Thailand has become one of Asia’s hottest travel destinations, attracting more than 32 million visitors a year to explore its cultural sites, luxury hotels and natural beauty. It’s nearly impossible to cover the entire country without an extended stay, but there’s plenty to bite off in a week and a half. Our guide starts in the capital city of Bangkok and continues through the culturally rich Chiang Mai before wrapping on the relaxing beaches of Krabi.
DAYS 1-4 IN THAILAND: BANGKOK
STAY: Conveniently located, the five-star W Hotel Bangkok is a favorite of international travelers for its world-class spa and luxurious guest rooms. It’s also the site of the historic House on Sathorn, a renovated colonial mansion that today is a destination restaurant — on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants List in 2017 and 2018 — serving innovative Turkish fare. Lebua Hotel, another five-star option, is famous for having the tallest rooftop bar in the world, Sky Bar, at 820 feet. If it looks familiar, it may be because you saw it in a scene in The Hangover 2.
EAT: Along the Chao Phraya River, Tha Maharaj is a shopping area lined with Thai and Western-style restaurants in Bangkok’s Old City. The acclaimed Mango Tree on the River serves traditional Thai tapas infused with modern flavors. Cocktail enthusiasts should head to Vesper, an Italian-inspired restaurant with skillful mixologists who build classic and creative creations. Eat Me — a 20-year-old institution from an Australian owner and American head chef — celebrates regional Thai and international cuisines through sustainable ingredients.
DO: For less than $1, take a ferry ride up and down the Chao Phraya to get a feel for the pulse of the city and its 8 million inhabitants. When back on solid ground, be sure to visit at least one of Thailand’s 40,000 wats, or temples. Some of the most important ones are located in the capital city. Wat Pho is the most popular, being home to the 150-foot, gold-leafed Reclining Buddha and more than 800 images of the sage. Wat Phra Kaew, aka The Temple of the Emerald Buddha,houses a much smaller but still impressive statue: a 26-inch meditating Buddha made entirely of a green precious stone and clothed in gold. The Grand Palace, where kings Rama I to Rama V lived, is open to the public for tours.