The Ultimate 3 Month Guide to Experiencing Southeast Asia

Say the words, ‘Southeast Asia‘ and you’ll draw mental imagery of long-tail boats, white sand beaches, lazy rivers and rolling mountains, gorgeous temples, flaming street food, scooters on every corner, thundering waterfalls, lush rainforests, and ruins of civilisations past.

It’s a part of the world that can overwhelm first time visitors with how much there is to see and experience. The warm weather, wealth of attractions, natural beauty, and the captivating culture of each country makes it (as a region) the perfect holiday destination.

During my nine months bouncing around Southeast (SE) Asia in 2019, I visited Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, The Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore. On my trip, I had the luxury of time, largely because I worked remotely, which allowed me to travel for months on end, while balancing adventuring with digital consulting and teaching English.

This post is a build upon a two week, ‘see and do as much as possible’ itinerary I created for first time visits to Southeast Asia. Much of the advice here will be the same, with location and travel advice expanded.

Where to Start With Planning

There are guidebooks galore, but to keep my travel load light, I favor Instagram (bookmark posts; save them to folders), Pinterest, and online travel resources when it comes to trip planning.

Typically, before any trip, I start a Google sheet, where I track details about a place, things I want to do, reservations, logistics (hotel/hostel info, flight details, arranged transportation, booked tours, etc.). Having everything in one place makes it simple to access or add to on the go via my phone, as well as easy to share with family and friends so they know what I’m up to.

Before I left for my trip to SE Asia, I looked up key bits about every country I wanted to visit to help me roughly outline where I wanted to go, and how long I may want to spend in each place. I’ve provided a sample itinerary below, but there’s so much to do in every country, your own research will help you figure out which places are the most interesting to you.

If you’re feeling stressed about planning so much in advance, don’t. Plan the first few weeks, and then look things up as you go. Chances are, you’ll befriend other travellers, and they always have the best advice.

While there are things that make every part of SE Asia special, don’t feel pressured to see and do everything. Take your time when you need it, rest along the way, appreciate the journey above anything else.

Essential bits to make sure you look up and have taken care of before leaving: 

  • International driver’s license (if you plan on renting a motorbike)
  • Understanding of which countries you need a visa to enter (based on your passport)
  • Extra copies of your passport photo for visas^^ (I brought six to have extras, just in case)
  • Copies of your credit cards/bank cards/passport (digital and one printed version)
  • Travel insurance (while I travelled SE Asia, I was insured through World Nomads, and then Safety Wing)
  • 1-2x digital bank cards (in addition to a debit card and credit card – easier to replace; less risk in having your funds hacked)
  • Travel vaccinations (consult with your GP before leaving)

How Much to Save for Backpacking SE Asia

When I ventured around SE Asia, I worked as a digital consultant and English teacher, but was between ‘9-5 jobs’. However, because I had steady cash flow on the road, I often paid a bit more to stay at places with stable, high speed wifi and was able to treat myself to splurges at nice hotels, as well as experiences that I may not have been able to afford if backpacking on a slim budget in my early 20s.

If your budget is limited, you’ll likely want to travel much slower to get the most out of each destination.

In terms of actual budget, range can vary significantly. I know people who’ve travelled on less than $2,000 for three months, and others who spent +$2,000 a month. I tracked my expenses with Trail Wallet to help me understand how much I was spending in different places. Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia and Thailand were notably cheaper to travel than Singapore and Indonesia (specifically, Bali).

Key Expenses to Account For In Your Budget ($, USD): 

  • Flights/buses/trains to get to/from Southeast Asia, as well as around: Buses are usually under $10 for 5-6 hour rides, and flights are often $20-50 for domestic travel, and +$30 for international (cost varies widely internationally, depending on the distance travelled, but is still far less than you’d pay for a flight in the US)
  • Baggage fees: You pay by weight, not necessarily number of bags. I usually ended up paying $6-12 per flight for 15-20 kg of baggage. Book before you’re at the airport for the best rates
  • Visa entrance fees: Usually between $30-50 when required. As an American, I paid visa fees to enter Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Everywhere else I visited was free to enter on a short stay (sans Indonesia, which I paid for because of the length of time I stayed)
  • Accommodation: Shared hostel rooms may be found for as low as $3-5 or under $20, it varies widely depending on where you are. As a general rule of thumb, islands will always cost more than cities and there’ll be less availability, so it’s usually better to book in advance than elsewhere if your dates aren’t flexible and you care about quality of stay. I stayed in private hostel rooms or my own Airbnb (with decent internet), to have privacy to work, and averaged $15-50 per night. A few times, I treated myself to nice hotel stays in Bangkok and Bali for $100-130 per night
  • Tours: Depends on the length and country. A 3-4 hour food tour in Hanoi was under $15, whereas twice, I spent $60-80 on day trips in Indonesia with custom itineraries and private transportation
  • Food: Again, this’ll vary widely. I’m partial to upmarket cafes for great coffee and ‘get work done’ vibes, but also love street food, both for its flavour and cost efficiency. A mix of both is usually how I like to see and experience a place. Either way, as long as you’re not eating every meal out at upscale places, this is the budget area where you can likely flex the most – easy to scale up or down, depending on your needs
    • To give you a sense of how far your money can go, while in Indonesia and staying in trendy Canggu, I put myself on a $15-20 per day food budget, which often covered 1-2 nice coffees, a smoothie bowl, plus vegetarian lunch and dinners at nice cafes. I could have definitely done Canggu on less, but loved the abundance of fresh, healthy eats and treated myself daily

More than any specific budget guidance I can provide here, where you go, how you travel and how long you travel will depend how much money you need. And, if your travel timings are more flexible, consider working from the road. Teaching English is a great way to earn a bit of cash on your own schedule with little experience (aside from a college degree) needed.

If you really need to cut costs, look up walking tours and other free activities, eat street food, stay in hostels, do your own laundry. There are tons of ways to save on the road.

When to Visit SE Asia

Do your research before booking. SE Asia is composed of islands, mountains, countryside and buzzing cities- each country experiences different weather throughout the year.

I started travelling Southeast Asia in mid-March, which meant I had ideal weather conditions in many of my destinations. There were a few missteps, such as visiting Cambodia at the end of their dry season when it was unbearably warm, and visiting Ho Chi Minh City at the start of their rainy season, but overall, I planned things well.

If you’re curious about how I timed things, see below. But, note, my trip evolved a lot as I went, and if I planned it again from the beginning, I’d follow more of a ‘route’, rather than doubling back through some places.

March: Singapore; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Thailand
April: Cambodia; Laos; Vietnam
May: Vietnam; Penang, Malaysia; (& South Korea and Taiwan)
June: Indonesia
July: Indonesia
[August: Australia & New Zealand] 
September: Singapore; Indonesia
October: Indonesia
November: Malaysia; Myanmar

When your’e planning your trip, also consider holidays. Visiting Thailand and Laos during Songkran and the New Year was intentional, but also a water filled couple of days. I loved it, but being doused in water all day may not be for everyone.

How to Get Around Southeast Asia

If you want to see as much as possible in the time you have and have the budget for it, fly. An abundance of air carriers, like Air Asia, make doing so easy peasy. You’ll find flights usually aren’t that expensive, but if you’re on a budget, overland travel (trains, buses) may be more your style. Plan on ferrying between islands in Thailand, and flying between the Andaman and Gulf sides.

Not sure about the best route to take, per the time you have and available budget? Google your question. Loads of travellers have come before you, take their advice.

Once you reach a place, grab a taxi to your hotel/hostel if you’re trying to save time, or look into public transit options. In some places, like Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, there’ll be plenty of public transit options available.

Things You Must Pack

First and foremast, pack light. When you’re on the move,  you don’t want to cart around a ton of baggage. Plan on doing laundry once a week, and leave room for things you want to bring home. Even if you’re not a souvenir person, as I’m not, you may find yourself excited to bring things like coffee from Thailand or custom tailored clothes from Vietnam back with you.

If you’re struggling to pare down clothes, keep in mind you’ll find international chains, like H&M, in big cities (Bangkok, Singapore, Hanoi), in addition to boutiques and local market stalls just about everywhere, so it’s simple to pick up items while travelling.

This is the full list of everything I packed to backpack the world through different climates for a year- all of which, fit into a 55L Osprey backpack.

5 ‘Can’t Forget’ to Pack Items:

  • Sunscreen / aloe vera
  • Mosquito spray
  • Luggage locks
  • Global charger
  • Light, breezy casual clothing, and a scarf or sarong to cover legs or shoulders at temples

Ladies, consider wearing sports bras only. Seriously, it’s so hot and humid, I can’t even imagine wearing a normal bra. Low impact sports bras are where it’s at- the last thing you want are things chafing and sticking.

While we’re talking about sports bras, women, you’ll need to cover your legs past your knees, and shoulders/upper arms when entering temples. I usually wore a midi / maxi dress or trousers and brought a scarf to ensure I was covered on top. If you forget, many temples let you rent items for a small fee. Always check a temple’s rules before visiting- if they don’t have a website, try TripAdvisor for tips from others who have visited.

And, always carry local currency. Most places, unless they’re upmarket, are cash only. And, even if they do accept card- there’s likely a minimum spend. No need to exchange at an airport- just withdraw from an ATM, I use global digital banking cards like Revoult so there are no foreign transaction fees.

