Our honeymoon seemed to be the perfect opportunity to see the world without breaking the bank or having to give up our teaching jobs. Traveler's Joy helped make this dream a reality, and gave us incredible memories that will stay with us through the years.
With our noses buried in guidebooks, and our sights set on defraying the cost of our perfect (but expensive) honeymoon, we created a personal and comprehensive Traveler's Joy registry that furthered our excitement for the trip.
We will never forget the excitement of Bangkok, the peace of Lonely Beach and the beauty and art of Chiang Mai. And to think, without Traveler's Joy we may have never taken our honeymoon at all.
Amazingly, using airline miles to cover our airfare, and our Traveler's Joy registry contributions of $1,200, we spent only $300 on our honeymoon trip. Between the value of the dollar in Thailand, our awesome travel guide books, and our kind friends and family, we had the adventure of a lifetime on a very limited budget.
An adventure and cultural epicenter, Thailand is one of Southeast Asia’s most sought-after destinations, attracting millions of honeymooners from all over the world each year. This diverse country offers golden beaches in the south, lush jungles and mountains in the north, thriving metropolitan cities in each province, plus more national monuments, historic sites, and sacred temples than you can count.
Located between the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean, Thailand has a total landmass of 198,000 square miles and a population of 69 million. It’s easiest to divide the country into four distinct sections: The northern part of Thailand is mountainous and lush. The northeast is flat and arid. The east borders Laos and Cambodia and is highlighted by the mighty Mekong River. The south, meanwhile, stands out with its gorgeous beaches and thousands of offshore islands.
Most honeymooners begin Thailand travel with a few nights in Bangkok, the capital city. Then, it’s on to a northern province, such as Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai, where couples can walk with Asiatic elephants, visit centuries-old temples, and traverse the Mekong Delta. From there, couples often fly to the South, ending their journey on a beautiful island in the South China or Andaman seas.
Phuket, the country’s largest island, is the most popular honeymoon destination in Thailand. Prized for it turquoise waters, golden-sand beaches, lush vegetation, and countless luxury resorts, Phuket is postcard-perfect. Other must-visit islands include Krabi (with incredible rock climbing and scuba diving), Ko Phi Phi (with dazzling beaches and the crystal-clear Phangnga Bay), and Koh Samui (with luxury resorts and trendy beachfront restaurants).
Whether you’re interested in a big-city adventure in Bangkok, a relaxing soak on a sunny island coastline, or active pursuits in the north, like elephant trekking or rock climbing, Thailand has it all. From the top places to visit in Thailand to the best resorts and restaurants, consider this your ultimate cheat-sheet to the perfect Thailand honeymoon.
There are three distinct seasons in Thailand: the hot season (March to May), the wet or rainy season (June to October), and the cool season (November to February). Though weather patterns revolve around the summer and winter monsoons, temperatures in Thailand are generally hot and humid throughout the year, particularly in the south. You can expect intermittent rain showers nearly every day on islands like Phuket, as well as chilly nights in the mountain regions (especially during the cool season)—pack accordingly. If your Thailand honeymoon falls during the cool season, good news: This is one of the most picturesque times to visit, as the countryside is lush and green from the recent rains.
The two main airports in Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) and Don Mueang Airport (DMK), will be your gateway in and out of Thailand. From Bangkok, there are many domestic air routes to provincial capitals in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Koh Samui, Phuket, and more. Phuket International Airport (HKT) is the second-busiest airport in Thailand. The airport, located on the northern part of the island, about 19.8 miles from the city center, has rental car companies, taxi services, shuttle buses, and public transportation to get you to your next stop.
Water Sports Adventures — Snorkeling and kayaking are two popular water sport activities in the southern beach/bay regions of the country. There are abundant coral reefs packed with aquatic life just waiting for you to explore. The Andaman Coast and islands have stunning reefs with a rich variety of marine life. Arguably, the best snorkeling in Thailand is off the Andaman coast, rather than in the Gulf of Thailand, where over-fishing and over-diving have diminished the fish numbers and damaged the coral. Most hotels offer snorkeling equipment and rentals for maximum exploration.
Meanwhile, sea canoeing or kayaking is another great way to explore the many hidden coves and mesmerizing islands off Thailand’s coast. The world-famous kayaking sites Koh Panek and James Bond Island (in Phang Nga Bay between Phuket and Krabi) are unforgettable. However, these locations aren’t highly recommended during the high season, as they have been over-run by day-trippers from Phuket. However, Koh Yao Noi Island is a lovely and unforgettable experience. Ao Nang near Krabi is another tremendous spot to explore. Phang Nga Bay National Park hosts amazing trips by sea kayak, while John Gray Sea Canoe is another well-regarded outfitter. Looking for a multi-day adventure? Paddle-Asia has you covered.
Rock Climbing — Southwestern Thailand is considered one of the world's premier rock climbing destinations. With its many climbing options and astonishing beauty, there's something for everyone, including beginners. Railay Beach in Krabi attracts climbers from all over the world for its variety, location (right off the beach) and amazing views. Plus, the climbing area is only accessible via boat, adding a little extra adventure to your trip. Check out Andaman Adventures, one of several providers that offer experiences for newcomers and experts, including climbs on nearby islands surrounding Phra Nang Bay.
