The Best Hotels on Phuket

Updated: December 3, 2016

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The Best Hotels on Phuket

  • Six Senses Yao Noi – Best Luxury Hotel on Phuket
    The views are amazing – it simply doesn’t get better than towering limestone karst formations rising from the powdery turquoise Phang Nga Bay. But the accommodation is equally world class, using materials like bamboo, thatch, and jungle-foliage to create exceedingly private, comfortable, and spacious villas that go far above and beyond most tropical island fantasies. Guests relax in the spa, by their own private pool or on the beach, or take part in any number of adventure activities from SCUBA diving to rock climbing. Hotel phone: +66 76 418 500
    Best Luxury Resort in Phuket
  • Le Meridien Beach Resort – Best Hotel on Karon Beach
    Modern and clean with white linens, wood floors and plenty of large windows to let in the seaside light, this resort is tucked into a private white sand cove. The massive complex is a world unto itself with 10 restaurants, two swimming pools that take up the same amount of space many places dedicate to gardens, and on-site facilities galore from tennis courts and a driving range to a children’s park, mini-golf and trampolines. Some guests never leave but the hotel offers taxi or shuttle services to the shopping and party areas of nearby Karon and Patong beaches. Hotel phone: +66 76 370 100
    Best Luxury Hotel at Karon Beach
  • The Shore at Katathani – Best Hotel on Kata Beach
    Far enough away from the shopping and restaurant haven of Kata Beach to be peaceful, yet close enough to get there on foot, The Shore at Katathani gives you the best of both worlds. Warm-colored woods blended with white and cream décor make the spacious villas feel balanced and calming while views of the blue sea or lush gardens add a sense of luxurious tropical adventure. Relax in the seclusion of the villas’ privacy or socialize and use the many facilities (putting greens, another spa and even more restaurants) of the larger and less exclusive Kathatani Resort next door. Hotel phone: +66 76 330 124
    Best Hotel at Kata Beach
  • Amari Phuket – Best Hotel in Patong
    This 380-room beachfront (and jungle hillside) resort features modern rooms and suites decorated in neutrals with bright accents; large (mostly seaview) windows let in lots of light. Splash around on the resort’s slim white beach or in the busy swimming pool, snorkel off the jetty or walk five minutes to the very bustling Patong beach for larger swathes of sand and a party vibe. Hotel phone: +66 76 340 106
    Best Luxury Hotel at Patong Beach
  • The Pavilions – Best Hotel for Honeymooners on Phuket
    Up on a hill in Phuket’s quiet, lush jungle and blue-sea blessed northwest corner, come here for an intimate romantic escape far from the mini-skirt-clad bar scene of Phuket’s southern beaches. There’s a free shuttle bus down to nearby, mellow, golden-white Layana beach, but this resort is designed as a place you never need to leave, with each villa holding a personal plunge pool; fine dining, spa service and much more are available on-site. Villas are all you’d hope for with bathrooms rivaling the size of the bedrooms, dizzying views over jungle to turquoise waters, and elegant, light-filled modern-Sino style. Hotel phone: +66 76 317 600
    Best Hotel for a Honeymoon in Phuket
  • Millennium Resort Patong – Best Hotel for Shopping
    Shoppers rejoice: this urban resort is located inside the large, modern JungCeylon shopping mall and is steps from Patong beach’s crazy party zone. Don’t expect sea views here – instead windows look out over busy streets and even the pool area is more concrete than garden. Rooms are modern and comfortable with a brown and bright color palette. Hotel phone: +66 76 601 999
    Best Hotel for Shopping in Phuket
  • Centara Grand West Sands Resort – Best Family Hotel
    The resort is attached to a huge water park (the largest in Thailand) with slides, water jets, and a lazy river. It’s clean, well run, and free when you stay at the hotel. Suites are huge and have a full kitchen. Downsides: food is average (walk out to the main road to find some good local restaurants) and the location is a little isolated (though a very short drive to the airport). My recommendation is to stay here for 2 nights and 1 full day at the start or finish of your trip. Kids love it. Hotel phone: +66 76 372 000
    Centara Resort with Water Park for Kids
  • Holiday Inn Resort – Best Value Hotel in Phuket
    Family-friendly resort in the heart of Patong’s restaurant, bar, and beach scene. The hotel has a special wing for families with suites that include dedicated children’s bedroom complete with bright, cartoon-style landscapes painted on the walls, a chest full of toys and beds made to look like mini ships; the children’s bathroom even includes kid-sized bathrobes. Of course there’s also a kid’s club, featuring many activities so the grown-ups can get out to enjoy the spa, nearby shopping, and activities galore. Hotel phone: +66 76 370 200
    Best Inexpensive Hotel in Phuket
  • Mom Tri’s Villa Royale – Best Boutique Hotel
    Mom Tri, one of Thailand’s better known architects, has taken his family home and turned it into Phuket’s most luxury boutique hotel. The location, straddling bustling Kata and quiet Kata Noi beaches couldn’t be better – close to shopping and restaurants or peaceful stretches of sand. The hotel restaurant, Mom Tri’s Kitchen, marries upscale international cuisine and a mile-long wine list with views over the Andaman Sea. Hotel phone: +66 76 333 569
    Best Boutique Hotel with Central Location on Phuket
  • Andaman Seaview Hotel – Best Moderate Hotel
    A good-value resort with a modern-tinged colonial feel, breezy coridoors connecting the 161 guest rooms over four floors. Designer maritime-inspired colors like dusty blue, mint green, and aqua set off wooden four-poster beds and antique-looking ceiling fans. The resort encircles a large pool with plenty of lounging space and busy Karon Beach is a five-minute walk away. It’s a good choice for families and couples not needing too much peace and quiet. Hotel phone: +66 76 398 111
    Good Mid-range hotel on Phuket with good location.
  • Sarojin – Best Hotel in Khao Lak
    Peace and quiet are what you’ll find at this adults-only, Zen haven that takes in beach, mangroves, and coconut plantations. Khao Lak is not in Phuket but is only an hour north of the Phuket International Airport (Karon, Kata, and Patong beaches are about an hour south of the airport so not a big difference) and is much less touristy than the Phuket beaches. Accommodation at Sarojin is in one or two-bedroom “residences,” that include a spacious sitting area, gorgeous naturalistic bathrooms with round bathtubs and private gardens. The pricier options have their own small swimming pools. The spa is surrounded by nature (you may see buffalo meandering through the coconut palms) and is considered one of the best on this coast while the two hotel restaurants – one serving Thai food by a lotus pond and the other offering Mediterranean fare on the resort’s white sand beach – are also divine. Hotel phone: +66 76 427 900
    Best Hotel in Khao Lak

The Best Beaches on Phuket

Many beaches are beautiful but are not good swimming beaches (e.g. Rawai beach). And the monsoon season (June to October) can change even the most tranquil of beaches into a rough, windswept, and uninviting terrain.

  • Patong – Located on the white-sanded western coast, Patong is the most famous and most commercial resort. With a broad 3km (2 miles) stretch of sandy beach there is plenty of opportunity for natural shade from trees as well as having parasol-protected sunbeds sited along the entire length. Its sheltered location makes it ideal for all water sports and swimming and so it is popular with families and package holidaymakers. As with all the beaches on the western side, there can be a strong undertow and any red warning flags should be heeded. Patong is also home to tourist shops, an enormous shopping mall, cinemas and a bowling alley. A plethora of day trips and activities can be found, from taking a banana boat ride, snorkelling to renting a jet ski. It can be difficult to escape away from the notorious adult themed night-life with neon lit clubs and bars advertising stripper or transvestite shows. You can find scantily clad transvestites posing for photographs with tourists in many of the side streets in Patong.
  • Freedom – If you are staying in Patong and want to get away from the hustle and bustle then Freedom Beach is a good choice. Even if you did feel like trekking through the kilometre of thick jungle to get there you would not be allowed, as the land surrounding this beach is all privately owned. The only way to access Freedom Beach is by a ten minute boat ride – most leave from from Patong beach. Freedom, undoubtedly, has the best snorkelling on the island and swimming areas are clearly marked and separated from the area where longtail boats arrive and depart. There are also beach volleyball nets and small restaurants along the south end of the beach but with no jet skis or banana boats to disturb the peace, probably the best thing to do is to find a lounger, sit back and relax.
  • Karon – Far less lively and busy than Patong, Karon beach is yet another long expanse of sand, which at its northern end is likened to powder snow. There is little natural shade but there are plenty of sun beds and parasols available. Hotels and restaurants are located on the opposite side of a busy adjacent road; however there are plenty of small stalls selling drinks and snacks. The road is shielded from most of the beach by a bank of sand but it can still be easily heard. All the usual water sports activities are available with some reasonable snorkelling at the southern end. Surfboards are always available although Karon is not renowned for its breakers. It does though have the reputation of being the most dangerous beach.
    If you feel the need to get away from sand, Karon Park is an area a short walk away which provides jogging and cycling paths as well as a large lake with pedalos. For children and ‘young at heart’ adults, Dino Park offers a chance to play crazy golf in a prehistoric atmosphere. Away from the beach, the side streets are home to a small artisan community where you can see painters and craftsmen at work. Karon can be located 5 km south of Patong on the coastal road between Kata and Patong beaches. There are regular bus and songthaew services from Phuket town.
  • Kata – The attractive twin beaches of Kata Yai (Big Kata) and Kata Noi (Little Kata) are situated to the south of Karon Beach. Protected by rocky promontories, swimming and snorkeling is relatively safe here and strong swimmers often head out to Boo Island to the coral reefs. Reputably this is also the best scuba diving area on the island. Set away from the road, both beaches are very peaceful. Kata Yai can feel a little overlooked by two major resorts but the beaches are not private and the sun loungers are available for all to use. It can be difficult to see how to get onto the beach at Kata Noi but access is down to the right and just beyond the Thani wing of the beautiful Katathani Hotel. Buses and songthaews terminate on the headland between the two beaches where, if you don’t feel like the 10-minute walk into either resort, tuk-tuks will happily transport you to your destination. You won’t find a busy nightlife or extensive shopping here but If you are missing the hustle and bustle of Patong or Karon, both are within easy reach, less than 8 km away. Three Beaches Hill (sometimes called Kata or Karon viewpoint) is often busy as it is on many tour itineraries. Located a little south of Kata Noi, it affords an impressive eight-kilometer vista (4.5 miles) of the three south west coast beaches.
  • Maio Khao – On the northwest coast, 39 km from Patong, this 11km beach is set within the Sirinat National Park. The sand here is fairly coarse, but you can walk along it for hours and not see another soul. There are no beach activities on offer here but swimming is allowed. However it is wise to be careful as there is a sharp drop in the ocean floor close to the shore and you can easily get out of your depth. If your idea of fun is plane spotting then this is a good place to be as the proximity of Phuket airport makes it feel as if their landing on the beach is an imminent possibility. Between November and February, turtles arrive to lay their eggs in the warm sands. Numbers have been dwindling over recent years and care has to be taken during this time not to disturb any such activity. The northern side of the beach can be reached from Thepkrassatri Road, just before the Sarasin Bridge. The southern end is best reached from Nai Yang and through the national park (fee payable).
  • Nai Thon – Nai Thon Beach has some of the squeakiest sand on Phuket. It is within the Sirinat National Park and has thus far escaped over-development. The gently sloped beach is ideal for swimming and casuarina trees abound for shelter from the sun. The beach itself is not developed but there are a few restaurants and shops just across the street. There are no organized beach activities and no equipment for hire, but people snorkel and dive among the coral at the both ends of the beach (long tail boats with take you farther offshore for even better snorkeling). Nai Thon is 28 km from Patong, on the road that connects Bang Tao beach and Nai Yan Beach. There is only one road that runs directly along this part of the coast so it is fairly easy to find.
  • Surin – This 1km stretch of beach is famous for its crystal clear water, which makes it a wonderful place to swim. It’s a shame that the snorkeling here is not great although that does not stop people from having a go. With all the major water sports on offer it’s surprising that this beach is as quiet as it is. It feels like it has embraced all that is good about Patong and left behind the bits that are less pleasing. The views are fantastic with plenty of local restaurants. Surin Beach is situated south of Bang Tao and north of Kamala Beach – 14 km from Patong – and is well signposted.
  • Laem Singh – Laem Singh, 7 km north of Patong, on the Patong Surim Road is not easily found. The beach is accessed down a steep, stepped path, fairly comfortable to go down but excruciatingly difficult to climb back up. However it is worth all the effort for this beach is absolutely stunning and one of Phuket’s best for swimming. Many seem to agree as, once a secret cove, it is now one of the best used beaches in the area. Foot massagers ply the beach, jet skis resound along with all the usual paraphernalia associated with a busy beach. When the sun is not shining it returns to it’s natural quiet beauty. Once a month an early evening disco is held, best suited to those who are not looking for peace and tranquility. The restaurants are a little more expensive here but understandable when you consider that their supplies also have to be brought from the hillside above. Parking at the top of the paths is available but scarce so an early arrival at this beach is recommended. 1km to the south is Hat Kamala which is more developed.
  • Nai Harn – On the southernmost tip of Phuket, the waters around Nai Harn are usually calm and crystal clear, except in monsoon season when the waves become huge and thus a haven for surfers. The Samnak Song Buddhist Monastery owns most of its central and southern area and has left it pleasantly underdeveloped. Upscale beachfront and family-friendly resorts dot the area. Nai Harn is divided into three segments, the beach and park, a small village with a few shops, and Nai Harn town. Bike hire and other services can be found in the town and as it is about a twenty-minute walk to and from the beach, many people take that option. Nai Harn is 20km (12.5miles) south of Patong.

Phuket Hotels with Private Pools

Resort on the beach with private pool in Phuket

The Pool Villa with Sea View at The Shore At Katathani on Kata Beach.

435 questions and comments

  1. Phuket Hotel with Pool and Beach Access

    I could really really use some help. I’m coming to Phuket for my 10 yr. anniversary arriving around 11:30 am on Tuesday, 3/14 and leaving for Bangkok on Sunday early afternoon on 3/19. I need help picking a hotel. I’ve made many reservations only to change them when I read more reviews, or find a better price, etc. I’ve been booked at Novotel Phuket pool suite but cancelled after I read about the sewage smell getting to the beach & saw pictures, then I booked at the Pavilions Phuket – I really liked this one; it was $113,000 for the 5 nights and loved the pool; but, then I found Dream Phuket Hotel & Spa and they offered a lovely pool suite as well and so I cancelled Pavilions and booked there. for only $50,000 bhats. But, here is where my thinking is now. My husband and I have never been to Asia and I chose Thailand because I wanted culture from those indigenous to the area and those who travel here. I’m not really trying to be isolated like the pavilions would do nor do I think I want to be very very far away (40-45) from the “happenings” When I reflect, having a pool isn’t the most important thing – I just installed one at home. Below is the order of priority of what I would say is really most important to me for Phuket. Please can you make some recommendations, please – I’m so tired of reading reviews.
    1. Hotel – good/strong AC/ clean and modern feel. Would be ideal to have a suite; but, could do a bit smaller
    2. Beach – I want access to a really nice calm beach for swimming – I love to swim and it’s my favorite thing to do. I’d really like access to beach chairs/umbrellas. Would love to have a hotel on the beach or provides a shuttle to it. I’d say this trumps all else except #1. So if I have to be away a bit more but get a great beach I’ll pay the $ for taxis.
    3. Not in the center of things; but, being 20 minutes away or so seems so much better than 40-45 minutes. We are from the US and go to the Caribbean all the time to relax. So we’re looking for some R&R if we want; but, want to experience things. But, if there is no place with a nice beach. I’d go a little further out.
    4. I’d love to find something less expensive like Dream Resort; but, can go much higher if I get the must haves. Thank you so much for any recommendations you can provide.
    Konika Bell

  2. Walkable Beach Town with Nightlife over Christmas and New Years

    Wow, David – very impressive feedback and detail to Thailand culture and scenery!

    I am asking for a close male friend, who is traveling from Melbourne, Australia to Thailand for the first time. He will be there over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, so about 2 weeks all together. Young professional, early 30’s, enjoys night life, good food, and definitely safety; preferably walking distance to such related. I am seeking lodging suggestions and areas within a reasonable budget.

    I am excited to hear from you!

    Best,
    Heather

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Karon and Kata beaches are both good choices with shopping, restaurants, non-crazy nightlife, and great beaches. Horizon Karon Beach Resort is a moderately priced hotel that is walking distance from both Karon and Kata beaches so makes a good compromise.

  3. Transportation from Phuket Airport

    Hi Dave

    What does a taxi cost from Phuket airport to Patong, Kata, and Karon beaches? Are they easy to get? (Haven’t decided where to stay yet.)

    Thanks Dave, appreciate your help and love your blog.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Yes, taxis are very easy to get. Just walk out the door from arrivals and turn right. There’s a kiosk there that arranges taxis with official prices (no meter).

      I took this picture last year of taxi fares around Phuket (from the airport):
      Taxi fares from Phuket airport to different beaches and hotels.

  4. Where To Go in Thailand Late October / Early November

    Hey Dave

    First of all great blog! My mom and I are going to Thaïland at the end of october. First we visit Bangkok a couple of days, then go to Pattaya (Jomtien) and then would like to go to a/some Thaï island(s). Which islands (and beaches, resorts,…) would you recommend, weather-wise, at the end of October/beginning of November? We’re looking for a relaxing vacation with good and sunny weather, good food, experience thai culture ( the cooking, markets, visiting temples, nature, Thai style resort,…) so not the loud parties but also not totally isolated. Have done a lot of reading on your blog and internet and still it’s hard to decide where to go to and to avoid rain as much as possible.

    Thanks in advance.

    Emily

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      October is a wet month pretty much everywhere in the south. Koh Samet island (not too far from Pattaya) is drier than the islands in the south and has a nice vibe though perhaps not everything you’re looking for. If you had to choose between the west coast (Phuket) and east coast (Koh Samui) in late October/early November then the west coast will likely be drier.

  5. Phuket, Krabi, Khao Lok in November

    Hi David! First of all, the information you provide is amazing, thank you so much! Me and my bf (in our 30s) are looking to visit Thailand end of November. We cannot make a decision regarding our itinerary so I was wondering if you could have a look and help us decide. We are very active, we love walking, good restaurants, shops etc. We definitely don’t enjoy crowdy places like Bangla Road but we are not very keen on secluded beaches or islands either. Because it’s my birthday we are looking for a bit of luxury at some point too. ITINERARY NO 1: Bangkok for 3 days (@either Lebua or Peninsula), fly to Krabi stay in Ao Nang for 2 nights to visit 4 islands and Railey (Vogue resort), 2 nights Phi Phi Island (is it possible to rent long tail boat to go to Maya Bay very early in the morning? we are considering either Holiday Inn or Village Resort), last 4 nights Phuket (maybe Centara Grand?). Is it worth staying in Phi Phi or would we be better off just sticking to Krabi and Phuket & just doing sunrise tour with Simba sea tours (you get to Maya Bay before all the tourist arrive). ITINERARY NO 2: Bangkok 3 nights, Khao Lak 3 nights (Haven Resort, any thoughts regarding beach, restaurant etc?) From Khao Lak maybe one day tour to Khao Sok CHeow Lan Lake), then Phuket for 5 nights (TRIPS planned: sunrise pPi Phi tour, Hongs by starlight, James Bond island etc) – it would mean however we skip krabi….Also quick question about hotels in Phuket, which one would you opt for: CENTARA GRAND room witha spa bath or Mom Tris Villa in Kata?

    Eliza

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      One thing to keep in mind is that the sea can still be rough in November (though it’s usually pretty good by late November) – so the bigger the boat the better (big ferries run on most of these routes but I wouldn’t want to be on a long tail for anything other than Railay). I love Railay so I’d probably go with your itinerary #1. Mom Tris definitely has more character than Centara Grand (though it’s still very nice). Both Holiday Inn and Village Resort are nice though Village Resort is walking distance to Tonsai which is nice.

  6. Phuket Resort in October

    Hi David
    We are travelling to Phuket in October for two weeks. We know it is low season and we are likely to get some rain. The first week we are staying with friends but for the second need a hotel. I have been looking at the Outrigger Laguna Beach resort and the Sunwing as my son is also coming with us. Do you know either of these hotels? Also with the sea being quite rough at this time have I chosen the right part of the island to stay at? I am also presuming that not all boat trips will be available and we may not be able to snorkel. Any advice you could give would be much appreciated.
    Thanks

    Lesley Harrison

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Personally, I would go with the Sunwing in Kamala (there is also one in Bang Tao – not sure which one you were asking about). All of these hotels will be quiet in low season but the Sunwing Kamala has the most around it and close to Patong for shopping, if that interests you. I doubt you’ll be snorkeling in October but all of these hotels have great pools for kids.

  7. Lively Place for New Years

    Hi David. My boyfriend and I are planning on heading back to Thailand again for New Years eve (leaving london 27th December) and hope to stay for around 10 nights. Last year, we did 1 night bangkok / 3 nights phi phi island (for NYE celebrations), 3 nights in Koh Lanta and then 3 nights in Chiang Mai. This time, we want to explore Phuket, Khao Lak and maybe somewhere else. We would like to be somewhere lively for NYE so would probably look to fly from Bangkok and see Phuket first. What would you suggest in your expert opinion?! We love taking boat trips out for snorkelling (we are not divers though), and appreciate good food and somewhere with some night life (although we dont like it Phi Phi crazy every night)!!

    MJ

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Patong is a little crazy at New Years. Kata and Karon a bit more mellow but still lots going on and plenty of friendly activity (and fireworks) along the beach. Many day trips to surrounding islands can be booked from Karon and Kata.

  8. Phuket Weather in July

    Hi Dave,
    Great site! Very helpful.
    I would like though to check with you what you would recommend to do in low season in Phuket. We have bought tickets to Phuket from 9th till 15th July. As we read that it would be quite rainy we were thinking whether it’s not a good idea to stay only 4 nights in Phuket and after that head to Bangkok for 2 nights. Do you think this is worthy doing? We are concerned whether we would have enough things to do in Phuket, we would like to do some sightseeing and travel around the islands but we are unsecure about the weather.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      It is low season and can there will likely be some rain but (unless you have some very bad luck) I think you’d be fine for a 6 day trip and find plenty to do. Boat travel to other islands can be delayed or cancelled but the weather is often good for sitting by the pool and enjoying the sun. That said, I love Bangkok so trading two days on Phuket for two in Bangkok I think is a pretty good idea.

  9. Quiet Beach Locations on Phuket

    Hi, we are a couple in our early twenties. We have about 7-10 days to spend in the Phuket area. This is our first time in Thailand. We’d like to stay at places with clear quiet waters, good food nearby, not a partying area, more authentic style resorts, beautiful views. Simple Thai food at the hotel/s would be a plus. We don’t mind traveling from place to place. Would probably like to see Koh Phi Phi and Ralay beaches but also stay at a more secluded and quiet bungalow place.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Calm quiet waters are becoming a rare thing in Phuket and a lot of your experience will depend on when you will be traveling. If you are traveling in high season, most beach areas will be busy. Koh Phi Phi and Railay are definitely worth going to but there as well, pretty much no matter where you go, there will be plenty of other people. On Phuket your best options are to keep to the beaches from Hat Surin and north from there. On Hat Surin the most exclusive and private resort is the Amanpuri which ticks all your boxes but it is also one of the most expensive resorts on the island. Heading north, try the beautiful Dewa Phuket (less expensive than the Amanpuri), a very mellow boutique resort that’s right next to the pristine beaches of Sirinat National Park. This resort is a great choice if it’s in your price range.

      Another idea in the quiet and authentic category would be to head to the very nearby Ko Yao Islands. The very expensive and yet absolutely dreamy Six Senses Resort on Koh Yao Noi has some of the best views in Thailand and feels very private. However it is isolated from daily island life so you won’t get much local culture. Santhiya on even more quiet Ko Yao Yai is built in traditional Thai style and also has some of the finest views imaginable.

  10. Which Island for Beaches, Nature, Nightlife, and Good Food

    Hi Dave,

    Thank you for this blog, really useful information here!

