of the local flavour 

3 to 4 hours

 

 

Bangla Street for the nightlife

The famous nightlife of Phuket

Evening/ Night

At Patong Beach

 

Songkran Festival

This is a major festival in Thailand - seems like at least some of you will be in Thailand around that time (Apr 13-15) - would be great to experience it.. It’s the Thai new Year - and people celebrate by (amongst other things) throwing water on each other - much like we do at Holi.

 

 

Offbeat Phuket

Koh Yao Noi 

Just off Phuket - not touristy, not commercial. People are on bicycles - great experience I am told.

Half a Day 

Usually hotel pick up arranged by most tours. Road Pick Up followed by a boat/ ferry ride - approx 1.5 hrs

 

Phuket Cable Ski

At Kathu, you can cable ski - on an artificial lake (Skiing on the lakes pulled by cables). About 500 THB for 30 mins … equipment can be rented.

2-3 hours

25-30 mins

 

Orchid Garden

I havent been here - but from what I understand from people who have, basically rows of orchids. Unless you are very keen on studying varieties of Orchids, it apparently is not worth USD 12 per person…

1 hour

45 mins

 

The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project

A project to protect and rehabilitate Gibbons who otherwise end up victims of tourism. Visitors can watch gibbons in their daily life, help with chores, etc

More about this on:

https://www.nileguide.com/destination/phuket/things-to-do/gibbons-rehabilitation-project/397307

2-3 hours

30-40 mins

 

Baan Chinpracha

A century old mansion - Sino Portuguese architecture - with first floor open for public to get a glimpse into houses in Phuket a century ago

1-2 hours

30-40 mins

 

Sirey Island

This island is home to a community of "Sea Gypsies," a name given to fishermen and their families who now live permanently on the island. Great place to walk around, watch the mangrove swamp and the wild monkeys. Basically a great place to see what "real" Thailand is like, away from the fancy hotels. 

Half a Day 

45 mins

Car Hire

Tips about Driving in Thailand/ Phuket

http://www.knowphuket.com/driving.htm

 

 

 

Car rental companies in Phuket (

http://www.tripadvisor.in/Travel-g293920-s304/Phuket:Thailand:Taxis.And.Rental.Cars.html

 

 


Markets & Koh Samui Itinerary By Deepti Gadekar
Replies (+)

Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

Hi,

I have added a few more markets to what I had mentioned earlier. Therefore below - list of markets to explore in bangkok, phuket and samui and Samui itinerary:

 

Bangkok

 

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Weekend Market with 30-40 aisles (would take anywhere from 2 hrs to 10 hrs :-)).. sells everything from Cutlery, Furniture, Pets, Electronics, Herbs, etc. Only on Sat-Sun

Damnoen Floating Market

Sells Flowers, Vegetables, Food - ideal from 7 am to 11 am

Pak Klong Flower Market

A variety of flowers - local and imported

Rod Fai Market

Interesting Vintage Market - everything vintage - vintage cars, antique furniture, antique knick knacks

Pratunam Market

Clothes - at wholesale rates

Ratchadapisek Night Market (Vespa Market)

Happening Night Market - has a display of vintage vehicles - Vespas, VWs, Austins, etc. From 5pm to midnight Friday and Saturday night.

 

 

Phuket

 

Karon Temple Market

Twice a Week - Tue and Thurs - get everything from food to jewellery to sunglasses to knicks knacks. Colorful market to see… 

Chalong Bay Rum Distillery

Not really a market but interesting 

Fresh Markets 

Fresh food & vegetable markets - Banzaan Fresh Market (Patong), Nanai Fresh Market (Patong Beach), Kamala Beach Market

 

 

Koh Samui

 

Lamai Sunday Nightmarket

Food, street shopping, accessories, etc.. Approx 5 pm onwards Sundays

Bophut Fisherman’s Village

This village at Bophut is a good peek into erstwhile Koh Samui before it got touristy. This place has good markets to visit (the old style markets, nothing fancy)… great local feel. daily 5 pm to 11 pm

Nathon Market

Saturdays - 5 pm onwards… Great for street shopping, food, accessories, etc

Fresh Markets 

Fresh food & vegetable markets - Banzaan Fresh Market (Patong), Nanai Fresh Market (Patong Beach), Kamala Beach Market

 

 

 

 

 

Koh Samui Itinerary

 

 

 

 

Day 1

Ang Thong Marine Park

Great for Kayaking… The view from the top of the hill is amazing (getting to the top is via wooden stairs, fairly steep - point to note from a seniors point of view)

 

 

Day 2

Wat Plai Laem

Only if you re in the mood for more temples after Bangkok

 

 

 

Wat Khunaram - Mummified Monk

The Mummified Monk at this temple is interesting to pay a visit… And the mummified Monk wears Sunglasses… very interesting!

 

 

Day 3

Fisherman’s Village

This village at Bophut is a good peek into erstwhile Koh Samui before it got touristy. This place has good markets to visit (the old style markets, nothing fancy).

