How we planned our Thailand trip

Ever since I started posting about my trip to Thailand on instagram, I got a lot of questions on how we planned it, how much it cost us, where did we go etc. So I put together this blog post with as much useful information as I could, but if you have any other questions, please leave them down below or message me on instagram and I’ll get back to you. In this post I focus on the planning part, but I will write a guide for Thailand as well.

This post is not sponsored, but some of the links that I use are affiliate which means I earn a small % of commision if you buy anything using this link.

WHY WE CHOSE THAILAND

I still remember the day we first got the idea to go somewhere together. It was mid October I believe and we were hanging out at Klara’s place and saw some offers on Facebook for flight tickets to Thailand for a very low price. We decided to check it out on Skyscanner and were blown away by how cheap the tickets to the other side of the world were. After that we started talking about it more and more, did a lot of research and read a lot of blogs. Then we decided it’s about time we traveled somewhere out of Europe.

When googling about Thailand, everyone wrote about how easy it is to get around, how friendly everyone is and how it’s a perfect destination for first time travellers. So we started saving money and finally bought our plane tickets in the beginning of the November.

WHERE DID WE BUY OUR PLANE TICKETS

I’ve known about skyscanner.com since forever, I bought all of my plane tickets through this website so it was the best way for me to find the cheapest deals on tickets. It’s a website that compares ticket prices from every airline and helps you find the best deal for your desired location.
We ended up booking our flights with Etihad, which is one of the best airlines in the world. We bought the tickets about three months before our trip and we payed about 490 eur for a return flight each. The checked baggage allowance was 23kg, which was included in the price and so was the carry on baggage of two pieces, one up to 7kg and the other up to 5kg.

The whole journey took us around 20 hours, without counting the time difference. The first flight was with Air Serbia, which is Etihad’s partner airline and the other two were with Etihad. We had connecting flights which means we only had to check in our bags once and the automatically followed us all the way to Bangkok. 

 Our flight itinerary:
How I search for flights
 
I try not to limit myself to the exact start and end date of the travel. Normally I search flights for the entire month and skyscanner shows you daily prices for flights so you can get the best deal.
 
Another tip is to be flexible and search from nearby airports as well as your local airport. For Slovenia for example you can search for flights from Ljubljana, Zagreb, Trieste, Venice, Milano, Vienna and Budapest. But of course when you have a 20+ hour journey to get to the destination and back, if the price for flights from nearby airports isn’t that much cheaper than the one from your local airport, always choose the airport closer to you. It can be a pain in the ass to still have to drive back home for a few hours after a full day of flying. Plus don’t forget to check the transfer prices to the airports, sometimes the price of the transfer + flights from a more remote airport all together can be more expensive than a direct flight from a local airport.

HOW WE PLANNED OUR TRIP

How we decided which places to visit 
After booking our flights to Bangkok, here’s when the real research and planning started. We knew we wanted to see as much as possible, from the cities to the islands so we started googling. I watched a lot of vlogs and read so many blogs from different people, just so I got the idea about where to go and what to skip. I started writing down the most recommended places and Klara did as well, so we got together and decided about which places we wanted to see.
It’s really important that you do your research and not just go somewhere because you saw someone post about it on instagram or anywhere else. I wanted to watch as many vlogs as I could, so I could get the real picture, without the instagram filters on the photos. It’s a good way to see if a place is really amazing or if it’s just another tourist trap.
The first place on our list was of course Bangkok. We wanted to see this huge, busy city but after some research we came to a decision that 2 days will be more than enough. Next we wanted to see the best beaches and islands so we narrowed it down to Koh Phangan, Koh Samui, Krabi (Ao Nang), Koh Phi Phi and Phuket. We stayed at the same place for about 2-3 days because we only had 3 weeks to see everything. Then we also wanted to see some of the northern Thailand and we decided to visit Chiang Mai for 7 days which was also out last destination before flying back to Bangkok and back home from there. I will also write a Thailand guide blog post to tell you about the best places to see.
Here is our travel itinerary, including our flights, transfers and hotels:

GETTING AROUND THAILAND

We took a lot of flights and ferries to get to our destination and I’m going to tell you how to organize everything and where to look to get the best deals.