One last thing to keep in mind when it comes to packing- if you’re on the move a lot, you’ll spend a decent amount of time in airports- don’t spend even more time in them by checking luggage or waiting for it to arrive. Carrying on translates to ease of travel throughout your trip.

Key Advice to Know Before You Leave for Your Trip

Before you travel, research whether you’ll need visas to enter each country you intend to enter. Of the ones I’ve listed here, visas are required for American travellers visiting both Cambodia and Vietnam- others are visa exempt for short stays.

If you’re able, bring an unlocked phone. You’ll find wifi at most upmarket places (cafes, hotels, hostels, restaurants), but the benefits to having service to call a tuk tuk or taxi, check currency conversions or language translations, or even look up directions or opening hours for something are endless. If you’re only in each country for a few days, pick up a SIM at the airport when you land- you’ll be surprised by how affordable they are.

Download a few apps to help make your travel plans and time in each country easier.

Research how to say basic greetings in the primary language of each country you’ll visit, as well as key cultural customs to know. While many people you’ll encounter will speak at least transactional English, don’t expect everyone to. Google Translate is my go-to when I need help communicating.

// 21 Things I Wish I Knew Before Travelling to Thailand //

Don’t do anything in a temple you wouldn’t do in a church (or other place of worship). Temples are a place of worship. Be respectful with photography or video and in observing anyone who is worshipping.

If taking a taxi, insist the metre be turned on ahead of getting in.

Bring hand sanitizer and tissues. Sometimes, there won’t be toilet paper in public bathrooms (cue the tissues). And, in public bathrooms and cities, I find having hand sanitizer critical. Especially if eating street food while wandering.

Whether you’re coming from the United States or not, withdraw $50-100 USD. You never know when having USD will come in handy- especially in places like Cambodia which use USD flexibly alongside their own currency, and where you’ll want it to cover visa fees. I also like to keep a few small bills ($5, $10) handy in a second wallet in case I ever run into ‘trouble’ and need a ‘bribe’.

Make sure you understand the rules of renting a motorbike, as well as the potential risks before doing so. And, if you need it, be sure to arrange an international license before you travel.

Places You Can’t Miss: A Sample, Jam Packed Itinerary

If you’re backpacking SE Asia on a set timeframe, it’s likely because you’re travelling only for the amount of money you’ve saved, or you’ve taken a sabbatical from work and/or are taking a break to travel in between jobs.

Whatever the reason to travel, I’d recommend planning to spend time in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Indonesia.

I’ve left off the Philippines, as the islands are notably more expensive than other places in SE Asia, and the transit infrastructure isn’t as developed as other places (e.g. Thai islands), so it can take a bit longer to get from island to island.

It was also a conscious decision to leave Myanmar off this itinerary, given ongoing political distress (read: a military coup and genocide) occurring in the country. You’ll also notice Timor-Lester and Brunei aren’t on this SE Asia itinerary, both because they can be more expensive to travel to, and because I haven’t been to either.

I’m providing an outline of roughly how much time to spend in each country, and key stops to make, but also would only plan the first couple of weeks if you’re starting off on a longer trip to SE Asia.

I traveled the region for over nine months, and I planned the first six weeks too much and regretted not having more flexibility to spend another day or two in places that really appealed to me. For the rest of my trip, I didn’t book exit flights/plans until I was in a destination and understood just how much time I wanted to spend there. That decision led to some beautiful, unplanned adventures to places I never imagined I’d visit on my trip as a result of flight deals (Taiwan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, India).

While it’s good to have a general plan, and do a bit of research for each place before you your trip starts, don’t over-pace yourself or over plan. You’ll meet people along the way and will appreciate having the flexibility to switch things up at leisure.

The below day allotments are only recommendations, flex up or down based on what appeals to you in each place, and how your trip goes as you’re on it. Generally, the below route follows an upward and over progression, but you could switch it up based on flight deals, or any other factor.

In some places, like Luang Prabang, I’ve suggested a few more days than you ‘need’ to see the key sights because, some spots are magical places to slow down and chill out.

Singapore: Start your trip here– 4 days (+1-2 days more than you ‘need’ to account for jet lag)
Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Langkawi – 10 days
Thailand: Andaman Islands, Gulf Islands, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Bangkok- 23 days
Cambodia: Siem Reap, Phnom Penh- 6 days (more if you’re heading to the islands, e.g. Koh Rong or Koh Rong Sanloem)
Laos: Luang Prabang- 5 days
Vietnam: Hanoi, Sa Pa, Ha Long Bay, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City- 26 days
Indonesia: Bali, Flores, Gili Islands- 19 days

The Best Things to Do in Each Destination

SINGAPORE:
10 Things You Must See, Do & Eat in Singapore
The Caffeine Lovers Guide to Singapore
A Whirlwind Day in Singapore

MALAYSIA:
Everything You Must See & Do in Penang, Malaysia
8 Cafes You Can’t Miss in Penang, Malaysia
The Best Street Art in SE Asia, Found in Penang
Three Places to Find Excellent Coffee in Kuala Lumpar
Off the Tourist Track: Visiting the Federal Territory Mosque in Kuala Lumpar
5 Things You Must Do in Kuala Lumpar

THAILAND:
Two Weeks to Travel the Best of Thailand
Finding Serenity in Bangkok, A Review of the Banyan Tree Hotel
Living Luxuriously in Bangkok: Five Star Hotels On a Budget
21 Things to Know Before Traveling to Thailand
Finding Floating Markets in Thailand
Three Temples You Can’t Miss in Bangkok
Four Cafes in Bangkok Worth Your Baht
Chiang Rai, Thailand: A Sleepy Mountain Town with Stunning Scenery
Three Temples You Can’t Miss in Chiang Rai, Thailand
The Best Cafes in Chiang Rai
Visiting an Ethical Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand
Why You Should Try a Gong Bath in Thailand
Getting on Island Time: 48 Hours in Koh Tao
The Best Places to Watch the Sun Set in Koh Tao, Thailand
Affordable Island Luxury at the Charming Fox in Koh Samui
Discovering Pristine Island Paradise on Koh Nang Yuan
Cafes You Can’t Miss in Chiang Mai
Three Temples You Must Visit in Chiang Mai, Thailand
The Best Places to Eat in Chiang Mai for Vegetarians
The Ultimate Guide to 3 Days in Chiang Mai
Dramatic Limestone Cliffs + Lush Jungle in Railay, Thailand
A Thai Island Day Trip That’ll Leave You Speechless: Hong Island
Relaxing in the Maldives of Thailand, Koh Lipe
The Most Beautiful Day Tour in the Thai Islands: Snorkelling, Caving & Idyllic Beaches
3 Reasons Koh Lanta is My Favourite Thai Island
The Case for Visiting Thailand’s Phi Phi Islands
A Ranking of the Thai Islands: ‘Must Visit’ to ‘Okay to Skip’
The Complete Guide to Ferrying Between the Thai Islands
Celebrating the Water Festival, Songkran, in Bangkok
4 Places I Still Want to Visit in Thailand

CAMBODIA:
A Two Day Guide to Seeing the Best of Angkor Wat
Four Cute Cafes in Siem Reap You Can’t Miss
Four Things to Do Your First Time in Siem Reap
A  Magical Sunrise in SE Asia: Angkor Wat at Dawn

LAOS:
How Luang Prabang in Laos Stole My Heart in 3 Days
Cruising the Mekong River at Sunset
Three Beautiful, Chill Cafes You Can’t Miss in Luang Prabang
Observing an Ancient Ritual in Luang Prabang, Almsgiving
The Most Beautiful Waterfall I’ve Ever Seen, Kuang Si Falls in Laos

VIETNAM:
Two Weeks to Travel the Best of Vietnam
A Love Letter to Vietnam
Discovering Coffee Mania in Sai Gon
The Ultimate Guide to Sai Gon, Vietnam
The Only Tour You Need to Take in Sai Gon: A Motorbike Street Food Tour
Every Kind of Coffee You Must Try in Vietnam
The Best Vegetarian Banh Mi I Ate in Vietnam
How Da Nang Stole my Heart and Became One of my Favourite Places in SE Asia
Slowing Down in Hoi An: Why I Loved Fell For This Historic Slice of Vietnam
A Guide to Getting Clothes Custom Made in Hoi An, Vietnam
Charming Cafes to Visit in Hoi An, Vietnam
A Night Cruising Vietnam’s Stunning Ha Long Bay
Why You Should Consider Visiting Sa Pa in Vietnam
The Ultimate Guide to Hanoi: Must Do’s & Can’t Misses
Pho Cocktails? Where to Find this Unique Drink in Vietnam
Eating Hanoi, Vegetarian Street Food Style
A Coffee Lover’s Guide to Hanoi

INDONESIA:
Why You Need to Visit the Gili Islands on your Bali Holiday
The Ultimate Guide to 3 Days in the Gili Islands
The Ultimate Guide to 72 Hours in Labuan Bajo, Flores
The Best Day Trip to Take in Indonesia
The Ultimate Bali Planning Guide
The Ultimate Guide to Jungle Paradise in Ubud
Every Cafe You Must Visit in Ubud
Chasing Waterfalls Near Ubud
10 Things You Can’t Miss in Canggu, Bali
15 Cafes in Canggu for Your Smoothie Bowl & Latte Fix
5 Spas in Bali I Loved Enough to Return to Time After Time
5 Sights in East Bali That’ll Take Your Breath Away
The Best Places to Workout & Zen Out in Bali
A Magic Day in the Mountains of Munduk
The Best of Uluwatu in One Day
A Night at Munduk Moding: An Eco-Luxe Hotel With One of Bali’s Best Infinity Pools
Going Off the Beaten Path in Bali, Finding Serenity in Seririt
Seeing the Best of Breathtaking Nusa Penida on a Day Trip from Bali
Three Luxury Hotels in Bali That’ll Take Your Breath Away

Have you ever travelled Southeast Asia? Where would you go on a long trip to explore the region? 

