I had a chance to do a road trip again when I got a message from my Italian friends that they wanted to visit Thailand (for the first time). After discussing the best way to see Thailand for 8 days, we ended up with this itinerary.
Day 1 – stay 1 night in Bangkok
As we had very limited time, after picking them up at the airport at 9 pm we went straight away for drinks at one of the best rooftop bars in Bangkok, Moon Bar on the 61st floor above the city with panoramic view at Banyan Tree hotel. This place is my favorite cocktail bar in the city and I think it’s the best way to see Bangkok when you have only 1 night here. My friends had wonderful welcome drinks on their first night in Thailand after a long flight. This stunning place has never disappointed when I brought my foreign friends. My friends also enjoyed staying in Urbana Sathorn hotel, where they have a large swimming pool view overlooking the city of Bangkok.
We visited the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew in the morning but we did not visit Wat Pho which is located near the Grand Palace due to limited time we had. I would recommend you to visit The Grand Palace around 2-3 pm followed by Wat Pho. You should then be finished visiting these places by 6 pm in order to catch a beautiful sunset on the rooftop bar at Sala Rattanakosin hotel located opposite Wat Pho. The bar has a stunning view overlooking the Chao Phraya River and Wat Arun. A cocktail with a gorgeous sunset view is a perfect way to celebrate the end of the day. If you finish visiting Wat Pho too early for sunset, you can walk to Pak Khlong Talat, a flower market nearby and come back to the bar near sunset time around 6 pm. If you are hungry I would recommend Apsorn’s Kitchen (ครัวอัปสร), a real deal Thai restaurant located on Dinso Road only 10 minutes by Tuk Tuk from Wat Pho.
There are so many things to do and see in Bangkok that you probably need a minimum of 3 days here.
Day 2- stay 1 night in Pranburi, Phetchaburi Province
We arrived in Pranburi late afternoon and after checking in to the hotel I went straight to the beach. I have been here many times and still enjoy being here as Pranburi is not developed as much as Hua Hin and Cha-Am which are full of hotels and resorts. I always prefer a place that has fewer tourists and authentic local rural life. Pranburi is popular with Thai people as it’s only 2.30 hours drive from Bangkok. You would probably stay here no more than 2 nights so I recommend to stay in a beachfront resort or hotel for maximum enjoyment. We had a great dinner at a seafood restaurant and we ended up on a beach bar where we enjoyed music and watching stars!
We left Pranburi around 10 am and instead of taking the highway we took the seaside road through Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. My friends were impressed with the mountain and agricultural scenery.
Day 3- stay 1 night in Baan Krut, Prachuap Khiri Khan Province
We arrived in Baan Krut beach about mid day. This is the first time for me here and I could not believe how beautiful, peaceful and wonderful this place is. I totally forgot about Pranburi and Baan Krut became my number one favorite place. As I mentioned earlier, I prefer a quiet place with local rural life and if you like the same, this place is the answer for you! We stayed in a beachfront resort called “Baan Montra Beach Resort” where they have an excellent restaurant, swimming pool and great staff. You should also visit “Krom Luang Chumphon Khet Udomsak Royal Palace” located up on the hill only 5 minutes by car from the resort. I very much enjoyed waking up at 6 am to see the sunrise, local rural life and chatting with local people on the beach. This could be my ideal retirement place!
To get to Baan Krut beach you can also fly from Bangkok to Chumphon Airport and from there it’s about 100 km by road.
Day 4-5 stay 2 nights in Koh Tao, Surat Thani Province
We left Baan Krut around 10 am to catch a ferry at Chumphon pier at 1 pm to go to Koh Tao, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand. This was my first visit to Koh Tao. I had heard about it for a long time and I imagined a crazy island with young people having crazy parties on the beach. We stayed in a hotel on Sairee beach which is the center of entertainment. For people looking to have a party and to enjoy drinking, this place is perfect. This area is full of young people, backpackers and the beach is not very clean. If you want to go to Koh Tao and stay in a quiet place, Sairee beach is not for you. The highlight of Koh Tao was renting a boat to explore around the island. There are many good places for snorkeling and scuba driving, e.g. Mango Bay. If you come to Mango Bay I would recommend to eat at the restaurant at Mango Bay Boutique Resort run by Gabriele Pilotto, an Italian guy who happens to be chef as well.
Day 6-8 stay 3 nights in Phuket Island
I have been living in Phuket for 8 years since 2008 so before you ask me for any recommendations, you have to tell me first what you are looking for and what is your budget. In Phuket you can get anything from a cheap room to a luxury villa and from street food to a fine dining.
If you enjoy partying, drinking and want to stay in a budget hotel, Kata, Karon and Patong can offer you that. But if you are looking for a relaxing place, nice restaurant, quiet beach I would recommend to stay in the north of Phuket, e.g. Layan, Bang Tao, Surin and Kamala. My friends were not completely happy with their choice of hotel in Kata and they did not like the environment of the entertainment area. You can rent an IDEAL Property if you want something more like home instead of a hotel.
My friends enjoyed beaches so much that they ended up staying on Bang Tao and Layan beach for 2 days! Other than that, they also visited the Big Buddha and tried riding elephants. We had great dinning at Mom Tri Kitchen in Kata and the last evening at Baan Suan Layan. My friends also enjoyed a Thai country style pub full of only Thai people, Ploen@Chalong located in Chalong, where there was a live band playing. Try this place as an alternative to the tourist bars for a fun night out.
There are a lot of places to visit in Phuket; I wish my friends had more time so I could show them my other favorite part of Phuket, Phuket Old Town.
We drove about 914 km from Bangkok to Phuket. The longest time on the road was 5 hours from Ao Thung Makham Pier in Chumphon to Phuket when we returned from Koh Tao. If you don’t want to drive too long you can stay in Kao Sok National Park in Surat Thani for a night and visit Ratchaprapha Dam before heading to Phuket. On the way to Phuket if you have time you should stop at Ao Phang Nga Marine National Park , rent a boat and explore the park before arriving in Phuket.