Ian by @sarahpardini
Hello Freck Fam, it's Ian! I’m back with another travel blog on Thailand! If you read the New York & Copenhagen city guides, you know a little bit about me-- if not, I’m a bit of a design nerd, a creative freelance, and here to share with you all some of my favorite stops in Bangkok & Koh Samed.
I am always looking for excuses to travel so when my mom, brother, girlfriend and I started toying with the idea of a Thanksgiving week vacation I was all in. We went back and forth throwing out ideas for different places and somehow found flights to Thailand for $400 round trip. I immediately thought “there has to be a reason lol”, it seemed too good to be true. After researching, I didn’t find anything wrong with going to Thailand in November. It seemed perfect-- none of us had been before, we all heard amazing things, so we decided to book it and figure everything else out along the way.
Image by Ian
The first thing we learned about traveling to Thailand, was that there are so many places to choose from for your visit. The three most popular destinations are Bangkok, Phuket and Chang Mai. Each of these have different things to offer, Bangkok is the big city environment filled with vintage shops, night flea markets and great restaurants. Phuket is an island off of the south western coast of Thailand and offers gorgeous scenery and crystal clear beaches, fine dining and luxury resorts, it is definitely the most popular among travel bloggers and instagrammers. Chang Mai is in the northern part of Thailand and offers amazing jungle adventures and is the place to go if you want to experience up close and personal encounters with elephants.
We stayed at a hotel in Thonglor, Bangkok called Grande Centre Point “Sukhumvit 55” for a night at the end of our trip. This hotel was a stunning luxury high rise with a gorgeous view, delicious room service, a shockingly affordable day spa. Although we only spend a night here, I would definitely return to this hotel if I go back. The location was amazing, super walkable and almost everyone spoke english. Super affordable, the average room rate is $75-150.
Though we were only in Bangkok for two days, the restaurants we found did not disappoint.
Images via @alengyep, @myhealthpat, @unfashioncafe, @yourstrulydumpling
The Unfashion Cafe was the first that we found by accident from exploring the vintage scene. It's attached to an adorable vintage/second hand boutique, with a sister location just across the parking lot called Unfashion Dining. We dined on delicious and inexpensive salads and sandwiches, combined with Italian sodas and a little shopping afterwards, it was a perfect afternoon.
Images via Onion, Gavin Chan
One Ounce for Onion might be my favorite in the world. Tucked away in a back alley, Onion is famous for their artisanal waffles and sodas (I recommend the passion fruit soda that comes with a caramelized pineapple slice on top). These guys know their breakfast and it was so refreshing after days of heavy meat and noodle dishes. It turns out the owner is a chef at a michelin star restaurant in downtown.
Image via Marchwood
Marchwood is a little cafe with champagne and live music, also located in the neighborhood of Thonglor, I didn’t get a chance to go here because we were in a rush and only had 1 day in Bangkok, but it came highly recommended and looked so cool when I walked by.
WHAT TO DO
Walking around the trendy neighborhood of Thonglor we kept stumbling across ceramics stores and vintage shops. Most of them are tucked back into the alleys and not on the main streets, I just typed “vintage” into my maps and started walking.
Image via @valoispavo
Chooseless Cafe was a coffee shop/art gallery/vintage shop on the list. It is in an old cement factory building with 25 foot ceilings and vintage everywhere. It was incredible. Photos don’t do it justice, the space is incredible.
Night Markets are a real thing. They are like flea markets on steroids. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of vendors all selling antiques, vintage clothing and street food. They can be a little overwhelming, so make sure you are rested and go with a bag to carry all of the stuff that you find!
Image by Ian
Bangkok National Museum also came highly recommended to me, I wanted to go so bad but didn’t have a chance. It will definitely be my first stop on my next trip to Bangkok. They have one of the largest collections of art in the country.
Even though we ended our trip in Bangkok, we spent most of our stay on the less touristy island of Koh Samed. It came highly recommended from a friend who has been to Thailand 20+ times. This is a very small island only a little drive and a 20 minute speed boat ride off the southern coast of Bangkok. At the end of our stay on the island, we all felt a little cabin fever and last minute chose to leave early to stay a night in Bangkok to experience the city life.
How to get thereAfter flying into the Suvarnabhumi Airport and finding a hotel close by, we hired a car through the hotel reception to the Ao Prao Pier. Most of the people who work in hospitality speak a little bit of english and it was not hard to communicate where we needed to go, we had the choice of an hour long ferry ride to the island or a 20 minute speed boat ride. The choice was clear, speed boat it is! After a short and intense trip on our speed boat, we were dropped off directly at the beach of the resort we chose.
Image by Ian
Where to stayWe stayed at the Tub Tim resort for a modest $28 A night. We chose this resort for it’s beautiful private beach, scenic bungalows and the resident dogs they advertise (which did not disappoint, this resort is dog friendly if your dog can handle the long flight!). This resort is perfect if you’re on a budget and want a more close knit, community feel in your resort. There is a restaurant on the beach that has amazing food. There are also vendors along the beach that sell crepe-like “Rotis”. There was air conditioning and refrigeration in the room and a great little convenience store next to the reception.
Image by Ian
Samed Grand View Resort is another option if you have a little more in the budget for a place to stay on koh Samed. For as little as $70 a night, and it definitely lives up to its name. The garden view rooms are gorgeous, with a private porch and overlook a serene lawn filled with greenery, stone tables and sculptures. A real botanical garden vibe. Just down the pathway is an amazing private beach with the best restaurant we ate at during our time there (the fresh mango sticky rice and elderflower soda is a must), along with a coffee shop and if your timing is right, live music. This resort will definitely appeal to the design lover or museum goer.
Image via zweimalweg.com
Ao Prao Resort is the last option at the highest price point at a minimum of $130 a night, with the food reflecting this price point. This resort has all the fixings, a spa, excursions, daily workshops and more. The beach is expansive and the rooms are nice and modern with a view that is far and wide. This resort is perfect if you’re seeking real luxury, and intend to spend more time within the resort itself.
What to do
Image by Ian
The first thing I always like to do (as you may know if you have read any of my other travel guides) is EXPLORE. The best way to do this is to rent scooters, the roads are basically a glorified bike path and its only about 5 miles from top to bottom. Most resorts have scooter rentals for about 5$ a day with gas included.
Spend time in the water. Trust. It feels like a bathtub. All the resorts have paddle boards and kayaks for rent and taking kayaks to all of the coves was super fun
Image via browneyedflowerchild
There is a small chain of reefs and little islands off the coast of Koh Samed and it was about 20$ a person (lunch included) to hire a speed boat driver to take you around to all the best spots. The same company will also pick you up on the beach, strap you to a parachute and tow you on a parasail up and down the coast.
Images by Ian
I’m fascinated with the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi (the idea that things become more beautiful with wear and tear, and that the life inside of a house or an object is what gives it its charm) and Thailand did not disappoint. The design-nerd in me was freaking out over the incredible houses and chairs that exist on the island. If I had the money I would have shipped so much furniture home.
Eating on the island is pretty limited, all of the resorts have restaurants and all of them are pretty good, our favorite was at the Samed Grand View Resort.
Thailand has so much to offer at such a wide variety, you definitely will not be bored. Let us know in the comments if you've been to Thailand and what your favorite spots are! Thanks for reading, see you in Tulum :).
xo Ian + Team Freck
Koh Samed via We the People
*cover via @alengyep