    A group of us – 4 girlfriends (early thirties) – can not make up our minds which islands to choose. Tickets are booked for 8-18 of December. What would you recommend for a mix of amazing beaches, nature adventures, good night, and food scene? We don’t mind island hoping at all.

    Thanks in Advance!

    Gina

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      With ten days you’re not going to have time to go too many places but that’s OK since a lot of Thai Islands have what you’re after. I’d start with maybe two nights on Phuket. Patong has the craziest nightlife by far, but it can be busy (too busy for some) and kind of gritty. If you want to tone it down a notch, Kata is a good choice. Both of these Phuket areas have beautiful beaches and tons of food options. Then go to Ko Phi Phi, one of the most beautiful islands in the country, where serious nightlife is on offer but you can also hike, scuba dive, or take cooking classes. The island is small so a night or two will probably be enough. It’s a bit of a trek, but I think you guys would really like spending a few days in Ko Lipe in the far south. The beaches and scenery there are spectacular, there’s great, fun, beach-style nightlife and seafood barbecues on the beach. You can catch a Tigerline Ferry from Ko Phi Phi to Ko Lipe that takes you through all the Trang Islands so you get to see the whole coast. The trip takes about 6 hours each way. At the end you may want to stay one more night on Phuket at whatever beach you didn’t try the first time.

  11. 2 Weeks in Thailand – Which Islands?

    Great site Dave, we are flying into Phuket around April 10th and staying for 2 weeks. I like to be dynamic when I travel, so I have zero rooms/resorts booked. I was roughly looking at flying in and staying around Pansea Beach for the first couple days to decompress from the flight and travel. Then head south-east, maybe PhiPhi for a day and then over to Ko Lanta. First time to Thailand (just me and my GF – 32 years old). Looking for mild/light crowds and great beaches with good food close. Can you recommend a few places to check out, or a decent pathway to head. I have no issues 2 days here, 2 days there. Just looking for a little advice from a seasoned traveler.

    Adam

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Pansea beach is a great choice for decompressing and both resorts there are top-notch. Both The Surin or The Amanpuri take in the best of the Pansea. Continuing on, you’ll probably want to stay at least overnight on Phi Phi and for mid-level crowds, you’d be best off looking for a place on the quieter east side of the island. Tonsai and most of the west side can get really loud and crazy. If you want to stay out all night however, it’s one of the wilder party spots in Thailand. The east coast is more for resort goers and still sees plenty of people but you’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep. Zeavola resort has the one of the better locations and lovely villas in the jungle, plus you can arrange for them to pick you up and drop you off at the ferry so that won’t cut too much into your stay.

      Lots of people love Koh Lanta and it has tons of beaches but many areas can get busy (though never as loud and busy as Koh Phi Phi). Also, scenery wise, this is very different from Phi Phi since the island is flat and the sea isn’t as blue. La Laanta on Ao Mai Pai would be a good choice for you. It’s young, modern, and hip. The beach is not busy but is white and the water is especially clear here. The Castaway Restaurant is good but you’ll have to rent scooters or hire transport to get you to other eating places.

      Railay Beach is one of the most beautiful areas in this area and all the resorts are walking distance to the restaurants and low-key bars. Plus there is a lot to do from snorkeling to rock climbing. In April it shouldn’t be too busy. The Rayavadee is the best resort at Railay (it’s on one of the best beaches in the country). For something cheaper try Railay Beach Club is a solid second choice. It’s on great beach too and you can easily walk to Rayavadee’s beach.

      With two weeks you’ll have plenty of time to visit the Trang Islands, which get less traffic than the other places but are equally beautiful with high limestone karst formations everywhere, fantastic white sand beaches, snorkelling, and blue waters. You can island hop as you please. Ko Muk is the busiest while Ko Ngai is the smallest and Ko Kradan has seen the most recent development. All have a mix of authentic Thai and more upscale European eating options. The Anantara Si Kao on Cheng Leng Beach on the mainland is one of the more luxurious choices in the area and they offer plenty of excursions to the islands so you could start there and take a day trip to figure out where/which island you want to go to next.

  12. Los Angeles to Thailand with Young Children

    I’m so glad that I found this site! We are a family of 4 (babies will be 25 months old & 9 months old). We’re heading to Chiang Mai for 4 days (June 26-29) for a work conference and then we will do personal travel. We can really go anywhere and do anything at all so that’s what’s making the planning so dificult. Research has been taking HOURS and I am desperate for advice. I want to maximize the visit and see as much as possible (cover a large area), but at the same I have to be conscious about having 2 babies with jetlag!

    Total trip can be about 10-14 days.

    Here are a few of my questions:
    1. From Los Angeles, should we fly into Chiang Mai directly, or via Bangkok?
    2. After my conference in Chiang Mai, where should we go? South to Surat Thani? Phuket? Other? Should we go N to Luang Probang, Laos? Any family friendly hotels that you recommend in any of those places? I do prefer to be in the “middle of it all” and not somewhere too remote.

    Michele

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      1. I don’t believe there are any direct flights from LA to either Bangkok or Chiang Mai. So, it’s 2 flights minimum so you might as well fly to Chiang Mai instead of adding another leg by stopping in Bangkok. The only caveat is that you’ll spend a little more going directly to Chiang Mai. The cheapest flights (by far) are to Bangkok and even when you add in the cost of another flight it will still be cheaper to fly through Bangkok (assuming you find a cheap flight to Chaing Mai with a Thai carrier like Air Asia).
      2. You don’t say what your interests are so it’s hard to recommend but if you want beach time then go to Koh Samui or Phuket. If you want something more cultural then Laos. The beach destinations are certainly easier with kids, but ease doesn’t always have to be the most important factor.

  13. Best Islands near Phuket

    We fly into Phuket airport and plan to spend 3 days there. But then want to head to 1 or 2 other islands nearby. What are the best islands on the west coast for beaches, swimming, interesting locations, and good food?

    Kate

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      1. Although it’s not an island, Railay is a peninsula that feels like an island and it has some of the best to offer for what you’re looking for. It’s known for its rock climbing but it also has some of the best beaches in the country that are great for swimming and are overwhelmingly scenic due to the towering limestone all around. There are some walks, interesting shrines and one coast coast of mangroves. Day trips go to some fantastic snorkeling spots or you can rent kayaks and paddle around. You’ll find every type of food in Railay from mom and pop Thai places to chic dining at the more upscale resorts. The fastest way to get there from Phuket is by high speed ferry that takes a little over two hours.

      2. Ko Phi Phi is an easy hop from Phuket on a high speed ferry (about two hours). It’s considered one of the most beautiful islands in the world and it’s hard to argue with that statement. The beaches are bright white, the water is nearly fluorescent blue and the limestone mountains are covered in stunning green jungle. Take your pick of swimming beaches and tons of restaurants and there’s even a great cooking school here – Pum’s. Unless you’re really into partying however, I’d recommend not staying in or around Tonsai Beach, as it’s often swarming with a very young drinking crowd and has pounding bass to the wee hours of the morning. Beaches like Laem Thong or Hat Yao (the latter is the much busier choice).

      3. Ko Yao Yai and Ko Yao Noi are the closest islands to Phuket and oddly enough, the least “discovered.” These islands are very interesting thanks both to their laid back white beaches and to the friendly local Muslim fishing culture which differs from what you’ll find on Phuket. The main village of Ko Yao Noi has some authentic street food and all the resorts have decent to very good restaurants. The beaches on Ko Yao Noi in particular receded at low tide so you can only swim at high tide. The best swimming beach is Hat Chonglard on Ko Yao Noi near the Thwison Beach Resort.

      4. Koh Lanta would be the lowest on the list of nearby islands if you’re hoping to swim, since most beaches there have murkier waters. The beaches are nice and sandy and you can wander in for a dip, but it is a little disappointing if you’ve grown used to clear, blue sea. Your best bet for a good swimming beach is in the far south at Ao Mai Pai. Koh Lanta is a much more flat island and fun to explore however and there is fantastic food all over the place. Time for Lime is a great cooking school that doubles as an animal rescue center (so you’d only want to go here if you really love dogs). Renting a car or a motorbike is a good idea, especially if you stay at Ao Mai Pai. The same high speed ferries go from Ko Phi Phi to Koh Lanta (1.5 hours) or you can leave from Phuket and transfer ferries in Ko PhiPhi for Koh Lanta.

  14. Koh Samui and Phuket Transportation

    Hi Dave,
    Thank you for sharing your views and providing some helpful information about Phuket and Ko Samui. Based on your recommendations we are going to stay at the Hansar in Ko Samui for a few days over easter (really looking forward to it) but then we go to Phuket before heading back to KL. I’ve looked at flight options and for 5 adults it’s a total 17,000 THB for a one way air ticket from USM to HKT which is quite expensive. Can you please suggest some reasonable alternatives with contact information? For example I read about taking a VIP bus from Ko Samui to Phuket instead of an air conditioned bus but cannot find any further info on this. A road journey is 6hrs as opposed to 1hr by air but factor in airport check in and baggage it’s more than 3 if not 4 in total so it would appear to be a viable alternative unless road journeys are a ‘bad idea’ i.e. unsafe! Thanks in advance for your help.

    Shuma

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Yes, flights out of Samui are notoriously expensive but if you book early (months in advance) there are often good discounts available.

      Bus and boat to Phuket is a good safe option, albeit a more time consuming and less luxurious one. Once you’re on Koh Samui you’ll find bus and boat combo tickets to Phuket being sold on every corner. Count on the journey taking at least eight hours including the boat trip from Samui to the mainland (Surat Thani). The most frustrating part of the trip is waiting with hundreds of other tourists once you get off the boat, to get herded onto the air-con buses going in many directions all over Thailand. The wait here can be hot, dull and frustrating. The most popular boat is the high speed Lomprayah Ferry.

      The one-way price per person is 700THB but if you’re willing to go on a slower boat, you can probably find a cheaper alternative once you’re on Samui. You could also theoretically get a boat to the mainland then find a local bus connection from there. That would mean carting your luggage around in the hot sun and it will almost definitely add hours to your travel time, but it would be adventurous!

  15. Honeymoon in Thailand

    Hi Dave,
    Really liked your options but i’m still confused.
    My husband and I are taking finally our honeymoon (after 2 years) so we’re planning to go in late May, how is the weather in those days? The plan is staying 3-4 days in Bangkok and then go to the beach. I’ve seen all the beaches and i can’t decide! we’re looking for the best beach, white sand, and beautiful water. After Bangkok we don’t care about nightlife, shopping or big crowds, we just want to lay on the beach or the pool, so which beach/island do you recommend?
    Also a resort no more than $200/night and great views (or maybe a pool).
    I really want to take a tour to Phi Phi Island (yes, because of “The Beach”) but I saw they have Maya beach, Phi Phi and more tours, which one is the best? So I supose we need a resort closer enough to take that tour (or you don’t recommend that tour?)
    Thank you so much, i know you could help me with this 🙂

    Ps.
    In Bangkok do you think 3 days are enough to go to the floating market, Emerald Budha and an elephant tour? or there’s something that we can not miss in our stay?

    Ana

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      3 days is plenty to see the sights of Bangkok (for most people, it’s a huge city so you could easily spend more but 3 will likely be perfect). For beaches and islands there are so many but take a look at Koh Lanta (quiet, great beaches), Kata and Karon beaches (more trendy with lots of restaurants and some nightlife), and Khao Lak (great beach, a nice mix of Thai culture and tourist amenities). If you’re interested in Phi Phi then I would visit for 2 or 3 nights but I wouldn’t do a tour as then you’re there at the busiest and least attractive times.

      1. Ana

        Thank you so much, you’ve been very helpful. I’m going to look at those islands.
        Thanks again!

  16. Which island in Thailand?

    Hi Dave,

    I am planning a trip to Thailand in April for a couple of days. I’m having a hard time deciding which island I should stay at. I’m looking for somewhere that has a really nice beach (preferably with white sand and blue water that’s swimmable) and also easy access to entertainment and activities (i.e: elephant trekking, gun range, etc.) Not really looking forward to a crazy night life as I will be heading to Bangkok later on during the trip.

    Tips on which hotels to stay at will be helpful as well.

    Thank you.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      The weather in April is great on all the Thai islands so that shouldn’t be a worry. No islands have good elephant trekking (for that you need to go to northern Thailand) and I don’t think Thailand is known for its gun ranges. Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, Koh Lanta, and Phuket would all make great choices for beautiful swimmable beaches.

  17. Which Side of Thailand?

    Hi Dave, some sound advice on here, me and my partner are currently in Chiang Mai and seen everything we wanted to see! We are now torn whether to decide to go to the southeast or southwest of the islands! For example Ko Samui, Koh Tao side or Phuket, Phi Phi, and Krabi side? We like places with a bit of nightlife but like to chill on pretty beaches! Like boat trips, exploring, and culture too! My partner is interested in doing a dive – I’m a keen on snorkeling and maybe a dive if can build myself up to it?
    Many thanks
    Myles

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Both coasts have what you’re looking for. The west lends itself more to day trips and short outings – there is just more coastline and little islands to explore. Both sides have good diving though the west has more choice of dive spots. Beaches are great in both areas though a little more relaxed and less touristy on the east coast. Nightlife has a funner vibe in Koh Samui than in Phuket. I tend to think the food is better on Koh Samui than in Phuket.

  18. Romantic Resort on Beach

    Hi Dave. My fiance and I are planning on visiting Thailand for the first time in June – probably staying around a week. We’re looking for a romantic, resort-style, beach-adjacent place to stay and from the research we’ve done it just looks like there are so many available options. Any recommendations? Thanks!

    David

  19. Destination for Family with Good Value Hotel

    Hi Dave – We are a family of 4 traveling from NZ and meeting with a family of 5 from Denmark and plus two grandparents from Denmark joining us as well. We are 11 in total – we’ll be meeting up in July 2016 for 2 weeks. We stayed in Phuket 2 years ago in February all of us at two different resorts 1 week at each (Vijitt and Indigo Pearl) and loved it (this was a treat from a grandparent). This time we are all paying our own way and therefore need quality (but not luxury), we want accommodation that is resort styled and includes breakfast – we like to eat at the beach cafes in the evenings mostly. A swimming pool we feel with the young kids is a must. We like to snorkel a bit, walk in parks, beaches, hang out with the kids, eat!, get massages, explore local history and towns, do yoga, relax and definitely not do elephants and too many temples (although I personally love them!) ! We like to be on the ‘mainland’ – so not Koh Samui etc – and prefer not to do extra flights – eg – flying directly into Phuket and then getting a taxi (not another flight) was fantastic. Do you have weather/activities and accommodation etc recommendations for us please. Many thanks – your blog is great.

    Juliet

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Khao Lak is a wonderful beach town and a good alternative to the more touristy Phuket. It’s an hour north of the Phuket airport (not much more than the taxi ride to Karon or Kata beaches).

      In Khao Lak Nangthong Bay Resort has a great beach front location, nice kid-friendly pool, and is an easy walk to lots of shops and restaurants. The hotel is very good value and has nice bungalows and family apartments.

  20. Where To Go in Thailand for First Time

    Thank you so much for your blog, simply amazing! I am trying to plan a trip for this upcoming April (first week). Honestly I am finding it hard to get information or “real” suggestions, except for your blog. I wish I had more time to visit but I only have about 8 days total, I’m flying from the US. I definitely want beaches, but what else would you suggest is a “must?” I love local, real food, sleeper trains, (non sexual) massage. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much again for your blog.
    Elizabeth

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      My 3 favorite places in Thailand are Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Koh Samui. You probably don’t have time to do all 3 so maybe just Bangkok and Koh Samui. Be sure to do a bike tour in or around Bangkok and a cooking course in Bangkok (more choices) or Koh Samui. The overnight train from Bangkok to Surat Thani (and then bus and ferry to Koh Samui) is a great experience. Bangkok has the best food in the country but Koh Samui is pretty great too and both have plenty of massage places.

  21. Beach That is Easy to Get To

    Hi David, first time Thailand visitors here, 2 adults and 2 children (16,8) we have 7 nights in Karon and then 3 spare nights at the end to visit somewhere different. Looking through your post and wondering is it easy to get to Krabi or Railay beach or is there somewhere else easy to visit and then to fly out of Phuket?
    Thanks in advance and for info provided 🙂

    Jody

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      It’s very easy to fly to Krabi, taxi and boat to Railay, boat to Phuket, then flight home.

  22. Great Beach with Restaurants at Night

    Hi Dave,

    I went to Koh Samui 2 years ago and absolutely loved it, we stayed at the Amari Palm Reef and just loved how the beach transformed in the evening with the little bars and restaurants, sitting on bean bags at 2-3 in the morning just a few feet from the ocean . The only thing I would change is the beach right at the hotel as the water was not so clear as you see in the photos and a lot of coral. Can you tell me if there is another beach in Koh Samui with the same vibe in the evening but a nicer beach.
    Margaret Maclean

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      That stretch of beach in North Chaweng has the highest density of nighttime restaurants along the beach. So, while every beach has some night time activity any beach will be quieter than that area. But good places to look would be on Bophut, South Chaweng, Choeng Mon (right around Imperial Boat House), and Chaweng Noi.

  23. Booking Phuket Taxi in Advance

    Hi Dave
    Just reading your column which is very helpful. Only trouble I am having is inputting Mr Tum’s Tel number into my phone as I will contact him when I am in Phuket next month.
    Kind regards
    Julie Phillips

  24. Koh Lanta or Koh Samui

    Dave, Happy New Year and thanks for all this great info. Quick piece of advice as we’re really on the fence. My wife and I will be travelling over from Bali in Mid February and essentially have 1 week in Thailand. We went to Phi Phi about 10 yrs ago but wondering which side is best to do this time. I’m super interested in Koh Lanta but also have some friends travelling through Samui at the same time.

    We’re in our mid 30’s (no kids) and looking for a fairly high end beach resort or classic stilt huts with crystal blue water, amazing sand, and some good diving too (tho we will of just been diving in the Gili islands so not integral). If you were in our shoes would you hit the gulf and maybe do Saumi and Ko Tao or head straight south to Krabi and do Lanta and surrounding area?

    Appreciate any advice. Thx.

    ps Tarutao National Park looks amazing but might be a bit hard to get to….

    Chris

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Both have great weather in February so there’s nothing to worry about there. I love Koh Samui’s mix of things to do, great restaurants, and wonderful beaches so I’m going to recommend Samui. Koh Lanta does have even better beaches but is much quieter. So, I’d let your preference for nightlife and restaurant scene be the main factor. Day trips from Samui to Koh Tao for diving are easy to arrange.

  25. Good Beach Hotels near Phuket Airport

    Hello Dave,

    We will be staying in Phuket for 2 nights before flying out from the airport. Any recommendations on where to stay near Phuket Airport? We are looking for a nice beach, close (ish) to airport, and good walking/shopping/restaurants nearby.

    Thank you!
    DK

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Two nice beach towns near the airport are Nai Yang and Naithon. Nai Yang has more restaurants and bars (though still quiet). Naithon has a nicer beach. The Nai Yang hotels are about 7 minutes from the airport. The Naithon hotels are 15 minutes from the airport.

      Nai Yang Hotels near Airport
      Indigo Pearl
      Dewa Phuket

      Naithon Hotels near Airport
      Pullman Phuket Arcadia

      If you have kids then you have to stay at the Centara which has a huge water park (largest in Thailand) connected to the hotel. Though this hotel appears to be directly beside the airport the road to get there winds around the runway to the east and it takes 12 to 15 minutes to get here from the airport.
      Centara Grand West Sands Resort

  26. Day Trips from Chiang Mai and Koh Samui

    Hi Dave,

    This is a great resource! Wondering if you could please help me with planning a trip to Thailand for 11 days in early August with my boyfriend. We are thinking: fly into and out of Bangkok for 2 days total, fly up to Chiang Mai for 4, and then to Koh Sumai for 5.

    Are there any day trips that you would recommend from Chiang Mai or Koh Sumai? We want to make the best of our trip, but try to limit the number of cities. Any recommended hotels in these areas or tips to avoid tourist traps? We’re also active people who get bored pretty easily, so would love to hear about activities you have done in these areas that we can take advantage of.

    Thanks so much for your help! Your site is great!
    Morgan

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      There are many great day trips from Chiang Mai – the Measa Elephant Camp being the highlight. Great day trips from Koh Samui include kayaking through Ang Thong National Park and diving or snorkeling trips to Koh Tao.

      The Hansar in Bophut is probably my favorite hotel on Koh Samui (though there are many phenomenal ones). In Chiang Mai I love the Anantara and the Four Seasons (a bit out of town but enchanting and close to some of the elephant camps).

  27. Beach Chairs on Phuket

    Hi Dave

    Are there any beaches in Phuket that still have sunbeds? I hear they have taken them all away & I don’t fancy lying on the sand. I have also heard that most of the beach bars have gone too. Is this correct?

    Many thanks

    Elaine Scully

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      There are no beach chairs on Phuket and most selling of food and drink has been banned – though it’s allowed on hotel property. Beach mats and umbrellas are allowed. Many beach bars have been dismantled. There are a few still running (or reconstructed) but they are back from the beach a bit.

  28. Koh Samui in August with Kids

    Hi David,
    I have spent hours surfing on the internet trying to get some info until I came across your blog. My plan is to go on vacation during the 1st 2 weeks in August 2016 (possibility to extend the stay) with my 2 children (4 yrs /13 yrs) and husband but to my understanding August seems to be a rainy season. I wouldn’t want to disappoint them having to end up swimming in the pool. I would want to have at least a few relaxing days at the beach and do some snorkling and then go elsewhere maybe for one week to go shopping, walk around, visit temples, sightseeing, and end the vacation maybe with the last few days at the beach. My husband prefers to have some options during the evenings i.e. restaurants /bars where you can easily go with children of course. Samui seems to be a good place to go during the peak season (August). Where else would you recommend to go? Would you really recommend to travel to Thailand during August? I am sorry if you feel like you are repeating yourself but unfortunately I do not have much personal time to get all the info. Your time and valuable knowledge would really be a great help. Thank you!
    Clelia

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      August usually has good beach weather on Koh Samui. Lots of good places to eat. It’s great for families.

  29. Where To Go with Kids

    Thank you for sharing with us your wisdom.

    We are planning to come to Thailand with two kids 5 + 7 for about 30 days, on a budget…

    It seems accommodation on small islands is expensive or difficult to get to or not much to do with kids. So beaches on the mainland Thailand look like a great idea. How would you split the time between the different beach location or is it all about the same? Budgetwise we are hoping for 50USD per night, is it possible? We like local simple places with a pool and can do without big resorts.

    We have been in Thailand before having kids, and more than once, what concerns me now a bit is how to deal with local cheating or trying to cheat you? I love Thailand, it’s a paradise, but Phuket and that area… how do you deal with kids there? Is it safe?

    Many thanks again!
    Roy

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Mae Nam on Koh Samui is a great town for families – small, walkable, still plenty of restaurants, and the beach is great. It also has many affordable accommodations. That would be my first choice for an inexpensive base on a longer trip. Phuket is nice but does have a seedier side in Patong (though that’s easy to avoid by staying in Kata or Karon) and is much more expensive. Thais are generally friendly and honest – but you need to negotiate on things like taxis and market clothing. If you just take the first price they offer then yeah, it can seem like you’re being ripped off but that’s because you’re not playing the game right. I consider the beach areas of Thailand to be very safe – but of course there are incidents everywhere that occur. As with every country, your greatest risk is a car accident.

      1. Trip from Cambodia to Thailand

        Thanks Dave, will definitely look into Mae Nam on Koh Samui!

        What are your thoughts about Ko Samet, Ko Chung, Ko Kut area? We are looking to combine the trip together with Cambodia. So we would start at SR, fly to PP and then somehow magically go west into Thailand towards that area, then fly out from Bangkok. What do you think, is that a good idea? Have you done the overland transition between Thailand and Cambodia? We actually got a month for it all so time is not an issue, what concerns me is the travel with the kids, as you say car accidents is the worst risk.

        1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

          That’s a wonderful route and it all sounds like a great plan. That said, I would skip the Ko Samet area as the islands down south are far superior and when you have as much time as you do, you might as well get down to KS or KPN.

  30. 2 Weeks in Thailand: Beaches, Elephants, and Kayaking

    Hi Dave,

    What a great source of information, thank you!

