Also known as the ‘Land of Smiles’, Thailand is Asia’s prime touristic destination. Home to endless luxury resorts, breathtaking scenery, spiritual temples, very friendly locals, and of course the delicious food, it’s very easy to see how Thailand got its nickname. As the two largest Thai Islands, Phuket and Koh Samui are Thailand’s two hottest tourist destinations. It can sometimes feel quite overwhelming planning a holiday – particularly when it’s halfway across the globe. To lend a helping hand, we’ve created a 2-week Thailand itinerary full of our top picks of things to do, eateries and family pursuits. So, without any further ado, here you have it, our Thailand itinerary for Phuket and Koh Samui!
Phuket, the culture capital
Phuket is Thailand’s second largest island, and with a plethora of different events and activities, you’re going to find it impossible to get bored there. Here, we have given you our top recommendations for things to see, places to eat and don’t worry – there are lots of things for the kiddies to get stuck in!
Things to see and do
?? Muay Thai boxing is the martial art of Thailand. It started several hundred years ago and it’s a form of close-combat that utilises the whole body as a weapon. You can see Thai boxing first hand in the Patong stadium.
?? If you’re looking for a welcome respite from the busier resorts, head to Phuket Old Town. The streets of Patong are lined with colourful colonial-style mansions, perfect for Instagram!
?? Sitting atop the Nakkerd Hills in Chalong is Big Buddha, a 45-meter-tall white marble statue honouring the Buddhist figure. From the top, there are gorgeous panoramic views across the whole of Phuket. TOP TIP: Big Buddha is situated in an active place of prayer so your visit should be as silent as possible.
?? Rum isn’t just produced in the Caribbean! The Chalong Bay Rum Company offer tours around its rum distillery in Phuket.
?? If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Phuket, charter a boat out to the Phi Phi Islands. This series of picturesque archipelagos is a 45-minute boat trip from Phuket. You can explore more of the islands by snorkelling or on a kayak.
?? Phang Nga Bay is known for its distinctive limestone karsts that jut vertically out of the emerald green waters of the Andaman Sea. The main highlights include James Bond Island and Koh Panyee, a Muslim fishing village built upon stilts and the Samet Nangshe viewpoint – one of the best panoramas in Phang Nga. To explore the bay by boat you can book a long-tail or speedboat day trip, join a cruise or kayaking tour, or charter a yacht.
?? Visit Wat Chalong, one of 29 Buddhist temples in Phuket. Inside these immaculate grounds and gardens, there are many smaller temples and the stunning Grand Pagoda which houses a splinter from Buddha’s bone.
Food and drink
? Recently voted by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the World’s Best Rooftop Bars, Baba Nest is a stylish and luxurious bar, floating in the centre of a mountaintop infinity pool with some seriously stunning views. Definitely not one to miss for rooftop fans.
? If you are missing the taste of home then the Siam Supper Club is a great option. They serve a mix of western food, as well as some traditional Phuket cuisine. This place is great for large groups with varying food preferences, or families with fussy eaters.
? Mom Tri’s Kitchen is an award-winning restaurant facing onto the unspoilt Kata Noi Beach. The restaurant itself is located on multi-level terraces surrounded by a lush tropical garden and serves a selection of Thai and International cuisine
? Phuket Walking Street or Sunday Lardyai (Big Market) takes place in Phuket’s Old Town. Performers, artists and stalls selling antiques, toys and food line Thalang Road every Sunday evening.
? Known locally as Naka Market, Phuket’s night market runs every weekend from 4pm – 9pm. It boasts a vibrant and fascinating mix of different foods, second-hand goods and live animals.
? For insight into local Thai life, visit the Banzaan Fresh Market. Here you will find some of the cheapest and the best local food in the whole of Phuket.
? If you’re looking for a romantic spot, On the Rock is the place to go. This restaurant is nestled away on some rocks overlooking Karon Beach and is the perfect place for a golden hour cocktail with that special someone.
? Bangla Road, it might not be to everyone’s tastes but this vibrant street is brimming with bars, clubs and pubs. TOP TIP: This road probably isn’t suitable for young children at night time
? You and your children will be seriously impressed by the Fantasea Show in Phuket. It describes itself as the ultimate cultural theme park. It’s the kind of show that would not look out of place in Vegas. Inspired by Thailand’s rich and exotic heritage the performance showcases the charm and beauty of Thailand whilst enriching ancient Thai traditions. The show features acrobatics, illusions, pyrotechnics, stunts, aerial performances and animals!