Other Posts You May Enjoy

An Unforgettable Two Weeks Exploring Southeast Asia

Say the words, ‘Southeast Asia‘ and you’ll draw mental imagery of long-tail boats, white sand beaches, lazy rivers, rolling mountains, gorgeous temples, flaming street food, scooters on every corner, thundering waterfalls, lush rainforests, and ruins of civilisations past.

It’s a part of the world that can overwhelm first time visitors with how much there is to see and experience. The warm weather, wealth of attractions, natural beauty, and the captivating culture of each country makes it (as a region) the perfect holiday destination.

During my nine months bouncing around Southeast (SE) Asia in 2019, I visited Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, The Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore. On my trip, I had the luxury of time, largely because I worked remotely, which allowed me to travel for months on end, while balancing adventuring with digital consulting and teaching English.

Although I had time, I also moved around a lot- keen to see and experience as much as possible. It was my first visit to this part of the world, but it won’t be the last. Since returning, I’ve had many ask about ‘two week itineraries’ for SE Asia. Even with the pandemic, many are looking forward to a time when they’ll be able to travel again.

Why two weeks?
Often, that’s the amount of time most can take off from corporate jobs without preparing for a longer period of leave, or using too many/all of their allocated vacation days. That said, the longer you have, the better. There’s so much to see and do in each country far beyond what’s represented here. For a first taste of Southeast Asia though, this guide is designed to maximize your experience.

Every place in Southeast Asia has something special to offer, no place is the same- even within a country, things vary significantly from north to south. I’ve included Thai islands, but not an entire week lounging at the beach. You’ll move around a lot, so if that’s not your preferred travel style, consider spending more time in a place. But, if you’re keen to see as much as possible, this guide may be right up your ally.

Where to Visit in Southeast Asia?

Narrowing down places to highlight was difficult. In some ways, this guide is controversial. Often, recommendations for first time visitors to SE Asia center in picking one country and exploring one or two places. While that’s a fine way to travel, I also tend to oscillate between trips where I see and do a lot, and others where I travel slow, spending more time in a single place.

If visiting SE Asia for the first time, I’d definitely want to experience as much as I could. There are 11 countries in SE Asia- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Lester, and Vietnam.

If you’re short on time and out to see as much as possible, I’d recommend venturing to 4-5 of my favorite countries, and picking one place to see in each- Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

In Singapore, spend time seeing the city.
In Malaysia, soak up the sights of Kuala Lumpar.
In Thailand, go island hopping.
In Cambodia, visit the ancient ruins of civilizations past.
And in Vietnam, eat all the street food. Seriously, all of it.

Will you see and do a lot in a short span of time?
Absolutely.

Will it be a relaxing, rejuvenating vacation?
Perhaps not. But you’ll learn a lot, see a lot and experience a lot. Which, for me, always sparks joy in the moment and long after I’ve returned home.

I’ll also say this- if you’ve haven’t travelled much, this is not the itinerary for you. You may do better visiting one or two places vs. bouncing from spot to spot. But if you’ve travelled quite a bit, enjoy fast paced trips and aren’t bothered by repacking or being on the go, this adventure packed itinerary may be of interest to you.

When to Visit in Southeast Asia

Do your research before booking. SE Asia is composed of islands, mountains, countryside and buzzing cities- each country experiences different weather throughout the year.

I visited Singapore, the Andaman Islands in Thailand, Bangkok, Siem Reap and Hanoi in late March / early-mid April, and would recommend that as an optimal time to visit. Siem Reap will be at the end of the dry season, and it may be unbelievably hot, but it’s tolerable for a short period of time, and much better than visiting in the rainy season.

How to Get Around Southeast Asia

If you’re short on time, fly. An abundance of air carriers, like Air Asia, make doing so easy, peasy and affordable.

Once you reach a place, plan on taxing a Grab or taxi to your hotel/hostel, again, to save time (and stress of navigating a new place). And, depending on where you are, plan on either walking places or using ride sharing (Grab & Go Jek are the ‘Uber’ of SE Asia) to save time and allow you to see more with the time you have.

Must Bring Packing Essentials for Southeast Asia

First and foremast, pack light. When you’re on the move throughout your holiday, you don’t want to cart around a ton of baggage. Trust you’ll be able to either do your own laundry or send out at least once during your trip, and leave room for things you want to bring home. Even if you’re not a souvenir person, as I’m not, you may find yourself excited to bring things, like coffee from Vietnam back with you.

This is the full list of everything I packed to backpack the world through different climates for a year- all of which, fit into a 55L Osprey backpack. If you’re only spending two weeks in SE Asia, pack clothes you can mix and match.

5 Must Pack Items:

  • Sunscreen / aloe vera
  • Mosquito spray
  • Luggage locks
  • Global charger
  • Light, breezy casual clothing, and a scarf or sarong to cover legs or shoulders at temples

Ladies, consider wearing sports bras only. Seriously, it’s so hot and humid, I can’t even imagine wearing a normal bra. Low impact sports bras are where it’s at- the last thing you want are things chafing and sticking.

While we’re talking about sports bras, women, you’ll need to cover your legs past your knees, and shoulders/upper arms when entering temples. I usually wore a midi / maxi dress or trousers and brought a scarf to ensure I was covered on top. If you forget, many temples let you rent items for a small fee. Always check a temple’s rules before visiting- if they don’t have a website, try TripAdvisor for tips from others who have visited.

And, always carry local currency. Most places, unless they’re upmarket, are cash only. And, even if they do accept card- there’s likely a minimum spend. No need to exchange at an airport- just withdraw from an ATM, I use global digital banking cards like Revoult to minimize foreign transaction fees.

One last thing to keep in mind when it comes to packing- if you’re on the move a lot, you’ll spend a decent amount of time in airports- don’t spend even more time in them by needing to check luggage or wait for it to arrive. Carrying on equates to ease of travel throughout your trip.

Key Things to Know About Visiting Southeast Asia

Before you travel, research whether you’ll need visas to enter each country you intend to enter. Of the ones I’ve listed here, visas are required for American travellers visiting both Cambodia and Vietnam- others are visa exempt for short stays.

If you’re able, bring an unlocked phone. You’ll find wifi most upmarket places (cafes, hotels, hostels, restaurants), but the benefits to having wifi to call a tuk tuk or taxi, check currency conversions or language translations, or even look up directions or opening hours for something are endless. If you’re only in each country for a few days, pick up a SIM at the airport when you land- you’ll be surprised by how affordable all are.

Download a few apps to help make your travel plans and time in each country easier.

Research how to say basic greetings in the primary language of each country you’ll visit, as well as key cultural customs to know. While many people you’ll encounter will speak at least transactional English, don’t expect everyone to. Google Translate is my go-to when I need help communicating.

// 21 Things I Wish I Knew Before Travelling to Thailand //

Don’t do anything in a temple you wouldn’t do in a church (or other place of worship). Temples are a place of worship. Be respectful with photography or video and in observing anyone who is worshipping.

If taking a taxi, insist the metre be turned on ahead of getting in.

Bring hand sanitizer and tissues. Sometimes, there won’t be toilet paper in public bathrooms (cue the tissues). And, in public bathrooms and cities, I find having hand sanitizer critical. Especially if eating street food while wandering.

Whether you’re coming from the United States or not, withdraw $50-100 USD to carry throughout your trip. You never know when having USD will come in handy- especially in places like Cambodia, which use USD flexibly alongside their own currency, and where you’ll want it to cover visa fees. I also like to keep a few small bills ($5, $10) handy in a second wallet in case I ever run into ‘trouble’ and need a ‘bribe’.

Finally, make sure you understand the rules of renting a motorbike, as well as the potential risks before doing so.

A Sample, Jam Packed Itinerary

For the purpose of outlining an itinerary, I’ve started the trip in Bangkok. Based on where you’re originating, you may find it’s better to fly in Singapore or Kuala Lumpar and start there. If you do that, then you could easily switch up this itinerary- all three are cities with major international airports. There’s plenty to see and do in each, but if you only have a day in one or two of them, you can still hit up some of the highlights.

Growing up it the US, it was usually advised to book return flights when traveling, but if you’re trying to see and do as much as possible in SE Asia, I’d book one way there and back (price pending, of course). Doing so gives you more flexibility in where you visit, and how much you’re able to see.

One more note about the below- it’ll look like a lot of travel days, but in reality, you’ll likely only need to block a quarter or half day to do things like flying from Phuket to Siem Reap, or Siem Reap to Hanoi. The reason I’ve blocked the day as a travel one is to give you flexibility, but depending on your flight times, you’ll be able to use part of those days to sightsee as well.

Day 1: Fly into Bangkok
Day 2: See Bangkok
Day 3: Fly to Krabi
Days 4-6: Spend 2-3 days in Railay or Ao Nang; Ferry to Phuket to depart Thailand
Day 7: Fly to Siem Reap
Day 8: Explore Siem Reap
Day 9: Fly to Hanoi
Days 10-11: Explore Hanoi
Days 12-14: Fly to Singapore or KL
Day 13: Explore Singapore or KL
Day 14: Transit home

Where to Stay in Each Place

Where you stay should reflect both what you plan on doing (proximity for ease of adventuring), as well as your budget. I’ve made recommendations in every post I’ve linked for each destination below, but Booking.com and Airbnb are great places to check, based on your schedule. Before booking, be sure to read the reviews on their sites, as well as Google- they’re always telling.