    We are planning on going to Thailand in July/August of next year for maximum 2 weeks. We are both keen on beaches, beautiful scenery and some partying; I’d like to kayak and prefer locations that are less touristy to have some solitude. We were first looking at Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan, but now we are tempted by Ko Lanta and the Krabi area. Where would you recommend?

    My friend would possibly like to ride on an elephant and check out tiger temples, though with recent articles I’ve read I’m not so sure we would be comfortable with those situations. Do you have any inside knowledge with regards to that and the treatment of the animals?

    Thanks for your help!

    Gareth

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      The Chiang Mai area is best for animal sanctuaries and elephant rides. Most are reputable and well run (though there are exceptions). The places in the south and on the islands are not as good and generally do not place as much emphasis on good animal treatment. Krabi and area do have great kayaking but you can have rough seas at that time of year. Weather is usually better on the Koh Samui side in July and August (and the seas calmer). Ang Thong Marine Park near Koh Samui is a great day trip for kayaking. The beaches in all of those areas (Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Krabi, and Koh Lanta) are wonderful.

  31. Krabi Airport to Koh Lanta

    Hi David – We are flying into Krabi and staying in Ko Lanta.
    Do you know the best way to transfer from the airport to Ko Lanta and how much should we expect to pay? Many thanks!
    Kirsty

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      You can go to the taxi stand at the Krabi airport and hire a taxi (ferry included) to Koh Lanta. It will cost from 2500 baht to 3000 baht (depending where on the island you’re going) and take about 2 hours. There’s also a shared mini-van option that costs about 500 baht but can be a hassle to arrange (sometimes you have to go into Krabi Town).

  32. Koh Samui/Phangang or Krabi/Railay

    Hi Dave,
    We used your guide in Santorini for our honeymoon and it made planning for our trip last June so much easier, so thanks for that!
    We are now planning a trip next summer around SE Asia. We will be arriving in Thailand from Bali the first week of June and staying for 6 nights. We love adventure, but we also love to just relax on the beach. We don’t like the major touristy spots (hence we stayed in Imerovigli, not Oia in Santorini) and definitely want a tru Thai experience. We would be willing to stay in 1 place for 6 nights or experience 2 places for 3 nights a piece. Would you recommend we do Koh Samui/Koh Phangan or Krabi/Railey? Open to suggestions and thanks in advance!
    Hutton Beckcom

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Sad to say, that real Thai experiences are hard to find on the islands. For more cultural/local restaurants spend time in Bangkok or Chiang Mai. That said, I do prefer Koh Samui and Koh Phangan to the west coast and the Thai food is better too. Weather in June also tends to be better on the east coast (Koh Samui) than the west coast.

  33. Early Arrival in Phuket

    Hi I will be going to Karon Beach in December. 2 adults and 3 kids aged 14, 14, and 5.
    Our flight arrives early in Phuket, at 10am. But we can only check into our resort called Phunawa Resort at 2pm I think.
    What do you recommend we do during that time?
    Is there a bus that takes us to Phuket Town? So we can shop? We have no major luggage.
    From phuket town, what options are there to get to the resort or at least karon park or beach?
    Also can we all fit into a taxi?
    Thanks!
    Tracey

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Taxi is really the only reasonable way to get from the airport to Karon Beach. By the time you get your bags (and maybe immigration, not sure where you’re flying from), get a taxi, and get to the Patong/Karon area it will be at least 12. So I’d just grab a meal and then head to the resort. That said, I’m sure if you contacted the hotel you’d be able to get in before 2pm. I don’t think you’ll have much time to burn at all. And yes, there are bigger taxis/SUVs which you will need for a family of 5.

  34. Thailand in Mid-November

    hey dave, love your info, we’re gonna be flying in to Bangkok on November 15 and leaving on the 21st. We’re planning a last minute trip, and it’s our first time there!! We need help!! I hear that weather is a little finicky during November. We figured a few days in Bangkok and then off to a beach, or maybe beach first, then finish in Bangkok, we’re not the partying type, would love to see some nice forest and rock formations, not super touristy but I know that’s kind of hard to avoid. Also what hotels and means of travel would you recommend for the trip, no hostels please.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Do Bangkok first then the beach as the weather improves throughout November – a few days won’t make a big difference but many as well push it on if you can. I’d do the west coast in November. Railay (near Krabi) is great and will have what you’re looking for. Thailand is pretty quiet in November so you won’t have a problem with finding good rates or too many tourists.

  35. Good Island for Diving and Snorkeling

    Hi Dave

    Please could you give me some advice, I’m trying to plan a trip with some scuba friends of mine to Thailand in November 2016. I’m trying to keep a low budget for us 30 yr olds, so not looking for anything fancy, just clean and practical would be great when it comes to hotels or other accommodation (no hostels with 10 in a dorm!). We are looking for a nice spot or 2 for a couple of weeks to enjoy great beach, spa/massage as well as scuba and snorkeling. We don’t need a huge party scene as we’re looking for some peace and quiet, with the option to travel to busier areas if needed. Some walking or hiking areas would be nice too, as I also enjoy my photography. Areas with nice food markets would be great…haha, is there anywhere that would tick most of those boxes off? My brother suggested Koh Samui and Khao Lak but he wasn’t sure about the diving…

    Thanks for your time and effort, I will read some more of your blog!
    Ashley Crookes

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Koh Samui and Khao Lak are great places but not great diving. Koh Tao is probably the island you want considering your requirements. There are day trips to Koh Tao from Koh Samui if you wanted to base yourself on an island with more to do but still want to do some diving.

  36. How To Get from Patong to the Airport?

    If my flight is at about 10am, what’s the best way to get to the airport from Patong and about what time should I leave to get to the airport?

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Taxi is the only good option. I’d leave about 7am as there can be heavy traffic (though usually not that early).

  37. Thailand in October

    Hello David,

    Thank you for all the great information. I am planning to go to Thailand in mid October. I have a few concerns one obviously is hurricanes but also where to stay that would be close to everything. I am going October 14-22. Want a place where the resort takes care of everything for me but I am also close to the nightlife and restaurants. I would love to be near a beach and an infinity pool is a plus :)! I am not rich but can afford to spend some money for good accommodations and a good times. I budgeting around $1500 for the flight and room. Also an additional $500 in spending money. Any suggestions or thoughts?

    Thanks again.
    Younes

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      October is the rainiest month across Thailand and finding good beach weather can be tough. That said, hurricanes/typhoons are rare (at least I’ve never encountered one) and it’s really just rain and cloudy skies you have to worry about. I would probably go with the east coast and Koh Samui and stay in Chaweng. There are no infinity pools there but places like the Centara and the Library are wonderful. You’ll get great deals on hotels in Thailand in October so it’s a great time to splurge.

  38. Taxi from Phuket Airport to Patong

    Hi Dave,

    We are about to arrive in Phuket Airport at 11PM on September 4, 2015. What’s the best way for us to go to our hotel in Patong Beach? Is it generally safe to use metered taxi at that time? If so, can you recommend a taxi driver you know?

    Appreciate any response you can give.

    Cheers!
    Ram

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Taxi is the best way. Walk out the door of the airport and turn to your right. You’ll see a queue for taxis. They are all flat-rate, no meters (about 800 baht to Patong). And they’re safe too.

  39. Phuket During Christmas

    Hi Dave,
    Thanks for an excellent site and your blog is very informative. I have a question, i hope you can help me with. I’m heading to Phuket with my family (2 kids 6 and 8) over the Xmas period this year. I have used your blog as a guide as to what will be a good choice of resort, narrowed them down and now have a final question you may be able to help me with. I wonder which of the resorts in Phuket you recommend for kids, which has little or no Russians there. I’m not wishing to discriminate but i don’t find them pleasant fellow guests when they are in the majority. I hope im not insulting you and you can give me some advice on this.
    Thanks
    Michael

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I partly agree. It’s not so much that they’re Russian but any nationality that travels together (or congregates) in large groups (Chinese, Americans, Australians) are bound to be annoying. In general stay at smaller places and you’ll avoid these “groups”. When you’re in Booking.com it says how many rooms there are at the hotel. The smaller the better. These groups also tend to go to budget and mid-range places as part of package deals. The nicer the hotel the less likely that they’ll be booked there. Hope that helps.

  40. Long Term Stay on Koh Samui

    Hi Dave,
    Thank the heavens for a truly informative site ! You are a legend!
    I am looking to travel to Koh Samui for a long term visit of 6 months
    to a year (maybe longer if all goes to plan). I have never been there.
    If you were looking for a low priced long term rental, as near as possible
    to the beautiful beaches, in a very scenic quiet but secure location, in easy reach
    of the hub bub of plenty of activities and life, where would you recommend to
    start looking.
    I would love to be as near to the beaches as possible and it would also be great
    if there was either a community or private pool area.
    Thanks for any advice you can offer.
    Regards,
    Martin Flexman.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Mae Nam is the place to look for longer term accommodation. Good beach and restaurants. Popular with expats.

  41. Thailand in November

    Hi Dave what an amazing site with so much information. We are a couple nearly 60 visiting Thailand and parts of Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam in October and November 2015. We leave Siem Reap around 6 th November and want to go to the beaches South of Bangkok for about 8 days. So many choices and the weather to consider. We want somewhere with nice beaches, some activities, restaurants etc but not clubbing parties etc.
    Many thanks,
    Anne Oakes

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      The weather in Thailand in early November is not great for beach and sun but if I had to bet on the the east or the west, I’d go with the west coast (Phuket, Khao Lak, Koh Lanta area).

  42. One Week in Thailand with Young Kids

    Hi David,

    Very much enjoyed reading your posts – many great ideas and tips. My family (with my husband, my 2 little ones – age 3 & 6 and my parents) is planning a 7-day vacation at Thailand in a few weeks. We’re debuting whether we should spend all 7 days at Bangkok or spend a few days at Phuket or Chiang Mai. What do you think? Would we get bored, particularly the kids, at Bangkok for a whole week? I loved the beaches at Phuket when I was a kid but August is a rainy season so we’re not sure if we should go. Or maybe just visit Butaya for a day? What do you think? Also, any tips on preventing mosquito bites? Thanks in advance! 🙂
    Jocelyn

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Though I love Bangkok, one week there with kids is a lot. I’d jump on a plane and head for Koh Samui (better vibe than Phuket and better weather in August).

  43. Which Island in December

    Hi dave. We (couple) planning a 3 weeks trip to Thailand starting the end of November. Our plan is to spend 2 or 3 days in bangkok, use an overnight train to go for 1 week to Chiang Mai and than fly to the south for a relaxing time. Which place would be the best to spend some time on the beach in December? Ko Samui, Phuket, Krabi or maybe somewhere else? Thanks

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      In early December, Phuket and Krabi will have nicer weather than Koh Samui. I like Koh Samui better so the closer it gets to mid/late December the more tempted I’d be to go to Samui.

  44. How Long In Bangkok?

    Hey Dave

    We love your blog and have found your advice invaluable when planning our 12 night trip to Thailand (starting on the 21th June).

    When we arrive in Bangkok we’re catching a train straight away to Hua Hin to spend three nights there before heading to Koh Samui where we’ve booked 3 nights in the PGS Sandy Resort Hotel (as per your beach recommendations!). We’re then undecided as to whether to visit Koh Toh for a few nights or stay in Samui, as we want to fly back to Bangkok from Surat Thani on Wed 1st July or Thurs 2nd July.

    On that note, do you think one day/night in Bangkok at the end of our trip is enough to soak up some of its attractions, or are we better off spending two nights there?

    Thanks again – we’d be lost without your site!

    Justine and Ed

    1. hoteldave The Hotel Guy

      Bangkok has a lot to see and do so I would recommend at least 2 nights.

      1. Justine and Ed

        Ok, Will do! Great – Thankyou.

        And do you think it’s worth us trying to visit Koh Toh (or the North/nice side of Koh Phangan?)

        Thanks again

        1. hoteldave The Hotel Guy

          There are snorkel/diving day trips to Koh Tao that you might be interested in. Probably more rewarding to do Ang Thong National Park (day trip) than Koh Phangan.

  45. Where To Go in Thailand?

    Hi David
    Love your blog! Thank you for all the valuable information. We are planning a trip to Thailand in Aug / Sep. I know its not the best time of the year, I have to go on holiday for tax purposes though 🙂 We will have 18 days. My thoughts Bangkok, Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao? My initial list was Bangkok, Krabi, Phi Phi, Phuket, Koh Samui and Koh Tao? We are quite adventurous and would love to do watersports and activities. The odd beach party and entertainment would be nice, but with a good balance. First time to Thailand, what would you suggest? I’m not familiar with the options to visit the smaller islands (day trips) from which locations? Would I still be able to see Riley Beach etc if I only go to my initial option?

    Thanks
    Celeste Laron

    1. hoteldave The Hotel Guy

      Though I prefer the east coast islands (Koh Samui and Koh Phangan) over the west coast (Phuket, Krabi) the west does have more activities (rock climbing, kayaking day trips, tours). I think the mix of places you have in both lists is great though perhaps a little too busy for my tastes: I’d try to keep the list to 4 destinations, maybe 5, for 18 days. You can make a day trip to Railay from Phuket but as much as I love the place I don’t think that’s worth the time and effort – Railay is a place that you want to stay at and hang out but as a day trip I’d probably go somewhere else.

  46. Taxi from Phuket Airport to Patong

    I will arrive in Phuket airport at 7pm. Is there taxis from phuket airport to my hotel in Patong beach area? Do I need to book the taxis in advance? Thanks, Helen

    1. hoteldave The Hotel Guy

      No need to book taxi in advance. Walk out of the airport, turn right and you’ll see the taxi kiosk. Pay there. It should cost 800 baht from the airport to Patong.

  47. Day Trip to Krabi from Phuket

    Dear, my finace and I are planning to visit Thailand and Singapore from 29 December till 8 January. mainly 8 days in Thailand without Bangkok, we want to visit Phuket for sure but still don’t know where to spend the rest 3 nights Krabi or Koh Samui. Can we visit Krabi from Phuket on a full day tour withoput spending a night there? We are looking for everything, relax, nightlife, cayaking, ….please advise
    thank you
    Sabine

    1. hoteldave The Hotel Guy

      Yes, there are day trips available from Phuket to Krabi, Koh Phi Phi, and area.

  48. The Roaming Family

    I just discovered your blog and love it! We went to Bangkok and Phuket about 5 years ago when we only have one child (I was pregnant with our 2nd child). We loved the Penninsula Bangkok and the JW. Marriot Resort in Phuket. Both were spectacular and your blog is inspiring us to go back and check out some more places!! 🙂

  49. Phuket or Koh Samui with Kids

    Dave,

    I’m traveling with my family (wife and 3 kids, 7, 4 and 3 years old). Should we go to Phuket or Koh Samui?

    Which place is more family friendly?

    Thanks!
    Pablo

    1. hoteldave The Hotel Guy

      Both Phuket and Koh Samui are great for families. I would base it more on the weather and when you are visiting. November to mid-December go to Phuket. From June until September go to Koh Samui. October is lousy weather in both places. January to May the weather is good in both so flip a coin (I slightly prefer Koh Samui for being a bit more relaxed and not so touristy.)

  50. 2 Weeks in Thailand: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Krabi

    Great blog, Dave, with tons of useful information and recommendations. So really, fantastic job!

    Hope you can tell me if I’m on the right track and offer other suggestions. My fiance and I currently live in China and are flying in/out of Bangkok from March 24 – April 8. We want to experience as much as possible and relax some without spending a fortune. Neither of us are into partying or excessive crowds. My fiance’s primary interests are food and shopping. I share those interests, but also want to trek the jungles, see some non-touristy ruins and caves, and go snorkeling. My fiance doesn’t swim, so while I snorkel, it would be convenient if there was safe shopping/sightseeing close by for her.

    So far, what I’m planning is a night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai on the first or second night and use that as a base of operations for maybe 4-5 nights in the jungles, markets and caves, with 1-2 of those nights being in Pai for relaxation and scooter-exploration (coming from China, finding some isolation is high on the list). From there, maybe hop a flight to Krabi and spend another 4 nights in Railey and the surrounding areas for the beaches, snorkeling and possibly rock-climbing. Then it would be off to Bangkok for the remaining time; I chose this last, so if we shop excessively, we don’t have to lug around all our loot. While there, we’d consider side trips to Kanchanaburi, Ayuthaya and possibly Chan Buri or Pattaya, if it’s not too much.

    I was also considering Ko Samui, because you seem to recommend it so highly, but I took it off the list, because other places seem to consider it primarily a party-haven. I’m also skipping Phuket and reconsidering Pattaya, because of all the “seedy” reviews on other sites. Personally, I like seeing the seedy side of things, but I wouldn’t want to subject my fiance to water-to-Pepsi, blowguns or projectile fruit, the reference to such visitors of Patpong might understand. 🙂

    Thanks for your help!

    1. hoteldave The Hotel Guy

      I think it sounds like a great trip with a good mix of Thailand’s highlights. I wouldn’t call Koh Samui a party island – some very quiet and secluded areas there if you don’t want to party – but the Krabi area is great too. Your day trips from Bangkok are good except for Pattaya which I think you can safely take off your list without missing much.

  51. Koh Kradan in Thailand

    Hi Dave,

    I was trying to find your contact details to send a message to but couldn’t so will write on here instead. Thanks for a great post on thailand’s best beaches, really informative. However, I found an island that you didn’t mention that I thought you might want to let your readers know about. It’s called Koh Kradan. I went there recently and it is what I consider, the best island in Thailand but so far, very little people know about it. I wrote a blog post about my time on Koh Kradan on my site, please do check it out if you have time at.

    Thanks and keep on with the great posts! Justine Wharton

  52. Recommended Itinerary for 2 Weeks in Thailand

    Hi! Your blog seems really helpful so thanks in advance 🙂

    Myself and 3 friends are flying to Bangkok on 11th April and are there for 2 weeks. Aware its the Songkran festival at this time as well? We want to spend a couple of nights in Bangkok (either side) but the majority of the time Island hopping / tours etc but not too much time spent on travelling. Are you able to suggest a couple of itineraries and not to miss tours? We have never been to Thailand before! We are 26 and looking for cheap(ish), safe, fun (we like a bit of a party) and lots of experiences (seeing the elephants, markets etc). Would love to know what you could suggest!

    Thanks again

    Charlotte

    1. hoteldave The Hotel Guy

      I would spend Songkran in either Bangkok or Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is great for outdoor tours, markets, and elephant activities. Then fly to Phuket directly. There are several tours from their to nearby islands. Continue to Ao Nang/Railay/Krabi area (rock climbing, more island tours, kayaking) and fly back from Krabi to Bangkok (don’t retrace your steps to Phuket).

  53. Krabi or Koh Samui

    Hi David,
    We want to visit Thailand in May 2015 for around 10 days. We have a 7 year old daughter and we prefer little bit of shopping , night life but mainly secluded beaches and beach activites.
    We are thinking of 2 days Bangkok, 2 days Phuket and either Krabi or Ko Samui.
    People are saying Krabi and Ko Samui are similar so we should do only 1 of them. What do you suggest? Is Ko Samui more expensive as a destination.? We are in Mumbai.

    1. hoteldave The Hotel Guy

      I would not say Krabi and Koh Samui are alike (Phuket and Krabi are more similar). Koh Samui sounds more like what you’re looking for – a mix of shopping, nightlife, and beaches. Whether that’s worth flying across the country for just a 2 day visit, not sure. Krabi is certainly easier to get to from Phuket. Expense wise there is not a big difference between the 2 and how much you pay depends much more on where you choose to eat and sleep than what island you’re on.

  54. 12 Days in Thailand

    Dave! I have read your reviews on multiple spots, very much appreciate it

    I am planning a honeymoon in June of about 3 weeks: Santorini (4.5 days); Dubai (2.5 days); Thailand (12 days)

    How do you suggest we spend our 12 days in Thailand? I would like a bit of city shopping/nightlife which is Bangkok, and then maybe some beach and some adventure/exploration of Thailand.

    I am thinking 3 days in Bangkok and the rest I am lost on…Phuket, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, etc?? Please help!

    Chirag

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I would do 3 days in Bangkok (great city and shopping), 3 days in Chiang Mai (lots of outdoor activities), and 6 days on Koh Samui (awesome beaches). There are a few direct flights a day from Chiang Mai to Koh Samui so I would recommend booking those as soon as possible as they sell out quickly. The weather will likely be nicer on the east coast (Samui) than the west coast (Phuket) in June.

  55. Good Base in Thailand

    Hi David,

    My Dad lives in Jomtien and my wife and I would like to have a visiting vacation in April for two weeks. We have never been to Thailand before.

    We are wondering where would be a good area to stay as a home base. We are not big party’ers. My wife would like a small amount of quality beach time. We do some scuba diving. We are curious people and would like to travel around a bit and experience different aspects of Thailand.

    Would the Jomtien area be a good choice? My father suggested Ko Larn island.

    Thank you for being so helpful!

    John Paul

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Ko Larn is great and an easy day trip from Pattaya (only 15 minutes by speed boat). Jomtien is nice but that’s a very touristy area so if you’re looking to see Thailand that’s not the best place to base yourself. Koh Tao is the best place for scuba diving, Koh Samui a great place to hang out on a beach and eat great food.

  56. Where To Go for 2 to 3 Weeks in Thailand

    Hi Dave
    My Family And I Areplanning Are Trio To Thailand For A Much Needed Vacation Around June-July For 2-3 Weeks.
    Having A One Year Old And A Ten Year Old We Are Trying To Find A Balance Between The Two, While Enjoying The Vacation
    Ourselves.

    Plan A:
    Few Days In Bangkok
    Few Days In Koh Samui
    Few Days In Phuket

    Plan B:
    Few Days In Bangkok
    Few Days In Phuket And Explore Region Ie. Visit Neighbouring Islands, Landmarks Etc.

    What Would Plan Would You Recommend, And Areas To Visit.?

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      The weather will likely be a little better on the east coast than the west coast (but that’s always hard to predict). So, if you go for 3 weeks then I would try to include Koh Samui: 3 nights in Bangkok, 12 nights in Phuket (with some time in Krabi, Phi Phi, Khao Lak), and 6 days in Koh Samui. If it’s closer to 2 weeks then just stick with Phuket area.

  57. Rentals in July and August

    We are looking to spend 1 week on Koh Samui in July and August (part of a 2+week stay) and are currently pricing things for this season as a check. We are able to book 1 year in advance as it seems this part of the year is pricey and would like top choice. Our party will have at least 2 families, with a minimum of 7 people. There is the chance the party could add up to 3-5 more. Pricing some of your top hotels picks for families puts a 2 bedroom in the 10,000USD range (and even more for the Four Seasons) for just 1 family. Thus, we are considering a private villa now? Any recs on this front? Some rentals have reviews on Homeaway.com but many do not. Location, perhaps beachfront, definitely a pool, and privacy would be nice.

    Leigh

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Try AirBnb or Flipkey for rentals in Koh Samui. Obviously there are many hotels that are far less expensive than $10,000 for 2 weeks – the Four Seasons is the most luxurious hotel on Koh Samui.

  58. Best Beaches in Thailand

    Of the beaches I have visited my favorites are Choeng Mon and and a little closer to home, Klong Prao on Koh Chang. Love these beaches because they are perfect for kids, nice and shallow, safe, and pristine sand.

    Darren C

  59. Where To Go in Thailand on First Trip

    Hi David-

    I am looking to plan my first trip to Thailand (from US) in mid-June or early July and am hoping you can point me in the right direction. A few details: I will be traveling alone (female, late 30s) and would like to experience a mix of beach relaxation and a few days of city bustle/nightlife/shopping. Based on your tips, it sounds like a beach on the east coast would be the best in terms of weather, but I am not sure which one. I don’t need a singles scene, but definitely don’t want to feel out of place or unsafe as a solo traveler. Can you please give me some suggestions for an itinerary for a 10-12 day trip? Does Bangkok and then Koh Samui make sense? I am willing to splurge a bit on the hotels.

