Our Thailand Honeymoon Itinerary: 2 Weeks in Chiang Mai, Koh Lanta, Koh Yao Yai and Bangkok
Thailand is the perfect place to plan your honeymoon. Why?
It's SO beautiful
From beaches, to temples, to cuisine--- there is SO much to see and do
Your money goes a long way
Thailand had been on our travel bucket lists since we heard so many great things from friends when we were living in Australia. We also LOVED Bali so much that we had high hopes that Thailand would offer a similar experience (and it didn't disapoint!)
Who is Thailand perfect for? First and foremost - travelers who are willing to embrace adventure. Thailand is so different from any other place I've ever been. It is still a developing country so you really can't have the same expectations you would have of places in America or Europe. Even for an experienced traveler- it forces you out of your comfort zone in the best way possible. That being said, Thailand is rich with breathtakingly beautiful vistas, amazing food and friendly people.
Planning a trip to Thailand: If you couldn't already tell, I love planning and I truly think half the fun of going on a trip is doing the initial research that goes into planning a visit to someplace new. Thailand and Bali were two trips that took the most research. I don't think you have to do it this way, but if I am going to only be in a new place for a few weeks I don't want to waste any time (or money) going someplace mediocre if I could have gone someplace great.
I live and die by the advice from Lonely Planet guide books and information from blogs just like this one. Researching the islands of Thailand definitely took the most time. First of all, there are SO many islands to choose from and they all have different things about them that sound great or maybe not what we were looking for. For example, there are the backpacker, full-moon party type islands. There are islands that are GREAT for scuba-diving, islands that are totally rugged and untouched or ones that are really Westernized...and then literally everything in between. We ended up picking Koh Lanta because of it's reputation as having beautiful beaches, an authentic Thai vibe but not being too party-ish. We also visited Koh Yao Yai because we had heard amazing things about the Santhiya resort and were intrigued by it's reputation of being totally remote -- more on that later.
One thing to accept though is you don't want to OVERPLAN Thailand because so much of it can be booked on a whim and you want to save yourself the space to be able to do that. My reccomendation is to do your due diligence on researching the actual LOCATIONS you'll be going to and the hotels you'll be staying at. Get a sense of the activities and things you want to do but wait to book them until you're actually there.
Now, on to our actual itinerary!
Lewis and I went for two weeks in the month of February. February is considered the best time to visit because it is outside of their rainy season and has warm, dry weather.
We flew late on a Friday night from Boston to Doha, Qatar and stayed one night in Doha at the Al Najada Doha Hotel by Tivoli. We landed in Doha on Saturday evening and immediately went out exploring. The Al Najada hotel was just on the perimeter of the Souq Waqif (also known as a big outdoor street bazaar) in Doha. I love being in the UAE because it is so different from home. Everything from the desert landscape, the typical clothing, the smells, the food, the sounds is all so entirely different from what we are used to in Boston.
The next day we wandered along the waterfront and relaxed by our hotel's pool before heading to the airport for our next flight to Chiang Mai.
We landed in Chiang Mai EARLY in the morning and took a Grab taxi (the Thai version of Uber) to our hotel. We stayed at U Ninman Chiang Mai which we really enjoyed. It was in a really great location near Nimmanhaemin (don't ask me to pronounce that!) road which we came to find out is a hub for markets and trendy new builds. Our hotel had a beautiful pool which we spent plenty of time at as we acclimated to the time change. We also were catching Chiang Mai just at the end of their 'burning season' where the air quality is notoriously poor. Most people were wearing face masks to filter the polluted air. Lewis has asthma and he did feel that his breathing wasn't great during the time we were in Chiang Mai. If you are planning a trip to Chiang Mai, double check that you'll be traveling outside of the peak burning times.
On our first full day in Chiang Mai we did a private half day City and Temples tour which was a good way to do some sightseeing and battle through our jet lag.
The best activity by far in Chiang Mai was the Best Thai Cookery School experience. We had so much fun and ate SO much. Check out my full blog post on the experience.
Other things to do in Chiang Mai:
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is one of northern Thailand's most sacred temples
Walking tour of old town temples
Chiang Mai Night Bazaar (6pm to 11pm, daily)
Talat Warorot market (Food market, 10am to 10pm, daily)
Chaing Rai Takemetours
Our next destination after Chiang Mai was Koh Lanta. However, getting to Koh Lanta required a bit of logistical planning. First, we took a short afternoon flight from Chiang Mai to Krabi with AirAsia. We grabbed another Grab taxi to our accommodation in Krabi, the Deevana Krabi Resort and Spa. We instantly noticed the change in climate between Northern Chiang Mai and island-y Krabi -- HUMID. By the time we were all checked in it was dinner so we grabbed some food and went to bed to get up early for our morning ferry to Koh Lanta.