Elephant Trekking — Elephant trekking is a unique way the country has worked towards securing the survival of this national symbol. Elephant camps are typically found all across the country, but prevail in the northern section of Thailand. Here, visitors can expect elaborate shows plus treks through the lush forests. A majority of the elephant camps in the north are located near Chiang Mai, including the Elephant Training Center and the Thai Elephant Conservation Center. In the south, you’ll find elephant camps at Kaholak, Khao Sok National Park, and Ton Patiwat Wildlife Preservation Centre.
Exploring Phuket — Hire a driver and take a day to explore the island of Phuket. Start in the Southwest corner at Kata Beach and make your way up the west coast. After several beach detours, head to Phuket town and wander the city streets before grabbing a bite to eat. The town is well known for its 19th century Sino-Portuguese style residences.
Sailing/Boat Tour — Take a day trip out of Phuket and explore Ko Phi Phi, a pair of spectacular islands with breathtaking cliffs, golden beaches, lush greenery, and coral beds teeming with sea life. You’ll likely recall Maya Beach from the 2000 movie “The Beach.” Check out Phuket Sail Tours for amazing day trip options. Also, if you’re looking for a romantic sail on a luxury yacht, head out with Yachtpro for some first class sailing adventures along Thailand’s dramatic coastline.
JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa — One of Phuket’s premier resorts, the JW Marriott features the longest pool in Southeast Asia, luxury guest rooms with balconies and sea views, plus countless other amenities (hint, hint: nine restaurants and bars, a state-of-the-art fitness center, an award-winning spa, plus beach activities).
The Shore at Katathani — This highly recommended luxury beachfront resort stands out with its villa accommodations, each equipped with a private infinity pool, sunken lounge, bath with rain shower, and ocean views, plus an overall elegant design featuring oriental touches. The property is home to two restaurants, a wine cellar, first-rate Serenity Spa, a large public infinity pool just steps from the beach, a fitness center, use of Katathani Phuket Beach Resort facilities, and complimentary guest activities, including aqua aerobics and yoga.
Ayara Hilltops Boutique Resort & Spa — This boutique resort is nestled in the hills of Phuket overlooking Surin Beach. Since you’re on your honeymoon, it’s more than ok to request a “buggy” (golf cart) up all those lush, sloping paths, which take you to the super calming spa, poolside bar and restaurant, and Beach Club.
Sawasdee Village and the Baray Villa — The 14 spacious villas of the Baray are designed in Arabian and Thai style, feature two floors, and have a truly spectacular design. Each villa comes with private luxury pools set amidst lush gardens. The property features top restaurants, a notable spa, and Thai Cooking Classes. Service is impeccable and the ambiance is truly unforgettable.
Four Seasons Tented Camp — The natural wonders of Northern Thailand are on full-display at this mountaintop resort, which offers elephant-trekking expeditions through lush jungle and mountain trails plus excursions on the mighty Mekong River. Prepare to fully unwind in a luxurious tented suite, furnished with handcrafted objects, antiques, and bronze soaking tubs.
The St. Regis Bangkok — The 227 guest rooms at this towering resort are like quiet little oases within a metropolitan world capital. But beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows, soothing neutral palette, and super plush bedding, it’s the service that sets the St. Regis apart. Each room comes with a butler, who can assist with everything from packing and unpacking to dining reservations and tour bookings (he/she can also deliver coffee/tea service 24 hours a day).
Six Senses Samui — You’ll forget you’re on the other side of the world once you check into this eco-chic resort, covered in lush rainforest vegetation. That’s because it instantly makes you feel at home. Each room is a standalone structure with a private wooden deck (many with plunge pools), affording afternoons dominated by privacy and relaxation. Pro tip: The easy-going yet elevated vibe pairs perfectly with a morning yoga class, lazy lunch by the pool, and all-linen wardrobe.
Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai — Nestled 20 minutes outside the center of Chiang Mai, this luxurious stay offers instant immersion in Thai culture. You’re surrounded by the terraced rice fields of the mystical Mae Rim Valley of Northern Thailand. Embrace the area and embark on full-day cooking class that includes shopping for ingredients at the local market before whipping up a delicious plate of Khao Soi Gai, yellow curry noodles with chicken.
Whitebox Restaurant - The menu at this hot spot near Phuket is an exquisite blend of Thai and Mediterranean flavors, served in a sleek white dining room or on the charming ocean-view terrace.
Rockfish Restaurant - With its views of Kamala Beach and menu that focuses on modern Asian and fresh seafood dishes, this is a must-book restaurant for couples traveling to the Phuket region.
Blue Elephant - Blue Elephant, which has multiple locations around the country, takes diners on a journey of the past, present and future of Thai food. From time-honored, historic dishes to more bold, modern flavors, you’ll develop deep understanding and appreciation for Thailand after just one meal.
Tim Ho Wan - The world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant may have rocketed to fame in its original Hong Kong location, but in case you’ve never traveled to the Chinese city, make a stop into the Bangkok location. They offer 25 types of dim sum, from classic shrimp dumplings to gluttonous rice balls, plus the famed Baked Bun with BBQ pork.
Coco Tams - If you’re a scene-seeking couple, there’s no more fun night on the town than at this beachfront restaurant/bar in Koh Samui’s Bophut neighborhood. From the beach-chic decor (lounges suspended on nets above the sand) to the extensive menu offerings (everything from sushi to pizza), plus a mind-bending fire show on the beach (call ahead to time your reservation), Coco Tams is an all-around win for a memorable meal.