Must-See Highlights in Each Place

BANGKOK

Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, is a bustling metropolis- to say the least. The intense, constant grid lock is enough to cause sensation overload in even the most seasoned traveller. Mix in the dozens of beautiful temples, vibrant street markets, hundreds of restaurants and cafes, and infamous nightlife, and you’ve got a city with more to see and do than anyone could possibly find the time for.

  • Favorite things to do: Visit Khao San Road; Have sunset drinks at one of the city’s swank hotel rooftops
  • Favorite place to eat: Chinatown for great street food
  • Favorite places for coffee: Bangkok’s cafe scene is worth your baht. Toby’s, Not Just Another Cup, and Rocket Coffeebar are a few of my favorites
  • Favorite cultural site (museum; temple): Temple hopping: The Grand Palace; Wat Arun; Wat Pho

// Two Weeks to Travel the Best of Thailand //

RAILAY / AO NANG

The soaring cliffs and pristine beaches of Railay, Thailand have hovered near the top of my travel ‘wish list’ for years.

Every time I saw photos, I couldn’t believe it was a real place.
It appeared to be actual paradise.

Many people actually think Railay is an island, but it’s actually part of mainland Thailand. It is, however, difficult to reach. Because of the cliffs and dense jungle, you can only access Railay East or West by taking a long tail boat. The isolated location lends an island feel, which manifests as secluded relaxation.

If Railay is too tough to get to in the time you have, you could stay in adjacent Ao Nang to be more central with the benefit of proximity to exploring Railay.

  • Favorite things to do: Go for a morning walk on Railay Beach; Do two day trips to Hong Island, Four Islands, or Koh Phi Phi. Day trips often start early (8/9 am) and return mid-afternoon (3 pm), so you’ll still have time to hang around when you return
  • Favorite place to eat: The food scene didn’t impress me too much in Railay, but I also need to be overtly careful, because of my food allergies
  • Favorite places for coffee: Coffee Station

// Dramatic Limestone Cliffs + Lush Jungle in Railay, Thailand //

SIEM REAP

Siem Reap is a gateway to the ancient world.

With history dating back to the year 802, it’s somewhat hard to believe Siem Reap was a sleepy town in the Cambodian countryside until the world found out about Angkor Wat. If you’re visiting Siem Reap, chances are you’re there to see Angkor, and by extension, Angkor Wat. And, while the ancient temples should be at the very top of your sightseeing list, there’s plenty more to do in Siem Reap.

  • Favorite things to do: Sunrise at Angkor Wat (you’ll need to get temple tickets the day prior); Get a Khmer massage; Wander Siem Reap’s markets
  • Favorite place to eat: New Leaf for Khmer curry and Khmer noodle soup; The night market
  • Favorite places for coffee: Little Red Fox
  • Favorite cultural site (museum; temple): Angkor

// Four Things to Do Your First Time in Siem Reap //

HANOI

Just the name of Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, conjures images of motorbikes, street food flames rising up from the sidewalk, its infamous train street, French colonial architecture, charming cafes, and chaos- always chaos. Vietnam is the kind of place that awakens your sense and pulls you in from all angles. The country’s capital, Hanoi, best illustrates this- it’s a crazy, beautiful, historic place.

You could say it was love at first sight my first night in Hanoi. The city’s charm snaked its way into heart, and as I explored back streets over the course of a few weeks, I couldn’t deny how hard I was falling for Hanoi. I call Vietnam my favourite country in Southeast Asia, a title it earned but not without fierce competition from Indonesia, Laos and Malaysia.

  • Favorite things to do: Vegetarian street food tour; Sipping beers at Bia Hoi junction; Wandering the old quarter
  • Favorite place to eat: Banh Mi 25 (best vegetarian banh mi)
  • Favorite places for coffee: Cafe Dinh (egg coffee, old school style); Cong Caphe (frozen coconut coffee)
  • Favorite cultural site (museum; temple): Temple of Literature

// The Ultimate Guide to Hanoi //
// Two Weeks to Travel the Best of Vietnam //

SINGAPORE

Ah, Singapore- the clean, futuristic, cultural city has a lot to interest travellers. With Sing’s airport being a major international hub for connecting flights around Asia, there are often flight deals to be found, with long layovers to see a bit of the city.

  • Favorite things to do: Gardens by the Bay (Supertree Grove and Cloud Tree Forest, in particular); Nightly light show at Marina Bay Sands; Wander colorful Kampong Glam and Koon Seng Road
  • Favorite place to eat: Hawker Centres, in particular Tekka in Little India
  • Favorite places for coffee: Free the Robot; % Arabica; Common Man. Coffee not your thing? Try cheese foam fruit tea at Hey Tea
  • Favorite cultural site (museum; temple): ArtScience Museum

// 10 Things You Must See, Eat & Do in Singapore //

KUALA LUMPAR

Famed for its skyscrapers and shopping malls, Kuala Lumpar (KL) is the capital of Malaysia. It’s a melting pot of culture with a vibrant mix of Malay, Indian, Thai and Chinese. The food is fantastic and there’s no shortage of things to do.

  • Favorite things to do: Climb to the top of Batu Caves (free); Gawk at some seriously good street art; Watch the sunset or sunrise at a rooftop pool
  • Favorite place to eat: Merchant’s Lane for brunch; Connaught Night Market or Bangsar Baru Night Market (more touristy) for nasi lemak, satay and roti canai
  • Favorite places for coffee: VCR; Pulp by Papa Palheta; Feeka Coffee Roasters; Lim Kim Cafe
  • Favorite cultural site (museum; temple): Admire Thean Hou Temple

// 5 Things You Must Do in Kuala Lumpar //

A Final Note

Know your plans may not work out. As with travel anywhere, things can go wrong.

If you need a long tail boat to get to a resort but it’s storming, you may have to spend a night on the mainland. It’s just how it goes, and why travel insurance is so important- I always use Safety Wing or  World Nomads. Remember, you’re experiencing a new country, full of unfamiliar sights, sounds and things. It’s okay if everything doesn’t work out exactly ‘to plan’- you never know what you’ll discover, sometimes it may be even better than what had imagined.

Have you ever been to Southeast Asia? Where would you recommend people visit on their first time in this part of the world? 

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Two Weeks to Travel the Best of Thailand

Thailand is truly a beautiful country.

With expansive, golden beaches, lush forests, glittering temples, ace coffee and excellent street food, there’s a bit of something for everyone.

Truth be told, two weeks in Thailand isn’t nearly enough time to even begin to cover a fraction of what the country has to offer.

But, it’s certainly a start to exploring an incredible nation.

Before visiting Thailand, I’d dreamed of seeing the temples, and beaches for years. Leaving, I was a bit disappointed- I felt many of the places I went to were over-developed for tourism. And, by means of comparison to other places in SE Asia, I much preferred my time in Vietnam and Laos.

However, I do believe Thailand is a great introduction to Asia- especially for trepid travellers. If you’re a seasoned traveller, looking for adventure, the below itinerary may not be the most interesting trip for you. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit Thailand- there are plenty of places that are less visited, and still retain the aspect of Thai culture that makes the country so incredible.

An Itinerary to Hit Thailand’s Best Bits in Two Weeks

You could spend months in Thailand, and still leave with so much to explore.

A first time trip to Thailand usually has three common components: a few days in the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, a few days in the north of the country in mountainous Chiang Mai, and then a few days south, island hopping.

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The below plan aims to allow for enough island time, intermixed with mountainous explorations in the north, and seeing some of Bangkok’s best sights. You can, of course, flex time in each spot up or down, but to avoid feeling too busy on holiday, I’d allow for at least a few days in each spot.

Day 1: Arrive in Bangkok (use this day as a rest day, for the most part)
Day 2: Explore Bangkok
Day 3: Explore Bangkok
Day 4: Fly to Chiang Mai
Day 5: Explore Chiang Mai
Day 6: Explore Chiang Mai
Day 7: Explore Chiang Mai / Day trip to Chiang Rai
Day 8: Fly to the Gulf or Andaman Islands

Gulf Islands
Day 8: Fly to Koh Samui (you’ll likely lay over in Bangkok), ferry to Koh Tao
Day 9: Explore Koh Tao
Day 10: Explore Koh Nang Yuan from Koh Tao
Day 11: Explore Koh Tao
Day 12: Day trip to Ang Thong National Park from Koh Tao
Day 13: Explore Koh Tao
Day 14: Ferry to Koh Samui; Fly to Bangkok; Depart Bangkok

Depending the time of your departure from Bangkok, you may need to leave Koh Tao sooner.

I’ve recommended spending time on Koh Tao than Koh Samui or Koh Pha Ngan because it’s smaller, and quieter. That said, there are some gorgeous hilltop resorts on Koh Samui, like Charming Fox if you decide to spend a night or two on the bigger of the Gulf islands.