A note on Krabi: From what we saw of Krabi, I really did not like it. It was very loud, bright, and super touristy. It definitely felt like the least authentic place we visited and I would not recommend visiting Krabi. However, due to the timing and logistics of our itinerary it was necessary to spend a night there in order to coordinate our flight and ferry to get to Koh Lanta. If I was to plan this trip again I would try to coordinate the transfer from Chiang Mai to Koh Lanta to happen all in one day.
We took another Taxi from Deevana to get to Noppparat Thara Pier which was about seven minutes drive from hotel. Then the ferry boats are at 10:30, 15:30 and cost about $16 per person and take 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Arriving in Koh Lanta was really easy! There were plenty of people on scooters with little carriages attached waiting to pick up visitors and their luggage and bring them to their accommodations. The scooter/carriage configuration was super typical of Koh Lanta and quite the funny experience! Our scooter/carriage brought us directly to Crown Lanta Resort and Spa which we LOVED! We upgraded our room upon check in for the low price of $100 USD total - which got us our very own suite with it's own pool with an oceanfront view! For sure one of the top three best hotel rooms I have ever stayed at! We were absolutely blown away and spent the majority of our three night stay in Koh Lanta enjoying this very luxurious space.
On one of the days we were in Koh Lanta we did book a private driver to take us on a day trip tour around the island. We used the below map as a guide of what we needed to see. It's an awesome little island with cool beach bars, an old town and plenty of great resorts.
From Koh Lanta we took another ferry boat to our next island destination, Koh Yao Yai. That 2nd ferry was a little longer than our first ferry as we had to stop at Phi Phi island but it was a pretty smooth experience nonetheless.
Our accommodation at Koh Yao Yai was a special one that really looked like a perfect place to stay for a honeymoon where we would stay for another three nights: Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort and Spa.
Koh Yao Yai is a sleepier island and the resort is so beautiful we were more than happy to settle in and spend most of our time enjoying all the facilities the resort had to offer. The view from the breakfast buffet was what really encouraged us to book this accommodation, can you blame us?
The grounds at Santhiya were so stunning. The rooms were massive and had sweeping views of the sea and everything was made of ornately carved teak wood.
From Koh Yao Yai we took a final ferry to Phuket and flew the short flight from Phuket to our final destination, Bangkok. By the time we arrived at Bangkok it was about dinner time so we checked into our one night stay at Holiday Inn Bangkok Silom. So many people warned us that we would "hate" Bangkok for being a hustling and bustling busy city. They couldn't have been more wrong, we LOVED Bangkok and really wished that we had had more time there.
I will say that one big tip I have is that if you are new to Southeast Asia, Bangkok might be best suited to be at the END of your Thailand trip. I do think that if we had started off at Bangkok we would've been overwhelmed by the culture shock and change from our comfort zone. By the end of the two weeks we were pretty used to the new senses in Thailand and felt more confident and ready to take on a big foreign city.
We woke up SUPER early at the Holiday Inn because we were leaving for the day for a big day out at the Railroad and River market tour. We stored our luggage at the holiday inn and when we returned from the tour later that day we were ready to move on to our next and final accommodation of the trip: Lebua At State Tower.
Activities in Bangkok:
Wat Arun Temple
Wat Pho (Temple of reclining Budha)
Go on a food tour!
Chatuchak Weekend Market Time (Saturdays and Sundays 9am to 6pm)
Thong Lor for restaurants
Octave Sky Bar (on top of Marriott hotel)
Maeklong Railway tour and river market tour
I recognized the Lebua from the Hangover movies as well as from the opening scene from (my favorite) Travels with My Father (Season 1). It's a gorgeous rooftop bar with incredible views and VERY pricey drinks. We got one each and made them last. It was the perfect ending to an incredible honeymoon!
On our very last day we had a super late night flight so we had all day to explore around. Wat Arun temple was by far my favorite temple I have ever seen.
Overall, Thailand will always have a special place as one of my favorite trips of all time. We will definitely be back someday!
Please drop me a comment below if you have any questions about our trip or if you are planning a honeymoon to Thailand yourself. I'd love to help!
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