Buying the thai sim card is the first thing we did before leaving the airport . It’s a lifesaver as it only around 15 eur for 3 weeks with unlimited data and the 6 GB is 4G data. We bought the sim card from True Thailand. I also recommend doing it at the airport as it is much easier, they set it up for you and  you can start using it right away.

Driving around Bangkok with taxis could be expensive so I’m glad we found the app Grab (just like Uber but really cheap). You can choose between a regular car which can be a pain in the ass sometimes because of the traffic jams there or you can get the faster option, Grab Bike – a motorcycle driver picks you up and drives you to a location much faster than the car because they go between cars. But beware, it’s not for the faint hearted and only one person can go on the back.
For transfers to the airport we always asked our hotels if they offer transfer first, and if they didn’t we used the app GRAB or NaviGo to book cheap taxis.
We booked all of our flights through skyscanner as well and all of our ferries and combined transfers either through 12goasia.com or at the airport (I would recommend to book in advance online, it’s easier and the prices are about the same).
We planned to go from Bangkok to Koh Phangan or Koh Samui first. Flying straight to Koh Samui (the only one out of these two with an airport) would’ve been much more expensive, so we researched and found an airport in Surat Thani and booked our flight to there. It was with an airline Thai Lion Air and it cost us around 28 eur (with 15kg baggage). From there we booked a combined ticket with a transfer to the pier (about a 2 hour drive) and a ferry to Koh Phangan (about two hours as well) which cost us around 14 eur.
From Koh Phangan we took a ferry to Koh Samui (about 2 hours as well) which cost us around 6 eur.
From there we bought a combined ticket of ferry – bus – mini van to get to our hotel in Ao Nang. The whole journey was about 6 hours and it cost us around 14 eur.
From Krabi we took a ferry to Koh Phi Phi which was a 2 hour drive and cost us around 6 eur. And from there we took a ferry to Phuket which cost us around the same and took us 2 hours as well.
From Phuket we flew to Chiang Mai with Air Asia which cost us around 50 eur (with 20kg baggage) and took us 2 hours.
From Chiang Mai we flew to Bangkok with Air Asia as well which cost us around 40 eur (with 20 kg baggage) and took us 1 hour.
For driving around Koh Phangan, Krabi and Phuket we rented the bike. Driving around Koh Phangan was much safer than anywhere else but it’s the easiest and the cheapest way to get around. The bike rental is normally around 5 eur per day but make sure you get the option with insurance or deposit and never let them take your passport, only allow them to take a copy. Also always take photos of the bike before driving out of the rental shop just so you have some proof that you didn’t cause any of the previous damage.

FINANCES

Because of the large fees when withdrawing money from Thai ATM we always withdrew big amounts for both of us together. The fee was around 6 eur, no matter the amount.

Also, if you don’t have N26 already, I suggest you order yourself one immediately. It’s the best online bank for travel with zero fees and no hidden costs. When signing up, use my code alicias0454.

WHICH HOTELS WE CHOSE

We booked our hotels with booking.com and used a referral link so we got some money back after we stayed at the hotels.
HOTEL IN BANGKOK
Prince Palace Hotel *****
We stayed at the Prince Palace Hotel  which is supposedly a 5 star hotel. We stayed here for two nights and payed 97 eur all together.
It for sure didn’t feel like a luxury hotel, the rooms were pretty basic and I would say it was more of a 3 star hotel. It was a huge though, with 3 different towers, huge hallways, a rooftop pool and a big breakfast buffet. It was close enough to all of the main attractions and there were markets nearby. We mainly used the app Grab to get around or the river boat to beat the traffic jams.

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HOTEL IN KOH PHANGAN
Maehaad Bay Resort ****
 
After a long day of travel to get from Bangkok to Koh Phangan we were blown away by this place. The driver from Maehaad Bay Resort picked us up at the pier when we got off the ferry and the staff greeted us with free drinks and cold towels. Everyone was so kind and the area we stayed at was brand new. The hotel also had a private beach, two pools, a restaurant and a bar on the beach. It felt like a luxury 5 star resort for sure and I couldn’t recommend it more. The breakfast buffet was amazing, they even had a chef that made fresh delicious omelettes. We stayed for three nights and payed 241 eur (we splurged a bit on this one). It was located on the more peaceful part of the island which we loved.

