The Thailand Travel Guide – 10 day itinerary under 500USD / INR 35 k
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Its that time of the year, where everyone wants to head out somewhere, to chill, may be party or just to take few days off from their chaotic busy lives. In the madness of our work stress, we often forget to take the time out to actually plan or chalk out tickets well in advance. And, even if we grab a good deal for the flights, next comes the visa hitch before we dream about stepping into any international location. Well, now the good news is that recently Thailand government has decided to waive off the visa fees for 21 countries including India .
Thailand or the land of Smiles definitely brings smiles to every budget Indians or any backpacker worldwide whoever wants to experience the great combination of stunning landscapes, beaches, activities , food , culture and most importantly the good vibes. Thailand has something to offer for all kind of tourist. Be it a luxurious holidays or budget travel or a backpacking trip, this country makes sure that it makes everyone happy. The people , the food and the vibes is sure to win every heart.
I have always liked Thailand for its numerous holiday options which caters to all segment of travellers.And, this was my third trip to Thailand and yet I feel I have not had enough of this country. Out in this 10 day trip, I decided to venture out the places from South to North of Thailand which covered beaches to hill stations to ancient temple cities. And, all on a budget of-course.
Places I covered were Phuket—>Chiang Mai—> Pai—>Bangkok.
Here is a day wise itinerary and also I will list down on the budget details and things to do in Thailand:
Day 1 -Patong Beach | South Thailand
I arrived in Phuket by taking flights from KOL-BKK-HKT in the morning. Since, I had already booked a hostel (Lub-D Hostel), which was situated right on Patong Beach (beside the infamous Bangla Road) , so instead of getting into a private taxi , I hopped on a shared AC cab which was easily available at a mere price of 200 Baht (400 INR) per person. After check-in I decided to crash in for a while as I had a sleepless nights (when you have to travel red eye flights). Later I checked out our common lobby and there I met few of the cool travellers and befriended them immediately after couple of beers. In the evening, we decided to hit the Bangla Road to witness the party scenes . But, only to realise that I wasn’t too comfortable in spending much of my valuable time out their in the chaos. We later came back to the beach and set the day off till early sunrise.
Day 2 – Old Phuket Town -never seen Phuket | South Thailand
After a laid back morning session at my swimming pool, we decided to hire bikes to drive around the Old Phuket Town and other nearby beaches . Old Phuket Town is about 25-30 kms from Patong Beach. In this era of technology, one can hardly get lost navigating the paths. Even though, it was raining crazy all the way, but nevertheless we decided to set off towards the town. The drive was absolutely panoramic, as the roads were surrounded by hilly terrains and beautiful landscapes here and there. Old Town is an area of historical interest in Phuket and is a must to be visited.
When we reached the Old town, we saw that the main street had a significant prominence of Sino- Portugese houses/ buildings on both the sides. Colourful graphiti’s and art work were displayed beautifully in many of the walls. History says that many Europeans who were involved in mining or Tin trade around 16th century made Phuket Town as a business hub back then. Old town has several cute cafes , boutiques and book stores to be visited. We chose a very prominent cute looking cafe “ Old Phuket Coffee Station “ for our delicious Pad Thai lunch. Oh, its the same place where a shot from “Veere De Wedding” was shot. Again, not so expensive , a plate of Pad Thai costed me around a decent 120 Baht .
Next, we headed towards a temple, which was on our way to the Big Buddha Point. Big Buddha is a prominent 45 metres tall statue in the island and is built on the Nakkerd Hills, it gives a panoramic 360 view of the entire Phuket Island. Finally, while retuning we decided to hit the Karon beach for a beautiful sunset. It is a beautiful beach at a mere distance of 7-8 kms from Patong Beach, Phuket.
Note : I would recommend for those of you want a bit less chaotic beach front stay in Phuket with chill vibes , please choose Kata or Karon beach over Patong Beach . As the latter , caters to party goers mostly and is slightly expensive in terms of food and stay.
Day 3: Phi Phi Island Day Trip | South Thailand
Coming to Phuket, and not doing any island hopping trip , nah! So, on my third day, I chose the famous Phi Phi Island Day along with Maya Bay trip this morning, which also included a pit stop for snorkelling at Maya Bay and couple of other islands. There are numerous tour operators giving full day trips to these islands. I would advice to look around and get a rate idea from two to three vendors to get a fair deal for the same.
The previous night, I went ahead with one of the tour operators which gave me a decent deal and booked myself a day trip to Phi Phi Island for 1300 Baht which also included a sumptuous buffet lunch on the island. A day well spent in the blue waters!!
My three crazy day in Phuket came to an end as I boarded my flight to the next destination , Chiang Mai.
Check out this video about my experience in Phuket.
Day 4: Phuket to Chiang Mai | North Thailand
I took a comfortable timing flight from Phuket to Chiang Mai around afternoon. You can get super cheap flights when booked in advance (at times cheaper than buses and saves time too). Chiang Mai is one of the main city of North Thailand and also known for its hilly tribes and cultural diversity. Chiang Mai is at a distance of 700 kms north of Bangkok and was once a former capital of Lana Kingdom around 13th century.
