My dad, Roy, came to meet me in Thailand for a very fun-filled and adventurous 16 days! You might be thinking…how the heck do you travel with your dad for that long?! Lots of people have asked me this haha. But actually, my dad and I took a 2 week long road trip together 2 years ago, so I already knew it was possible. Of course, some bickering took place…it’s family after all, but overall, we had a great time, and the bickering only added to the fun. Definitely a trip for the books!
I splurged a bit on some excursions that I wouldn’t normally do, but my dad covered a lot of meals and taxis (and he covered the majority of the bill for the very nice places we stayed), so I ended up spending about $675 for 16 Days in Thailand, which included my $100 flight from Bali.
Our way of travel was from South to North. Phuket → Khao Lak → Pranburi → Bangkok.
Phuket (9 Days)
Let me start by staying that I do not recommend staying in Phuket for 9 days. Phuket itself isn’t that great beyond a day or 2. It’s more of a launching pad for the other islands. I landed in Phuket a day before my dad, and we were staying at the very southern tip of the peninsula at this super nice Airbnb. This was a massive upgrade from everywhere I’d been staying, #thankyouRoy. Anyways, the airport is towards the north of the peninsula. You can move up and down the peninsula via taxi or public bus. A taxi will cost about 1000 Baht ($33) and take ~1 hour. The public bus, called Phuket Smart Bus, takes ~3 hours, but it only cost $5. And it was a very scenic view of Phuket. I quite enjoyed it. The only bad thing, is you see a lot of elephants tied up on the side of the road, waiting to be ridden by tourists who are not thinking about their impact! Anyways…
It was really fun to see my dad, and pick him up from the airport. Of course, my mom had packed all sorts of great snacks for me that I can’t get in Asia like hot Cheetos, and 2 new books. #thankyouMom. The majority of the time in Phuket was spent lounging by the pool, eating, and riding motorbikes! Yes, we rented some scooters and had a great time practicing and driving mostly down back roads!
We also spent some time in Phuket Old Town. The town is very cute, with may colorful buildings, great shopping, and good food. You can visit Monkey Hill which is pretty cool. The monkeys here are more brown, unlike the gray ones I saw in Bali.
Bangla Road is a really fun, albeit raunchy, area for bars and food. It’s a bit too much to have people on the street show you laminated flyers for “Ping Pong Shows” and other more crude things. No thank you!
But we still had fun walking around, and stopping at a bar to have a beer. Near this area is a massive mall and excellent spot for fresh street food. We stopped at the mall first to see “Aladdin”, as it had just been released, and then got some great food and beer on the street.
Promthep Cape is a really cool spot to check out for sunset one night. You can walk all the way to the end of the cape which was really awesome. It’s a little bit of a tricky walk at points, and strenuous on the way back so my dad didn’t go with me.
Another day, we hired a private longboat for $50 to take us out to two different islands for snorkeling and swimming. I absolutely loved being on the long boat. (There were many butterflies out on the water and it really made me wonder how they fly such long distances from island to island.) We went to Bon Island and Coral Island (I think that’s what it was called). The snorkeling was actually really lovely! I saw some spectacular fish: parrot fish, a puffer, rainbow fish, angel fish, and these crazy pink fish that kept biting us (and it actually hurt!).
One of the most fun things about Phuket/Thailand is all the 7-Eleven’s! My dad and I made a nightly 7-Eleven run which was so fun. He always wanted ginger ale, alcohol, and Dewberry cookies. It was really fun to get a new haul each night! And it was the cheapest activity we did in Thailand haha.
The tough thing about Phuket is you really need a taxi anywhere you go. And they all have seemed to agree on this base price of 200 Baht ($7). So it’s not cheap. And often, the taxis are more than that!
From Phuket, you can reach all the other popular islands such as Phi Phi Island, James Bond Island, Krabi and more. We did not go to these. I’ve heard from other travelers that these and Koh Lanta are the places to be. So I’d recommend checking those out if you are planning a trip to Thailand!
