Thailand This Winter: Get Three Vacations in One

(Last Updated On: April 15, 2019)

When you have limited time each year for a vacation, it can be difficult to choose where to go. But if you love the beach, crave exotic food, or want to get off the beaten track and experience some up-close and intimate animal encounters, Thailand is your solution. You can do it all and spend less than you think. We combed through a few potential recommendations in conjunction with travel experts,, and came up a few suggestions to help plan the perfect winter get-away.

Get the Best of Bangkok

Bangkok is Thailand’s major hub and the most likely place where you will enter Thailand. Here you can visit some of the best sites, including the Grand Palace, Wat Arun, and the National Museum, to name a few. All are accessible via ferry on The Chao Phraya Express Boat for about $5 US.

I’d also recommend going deeper into Bangkok and visiting some of the evening markets where you can sample some of the best street food in Thailand. While all of this is accessible using public transportation, but why not take an evening Tuk-Tuk Tour? The experts will bring you to the best food stalls and help you discover more of Bangkok’s hidden gems.

Bangkok Tuk Tuk Food Tour
Bangkok Tuk Tuk Food Tour
Seafood Curry in Bangkok's Chinatown
Seafood Curry in Bangkok’s Chinatown

Lounge on Some of the Best Beaches in the World

Once you have reached Thailand, airfare is relatively inexpensive, with round trip fares within the country often running less than $100. This allows you to quickly hop out of the urban jungle and land on one of Thailand’s beautiful white sandy beaches. Krabi’s Railay beach is one such location. You can arrive here by longtail boat while enjoying views of the iconic limestone formations that dot the shoreline. Other island locations, such as Phuket, are an easy boat ride from here.

One of my favorite things is to walk through the jungle catching glimpses of monkeys before coming out onto Railay beach. On the beach itself you can grab a snack from a floating snack bar that arrives each day to satisfy the cravings of hungry beach goers.

Thai Longtail Boats
Thai Longtail Boats
Krabi Beach Vendor, Thailand
Krabi Beach Vendor, Thailand

Thailand Animal and Cultural Encounters

After a few days of lounging, it’s time to change up the scenery and find your way to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. The center of Chiang Mai is a mini version of Bangkok’s bustling markets. But if you travel a little into the countryside you will be able to hike into the jungle or take a tour and visit some of Thailand’s Hill Tribes. Even more awe inspiring is to find your way to an elephant sanctuary where you can spend a day walking with and bathing elephants.

The Tong-Bai Foundation is one of the camps that does not allow elephant riding and will only host a maximum of nine visitors at a time. This ensures the elephants are not stressed and have not endured harsh training practices. A visit there will touch your heart and your visit will also help the foundation sustain its efforts to care for the elephants.

Tong-Bai Elephant Foundation
Feeding bananas to a baby elephant
Tong-Bai Elephant Foundation
Male elephant at the Ton-Bai Foundation in Northern Thailand

Best of all Thailand has options for all budgets. You can confidently eat at food stalls and fill up for a few dollars. Or you can splurge and find a roof top bar in Bangkok with sweeping views of the city. With all of the choices, it’s easy to craft your own dream vacation. Maybe that’s one of the reasons they call Thailand the land of 1000 smiles. Maybe it’s time to add yours?

Inspired to start some travel planning?

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19 thoughts on “Thailand This Winter: Get Three Vacations in One”

  1. You are right, Thailand is like 3 vacations in 1. I can’t say that I loved my time in Thailand but I loved Chiang Mai and would definitely go back. Your suggestions for each area of Thailand are great!

  2. I loved everything about this (BC I LOOOVE Thailand!). My only head of warning is to people looking at the elephant and animal encounters. Chiang Mai is known for having a few respectable rehabilitation centers, but all too many places are cruel to their animals and just a way to make money from tourists. ALWAYS do your homework and research on which organizations to support

  3. Thanks for recommending a responsible elephant encounter with a place which does not allow riding. I feel like it’s difficult to know which experiences are ethical and which aren’t when it comes to elephant tourism in Thailand.

  4. Thailand is incredible. There’s a plethora of things to do! I’ve been there a few times and I’m not quite done yet. The food itself is something I go back for over and over again!

  5. Oh, I loved Thailand so much! The evening tuk-tuk tour I took was a great highlight. I was able to explore the city by day on my own and with an expert guide by night who showed some hidden gems in Chinatown. (mouth-watering…!!) I’m going to echo my fellow commenters in saying thanks for recommending a place where people don’t ride elephants. I visited Elephant Nature Park and really liked what the organization is working to do. So many people don’t realize the horror that is behind elephant riding.

    • Elephant riding, and even practices in some of the camps that do allow it, is a touchy subject. Doing your homework is important. I’m planning a whole post to discuss the subject as the problem is very complex. The camp I recommended, I did with confidence.

  6. I’ve heard about the beauty of Thailand. In fact I almost bought my plane ticket for Bangkok to attend the TBEX meeting this past fall, but then all my plans failed due to a wedding in the family (a very sort notice one!). I read your post with a lot of interest because I’m planning to go there by all means. That Thai food looks so delicious…

  7. The beauty of Thailand never fails to inspire me to visit! Interesting that you wrote about the elephant sanctuary that not only does not allow riding, but minimises visitor numbers. If you do write a more in-depth article about elephant sanctuaries, I will be one of your first readers!

  8. What a fabulous list of suggestions, and just in time for my upcoming trip! Definitely adding Krabi’s Railay to my list of places to visit. Also, I’ve been trying to find an ethical way to experience elephants… definitely want to stay away from anywhere that promotes riding. Thanks for help!

  9. Definitively, Thailand is best in the Northern Hemisphere winter. Everyone comes here in the European summer but it is when the weather is worst. And the rain can really dampen your trip. You guys are onto something and great round up of places to visit/things to do

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