    Thanks in advance for any guidance, and thanks for providing such a great blog!!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Bangkok and Koh Samui are both wonderful so can’t go wrong there. I’d say 8 days on Samui and 3 or 4 in Bangkok but this obviously depends on what you’re looking for. Chaweng is probably the best choice for a solo traveler. But Mae Nam, Bophut, Choeng Mon, Lamai could work for you as well. With 8 days I’d recommend spending 4 days at 2 different spots.

  60. Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, or Krabi

    Hi David! First of all congratulations on the great blog you have, it has been incredibly helpful.
    I would like your help on deciding an itinerary. We are going on our Honeymoon on May 4-18, right now the only booking we have is on Bophut from 5th to 11th (we can book the round flight to either Samui or Bangkok); our plan is going to no more than three places and minimize traveling time. For sure at least 4 days to Bangkok and can’t decide if going to Chiang Mai, Krabi (Railay or Phra Nang) or Hua Hin for the rest of the days. Krabi was our first choice but are not sure if the weather could be a problem.
    We are looking for great food, getting to know real Thai culture but also being able to relax.
    Which do you think would be the best way to arrange the trip?
    Thank you for your help.

    Luisa

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Definitely Krabi over Hua Hin. Much more to do, see and explore. Weather should be good. No guarantees but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t quite nice. Chiang Mai is wonderful if you have the time. I think we 14 days I would stick we 3 destination so you need to decide between Krabi or Chiang Mai. Both are great.

  61. First Time in Thailand – Where To Go?

    Hi Dave,
    We’re travelling from Denmark to Thailand, myself, my Viking wife and 2 delightful children, for the very first time.
    We of course, know nothing about the place, and are pleased to have found your site.
    We will be travelling at the end of June for 2 weeks, and plan to book our accomodation on airbnb.com
    Here’s my thoughts:
    YES
    Beach
    Markets / Shops
    Restaurants Cafe’s
    Quiet, but with a bit of life.
    NO
    Commercialised / tourist places
    Sex Trade
    Ladyboys etc

    We’d just like to stay somewere thats natural, quiet, near the beach and has the option of going into town if needed.
    Also, wherever you suggest, would we need a car, or is public transport good enough.
    Hope you can help.
    Many thanks in advance

    Dave Darlington

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Sounds like Mae Nam on Koh Samui. Don’t need a rental car, taxis are cheap and songthaews (pickup trucks with seats in the back) go by regularly.

    2. Rental in Krabi

      Hello,

      Can I recommend the accommodation on Airbnb? I’m host in Krabi. I use Airbnb.

      This is my Rental in Krabi.

      It’s an apartment in Krabi. There are some restaurants, shops and massage near my apartment.
      There’s local market every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. There’s 7-11 (shop) nearby apartment.
      It’s peaceful and beautiful here.
      My apartment is near Klong Moung Beach you can walk to beach in only 5-10 mins.

      Thanks,
      Thirawat (Alex)

  62. Ko Samet, Ko Samui, Bangkok, Chiang Mai

    Hi Dave,

    What a wonderful resource! Thank you so much for all this information. My boyfriend and I will be doing a budget trip to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. We are tentatively allotting 10 days for Thailand (I wish it were more, but alas). Right now, Ko Samet, Ko Samui, Bangkok and Chaing Mai appeal to us the most. If you were taking a trip on these restrictions, how would you allot time?

    Thanks and happy travels!

    Hilary

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      4 stops is too much for 10 days. I’d drop Koh Samet and go Bangkok to Chiang Mai to Koh Samui. There are direct flights from Chiang Mai to Koh Samui (which save several hours) but they’re hard to get a seat on – book early.

  63. Krabi, Phi Phi, and Samui?

    Hi Dave – what a fantastic site and your range of knowledge is amazing!

    Ok so here’s our itinerary for end March for 13 nights:
    2 nights Bangkok
    2 nights Chiang Mai
    Fly south and spend 2 nights phi phi, 2 nights krabi
    Travel east to koh samui 4 nights
    Then last night back to bangkok for flight home next day..

    Are we trying to fit too much in? We have been thinking about dropping koh samui and spending more time in krabi area but you seem to really like koh samui and now I just don’t know!! Should we cut a beach destination out and if so what one?
    Would love your advice 🙂
    Thanks!!
    Toni

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      That is a lot in just a short time. I would consider it if you got a flight across (there are direct flights from both Phuket and Krabi to Koh Samui). But if you thought you’d take a bus then skip it. The bus trip are long, semi-miserable, and waste almost an entire day.

      1. toni candy

        Well we were considering a bus trip but maybe not now! Lol
        Was just trying to cut down the expenses a bit…! So out of krabi, phi phi or koh samui what ones worth skipping!
        Might have to come back another year and do the rest!
        Thanks for your great site it’s really useful with great info 🙂
        Toni

        1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

          Out of those 3 I would skip Phi Phi (pretty touristy) – but they all have their appeal. Don’t overthink it. Make a decision and be happy. It’s a great country, you’ll love it.

          1. toni candy

            Thanks Dave! We’re gonna take your advice and maybe just do a day trip to phi phi while we’re at Krabi! And yes you’re right we are trying to over think it so am gonna stop worrying and just enjoy! Thanks again!

  64. Where To Go in Krabi Area?

    Hi!
    Myself and 5 others girls are planning a trip to
    thailand. One of the girls has been to phuket
    therefore doesn’t want to go there. So we were thinking Krabi and perhaps a day trip elsewhere.
    We are going fo about 6 days. Where should we
    stay? We are beach lovers and foodies. Some nightlife And good restaurants.

    Maria

  65. Where To Go in SE Asia?

    Hello David,

    First of all, the information you provide is amazing, thank you so much! And like many others I am a little confused after reading so many comments, hope you can help me out:

    My friends and I (3 ladies, 25 years old) are going to go on a 20-22 day trip to Asia. We are interested in Thailand, maybe Cambodia (main atraction only), Kuala Lumpur, Bali and China (is it toooo much?) As for Thailand, we were wanting to start there in October (weather wise, should we push it into November?) We are on a budget but are not afraid of traveling any which way, we kind of enjoy it (bus, train, etc.). We definitely want to see Bangkok, Krabi and Phuket (any other place you reccommend or are those the main spots?) How many days do you think that should take us and will it elevate too much the cost?

    I don´t know if you know anything else about the other places we want to visit. It would really help if you could give us your opinion on those to and specially on taking advantage of the days…..

    Berenice Quiroz

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      20+ days would be perfect for Bali OR Malaysia and Thailand OR China. But not all 4. Choose what you really want to see and devote your time to it. In Thailand my favorites are Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Krabi area, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai.

  66. Island within Easy Reach of Bangkok

    Hi Dave

    I am travelling to Thailand from China where I live and work with my 6 year old daughter February 6th for 10 days (though I am desperately trying to convince my daughters mother for 12 days!!). As we don’t have so much time I am aware that it is pointless island hopping so I would like to keep it fairly simple. I am thinking Bangkok for 2 nights and then Ko Chang as it is not too far from Bangkok. We like quiet but not desolate and we will certainly be on a budget. Do you have any recommendations close (ish) to Bangkok? places that don’t require a domestic flight. Thanks!!

    Jim

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Koh Chang is great but with a cheap flight you could be on Koh Samui faster than you could be on Koh Chang.

  67. Thailand and Vietnam

    Hi David,
    Seems like you are quite knowledgeable about Thailand, and so I was wondering if you can help us (couple) for an itinerary for Thailand/Vietnam. We are currently in Italy until the end of this month, and plan to travel to Thailand (first time, visited Bali few years ago). Basically we have from Feb.6-March.2 to see Thailand and squeeze in Vietnam is possible. What we want to see is Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and some beaches, on a budget.

    How should be prioritize our itinerary. We would like to see some of the touristy sites i.e.: wats etc and walk the streets, eat street food etc …. so how many days in Bangkok/Chiang Mail? How should be travel between the 2? best way to book those travels? … As for beach, I like the clear blue water and white sand, I like to swim in waves, but nothing crazy. Saw some pictures online with the beaches with the mountains surrounding it. We also love Thai food (esp curries), so would like to experience some good food.

    Which beaches would be best to relax, walk, swim, snorkel, picturesque (I like to take lots of photos and be inspired)? what’s the best way to get to those beaches?

    Most of the travels are in Thailand and we thought to squeeze in a bit of Vietnam as well. Is Ho Chi Minh city the best place to visit? how many days? worth visiting any of their beaches?

    Any helpful tips would be appreciated. Read most of your comments and they were quite helpful, but still a bit overwhelmed with all the info. thanks, looking forward to your reply 🙂

    Shadi & Andrew

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and the southern islands are the highlights of Thailand. I’d spend 4 days in Bangkok, 4 days in Chiang Mai, and the remainder of your time split between the Krabi area and Koh Samui. Koh Samui is my favorite island (and nearby KPN) in Thailand. Great beaches, great food, and still Thai culture present unlike the beach towns of Phuket. Krabi does have (slightly) more natural beauty if you’re interested in photography.

      In Vietnam, Hoi An and Hanoi are the most interesting cities. The best beaches are north of Hoi An all the way up to Danang. (If you want a cheap and friendly place to stay check out Hoa’s Place near Danang – highly recommended.) Halong Bay is the most naturally beautiful spot in the country.

  68. Best Island for Snorkeling

    Hello, Thanks for all that precious info. I have only one question:
    What are the best beaches for snorkelling (and hopefully not too crowded) for 2 adults in dare need of rest, 1 week-10 days around mid February? We like simple accommodation, local restaurants, places where we can travel individually, not by tour operator or big resorts… We have been to Phi Phi (ages ago) already and loved it.
    The ideal is a place with 2 or 3 clear water beaches accessible by foot or small boat or short ride.
    THANKS A MILLION!!!

    PS: I did read most of your responses, but they ALL seems so great that I got confused in the end…

    Sylvia

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      On the west coast the best places for snorkeling are Koh Phi Phi and Koh Racha. If you want to snorkel straight off the beach then there’s Karon Beach (south end near the rocks) and Kata beach (north end other side of the rocks from Karon).

      On the east coast Koh Tao is the best and the tours to Ang Thong Marine Park a close second.

  69. East Coast or West Coast in May

    HI Dave,

    My wife and I are going to Thailand last 2 weeks of May, we;ll be going to Chiang Mai and then to the south part, for the end of May, do you recommend going to the west coast or east coast?
    Thanks
    Rony

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Both coasts have good weather in May but the east coast (Koh Samui side) is probably a little better on average.

  70. Which Island in Thailand?

    Hi Dave,

    First of all let me thank you for the wealth of information available on your website. Truly a great resource. I was hoping you would be willing to give me some pointers. This is my case:

    I’m planning a 14-20 day vacation to Thailand (flying into Bangkok) to recover and relax, departure first week of February. While I don’t need solitary confinement, I’m definitely not going there for parties or nightlife – I mostly want to be able to walk around and enjoy the views, and dump myself into a hammock between two palm trees to read, with some occasional swimming. I’m not planning on spending a lot either, let’s say max 50 Euros per day including accommodation.

    I’ve heard Ko Phi Phi is great, but it seems very touristy for me, so not sure how much rest you can get there? And people recommended Koh Samui. Ideally I want to spend time in 2, 3 at most, spots in Thailand, as to not spend too much time travelling from one place to another. Any recommendations?

    Anthony

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I would get a flight to Koh Samui and book a hotel for 2 or 3 days there (Mae Nam, Bophut, or Choeng Mon). See if it’s what you’re looking for. If it’s not your speed grab a boat over to Koh Phangan early in the morning and hunt around for a beach hut that you like. Both are great islands with beautiful beaches – KPN is not as developed and has more of the cheap huts on the beach (but you typically can’t book those places online).

  71. Good Hotels on Koh Samui

    I am planning for my honeymoon in Koh Samui from January 30th till 2nd and then 2 days in Bangkok. Could you tell me what are good hotel options in Koh Samui. I am looking for luxury at not a very high price. How is Nora Buri, Sala Samui? I am confused.

    Vaibhav

  72. Which Beach – Koh Samui, Hua Hin, Krabi, Phuket?

    Thanks David for a great site with so much information.

    Unfortunately I’m somewhat overwhelmed like so many and would greatly appreciate a little guidance.
    We will be travelling for our Honeymoon between April 21 – 6th of May (15 nights).
    I would like to take advantage of Luxury for a great price. White, clean, clear water beaches not too over crowded but be able to travel out of accomodation for good better priced food, drinks and spa type activities.

    Figured 3 nights in Bangkok. I am flying out of Phuket so thought 2 nights there ? at Kata beach, should I allocate more time?

    Then I become conflicted….Hua hin vs Koh Samui and if so which beach 4/5/6 nights?
    Krabi (Railay or Phra Nang) or Phi Phi 4/5/6 nights?
    Or simply to stick to one side & if so which?

    So many questions and indecision but I look forward to your advice.

    Thanks in advance Astley

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Definitely Koh Samui over Hua Hin – Koh Samui is probably my favorite all-around island in Thailand. Chaeweng, Choeng Mon, Bophut, and Mae Nam beaches are all wonderful. Railay is a better choice than Phra Nang for most people as the only accommodations on Phra Nang are the luxury resort Rayavadee (which is incredible but expensive). Kata is nice but for only 2 nights I’d probably leave it off your itinerary.

  73. Railay Hotels Fully Booked – Suggestions?

    I booked a flight to Krabi for late February with my brother, but realized all hotels are booked.

    Outside of the ones you recommended in Railey (all booked) – would you know of any others? We planned to stay there for 3 nights and 4 days – do you have any recommendations for snorkeling and diving trips that are easy to go to?

    Sue

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      If those are sold out then try Railay Princess Resort. Good location, pool, rooms. And you can also stay in Ao Nang as it’s a good hub for day trips around Krabi (actually better than Railay). In any case it’s easy to book snorkeling and diving trips after you arrive so I wouldn’t worry about pre-booking.

  74. Phuket in March

    Hello Dave,

    Thank you for this wonderfull post.

    I’m hoping to go to Phuket in March and I’m seriously lost, all I want is a white sand beach water sports and calm.
    I want to spend 3 weeks in there but on a tight budget so I need some affordable accomodation, what can you recommend for me?
    Also, how can I get to Koh Phi Phi and back the same day and how much does it cost?

    Thank you so much

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I would book a reasonably priced hotel for the first 2 nights on booking.com and then use those first few days to look for something cheap. The very cheapest places (small family owned hotels) usually can’t be booked online so you’ll need to put in some legwork to find them. Easy to buy tickets to Koh Phi Phi after you arrive (no sense in buying in advance). It takes about 90 minutes one way, so you could leave about 8am and the last ferry back is around 5pm so that should give you about 7 hours on Phi Phi.

  75. Bang Tao Beach and Dusit Thani Laguna

    Hi David
    A great blog.
    Visiting our son in Singapore in a couple of weeks, so a good opportunity to see a part of the world that have never been to.
    Thailand looks beautiful and not too difficult to reach from Singapore.
    We are looking for a short beach break to relax for a few days and a good place to dive for beginners.
    What is your opinion of Bang Tao beach Phuket as an area to stay – am looking at the Dusit Thani Laguna.
    Am looking for a monkey free area – if that is possible as heard they can be quite a nuisance and aggressive. Just wondered if the inland lagoons in this resort mean mosquitoes will be more of a problem than in other areas?
    We have chosen Phuket opposed to Samui as heard the waters are better for diving in January.
    Thank you.

    Pam

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Yes, diving will be better in Phuket in January. Bang Tao is a very nice beach and the resorts here have a very self-contained feel. Luxurious though maybe a few years past their prime. I would not worry about the monkeys – the mosquitoes on the lagoon I can’t speak to.

  76. Esme Marshall Oz

    Thank you so much for your site. I’ve just started planning a trip to Thailand and Indonesia with my three-year-old and reading this has been so helpful.

    Esme

  77. What Island for Ladies in 50s – Limited Mobility?

    hi there
    Myself and my friend are looking to go to thailand in march we are both in our 50s we would like to experience bangkok for 2/3 nights and then head on a internal flight to a beach resort I unfortunately have a mobility condition so we are quite restricted also my friend will not travel on a boat. Could you recommend hotels in bangkok and the best beach resort to visit maybe a few days in two different beaches.
    It all looks so beautiful that I am struggling to find where is best to stay. We would like to be quite close to some restaurants etc on the beach part of the holiday.

    Any recommendations would be so gratefully received.

    Many thanks
    Karen

  78. Good Restaurants on Railay

    Hi, great post and nice to see you take time to help people with questions!

    We’re staying on Railay Beach (west side) at the end of February and are very excited! I’m disappointed and nervous about the food reviews in this area. Do you have any restaurants you recommend in the area?

    Thanks!
    Marianne

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      The restaurants on the Railay East are better than on Railay West so head over there for food.

  79. Where To Go with 1 Year Old in Thailand

    David,

    Thanks for the great information on your website!

    I will be travelling with my wife and 1 yr old son in January. We are looking for a beach resort for 4 – 5 nights and cannot decide between phuket, koh samui and krabi. Any advice?

    Also, would you recommend sticking to one location or trying for two places over 5 nights.

    Thanks!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      For 5 nights I would stay in one spot. My first choice would be Samui and then Railay (near Krabi).

  80. Beach Town – Not Touristy

    Hey David,

    My wife and I are travelling to Thailand for the first time and are a bit overwhelmed by where we should go. We have 19 days from the end of January to mid February. Currently we fly in and out of Chiang Mai. We have accommodations booked for 6 days in Chiang Mai to begin the trip and explore the city. Our only plan was to fly down south after (Phuket, Krabi, etc.) mainly to find a beach community to hang around for 4-5 days before heading back up by train with a stop over in Bangkok for a couple days and then finally returning to Chiang Mai to catch our return flight at 11:20pm. What are your recommendations for a beach community that is not overly touristy, beautiful and relaxing? If you see any flaws in our travel plans we would love to hear alternate recommendations. We are in our mid 30s love markets, exploring food, culture and photography.

    Thanks,
    Matt

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Sounds like a great plan. I’d take a look at Khao Lak (1 hour north of Phuket airport). Not as touristy as Phuket, more Thai culture & community. But still great beaches.

  81. Good Budget Hotel in Phuket

    Hi David,

    What a fabulous and informative site! So much in one place. So glad I found it.

    My friend and I are visiting Thailand in March/April. We’ll be volunteering at an elephant sanctuary in Sukhothai for the first week, and then heading down to Phuket for the second (from the 28th). We’ll be joining a couple of one-day sail tours whilst we’re there and hoping to visit the Soi Dog Foundation too, and we’re looking for somewhere convenient to stay. The sail tour company will collect us from either Kata, Karon, Kamala, Patong or BangTao. We’d like to avoid being on top of the craziness and nightlife but near enough that we can reach it by taxi. A nearby beach, maybe some markets and some nice eateries within trotting distance would be ace. We’re probably mid-budget – we’d like to stay around the £40 / 2000THB mark if we can. Do you have any recommendations as to areas and/or hotels? Thanks heaps 🙂

    Jackie

  82. Railay in January

    Hi Dave,

    I came to Thailand last year and mostly just found my accomodation while I was there. Do you recommend booking in advance for Railay in January?

    Thanks
    Amy

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Yes, I would definitely book in advance. That’s high season so you’d be taking a chance showing up without reservations. (Which doesn’t mean you couldn’t find something.)

  83. Holiday in January and February

    Hi David,

    me and my fiancee are planning to go on a 3 weeks holiday in January. Since for us the tourist visa on arrival in Thailand is only for 15 days, we are going to see Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Ankor Vat first and leave 15 days for Thailand. We wanted to be a very flexible trip, inexpensive and relaxing, but after we’ve done some researching, we discovered that some planning is crucial. Since this is our first trip to Asia, we know nothing about how things are around there.
    Assuming that for the other short visits we are gonna book the accomodation in advance and plan the flights, we’d still want Thailand to be more or less flexible. We’d like quiet and beautiful places, experience the thai food, see elephants, tigers and daulphins, do some scuba diving and snorkeling. We’ve been thinking at Krabi/Phuket for a week and Koh Samui for another week.
    But, from this point, we’d very much appreciate your opinion and advice 🙂
    Krabi seems more quiet and serene than Phuket, more close to what we want, and a little bit more in the middle of everything else (Phi Phi, Phuket, Koh Samui). On the other hand, it is a little bit more far from Similian Islands than Phuket (we’ve heard Similian are awsome for diving). we don’t know if the prices from Krabi to Similian are much higher than Phuket to Similian. We don’t know if we should book accomodation in advance or if we have a good chance to find something nice on the spot (bungalows, private rooms, aparments…) (we are not really into hotels). We don’t know how hard is to find accomodation in these 3 locations (maybe in Krabi is easier than in Phuket). We don’t know if these types of acomodations are good or not, clean or not, confortable or not and so on. Maybe it’s better to stay fewer days in Krabi/Phuket and more in Koh Samui or viceversa…
    For all these and other things that we cannot think of right now, we’d greatly appreciate your thought.
    Thank you very much.
    Calin

      1. Calin

        Well, sorry if I wasn’t very clear, it’s just that everyhing is very new for us and there are too many questions.
        Basically, we asked:
        1. Should we book in advance or do you think we can find some nice accomodation (private rooms, apartments, bungalows) in the moment we arrive, in that period (1-21 Feb), in Krabi, Phuket and Koh Samui?
        2. These types of accomodation are nice and clean, usually? (compared to hotels for example)
        3. If we want a peacefull time with great water and landscapes, in which of those 3 locations should we stay more days?
        4. If we want to go scuba diving in Similian islands, would it be a large diference in price taking the trip from Krabi instead of Phuket?
        5. Is there any way to go Cambodia (Ankor temples) directly from Phuket or Krabi (or only with a stop in Bangkok)?

        1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

          1. I would book in advance – it’s a much better use of your time than hunting for hotels. But, if you mean, will there be rooms available, then yes, you should be fine finding something – though perhaps not your first choice.
          2. I’d say a little more hit and miss than hotels but yes, on average, should be fine. Hotels in Thailand are great value for money so they’re hard to beat. This isn’t central London.
          3. Krabi or Koh Samui – both great. Flip a coin.
          4. Price from Krabi or Phuket to Similians is not large difference. But it makes a big difference with time and hassle. Phuket is much closer to the Similian islands. Khao Lak is even closer and a great option if visiting the Similians is a priority.
          5. There are no direct flights from Phuket to Cambodia (or from Krabi). Air Asia has the cheapest rates and best connections. JetStar is also cheap but you usually have to stay overnight in Bangkok.

  84. Around the World Trip for 1 Year

    Hello
    We are planning a one year trip around the world. Starting in September/October. Selling our house and no work for a year!
    Two adults and two children (8 year old and a 5 year old). We would like to stay for 3 months in Thailand. The plan possibly is to find an initial one month place to stay in Bangkok. Take a few day or 2 day tours during that month to islands or beaches, then venture further afield during the second two months. I guess we’d have to leave Thailand and go back in to get that extra 30 days visa.
    At the end of this period move on to Cambodia, Malaysia or Vietnam. This will be new to us because we have never done anything like this before. Does this sound sensible??
    Do you think we should book a month in advance in Bangkok or maybe a few days or week at a time?
    After our 3 months in Thailand can you suggest a route to explore some other countries in Asia for a few months?
    I can’t get a plan straight in my head!
    We like beaches and cities rather than jungles and long bus journeys!
    Our next main stop then will be Sydney.
    Edward.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I would keep your plans as flexible as possible and book as little in advance as you feel comfortable with, both for the short-term (Bangkok) and the longer-term (Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam). Book tickets as you need them. You do get cheaper flights the earlier you book, but you have so much flexibility that you’ll find a flight going your way within a few days or a week of your dates. That said, Christmas is a fun time to be settled into one spot where you can meet some people and have a tropical holiday so I’d put some time into planning where to be for those dates (say, December 20 to January 5). It can also be hard to find accommodation for that time range so that is one time I would book ahead. Koh Phangan, Penang (Malaysia), Ubud (Bali), Hoi An (Vietnam) are a few places I’d love to be for Christmas.

  85. Kid-friendly Resort on Phuket

    Hi David,

    My family is going to a last-minute trip to Phuket on Nov 28-Dec 2, 2014 for our anniversary. What resorts would you recommend? We love the beach so we always prefer beach front hotels or villas. My husband and I will be with our 9-yr old son.

