Thailand Itineraries

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(Recommendations to help you plan your perfect vacation)

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Thailand

Primary Methods of Travel: Don’t let the shape of Thailand fool you. It is a massive country and trains are slow, not as popular as other countries and have a questionable safety record. If you can, FLY! It’s cheap, fast, safe and efficient in Thailand. If you can’t fly, then take a BUS … if you can’t catch a bus then take the train.
Local Currency: Thai Baht
Rough Conversion Rate:  30-34 Baht = $1 USD

sunset 2

Thailand is my favorite country I have ever been too for beaches and relaxation! Weather, food, beaches and people are top notch and the longer you can afford to travel in Thailand, the better!

Thailand is massive when you look at how far it is from North to South. It is an unbelievably beautiful country and the people are what makes it one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the world.

Careful! It’s easy to fall in love with Thailand and there is a laid back, hard working, down-to-earth culture that extends across the country. Thailand can be split into 4 geographical cultures:

1. Phuket (Islands, beaches and sun)
2. Ko Samui & Ko Pha Ngan (Full Moon Party, binge drinking, partying)
3. Bangkok (Fast paced, huge city, tons to see, Dirty in more ways than one)
4. Chiang Mai (Jungles, elephant rides, hippy atmosphere, relaxing) – Access point to Chiang Rai & Pai

Depending on what kind of traveler you are, your age group, purpose of vacation and amount of time you have … Thailand has something for everyone.

** The Full Moon parties at Ko Pha Ngan (which now happen on 1/2 moons & 1/4 moons – as in every week) are suppose to be epic … but at the same time I’ve heard rumors that it’s just too big, tough to get to and just a bunch of young people getting wasted and being stupid. I haven’t gone personally, but I suspect that there are better ways to kill a week in Thailand. Either way, you can probably expect these 3 things:

1. Lots of alcohol & drugs (illegal and heavily regulated in Thailand)
2. Immaturity and all the fun that goes with young people, alcohol & few restrictions.
3. CRIME! Every popular tourist trap in the world will eventually draw pick pockets, thieves & questionable drugs falling in drinks. The Full Moon party is just too perfect to keep these people out. Watch your drinks and watch your passports/wallets.

1 Week

Thailand, itinerary, 1 week
Thailand, itinerary, 1 week
Thailand, itinerary, 1 week

Remember that Thailand is a very long country and takes a considerable amount of travel time to get from one end to the other. With one week in Thailand I would ask yourself what you want to see and take the slow approach to traveling.

* If you only have a week, I recommend “Option B.” Phuket is awesome and the Full Moon Party is crazy, but I think you will truly get the Thailand experience by heading north and relaxing in the jungles up north.

A: The Beach Option
Phuket BeachesPhuket – Phuket is the perfect beach vacation! The city itself is actually on a huge island with an international airport! The beaches are incredible and there are plenty of islands (Koh Phi Phi, James Bond Island, etc.), fun night life and day trips for all ages. It’s a great place to start your 1 week vacation in Thailand!
Bangkok – Bangkok is a zoo! It’s huge, organized, seems to have a protest every 10 years and serves as the heartbeat of SE Asia. Bangkok is an awesome city though and you can’t see Thailand without adding it to the itinerary! There’s tons to see and do … click the link to find out more about the Chaos of Bangkok.

B: The Laid Back Jungle Route*
BangkokElephant Baths – There are tons of flights going into Bangkok and it is a great place to start a Thailand adventure. Spend 3-4 days in Bangkok and then escape the chaos and head up north to Chiang Mai. Click the link to find out more about the Chaos of Bangkok.
Chiang Mai – Ah, what a beautiful city! Let yourself relax by getting a Thai massage, take meditation lessons and ride elephants. Then swing by a temple and check out some waterfalls amongst the impressive mountain scenery.

C: The Party Goer!
Party Chiang MaiBangkok – There are tons of flights going into Bangkok and it is a great place to start a Thailand adventure. For this option I’d recommend spending 1-2 days in Bangkok and then start your trek to Ko Samui and then on to Koh Phangan (there are tons of bus options from Bangkok that include ferry transportation to the islands).
Koh Samui (transfer to Koh Phangan) – Well, this is it … the Full Moon Party! I haven’t been, but I’ve heard it is quite a party! If you’re one of those people who has to see it, click the link above and PLAN AHEAD! There are a lot of things that can screw up your experience if you don’t plan ahead (it’s crazy there and accommodation fills up). For more info check out Nomadic Matt’s Ultimate Guide to the Full Moon Party.

