The Best Weekend Breaks From Bangkok

Tired of the noise, bustle and pollution of Bangkok? While Thailand’s capital truly defines big city living, it’s quite close to several great beach destinations and upcountry retreats that make great weekend getaways.

Need to get out of the city? Pick from any of these four destinations, book a taxi and enjoy a peaceful or wild (depending on your choice) weekend away from Bangkok.

Hua Hin

Located three hours from Bangkok by road, Hua Hin is a family-oriented beach resort city that’s popular with Thais and tourists. The beach here is lined with upmarket hotels, such as the Hilton Hua Hin and Intercontinental.

Since Hua Hin is on the quieter side, it’s best for couples and families. Solo travelers might find the nightlife here a little dull, since options are limited and closing times are fairly early compared to elsewhere in Thailand. Further south, Pranburi is a great choice for couples.

Pattaya

Thailand’s party capital, Pattaya is two hours from Bangkok by car and by far the most popular beach resort close to the capital. This isn’t the place for a quiet getaway, but if you opt for Jomtien or Wongamat instead of central Pattaya, it’s possible to avoid most of the noise.

If you plan on going out and partying, make sure you pick a guest friendly hotel in Pattaya, as many brands forbid non-registered guests. If you’re traveling with your partner, pick a hotel around Wongamat Beach for a quieter experience with a nicer, more refined atmosphere.

Ayutthaya

Famous for its ancient temples, Ayutthaya was once the historical capital of Thailand. The entire city was destroyed by the approaching Burmese armies many hundreds of years ago, creating the archaeological park that covers large parts of the city today.

One of the most popular tourist destinations near Bangkok, Ayutthaya is better for day trips than weekend getaways. We recommend this one if you’re only able to get out of the city for a single night and don’t have time to travel further afield. Take the train for a fun, more local experience.

Kanchanaburi

Further north than Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi is one of the most relaxing upcountry tourism destinations within easy reach of Bangkok. Minibuses depart from Bangkok’s Victory Monument to Kanchanaburi frequently throughout the week and make the journey in about three hours.

Great attractions include the famous bridge over the River Kwai, Hellfire Pass and many other WWII-related sights. Some of Kanchanaburi’s most famous resorts are located along the side of the river, offering beautiful views and a relaxing atmosphere.

Gear Recommendations for Travel in Thailand

Thailand is one of the world’s most popular backpacking destinations, and as a result it suffers from a familiar problem for travelers: people severely overpack.

If you’ve traveled in Thailand before, you’ve no doubt seen the type of people I’m talking about. They walk around Khao San Road with massive backpacks — often two, with one on their back and a second, smaller backpack on their front.

Even if you’re backpacking around Thailand as a budget traveler, you don’t need to pack as much as you think. Most of the items you’ll need for your journey are available here, often at a lower cost to back home. You can save a lot of money, discomfort and baggage fees by packing light and picking up the extras once you arrive.

Before we share our gear recommendations, here’s what you don’t need to pack for your trip to Thailand:

  • Non-prescription medicines (they’re all available here at a lower cost to any Western country)
  • More than 4-5 t-shirts, pairs of shorts and underwear. Laundry services are abundant in Thailand and you can buy extra clothes from the markets for very low prices.
  • Travel guides. Books are heavy and cumbersome. Pack a tablet or install the Kindle app on your phone, then read your guides digitally to save weight.
  • A money belt. Thailand isn’t 100% crime-free, but it’s a safe destination and you’ll be find keeping your wallet in your pocket or bag.
  • A backpack. Unless you’re going to explore the islands, you can travel around Thailand using a wheeled travel bag, at least in most major cities. Only use a backpack if you plan on visiting the islands.
  • Sunscreen, toothbrushes and other toiletries. They’re all available in 7/11, again at a much lower cost than back home.

