Thailand is a truly amazing country, filled with some of the world’s most stunning beaches, the kindest of locals, the most delectable cuisine, and an incredibly unique culture. It’s clear that there’s a reason it’s called the “Land of Smiles”.
Thailand is just as big as it is phenomenal. While you could easily stay here for a year and not run out of things to do and places to see, we understand that not everyone has the luxury of packing up their bags and jetting off for a year of travel. That being said, while a three-week Thailand itinerary is probably the best, all-encompassing option, 2 weeks here is the most doable in terms of time the average person can do.
Week 1: Southern Thailand itinerary
Head south for some island hopping and beach bopping. With Thailand being home to over 1,000 sun-kissed islands, it can be difficult to choose which islands to spend your time on. This southern Thailand route will help you on your way to those lazy beach days and fun-filled nights.
Phuket – Krabi – Ao Nang – Surat Thani – Koh Phangan – Koh Samui – Koh Tao
Day 1: Phuket and Koh Phi Phi
One of the party destinations in Thailand, and the largest island in the country, there’s no doubt that Phuket draws in the crowds. But what attracts the hordes of travelers descending on its shores? Is it the achingly beautiful beaches, the raucous nightlife or the alluring, crystal-clear waters of this tourist magnet? Fill up that bucket list before you even arrive.
From Phuket, visit Koh Phi Phi, the island made hugely famous by The Beach, the renowned novel and later blockbuster film that launched a thousand fantasies of Thailand. Nowadays, Maya Bay (that famous beach from the movie) is closed to the public, but there is still plenty to do on the legendary island.
Sights to see in Phuket: Big Buddha, Sunday Walking Street Market, Chalong Bay Rum Distillery, Karon Viewpoint, Wat Chalong
Popular ways to get to Phuket:
|Routes to Phuket||Transportation methods||Starting price|
|Koh Phi Phi to Phuket||Bus + ferry, ferry||$10|
|Bangkok to Phuket||Bus, minivan, car, flight||$19|
|Koh Samui to Phuket||Bus + ferry, car, flight||$16|
|Koh Phangan to Phuket||Bus + ferry||$19|
Sights to see in Koh Phi Phi: Phi Phi viewpoint, Monkey Beach, Pileh Bay, Viking Cave, Maya Bay, Sama Bay (Loh Samah), Tonsai Beach, Long Beach
Popular ways to get to Koh Phi Phi:
|Routes to Koh Phi Phi||Transportation methods||Starting price|
|Phuket to Koh Phi Phi||Bus + ferry, ferry||$10|
|Krabi to Koh Phi Phi||Ferry||$10|
|Koh Lanta to Koh Phi Phi||Ferry||$10|
|Ao Nang to Koh Phi Phi||Bus + ferry, ferry||$11|
Day 3: Krabi
With an abundance of things to do such as island hopping, hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, snorkeling and diving, it’s no doubt that Krabi is a great addition to any Thailand itinerary. From Krabi Town to Ao Nang, and even Koh Lanta if you can sneak in the time, Krabi is an unmissable part of Thailand.
Sights to see in Krabi: Ao Nang, Railay Beach, Ao Nang night market, Dragon Crest Mountain, Tiger Cave Temple, Emerald Pool, Krabi Hot Springs
Popular ways to get to Krabi:
|Routes to Krabi||Transportation methods||Starting price|
|Bangkok to Krabi||Bus, minivan, flight||$18|
|Koh Samui to Krabi||Bus + ferry||$15|
|Koh Phi Phi to Krabi||Ferry||$10|
|Phuket to Krabi||Bus, ferry, minivan, car||$7|
Day 4: Koh Phangan, Koh Samui and Koh Tao
Ahh, the islands in the Gulf of Thailand. Part of every quintessential Thailand itinerary, these islands are each must-sees for their own unique reasons. For a 2-week Thailand trip, spend 2 nights in Koh Phangan, 1 night in Koh Samui and 2 nights in Koh Tao. If you decide to spend more than 2 weeks in Thailand, you can easily spend more time on each of these three islands.
From Krabi, you’ll want to travel to Surat Thani by bus or minivan (private or shared) and from Surat Thani hop on a ferry to Koh Phangan.