10 Days

Thailand, itinerary, 10 days
Thailand, itinerary, 10 days
Thailand, itinerary, 10 days

10 Days is the absolute minimum amount of time I would spend in Thailand. For this option you can afford to go a bit slower and should have time to add a 3rd city to your itinerary. Depending on your style, I’ve squeezed in some extra cities that won’t take you too far out of the way.

* Again, I’m recommending “Option B” because it’s the ultimate way to experience the Thai culture and relax. You can’t go wrong with any of these options though.

A: The Casual Traveler
Hua HinPhuket – Phuket is the perfect beach vacation! Incredible beaches and an international airport make this a perfect starting point to travel Southern Thailand. There’s a lively night life, great beaches and day trips to various islands. From there, you can book a flight, train or bus and meander north (Recommended: Take a bus! It’s the best way to travel in Thailand.)
Hua Hin – This quaint little beach town will put you within a few hours of Bangkok and it’s a great place to relax, shop and continue your beach vacation. Hua Hin has a growing retirement and expat community that has officially put them on the map.
Bangkok – Finish your vacation in Bangkok! It’s huge, organized, seems to have a protest every 10 years and serves as the heartbeat of SE Asia. It’s an awesome city and you can’t see Thailand without seeing it! There’s tons to see and do … click the link above to find out more.

B: Jungle Relaxation*
BangkokChiang Mai Waterfall – There are tons of flights going into Bangkok and it is a great place to start your 10-day Thailand trip. Spend 3-4 days in Bangkok and then escape the chaos by heading north to Chiang Mai. Click the link to find out more about the Chaos of Bangkok. (Recommendation: FLY to Chiang Mai – it’s cheap, quick and easy and you won’t have to sit on a 12 hour bus ride).
Chiang Mai – Ah, what a beautiful city! Let yourself relax by getting a Thai massage, take meditation lessons and ride elephants. Then swing by a temple and check out some waterfalls amongst the impressive mountain scenery.
Pai – Pai is super, super, super laid back. It’s 3-4 hours by shuttle from Chiang Mai and the drive is a winding tour of the northern mountains of Thailand. Get your hippy on and prepare to relax at the hot springs, ride scooters to waterfalls and peruse the bars and shops along the main street. (If you don’t want to see Pai, another great option is Chiang Rai).

C: Whew – This is Gonna Be Crazy!!
PhuketLadyboy Show – Phuket is the perfect beach vacation and has something for everyone! Amongst the incredible beaches and an international airport, there’s a lively night life and no shortage of bars and parties! If you’re not too hung-over, book a day trip to see Koh Phi Phi (the island where they filmed The Beach). I don’t have a good suggestion on how to get to the Full Moon Party from here, but you should be able to buy one ticket that includes a ferry ride to Koh Samui. 
Koh Samui (transfer to Koh Phangan) – Well, this is it … the Full Moon Party! I haven’t been, but I’ve heard it is quite a party! If you’re one of those people who has to see it, click the link above and PLAN AHEAD! There are a lot of things that can screw up your experience if you don’t plan ahead (it’s crazy there and accommodation fills up). For more info check out Nomadic Matt’s Ultimate Guide to the Full Moon Party.
Bangkok – Getting from Koh Phangan to Bangkok will be up to you. I haven’t personally done it but you have 2 good options (Bus or Flight). Both will involve ferries and this trip is most-likely going to be a long day of traveling. If you’re still up for it after partying in Phuket and the Full Moon Party, Bangkok will not disappoint! The night-life never sleeps and you can see and do just about everything in Bangkok. (Tip: be wary of scams and fraudulent activities in Bangkok – If you are a partier, they are looking for you!)

2 Weeks

Thailand, itinerary, 2 weeks
Thailand, itinerary, 2 weeks

2 Weeks is certainly enough time to get a taste of Thailand! The following 2 Itineraries will force you to make a decision. With the amount of time you will lose to see Koh Samui & Koh Phangan, I don’t think you will have enough time to head north.
“Option A” will give you the overall experience of Thailand.
“Option B” is for those who want to see the Full Moon Party and experience southern Thailand.

* My recommendation for the 2 week itinerary is “Option A.” Adding the north will give you a more rounded experience of Thailand.

