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How To Do Thailand in 9 Days

TravelShannon GuerreroComment
Thailand: 9-Day Itinerary

Yes, flying from the United States to Thailand for just a week, or from anywhere across the world from wherever you are, sounds just plain crazy or tiring, and maybe not even worth it to you.  The thing is when you only have a certain number of vacation days, you kind of have to suck it up and take what you can get.  Seriously, having a full-time job is tough when all you want to do is see the world.

I had 9 days of work off, so I knew I had to be really strategic about where I was going to go in Thailand.  I knew I wouldn’t get enough time, at all, in each location, but if that was all the time I was going to get, I’d take it.  I was thinking of it as my crash course and introduction to Thailand.  One day I’ll go back and be able to enjoy the destinations more.

I wanted to see the three main areas - Bangkok, the north and the beaches.  I didn’t get to go to Phuket this time around, which by the way every person I talk to says to avoid Phuket, I wasn't too upset about it.  I, also, heard the beach in the far south, compared to the Gulf of Thailand, are very similar.  

Here is my 9-day itinerary:

DAY 1: Travel day.
DAY 2: Tavel Day.
DAY 3: Fly from Bangkok to Koh Samui.  Overnight in Koh Samui.
DAY 4: Take the ferry to Koh Tao.  Explore Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan.  Overnight in Koh Tao.
DAY 5: Ferry to Koh Samui.  Fly to Chiang Mai.  Explore Chiang Mai. Overnight in Chiang Mai.
DAY 6: Explore Chiang Rai and Karen Long Neck.  Overnight in Chiang Mai.
DAY 7: Explore Chiang Mai.  Overnight in Chiang Mai.
DAY 8: Fly to Bangkok.  Explore Bangkok.  Overnight in Bangkok.
DAY 9: Explore Bangkok in the morning.  Fly home.
 

Thailand: 9-Day Itinerary

If you only have a week, don’t be discouraged!  Use my itinerary as proof that you can see a lot in a short amount of time.  You will definitely sacrifice some sleep and maybe your health (I got a cold after!), but it can be done.  I really did my research beforehand, though.  I think the key is to pick the most important sites to you ahead of time, so that you can have some sort of plan.  

It was a whirlwind of a trip, but surprisingly, having 7 days in Thailand (accounting for travel), felt like a long time.  In total, I took 7 planes in 9 days.  Yes, that sounds absurd, but so worth it.  

Yours Truly // Shannon 

For tips on what to do in each location, check out my other Thailand posts:

Backpacking Thailand: What to Pack

TravelShannon GuerreroComment

Backpacking in Thailand, is definitely an experience.  In fact, it was my first experience with the backpacker lifestyle.  I quickly discovered what I actually needed and what I didn’t.  Trying to travel efficiently and with the least amount of weight is the goal.

In preparation for my trip, I was a little overwhelmed with what I should and shouldn’t bring.  After all, you have to carry your things around everywhere.  I thought I did pretty well - I wore literally everything once, maybe more and used most everything I brought along.

There were definitely some must-have items i found were lifesavers.  I actually felt like my packing and preparation kept me super prepared for all of my travel needs.

MUST PACK LIST

 

  1. Lock - This is a must have. You’re going to want to safely secure your items in the lockers at hostels. No one wants to come back to missing items. Take a light one, though - don’t get caught with extra weight.

  2. Foldable Day Pack - This came in super handy when i needed to carry around more items during the day that wouldn’t fit in my cross body bag. It folds down super small to pack easily in your backpack.

  3. Microfiber Towel - Especially when backpacking, you don’t want to lug around a large towel or worse be caught at your hostel using their “we’re not sure how clean these are” towels. This kind dries super fast and packs really small.

  4. Extra Cash - If you don’t want to worry about your credit/debit cards abroad, bring extra cash. It is way easier to quickly exchange to Thai Baht and a good number of places I went to didn’t accept cards.

  5. Downey Wrinkle Release -Guaranteed, you’re clothes will be wrinkled from being squished in your backpack. This stuff works miracles.

  6. Scarf/Sarong - Girls, if you don’t have one, pick one up when you get there. They are super cheap. I carried one around daily and it came in so handy for those times you need to cover up your knees or shoulders in the temples or even as a blanket in those overly-blasted ac areas.