Sights to see in Koh Phangan: Thong Sala Night Market, Phaeng Waterfall, Paradise Waterfall, Bottle Beach, Secret Beach, Mae Beach, Malibu Beach, Full Moon Party
Popular ways to get to Koh Phangan:
|Routes to Koh Phangan||Transportation methods||Starting price|
|Suratthani to Koh Phangan||Bus + ferry, ferry||$10|
|Koh Samui to Koh Phangan||Bus + ferry, ferry||$6|
|Bangkok to Koh Phangan||Bus + ferry||$29|
|Koh Tao to Koh Phangan||Ferry||$10|
Sights to see in Koh Samui: Fire spinning shows, Tan Rua Waterfall, Koko Gallery, The Jungle Club, visit a spa
Popular ways to to get to Koh Samui:
|Routes to Koh Samui||Transportation methods||Starting price|
|Koh Phangan to Koh Samui||Bus + ferry, ferry||$6|
|Bangkok to Koh Samui||Bus + ferry, bus, flight||$16|
|Koh Tao to Koh Samui||Bus + ferry, ferry||$15|
|Suratthani to Koh Samui||Bus + ferry, ferry||$8|
Sights to see in Koh Tao: Ang Thong Marine Park, scuba diving, Mango Bay Viewpoint, Two View
Popular ways to get to Koh Tao:
|Routes to Koh Tao||Transportation methods||Starting price|
|Koh Samui to Koh Tao||Bus + ferry, ferry||$15|
|Bangkok to Koh Tao||Bus + ferry, ferry||$29|
|Koh Phangan to Koh Tao||Ferry||$10|
|Suratthani to Koh Tao||Bus + ferry, ferry||$20|
Other popular cities in southern Thailand:
- Nakhon si Thammarat
- Patong Beach
- Hat Yai
Week 2: Central and Northern Thailand itinerary
From the south of Thailand, you move north to central Thailand; the gateway to some of the world’s most tranquil nature and north to some of the most beautiful natural wonders of Thailand (and of the world), northern Thailand’s cultures are rooted in the ancient Lanna Kingdom, the unique flavors and their love for food here are unmatched.
Bangkok – Chiang Mai – Pai
Day 7: Bangkok
Towering temples rising from almost every corner you turn, traffic bustling through sweat-soaked streets. It’s Bangkok, that city immortalized as the epicenter of the Asian backpacker scene; the capital of Thailand and a must-visit location for any tourist to the region.
Sights to see in Bangkok: Chatuchak Market, Kings Market, Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Khao San Road, Chinatown (Yaowarat), MBK Center, Lebua Skybar, MBK Center Mall
Popular ways to get to Bangkok:
|Routes to Bangkok||Transportation methods||Starting price|
|Suratthani to Bangkok||Bus, train, minivan, car, flight||$12|
|Chiang Mai to Bangkok||Bus, train, minivan, car, flight||$13|
|Hua Hin to Bangkok||Bus, train, minivan, car||$7|
|Pattaya to Bangkok||Bus, minivan, car||$5|
Day 10: Chiang Mai
Let out your adventurous spirit in Chiang Mai. Visiting this picturesque gem in northern Thailand opens the doors to a wide range of experiences unique not only to Thailand, but also to this region of the country. Filled to the brim with outdoor, nature-friendly activities, Chiang Mai is the ideal destination for adventurous souls. From the hill tribe villages to waterfall hikes, to river rafting, Chiang Mai offers breathtaking nature and is even becoming one of Thailand’s best up and coming digital nomad hubs.
Sights to see in Chiang Mai: Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Wat Umong, Wat Ket Karam, Sunday Night Market, Warorot Market, get a massage, visit an ethical elephant sanctuary, visit hill tribes, take a cooking class
Popular ways to get to Chiang Mai:
|Routes to Chiang Mai||Transportation methods||Starting price|
|Bangkok to Chiang Mai||Bus, train, minivan, car, flight||$13|
|Pai to Chiang Mai||Minivan, car||$6|
|Ayutthaya to Chiang Mai||Bus, train||$13|
|Sukhothai to Chiang Mai||Bus, minivan, car||$8|
Day 12: Pai
A place where you can disconnect from the world, Pai is filled with nature’s wonders like mountains, waterfalls, hot springs and canyons. Thailand may be most well known for its beautiful beaches, islands and Full Moon Parties, but Pai is the epitome of a “hidden gem”. It is the ultimate backpacker party destination, and deserves just as much credit as the islands get, making it one of Thailand’s best off-the-beaten-track destinations, and is a mere 3-hour drive from Chiang Mai!