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HOTEL IN KOH SAMUI
Baan Khao Hua Jook ***

Even though Koh Samui didn’t really impress us, the Baan Khao Hua Jook hotel was amazing. There were only a few guests staying at this hotel at the time so it was nice and relaxing compared to the Prince Palace where it was really busy and filled with chinese tourists. The pool was amazing and so was the breakfast, it wasn’t a buffet but you could choose between the 4 menus and they made it fresh just for you. We stayed for one night and payed 48 eur.

HOTEL IN AO NANG (KRABI)
Green View Village Resort ***

Another lovely resort, close to the beach but still very peaceful. The hotel also had two pools, a breakfast buffet and a friendly fluffy cat haha. They even offered free rides to the beach every hour.
We stayed for two nights and payed 91 eur.

HOTEL ON PHI PHI ISLAND
Phi Phi Andaman Resort ***
Even though we loved Phi Phi, this hotel wasn’t really that great. We stayed at the little bungalow which had one bedroom and a bathroom. It was okay for two nights and it cost us 86 eur which wasn’t that cheap for what we got but it was fine. Everything else was quite expensive as it is a very popular island. Our hotel was filled with russian tourists and the breakfast buffet was quite disappointing.

HOTEL ON PHUKET
 
It was more of an apartment building, there was no breakfast or any other food inside but it had an amazing rooftop pool and hangout area. It’s quite cheap and meant for more long term stays, some of the foreigners even live here. I was quite sick here so I didn’t get to see much of Phuket, but the staff was very lovely, the receptionist even drove me to the hospital and back. We stayed here for four nights and it cost us 131 eur.
 
HOTEL IN CHIANG MAI
 
A lovely hotel, but very loud and filled with chinese tourists for the Chinese New Year. Otherwise nicely decorated, very european. The breakfast buffet was lovely as well, it was just by the pool. We stayed here for 7 nights and it cost us 442 eur.
 
HOW WE PACKED 

Our baggage allowance on Etihad flights were 23kg of checked baggage and 7 + 5 kg of hand luggage. We made a few mistakes while packing but at least now we know how to pack for our next trip.
1. mistake – taking a big suitcase 
 
Going from one island to another with multiple ferries is annoying by itself, imagine dragging a huge suitcase and two pieces of hand luggage through a busy pier onto a ferry as well. Next time I’ll definitely invest in a good backpack and just carry everything in there instead of losing time and nerves over the big suitcase.
2. mistake – packing way too much stuff 
It was my first time going somewhere tropical and for a long time so I thought I needed much more clothes than I actually did. I ended up wearing the same cozy clothes for travel days, barely touching the more fancy dresses and shirts that I packed, thinking I’d actually walk around wearing that in 30 + degrees. I’d recommend packing more basic t-shirts and shorts, but also some clothing that covers your shoulders and knees if you plan to visit any of the temples. For the shoes – I only brought a pair of Adidas nmd sneakers and some sandals, it was enough for me! Oh, and you can never pack to many bikinis but only bring one towel – most hotels offer free towels for shower and pool.
3. mistake – packing too much toiletries 
 
If you plan on staying in hotels, don’t bother bringing soap and shampoo with you. Almost every hotel had amazing toiletries so I barely used any of mine. It would save me a lot of space if I left mine at home. Also makeup – don’t bother. It’s way too hot to spend 30 minutes doing your makeup just for it to melt off the second you step out the door. I gave up after the first day haha
THE COST 
 
You could probably spend much less by going to cheaper hotels and book the cheapest ferries, but we decided that we still wanted to experience some of the cheap luxury that Thailand is known for. We used the app Splitwise to track who paid for what so we could split it in the end and the app Money Lover to track our expenses daily.
All of the flight tickets (international and domestic) cost us 612 eur all together.
The hotels cost us 499, 50 eur all together each so 999 eur for both of us.
The ferries and combined tickets to get from one island to the other cost us about 65 eur.
Other expenses such as food, taxis, shopping cost us about 500 eur.
________________
all together the cost of this trip was about 1700 eur
Thank you so much for reading this post and let me know if you have any other questions! I will also be writing a travel guide so stay tuned for that!
 
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