There are several options to book super cheap hostels from as low as 400 INR a bed with AC and sometimes with breakfast. I decided to check into a decent hostel and set off for the night market which is a daily affair every night . This Thai vibrant city is also a shoppers paradise and is a hub for many fun activities. One can choose from Elephant Safari, Zip-lining, trekking, Cooking classes, Temple tour, Rafting , Elephant Bathing , visit to several museums , get a bamboo stick tattoo and what not !! The list is just endless..
Day 5: Visit to Pai | North Thailand
I had read a great deal about this beautiful hilly town at about a distance of 135 kms from Chiang Mai.The road from Chiang Mai is scenic and steep. One can feel the sudden drop in temperature once you scale up towards Pai. Pai is often known as the backpackers paradise for its chill vibes. This idyllic hill town is a peaceful hub for the travellers who wants to unwind in a tranquil atmosphere along the banks of Pai River. The major USP of this place are the innumerable waterfalls, river side greenery and hot springs which makes it even worthwhile to immerse in the nature. I decided to rent a bike with a local and go around to check out some of the interesting places like Pai Canyon (or Kong Lan), World War II Memorial Bridge, Santichon Yunnanese Village and Muang Paeng hot springs.
The sunsets at the Pai Canyon is definitely a must for its panoramic views of the great landscapes.
Note : Accommodation in Pai is extremely reasonable as you can get a private basic hut all to yourself at a price of mere 150 Baht . In the evening, a walk upto the Pai Walking street is recommended, if you are not staying too far from there or you have a bike to yourself. For me I decided to have a chill cozy evening all by myself in my hut.
Day 6 : Lazy day in Pai and return back to Chiang Mai | North Thailand
Although Pai has a small airport ( and you can either take a flight to your next destination in Thailand) ,but most travellers prefer the road route by shared cabs or buses (150-200 baht per way per person) for its economical option and also the way is very scenic throughout till Chiang Mai, which includes about 2000 sharp turns through hilly terrains. Hence, after walking and strolling around the Pai walking street, I decided to get back to Chiang Mai in the evening (around 3.5-4 hours ).
One can either book the hostels or budget rooms through Bnbs or booking.com . For me, since I went during the off season, hence I directly booked there, after reaching.
In the evening, I decided to walk around the night market of Chiang Mai and I was lucky that I reached back Chiang Mai on a Sunday, and therefore got to witness the Sunday night market which was a fiesta of clothes, handicrafts, souvenirs, food and artefacts from Thailand. It was good to see the various cultural performances from all walks, which were taking places in every nook and corner. There was a perfect blend of locals and international tourist all night round. Definitely, even if you are on a tight budget, I bet this place will lure you just to let your pocket go loose to pick up small odd stuff.
Note: The Sunday market on the walking street is a large market located right in the centre of the old walled city area of Chiang Mai. Starting at the Tha Phae Gate at one end the Sunday Market extends for about a km full length of Ratchadamnoen Road. You can go to the Market every Sunday from 4pm till midnight.
Day 7 : Temple tour in Chiang Mai | North Thailand
One of the main attractions of Chiang Mai is a walk around the temple complex which includes several big and small prominent temples built during the Lanna dynasty. If one has to know more about the Lanna Kingdom history and its legacy, then a 4-5 days visit to Chiang Mai can give a perfect idea about it. I decided to walk around the old temple complex to visit the main temples. They included Wat Phra That Doi Suthep , Wat Phra Singh , Wat San Dok, Wat Sri Suphan , Wat Chiang Man, Wat Lok Molee, Wat Phan Tao. Apart from this there are several other temples outside the Old city area. They are all very unique and beautiful in their own way.
Note – I always download an offline city maps and bookmark the places as per recommendation. Also, the city maps are also available with most of the hostels/hotel receptions for perusal. Street food is really amazing and cheap in Chiang Mai for you can get a large glass of juice for as low as 30 baht and a meal for 70-100 Baht easily. To commute, walk is the best way to explore any place like a local or else there are shared red taxi’s/ Song thaew (red pick up trucks converted into shared cabs) which takes you to all main points at a price of 30-60 Baht per person.
Chiang Mai is also famous for its Bamboo Stick tattoo done by the monks and Ajarns (Sak Yant Tattoo tradition), again a must for all tattoo lovers. But then again, one has to take appointment prior in advance. You can check out https://www.sakyantchiangmai.com for further details.
So, After the entire day well spent exploring and shopping last minute , it was time for me to head back to Bangkok. Hence, I took a night bus to Bangkok. Costed me around 500 Baht for a premium comfortable overnight bus .
Day 8 – Chiang Mai to Bangkok | Thailand
I reached Bangkok around 6 am at Morchit Bus station which was bit away from the city centre . I took a local bus to Lumbini Park which was at a walkable distance from my hotel (ibis Sathorn) for 60 Baht. Normally a taxi would have costed 500 Baht and upwards.Since, this was my last day in Thailand and so I decided to splurge a bit on myself and book a nice comfy hotel which was again not more than 2500 INR per night . After freshening up, I immediately headed out and decided to check out the grand Lumbini Park which was close by.