 

 

Day 4

Island Tours

There 2 particularly exotic islands that you can visit ex-Koh Samui: Koh Tao & Koh Nanguan.

Both these have pristine waters, great for snokerlling (at the beach or in the middle of deeper waters).

Great to relax on the the beach (smaller beach line) on the sun beds

 

 

Day 5

The Big Buddha (Wat Phra Yai)

This is a huge Buddha Statue - good view from the top (i dont see any other reason to visit this temple other than the view). It’s en route the airport (in case the group wishes to plan it en route)

 

 

Other Activities that can be done over the next few days

Explore a Village on Samui

There are many small villages to explore - one of the recommended non touristy villages os Hua Thanon village (it’s a Muslim majority village) - has beautiful fishing boats, village life …

 

 

 

Buddha’s footprints

This is in a hilltop shrine - that has 4 Buddha footprints. Has stairs to be climbed to the top. 

 

 

 

Traditional Long Tail Boatride

Slow ride to one of the Islands like Koh Tan

 

 

 

Chaweng Boxing Stadiums

While not as exciting as boxing stadiums in Bangkok which are bigger … Chaweng Boxing Stadium is quite exciting as well … Lot of action around Muay Thai match nights

 

 

 

Na Muang Waterfalls

Near Nathon Bay - this is a good jungle walk, waterfall and elephant ride experience

 

 

 

Silver Beach

Small stretch of beach - accessed off Lamai. Has a few restaurants to hang out at. Not very touristy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nav Shah wrote:  

Thanks - this is very helpful.  If there any off the beaten track places in Phuket eg Orchid Gardens or unique places to visit?  please also suggest car hire places.

Nav Shah wrote:  

In terms of distances and how we should get to places you have suggested - please advise eg train/hire mini-van/taxi.  In Bangkok we are staying at oriental residence and Phuket at a villa on Kamala beach.

Nav Shah wrote:  

Need to know how long we should spend at each of the palces and how long it would take to get there (so if you can add details to a spreadsheet) and include address, distance, and commennts above it would be great.

Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

Hi,

On the bit about commuting in Bangkok and Phuket:

  • Bangkok - BTS Skytrain best way to commute (followed by walking down or taking a tuk tuk till your final destination). This cheaper and more efficient (you dont waste time in traffic)
  • Phuket: Car rentals are the best way to go around the island. Especially when you have a large group so more cost effective. What you can also do is:
    • Book island tours with a pick up - drop from the hotel and only on the other days that you are not doing an organized tour you can rent cars.

 

On the bit about distances and How long at each of these places/ How long to get there from your hotel - allow me 2 days to put this on the spreadsheet.. Approx end of Friday.. Is that ok?

 

Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

Hi,

I have appended details of Time that is needed at each of the places in Bangkok & Phuket and Time taken from your hotel.

 

I have appended the table/ spread sheet in the respective itinerary topics.

Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

As such, the day wise seggregation of suggested itinerary is keeping in mind geographic spread and time taken.. 


Off Beat Places in Phuket By Deepti Gadekar
Replies (+)

Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

Offbeat Phuket

Koh Yao Noi 

Just off Phuket - not touristy, not commercial. People are on bicycles - great experience I am told.

 

Phuket Cable Ski

At Kathu, you can cable ski - on an artificial lake (Skiing on the lakes pulled by cables). About 500 THB for 30 mins … equipment can be rented.

 

Orchid Garden

I havent been here - but from what I understand from people who have, basically rows of orchids. Unless you are very keen on studying varieties of Orchids, it apparently is not worth USD 12 per person…

 

The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project

A project to protect and rehabilitate Gibbons who otherwise end up victims of tourism. Visitors can watch gibbons in their daily life, help with chores, etc

More about this on:

https://www.nileguide.com/destination/phuket/things-to-do/gibbons-rehabilitation-project/397307

 

Baan Chinpracha

A century old mansion - Sino Portuguese architecture - with first floor open for public to get a glimpse into houses in Phuket a century ago

 

Sirey Island

This island is home to a community of "Sea Gypsies," a name given to fishermen and their families who now live permanently on the island. Great place to walk around, watch the mangrove swamp and the wild monkeys. Basically a great place to see what "real" Thailand is like, away from the fancy hotels. 


Car Rentals in Phuket By Deepti Gadekar
Replies (+)

Deepti Gadekar wrote:  

On your question on car hire in Phuket:

You can choose to: 


Commuting in Bangkok and Phuket:

Bangkok - BTS Skytrain best way to commute (followed by walking down or taking a tuk tuk till your final destination). This cheaper and more efficient (you dont waste time in traffic)


Phuket: Car rentals are the best way to go around the island. Especially when you have a large group so more cost effective. What you can also do is:


Book island tours with a pick up - drop from the hotel and only on the other days that you are not doing an organized tour you can rent cars. Details below:


  • Comment (0)
  • Add a note to self (0) 
  • Log in as the trip owner to use these features.