As for what to bring, here are our recommendations for items that aren’t easily available in Thailand or are only available at a high price:

  • Luggage. If you need to buy another backpack or bag here, expect to pay a higher price than average.
  • Boots, shoes and other leather goods. Any imported fashion products in Thailand are more expensive than back home, so we recommend bringing a good pair of walking boots (especially if you plan to visit the North) and a good leather belt for wearing with jeans from home.
  • Technology. Smartphones, computers, cameras and other consumer electronics cost more in Thailand than they do in most Western countries, so buy your tech before you travel.
  • Winter clothing. Thailand is a tropical country, but the North can get quite cold during the cool season. Since good quality winter clothing isn’t readily available, it’s better to bring a thin, breathable jacket from home instead of buying one after you arrive.

On the whole, there’s no need to pack too heavily when you visit Thailand, since everything you could need is easy to find (if, in the case of imported products, a bit expensive). Bring a mid-sized suitcase or light backpack with enough clothing to last you for five days at a time and you’ll have a great trip without the weight, discomfort and back pain of the travelers you see with supersized backpacks.

Hospitals in Thailand: Are They Any Good?

Every year, millions of people visit Thailand. Some are here to relax beside the beach in resort hotels and tropical islands. Some are here to have their big adventure. And many are here to get medical care.

Lots of people don’t know this, but Thailand is one of the world’s most popular and affordable countries for medical tourism. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people come here for plastic surgery, dental work, laser eye surgery and hundreds of other procedures. The biggest draw is the cost (it’s much less expensive to get medical treatment in Thailand than in the USA or Australia) but another draw is the surprisingly high quality of medical care in Thailand.

Thailand might not sound like the kind of country where you’d expect to find world class hospitals. After all, the traffic in Bangkok is beyond description, pollution is a serious problem, and many of the country’s most popular islands are becoming overdeveloped at a scary pace. But despite this, Thailand’s hospitals (at least the private hospitals tourists have access to) aren’t just not bad; they’re really good.

Two of Bangkok’s biggest international hospitals are Bumrungrad, which is near Nana BTS Station, and Samitivej. Both have outstanding facilities that go beyond the expectations of their clients (think of pianists and personal limousines, for example) and both deal with tens of thousands of patients every year. Bangkok has a large variety of other private hospitals, all vying for part of the international medical trade.

It’s not just hospitals that are competing for foreign customers. Dentists in Bangkok are increasingly marketing to foreigners, especially for procedures like crowns and veneers. Like the country’s hospitals, Thailand’s dentists are qualified for the job, with some of the country’s clinics reporting an impressive 91 to 98% success rate for dental implants and other cosmetic procedures.

So, if you’re in need of high quality medical care, particularly for cosmetic and other elective treatments, give Thailand a try. While most are familiar with the appeal of low prices that Thailand offers, the country’s medical and dental industries also have a great deal of expertise to offer.

The Best Hostels on Khao San Road

Khao San Road is Bangkok’s backpacking capital, with more cheap hotels than you can shake a stick at. Despite this, finding hostels on Khao San Road is surprisingly difficult. There are much more cheap hotels on this street than there are hostels with shared bunk beds and dorm rooms.

Still, it’s possible to find hostels in and around Khao San Road if you look hard enough. We’ve partied pretty hard on Khao San Road in the past and stayed in many of the streets best backpacker hostels. Below, we’ve recommended the best hostels on and near Khao San Road for you to choose from if you’re staying in Bangkok.

By the way, all of the hostels listed below are rated more than 7/10 on Agoda.com by previous guests, guaranteeing that they’re good places to stay. No matter which one you choose, you’ll get a clean bed and a pleasant environment for a reasonable cost

Hostels on Khao San Road Itself:

Khao San Road itself only has a few hostels, since most of the accommodation here is of the private guesthouse variety and the few hostels that are there, well… they mostly aren’t particularly nice.

