Koh Tao, aka Turtle Island, was my favorite island and my favorite other place visited besides Chiang Mai. This island screams IM SUPER CHILL BRAH AND EVERYTHING WILL BE ALRIGHT. I loved Koh Tao because everything was pretty much walkable in the part where we stayed (Sairee Beach). It was like a beach town but there wasn’t really a beach to hang out at… at least no sand area. Koh Tao is known for scuba diving and snorkeling and there are many areas on the island to do just that.
Day 1 – Tuesday
Check in to Sairee Cottages
Lunch at Sairee Cottage Restaurant
Walked around the area
Dinner at Farango Pizzeria (dude…$90 baht/$3 USD magherita pizzas here for happy hour)
Day 2 – Wednesday
Breakfast at PermPoon Coffee Bar by the Pool (part of our hotel)
Hung out at the pool
Rained so we hung out at our balcony and read or played games
Went to go check out different snorkeling and scuba diving places
Dinner at 995 Roasted Duck (BEST FOOD OF THE TRIP)
Dessert at Butter I-cream (ice cream at our hotel)
Day 3 – Thursday
Breakfast at PermPoon Coffee Bar by the Pool
Oxygen2 Snorkeling Tour (Full Day)
Snorkeling at Nangyuan Island, Shark Bay, Mango Island, Lighthouse Bay and Aow Leuk. Lunch, snacks and beverages included.
BBQ dinner at Sairee Cottages Restaurant
Day 4 – Friday
Breakfast at PermPoon Coffee Bar by the Pool
Scuba Diving Lesson and Open Water Dive at Ban’s Diving Resort
Dinner at Roasted Duck (yeah this place was freaking awesome, we went twice)
Pronounced “Ko Pahng Yun”, this island is famous for its wild full moon parties or half moon parties (or any parties) at Haad Rin. We just missed the full moon party so we opted to explore the quieter sides of the island. It’s a bigger island, one where you even by motorbike, it may take you an hour to ride somewhere because of the roads. We only planned to stay for 1.5 days but we would’ve like to add on another day to check out more of the island. I’ll include a list of things recommended but we didn’t have time to do.
Day 1 – Sunday
Thai Smiles flight from Chiang Mai to Koh Samui
Ferry from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan
Taxi to High Life Bungalow & Check In
Dinner at Zots Resto @ Tantawan Resort
Day 2 – Monday
Breakfast at Tantawan Resort
Motorbike rental at My Hut
Mae Haad Beach
Haad Khom Beach
Lunch at Haad Khom Bungalow Restaurant
Pool at High Life Bungalow
Dinner at High Life Bungalow
Day 3 – Tuesday
Breakfast at High Life
Check out and took their taxi to the pier for Koh Ta
When I first night we touched down in Bangkok, I was super overwhelmed. It’s a crazy city with tight sidewalks, heavy traffic in the streets, and aggressive vehicles. To be honest, even though I’ve lived in NYC all my life, I was uncomfortable. Thankfully, the very next morning, we flew to Chiang Mai because that was the scene I was ultimately looking for. Chiang Mai is a smaller city, north of Bangkok. When I was doing research, Chiang Mai was the most mentioned city besides Bangkok to visit so I knew I had to go. There are tons to do here – from cheap eats and massages to Temple hopping to seeing elephants to street markets to cooking classes. Chiang Mai to me was the chill, adventurous, spiritual sister of Bangkok.
Day 1 – Wednesday
Arrival at Hotel at 1:00pm
Walk around area
Lunch at Its Good Kitchen (actually pretty good)
1-hour Thai Massage at Lila Thai Massage
Wat Phra Singh Waramahavihan
Walk down Rachadamnoen Road to Old Gate, window shopped
Swasdi! We just got back a few weeks ago from our honeymoon in the land of smiles, Thailand. We went for about 19 days (the longest we have been out of the country) and it was nothing short of spectacular. We decided to do Thailand for our honeymoon because (1) it’s much more affordable for a long trip, (2) we wanted nice beaches, and (3) we wanted good food. We’ve only heard great things about Thailand from friends and knew it was the place to be.
We hit up 2 cities and 3 islands which I’ll make separate posts about. Overall, Thailand was beautiful and full of interesting and new things for us to try. I’d highly suggest it as a honeymoon destination for any couple… heck, I’d suggest it for anyone – there were a lot of backpackers and families. We got by just fine with only English and at no time did I feel unsafe (just be smart and aware of your surroundings). Thai people are usually very, very nice people and they don’t scam you. The people that are more likely to scam you are the foreigners living in Thailand. I was pretty anxious and worrisome about going to an Asian country just the two of us for the first time but it really was pretty easy.
We used Hopper to track flights from JFK to Bangkok (seemed to be the cheapest city for us to fly into) and ended up booking Korean Airlines with a layover in South Korea. I think it was around $850 round trip. There are no direct flights form JFK to BKK. Next time you need to do a layover in Asia, please do yourself a favor and do it in South Korea if you can. Incheon Airport in South Korea was the best airport I have ever been to – it looks gorgeous, is really clean and bright and has ton of activities for grumpy waiting passengers. Tons of shopping, food, rest areas with comfy lounge chairs, a “sleeping” area, “digital” gyms which I definitely played in, free showers, different exhibitions to check out, apparently a movie theatre, and more. All of this definitely made my 5 hour layover much better. There are also multiple FREE tours into Seoul depending on how long your layover is.
Things To Get Before the Trip
My best friends Mike & Matt backpacked across South East Asia (check out Backpack Bros for their experiences) and loved using their backpacking packs. I took note and put two Ospreys packs on my wedding registry and luckily got both of them. I used the Osprey Packs Fairview 55 Travel Backpack and the hubby used the guy version, Osprey Packs Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack. Somehow I was able to channel whatever minimalism I had and pack for 3 weeks in one backpack. You’re darn right I was super proud of myself! Using these backpacks instead of suitcases made commuting around, hopping around cities/islands, just so much easier. We saw many families (including little kids) use them too. Plus laundry is cheap in Thailand.. we only had to do it once and it was like $6 for 2 pounds of laundry (came back neatly folded too!). Plus those Osprey packs come with detachable day packs, which were used very often.
Another new thing we got before our honeymoon that has definitely been a game changer for us during our trip is our Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. There are a ton of websites that talk about the benefits of this card, despite its steep annual fee, so I won’t go into detail. NerdWallet does a great article with a spend calculator to see if it’s worth it (luckily my husband and my spend combined makes it worth it). We have used this card for booking our flights, ferries, and hotels (3x points and included insurance/piece of mind), restaurants and shops in Thailand that take CC (no foreign trans fee), and something that my husband is now loving – access to many airport lounges. Free food, drinks and wifi + quieter and comfier atmosphere to wait = happy Eileen (+ hubby). The Skyteam lounge in Incheon Airport also has massage chairs.
One old thing we used very frequently was my Charles Schwab debit card (no foreign ATM fees) (I talk about it more here). I was not comfortable carrying so much cash on me at once so this came quite handy, saving me ~$7 of ATM fees per transaction. At the end of the trip, I only had $9 USD in Thai baht left so I didn’t have to lose that much out on converting back to USD.
In Thailand, my most used apps were Google Maps for directions, TripAdvisor for food and activity searching on the spot, and Grab (in Bangkok & Chiang Mai). Grab is like the Uber of Thailand.