Andaman Islands
Day 8: Fly to Krabi (you’ll likely lay over in Bangkok), take a van to Railay, and ferry to Railay beach
Day 9: Explore Railay
Day 10: Day trip to Hong Island
Day 11: Day trip to Four Islands from Railay (Chicken Island, Poda Island, Tup Island and Koh Mawr)
Day 12: Day trip to Koh Phi Phi
Day 13: Explore Railay / Krabi
Day 14: Ferry to Phuket or Krabi, Fly to Bangkok, depart Thailand

Depending on the time of your flight, and where it departs from, you may need to leave Koh Phi Phi a day sooner.

If it were me, I’d opt to head to Koh Lanta instead of spending more time in Railay. While I enjoyed Railay, I much preferred my time in Koh Lanta.

Once in Lanta, I’d spend a day seeing the island, and then another doing one of the most gorgeous day trips in the Thai islands. From there, if my departure flight permitted, I’d head to Koh Phi Phi for a day before departing. I haven’t listed this itinerary option as the ‘first choice’, because it’s more taxing, but also means you’ll get to see more of the country.

Alternate Andaman Islands Route
Day 8: Fly to Krabi (you’ll likely lay over in Bangkok), take a van to Railay, and ferry to Railay beach
Day 9: Day trip to Hong Island
Day 10: Explore Railay in the morning, ferry to Koh Lanta in the afternoon
Day 11: Explore Koh Lanta (rent a scooter)
Day 12: Day trip to Four Islands from Koh Lanta (Koh Kradan, Koh Ngai, Koh Chuek, Koh Muk)
Day 13: Ferry to Koh Phi Phi, half day trip around the Phi Phi islands (afternoon)
Day 14: Ferry to Phuket or Krabi, Fly to Bangkok, depart Thailand

Gulf Islands or Andaman Islands?

If you’re trying to decide on whether you should visit the Gulf Islands or Andaman side, your choice may come down to weather.

Being on opposite sides of mainland Thailand, each experiences a different rainy season. There are times, like early April, that overlap in good weather on both side, which is when I visited.

Another factor in your choice should be what you want to do.

The diving on Koh Tao is legendary the world over, so if you’re coming to dive, you’ll likely want to choose the Gulf Islands. But, if you’re after the limestone karsts and secluded beaches that cue visions of Thailand at first glance, you’ll want to head to the Andaman side.

How to Get Around Thailand

Arriving in Thailand

It’s likely you’ll fly in and out of Bangkok if you’re coming from another international hub in the US, Europe or Asia.

Take note there are two airports in Bangkok, both offer multiple ways to get to the city centre, but if you’re not on a tight budget, call a grab. It’ll be cheaper than taxing a taxi, and more comfortable than navigating public transit.

Getting Around Cities

In both Bangkok and Chiang Mai, you can take Grab (SE Asia version of Uber), tuk tuks or taxis around any distance that isn’t walkable.

Bangkok also has a river ferry, and an established metro system.

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Getting Around the Country

If you’re short on time, fly. AirAsia and Bangkok Airways (as well as a few other regional operators) offer daily flights throughout the country. Book in advance for the best rates.

There’s a more eco-friendly overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, but if you’re short on time, the hour long flight is a better option.

And, when flying north to south, you may layover in Bangkok or Phuket, but it’ll be much quicker than taking a combination of trains and buses to a ferry port.

Getting Around the Islands

I’ve written a guide to ferrying between the Thai islands.  Once you’re at the islands, you’ll find ferrying between them to be pretty easy.

Ferry operators differ in some regards, but are comparable.

To figure out how each island is connected, simply Google ‘Railay to Phuket’ or ‘Railay to Koh Lanta’, and so on. Your search should return a number of operators with schedules.

It is a bit of work to understand where each island is in relation to each other, then check each schedule and plan out your timings, but fairly easy once you get the hang of it.

One thing to note, most ferries reduce or stop services during the rainy season- especially on the Andaman side.

When it comes to booking ferries, I did so in advance to avoid being stuck on any given island, but from what I observed, you’ll likely be fine reserving a day or two in advance at the ferry office of whichever island you’re at. Many hotels/hostels are also able to help with this service for a small fee.

What to See & Do in Each Itinerary Stop

The below recos are by no means exhaustive- there’s plenty to do in each stop on the itinerary. However, if you’re short on time, you’ll need to prioritize.

Bangkok

Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, is a bustling metropolis- to say the least. The intense, constant grid lock is enough to cause sensation overload in even the most seasoned traveller.

Mix in the dozens of beautiful temples, vibrant street markets, hundreds of restaurants and cafes, and infamous nightlife, and you’ve got a city with more to see and do than anyone could possibly find the time for.

KEY SIGHTS

  • Go temple hopping: Thai temples don’t hold back. Stunning mosaics, impressive gold statues, no detail overlooked. These temples to visit in Bangkok are absolutely breathtaking
    • The Grand Palace: If you only visit one temple in Bangkok, make it this one. But, start early- early as in there before it opens so you’re one of the first few dozen people inside. It gets insanely busy- it’s an absolute madhouse an hour after opening
    • Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha): Named after a monastery in India where Buddha was believed to have lived, it’s one of the oldest temples in Bangkok. The primary reason to visit is to see the huge reclining buddha, measuring over 45 metres of pure gold leaf. It’s quite a sight to behold
    • Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn): Some people argue this temple is the most iconic in Bangkok, more so than Wat Pho. It was built during the 17th century on the bank of the Chao Phraya river. The main spire of the temple can be seen from miles away. When you get close enough, you can see the beautiful white exterior of the temple is covered in layers of gorgeous mosaics
  • Visit a floating market: Today, Damnoen Saduak is Thailand’s biggest and best preserved (for what that’s worth) floating market. Hosted on 19th-century canals built by King Rama IV, the market occurs every day of the week. It’s best to go with a group to visit, as the markets are outside of the city
  • Swim in a rooftop pool: The best way to gain access is by staying in a luxury hotel, which are surprisingly affordable in Bangkok
  • Visit Khao San Road: This is backpacker central in Bangkok, and is home to some popular cheap hostels, a range of bars, along with the historic Phra Sumen Fort (one of the oldest remaining fortifications in the city)
  • Have sunset drinks at one of the city’s swank hotel rooftops: My favourite, for its incredible views is Vertigo, atop Banyan Tree hotel
  • Shop at the Chatuchak Weekend Market: With over 15,000 stalls, the market is truly a sight to behold
  • Eat your way through Chinatown on a guided food tour

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK

Say ‘Bangkok’ to anyone and they’ll likely cue images of gridlock, or a crazy party scene. They may even think of the city’s beautiful temples.

Chances are, they won’t mention a great cafe culture.

Call me pleasantly surprised to discover a whole slew of trendy, hipster-esque cafes. Why was I so happy?

Because, those kind of places often mean great coffee and delicious brunch.

Are these places ‘Thailand cheap’?

No, but they are still more affordable than any brunch or cup of artisan coffee I’d have out in New York City or London.

While in Bangkok, I usually went to brunch and then had street food for dinner. One night, I treated myself to a fancy dinner at Banyon’s restaurant, Saffron.

Don’t get me wrong- there are plenty of great places to eat in Bangkok, but with the city being so large and traffic being what it is, I usually only picked one place a day as a destination to dine- often for brunch.

  • Gallery Drip Coffee: Part art gallery, part coffee shop, Gallery specialises in single-bean drip coffees with beans sourced from around the world
  • Toby’s: A beautiful space on Sukhumvit Soi 38, Toby’s specializes in Aussie breakfast dishes and creamy flat whites
  • Rocket Coffeebar: Specialising in artisan coffees, Rocket sources its beans from Central America and Africa. The food menu looked good, but I was tempted by an orange cocoa cold brew- bitter, sweet and savoury
  • Not Just Another Cup: Walking distance from Rocket (only about five minutes), I popped in here for a delicious avocado, pomegranate, mango salad and you guessed it, cold brew. Not Just’s cold brew was everything I hoped for- crisp, slightly bitter and refreshing

ACCOMMODATION RECOMMENDATION 

Bangkok attracts visitors from all over the world, including high end jet setters. It should come as no surprise some of the world’s greatest luxury hotels are spread out across the metropolis.

But, in Bangkok, luxury doesn’t have to mean $$$$$. On a flashpacker’s budget, I stayed at affordable luxe hotels in Bangkok.

Two favourites for ultimate luxury- Banyan Tree and SO Sofitel. And, if you’re in it for the poshtel life, the private rooms at Warm Window Silom are incredible.

Chiang Mai

Everyone told me I’d love Chiang Mai, and of course, they were right.

Temples, gong baths, meditative yoga, Thai iced teas, all of the cold brew, lovely massages, and some seriously good night market eats.

It’s a place I miss every day and am already plotting a visit to again.

