Thailand is blessed with dazzling beaches, perfect to spend a few days at the end of any trip recharging those batteries which have been wisely used up on the charm and offerings of this wonderful country. When it comes to picking a beach resort, you will be spoiled for choice. We have chosen just three to focus on.
Why stay here: If you enjoy snorkelling/diving or somewhere a little more off the beaten track, this is the island for you.
Many travellers in Thailand will arrive in Bangkok and be greeted with an assault on the senses, for many this will be welcome but for others, this could be a bit of a shock to the system. Bangkok does have a lot going on and so you may choose to stay there for just a couple of nights before heading north to Chiang Mai. However, on the way, you may want to stop off in Sukhothai.
Sukhothai, or ‘Dawn of Happiness’, was founded in the 13th Century and was the first independent Thai Kingdom. Over time it became abandoned and overgrown until it was beautifully restored earning UNESCO World Heritage status in 1991. Being such a key part of the country’s past and an ideal stopping point on the way to Chiang Mai, it’s difficult to refuse a quick peek at what this place has to offer.
We would recommend a visit to the Sukhothai Historical Park to tour the extensive ruins of the Royal Palaces, Buddhist temples, city gates and walls to name but a few. As the site is extensive, you will probably want to hire a bike to ensure you get to see everything and this can be done close to the entrance for about £1 for the day. This site is 12km from the centre and so make this a day trip.
After a long day of sight-seeing, there’s still more to do and so no time to rest! Head out to the night market, a bustling market where you can pick up beautiful silks, crafts and delicious food all in one place.
If you have a second day, there’s lots to explore inside and outside of the city walls including Wat Si Chum and Wat Phra Phai Luang to the North and outside of the city walls. Again, hire a bike to tour around these wonderful historical statues and explore Sukhothai.
Sukhothai is about a 7 hour coach journey from Bangkok or an hour’s flight (the airport is 40km away). You can also get the train from Bangkok to Phitsanulok and then a bus to Sukhothai (about 50km away).
Arriving into Bangkok and taking the first step outside the air conditioned terminal into consuming heat and humidity; this was my first taste of Asia. Bundled into taxis and staring, mesmerised, out of the window trying to keep up with what my eyes were showing me, I was excited for the adventure ahead.
Doors flung open at the bottom of the Khao San Road and bodies aching from a 24 hour journey willing themselves out, this was to be home for the next few days. A small team gathered together to seek out accommodation for our stay here; nothing had been booked and so there we were, a group of 11 people standing in the middle of the hectic Khao San Road with our rucksacks, tired eyes, feeling hot, not speaking much Thai and not having a bed for the night. How wonderful the sense of the secure unknown is.
We found a room for £2 per night and decided we’d put 3 people in each – 2 on the bed with just a sheet and the other at the foot in their sleeping bag. I hoped we wouldn’t have to get up in the night as there was no room to move, we were truly sardines. I thought I’d fall to sleep quickly having been through a tiring and emotional day but the sounds from outside kept me awake…..excitement of what was to come and my mind constantly whirring. One moment it sounded like people were taking down their stalls and packing away for the night but no sooner had this happened, they were setting back up for the day ahead. Motorbikes, shouting, singing, music……and my old tape of Gloria Estefan being played to help me get to sleep. I had a feeling that the rhythm of this trip was certainly going to get me!
That was my introduction to Bangkok and Asia 13 years ago and ever since, the travel bug has not left me. Thailand threw me into the world of exploring, discovering and experiencing cultures, new places, interesting food and people and I will always have a special place in my heart for the land of smiles. I still like to travel but my taste in accommodation has changed as I’ve become older. I still occasionally enjoy some of the branded hotels (Shangri La is my favourite) but I love the independents which are often more of secret hideaway which takes me back to my travelling days.
When to visit
Hot season – March to June (April and May are the hottest).
Wet season – June to October (although this can be earlier – May and sometimes even April). I visited in August and yes, there was rain, but it was welcome and didn’t disturb our trip.
Cool season – November to February (still warm to most although the north can be much cooler, especially in December).
Where to stay in Bangkok today
For terrific views across the city from it’s rooftop bar and restaurant – Banyan Tree
For a wonderful and budget friendly homestay – Loog Choob