    Thanks in advance!

    ANA

  86. Which Island in late December

    Soooo many options for first time traveling to Thailand. We’ll be in Bangkok a few days and then heading to an Island (still unsure/need help) from 12/21 – 12/29. We’re wanting a chill spot. We are foodies so restaurants options are key. We are also looking to be able to do one or two day trips to other Islands. What would you recommend?

    Thanks!
    Jay

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Koh Samui has the best food of any island. The west coast does have more day trip options than Koh Samui but trips from Samui to Angthong Marine Park (beautiful) and Koh Tao (diving and snorkeling) are great.

  87. Thailand with 3 Kids

    Hi your website and information is really helpful especially when travelling with kids!! we will be in Bangkok with ours (age 7,9,11) next april or sept (yet to decide!) and then will be looking for 10 days somewhere south, where the kids can snorkel and we can relax. we are an active family and prefer to see the wide life in natural habitats as opposed to shows etc.
    We are looking at Khao Lak? but from the weather advice perhaps Koh Samet would be a better choice?

    any location advice and tips would be excellent

    thanks!

    krysia

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      It can be wet and rainy anywhere in Thailand in September so be prepared for that regardless of your destination. You could have lousy weather in both and great wether in both. Very hard to say. Both Koh Samet and Khao Lak have snorkeling but in the rainy season the water can be rough and murky. I’d probably choose Khao Lak but no guarantees either way.

  88. Thailand with 2 Kids

    Hi David,

    Thanks for all great tips on thailand! This january we are leaving for 2.5 weeks to Thailand with 2 kids (2 and 4 years old). We want to do some relaxing, but also like to combine it with some activitiies and sightseeing. Do you have any recommendation on best islands and perhaps hotels and activities?

    We prefer hotels with a swimming pool!

    Thanks.Sander

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I think Koh Samui is the best island for kids. Easy to get to, great weather in January, great beaches. They have a small water park that would be fun for your kids. There is also elephant riding there (though it’s not great some do enjoy it). All the main beaches (Choeng Mon, Chaweng, Bophut, Mae Nam) are kid friendly.

      Read: Kid-friendly Hotels in Koh Samui

  89. One Month in Thailand

    looking to visit Thailand for 30 day stay between January to February.
    Traveling alone to recharge and relax from hectic city life.
    list of things i want from this trip.
    1. quiet, relaxing atmosphere.
    2. next to clear crystal beach
    3. budget of $8000US total excluding airplane ticket
    4. sometime needs nightlife attraction.
    5. not crowded area
    6. thinking about Kirikayan Luxury Pool Villas & Spa. Kirikayan Suite… any thoughts?
    any thought and opinion is appreciated.
    Thank you.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Kirikayan is great and very good value for the luxury you get. But know it is not on the beach – it’s about a 10 or 15 minute walk to the Mae Nam beach. And yes, it’s very quiet here. Free shuttle to the livelier Chaweng. If you’re reading reviews online watch that you’re reading the right reviews. People seem to get the Mae Nam Kirikayan mixed up with its sister property Chaweng Kirikayan which is also quiet but on a great stretch of beach.

  90. Koh Phangan in February

    Hi Dave,
    Great site, thank you. After 7 long years of study am heading to thailand from 10/2-3/3. I plan on spending about 10 days visiting my sister outside Chang Mai, then would like to head to the beach for a peaceful and relaxing recharge. A friend has recommended The Sanctuary on Koh Phangan but Im not sure if its a bit too close to the full moon party scene. I travel light and am not looking for anything fancy. Beach and a hammock will do me without hordes of people. What do you recommend?

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Personally I would stay somewhere else. More central and easy to get around the island (and to the Full Moon Party if you’re so inclined). The Sanctuary will require a long-tail boat from where you arrive on KPN. It certainly is not “too close” to the Full Moon Party. If you’re looking for budget accommodations I would show up early in the morning and have a look around (you’ll probably be offered a room as you get off the boat). Just don’t arrive 1 to 3 days before the Full Moon Party without any reservations. But the rest of the month you’ll be fine.

  91. What Island for Short Time in Thailand

    Very informative posts!

    I was hoping to get some input as well. My wife and I will be traveling to Thailand this upcoming December (8-20) and can’t quite figure out which island is best to avoid hoards of tourists and not be too hard to get to during our limited time.

    We fly into Bangkok at midnight on a Tuesday. The plan was leave Weds morning to an island and stay for 3.5 days. Then we would head to Chiangmai for 3.5 days and then Bangkok for 3 days.

    Questions are:

    What island should we head to with our limited time if we want to explore nature, scuba and avoid tourists? Remember it’ll be a heck of a trip between 28 hour flight, short night in bangkok and then whatever travel necessary to get to the island. We were originally thinking Koh Lanta but that ferry trip sounds rough after all of that.

    Is our allocation between Chiangmai and Bangkok ok?

    Should we fly from Chiangmai to Bangkok or take an overnight train?

    Jean
    Thank you!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Thailand is a popular country. If your goal is to avoid tourists then you’re coming to the wrong place. Some places are indeed very touristy (e.g. parts of Phuket) and perhaps you meant you wanted to avoid those places but everywhere that has nature and scuba diving is going to have plenty of tourists. Koh Samui does not have a lot of diving (though you could do a day trip to Koh Tao) but it is very beautiful and has direct flights to both Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The weather is nicer on the west coast in mid-December but is likely to be good on the Koh Samui side by that time and will have fewer tourists. Chiang Mai is great and deserves 3 days for sure. The night train is a fun experience. If you have the time go for it.

  92. Railay and Koh Samui in January

    Hi David,

    My husband and I are looking at travelling to Thailand in January 2015. Ideally 3 nights in Bangkok, and then the rest of the time (+-8 nights) spit between two beach locations.

    We are thinking about Railay & Koh Samui.
    Also want to try tie in day trips to Phuket / Phi Phi if possible. We enjoy diving, snorkeling, experiencing local cuisine & culture, activities & adventure but also want to try include some relaxing beach days!!

    Would Samui & Railay be good choices for our 2 ‘bases’ for this trip.

    Kelly.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Absolutely. Both are great and Railay is a good base for day trips. I’d check flights between Krabi and Koh Samui before committing to dates as it’s high season and those flights can be filled early.

  93. Booking Hotels in Advance for Phuket Holiday

    Hi
    The wife and I are going to Thailand from December 17 to January 5. We realize this is the busiest time of year. We have traveled abroad before, but have never been to a place where people suggest booking ahead for rooms. Is it possible to not book ahead and find reasonable accommodations. We are going south first, Krabi as a jumping off point, but we don’t want to be locked into a specific itinerary because sometimes going with the flow is the best way to travel.

    Any thoughts? Thanks a lot…

    Bill

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      My guess is you’ll be fine. For people who really care about where they stay and the quality of the hotel I would not recommend this. But if you’re fine with just finding any place that’s reasonable and clean then it shouldn’t be a problem. And yes it is the funnest way to travel. I’d be extra careful with the nights around Christmas and New Years. And there’s nothing stopping you from booking a day or two in advance as your plans start to take shape.

      Although one word of warning. If you’re plan on using Booking.com (like I recommend) some hotels block it through their internet service. They don’t want guests extending their stay by booking the less expensive rates on Booking. Easy to get around by walking up the street to a cafe but still can be a pain.

  94. Wedding Location in Krabi

    HI
    what a wonderful blog so much information!

    I am getting married in march in krabi. looking for a beach wedding with 25 guests. I am looking for a venue for the wedding for all guests for 3 nights then we will all be based in ao nang.
    could you recommend a hotel for a wedding that is easy to get to for 3 nights from ao nang but has the beach wow factor for a wedding. we have looked at beyond krabi resort but not sure on the beach.
    also what hotel would you recommend for ao nang area with a short distance to a swimming beach? there will be children part of the group
    thanks

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      For the Wow factor there’s Rayavadee – beautiful location, awesome hotel, expensive. If guests didn’t want to stay there there are many less-expensive hotels in Railay which is a 10-15 minute walk through “jungle”, pretty cool.

      Something more reasonably priced but still wonderful location is the Centara Grand Beach Resort – they do lots of weddings here.

      Pretty much every hotel in the Ao Nang area is a “short distance to a swimming beach”.

  95. Quiet beach, near local food/village

    Hi Dave!

    Thanks for the great travel resource. So helpful! So my husband and I will be traveling to thailand in March we plan to stay in Bangkok for 2 days then head to the beach. We are looking for a fairly quiet beach, beautiful white sand/clear water, near a local village/local food. We were originally thinking Railay after reading your reviews, however after further research I found that Railay has pretty poor food reviews.Is this true? We are also looking at koh samui, koh phangan, and koh tao. Of these options (including Railay), what would be your recommendation for a beautiful, quieter beach near a local village/local food?
    Thank you in advance!

    Katie

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      You’re right. Love Railay but the food is disappointing as it’s all touristy food – no local population there. (I imagine the workers that boat in for the day eat at their place of work.) The food on Koh Samui always strikes me as the best for a tourist destination. Stay near Mae Nam and you’ll have tons of options for good food without being in an overly touristy environment. Koh Phangan has a similar vibe – there are 3 or 4 different villages in the northwest of the island where you can get good cheap Thai food and there are great nearby beaches. Koh Tao is very much geared towards the diving crowd and if you’re not there to do that I’d skip it.

  96. Where To Stay on Koh Samui

    Hi David, Great Blog!
    My wife and I are planning a trip to Thailand in January 2015. We will be staying in Bangkok for 4 days and would like to go to a nice beach hotel. At the beginning we where looking for some options in Phuket and Phi Phi, but now we have seen many great hotels and options in Ko Samui.
    We where looking at the Four seasons but we have read that the beach isn’t great and that it is far from the city and not much to do around the area. Is there any particular beach or area in Ko Samui that you would recommend us?
    Which one of the three Islands would you recommend? any hotel suggestions?
    Thanking you in advance for your help.

    Ivan

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Yes, the Four Seasons is a good drive from any of the main towns and there’s not a whole lot nearby though there are a couple local restaurants within walking distance. Beach is good but wouldn’t call it the best on the island.

      Bophut is one of my favorite places to stay on Koh Samui and might be what you’re looking for. (The beach has coarse sand which I like. Some people prefer more powdery sand.) Lots of places to eat. Fisherman’s Village has a great vibe and there’s a market on Fridays.

      The best hotels in Bophut? The Hansar, the Anantara, and Zazen Boutique Resort. All great.

  97. Relaxing, Quiet Destination for December

    Hi David,
    I will be in Thailand between the 10th and 17th December.
    What would be your recommendations for a solo traveler who would like to relax in some nice and quiet beach (away from parties head bangers, i am too old for that 🙁 ) ? The accommodation does not need to be very fancy.
    Note: it would be ok to alternate the relax days (aka doing nothing at all) with some snorkeling / hiking / sightseeing.
    Thanks
    By the way nice blog.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I’d recommend Khao Lak (more upscale) or Koh Lanta (more budget/backpacker vibe) on the west coast and Koh Samui (upscale) and Koh Phangan (budget) on the east coast. The weather in mid-December will probably be a little better on the west coast.

  98. Thailand Beaches in June and July

    Hello Dave!
    My boyfriend and I are travelling to Thailand at the end of June and returning at the end of July. We are flying to Phuket and home from Bangcock.

    We are looking for beach destinations, with lots to see and do, a mixture of relaxation and partying! Where would be best to stay to avoid the rainy season within reasonable travelling distance of Phuket, finishing in Bangcock? We are aware we will have to take an overnight train to Bangcock for our flight home! We were thinking roughly 4-6 destinations so we can spend a decent amount of time in each place, and explore it fully.

    Thank you!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      The weather will likely be nicer in Koh Samui and the east coast than in Phuket and the west coast during June and July. It’s not full-on wet-season in Phuket yet (that comes in September) but it does historically get about twice as much rain as Koh Samui and the seas can be rough and unsafe to swim in from late May until October. On the east coast Koh Samui and Koh Phangan are wonderful. Koh Tao is great for diving. It is busier and a bit more expensive in June and July in Samui than Phuket. Phuket area is quieter and cheaper. If you’re looking for nightlife then Koh Samui and Phangan will have more going on. If you do decide on the west coast then Kata and Karon beaches on Phuket, Khao Lak, Koh Lanta, and Railay are great destinations.

  99. Rawai vs Nai Harn beaches

    Hi David,

    My girlfriend and I are looking to booking a 7 day stay in Phuket area. Not sure where to stay, budget is around £115-145 per night @ preferably a 5 Star beautiful resort.

    I want to be away from the hustle and bustle beaches, and would like something more relaxing, quiet and romantic.

    What do you recommend? So far we have narrowed down to The Vijjit (Rawai), and Sunsuri (Nai Harn).

    Would be great to know your thoughts and recommendations.

    Thanks!

    Mayur

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      The beach at Nai Harn is much nicer. Rawai has a “working beach” meaning long-tail boats and fisherman use it as a base and park their boats on the beach. It’s no longer great for swimming. Both beaches are far from the crowds of Patong.

  100. Honeymoon on Phi Phi

    Hi David,

    Hope you’re well.

    First off, I applaud your patience for answering so many similar questions on this subject with so much passion. If only tour operators could be more like you in this respect!

    Im doing a 20-day trip for my honeymoon to Mumbai-Goa-Bangkok-Chang Mai and intending to finish off the last 7 days (12-19th Jan 2015) at a slower pace in luxurious resorts at ideally the best beaches + boat excursions in South West Thailand (as Koh Samui weather is inconsistent that time of year). I don’t mind if the first 3 of these beach days a bit more tourist-like but would like for the last 4 to be quieter and off the beaten track.

    Currently planning to do Krabi (Railay Bay Resort or Centara Grand Beach) for 3 days and Phi Phi (outrigger) for 4 but many reviews, including this blog seem to suggest Phi Phi is best for partying rather than white beaches.. Railay seems to be a good choice but do you think I would be better off replacing Phi Phi with Koh Lanta, Koh Yao Yai, Koh Chang, or Koh Lak instead? If so, what resort would you recommend? Finding it hard to get a straight answer answer even from people that have been to all so your opinion would be much appreciated!

    Thanks,
    Dan

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      The Outrigger is completely removed from the party scene at Tonsai Bay. The hotel is about 15 minutes by boat (or an hour walk) from Tonsai Bay.

  101. Eline

    Hi Dave,

    Thank you already for all the information above.
    Still trying to figure out where to stay.

    We will first head to Bangkok – kanchanaburi – chiang mai – koh Tao (diving). We had the plan to visit Krabi/Koh Lanta afterwards, but I can’t find great accommodation (midrange, hut/bungalow on the beach). I found out that ko Phangan has a lot of the accommodation we love for a great price. Do we miss out on a lot of fun we stay at south east side and not go to the west coast. We will visit in March and are a young couple, but def. not there to party.

    Thank you in advance!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Koh Phangan is a wonderful island and does indeed have simple inexpensive beach huts. (FYI, most budget hotel owners make their money off food and drinks so they can sometimes be a little chilly if you eat most of your meals in the local villages – where the food is cheaper.) Don’t bother trying to book these places in advance. Just show up and hunt for what’s available.

  102. Cameron

    Hi Dave

    Wife and I looking at going to Thailand in November, we have been to Malaysia many many times but not Thailand . Wanting to find a quality beach Resort Spa, for week, but one where we can do some shopping exploring. Otherwise just R& R, Spa / Beach/ massages any recommendations, as we are totally open to where we go etc. Prefer 4 & 5 star…thanks

  103. Best Beaches in November

    hi dave,

    going to bangkok on 7th november 2014, staying in thailand till 23rd november 2014, what are the best beaches after a few days in bagkok where there shouldnt be much rain?

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Look to the west coast: Krabi, Phuket, Koh Lanta, Khao Lak. They’re just at the end of the rainy seasons so weather should be fair/good and improving. No guarantees this time of year though. Good luck.

  104. Thailand in Late November

    My boyfriend and I are going to Bangkok for 10 days at the end of November, and will be heading to one of the beaches for a relaxing couple of days. All of the beaches are beautiful, so it’s truly hard to decide. Which beach and also hotel would you suggest for romance and relaxation? Thank you!

  105. Krabi Weather in May

    Hi David,

    I’m planning a big Bday holiday next year to Thailand.
    Visiting Bangkok and Chiang Mai and then down south for abit of R&R.
    The problem is getting time off work. So timing wise its problably not the best time.
    We wont be arriving in Krabi till the first week in May.
    What in your view would the weather be like? Were kinda worried about it.
    But from all the reviews – scenery wise etc its the place we most want to stay.
    relaxation – not 2 thourist packed – kayeking snorkling etc – catching rays.
    Your advice would be great = Many thanks in advance

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Krabi area is great with lots to do. May will be hot and humid but skies should still be clear and sunny most days.

  106. How Long from Patong to Airport

    How long does it take to get from Patong beach to the Phuket airport? Planning our day and wondering how much time we should leave for the ride. Thanks.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I’d plan for at least an hour (though it can be done in 30 minutes during light traffic). Be sure to travel up the east side of the island (much quicker) as opposed to along the beaches along the west coast. (Your driver will know this of course, but just in case you were thinking of stopping along the way or had some other plans that might involve the west coast towns).

  107. Best Beach on Koh Samui

    Great info but still uncertain on where to stay. If you could only stay on one beach on Koh Samui which would it be?

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      My favorite beach is Bophut – Fisherman’s Village is nearby for restaurants and low-key nightlife. Chaweng is also great and more nightlife. Choeng Mon is good for families. Mae Nam has a chill out vibe, nice sand and is popular for longer term visitors.

    2. Luxury Resort near Phuket

      Hi Dave
      We are travelling to bangkok mid feb to do a 10 day charity bike ride finishing in phuket. We have decided to stay on for 3 more days to recover and would like to get on a boat and head to luxury to relax. We are also celebrating our 50th birthdays so looking for a quiet resort. Any thoughts? We did think on staying khao lak but we would have passed and stayed here on night 8 of our bike ride. But this may still be the right place before we fly back to bangkok. Many thanks anita

          1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

            There is a ferry that leaves Phuket every morning and takes 2.5 hours to Railay Beach (after a stop in Ao Nang).

            Cheers.

  108. Samui or Phuket in late December, early January

    We’ll be in Thailand from December 18th to January 15th. We plan to spend 7 to 10 days exploring Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and the north. We would then like to go to a beach town and spend the last 20 days there without moving around much – sort of settle in, and really relax. Considering the weather and the time of year would you recommend Phuket or Koh Samui. If it’s Phuket I think we’ll stay in Kata but open to suggestions for Koh Samui.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I much prefer Koh Samui to Phuket so would lean that way. Beaches are great on both islands but Samui has more character, feels less touristy, and good food (Thai and otherwise) is easier to find. 20 days on Phuket would seem a lot and I would recommend breaking it up with a trip to Khao Lak or Koh Lanta. But 20 days is perfect for a trip to Samui – especially if your primary goal is to relax and hangout. That said, the weather in late December will likely be better on Phuket. As you move through early January and into the middle of the month it gets progressively better on Koh Samui. You should have sun on most days but be prepared for some rain and overcast skies. If great weather and beautiful blue skies is your top priority go with Phuket. If you’re fine with good weather sprinkled with a bit of rain and cloud then Koh Samui should be fine (no guarantees either way, of course). Good luck.

  109. Kid Friendly Town in Phuket

    We have one day and one night on Phuket before heading to Koh Lanta for 2 weeks. Where would you recommend we stay with 2 boys ages 7 and 12. Thanks.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Patong has the most going on. It’s seedy (though not dangerous) and has hustle and bustle everywhere and lots of shopping. Lots of activity on the beach too. Kata and Karon beaches are much nicer, still shops and restaurants aplenty. If you don’t care about the beach vibe or shopping then staying at the Centara Grand West Sands Resort is fun for the kids. There’s a huge water park (the largest in Thailand) connected to the hotel and free for guests. Lots of fun. Not much around here and the beach (while beautiful) has tricky currents (worst from July to November) but if it’s only one night you might have all your time filled with the water slides.

  110. Thailand Recommendations

    Hi David….my fiance and I are heading to Thailand over New Years, and are planning 6-7 nights at the beaches (after 2 days in Bangkok, and 4 days in Chiang Mai). We’ve already booked 3 nights in Khao Lak, as the final 3 nights of our trip, and are looking for a beach location to hit just prior to that for three nights. We have been looking at Yao Noi – ideally want a beautiful beach, with good activities in the vicinity (biking, hiking, etc). I’ve read Yao Noi might not be crystal blue water, and swimming is limited due to tides. Any recommendations for us? We don’t want a big party scene, but do want something special. FYI – our last three days are at the Sarojin – where we plan to spoil ourselves.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I personally love Railay (though you won’t be doing any biking there). The beaches are awesome and there’s lots of day trip and outdoor activities to be had. I’d suggest leaving those day flexible and seeing if something comes up as you’re traveling that interests you. Inevitably you’ll talk to fellow travelers who recommend something awesome and you’ll wish that you had a few free days to be able to do it. Good luck.

  111. Family Trip to Thailand

    Hi David,
    what a wonderful service you offer here, so helpful for families wanting to travel. I have traveled a lot on my own throughout Asia, but now am wanting to bring my daughter traveling. I am planning a trip with my close friend and our two girls (10 & 11 years old). We are looking at Thailand in mid-June. BKK – Chiangmai, they really want to volunteer with elephants so we are looking at Patara Elephant Farm. We were thinking to go to Koh Chang, but looks too too rainy at that time of year. Our trip will be fairly short — only 10 days in Thailand. My questions:

    What is our best bet for a family friendly beach bungalow place in June?

    How many days would you recommend in Chiangmai with two girls?

    Any other recommendations welcome! and thank you again for such a great service.
    Janice

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I would do 3 days in Chiang Mai then head to Koh Samui or Koh Pha Ngan. On Samui try staying in Choeng Mon, Bophut, or Mae Nam. Koh Pha Ngan is great but will require an extra ferry ride from Koh Samui. Try to book a direct flight on Air Asia from Chiang Mai to Koh Samui (they fill up early) or you’ll have to transit through Bangkok. Good luck.

  112. Sarah

    Hello David!

    Your blog is wonderful and very informative. I’m very encouraged by your recommendation to book a hotel/hostel when you arrive. You never know what to expect otherwise.

    I just booked my trip last night and I’m leaving in 2 weeks! I will be in Thailand for about a week; I fly in and out of Bangkok late April 9th and fly out April 17th. I would really like your suggestion on how best to allocate my time considering the season. I’ve never been before, I’m traveling alone, and I’m 29 y/o female. I would like to check out cultural activities and the beaches. I’m not interested in the quiet, secluded beaches. I want to be in the middle of the action! I’m planning to backpack, but that’s mainly for convenience purposes. I’d prefer to fly, but an overnight train sounds very appealing.

    Thank you!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Split your time between Bangkok and Chiang Mai – about 4 days in each. Try to fly one way with Air Asia (book as soon as possible) and take the train back (book with a travel agent as soon as you arrive in Bangkok). You’ll be able to easily fill your time in both cities with easily accessible options. Good luck.

  113. Where to go

    Hi. Loving the site!

    My hubby and I want to go to to Thailand with our 13month old daughter this year. As we’ve got little Vivienne we don’t particularly want to go when it’s too hot but also want to avoid a wash-out. My question is: when and where would be the best place. We’d don’t want to travel too much but would like to do a bit of beach /cheapish accommodation and then something a bit more upmarket. We’ll have about 3weeks.

    Thanks
    Lorna

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I’d do Koh Pha Ngan (for the rustic setting) and nearby Koh Samui (for something more upmarket). Koh Samui has direct flights from Bangkok so it’s easy to get to and from – and the airport is only minutes from some of the best beaches. Don’t go between September and early-December and you’ll be fine for weather.

  114. Best Resort on Railay

    Hi David,

    Awesome blog you have here, and thanks so much for the pointers. My fiancee and I are heading to Thailand from April 14-28 and would like to spend the second half of the trip on a beach somewhere. We love relaxing, but also like snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, hiking and exploring/walking through the local cities. Railay looks awesome, but I’m a little concerned about too much rain…should we look to Ko Samui instead? Any recommendations on places to stay? We’re looking to spend up to $500-600 per day on food/accomodations etc.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Railay sounds perfect for you. Rain shouldn’t be a problem that time of year. Weather should be fine.