? One of Phuket’s more unique tourist attractions is The Upside Down House. Your children will love to pose for some interesting photos to trick your family and friends at home! An Upside Down house has to have an interesting garden and this one doesn’t disappoint. A Maze in Phuket is the name of this quirky house’s garden.
? Following on the theme of illusions, the Trickeye Museum is a fab option for a rainy day. The museum is highly interactive with many 3D paintings and optical illusions with which to take photos with. Your children will love spending the day here, creating many fun photos to show everyone back home!
? If your children are animal enthusiasts take them to The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project. It is a fantastic place for your children to learn about gibbons in a safe environment which is also benefitting the conservation efforts of the sanctuary. The centre opens daily from 9am to 4:30 pm except for Saturdays when they are open from 9am – 3pm.
?️ One of the best beaches is also one of the hardest to get to. Freedom beach‘s 300m stretch of white sand is largely untouched and the water is blindingly blue. Although it is difficult to get to and will cost you a small fee to enter, when you finally make it down to the beach it is definitely worth the effort.
?️ Kamala beach is a great option for families. Despite being a mere 15 minutes away from the party beach Patong there is a much more relaxed vibe here, which is in part due to the area’s past as a fishing village. There are 2 glorious kilometres of white sand so there is plenty of room to spread out on and the shallow waters are great for splashing around in.
?️ Surin has been dubbed “Millionaire’s Row” due to the high number of luxury resorts and celebrity haunts that line the beach. However, Surin beach feels more like a fishing village than a resort – the perfect setting for a relaxing beach day.
?️ At 6km in length, Bang Tao Beach is one of Phuket’s longest beaches. The most northerly point of the beach is where you will find more space, as this is away from the resorts.
Koh Samui, a tropical paradise
60 years ago, Koh Samui was just an island where locals would fish and live a quiet life. Now, Koh Samui is the most visited island in the area, welcoming 1.5 million visitors on its shores every year. Due to the island’s charm and slower pace of living, you can truly relax on a holiday in Koh Samui. It’s always difficult to know where to go, what to see or where to eat, but don’t worry. Just like we’ve done with Phuket, we have taken the legwork out of your holiday and compiled our top picks.
Things to see and do
?? Thailand has some of the best diving sites in the world so take advantage of the clear, abundant Thai waters by booking a scuba diving immersion! Expect to see jackfish, fusiliers, barracuda as well as curious batfish, colourful butterfly, and parrotfish. If you are very lucky you might see whale sharks, particularly around the deeper open ocean sites. TOP TIP: Be wary of unsafe diving centres, check the PADI website for centre recommendations.
?? If scuba diving seems a little overwhelming to you, there is always snorkelling! With Thailand’s clear and calm waters, home to many stunning reefs and a multitude of different species, there isn’t a better place to try!
?? Ang Thong National Marine Park was established as a marine national park in 1980. 42 islands compose this National Park, covering 102 km² of the Surat Thai Province shoreline in the Gulf of Thailand. Expect to see stunning landscapes of bright greens, blues and turquoises as well as a myriad of wildlife both above and below the water – so don’t forget your snorkel!
?? After a long and busy day of exploring Koh Samui, why don’t you treat yourself to a Thai massage? After all… you are on holiday. ?
?? Temples. Thailand has loads of them and there are many temples on Koh Samui, all of which are incredible. Don’t forget to visit Koh Samui’s Big Buddha, a 12-metre gilded statue located inside the temple grounds of Wat Phra Yai. Other temples that are worth visiting are the Wat Sila Ngu and Wat Plai Laem temples. The latter features an 18-metre statue of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion.
Food and drink
? If you want fine dining in Koh Samui you should visit Supattra Thai Dining. The ambience and food there are both incredible. Expect to find real homemade Thai food, made using the best fresh and local ingredients.
? If you want something quick, easy and delicious, Stop @ Sopa in Samui offers a range of Thai food, pizzas, pasta and soups. This company even does delivery in the area which is perfect if you fancy some delicious local food delivered straight to your villa door!