KEY SIGHTS

  • Gawk at Some of CM’s Most Beautiful Temples: Over 30 temples line CM’s streets, these three can’t be missed for their history, significance and beauty:
    • Wat Doi Suthep: Revered as one of the most important temples in all of Thailand, Doi Suthep is worth the journey to get there. Not only is the temple stunning, but the surrounding complex is full of interesting things to observe, and there’s a great view of Chiang Mai
    • Wat Phra Singh: Known as the most popular temple in Thailand, by visitor numbers, Wat Phra Singh is located in old town, only a short walk from Wat Chedi Luang. The temple is so popular because it houses Chiang Mai’s most important Buddha image, the Lion Buddha
    • Wat Chedi Luang: Built in the early 1400s, Wat Chedi Luang was as one of the tallest buildings in Chiang Mai before collapsing during an earthquake in 1545. Reconstructed in the 1990s, it’s famed for once housing the Phra Kaew (Emerald Buddha)
  • Indulge in a Massage: Some of the best massages I had in Thailand were in CM. One of my favourites: Fah Lanna for a luxe massage experience. It’s pricer than most Thai massage places, but for a reason- you get your own private village, pick out the oils you want to use, and the therapists are well trained. And, Arayana Spa was the best foot massage I had in all of SE Asia
  • Visit an Elephant Sanctuary: If you do decide to visit a sanctuary, please do your research ahead of time and book with a truly ethical operator. You shouldn’t be allowed to ride or wash/bathe with the elephants. If any touching is permitted, it should be minimal. I went to Elephant Nature Park (ENP) and had a good visit. Many of the rescued elephants at ENP arrived with serious injury or history of abuse
  • Visit the Night Bazaar: CM’s night bazaar is said to be one of the best in all of Thailand. I’m not big on shopping for souvenirs, but if you are, this market is definitely the place- spices, homewares, paintings, clothes, infamous ‘elephant pants’ scarves, jewellery- it’s quite the assortment
  • Take a Local Yoga Class or Experience a Gong Bath: There are several studios in Chiang Mai, and with both yoga and gong baths drawing deep roots to Asian culture, taking a local class or trying your first gong baths are perfect activities
    • I visited The Yoga Tree twice during my week in CM-once for mindful yoga (hatha flow) and another time for the gong bath
  • Take a day trip to Chiang Rai: If you can spare an additional 2-3 days, I’d recommend spending them in Chiang Rai– the temples were some of the best I saw in all of Thailand. If you’ve only got a day though, there are plenty of tour operators that stop at two of the best temples- the white temple and the blue temple

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK

Spending five days in Chiang Mai, I left already craving the delicious food I’d eaten.

Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, these places have great options for the veg friendly and those who prefer a bit of meat or seafood with their meals.

My favourite places to eat in the city

  • Farm Story House (Old Town): Finding this cosy cafe on my first day in Chiang Mai (CM) by wandering a narrow side street felt like the best discovery. I ended up coming back several times during my stay- the food was delicious and affordable, and cafe environment, quiet and relaxing
  • The Larder Cafe & Bar (Nimman): It may not look like much from the outside, but rest assured, the breakfast game is top notch
  • Khao Soy Nimman (Nimman): You must come here to try the khao soy- a spicy, salty noodle soup that’s from northern Thailand. I had mine with egg and it was * to * die * for * – the best meal I had in CM
  • Kalare Night Bazaar (Old Town): Dined on the best pad Thai I had in all of Thailand (also SE Asia) at this night market. If you’re new to night markets, this one should make you feel at east- it’s clean, stalls have sanity rankings and there’s plenty of space to sit down and enjoy the entertainment (usually live music)
    • Look for the yellow pad Thai signs or simply the winding line- it’s the longest line in the market
    • There’s also a great fruit shake vendor (behind the yellow pad Thai stall), serving up frothy, delicious fruit smoothies
  • Rustic & Blue (Nimman): Another favourite for breakfast or brunch- I tried simple eggs with vegetables and a green juice

And, two dessert recos-

  • Fruiturday (locations in Old Town and Nimman): Hands down, best fruit shakes I had in CM (and I tried a few different places). Liked this place the most because the fruits on offer are extensive, and, most of the staff speak at least conversational English, so it’s easy to ask for adjustments to your shake (e.g. no sugar)
  • Cheevit Cheeva (Nimman): This place does bingsu (Korean shaved ice) very well. I tried the strawberry bingsu, which was delicious- sweet, but not too sweet with a flavour punch from the fresh strawberries mixed in

WHERE TO HAVE COFFEE

CM is a haven for digital nomads. People with laptops are everywhere- cafes, restaurants- you name it. It’s no surprise- the wifi is strong, and in the case of cafes, the ambiance is great and coffee is excellent. Coffee culture taken seriously in this small city. 

My favourite cafes in the city– 

  • Ristr8to (Nimman): True coffee lovers will enjoy this- it’s a place for people who take their coffee seriously
  • Nine One Coffee (Nimman): Most mornings in Chiang Mai started here. Whether staying in the cafe to work for a bit or taking my cold brew to go, I dug the size of the cold brew (medium) and appreciated how strong the brew was
  • Aka Ama Coffee (Old Town): The coffee is fantastic and I love how close their old town location is to a few of the best temples in the city
  • Ponganes Espresso (Old Town): The cold drip was ace, but I also enjoyed the iced Thai tea I had when I stopped by another time
  • My Secret Cafe (Old Town): Hidden away from the hustle of old town, this place is a serious gem. It’s cosy, quiet and has a drink menu with loads of options
  • Overstand Coffee Shop (Nimman): Known for being a good breakfast spot in the Nimman neighbourhood, the coconut espresso is also worth popping in for

ACCOMMODATION RECOMMENDATION 

Really, there are two main areas short term visitors stay in while visiting CM- Old Town or Nimman.

Old Town is where you’ll find most of the frequently visited temples, as well as lots of markets, shops, restaurants and cafes.

Nimman is known as the student area of CM, and packed full of cafes, restaurants, shops, and near a huge mall.

I stayed at a poshtel in Nimman, and loved the neighborhood. I had a nice time wandering Old Town, but was glad to be away from the core touristy bits.

Getting to Old Town was simple from Nimman- it was a 20-30 minute walk, or easy to hop in a Grab (Uber of SE Asia), hail a tuk tuk or jump in the back of a songethaw (shared taxi truck).

Tuk Tuks were always the most expensive, Grabs were usually a few dollars (less than $3 USD), and songethaws were the cheapest- often $1-2 USD or less, pending your destination.

In terms of where to stay, I’d recommend booking a hotel or Airbnb- whatever is best for the kind of trip you’re taking. There’s no shortage of great lodging options.

Gulf Islands (Koh Tao, Koh Nang Yuan)

Most people venture to Koh Tao for some of the best diving and snorkelling in Thailand. Keen to snorkel, I decided to spend time on Koh Tao because of what I’d heard about its vibe- young, but laid back.

KEY SIGHTS

  • Relax on Sairee Beach: One of the island’s main beaches- here, you’ll find tons of restaurants, and cafes, but not so many to kill the relaxed vibe
  • Watch the sunset: I’d long heard tale of Koh Tao’s ‘sky on fire’ sunsets- when the entire sky is awash in a pink, orange and red glow- casting the final light of the day over the sea, sand, bobbing long tails, swaying palm trees and island mountains. Spend at least two nights in Koh Tao for your best chance of seeing an incredible sunset- Fizz is great for its on-the-beach beanbags, and at Blue Water, there’s usually on-the-beach live music
  • Rent a long tail boat, and drive around the island, stopping at Mango Bay and Shark Bay: Shark Bay gets its name for the Blacktip Reef sharks that dwell near the rocks. And Mango Bay is full of tons of colourful fish
  • Spend a day in paradise on Koh Nang Yuan: Only a 10-15 minute long tail ride from Koh Tao, Nang Yuan are a group of three private islands connected by a sandbar. On Nang Yuan, you can swim, relax on the beach or even try your luck at snorkelling- although, I didn’t see much. The activity I was most excited about was hiking to the viewpoint. It’s a short hike- 15-20 minutes- and mostly up steps, but it’s steep and the hot weather makes it a bit more challenging than it’d be otherwise. The view from the top is gorgeous- you have a prime vantage point of the three islands, turquoise water, white sand, and Koh Tao in the distance
  • Hike to one of the island’s overlooks at John Suwan Viewpoint or Mango Viewpoint
  • Rent a motorbike and drive around the island: When I visited Koh Tao, I didn’t know how to drive a motorbike yet, but would love to return to see more of the island- especially some of the winding, hilltop roads 

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK

  • Black Garlic: Delicious, healthy eats
  • Perm Poon: Veggie omelets + fruit shakes
  • Cafe Culture: Breakfast with an ocean view
  • Blue Water: Great for breakfast, but even better for lunch or dinner with their fresh wraps, salads and Thai dishes
  • Su Chili: Awesome Thai
  • Savage: Fresh juice bar

ACCOMMODATION RECOMMENDATION 

I found Savage hostel through Instagram- a cool looking design hostel steps from Sairee Beach with a rooftop pool, juice bar and private rooms?

It seemed too good to be true.
Thankfully, it wasn’t.

This was a great place to stay for two days in Koh Tao. And, it’s affordable enough to be there a bit longer, if you’re doing a dive certification or the like.

And, if you find yourself in Koh Samui and in need of some affordable luxury, I can vouch firsthand that Charming Fox is incredible.

Andaman Islands (Railay, Koh Phi Phi)

The soaring cliffs and pristine beaches of Railay, Thailand have hovered near the top of my travel ‘wish list’ for years.

Every time I saw photos, I couldn’t believe it was a real place.
It appeared to be actual paradise.

Many people actually think Railay is an island, but it’s actually part of mainland Thailand.

It is, however, difficult to reach. Because of the cliffs and dense jungle, you can only access Railay East or West by taking a long tail boat.

The isolated location lends an island feel, which manifests as secluded relaxation.