  7. Packing Cubes - As an super organized person, packing a backpack with all of my things made me a little anxious. These cubes kept everything so organized, allowed me to consolidate and made it extremely easy to find what I was looking for. No more digging around blindly inside your backpack.

  8. Bug Spray - In Thailand, no one is immune. Bring bug spray with deet. You still may get bit but it’s way better than going without it.

 

There were also items I brought along that turned out to be added weight.  These are the things you don’t need to bring:

  • Electrical Adapters: Literally everywhere I stayed and went had universal sockets, including the airplanes I traveled on.

  • Mini Surge Protector: I always carry a mini surge protector with me so that I only have to use one adapter and then I am able to charge all of my electronics at once. Not necessary and just added weight.

  • Jeans: Especially if you're going during the hot seasons, jeans are bulky and take up a ton of space.

  • Bulky jackets: Like jeans, you may not even end up needing to wear it.

  • Reusable Water Bottle: You’ll just end up purchasing water bottles, so this just takes up valuable space.

I’m so glad I was able to try out backpacking.  Not sure its the type of travel I prefer, but it was an amazing experience none-the-less. Maybe I’d take a rolling suitcase next time because a heavy backpack makes you way more exhausted, especially if you take unnecessary heavy items.

Yours Truly // Shannon

3 Reasons to Visit the Gulf of Thailand

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I think when most people think about the islands and the beach in Thailand they immediately think of Phuket and the far south of Thailand.  I didn’t get a chance to visit that region this past trip, but I did have a chance to visit the islands in the Gulf of Thailand and they were beautiful.  These are the 3 reasons, or should I islands, you should visit the Gulf of Thailand.

KOH TAO

Koh Tao is generally known as scuba diving central.  I’m here to tell you that there is so much more to the island than the world renowned scuba diving you can do.  There are tons of hikes, scenic viewpoints, and beaches to take advantage of.  There is very much an island vibe on here.  The people are really laid back and life is a lot slower in pace than you would see on the mainland.

I definitely recommend staying at the Goodtimes Beach Hostel, if the hostel life is your jam.  Not sure its mine (that’s a story for another time) but this place was right on the Sairee beach and just a 5 minute walk from the swing above.  The room I stayed in had a balcony that looked straight out to the water.  It was beautiful.

You can also take a short trip to Koh Nang Yuan.  Two small islands connected by a sand strip.   Check out my blog post about it.

KOH SAMUI

I really only was able to spend a night here, as it was my stop over before heading to Koh Tao.  You have to fly into Koh Samui to reach the any of the islands in the Guif by ferry.  This island is just as beautiful as the others in the area, but a little bit more touristy meaning less of that laid back island vibe that you get on say, Koh Tao.

There are so many beautiful temples that are must sees on Koh Samui.  The Big Buddha, or as the locals call it Wat Phra Yai, is so large, that you can see when you fly into the island.  Another highlight is definitely Wat Plai Laem, which is just a short drive from the Big Buddha.  It is 3 very different, very ornate and very beautiful temples that make up this one temple, including another giant, happy Buddha (all 3 shown above).

I stayed at the 2W Beach Hostel, which I would definitely recommend to other backpackers mostly because of the woman, Katai, and her mom who run the hostel.  I was struggling to figure out how to sightsee before catching my ferry to Koh Tao at 8am.  Katai, graciously, offered to drive me and then told me to pay her whatever I’d like.  Not only that, but she proceeded to be my personal photographer, even suggesting shots, my tour guide and got me to the ferry on time with a hug and a come back soon to boot!

If you stay here, make sure to sign the world map wall and look for my name (and my little hometown of La Canada, CA) on there!  It’s really awesome to see how many people have stayed there and be in awe of how many countries people have traveled from.

KOH PHANGAN

Located in between Koh Samui and Koh Tao, Koh Phangan is literally party central.  This island is the home to the infamous Full Moon parties that you here so much about.  Even if there isn’t a full moon, I’ve heard that doesn’t put a damper on things by much.  There’s apparently always something to celebrate on Koh Phangan - night long parties are a nightly occurrence. 

The ferry here from Koh Samui is just about an hour long.

I’m still looking forward to see Phuket, Krabi and Koh Phi Phi in southern Thailand one day, but I am so glad I was able to visit the Gulf of Thailand.  I only wish I could’ve spent more time there.

Yours Truly // Shannon