Dreaming of where to elope in Thailand? Curious about the costs, the customs, and where to have your epic adventure elopement? We’re right there with you!
My name is Alesia and I’m a destination wedding videographer based in Portland, Oregon, USA! My fiancé and I are currently planning our own destination wedding in Thailand for November, 2023. Although, we will have family and guests flying in, we also have another beautiful couple flying out to renew their own vows right after us. We’ve decided to write this blog post for them and for future couples wanting to elope in the most beautiful, affordable and culturally rich islands in SE Asia: Thailand!
Cover image by: TuNguyenWedding
Why hire Alesia Films for your destination wedding/elopement in Thailand?
Short answer: I’ve lived there! I spent a short time living in Chiang Mai and was able to backpack around the country for 6 weeks. I was able to explore so many areas and really discover what to do, where to go and let’s be real… what to EAT. This country is my favorite place in the world, and I’m more than happy to share my favorite locations.
On top of that, I’ve been filmmaking destination weddings for 4+ years and have a niche’d skill of combining travel documentary style film to wedding videos. It’s my specialty and passion!
Read on to see my best suggestions for a 1 or 2 day elopement itinerary with your photo + video team!
How much does it cost to elope in Thailand?
Firstly, flights can differ from where you live. For us, it’s an average $1000 plane ticket. $800 at the lowest if you buy at the right time (roughly 3 months before the trip is the best time to buy!), and you don’t mind long layovers… (First time I flew to Thailand, I had a 12 hour layover in Beijing and I left the airport to see the Great Wall of China! How neat!) And about $1500 at the highest if you buy too soon or too late. Again, these are prices from Oregon. Check your average pricing with Google Flights and sign up for the Hopper to get alerts on when to buy!
*Tip: Don’t actually buy your flight from Hopper. Just use it or a similar flight scanner app for the alerts. These third companies don’t handle flight changes or cancellations well at all.
Secondly, eloping once you’re in the country is next to nothing. Assuming you’ve already purchased your dress and suit from home and flew with it as your carry-on… An elopement in Thailand can cost as low as $1000 USD and be as expensive as $20,000 USD. Read below for why!
You’re probably thinking, “Seriously, Alesia?!”
And I’m saying, “HECK YEAH! Elopements are whatever you want it to be. If it’s just the two of you, you could simply read your vows to one another in a beautiful location, do an excursion or two — or don’t. Enjoy some amazing meals, and you’d have the cheapest and yet most beautiful and exotic destination elopement day on a dime!” Again… excluding the cost of your plane ticket and outfits since this will be different for everybody.
The cost of your vendors is what will be the most expensive thing. Starting from the most affordable to most expensive, this is what you can expect if you’re flying in from the U.S.
$500-$1500+ Plane Ticket
$500-$3000+ Wedding Attire
$700-$3000 One week stay at a Hotel or Resort. We recommend a resort for a 2 in 1 Honeymoon experience as part of your elopement! You’re already there right?!
$50 USD Wedding Bouquet + Boutonniere
$10 USD transportation to vow spot
$50-$100 USD adventure excursion (read below for ideas!)
$20 USD average meal from resort restaurant or local eatery for 2 people
$5000-$15,000+ USD photography and/or videography (oh hey, that’s us!)
There, you see? Just like an elopement anywhere in the world — you can keep it affordable, or you can splurge on what you value most. Although, Thailand does help keep day-of costs low — especially the accommodation and honeymoon experience. Food, excursions, and everything in between on the day-of is just pennies compared to what American vendors charge (LOL, guilty).
Tips for traveling to Thailand
Our best tips to share with those traveling to Thailand are the following:
- Get your passport ASAP if you don’t have one already. If you both already have one — spend this time getting Global Entry to make your travel back into the U.S. easier.
- Learn your basic Thai greetings. Thai people are very friendly and most populated areas have learned English. It is respectful to repeat the hello and goodbye greetings when you enter and leave a store. Furthermore, it is polite to say Thank You in Thai after every purchase, as well (as it is in every language, I’d assume)! Here is a helpful Youtube video to teach you the basics.
- Don’t bad mouth royalty. You can get in a lot of trouble for this. Thai people greatly admire royalty and I always saw a photo of the King in small business store fronts and hotel lobbies. People also stand for his song during the previews inside a movie theater as well. Just a heads up!
- Cover up at temples. Temples are sacred places and they will charge you to rent a sarong if your shoulders or legs are not properly covered. Therefore, buy a sarong while you’re there and bring it with you to your temple visits!
- Take your shoes off. This applies for all temples, most homes and some businesses. Shoes are seen as dirty and feet are seen as clean.
- Return the ‘wai’ greeting. This is an extension of learning your verbal greetings. Thai people will sometimes greet you with a bow and have their hands in a prayer position. You should respectfully mirror this greeting as a kind gesture.
How to get married in Thailand
If you want to get legally married in Thailand and you’re not currently a citizen, you will have to go through your country’s embassy. If you’re a U.S. citizen, you can prepare your exact steps to obtaining a legal marriage license from the U.S. embassy in Bangkok.