      The Rayavadee Resort is the best resort on Railay and should fit your budget. Good luck.

  115. Kid-friendly Beach

    Hi David. Been reading your articles and you may be the one to ask. I am travelling to Thailand for only six days. I arrive in the evening th e first day and leave the sixth day- both in and out of bangkok. My ten year old son and I have already been travelling foe a month so looking to see a bit of bangkok and also spend time on a beach relaxing. We are on a budget so hoping for two to three days as close to a unique but fun for kid beach as possible what would you suggest? I know going south seems to be the best idea but we are tight on time so hoping you may have some suggestions. Should we hope on a train as soon as we arrive? Or on a plane? Should we stick close to bangkok? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      You could hop and a plane and be in Koh Samui in an hour so if you’re short on time that’s your best bet. Koh Samet is much closer – just a bus and ferry ride but isn’t any quicker to get to. If you need a sleeper for the train they should be booked at least a day or two in advance but that’s still an option. Bus rides to the southern islands are long and tedious so I wouldn’t recommend that (but they’re fine for Koh Samet or Hua Hin).

  116. Weather in May

    Hey David!
    Great site, it’s been helpful!
    I’m planning a trip to the Himalayas in May and I want to unwind on a beach in Thailand for a few days before heading back to the states. I understand May starts off the rainy season but I’m willing to risk it and be flexible as I will be traveling solo. I’m looking for advice on potential destinations for a solo traveler interested in a combination of relaxation, snorkeling and kayaking. Any suggestions are much appreciated. Thanks!
    J

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Hi Jeff. Since it doesn’t sound like you’ll have too much time I might limit yourself to places you can fly to. Krabi, Phuket, and Koh Samui all have airports which makes them very easy to get to. Railay (near Krabi) is one of my favorite places and a great place for active pursuits (kayaking, rock climbing, etc.). Phuket is the most touristy but still many great beaches and lots of day trip opportunities. For a quiet island fly to Samui then take the short boat ride to Koh Pha Ngan. Head to one of the beaches along the north of the island. Good luck.

      1. Bus and Train Tickets

        Thanks David! I decided to give myself 10 days in Thailand, but I’ll probably find the cheapest flight into Bangkok. Do you think I could wait until I arrive to book a train or bus ticket to whatever destination suits my fancy at the time?
        Thanks again!
        Jeff

        1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

          The bus is no problem at all. Just head to the bus station and you should be on a bus going south within an hour or two. (There are also buses that leave from the Khao San road area but I recommend the “real” buses that leave from the bus station. They’re better, safer, roomier, and report fewer thefts.) Train will usually require a little more time to arrange, especially if you want a sleeper – which is the way to go.

          This is a great website for figuring out trains in Thailand.

          Good luck.

  117. Tony

    David,

    Great site you’ve got here. I’m in the final stages of planning a 2-week honeymoon to Thailand, beginning Feb 15 or 16, and some stuff I’ve read here has me hesitating on executing my plan.

    Our original plan was 3 days in Bangkok, 4-5 in Phi Phi Don, and 4-5 in the Phuket general area. We aren’t looking for a big party scene and would actually prefer to avoid it, but still find some age-appropriate fun and people (30-32). Can we enjoy Phi Phi (scenery looks too good to pass up!) or is there no good escape from the partying?

    Generally speaking we’re looking for a nice mix of culture, romance, relaxation, activity, and food food food. Is there a better place in the Phi Phi / Krabi area and Phuket area to achieve our goals? I was trying to stick to the west coast to minimize travel times. I’d also like to avoid an “America South” experience like people get in Cancun when they’re looking for Mexico.

    Thanks!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I’d highly recommend Railay near Krabi. Fantastic beaches and a nice vibe. It’s still touristy of course, though you can venture farther afield (north of Ao Nang) to find a place even quieter. Phuket has some great places so it’s easy to get away from the tourist crowds. Great food there too (much better than you’ll find on Phi Phi or even Railay) as there’s more of a local population.

  118. Ravi Bhat

    Hi David,

    We are a group of 3 couples with their boys aged 7 to 14. We plan to visit in the first week of May 2013. The visit is to be mostly interesting for the kids. They are adventure and wildlife loving by nature. Water sports is always appreciated.

    Can you kindly suggest the best way to go about this? Our visit is planned for a week.

    Thanks,

    Ravi

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I’d try a mix of Chiang Mai in the north (for the outdoors and adventure) and either Koh Samui, Phuket, or Krabi (Railay) for some beach time. Since you’re pressed for time I’d base the southerly destination on what flights are available from Chiang Mai and for returning to Bangkok. All 3 destinations are great so don’t sweat the choice. Good luck.

  119. Daniel

    Hi David,

    First of all, excellent blog you’ve got going here..really impressed with all your frequent feedback.

    We are a late 20’s couple planning our first overseas trip,..and have decided Thailand will be the place.

    We have two options atm, either the two of us go in beginning of February 2013 alone, or we can go with two other couples in middle June to July. We are planning to go for 20days.

    Basically we will mostly be doing island hopping, looking for a mix of everything – a little bit of socializing(not heavy partying) but also peace and quite. We also enjoy adventurous stuff, hiking, kayaking, water sports, scuba, snorkel, cliff jumping etc. Places we are thinking of are, Phuket,Phi Phi,Krabi,Koh Samui, Ko Tao and possibly the Trang islands.

    Weather wise February sounds ideal to me, but how bad will the crowds be? I’m struggling to find a sense of how it will be? June/July sounds a bit better regarding crowds and prices but weather not so much. Having asthma, I am concerned that I will not cope that great with the increased humidity.

    I would like to know your thoughts on which option of going would be most worthwhile to us as this is our first trip?

    Thanks, Daniel

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I would go in February. The busiest time of year is late December and January so while February is still busy it’s not crazy busy. The weather is great, the sea is calm for for taking the boat, and there’s a nice buzz at tourist hangouts (sometimes the quiet season can be really quiet). Also, I think traveling alone (as a couple) is much better for meeting people and making it a real trip. I feel some trips with friends (although great for spending time with each other) gives a trip a feeling like you never really left home – and it makes meeting new people much less likely. Hope that helps. Good luck.

  120. rafael, zainab, shareef and zach

    Dear David,
    Please help us out. We will be in Thailand for 10 days from March 28th – April 6th. My boys are 10 and 12. We are looking for a place with snorkeling, (preferably beach access), kayaking, swimming, possibly surf fishing (giant trevally)…we prefer clean calm water, palm trees and nice sand and hopefully good food! We are not interested in crowds, parties or nightlife. A walk through a jungle and interesting scenery are much more of the type of adventure that we want to see. We don’t dare how far we have to travel to get to this location and are very flexible with the cost. What location to you suggest? Thanks, Rafael

  121. Rebecca

    Hi David,

    I am planning a trip to Thailand with my 4 year old son and husband for next Feb/march. I came across your blog and as much as I would like to visit all the places you recommend – I was hoping you could help me narrow it down!?

    We are planning on 2-3 weeks away, and would prefer a more authentic and intimate experience rather than something too touristy or the large scale resorts. Great local food is a must of course and my husband and I enjoy snorkling. We also prefer more small scale accommodation with a focus on families and personalized service.

    Of course I also need to factor in the logistics of doing too much travel with a 4 year old!

    Was wondering about doing Chang Mai for something different and then some laid back beaches/ islands. Would it be too much to include all Hua Hin, Railay and Koh Phangan in our itinerary? If there’s any must picks for accommodation too that would be appreciated, otherwise I’ll sift through your blog again.

    Thanks so much,
    Rebecca

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I would do 5 days in Chiang Mai, a week in Railay, and a week in Pha Ngan. Railay and area is best for “activities”, Pha Ngan is more for sun, sand, and beach but not quite as much to see and do.

      Try to book air tickets early and you’ll get some great deals (even from Krabi to Samui which will save a long day of travel) – then book hotels after you have your travel dates.

      Good luck.

  122. Alex

    Hi David,

    I was hoping I could ask your advice. Our honeymoon will be approximately May 9 to 20 and Thailand is at the top of the list in terms of where to go.

    One of our favorite activities is swimming, particularly swimming in the ocean. Given what I’ve read about the weather in May, it seemed that our best bet was the east coast, perhaps Koh Samui or Koh Pha Ngan? However, I emailed a hotel yesterday about swimming in May on Koh Pha Ngan and they replied that this wasn’t the best time — if one of our primary activities was swimming — because of the weather.

    Any thoughts on where the best place in Thailand for a beach/swimming honeymoon for May?

    In terms of other criteria, we’d favor somewhere more beautiful/quieter and don’t need a party scene, though having some decent restaurants so as to not feel limited to the hotel would be good. We’d also probably go to two different areas (plus maybe a day or two in Bangkok) during the 11 or so days we have. In terms of budget, we could probably do one place in the lower $200/night range and then hopefully find somewhere else less expensive (perhaps in the lower $100s/night or less) for the rest of the trip.

    Thanks!

    Alex

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Hi Alex. The problem with swimming on Koh Pha Ngan during May is not so much the weather (which should be fine) but that some beaches turn to mud flats. i.e the water recedes and the water is very shallow for a long ways out making it hard to swim. Koh Samui tends not to have this problem and has been fine whenever I’ve visited during the spring and early summer. The east coast should be good for swimming that time of year. Railay, in particular, is great for swimming. Hope that helps.

  123. Trey

    Hi David,
    Great article and it really helps a lot. I’m planning my honeymoon in Mid December and need to decide on a beach. We’re limited to only 3 days at a beach so we’re trying maximize the enjoyment. We’ll be coming from Bangkok and going to Chiang Mai after. We’d like something that make getting to fairly easy (flights are fine we just don’t want multiple connections and lots of in between time). We’d like something that’s laid back and pretty with culture. We’re considering Bophut but I understand you can’t really get in the water because of the corale. What are your recommendations?

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Bophut is great – the beach area down by Zazen is nice and no coral to speak of. Choeng Mon is another good choice. Both are a short drive from the Koh Samui airport and very easy to get to.

  124. Lily Neumegen

    Hi David,

    Thanks for your informative blog! Me and my boyfriend are meeting in Phuket (I fly from London and he flies from Sydney) and want to get straight out to the islands/beaches.
    We arrive Dec 7th – Dec 15th. We are more of an exploring type than sitting round all day and wondered whether it would be too much getting the early ferry on Dec 8th to Ko Lanta (have heard it is beautiful and chilled) and staying till Dec 11th, then ferry to Ko Phi Phi from Dec 11th – Dec 14th and flying back out of Phuket late Dec 15th.
    I can just picture us getting bored if we just go to Phi Phi island… any ideas welcomed!
    Lily

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      It’s certainly doable, but those ferries change their schedules all the time so I’d be prepared to have to wait a night in Phi Phi or Ao Nang to get the connection boat onto Koh Lanta. Here’s a page that will help you get an idea of the schedule. To have any chance of connecting to Lanta in one day you’ll need to leave early – the afternoon departure will force you to stay over in Koh Phi Phi.

      Good luck.

  125. Annie

    Hi david
    firstly thanks for the awesome site, however im so confused with which island and beach to choose from. myself and a friend are spending 3 nights in bangkok over new years then heading to an island for 2 and a bit weeks. we are both early 30’s, single females. We want the idyllic white peaceful beaches but also a bit lively and meet other fun people to share cocktails with. we don’t want to be surrounded by honeymooners, families with kids or 19year olds partying full moon style. is there a dream beach/island for us? not super expensive either.
    thanks so much for any help
    Annie

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      There are lots of great beaches on Koh Pha Ngan but they’d don’t have much activity on “their” beach. If you want nightlife you have to go to Haad Rin. When the Full Moon Parties occur it’s crazy but if they’re not on (check the calendar) the vibe is fun and reasonable.

      Having said that, Chaweng on Koh Samui is probably your best bet for a mix of nightlife and beach. Lamai is its seedier cousin. Choeng Mon is great but pretty quiet at night – though Chaweng is a short hop away by taxi.

  126. Tammylynn,King

    Hello David I wanted to ask we will be staying in Bangkok for 3 days then we wanted to jump on a night train and go stay on the beach want would you recommend for a family of 6 and we would like to go elephant ridding thank you

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Both Samui and Phuket have elephant riding. Phuket’s is better than Samui’s (which gets some very negative reviews). The best elephant riding is up north around Chiang Mai.

  127. rafael

    Great Blog David!
    My wife and I and our two sons (10 and 12) are looking for great snorkeling and sea kayaking. If the snorkeling was from the beach that would be a bonus. We will be in Thailand for about 7 days around the first week of April. We would like to explore caves, lie on white sandy beaches in a scenic setting and prefer less tourists and vendors. We prefer bungalows on the beach versus concrete resorts and the boys love to start the day with a breakfast buffet! Our budget is about $250 – $300 a night…What do you suggest…

  128. Laura

    David,

    This is the best resource I’ve found in all my research. Thank you!! My family (my husband, me and our two daughters, who are in their early twenties) are heading to Thailand around Dec 7 or 8, 2013. We plan to spend a three or four nights in Bangkok, would like to visit an elephant sanctuary, then head to the beach for at least 6 nights before returning home around Dec 21. After reading your blog, I decided Zazen Boutique Resort & Spa in Bophut, Samui would be our best choice with limited time. We love to snorkel and just want to spend some time relaxing. Interesting culture would be a huge plus, too. My travel book said the monsoon goes through December there, so now I’m concerned about the weather. What do you think? Also, we’d like to visit Ayutthaya. Do you think the Royal Elephant Karaal is as good as the Thai Elephant Conservation Center and the Elephant Nature Park. We liked Boon Lott’s, but it’s booked during that time. Thank you VERY VERY much for your advice!! Laura

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Zazen is a great hotel. It has a beautiful spot on the beach. Fishermans village (and all its restaurants) is within walking distance – though some prefer taking a taxi as the sand can be a little tricky to walk on. The weather improves throughout December and should be fine by the middle of the month (though no guarantees). I’m not familiar with all the Elephant centers but do know that Kraal (in Ayutthaya) is good.

      1. Laura

        David,

        David,

        Thank you for your quick reply! I am now more concerned about the weather and thinking our girls might enjoy some of the action on Phuket. It also has the advantage of being an easy flight from Bangkok. If you were going there, where would you stay? Kata?

        Thank you so much for this great blog!

        Laura

        1. Rafael

          Hi David,
          Thanks for your tips on snorkeing. What are you thoughts of an overnight (one night) at the government guesthouses on Surin National Park? Two adults and two boys (10 and 12).
          Thanks

          1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

            I’ve never done it but sounds wonderful. One night won’t be very much as there are only two ferries a day (a slow and a fast one, and both in the morning) so you’d get there and settled in the afternoon only to be packing up very early the next morning. Also the waters can be rough and ferries canceled often during the rainy season. Good luck.

  129. george

    hi david.

    i am a single guy in my mid forties visiting Thailand at the end of Nov 2013. i will spend 4-5 days around BKK and heading to for a 3 nights stay on a clean, quite beach away from the the big crows and the young Backpackers party scene. Are krabi or koh samet good 2 options to stay away from the Full moon party? what’s best for a short trip without much airport commute ?.

    Thanks.
    G.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Avoiding the Full Moon Party crowd is easy regardless of where you are – so yes, Krabi and Koh Samet would be fine. For an easy trip from Bangkok Koh Samui is the easiest. Many direct flights everyday and it’s just a few minutes from the airport to several beautiful beaches.

  130. Jona

    Hi David,

    We are going to Thailand from October 5-14th with our two kids (2 and 5). I have to be in Bangkok from the 9-12. What are good side trips to take with my family for the weekend before and after? We were thinking of Koh Samui or Phuket or one of each, but don’t know which would be better weather wise.

    Thanks!
    Jona

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Hi Jona. The weather in October is going to be wet and maybe stormy in most of southern Thailand. Koh Samet is your best bet for good beach weather. Kanchanaburi is a good side trip from Bangkok. It’s sort of like the Chiang Mai area with lots of outdoorsy activities but closer to Bangkok. It could still be very wet in October however so be prepared for that. Good luck.

  131. greg

    Hi David,

    A few friends of mine (guys) are traveling to Thailand during the beginning of December and were wondering what were the best islands (in terms of weather) to travel during that time. We are basically going to Koh Pha Ngan to hit up the full moon party and were contemplating Ko Samui or Ko Phi Phi. We have read that weather on the east side (Samui) of the peninsula is a little wetter during early December.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Yes, it does stay wetter on the east coast for a few more weeks into November or December than the west coast. But with a little luck the weather should be good by your visit – but be prepared for a few grey days and a little rain.

  132. Shradha

    Hi David,

    Your advice is really helpful. My husband and I are having troubles choosing between Koh Samui and Phuket for our honeymoon trip. I’m sure you’d choose Samui over Phuket.

    What would be the best option to travel to both places?

    Your advice would be really helpful.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Bangkok Air has direct flights between Samui and Phuket, so that’s by far the easiest way to get between them. You could also do a bus and ferry combo that will take 5 to 7 hours.

  133. mark

    Hi David, I’m travelling to Chiang Mai from november 9-dec 2 to teach in a school. I wanted to have a bit of a holiday afterwards for 10 or so days (december 2-12 roughly) and was really keen on koh samui. I’m just a little worried that maybe it’s going to be too wet. Do you think the weather will be alright by the then and i’ll still be able to do all the beachy stuff? Or would you recommend going to phuket or somewhere else? I’m male, 21 and travelling solo if that helps you give me some ideas on what to do.

    Thanks heaps if you get back to me!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Hi Mark. The weather on the east coast can be fine by early December but it (probably) will be perfect on the west coast by then. The rains end about a month earlier on the west coast.

  134. Sukrit

    Hi David – I am thinking of going on my honeymoon to Thailand on September 24 to October 10. I want to spend around three days in a luxury beach resort. Would recommend Phuket or Koh Samui during this time of year? I’ve read in a few blogs that during September/October, one should be on the east side (i.e. Gulf of Thailand).

    Thanks,
    Sukrit

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I would go with the east coast during that time of year – but it’s not going to be perfect there either. Be prepared for some rain.

      Cheers.

  135. Daniella

    Hi David,
    Please give me your thoughts about hiring car to self drive from Phuket to koh lanta. The cost for our family will ve similar to asking the ferries Both ways. My husband wants to do this for a sense of adventure and freedom. I am also quite interested, although a bit fearful ( Thai traffic/ language barrier/ getting lost???).
    What do you think about it?
    Thank you.
    Daniella

  136. Oso Enríquez

    Hi!!!

    We´re planning our honeymoon @Thailand on middle November 2013, is it really a good season at all? we hate rain!

    Thanks

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      If you go south you could definitely see some rain (perhaps lots of it). Koh Samet which is fairly close to Bangkok would be drier in November than the south. It doesn’t quite have the character of Samui or Krabi but if you’re just looking for a nice beach it will keep you happy.

  137. renee zygas

    Hi David!
    Great site! My boyfriend and I are going to Thailand Aug 9-21st. We are planning on staying in Bangkok for 3 nights, chiang mai for 3 nights and ending our vacation on beaches. Do you think that this might be too many days in Bangkok and Chiang Mai? For the beaches, there are so many amazing choices that I don’t even know where to begin and feeling a bit overwhelmed. Do you have any suggestions? I know that Aug is right in the middle of rainy season so I’m concerned about island hopping: phucket, phi phi, railay. Or if we should just go to samui, where I have read that the rainy season is not in aug? My only problem is I love the variety of being able to island hop and am dying to see the phi phi islands. Sorry so many questions, but would love if you could offer some clarification.

    Thank you so much!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Island hopping on Thailand’s west coast can be a problem during rainy season. Rough seas and cancelled ferries can ruin the best laid plans – so if you do go build some flexibility into your itinerary. Samui will likely have nicer weather in August. Plus you can island hop up to Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao, so it’s not just one and done. Hope that helps.

      1. renee zygas

        Hello David,
        Thank you for your reply! I am still a little conflicted though and inadvertently made travel a lot more complicated. I booked flight and hotel for chiang mai without looking at flights out of chiang mai to southern thailand. HUGE MISTAKE! I thought that since travel from bangkok to chiang mai was so easy and cheap that chiang mai to southern thailand would be the same. I now know that is not the case! how would you suggest travel? still struggling on east vs west.

  138. Hannah

    Hi David

    This is a great site! I wonder if you can help, me and my partner are looking to travel to Thailand slap bang in peak season on NY Day. Heading into Bangkok from the UK for a few days before flying down to either Phuket, Krabi or Trang. We want to spend some time on 2 islands (about 4 nights on each) but aren’t sure which ones to choose. We are looking for somewhere secluded/not commercial but that still has restaurants for the evening. What would you recommend?
    Thanks

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I’d fly to Krabi and then ferry to Koh Lanta and Koh Jum. It’s the same ferry to both islands (it stops enroute at Koh Jum). Koh Jum is quiet. Koh Lanta will be at its busiest during your stay but still not as crazy as Phi Phi, of course.

  139. katika

    Hello, I am going to Bangkok next tuesday just for 3-4 days..would like to ask, if there is any nice beach on the coast or if I just need to go to some island if i want to enjoy the sun… thanks in advance

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Pattaya is only 2 hours by bus from Bangkok. The beach is good (but not great). Pattaya is a little seedy but still has a nice beach holiday vibe. Koh Samet takes a little longer to get to (with a ferry ride) but has much nicer beaches.

  140. Sonia Sharma

    Hi David,
    Planning a vacation in Thailand from 28th Sep till 5th Oct with two teenage children. Want to spend time on beaches relaxing while the teenagers enjoy water sports like scuba diving, snorkelling, wind surfing, etc. Can you advise us if the weather will be suitable for a beach holiday and which are the islands you would recommend us to visit. Thanks for your help.
    Sonia

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Koh Tao will be the best at this time of year for diving and snorkeling. The west coast (around Phuket) will have rough seas and poor visibility in September/October but Koh Tao should be great.

  141. Des

    Hi, I am planning to go to phuket next week around 20th July. Unfortunately, I heard that it is moonsoon season and the beach might not have white sands and blue sea due to this. Is that true? Which beach would be best to visit during this season?

    I am lost! Need some help here! 😀

    Thanks,
    Des

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I’m not sure if any beach stands out. They will all be rough for swimming. If you’re into surfing then the rainy season is the time to try that (though, once again, the rough water can be challenging). Kata beach is good for renting boards and taking courses. Many of the smaller beaches will completely close down during low season so the big centers are the place to be. Good luck.

  142. Tamika

    Hi, Thanks for your great site. We are thinking of going to Thailand in late January with our 15 and 18 year olds. Would like a nice beach with snorkelling and a few shops/restaurants. Been looking at Railay but wondering if it will be just too crowded at that time. Also wondered about Bottle Beach or whether teenagers would be bored there? Theyre into swimming and snorkelling.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Yes, Railay will be busy then but so will everywhere (though the peak season of Christmas/New Years will have passed). Railay is a good combination of great beaches and fun activities. Koh Pha Ngan is much more laid back and not as much to do, other than swim, snorkel, and sunbathe. Koh Pha Ngan also has nearby Koh Samui and Koh Tao that offer more to do and can complement KPN with something more active.

  143. Prad

    hi david.

    me and my wife are planning to travel to thailand for a week in the first fortnight of november. while i have booked the flight tickets, i have not really made any hotel bookings. is it mandatory to book hotels right away or is there a better time? i see a lot of good options that do not have cancellation option but offer very good rates which i would like to go for but for the uncertainty of my travel plan to thailand!!! Is there a way to put it off but still get the same rates? What would be the best time?

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Hi Prad. I would book as soon as you’re certain about your travel plans. So don’t feel rushed – hotel rates can go up, down, and all around over the course of a few months, and don’t follow any pattern. But once your dates and plans are confirmed I’d move ahead “sooner rather than later.”

      Good luck.

      1. Prad

        Hi David.

        Thanks for the input. I have done the bookings. One last piece of info that i am looking for is regarding the stretch from 1. phuket to phi phi islands to krabi and then 2. koh samui.