? The Tree Tops Sky Dining and Bar is a unique experience. You can hide away in your own personal sala amongst the treetops for an incredibly romantic evening. The menu combines French and Mediterranean cuisine with the island’s finest produce.
? Another fine dining establishment in Koh Samui is the Full Moon restaurant. Located at the western end of Bophut’s fisherman’s village this place specialises in chargrilled fusion cuisine. Its à la carte international menu offers a great choice of local flavours and ingredients, blending European, Thai and Japanese influences all together.
? For authentic Thai street food, the Lamai Fresh Food Market should be top of your list. There are many street food-style stands serving up local Thai dishes at amazing prices. TOP TIP: Unfortunately, there is no seating available so you will have to be ok with standing and eating or taking away.
? Restaurant K-Siri is a family run restaurant, serving genuine Thai cuisine. The food is delicious, fresh and the prices are extremely reasonable. You can’t go wrong here! The restaurant is close to Peace Resort in Bophut.
? At the top of Pom Mountain, there is a private sculpture park called the Secret Buddha Garden. This magical place is home to many statues of Buddha and other aspects of Thai Buddhism. There are also some beautiful streams, waterfalls and thick jungle foliage.
? Many conscious tourists will be wary of elephant visits in Thailand. The Samui Elephant Sanctuary is unique as it is a genuine elephant sanctuary where people can behold these majestic creatures from afar. There are strictly no elephant rides and opportunities to bathe with the elephants. However, guests are invited to help feed the elephants and can watch the elephants in their natural habitat.
? Paradise Park Farm is a fantastic little farm for children to let loose and admire the many species of exotic birds that live there. There is also an infinity swimming pool with gorgeous views of the countryside and a restaurant serving Thai food.
? No experience is necessary for this thrilling activity. The Samui Canopy Adventure is the most exhilarating way to see the white beaches, gorgeous waterfalls and wildlife of the Thai rainforests. It is a 3-5 hour rainforest tour travelling via ziplines over the rainforest. The price of the ticket also includes a lunch and a snack
?️ A 250m-long tropical beach paradise is set in a little bay just north of Lamai Beach, Silver Beach has plenty of room for running around or relaxing. The water here is crystal clear and there are loads of rocks which provide perfect conditions for snorkelling.
?️ Do you want to enjoy the freshest seafood whilst sitting on a beach with perfect sand? Well, Choeng Mon is the place for you. Situated just next to the Fisherman’s village this beach definitely has a more relaxed atmosphere than the typical Thai party beaches. The fish comes in fresh every day and is delivered to the restaurants on the beach. It also has some of the best sand in the whole of Koh Samui.
?️ The relaxed Taling Ngam beach is perfect for families. There are no big waves, clean sand and clear, shallow water. This beach is one of the most picturesque parts on the island. The beach itself is lined with swathes of palm trees and jungles. There are also stunning views of the Angthong Marine National Park.
?️ Lamai beach is simply stunning. Imagine soft, white sand and pristine, turquoise waves gently lapping up on the shore. It’s an absolute dream. Unfortunately, the beach can get quite busy during peak times as it is a very attractive beach.
Things you should know before travelling to Thailand
? Be prepared to haggle for items on street stalls and at markets. It is normal and expected but you should never get angry or raise your voice.
? If you visit a temple or royal residence you’ll have to take off your shoes and cover up your legs (ladies have to cover up arms.) They usually have things you can borrow to cover up if you need to.
? Do not insult the King or the royal family. This includes anything bearing the King’s image like a stamp or a coin, so be careful!
? In Thailand, it is the custom to remove your shoes before entering a house. Some shops and offices also follow this practice. If there is a collection of shoes at the entrance then you should probably remove your own shoes before entering.
? It is not the custom to walk around Thailand without a shirt. Not wearing a shirt at the beach or pool is fine though. It is also illegal for women to be topless on the beach even though many tourists ignore this law. Although Thai people are very tolerant of Western behaviour they do not like it.
? At temples, do not point the soles of the feet at people or images of Buddha as it is a sign of disrespect.
** We’re incredibly excited to announce that we are launching in Thailand. We couldn’t be more excited to provide a whirlwind holiday to this magical destination. We have villas in Phuket and villas in Koh Samui waiting for you. Watch this space to find out more and feel free to get in touch with our concierge team to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. We hope you’re as excited as we are.**