A Teen-approved 10 Days in Thailand
Arts & Culture
Arts & Culture
Thailand is is the perfect combination of beauty, adventure, culture and relaxation. And it’s incredibly family friendly. Although I had been to Thailand as a solo traveler, we traveled to Thailand as family for the first time when my son was 13. He is now 16, and it continues to be a place he talks about and begs to return to.
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Where to stay
The Peninsula Bangkok
In hip Thonburi, a favorite luxury stay with top notch restaurants and a riverside swimming pool.
$100 hotel / resort credit.
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137 Pillars House Chiang Mai
In a restored 19th-century teak building, this special stay is a destination unto itself, known for its glamorous suites, spa and plugged-in tours.
Complimentary 30-minute massage.
Set along Krabi's Andaman Coast, this luxury beachfront resort is surrounded by lush gardens, making for an idyllic nature escape.
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Day 1: Arrive in Bangkok
Arrive in the am. Once you’ve had a nap or relaxation time by the pool, hit the ground running with visits to The Grand Palace and Wat Pho Temple (Reclining Buddha). Both are stunning and not to missed. Afterward, take a relaxing ride on a river cruise. It's a fun, fabulous way to sightsee and learn more about Bangkok while sitting down.
Finish of the afternoon / evening with a visit to Khao San Road, a bustling area filled with markets and restaurants, or grab drink and appetizers at the famous rooftop Sky Bar (as seen in Hangover 2). The stunning views are bar none.
Day 2: Visit the floating markets (a must-do during your 10 days in Thailand)
A first trip to Thailand would not be complete without a visit to the iconic floating markets. Yes, it’s touristy but it’s also a unique experience. Locals will paddle their small boats around the water, selling their wares and delicious food, and you can shop as they pass by. It’s an all-day excursion but well worth the effort. End the day with a night food tour in Chinatown.
Day 3: Travel to Chiang Mai
On day three of your 10 days in Thailand, fly to Chiang Mai. While Bangkok is busy and bustling, and navigating the city can be challenging, Chiang Mai is quaint and easy to get around by walking, tuk tuk or taxi. It’s one of my family's favorite places.
I would suggest at least three nights, but more if you have time. First, visit the old town and the jaw-dropping golden Wats (temples). There are over 120 temples in Chiang Mai, each one more stunning than the next. After temple hopping, grab lunch at Lert Ros. The fresh fish grilled on hot coals outside is delicious! Then get a Thai massage at your hotel or local spa. (My go-to was Fah Lanna Spa.)
Round out the night with a visit to the night market. It’s great for trinket shopping and dinner (endless food stalls), plus some hilarious live cover bands.
Day 4: Visit Elephant Nature Park
Spend the day getting up close and personal with elephants at Elephant Nature Park. This sanctuary is one of the best of the best, and helps rehabilitated and rescued elephants. This will surely be a once-in-a-lifetime, memorable experience.
Have dinner by cooking it yourself. There’s really no better place to take a cooking class than Thailand. Not only will you learn how to make an incredible meal that you can wow your friends with on your return home, but you get to enjoy all the bounty you created.
Day 5: Adventure & cultural immersion
Start the day at sunrise at the Doi Sutehp Temple, a sacred temple about 15 km outside of town. The 309 steps leading to the temple will get your heart pumping. At the top you will be rewarded with the most breathtaking views.
For the adventurous, continue with a day of zip lining in the jungles of Chiang Mai. For those who prefer to have their feet on the ground, visit a silk factory where you can see the whole process of making, dying and weaving silk on looms, or go on an artisan / handicraft tour.
For dinner, head to Nimman Road, a very hip, artsy area filled with boutiques, coffee shops and many spots for a delicious dinner.
Days 6-10: Round out your 10 days in Thailand by exploring Chiang Rai and Thailand's islands
Option: If time permits, take a side trip to Chiang Rai, famous for the stunning White Temple, markets and more. Or immerse in nature and culture with a one- to two-day trek in the nearby national forests that include visits / homestays in local villages.
End your 10 days in Thailand by exploring one of the many stunning islands the country has to offer. Most of the islands are easily accessible by plane from Chiang Mai. Popular choices include Phuket, Koi, Samui, Krabi and Ko Lak. We traveled to Krabi. It’s very laid-back and quiet (ideal for families), and it’s perfectly situated to explore other islands. I recommend renting a long tail boat and snorkeling all day. There is no shortage of activities to enjoy: paddle boarding, swimming, kayaking, hiking and fabulous rock climbing on Railay Beach. Or you can just chill with a book by the pool or beach, and indulge in many Thai massages.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Thailand.