        For the former,i am planning to do it by the ferry while for the latter i am of the understanding that cab+ferry is the way to go

        My question is do i need to make advance bookings for these and if yes, what would be the best place online to do this?

        Thanks

        Prad

        1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

          You won’t need advance booking for the ferries or buses. Buying a day or 2 in advance from any respectable-looking travel agent will be fine. For a taxi to Koh Samui (Surat Thani) try to arrange something the day before with local drivers. Be sure to take a look inside the car and see if you’ll be comfortable for 3 or 4 hours. Verify that the car you’re looking at is the one that will take you. Good luck.

          1. Prad

            Hi David

            Thanks a lot for the info. Sure do appreciate. This is a great blog and im sure i will keep coming here for the other trips that i might be undertaking.

            Peace

  144. Gemma

    Hi,

    My Husband and i are wanting to travel in October, three nights in Bangkok then no plans from then on. Our dates are 4th-26th October. We are Thai virgins, so any advice/suggestions/tips ect we would be very greatfull. Thank’s in advance

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      That can be a great time to Travel in Thailand as there are few crowds so hotels are offering great rates and flights and train travel are easy to book. It can be rainy and wet, of course. The rain should be slowing down by then in the North so perhaps start there and then work your way south. I’d book an overnight train sleeper for Chiang Mai as soon as you arrive in Bangkok (if you wanted to go north). Other than that I wouldn’t book anything more than a few days in advance and keep your schedule as flexible as possible. If you wanted some beach time but didn’t want to risk the heavy rains of the south then Koh Samet is an island (not far from Bangkok) that doesn’t see much rain anytime of year.

      Good luck.

  145. Cha

    Hi David! i love your blog! We’re planning our honeymoon in November in Bophut beach (your fave!). Any recommendations on accommodations? Budget is $200/night.

    Thanks for your help!

      1. Cha

        Thanks David! Do you think Bophut would be a good beach to go to in November? Not sure how the weather would be. I am now thinking maybe Phi Phi or any beach in Krabi? Your thoughts?

        Thanks again for your help!

        1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

          You’re right there is usually less rain on the west coast than on the east coast in November, as the monsoon ends a little sooner on the Phuket side. That said, I think the weather on Samui tends to be more rainy (when it rains) then stormy (when it rains) as it is on the west coast. I’d choose Bophut myself but it’s a close call.

  146. Priya

    Hi David

    Very informative! In fact, it has whetted my appetite for travel…and Thailand.
    Me and my husband are planning to travel to Thailand in August. While we had earlier planned for Phuket and Phi Phi but as suggested by you and others, the weather will be better towards the gulf side. So we planning for Samui now (about 5 days). Couple of ques:
    1. What are the islands nearby that we can visit from Samui?
    2. Good eating joints in Samui?
    3. I am still enchanted with the Maya Bay pics. So weather permitting, is there a way to do a trip to Phi Phi from Samui?

    Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Koh Pha Ngan is the closest island to Koh Samui. It has great beaches and is famed for its beach parties (particularly the Full Moon Party in Haad Rin). Many boats can take you over and then return late in the evening or early morning. Koh Tao is great for diving. Tour companies in Chaweng can arrange a day trip for diving.
      Samui is loaded with great restaurants. Italian, India, and, of course, Thai are the standouts. It depends where you’ll be staying and there are so many it’s hard to suggest a few. Explore and you’ll be rewarded.
      Getting from Koh Samui to Phi Phi is a full day affair so there’s no way you can swing it with just 5 days.

      Hope that helps. Good luck.

  147. Motherto3

    Hello David! We have three children, ages 4, 6 and 7. We are looking at 10-14 days in Thailand in August, majority in Phuket. Of course this is based on what you have to say after reading this. 🙂

    We found a killer deal to fly into Bangkok, and will take AirAsia to Phuket. I’m wondering the following:

    1) Do we need to spend time in Bangkok with the kids, or just one night on arrival and one night for departure? Is there much to do for them or is it like another Colombo type area?

    2) Once in Phuket, we are looking at 3 days in Karon, 3 days in Mai Kaho, and 2-3 days near Friendship Beach.

    Can you comment on these locations within the time frame…and good for kiddos? Thanks!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I love Bangkok and I think you could easily fill 3 full days there with kids (as long as your hotel has a pool) but they’d still probably have more fun at the beach. So it’s a toss up.

      I’m sure you’ll love Karon beach.

      Mai Kaho has a steep dropoff making it dangerous from July to November (though this can be said for several Phuket beaches). It will also be very quiet at this time of year. But it’s an incredibly long and beautiful beach.

      For Friendship Beach check out this very cool hotel.

      Hope that helps. Good luck.

    2. with2kidsintow

      Hi
      We spent a few weeks (in total) in BKK last year with our then 3.5 and 5yr olds in tow. We too love BKK, but it can be very hectic with kids. Having said that, we really enjoyed the Dusit Zoo (the better part of a day can be spent there) which was quite a good one and cheap too (check for opening days/times–think they are closed either Monday or Tuesday). Also riding the river ferries are a lot of fun and interesting for the kids. sunset at the riverside park in the Khao San Rd area is also very good for people watching. BKK is a good place to pick up gear for the kids and family too, especially at MBK shopping centre as well as in chinatown and other street markets.

      Have fun, and if you are interested in more info about our travel with our kids in Thailand, check us out at With2KidsinTow

  148. Jamie

    Hello David,
    You have such an informative and helpful blog, thankyou so much!
    I am planning on travelling to Thailand in December/Jan for the new years party on Koh Phangan and I’m also looking for a picture perfect, white sand and beautiful clear water beach! I was thinking of spending a few nights in Koh Tao, Phi Phi and Koh Samui, so if you have any recommendations that would be fantastic!
    Thankyou!
    Jamie

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      On Koh Pha Ngan Haad Salad, Haad Yao, and Haad Khuat (Bottle Beach) are all great and postcard-perfect beaches. On Samui Chaweng, Choeng Mon, and Bophut are very nice. On the west coast the beaches around Railay are awesome.

      Good luck.

  149. JLL

    Hi David, what a great blog.
    I have scanned all the Q & As but can’t see anything on this: I am single woman in my [very] early 40s and looking for a place for 3-4 days (on way home from Middle East to Australia – a side trip from Bangkok, so I don’t want it to be too complicated to get there). It’ll be early-mid August.

    I am thinking a chilled, quality resort, with a good beach, but also close to some cultural activities (temples, markets) for brief distractions from my own headspace here and there but also somewhere with a moderately lively scene where I won’t feel like a fish-out-of-water at night (I was thinking of Phi Phi but am not a serious party goer and the scene – from much of what I have read here – seems too young and silly for me).

    Probably too much to ask to tick all of those boxes, but if you had thoughts I would be most grateful for them.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      For a beach resort I’d recommend Zazen boutique hotel in Bophut.

      If you were willing to skip the beach then Kanchanaburi has a lot to do and might be right up your alley. It’s a short train trip from Bangkok.

      Good luck.

  150. Fidel

    Hey David,

    So, Im a week away from my 1 month honeymoon. We were planning to go to Railay beach, but the weather so far is not so great. So, we may make a last minute decision to head to Samui or Koh Tao if the weather is bad in the south.

    Do you think it would be ok for me to arrive in Samui without hotel reservations? In other words, will I be able to really get a sense of where I want to stay or will it be a hassle to waste a day looking for places to stay?

    We’re looking for a really nice resort with a water or beach view/access. Shooting to spend less than $150 a night for the first couple nights before the “backpacking” portion of the honeymoon begins.

    Thanks mate!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      At this time of year (June/July) you should be fine arriving without advanced booking. In fact, I’d almost recommend it. A few thoughts though: it works best when you arrive in a major tourist town (like Chaweng) but less well when you’re going to, say, Mui Ne, where there are fewer hotels and they’re more spread about, making it harder to walk from one to the next. If the hotel owner/manager/receptionist senses that you’re tired, or desperate, or sick of carrying your bags from one hotel to the next then the advantage of this approach is eliminated. And you’re right that you do waste time doing it, something I’ve gotten more sensitive to the older I get. If you book in advance you can spend your time doing and seeing things instead of hunting for a hotel. That said, I sort of like hotel hunting and seeing lots of different rooms and resorts.

      If you do decide you need to book at least a few nights in advance then I’d highly recommend World Resort in Bophut. It’s right on Samui’s best beach, has a pool, and is great value. Way less than your $150/night budget. Search here for the best rates.

      If you’re just looking for the best deals in Samui then look here.

      Good luck.

  151. Remy

    Hi David,

    I’m planning my honeymoon for Novemember and was wondering what beach we should stay in/hotel? Price is not a problem we just want good quality hotel and beach.

  152. Lori

    Glad I happened on your web-site. But maybe not so glad we are flying in to Phuket Aug. 29 – Sept. 3. But, what’s a little rain!
    I would like help in trying to figure out what area to stay in during this time. (2) 24 year olds will be with me. But, they are not looking for the party-scene. Like everyone else, we would like beachfront, beautiful views, nice sand, quaint beach restaurants and bars. Laid-back and relaxed…that’s what we’re looking for.
    During low season, how are the schedules for the ferries, speed boats…I was looking at Koh Yao Noi. But read their beaches are not very good? But the view looked awesome. Of course, mom wants the view!

    With our short stay, should we just stay in Phuket? or how far to Krabi? We don’t want to spend our precious time travelling to our lodging.

    Too many web-sites…I need help…

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      The ferries and boats do not run as often in the low-season and often won’t run at all if the seas are rough.

      My recommendation would be to use this website to search for a wicked resort at a great discount. You can find some incredible deals during September and October. It’s a great time to splurge on some luxury.

  153. MK

    Hi David, How easy is it to get to Railay from Krabi airport at 5pm in the evening? It’s my first time (I wrote to you another message on a different post of this wonderful site of yours), and we will be a family of three travelling with some luggage. Please advise.

    Many thanks,
    -Manav

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I doubt you’ll be able to make it. Not sure what time the boats stop running to Railay but I wouldn’t want to do it with the sun going down. They’re not the most stable boats to begin with. Better to spend the night in Ao Nang and get an early boat the next morning. It’s about a 30 to 40 minute taxi ride from the Krabi airport to Ao Nang where you catch the Railay boat.

  154. Hristo

    Hello David,

    I am planning to go in Thailand with a friend during mid November. We were thinking to stay in Phuket for no more than 7-8 nights. There is some much to be seen and we cannot decide what to visit. We definitely want to see beautiful beaches with blue water, we want to scuba dive , to feel the proper Thailand atmosphere. If it is possible to see more of the nature and most of the paradise islands But we also want to have night life and to visit some of the bars. We do not know where to stay in Phuket. Is it possible to stay in Phi Phi ? We want to see also Krabi and Railay beach and all close islands. What can you advise us ? Where to go ? Is it possible to come in Thailand without already booked hotel and to travel during the islands and find places where to stay every day or two ? I think it is possible to fly from Phuket to Koh Samui ? Because there is so beautiful. And is it possible to visit Koh Similan from Phuket ? I am sorry for all those questions, but we are really not aware what to do and how. Thank you in advance.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Yes, pretty much everything you asked is possible 🙂

      In November you should be fine not pre-booking hotels. Just be sure to arrive wherever you’re going as early in the day as possible so as to grab a room.

      Something I do more and more nowadays is to book hotels a day or 2 before arriving someplace (but not weeks or months before when I’m still at home). This way you still have all the flexibility with where and when to go somewhere, but you don’t waste valuable time traipsing around looking for a hotel (which gets less appealing as I get older).

      For flights, however book these as soon as you can as once the cheapest tickets are gone on those budget airlines they generally are not coming back. Hotels can wait, focus on the flights first.

      If you did need links for those destinations here are the best ones:
      Hotels in Phuket
      Hotels in Phi Phi Islands
      Hotels in Koh Samui

      Good luck.

  155. Beth in NC

    These all look amazing. I have a 3-4 days on my own before I begin work in Bangkok. I have never been to Thailand and the beach appeals to me so much more than the city. I will be traveling alone. Love yoga, calm local scene, a massage (or 2?) would be great. I don’t want to go too far from Bangkok as I will have been traveling a lot. Any recommendations?

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Koh Samet is a great island and just a half day from Bangkok. That said, if you don’t mind getting on a plane you can be in Koh Samui in an hour and at the beach within an hour of landing.

  156. Lisa

    Hi David,
    My partner and I are flying to Bangkok from London Feb 2013 for a month, will are travelling light (Backpack) and are hoping to spend all our time just chilling on beaches, and eating nice food, we are not into the party scene, this trip is all about relaxing, apart from the commuting. We have a medium sized budget for accommodation but are happy to sleep in a beach hut on minimum budget.

    In your opinion itinerary wise would we have enough time to visit both the East and West Coast Islands allowing for down time to stay and chill, or what would you recommend, should we travel from Bangkok straight down South to the furthest islands Koh Lipe ect and work our way up, or do the opposite and maybe travel down to Hua Hin on to Koh Samui areas then over to Krabi / Puket and surrounding islands, would it be worth flying over to Trang to visit these islands before going home.

    Ideally we are looking at visiting the most beautiful of beaches, not too secluded but quiet and laid back.

    First time travelling so I am probably being far to optimistic trying to cover this in a month, your opinion and your top must see beaches for us would be great.

    Thank you
    Lisa

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Going to Koh Lipe and then working your way back to Bangkok through, Koh Phi Phi, Krabi, Railay, Koh Samui, and (maybe) Koh Pha Ngan, sounds like a great itinerary. Start by flying to Hat Yai. If you get there before 10am or so, you’ll be able to catch the last afternoon ferry from Pak Barra to Koh Lipe. From Lipe take a ferry to Koh Phi Phi. It also stops in Koh Lanta and only runs from November to April (the rest of the year you are limited to the ferry between Pak Barra/Hat Yai and Koh Lipe). From Koh Phi Phi you can catch a boat to Krabi. From Krabi you can take the bus (5 or 6 hours) or fly to Samui. From to Samui to Bangkok you can either fly or catch the overnight train from Surat Thani north to Bangkok. Good luck.

      1. Lisa

        Thanks very much David…. since posting this I have made a few decisions as I got my head around it slightly more… so here goes, these are my plans so far, tell me what you think !

        Fly into Bangkok 18.30 18th Feb

        22.50pm Train to Chumphon – arrives 6.00am – ferry to Koh Tao (have booked accommodation for 2 nights) I know gonna be tired !!!! and 3 class train only at this time

        Boat to Koh Phangan stay 2 nights (booked accommodation)

        Boat to Koh Samui stay 2 nights (booked accommodation)

        Boat to Surat Thani – Bus to Krabi – stay overnight

        Boat to Koh Lanta stay 4 nights (booked accommodation)

        Day trip from Koh Lanta to Phi Phi ???? Should we stay here or just visit ????

        From Koh Lanta, nothing arranged what do you recommend, not going to be pre booking anywhere now…. we have 18 days left before flying home.

        Thanks
        Lisa

        1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

          With 18 days left at the end of your trip why are you in such a hurry to fly through Koh Phangan? I’d stay longer there. If you’re not going to Koh Lipe then explore around the Krabi area, maybe one night in Phi Phi, and then ferry to Phuket and fly back north. Smart not to pre-book anymore. Having some flexibility is nice.

  157. Fidel

    Hi David,

    What a cool forum. Thank you!

    You’ve kind of already addressed this, but I wanted to consider your thoughts. My girlfriend and I will be on honeymoon in June. We are craving culture and gorgeous beaches. Hiking sounds brilliant as well.

    Im blown away by the images of Railay beaches, but having read your posts, you suggest that Samui or Koh Pha Nga may be better options for June?

    What would you do if you were me? Im thinking about 10-14 days of beach time before heading North.

    Cheers!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Yes, if I were to guess the weather will be better on the east coast during the summer months. Railay is great though and will be much quieter than Samui during that time of year – so if you did get decent weather then it would be cheap and ideal.

      1. Fidel

        Thank you good sir. Do you have recommendations for beaches on the east side for good June weather? I love the images from Railay…so something brilliant like that?

        Cheers David. What a wonderful resource you are!

        1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

          The beaches on the east coast aren’t quite as idyllic/tropical paradise looking like the Krabi region. They’re very nice, but they don’t have the cliffs and jungle as a backdrop in quite the same way. That said, Bophut on Samui is beautiful and my favorite on the east coast. There are also a bunch of beaches along Koh Pha Ngan’s north coast that are very nice.

  158. Babu from California

    Hi,
    We, the family of 4 (girls 10, 14) plan to visit Phuket/surrounding areas in the last week of Jul. We are enroute to US and plan to break off the journey in Singapore. We are looking at some great beaches with preferably onshore snorkeling. What would you recommend, please.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      The best snorkeling on Phuket is in the south around Kata and Karon beaches. But during the monsoon season is not a good time for snorkeling – the sea can be rough and there is a bad undertow. For these months you’d need to take a boat ride to Phi Phi or Racha Yai island or the Similian islands.

  159. sophie

    Hi, I am planning to travel to thailand alone in May for 10 days. I am female and early 30s where would you recomend I can travel safely and meet people.

  160. JD

    Hi David – great forum, I almost don’t need to look anywhere else for information on Thailand!

    My fiancee and I, both in our late 20s, are getting married in December and are planning a two week trip to Thailand and Laos or Cambodia. In Thailand, we’re thinking of spending 2 days in Bangkok and about 5 days on the beach.

    We’re looking for picture perfect beach holiday – white sands, turquoise waters, and not too many people. We’d like to be on a beach where we can find authentic Thai food, many options for restaurants, nice bars, and can walk around and buy trinkets at local shops, etc. We’re definitely not into clubbing and partying, so would like to avoid that scene as much as possible.

    Based on all your responses, it seems as if Bophut in Koh Samui or Koh Pah Ngan might fit our needs. If I had to rate our needs in order of priority as: great beach to lounge around, excellent local food with vegetarian options, and not too crowded, which one of the above two beaches would you recommend?

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Bophut is a real town that has a bunch of places to eat. Some parts of Koh Pha Ngan (away from Haad Rin and Thong Sala) are not much like a town at all so if you’re looking for a spot that has more to do then probably stick to Samui. The beaches on both are great. Koh Pha Ngan requires a bit more time to get to which might be a concern as you don’t have too much time.

  161. sonja

    Hi, We are travelling to Thailand for the first time in July and plan on spending 2-3 days in bangkok initially then out to an island or decent beach somewhere for a week, but there seem to be so many that people are commenting on, its difficult to decide. We have two teenagers at the younger end of teenage but they would like some action, ie kayaking, snorkelling etc but we all would like some gorgeous beaches, natural Thai setting, great local food, a little shopping, but please without mega touristee. Can you suggest anywhere, and how to get there please. Thanks so much.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I’d recommend either a quieter spot on Koh Samui (Bophut or Mae Nam or Big Buddha Beach) or Koh Pha Ngan. You can fly directly to Koh Samui. For Koh Pha Ngan you’d have to take a short boat ride from Samui. Both are great islands though Samui has some very touristy spots.

  162. Eva

    David, your forum is great; thank you.
    I am travelling solo, first time in Thailand and Ko Pha Ngan sounds great (I need quiet beach, relaxing holiday, not interested in tourists or drinking).

    Since the month of June hasn’t been mentioned, I would like to know what the weather is in Ko Pha Ngan in June. I live in Ireland and see enough rain during the year: nice weather is my priority!
    Thank you.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      The weather should be fine (some rain, some cloud but still hot with lots of sun). I’d go for the beaches along the north coast. The ones along the west coast of Koh Phangan can turn to mud flats during May and June, with the water receding from the beach during this time.

  163. Eshita

    Hi David,

    I and my husband are planning a 7-8 day trip to Thailand in May(1st or 3rd week of May). Firstly will we be able to escape the rains? Secondly, we are confused between Koh Samui and Koh Phan gan. I read a lot of reviews saying that Koh Samui does not hold the same charm as before due to the crowd. We want to relax as well as party and indulge in the activities around the beach too(scuba diving, snorkelling etc).
    Can you please help me with which destination would be a better place for a vacation and also which hotels do you recommend for a good stay.

    Thanks a ton!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Hi Eshita. I think Koh Samui still has some great towns and beaches. Just avoid Chaweng if you don’t want the very tourist atmosphere. Koh Pha Ngan is quieter and has some beaches in the north of the island that can feel almost isolated. Snorkeling is decent on both islands though for scuba diving you’ll want a day trip to Koh Tao.

      This is the best website for finding hotels on Koh Samui.

      Good luck.

  164. Stephan

    Hi David,

    My wife and I are flying to Bangkok in may.
    Three years ago we went the same period and had an amazing time on Koh Pha Ngan. We are looking for charming, affordable huts, right on the beach.
    We mainly want to relax during the day, and walk to nice restaurants with authentic Thai food and fresh seafood on the beach in the evening.
    In Koh Pha Ngan we loved Sandy Bay huts on Had Yao beach west.
    Would we find similar atmosphere on Koh Samui, or would you recommend another island?

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      On Koh Samui I’d think about Bophut, Mae Nam, Big Buddha Beach, and Lipa Noi. They’ll have a similar feel (sort of) and great beaches. For a different island with a similar vibe check out Koh Lanta. Good luck.

  165. Romano

    Hi David,

    my girlfriend and I are off to Ko Samui in July. I couldn’t work out when this blog was written, I couldn’t find a date. I’ve read a lot of negative stuff that says recently Ko Samui has got awfully seedy and westernised. Is this true, or are there still ways to have a good time there? Thanks!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Chaweng and Lamai definitely have. But there are still quiet and less-developed spots around the island. You just need to look. And Koh Pha Ngan is only a short ferry ride away from Samui. Good luck.

  166. yvonne

    I have read some of the forums but i am still confused
    We were going to stay 3 days Railay 2 days Phi Phi then we have 6 days booked in Ko Lanta , now I am not so sure about Krabi or Phi Phi ?
    We want nice beaches, good Thai Food ( Not Western food )
    like chilled music and beach bars Not loud music and buckets of beer !!
    But dont want to be totally cut off as long as we can walk to a few chilled places in the evening ,where do you think
    I am now looking at Ko Jum and Ko Kood and KO Kut and getting more confused Please Help 🙂 XX

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      If you don’t want the buckets of beer scene then avoid Phi Phi. Other than that the choices sound good.

  167. ameskay

    hi david! i dont know if you’re still answering comments, but i plan on visiting a thai beach in mid-april. i wanted to find somewhere with clean water (though anywhere in thailand must be cleaner than the san francisco bay area), easy-ish ground transportation from bangkok and with some architecturally interesting buildings. nice weather and less-crowdedness would be a plus. any suggestions? thanks so much in advance!!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Koh Samui is the most culturally interesting island but can be busy and isn’t terrible easy to get to (unless you buy a direct flight). Ko Samet is the easiest to get to and has great year-round weather but can be busy. Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Lanta are quiet (as are many other islands) but are the hardest to get to. So there’s a trade-off with all of them. All the island have great beaches.

  168. Daphne

    Hi David,
    We are a family with 4 teenagers at the ages of 10 12 16 and 18.
    It’s our first time in Thailand and we still have some decisions to do.
    We are going to koh samui on April 6 and staying for 8 nights.
    I already booked the first 4 nights in a south chaweng hotel . At first I thought I would leave the next 4 nights open and decide what to do once we are there.
    Now, because I see that more and more hotels are getting fully booked I am afraid to leave it open.
    We thought we will be 4 days in chaweng and then go to koh phangan for 4 days but I am not sure what should I do? I am afraid that if I book now for koh phangan I might regret it but I won’t be able to change it.

    What do you think?
    With 4 kids ( 3 girls and 1 boy)

    Can you help me decide?
    Thank you so much.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Personally, I would leave it open and not book in advance. There shouldn’t be any trouble finding places to stay in April and it’s likely you’re just seeing specific “sets” of bookings filling up.

      Take a look here: Koh Samui hotels and Koh Phangan hotels to see the best listings (and prices) for hotels and I’m sure you’ll see lots of availability.

      If you get there and see that things are indeed filling up you can still pre-book those last 4 days when you’re there. This isn’t that far in advance of course, but you’d still beat out the travelers that simply arrive and look for accommodations.