Still, there are a couple of amazing diamonds in the rough (both of which opened very recently in 2015), which we’ve listed below. Both hostels listed below are very popular and fill up quickly, so make sure you book in advance. We’ve seen people get turned away upon arrival without bookings, which is never fun. 

Nitan Hostel Khaosan (Highly Recommended)

Nitan Hostel Khaosan is a really stylish boutique hostel located right on Khao San Road. It’s close to all the street’s best bars and restaurants, giving it one of the best locations on all of Khao San Road.

The best thing about Nitan Hostel Khaosan is that it’s brand new.This hostel opened up in 2015 and feels extremely clean and well cared for. Prices are very affordable and the hostel is overall extremely nice. Previous guests rate it very highly and we agree with them.

Rooms in Nitan Hostel Khaosan are made up of 10 bunk beds, with mixed and female only dorms available. The hostel is fairly quiet for accommodation right on Khao San Road, making it a good choice if you want a nice night’s sleep. This is by far our most recommended hostel on Khao San Road itself.The only other hostels that compare aren’t located directly on Khao San Road, and are a 2-5 minute walk away.

View Current Rates and Book Online for Nitan Hostel Khaosan

The Pillow Hostel Khao San

The Pillow Hostel is another modern hostel on Khao San Road that opened in 2015. As you’d expect from such a new hostel, the facilities are in excellent condition and the whole place is very clean, modern and well cared for.

This hostel is located on a small alley off Khao San Road, making it a bit sheltered from the noise and hustle of Khao San Road itself. If you want a hostel that’s right on Khao San but isn’t too noisy, it’s a good choice.

Rooms at The Pillow Hostel are six bedroom mixed dorms. There are also private rooms available, including triple and quadruple bed rooms. Prices are VERY good (think 300-400 baht per bed, per night) making this one of the best value options for a clean, well maintained bed on Khao San Road.

View Current Rates and Book Online for The Pillow Hostel Khao San

Hotels Near Khao San Road (Within Five Minutes Walk):

The best hostels aren’t actually on Khao San Road itself, but near Khao San Road. By staying in a hotel that’s a short walk away from Khao San Road on a street like Soi Rambuttri, you can stay close to the bars and restaurants while being far enough away to get a good night’s sleep due the lower noise level.

There are several amazing hostels near Khao San Road, including some of Thailand’s top hostels. We’ve listed the best of the best (hostels rated 8+/10 by guests) below for you to choose from. Like the hostels directly on Khao San Road, these nearby hostels fill up quickly and often turn away guests without reservations, so make sure you book online before you arrive. 

 Full House Khaosan (2-3 minutes to walk to Khao San Road)

Full House Khaosan is a beautiful hostel close to Khao San. It’s located on a quiet street that’s about two minutes walk from Khao San Road itself, making it a great choice if you want to get a good night’s sleep.

This hostel was renovated in 2015 and has an amazing design, with teak wood surrounding the beds and extremely clean rooms and common areas. Guests have consistently rated it 9+ out of 10 because of its quality. A great alternative to staying directly on Khao San Road.

Beds are available at Full House Khaosan in shared rooms with bunks, or in private rooms. The shared rooms offer the best value for money, while the private rooms are a good option if you want some more space to spread out and relax while staying close to one of Bangkok’s most exciting streets.

View Current Rates and Book Online for Full House Khaosan

Baan Bovorn Khaosan (2-3 minutes to walk to Khao San Road)

Baan Bovorn Khaosan is a modern hostel near Khao San Road that’s about two to three minutes away from the area’s top restaurants and hotels. It’s also really close to Soi Rambuttri, which is a more chilled out, bohemian alternative to crowded Khao San Road.

Rooms at Baan Bovorn are pretty simple, with male and female dormitories, as well as mixed dormitories available. One of the biggest advatages of Baan Bovorn compared with other hostels around Khao San Road is that it’s very clean, with good maintenance and a nice atmosphere.

View Current Rates and Book Online for Baan Bovorn Khaosan