I met some fellow travellers over there and we had a lazy afternoon walking around the park and lunching at the Siam central street side. When in Bangkok, there are no dearth of places where you cannot find food to suit your budget and taste. In the evening, since I was already tired so didn’t do much other than catching up with friends over beers and coffee. But if that wouldn’t have been the case, I would have definitely gone for a river cruise at Chao Phraya river . If you don’t want to spend on a fancy dinner cruise , to get the same feel one can always get into any water taxi from any of the pier for as low as 10-15 baht and witness the night beauty of the city. Also, if you are a party animal, Khaosan Road which is also known as the Backpackers strip is highly recommended for an economical bar hopping option. And if you are not, then may be a quite relaxing Thai massage can let you rejuvenate your body and mind.
Day 9 – City tour in Bangkok | Thailand
The capital city of Thailand is so vibrant and there is so much to see even to get the feel of Thai culture and tradition, it is recommended at least 2-3 days in Bangkok. What I love about this city is that it caters to all kind of travellers whether bachelors coming to party and unwind or family coming to chill and meditate or kids have options to go for amazing amusement parks and Safari parks which is located right at the heart of city. For the first timer, may be a city day trip can be booked through any local tour operators to visit the Grand Palace, Gold Reclining Buddha, China town , flower market or floating market to name a few. If you have a city map or through this city guide , you can also do this on your own.
Note : The transport is really prompt in Bangkok but the traffic is a major concern. So, keeping much time in hand one should plan accordingly. Bangkok Sky train (BTS) and Metro rail (MRT) are also very well connected. So, commuting through that saves a lot of time and unnecessary spending on tuk-tuks or Taxi who often rips off new travellers.
And so the last evening is always parked for the much needed retail therapy which is a must in Bangkok … I would give you brownie points, if you can skip this part , lol!!
Day 10 – Return back to India
For me the last day is always relaxed, and I try to take much needed rest in my hotel room as there is always a rush back to work once back home. As my return flight to Kolkata was at night , I decided to go slow for the day and went for an easy walk around the city at leisure. I was staying at the business district of Bangkok this time , and my flight was from Don Mueang Airport. I decided to take the MRT to the last Morchit station and from there, there was a direct bus to the airport which hardly took me 30 mins from there. So, the distance which usually would have taken around 2 hours, took me 1 hour 15 min instead and at a mere price of 110 baht which would have been other for 400-500 Baht in a taxi.
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Summing up the cost of the trip :
Air fares – 9000 INR round trip (KOL-BKK-KOL)
I didn’t have any carry on luggage hence didn’t purchase any.
Internal domestic airfares- INR 6600 (approx for three flights)
Visa on Arrival – Free for 15 days upto 31st Jan 2019 for all Indian Passport holders and thereafter 2000 Baht .
Accommodation– I spent on an average of Rs. 600 on Hostel bed accommodation except for Bangkok where I had booked myself a hotel. So around 6000 INR
Transport– I usually commute by public vehicle or was mostly on foot . If you can hire a bike for your daily tours. It comes out super cheap upto 300-400 INR per day.
Sightseeings/ Trips/ Entrances fees– Around INR 4000 (Depends on the number and type of activity you wanna do).
Food – While on budget , and in Thailand I mostly gorged on street food vendor selling delicious Pad Thai, Som Tham, Tom Yums, Sweet Mango Rice, juices , shakes all at a maximum 800 Rs per day for all meals. A beer will cost you Rs. 50-150 depending on the brand. Of course if you hit the bar or a club , then the prices go up.
So overall, within INR 30000 /- , one can easily hop from North to South of Thailand .
Helpful Tips to Know:
Language – Thai is widely spoken and is also the official language in Thailand
Currency – Thai Baht which is at a conversion rate of INR 2. 14 and or .030 per USD.
Transport – All cities have got well connected Bus system and Bangkok has MRT and Sky trains as Public mass transport option. But one should for once avail the famous tuk-tuk ride, its just fun to interact with the drivers . Apart from that, Uber ad Grab app cabs are readily available .
Food- One of the famous cuisines worldwide . Thai food is known for its delicious cuisines with distinguished taste. Must try are Som Tam, Tom Yum Soup, Pad Thai , Mango Sticky rice , Chicken in red and green curry etc. Street food are also famous for its barbequed satay and sea food grills.
Check out this Bangkok Food Trail – its the answer to all your food questions.
Customs and traditions- Thailand is also known as the Land of Smiles. Hence, a warm smiling greetings is always welcome. One must pay respect and cover the legs and shoulder while entering any holy places like temples or monastery.
Must Know while shopping – Of-course bargaining is a must while going for shopping.
So, what you waiting for, why don’t you grab your passport and catch that next flight to hit the beaches or the mountains .. Since, the Visa policy doesn’t holds us down anymore.
I went on this trip in May 2018 and already feel like to get back there again with this news . What about you, do you like Thailand too? Have you been up in the north ? I would like to hear your experiences in the comments below. And If you like this article, please feel to subscribe my blog for more travel itineraries.