Although, we suggest you simply do the paperwork in the country that you currently live in and perform a vow exchange in Thailand. This will make things a lot more convenient and stress-free.
Where to Elope in Thailand
We’ve broken up this section by creating itineraries for different areas around Thailand: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi and Koh Samui.
One Day Itinerary
Choose one of Bangkok’s many floating markets to spend the morning of your elopement day! Imagine the two of you strolling through the bustling streets and rivers overlooking boats full of fruit while sipping from a juicy coconut… talk about a FUN START to your wedding day am I right?!
Then, head back to your hotel and start freshening up for your big day. Change into your wedding attire and take some portraits in your hotel room. Most hotels around Bangkok have epic views of the city’s skyline. So, this would be a good opportunity to take this view in before heading back down onto the streets.
Finally, spend the evening around Ancient City riding a tuktuk and exploring all of the different temples. Ancient City has a modern day infrastructure with unique temple designs that are super photogenic. It is a must-see in Bangkok and a killer spot to exchange vows during sunset. Make sure to do this on a weekday so you avoid extra tourists. We did this and it was so worth it!
To end your night, we suggest making a private reservation at a fancy restaurant downtown to enjoy a newlywed meal.
We suggest staying at the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers. It’s close to Ancient City. It has rooms with large windows overlooking the city. And, multiple restaurants perched on outdoor decks above the river to host your dinner at the end of your day.
Two Day itinerary: Bangkok cont…
Feel like adding an extra day of coverage with your photo + video squad? SAY LESS.
After accomplishing the Day One itinerary, hop on a train to the monkey town of Lop Buri. It is said that monkeys rule this town! In the most famous temple of Phra Prang Sam Yot, also known as the monkey temple, the monkeys run and jump at tourists and try to snatch their belongings. Be warned, these monkeys can be scary and aggressive.
Two Day itinerary: Bangkok cont…
If monkeys aren’t your jam, consider Khao Yai National Park! Khao Yai is the 3rd largest national park in Bangkok and is only a train ride away. You can do hikes and trails to beautiful view points, waterfalls and caves. If you’re interested in adding more of the nature landscapes of this beautiful country to your wedding film, we highly recommend this park!
One Day Itinerary
Chiang Mai is the heart of northern Thailand and is perched in the beautiful mountains. This is where a lot of elephant sanctuaries are and is the #1 place to pet, feed and bathe these gentle giants!
For your one day adventure elopement in Chiang Mai, I suggest spending a morning/early noon half day tour at a nearby elephant sanctuary. I suggest Elephant Jungle Sanctuary.
Then, come back to your hotel/resort to get ready in your wedding attire.
To say your vows, we suggest your resort’s property, or a nearby temple that will allow it. The two of you can hop on the back of grab bikes and zip through town to temple hop. It would make for really fun footage! Our suggested temple would be Wat Phra Sing at golden hour to catch the gold temple shining bright! Plus, we know an excellent Khao Soi restaurant nearby for after!
One Day Itinerary alternative…
Instead of zipping around town like in the itinerary above. You can simply stay at Chai Lai Orchid and wake up to elephants greeting you at your bungalow! This resort also offers waterfall and rice terrace tours where you can purchase one of the resort’s wedding packages and hold an actual thai ceremony at. This would be an easier alternative, but the one above has flexibility incase you aren’t a fan of Chai Lai’s locations. Although, we think this is just as awesome and easier!
Wedding Packages at Chai Lai Orchid begin at $2100 USD.
One Day Itinerary
Phuket is the heart of the southern islands in my opinion. It has a large airport to easily fly into and the biggest town to enjoy a beachy night life. It’s also home to most wedding vendors, so if you’re in a pinch to hire locally, Phuket is a great place to do so.
For your one day itinerary, we highly suggest waking up for sunrise to do the Phi Phi islands boat tour. Island boat tours is the most popular thing to do in Phuket for GOOD REASON. These islands are massive and will make you feel so small. If you could combine Jurassic Park’s jungle aesthetic perched on small land rocks in the clearest of blue waters… you’re in Phuket, Thailand. Therefore, sunrise is well worth it to avoid the large crowds. Plus, these boat tours are only $40-$70?! ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT.
Two Day Itinerary:
If you want to spend an extra day with your photo + video team in Thailand, then your second day in Phuket should be exploring the town. I suggest waking up before sunrise again to see SAMET NANGSHE. It’s an iconic viewpoint to see all the limestone cliffs jutting out of the water.
Afterwards, we’ll head to Wat Chalong when it opens to awe at the red, white and gold architecture of the temples.
At this time, we’re all going to be hungry, so I suggest Three Monkeys restaurant. It’s a restaurant built into the treetops with Tulum-inspired Boho seating including bird’s nests and jungle pods, as well as a zipline that cuts right through the restaurant.
At this time, I suggest we all head back to the resort to relax and siesta before heading back towards the beach for a relaxing sunset to reflect the 2 day adventure you’ve just had. This audio would be gold for your wedding film too by the way *wink wink
One Day Itinerary:
Krabi is a short ferry away from Phuket!