Khao Lok & Khao Sok National Park (2 days)
From Phuket, we took a short 2 hour bus to Khao Lok. We stopped here specifically so that we could go to Khao Sak National Park. We stayed in this accommodation, which was extremely nice, but unfortunately a lot farther from the national park than we realized. So we ended up having to hire a private taxi to take us to the park.
But it was all worth it because the park was truly spectacular! We felt like we were in Jurassic park. You pay an entry fee of 300 baht, and then get on a group boat or a private boat. We chose a private boat which worked great for us. It was only $50 for 2+ hours on the water. It’s really such a stunning place. I loved being on the water, feeling the breeze, and taking in the magnificent surroundings.
I had watched this video regarding the park before hand, and was really excited to try the jumping off points it shows. But they didn’t seem to be on our route, and I got sad when the driver turned around to take us home. So I showed him a picture and asked him about it. He seemed a tiny bit reluctant but then ended up taking us there and I had an absolute blast jumping off the precarious wooden structure and swimming around. It was a highlight for sure, and a real treat for him to take us there as it took extra time.
At night, we watched a lot of movies, and ate peanuts, and drank ginger ale. We always had dinner at the hotel. Their Greek food is very delicious.
Pranburi & Kui Buri National Park (2 days)
From Khao Lok, we took a very nice 9 hour overnight VIP bus to Pranburi for $30. This was a very comfortable bus, and we slept well, but unfortunately this was a bus that arrived at 3am in the morning. We actually had arranged for a taxi driver to pick us up, however, the bus driver did not drop us off where we expected…this happens all the time! So we got dropped off somewhere completely random in an almost entirely shut down city at 3am. It was definitely a bit creepy, and my dad was not thrilled. And after a lot of texting and calling and trial and error, we were able to link up with our taxi driver who got us safely to our hotel.
We went to Pranburi in order to be near Kui Buri National Park. Kui Buri is a national park known for its wild elephants and gaurs. We took a really fun pickup truck tour. That was the best part actually, riding around in the back of the truck and looking for animals. We did see some elephants which was cool, but they were a bit far away or covered by trees. The most magnificent thing we saw was a gaur! Gaurs are the largets bovine in the world, and wow it was huge. Completely amazing to see. I’ve never seen anything like this animal. His shoulders were massive.
I loved this tour, especially seeing the guar and riding in the back of the truck. However, I don’t think it’s worth going out of your way for. Unless you are in this area for something else, there’s really no need to come to Pranburi.
Bangkok (3 days)
Our hotel in Pranburi helped us get a 4 hour local minibus ride to Bangkok that cost $5. The driver was completely insane and I was terrified the whole time. I really don’t love minibuses! He literally was driving in the wrong direction of a multi-lane highway at one point. (See my guide on riding buses in Asia for more)
But we had a ton of fun in Bangkok. We stayed in this Airbnb which I really loved. There’s an adorable coffee shop right outside of it called 123 Baandee Happy Owls that’s fun to stop at. However, after spending a bit more time in Bangkok, I would recommend staying in the Khao San area. It’s very lively and fun.
We spent most of our time walking around and trying to stay cool. Lots of 7-Eleven stops for coke! One of my favorite places we went was the Old Siam Shopping Center. This is a really cool place to shop like locals do and check out a ton of different types of food. For a very modern and upscale shopping experience, check out Central World and Siam Paragon.
We also really enjoyed Wat Phra Chetuphon which is right next to the Grand Palace.
Then, sadly, it was time for my dad to leave. After he left, I stayed in Bangkok one extra night, and then took an 11 hour bus to Chiang Mai that cost $20.
Although our trip through Thailand was a bit unconventional, we had an amazing time exploring the country together, and I can highly recommend giving father/daughter or mother/daughter vacations a shot!
And to end the post, here are some great pics of Roy reaching peak dad levels! From left: Roy straightens frames in our hotel room, Roy brings his own map to Thailand, Roy chooses alcohol