KEY SIGHTS

  • Go for a morning walk on Railay Beach (west) or Phra Nang Beach before the crowds arrive. With the long tails bobbing, this is a seriously serene way to wake up
    • Note: There isn’t a beach in Railay East. So, whenever you hear/see Railay Beach, people are referring to the west side
  • Rent a kayak and paddle around the shoreline and limestone karats: An hour rental should cost 200 baht, make sure you take a dry bag with you to keep things safe from the water
  • Sign up for rock climbing: With more than 600 routes, Railay is home to some of the world’s best rock climbing. You can sign up to climb at any of the stalls offering it in Railay town or at your hotel if they offer it
  • Hike to the Railay viewpoint: I didn’t attempt this, the hike is actually closer to a very steep climb in mud/rock with nothing to hold onto but a flimsy rope. I saw photos of the viewpoint from the top and decided it wasn’t worth the risk. But, if adrenaline climbing is your speed, the entrance to the climb can be found on the rock path to Phra Nang Beach
  • Visit Phra Nang Beach: A stunning beach accessible by a separate trail than Railay beach (head through town to find it), this is one of the most beautiful beaches I saw in Thailand. Mangroves, caves, stunning limestone carats. It’s incredible. Visit during the day to relax, and again at night to watch the sun set
    • Tip: There are lots of bars in town and Railay East, but cocktails are pretty expensive and sub-par for what you get (in my opinion). Instead, if you want to have a drink while watching the sun set, I’d check out the Boat Bar- you can grab a takeaway beer to sip on the beach. If you’re set at having cocktails at a bar, check out Tew Lay for a beautiful view
  • Don’t miss Phra Nang Cave when you visit the beach: It’s a cave with two entrances, both filled with penis carvings. The carvings are put there by fishermen and symbolise an offering to Phra Nang, a goddess who helps ensure safe travel at sea
  • Wander over to Ton Sai Beach for a bit of quiet: Less frequented than Railay West or Phra Nang, Ton Sai is accessible through a jungle path north of Railay West, or by walking around the rocky cliff that separates it from Railay West during low tide
  • Do a day trip or a few: Can’t recommend visiting the Hong Islands enough (gorgeous!), or  Koh Phi Phi, and I’ve heard great things about the four islands boat trip as well- visiting Chicken Island, Poda Island, Tup Island and Koh Mawr
    • Note: Koh Phi Phi is close enough, that you could make a day trip out of it, or choose to go for a bit longer if you’re up to moving around a bit

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK

Don’t expect much by way of food in Railay.

I’ve heard Rayavadee (Railay’s only luxury resort) is good, but the rest of Railay is what you’d expect for a Thai island- overpriced and mediocre.

I ate at Flametree twice, their pizza isn’t bad but there’s much better food elsewhere in Thailand.

Although, I may have struggled more than most people do with food- more so than anywhere else in Thailand, I spotted cashews in everything in Railay. With Railay being so secluded, I decided to stick to ‘safe foods’ even if it meant defaulting to Western eats.

Even though I wasn’t impressed by the food or drinks (a theme that held true throughout the Thai islands), it’s worth giving Railay town a wander- it’s surprisingly chill.

ACCOMMODATION RECOMMENDATION

When planning my jaunt around the Thai islands, Railay was a must-visit. I was so keen to visit, I didn’t even consider staying in Krabi town or Ao Nang and day tripping to Railay- I had to stay in Railay for full vibes.

Luckily, there are a few resorts that aren’t too overpriced in East Railay. I stayed at the Railay Phutawan Resort, choosing to spend a bit more than I normally would.

The hotel was okay, but nothing spectacular. Breakfast was your typical buffet variety, the pool bar and restaurant were standard island fare, and most of the rooms seemed to be a bit run down.  I upgraded to a new room for only a few extra dollars a night, which was 100% worth it for the comfort.

BONUS PLANNING TIPS

If you’re going to head to Koh Lanta or Koh Lipe, you can find my guides for those Thai islands here.

Where Else to Visit in Thailand, If You Have Time

Thailand is a big country, with tons to see and experience. One of the hardest parts of planning your trip will likely be narrowing down which places you visit.

Even on my recommended itinerary for a first time trip, I didn’t mention my favourite Thai island (of the ones I’ve visited) because its a bit further away to reach.

Two weeks is a fabulous introduction to the country, but if you have more time, consider making your way to-

  • Chiang Rai: Sure, you could go on a day trip from Chiang Mai if you’re up for a long day, but to really experience the magnificent temples (and cafes) in this town in the very north of Thailand, it’s best to spend a few days
  • Pai: A sleepy little town in northern Thailand, visitors equate Pai to an island town in the midst of Thai mountains
  • Koh Sok National Park: Safari tents perched riverside surrounded by lush mountains in the oldest evergreen rainforest? Jungle so wild and unexplored you need to hire a guide to go further than 3 km? Sign me up for that kind of solitude. For anyone that’s been there, Koh Sok cues scenes of limestone towers, deep valleys, gushing waterfalls and calm lakes
  • Koh Lanta: My favorite Thai island, Lanta is the definition of laid back. Expansive, golden sand beaches, cosy beach bars, lush forests, and a cultural presence that still cues Thailand? As if those reasons weren’t enough for me to love Lanta, the best part, perhaps was that it was relatively uninhabited- deserted even, by means of reference to other Thai islands
  • Koh Yao Yoi and/or Koh Yao Noi: Not visiting one of these islands was an oversight during my two weeks exploring Thai island paradise. My biggest complaint about the islands I visited? Most felt too developed, too touristy, and not nearly ‘Thai’ enough. I’ve heard tale Koh Yao Yoi and Koh Tao Noi are far less frequented than most Thai islands, still development, and thus, much more serene
  • Ayutthaya: A short drive (or train ride) north of Bangkok lies Ayutthaya, Thailand’s ancient capital. The Ayutthaya period is thought to be the period during which what is now thought of as “Thai style” was developed. In temples, in particular, this is when you can clearly see a marked transition from the Khmer style prangs to the bell shaped chedi. I’d love to spend a day or two wandering what remains of the ruins during a return to Bangkok

Extra Thailand Travel Tips

From nearly a month in the country, I put together a list of travel tips for first time visitors to Thailand.

In addition to those tips, a few things to note:

Language: Thai. English is spoken in many places, but expect it to be limited so be patient, and consider having an app like Google Translate ready to help 

Safety: Thailand is one of the safest countries for foreign tourism in SE Asia. Never once, during my nearly month long stay in the country did I feel un-safe as a solo female traveller. That said, take the same precautions you would anywhere  

Currency: Thai Baht. Carry enough baht on you to cover most purchases. Many places have a 500-1000 baht minimum because things are so inexpensive

Budget: In comparison to other parts of SE Asia (namely Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Malaysia, Cambodia), accommodation and tours were a bit higher in cost. Part of that is because Thailand is arguably the most developed for tourism. If you’re visiting from the US, Western Europe or Oz, you’ll definitely feel as though things are affordable.  

Getting There: It’s likely you’ll fly into Bangkok or Phuket from an international hub. Once at either, you’ll find it easy to fly around the country, or take alternate (slower) forms of transportation (e.g. night trains, buses)

Where to Stay: For the most part, stayed in great budget hotels, and private rooms of hostels for $20-30 USD per night. Twice, in Bangkok, I treated myself to five star resorts because I scored affordable rates- less than $100-130 per night.  

  • Use Agoda or Booking.com to help find places in your budget
  • If you’re on a treat-yo-self trip, there’s no shortage of gorgeous, four-five star resorts around the country, many of which are fairly affordable

When to Visit: I visited in late March/early April and had great weather throughout the country. 

  • In the north, this time of year, expect 80s-90s F with hazy, polluted skies from the forest burning, and a lack of rain
  • In the south, there were intermittent bouts of rain (usually overnight or late afternoon), but for the most part, it was sunny and warm (70s-90s F)
  • And in Bangkok, it was hot and humid, which made hotels with rooftop pools all the more appealing

Tipping: Tipping isn’t expected. I’d round up only if the service was exceptional (think a truly excellent massage) 

WiFi Access: In part, because of Thailand’s excellent tourism infrastructure, I found cafes with WiFi everywhere. My cell signal was stronger in some parts of the country than others, and the same goes for hotel WiFi, but strong enough everywhere to stream Netflix 

SIM Card Options: I bought a 30-day SIM upon arrival at Bangkok’s airport, which served me the duration of my trip

Packing Necessities: What you bring in total will depend on what you do over the course of your trip, but I’d recommend bringing each of the below-

  • Lightweight scarf (to cover up at temples)
  • Swimsuit / cover-up
  • Trainers and sandals
  • Clothes to hike / walk around cities
  • Lightweight clothes, for the hot days
  • Short sleeves and pants if you plan to visit The Grand Palace in Bangkok, where the temple dress code is stricter than elsewhere in the country
  • Layers and a foldable jacket for cooler nights and island breezes
  • Baby wipes or toilet paper for restrooms (note: some parts of the country will have squat toilets, especially those closer to Malaysia)
  • Umbrella or rain jacket for sudden, unexpected downpours (island life)
  • Any specific beauty or personal hygiene items you must use over the course of your trip- you’ll find major drug store brands in Bangkok, but expect to pay a premium elsewhere for brands you recognise
  • Reef safe sunscreen
  • Strong mosquito repellent, an absolute must for the islands

Have you ever been to Thailand? What would you advise first time visitors to do, or see? 

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The Ultimate Guide to 3 Days in Chiang Mai

THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO CHIANG MAI

Everyone told me I’d love Chiang Mai, and of course, they were right.

Temples, gong baths, meditative yoga, Thai iced teas, all of the cold brew, lovely massages, and some seriously good night market eats.