And this is where James and I are considering getting married! For this reason only: Railay Beach.
This beach is ICONIC for it’s jungle and limestone cliff views. The Rayavadee resort has beautiful villas to get ready in, a pool at the base of the national park jungle and a limestone cliff cave to have your dinner at. We suggest your one day itinerary to be spent all day at this resort. The rooms are a little pricier, but well worth it in my opinion. It’s located literally on Railay Beach and you could exchange your vows at sunset right on the sand.
Two Day Itinerary:
Another reason I love Krabi, is because you’re right next to an elephant sanctuary!
You can spend the day before or after your elopement/vow renewal doing the following:
Morning: elephant sanctuary visit at Krabi Elephant Sanctuary from 7am – 12pm
Evening: Watch the sunset from a private boat tour on a power catamaran. This particular tour picks you up at 3pm in town and serves you a delicious bbq dinner!
One Day Itinerary:
Last but not least is Koh Samui. Another short ferry away from Phuket, this island is the 2nd largest in Thailand (Phuket being #1!) and has a great mix of adventures in the day and parties at night.
For an adventurous elopement/vow renewal here, we suggest waking up early and taking your motorbike to Na Muang falls— two cascading waterfalls where you can swim and play with the jungle scenery waking up around you. Na Muang 1 is easily accessible by car and therefore can be a bit crowded. If you’re up for a little challenge, it’s about a 20-30 minute hike uphill to reach Na Muang 2.
It’s free to visit the waterfalls, but you’ll need to pay a small fee to park your motorbike here. There are some small food stalls here as well as vendors selling drinks if you forgot to bring snacks or water. You can find Na Muang 1 on the map and get directions here.
After a quick soak in the falls, we suggest heading back to your hotel/resort to get ready and exchange your vows somewhere on the property. We suggest the Banyan Tree Samui resort for it’s epic cliffside ocean views! It is on the spendier side though, just a heads up!
Two Day Itinerary:
Our 2nd day suggestion for Koh Samui involves more buddha and a traditional night market!
You can’t visit thailand without seeing buddha and eating dinner at the night markets. Therefore, we suggest visiting the Secret Buddha Garden in the middle of the island for a serene, peaceful atmosphere to start your day. After siesta-ing at the pool at your resort, head to the night markets in town for dinner to hear local music and buy your souvenirs!
Other activities worth mentioning:
The only adventure activities we suggested above are what we believe to be the most ~photogenic~ but please know that there is so much more to Thailand!! Here are some things you have to do while in this beautiful country:
- Get a massage: They’re priced at about $10 USD an hour!!!!!!
- Go snorkeling and/or scuba diving: The coral reefs are amazing and the water is crystal clear.
- Do a Thai cooking class: You can learn how to make pad Thai and curry so when you go home, you and your boo can have Thai cooking nights to remind each other of this epic adventure.
- Stock up on jewelry and sapphron: You can buy jewels and rare teas in Thailand for really cheap that are worth a lot of $$$ in the U.S. They’d make great souvenirs for family or a great keepsake for yourselves.
What to eat in Thailand:
Please please please for the love of all things good, don’t just eat the $1 pad thai dishes all day every day – as tempting as it might be. We love an authentic and fresh pad thai anytime, BUT these dishes are a must try when you’re there!
- Khao Soi: this is a curry based dish with a marinating chicken leg buried under soft noodles and crispy deep fried noodles sprinkled on top. It’s the most savory and delicious meal you could possibly have in Thailand. Although, this dish can only be found in Chiang Mai!
- Mango sticky rice: the best dessert you’ll have. A warm mango with a sweet drizzle glaze over sticky sweet rice — this is a must eat.
- Tom Kha: this is a coconut base curry soup with vegetables and your choice of meat. Most thai restaurants in the U.S. have this dish but trust me when I say that the real thing in Thailand is SO FRESH tasting and will make your mouth water just thinking about it!
Tip: The spices in Thailand are SPICY SPICY SPICY… I’m someone who enjoys a hot sauce covered breakfast, jalapenos in my pho, and some red pepper flakes on most dishes… but the heat in Thailand is something else. Be aware that they will ask you for your spice level with most noodle and curry dishes. I suggest you ask for no spice and then work your way up with mild, medium, and heavy spicy to figure out what you can handle. The spice in Thailand is an adventure in itself 😂
Final note: it’s impossible for other countries to make TRUE and AUTHENTIC tasting Thai food because there are certain ingredients that Thai locals grow in their own backyard. For example, the lemongrass we grow in the U.S. is just the cousin to Thai’s lemon grass herb. Same goes for some of the curry pastes and oils. That’s why, when you come home and eat at your favorite Thai restaurant again, it’ll taste really heavy and fatty compared to the locally grown ingredients that Thailand chefs use. Fun fact! I learned this at my Thai cooking class! 🙂
And there you have it folks! To summarize, you have many options to have a memorable and adventurous day in this beautiful and affordable country. Let me know what you think of these itinerary ideas in the comments below and stay tuned for our couple’s vow renewal here in November of 2023 as well as mine and James’s destination microwedding!