      I hope that helps. Good luck.

  169. Kelly

    David,
    first of all, what a great blog you have! Such great info and opinions. Secondly. you are so great at responding to peoples questions – much appreciated 🙂

    My boyfriend and I are traveling for 3 weeks in May- visiting thailand, laos and cambodia. The first 8 days or so will be in thailand. Because its May i thought the east coast islands would be better weather wise. Koh Phagnan, Ko Samui and Koh Tao were the 3 we were planning on going to. Is that too much? Are they all pretty similar in that we would be seeing and doing the same kind of things on all three? Id love to go to the West coast and see Phi Phi but I’m not sure if I am cramming too much into too little time.

    Wondering if we should stay on one main island and do mini day trips to the others. What do you think?

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Ko Samui and Koh Pha Ngan are both pretty similar in feel. Samui is more touristy for sure, but all in all a similar vibe, beaches, restaurants, etc. Koh Tao is great for diving and snorkeling. So go there if you’re into that but not much more to it if you’re not going to be diving. And yes, I’d stick to just one island (probably Koh Pha Ngan) as opposed to spreading your time too thin.

  170. Becky

    In June my boyfriend and I will be in Thailand for 2 weeks. We are coming from Malaysia and plan to spend a few days in Bangkok as well. What beach/es would you recommend for this time of year. I would like to do some rock climbing & scuba diving, he is fairly low key (sunbathing and snorkling will keep him happy).

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      For rock climbing I’d say Railay. For weather at that time of year I’d recommend Samui or Koh Pha Ngan. So you’ve got a tough choice to make 🙂

  171. tony

    hi david we want to go to thailand in may somewhere not to busy on the beach but also good food etc at night, can you recomend ,i have looked at krabi but not sure seems lots of young folk ,nothing wrong but a couple of oldies like us like it quiet ,can you help out

  172. Sophie

    HI David,
    I am looking to go to thailand in May with two great friends and possibly their little girl who is one. Could you suggest where to go? I hear the weather will be better on the east side.. But I am very keen to see Krabi etc….. We want somewhere that is not overly touristy but at the same time with nice bars and restaurants and places to go and see. Can you help? I am also keen to visit Chang mai to see the elephants and do some cookery but may do that alone followed by a night or two in Bangkok before flying home.
    Many Thanks.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      To get restaurants and bars and fun touristy things to do you have to be in a touristy spot. Samui has a nice mix of these things and some quieter spots so it’s a good choice for people looking for something in the middle between quiet and touristy. It also has great food unlike some places. The weather will be about the same on both coasts at that time of year (give or take). Krabi has a more touristy feel and I think the food isn’t quite as good but it does have lots of active/adventure things to do.

  173. Katie B.

    Hi David,

    Thanks so much for all of this great info! My husband and I are looking for a nice beach not too far from Bangkok, as our budget probably won’t allow for flights down south after we arrive in BKK. We’ve heard good things about Hua Hin and Koh Samet, and that there are transfer services available. It’s just the two of us looking to “babymoon”, but I am a sucker for those white sands and blue/green waters. Any thoughts for babymooners on a budget?

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Both places are great with Koh Samet probably the better choice. A bit more going on, nicer beaches. To get to Hua Hin it’s a simple train ride. For Koh Samet it’s bus and ferry. But both take about the same amount of time to get to (about a half-day of travel).

      For hotels try these links: Hua Hin hotels and Koh Samed hotels.

      Good luck.

  174. Beth

    Thanks for the great blog! I am a first time traveler to SE Asia and feeling overwhelmed with the 7 billion opinions of people online.

    I did have one quick question. My only available travel time is a month from mid-august until mid-september. Planning to do some city traveling in Bangkok, Siem Reap, Chiang Mai, and then spending the other half down on the beaches on the east side (Koh Samui and Ko Tao, etc). The weather charts online seem to conflict on September weather. Ideally I’d like to END on the beaches to relax (so mid-late September) but if weather has a better chance at being a lot better at the start (mid-late August) I could adjust. What do you think? Does that one month make a big difference for rainfall?

    THANKS!!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      The weather is obviously hard to predict so I’d wouldn’t base too much of my decision on the difference between one month and the next. Do what feels best for your itinerary.

  175. Terry

    Hi David, our family is traveling in April, we are landing at Bangkok then the plan was to either train or pay a driver to take us to Prachuap where we are visiting a friend. I suggested a place to stay on the way out of Bangkok to break up the trip, any suggestions please?
    we end up back in Bangkok at the end of the hols, kids are 11 and 13
    Cheers

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      There are some nice hotels right around the airport (here’s a good link: Hotels near the Bangkok Airport). Prachuap is not that far away so if you wanted to make it all the way then I’m sure you could forego the hotel and save some money. Good luck.

      1. Terry

        well the thought of staying near the airport doesn’t thrill me, we may as well continue on. either way we have a nights accommodation no matter where it is. I thought you may have nominated a spot along the way you could recommend

        so is the train journey painful? We did a similar thing in Vietnam on a train a couple of years back and travelled first class [tee hee] we flew everywhere domestic after that trip
        We were told to hire a driver from the airport to Prachuap was about $120AU, about a 3.5/4 hr trip?

        1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

          OK, I get you. Sorry about that. You could stop in Cha Am or Hua Hin along the way. (Hotel listings here: Cha-Am and Hua Hin.)

          The train would be a short and relaxing ride though timing it with your arrival will not be easy. It’s also sort of tricky to arrange train tickets from outside the country. So if easy is your main concern then taking a taxi the whole way would be the thing to do.

  176. alisha

    Help!!! I plan on going to Thailand in late August for a friends wedding in koh samui. It’d be myself, my partner and my 3 year old son. It’s obviously rainy season and I’ve been pulling my hair out with where to go. We’ve looked at Chiang Mai, Koh Chang and various other places. We don’t want to spend loads of time travelling as we’re only going for 2 weeks but we want to make the most of our holidays. We had our heart set of koh Chang but it seems it’ll be quiet and restricted to what we can do. We would like my son to see some animals and want to have an authentic Thai holiday. Any advice or help u can offer would be much appreciated. What to do where to go!!! Ahhh driving me insane 🙁

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Hi. Yeah, Chiang Mai can be great that time of year or very wet and floods. I’d go with Koh Samui. Direct flights from Bangkok. The weather (probably) won’t be perfect but it shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying the island. Most days in the rainy season see some rain and some sun. Your son might like the overnight train ride back to Bangkok so I’d consider doing that too. You can also do elephant rides on Koh Samui and the beaches are great and very kid friendly.

  177. Kw

    I am thinking of hiring a car in koh Samui as we will be staying a bit out of town in bophut. Is driving and parking easy?

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      The roads in Koh Samui are pretty mellow (as compared to the rest of Thailand) so you shouldn’t have too much trouble. Parking in Chaweng will be a pain but outside of that it should be easy.

  178. Anna

    Hi David!

    I hope you will be able to help me. Me and my other half we planning the honeymoon in krabi in the end of the june beginning of july. I am aware the the rainy season will be on the cards, but I was wondering if is that bad? I have reed that you are highly recommend koh Sumai, and I was wondering if I could stay 5 days in krabi and other 5 in Sumai? Is that possible, travel wise? Sumai is more commercial then krabi? What you will do.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      The weather is usually not bad at all. Still quite enjoyable. You usually get some sun everyday and as long as you’re prepared for some clouds and rain you’ll be fine. 5 days in Krabi and Samui is fine. There are direct flights from Krabi to Samui with Bangkok Air or take the bus which will end up being a full day trip with ferry.

  179. Sunny

    Hey All (especially David – great blog, you seem to know what’s going on.)

    My girlfriend & I (late 20s) are planning to go Thailand late Apr early May via JetStar.

    Thinking of taking 2 days at beach to do Spa, cooking, massage, jet skiing, boating, water skiing, parasailing, kayaking / canoe, watch the sunset / sunrise / fireworks over the water, crab hunting, maybe look for dolphins … (too much?)

    Maybe at Jomtien, Pattaya, Hua Hin or Koh Samet … Koh Samet looks good but the hotel prices are more than twice higher than other places.

    Any suggestions on (1) hotel stay and which (2) beach is best for most activities above.
    Also suggestions on (3) transport to & fro will be great as well!

    Our last 3 days will be at Bangkok, for shopping and eating …

    Any suggestions on what is good or not worth it to do?
    (4) Sight seeing – Grand Palace and Wat Prakaew, Khlong Tour, Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn), Chao Phraya riverbanks, Sampharn Elephant and Crocodile Farm
    (5) Shopping – Chinatown (Yaowarat) Market, Chatuchak Weekend Market, Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market
    (6) Other fun things – Foot Massage, Fish Spa, Author’s Lounge high tea, Rooftop Sunset Cocktail, Ice Skating, Water Parks, watch Thai Kickboxing (Muay Thai) Bout

    Better yet, do you have even more fun suggestions?

    It has been a year since we last travelled and it had been a loooooong 1 year. So we really want to make this count!

    Again thanks for your great blog and your suggestions! *winks
    Sunny

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      For hotels in Koh Samet go here. You’ll like it a lot more than Pattaya. It’s worth the effort to get to.

      And here’s a great overview of getting to Koh Samet.

      Your ideas for Bangkok sound great. I’d also leave time for a boat ride through the canals and wandering around the city on foot (e.g. the Sukhumvit Road district).

      Have fun.

  180. Charmane

    Hi David,
    Im Charmane from South Africa. Me and a friend want to go in pid April to an island in Thailand. Which island would have the best weather, atmosphere etc for that time of the year. We fourty something but want a lively vibe where we can do daytrip and some snorkeling aswell.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Koh Samui or Koh Pha Ngan are probably the best choices for what you’re looking for and when you’re traveling.

  181. Tina

    Hi Dave,

    My friend and I are planning a trip to Thailand for the first week of October. We are flying into Bangkok, staying there for a few days, and then wanting to head south to a good beach. We are looking for:
    – activities to do during the day
    – easy accessibility for day trips to other islands
    – safe areas to swim
    – good restaurants and bars as we like to have a good time but aren’t necessarily looking for a crazy party

    We have concerns about the weather during this time, as we have read conflicting information about the weather in Phuket versus Koh Samui. For instance if the weather is bad in Phuket, would it even be possible to take a day trip to Phang Nga Bay?

    Your blog is fantastic and has been incredibly helpful – thank you!!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      The ferries and boats can definitely be canceled due to bad weather and rough seas. This is especially likely from August to October. Samui and Koh Samet are probably your best bets at this time of year – though they don’t meet all of your criteria.

  182. Flipper

    David,
    My wife, 3 year old and I are going to be in Thailand for 12-17 days. Want to spend time at one or two beach destinations. What we look for in a beach town: decent resort with a pool (kid friendly), awesome beach with clear waters, an accessible town or restaurants/shacks that provide local flavor. If we end up stuck in a resort eating western food or in a town like Patong then I don’t feel we get a true feel for Thailand and its beautiful beaches.
    Any places come to mind?

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      The first places that come to mind are Bophut or Mae Nam on Koh Samui. Or one of the beach towns along the west or north coast of Koh Pha Ngan.

  183. Kate

    My fiancé and I are planning a trip to Thailand for our honeymoon at the end of May. Unfortunately, we don’t have too much time so we figure Bangkok and one of the islands. We have about 9 days. We’re planning on spending two days in Bangkok and then 6-7 days at one of the beach resorts. We’re trying to decide between the east coast (Koh Samui or Koh Phangan) and the west coast (Phuket or Krabi/Railay or Ko Phi Phi). The photos of the beaches on the west coast look beautiful with the big limestone rocks and gorgeous water, but we found some nice resorts on the east coast (Banyan Tree or Napasai).

    Any tips/recommendations would be much appreciated!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      It’s a tough call. Both coasts are great. I think the Thai food is better on the east coast. The scenery is better on the west coast. Probably more activities (kayaking, rock climbing, etc) on the west coast. More of a backpacker scene and more social on the east coast. Koh Samui is easer to get to than most of the interesting places on the west coast. Not sure if that helps but there you go. Good luck.

  184. Koh Lanta

    hi Dave you’ve already given me great advice from previous posts. me and my partner are going on our honeymoon to the maldives and then on to thailand last week in september for two weeks. we were going to stay around krabi but from your advice think were going to go to bophut for a week. and cant decide where to go around krabi we where maybe looking at koh lanta we want chilled out beach but within reach of resturants and few bars. would also like to know if you can recomend any excursions to whilst there we love snorkling, sightseeing ig would love to see some temples etc.
    thanks lil

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Hi. Koh Lanta is very slow during that time of year so you might have trouble finding dive shops that are open. The weather on the gulf coast is usually nicer from July until November. On the other hand, it will be quiet and you’ll get some phenomenal deals on hotels so if you were just looking to chill out, then Koh Lanta in September would be perfect.

  185. Safe Place in Thailand

    Hi David, We are thinking of going to Thailand for 2 weeks in August (2 adults, 1 child, 5 years old) Could you recommend the safest place to go for a family, ideally we would like to be by a really nice beach, thank you x

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      If safety were my primary concern I’d want somewhere you could fly to without spending much time in a car on a highway (as that’s far and away the biggest risk you’ll face: traffic and car accidents). And you want a great beach. So I’d say Bophut on Koh Samui. Awesome beach that is very calm and very kid friendly. It’s only about 10 miles away from the Koh Samui airport so no long trips in a car required. You can walk up and down the beach to find different restaurants so you wouldn’t even have to deal with traffic at all if you didn’t want to. I hope that helps. Good luck.

  186. Where to go in Thailand?

    Hi,
    I’m going to be landing in Singapore with my 9 year old son for my 40th Birthday at the end of March and stay there for just a couple of days with friends. After that I’m looking to fly into Thailand for near enough a month. I haven’t been to Thailand since solo travel at 19 n really want to share the best of it with my son! I’m pondering whether to fly into Bangkok from Singapore and head for Koh Chang, or fly into the south and aim for a beach round Krabi….and as it’s now the days of the internet, thought I’d give asking you a shot! Not got a massive budget, my son’s after some beautiful easy swimming (I’d love for him to get a real taste of tropical beach life) and animal spotting adventures…. We’re going to head off towards Kanchanaburi later. I’ll be after a bit of a social myself as well as enjoying my time together with my boy. Where would you recommend?

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Koh Chang, Kanchanaburi, and Bangkok are fairly easy to get from one to another. Krabi is a bit out of the way. Also Koh Chang is much cheaper than Krabi, so if budget is important then I’d go with K.C. Great beaches too and a bit more of a traveler’s culture in some of the beach towns. Good luck.

      1. Kath

        Thank you so much for the tips- keep em coming! Will definitely give the Karaal a visit – Ayutthaya was already appealing to us, so that’s perfect- and have booked the flight from Singapore to Bangkok so, reckon Koh Chang’s calling. Any tips for cheap but lovely Bangkok hotels gratefully received…the trip’s getting more and more real every day! Can’t wait for the time off and away again at last!

  187. Beach Resort near Bangkok

    Hi, I am planning to visit Bangkok next month with my parents, wife and a year old kid….so would not like to travel much after landing at Bangkok. Can you suggest good options near by. Which is better between koh samet and hua hin.

  188. FirstTimeThailand

    My partner and I are looking at heading to Thailand at the end of May/Start of June for 8 nights.
    We were looking at staying in patong but from what we have heard its a bit full on.
    We are thinking of maybe spending the first 2/3 nights there and then staying elsewhere for the rest of our holiday.
    What would you suggest for somewhere not to far to travel to that is a nice and relaxing place for a couple. Nice beaches and quiet.

    thanks!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Just north of Patong, Hat Surin is quieter and Hat Kamala more quiet still. Keep going north from there and you get to Hat Mai Khao and Hat Nai Thon which should be very quiet at that time of year. But there are many quiet places. You might want to wait until you arrive to plan those few days so you can stay flexible and take the advice of fellow travelers you meet. Good luck.

  189. Hotel Recommendation in Phuket

    Hi,
    I just got to know this blog and its simply outstanding. I’d like to get some advice on Phuket in the search of where to stay.

    Liked the new Renaissance hotel but get the feeling that Mai Khao beach is not that nice (in terms of delivering “the Phuket” experience).

    We are looking for a good compromise of great hotel and a truly beautiful beach. Le Meridien sounds interesting but comments put it as quite old.

    Appreciate any thoughts.

    Tks!

    Fabio

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Hi Fabio. Not sure what you mean by the Phuket experience. Mai Khao is still quite quiet and has a great beach – though is one of the rougher beaches during the rainy season.

      If you’re looking for absolute luxury on Phuket then check out Trisara Resort.

      Naithon Beach Mansion is another good option in the area (and much much cheaper).

  190. Koh Phangan in July and August

    Hey David – great blog!
    My boyfriend and I are planning a trip to Koh Phangan july/august and I see that from your perspective we’ve made the right choice! We plan to stay at Cookies Salad at the Haad Salad Beach on the West coast – How does that sound to you – do you know the hotel? I’ve heard that the water in that area at that time of year can be really shallow,, but dont know if it’s a problem though? We love to snorkel and want to stay somewhere quiet yet not isolated. We really like to stroll around and look for good restaurents in the evening and wouldnt want to be limited to just one or two options.
    Do you think we made the right descission with haad Salad being our choice of destination (we will be there for about 14 days).

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I’ve stayed at Cookies, and Bounty (which is just to the north) and another one right in there (can’t remember the name) as well. All are simple but good places to stay. There isn’t a lot around there so when you say look for other restaurants it will usually mean walking to the next hotel – but it’s fun all the same. I’ve only ever been there during the November thru January time period and the water has always been fine. But I do remember hearing that the water does go to mud flats during the spring so I guess be prepared. There won’t be many people around at that time of year so you definitely don’t need to book in advance, so try to stay open and flexible and move on if it’s not to your liking. Good luck.

  191. Weather in February

    Hi
    We are geting close to our Thailand trip, leaving Norway 3th february for a 3 week stay. After Bangkok we have planned staying in koh Samui and Surat Thani, Khanom. We are starting to get nervous regarding this. Every forecast I see from the area contains rain. Is it more rain in this area than other places in Thailand this time of year? If so, where are we most sertain of good weather?

    Again thanks for your great blog

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Honestly, I would stop worrying about it and just enjoy your trip. It will all work out. There are never any guarantees with the weather but this should be the driest time of the year. Have fun.

  192. Weather in April

    Hi David, this blog is great! My fiance and I are planning our honeymoon to Thailand for mid/late April. We plan to go Chiang Mai first for five nights and then spend five nights at a beach somewhere South. We’d like something a little more laid back that has some good sites for diving/snorkeling. We’ve looked into Kho Samui quite a bit but something about the beaches on the Andaman Sea look prettier to me with the limestone cliffs, calm waters and big stretches of white sand so we’ve looked at Krabi, Phuket and Khao Lak as well. So my questions for you are…
    Is the weather better on the East/West in April?
    If we decided to stay on the Andaman Sea would you advise Krabi, Phuket or Khao Lak (or somewhere else)?
    If we decide to go West and stay on Kho Samui, which part of the island would you recommend for beaches? The hotel we’ve looked into isdown south on Natien Beach but i’ve been told the water isn’t clear and the beach is rocks rather than white sand.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Hi Katie. The weather in April is hot but pretty nice on both coasts. On Koh Samui I’d recommend Bophut as it has a fantastic beach. On the west coast I’d say Railay beach near Krabi is your best bet. Both are beautiful. If I had to pick one, it would probably be Railay. I hope that helps. Good luck.

  193. with2kidsintow

    We wholeheartedly agree with your ‘Update’ message regarding the strategy to find a room. During our entire 1yr trip with 2 young kids, we almost always just show up where ever we are as like you said, it’s good to be able to see the room. We leave one parent with the kids at a cafe/restaurant/side of the road while the other hunts. The exceptions we make are if we are arriving in very late in the day or during a holiday (but sometimes we aren’t aware of the local holiday if we’re newly arriving in a country!). We have also had our share of misery with this, but all in all, it works well for us.

  194. Which Island in Thailand?

    I just spent I don’t know how many hours reading/researching all your great recommendations and thought I had come up with the perfect itinerary, several times over. But now I am more confused because of our short time frame and best places to get to in a short amount of time. Had Phi Phi all picked out based on prior recommendation but now that I research further I don’t think it is what we want which is how I came to your great site. Living in Shanghai but staying with family friend north of Phuket for a couple of nights then have 2 nights to go to beautiful quiet non tourist beach to do mostly nothing. On the 1st night, a family member will be joining us late so it has to be somewhat accessible. Need to stay somewhat close to Phuket airport as we fly to Chiang Mai after this. Your recommendation of Railey seems to fit us but I think too far for our time frame. Also concerns of the ferry or boats to get to Phi Phi and trying to get back in time to make a flight. The experience is more important right now than the price per night, as just want to have the best 2 nights we could anywhere. Any help you can suggest would be great. Know lots of people going to samoi but that is on the other side and we are already committed to Phuket area.

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      It does sound like trying to get to Phi Phi or Railay is a bit much. I’d hang out in Phuket and not hurry away to another island or beach. The northwest coast of Phuket has some quiet spots that might be just what you’re looking for.

  195. Thailand in November

    David,

    What an amazing blog you have. I couldn’t piece together what I wanted from the previous questions so here it goes.

    -I’ll be traveling with 3 other guys, all mid 20’s in mid-late november for 2 weeks.
    -We’re looking for adventure activities, ie. snorkling, caves, elephant rides, muay thia fights, as well as awesome night life.
    -Not much quiet relaxation necessary.
    -The only for sure thing I must attend is the Loy Kratong.

    My main concern is weather as November seems to be a transitional period between seasons. Ko Samui and Koh Pha Ngan seem to be perfect for us. Any suggestions?

    Thanks!
    Walid

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      I wouldn’t worry about the weather. You might go a few days with some rain, and then have a few days of sun, and then a few more that are cloudy, but it will be warm and you’ll still be able to do most of those things you’re interested in. The weather is usually more consistent on the east coast than the west coast. KPN and Samui sound perfect for what you’re looking for. Samui is a lot more touristy so things like elephant rides are easier to arrange there. Also, Samui’s night life is more club style. KPN has more of a beach party feel – a very very big beach party, mind you. Have fun.

    2. with2kidsintow

      We were in Koh Phangan for Loy Krathong this year–they had a lovely festival on the south end of the island and the krathongs were set adrift in the ocean. We’ve also experienced in Kanchanaburi, which was better i think as the river setting made it more intimate. Chiang Mai is where i’ve heard the biggest celebrations are as it is combined with the lantern festival too.

    3. with2kidsintow

      we’ve caught Loy Krathong 2x, most recently in Koh Phangan this past November. They had a big festival on the southern end of the island and the kathrong’s were set adrift in the sea. They also set lanterns alight too, as per the northern thai tradition. But i think the experience we had in Kanchanaburi was better as there were more ‘locals’ involved and the whole thing was more intimate as the kathrongs were set off on the river. I’ve heard though that the biggest and best celebrations are held in Chiang Mai, where the lantern lighting tradition prevails, along with the kathrongs. More touristy too though i assume.

  196. Last Minute Hotel

    Hi David, I’m trying to do a last minute booking starting in 10 days, for 2 weeks and need some advice or I will drive myself mad! Looking for a great child friendly hotel or resort, NOT in Phuket but anywhere else warm is ok! We went to Phuket last year and found it too touristy in parts, although of course the kids had a blast, just want to try something else, bit more authentic. Requirements: On a very nice beach ( eg somewhere safe and shallow and calm enough for kids, beautiful and not littered or too crowded, and a decent stretch of it, no road in front) a great kids pool, ideally kids club. Beach view rooms or even better bungalows. Somewhere idyllic and not too over run would be ideal. Bit of yoga for me would be nice bonus. Under $200/night. Where to look? We are flying from Beijing to Bangkok and can fly on from there. Thanks!

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Hi Noemi. Bophut on Koh Samui is one of my favorites. A great beach. Easy to get to. Very relaxed. Good value. Close to Chaweng if you want more choice in restaurants. Both of these places are awesome: Zazen (a boutique resort) and the Samui Palm Beach Resort (which has more of a typical resort feel). Good luck.

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