It’s a place I miss every day and am already plotting a visit to again.

When I visited, I had five days to explore the city. Most people however, spend ~three days in Chiang Mai before heading to other parts of Thailand or SE Asia.

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Back to CM: Why is it so great?

It’s modern, but still feels Thai.
It’s more laid back than Bangkok, but much more affordable than any of the Thai islands.
It’s years and years of history steeped in temples, mixed with an excellent coffee scene and cosy cafes.

It’s a place that I walked away from feeling like it was made just for me.
I’d never been somewhere before that felt so different to my normal reality, but simultaneously familiar.

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The Complete Guide to Chiang Mai in 3 Days

Where to Stay

Really, there are two main areas short term visitors stay in while visiting CM- Old Town or Nimman.

Old Town is where you’ll find most of the frequently visited temples, as well as lots of markets, shops, restaurants and cafes.

Nimman is known as the student area of CM, and packed full of cafes, restaurants, shops, and near a huge mall.

I stayed at a poshtel in Nimman, and loved the neighborhood. I had a nice time wandering Old Town, but was glad to be away from the core touristy bits.

Getting to Old Town was simple from Nimman- it was a 25-30 minute walk, or easy to hop in a Grab (Uber of SE Asia), hail a tuk tuk or jump in the back of a songethaw (shared taxi truck).

Tuk Tuks were always the most expensive, Grabs were usually a few dollars (less than $3 USD), and songethaws were the cheapest- often $1-2 USD or less, pending your destination.

In terms of where to stay, I’d recommend booking a hotel or Airbnb- whatever is best for the kind of trip you’re taking. There’s no shortage of great lodging options.

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What to Do

Visit the Night Bazaar: CM’s night bazaar is said to be one of the best in all of Thailand. I’m not big on shopping for souvenirs, but if you are, this market is definitely the place- spices, homewares, paintings, clothes, infamous ‘elephant pants’ scarves, jewelry- it’s quite the assortment. Sundays are said to be the best night to go. I enjoyed the night bazaar for its food market, but more on that below.

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Take a Local Yoga Class or Experience a Gong Bath: There are several studios in Chiang Mai, but with both yoga and gong baths drawing deep roots to Asian culture, taking a local class or trying your first gong baths are perfect CM activities.

There are several studios across CM, but I visited The Yoga Tree twice during my week in CM-once for mindful yoga (hatha flow) and another time for the gong bath.

Can’t recommend the studio enough. The instructors are lovely, and classes priced reasonably. As a bonus, both classes I went to were pretty small as well (less than 6-8 people), so it was easy to ask the instructors questions or for help.

Curious about a gong bath? I shared more about my experience here.

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Visit an Elephant Sanctuary: I know riding elephants, and much human interaction with these wild animals, isn’t ethical. I have strong feelings about visiting most zoos and would never set foot inside animal exploitation experiences, looking at you Tiger Kingdom.

That said, I’m still on the fence about this experience.

While I think the ethical sanctuaries can be good places to better understand animal abuse issues, I’m also aware visiting the actual ethical ones breeds unethical ones because tourism operators see how popular the experience is and want to re-create it. The issue? They end up taking shortcuts or aren’t honest in how they run their sanctuary.

If you do decide to visit a sanctuary, please do your research ahead of time and book with a truly ethical operator.

You shouldn’t be allowed to ride or wash/bathe with the elephants. If any touching is permitted, it should be minimal. I went to Elephant Nature Park (ENP) and had a good visit. Many of the rescued elephants at ENP arrived with serious injury or history of abuse. It’s likely they wouldn’t have even survived in the wild if they were reintroduced to it.

And, ENP takes in so many other rescue animals- dogs, cats, water buffalo- all in the interest of helping rehab them, and in some cases, finding them new homes.

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Take a day trip to Chiang Rai: If you can spare an additional 2-3 days, I’d recommend spending them in Chiang Rai– the temples were some of the best I saw in all of Thailand. If you’ve only got a day though, there are plenty of tour operators that stop at two of the best temples- the white temples and the blue temple.

Be prepared for crowds though, most tours run on similar schedules and so stops are in sync. That’s the nice part about staying in CR on your own- you can go early or late to avoid hoards of visitors at these peaceful places.

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Indulge in a Massage: Some of the best massages I had in Thailand were in CM. You’ll find spas for every budget, and what I really loved about spas in CM vs. elsewhere in Thailand / most of SE Asia was the simple practice of having visitors fill out entry cards.

These cards ask for your name, what kind of treatment you want, massage pressure preference, and focus areas for the therapist. Many of the therapists don’t speak English very well, so having this sorted at the upfront helps ensure a relaxed experience.

Two of my favourite places in CM: Fah Lanna for a luxe massage experience. It’s pricer than most Thai massage places, but for a reason- you get your own private village, pick out the oils you want to use, and the therapists are well trained. I visited a few other places in CM, but the only one that really stood out was Arayana Spa– the best foot massage I’ve had to date in SE Asia.

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Gawk at Some of CM’s Most Beautiful Temples: Over 30 temples line CM’s streets, these three can’t be missed for their history, significance and beauty:

  • WAT DOI SUTHEP: Revered as one of the most important temples in all of Thailand, Doi Suthep is worth the journey to get there. Not only is the temple stunning, but the surrounding complex is full of interesting things to observe, and there’s a great view of Chiang Mai. The temple is considered one of the holiest places of worship in Thailand. It was beautiful watching visitors worship, their awe for the temple made me appreciate being there even more so
  • WAT PHRA SINGH: Known as the most popular temple in Thailand, by visitor numbers, Wat Phra Singh is located in old town, only a short walk from Wat Chedi Luang. The temple is so popular because it houses Chiang Mai’s most important Buddha image, the Lion Buddha (check out the small chapel at the back of the complex to see it). The Lion Buddha dates back to 1345, back when Chiang Mai was a growing part of the Lanna Kingdom
  • WAT CHEDI LUANG: Built in the early 1400s, Wat Chedi Luang was as one of the tallest buildings in Chiang Mai before collapsing during an earthquake in 1545. Reconstructed in the 1990s, it’s famed for housing the Phra Kaew (Emerald Buddha). You can see a jade replica in the east-facing side. The original Buddha is at the Grand Palace in Bangkok

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Where to Eat

Spending five days in Chiang Mai, I left already craving the delicious food I’d eaten.

Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, these places have great options for the veg friendly and those who prefer a bit of meat or seafood with their meals. Vegan and other food restrictions (e.g. gluten free) are another story- I’d do a bit more research before visiting.

My favourite places to eat in the city

Farm Story House (Old Town): Finding this cosy cafe on my first day in Chiang Mai (CM) by wandering a narrow side street felt like the best discovery. I ended up coming back several times during my stay- the food was delicious and affordable, and cafe environment, quiet and relaxing. My go-to orders became pad Thai and mango sticky rice. Yes, I know pad Thai isn’t really from Thailand- that doesn’t change the fact it’s a delicious dish

The Larder Cafe & Bar (Nimman): It may not look like much from the outside, but rest assured, the breakfast game is top notch. Kept it simple here with a parmesan egg, roasted vegetables and toast order on two mornings, but they have more inventive toasts and a few Thai dishes on the menu as well. As with Farm Story, I liked that this cafe felt more local and less touristy

Khao Soy Nimman (Nimman): Without question, the best meal I had in CM. You must come here to try the khao soy- a spicy, salty noodle soup that’s from northern Thailand. I had mine with egg and it was * to * die * for *. My only regret is I didn’t eat here sooner in my trip- a friend told me about it on my last day

Kalare Night Bazaar (Old Town): Dined on the best pad Thai I had in all of Thailand (also SE Asia) at this night market. If you’re new to night markets, this one should make you feel at east- it’s clean, stalls have sanity rankings and there’s plenty of space to sit down and enjoy the entertainment (usually live music). Are there more authentic night markets across SE Asia? Sure, but this one has no shortage of delicious food to try.

Look for the yellow pad Thai signs or simply the winding line- it’s the longest line in the market. I loved the veggie pad Thai, but there are plenty of meat and seafood options to choose from, as well as a few other Thai dishes.

While at the market, I tried roti (Indiana flatbread) with bananas and nutella from the stall next to the yellow pad Thai vendor, and holy amazingness. V good.

There’s also a great fruit shake vendor (behind the yellow pad Thai stall), serving up frothy, delicious fruit smoothies. Tip: If you don’t want yours overly sweet, be sure to ask for ‘no sugar’ or else they’ll add a dose of liquid sugar- this is common across SE Asia.

Rustic & Blue (Nimman): Another favourite for breakfast or brunch- I tried simple eggs with vegetables and a green juice. They also had smoothie bowls, omelets and a few Thai dishes on the menu. Although this place is a bit more Western, I enjoyed the chance to have something familiar, and they have a beautiful garden to enjoy your meal in.

And, two dessert recos-

Fruiturday (locations in Old Town and Nimman): Hands down, best fruit shakes I had in CM (and I tried a few different places). Liked this place the most because the fruits on offer are extensive, and, most of the staff speak at least conversational English, so it’s easy to ask for adjustments to your shake (e.g. no sugar).

Cheevit Cheeva(Nimman): This place does bingsu (Korean shaved ice) very well. I tried the strawberry bingsu, which was delicious- sweet, but not too sweet with a flavour punch from the fresh strawberries mixed in. There are a few different combinations on the menu, most of which are only served in the ‘large’ size and meant for sharing.