From Pai, you can return to Bangkok to fly home, with memories of the Land of Smiles showing you the time of your life.
Sights to see in Pai: Visit the rice fields, Pai Canyon, Tha Pai Hot Springs, Mo Paeng Waterfall, Pai Walking Street, Baan Santichon, Chedi Phra That Mae Yen
Popular ways to get to Pai:
|Routes to Pai||Transportation methods||Starting price|
|Chiang Mai to Pai||Minivan, car||$6|
|Chiang Rai to Pai||Minivan, car||$200|
|Bangkok to Pai||Bus||$35|
|Mae Hong Son to Pai||Minivan||$35|
Other popular cities in central Thailand:
- Nakhon Pathom
Most popular cities in northern Thailand:
- Chiang Rai
- Mae Hong Son
- Chiang Dao
- Khao Lak
If you’re able to stay in Thailand longer
Thailand is a huge country with an innumerable number of things to do, sights to see, foods to eat, experiences to have, beaches to lay on, waterfalls to chase and cocktails to sip. If you’re able to spend more than two weeks in Thailand, these are the destinations we’d recommend adding to your Thailand itinerary.
Nakhon Ratchasima – Udon Thani
Just a 4-hour ride from Bangkok, Nakhon Ratchasima is famous for its spectacular Khmer ruins reminiscent of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat. Also known as Korat, you’re offered a captivating window into the region’s past the only time you’re here. Korat features not only a historical park called Prasat Phimai, but also boasts temples, museums, national parks, and other places of interest galore.
Continuing northeast, traveling from Nakhon Ratchasima to Udon Thani takes you deeper into the countryside and even further back in history. Famous for its natural tourist attractions and local products like Pha Khid, or ancient, patterned silk weaving. The local communities live a very charming, simple way of life, providing a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the other parts of Thailand.
Other popular cities in northeastern Thailand:
- Khon Kaen
- Chiang Khan
Pattaya – Koh Chang – Koh Kood – Koh Samet – Koh Larn
Pattaya’s reputation precedes itself, without a shadow of a doubt. There’s debauchery and sin around every corner. Who doesn’t love a bit of trouble?
That being said, Pattaya also offers a fascinating look into the country’s recent history. It was a rest and recreation destination for American soldiers who were stationed in the country during the Vietnam War. Today, you can explore massive, mountaintop temples made entirely of wood, you can visit 3D art museums, and you can even dine for good causes.
Cabbages and Condoms is an award-winning restaurant that attracts tourists from all around the world, donating a huge chunk of their proceeds to the Population & Community Development Association (PDA) of Thailand. This organization has various programs devoted to health, education, HIV/AIDS, rural development, environmental sustainability and more and aims to improve the quality of life in Thailand.
Pattaya is also the gateway to some insanely beautiful islands. You can easily spend an additional week in Pattaya and the nearby islands alone.
Other popular cities in eastern Thailand:
- Laem Chabang
Kanchanaburi – Hua Hin
Hua Hin is the perfect middle ground for those who want a peaceful holiday in mainland Thailand, with all the conveniences of popular big cities like Bangkok and Pattaya in place, coupled with the raw, natural beauty commonly associated with Thailand’s remote islands.
The beauty of Hua Hin lies in the fact that it started out as a small fishing village and has managed to retain its charm even today. In a way, it’s the traditional Thailand that you may not find in the bigger cities.
Kanchanaburi is a place of significant historical importance. If you’ve watched the movie Bridge over the River Kwai, you may have gotten a glimpse of the gruesome history behind the construction of the bridge that goes by the same name. While Kanchanaburi has come to be associated with this infamous bridge and the Death Railway that runs through it, there is more to the town than what meets the eye.
Visiting the ruins of the Khmer temples is a unique experience for the history buffs, while Kanchanaburi’s famed gemstone village is where you could indulge in some retail therapy.
Other popular cities in western Thailand:
It depends on if you want to stay by the beach. Krabi Town is cool but nowhere near the beach.
The train is the cheapest (and longest) and starts at around $13, but flights can often be found for $25.
Sadly, there are a lot of elephant sanctuaries that aren’t very sanctuary-like. They chain the gentle giants up or let people ride them in irritating chairs, which rub their skin raw. Before you choose a place to go, do a little research and you will find out which sanctuaries are doing it for the love of the animal and not tourism.