First off I’m going to start by saying I’m still jet lagged from our trip to Thailand so the fact that this guide is up is quite a feat lol (4 points for you, Glen Coco). But I’ve been getting so many questions about the trip and I can say very honestly that it was worth all the travel so I’m so excited to share my Ultimate Thailand Travel Guide (& for the record it included 6 planes, 4 boats, countless cabs, 4 hotels and 5 locations in 2.5 weeks) —
For some context, we flew Toronto to Shanghai and stayed for a night and full day, and then continued straight on to Phuket and hit up the islands of Koh Tao, Koh Samui and Koh Phi Phi. I have no regrets about skipping over Bangkok because I didn’t want to waste time in a big city over paradise (just personal preference), and I initially was on the fence about missing the northern area of Chang Mai but found and amazing & ethical elephant sanctuary on one of the islands so was all good.
A lot of you have asked about the flight (14.5 hours from TO to Shanghai), and my honest tip is to upgrade to business class. I had so much anxiety about it and cannot express how much better I felt knowing I’d be able to have some personal space and lay down and sleep. Game changer.
Ok so I’ll be honest we didn’t leave the resort much in Phuket (Sri Panwa) and that was due to equal parts exhaustion and because it is one of the best (if not the best) resorts we’ve ever stayed at. We stayed in a penthouse pool room and if I hadn’t loved the main resort pool so much (rated one of the best in the world by Conde Nast) I would have probably never left. I’m not even a pool person but this place is next level. We did venture out to the breakfast area every day (stunning views and delicious food) as well as the many on site restaurants. A lot of you asked if the resorts are all-inclusive, and none are but you really do get a Big Bang for your buck with meals in Thailand so it wasn’t a big deal to us (& that’s saying a lot bc normally we’re at a disadvantage with the Canadian dollar). We did spend a whole day island hopping in Koh Phi Phi because of the proximity and would recommend that for sure… Phi Phi Don, which is the only of the bunch that has accommodations to stay over night, was very packed and touristy so I was happy we just visited for the day.
Following 5 nights in Phuket, we headed over to Koh Samui which is a 1 hour plane ride. We decided to ferry over to Koh Tao immediately (another 2 hours) and stay in Samui on the way back. We stayed in a gorgeous villa in Koh Tao which was a nice change of pace bc it forced us to get out and explore more (due to no restaurants or room service on site lol… but it still had all the amenities we look for and a private pool). One thing I will flag is that Koh Tao is very hilly which results in really great look out points but shit is steep. Do not let anyone tell you that the hills are ‘moderate’ and definitely wear real shoes for viewpoint climbs. Factor in taxis if you’re not comfortable renting a motorbike on v aggressive terrain lol. The island also has beautiful beaches and is known for diving and snorkelling but I will say, I was shocked at the amount of litter on the beaches which made me really sad and prob made it the least fave of our 3 stops.
Once we had spent 4 nights in Koh Tao, we took that same 2 hour ferry back to Koh Samui. I had heard from a lot of people that Koh Samui was their favourite island and I think I would agree. While our resort in Phuket is still my top pick of the trip, Samui has a really great mix of the island feel of Tao and the Western luxuries of Phuket. Once again there are stunning views everywhere and both resorts we visited (Four Seasons + Le Meredien) were gorgeous and had amazing rooms and restaurants. Ryan’s favourite room was our villa at Le Meredien but I will caution that the entire washroom is outdoor so you do get some visitors (lots of mosquitos and geckos… not my fave feature lol). Samui’s beaches were the best in my opinion and the elephant sanctuary we visited was the highlight of our entire Thailand itinerary.
I hope you’ve found this helpful if you’re planning a trip to Thailand, and if you’re not, that I’ve inspired you to add it to your bucket list!! As mentioned in my Aspen travel guide, all the overview images you see were designed for you to be able to screen grab and print off to help with your planning and referencing.
If I’ve missed anything you’re curious about, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or hit me up on insta, where I encourage you to follow because I have a lot more travel coming in 2019! xx