A: The South to North*
PhuketScooters in Chiang Mai, Thailand – Phuket is a great way to ease into your 2 weeks! You can fly directly there and beaches and islands will be waiting for you! Between the lively night life, beaches and day trips you can easily spend 3-4 days here. Then, meander north (Recommended: Take a bus! It’s the best way to travel in Thailand.)
Hua Hin – This quaint little beach town will put you within a few hours of Bangkok and it’s a great place to relax, shop and continue your beach vacation. Hua Hin has a growing retirement and expat community that has officially put them on the map.
Bangkok – Move on to the chaos of Bangkok. Check out the sites and enjoy the food. Bangkok is huge, organized, seems to have a protest every 10 years and serves as the heartbeat of SE Asia. It’s an awesome city and you can’t see Thailand without seeing it! There’s tons to see and do … click the link above to find out more!
Chiang Mai – From Bangkok, I’d recommend flying to Chiang Mai (Get a return ticket and then take your final flight out of Bangkok). It will save you a day of travel and you won’t be run down by a 12 hour bus ride. Chiang Mai is a beuatiful and relaxing city with Thai massages, meditation lessons, jungle tours and elephant rides! It will leave you wishing you could stay for 3 weeks! If you have extra time, consider adding Pai or Chiang Rai to your itinerary).

B: The South to South
PhuketKoh Phi Phi – Phuket is a great way to ease into your 2 weeks! You can fly directly there and beaches and islands will be waiting for you! Between the lively night life, beaches and day trips you can easily spend 3-4 days here. It’s also a great city to transition to Koh Samui & Koh Phangan.
Koh Samui (transfer to Koh Phangan) – Here we go … the Full Moon Party! I haven’t been so check out Nomadic Matt’s Ultimate Guide to the Full Moon Party. Make sure you PLAN AHEAD and allow yourself a lot of time to get to and from the islands and try to get there a few days early.
Bangkok – You will want to see Bangkok if you go to Thailand. From the islands, it will most likely be a long day of traveling (by bus & ferry) … if you can fly that may be the best option, but flights can be really expensive. Bangkok is an awesome city though and the heartbeat of all of SE Asia! There’s tons to see and do and it’s also a good city to catch your flight out of Thailand.
Pattaya (link goes to Lonely Planet’s Pattaya guide) – I never made it to Pattaya but its reputation certainly precedes itself. I’ve heard Pattaya has become packed with tourists and busy beaches … but so has everywhere else. You could actually make it a day trip from Bangkok if you’re short on time.

3 Weeks

Thailand, itinerary, 3 weeks
Thailand, itinerary, 3 weeks

If you are lucky enough to score 3 weeks to travel Thailand, you are going to get a great opportunity to really see the country! Jess and I personally did 3 weeks and we felt like we got a really great overview. The only difference in the 2 itineraries above is that:

“Option A” goes to Koh Samui (Koh Phangan) and “Option B” hits Hua Hin instead. Both options will require that you hand pick some cities:

Option A: Pick 1-2 of the following cities (Pattaya, Pai and Chiang Rai)
Option B: Pick 2-3 of the following cities (Pattaya, Pai and Chiang Rai)

* I’m actually going to recommend “Option A” this time because I think the experience of the Full Moon Party will far exceed that of Hua Hin. Option A will take longer than Option B so you will have to either shorten your stay in some other cities (or cut out another city entirely) in order to make time to get to and from the islands.

A: Babes, Beaches & Beers*
PhuketPhuket Beach – Again, Phuket is a great way to start Thailand because of the international airport. Enjoy the beaches, nightlife and excursions and take your time … you have 3 weeks in Thailand! you can easily spend 3-5 days here if you want. Then, meander north (Recommended: Take a bus! It’s the best way to travel in Thailand.)
Hua Hin – This quaint little beach town will put you within a few hours of Bangkok and it’s a great place to relax, shop and continue your beach vacation. If you’re looking to retire in Thailand, there’s a growing retirement and expat community here and you can see what you think!
Bangkok – Move on to the chaos of Bangkok. Check out the sites and enjoy the food. Bangkok is huge, organized and serves as the heartbeat of SE Asia. It’s a great city and well worth your time! … click the link above to find out more!
Pattaya (link goes to Lonely Planet’s Pattaya guide) – I never made it to Pattaya but its reputation precedes itself and you can see it in as little as a 1-day trip from Bangkok. I’ve heard Pattaya has become packed with tourists and busy beaches … but so has everywhere else. Consider 1-2 days max in Pattaya or save the days and head north!
Chiang Mai – From Bangkok, I’d recommend flying to Chiang Mai (Get a return ticket and then take your final flight out of Bangkok). It will save you a day of travel by avoiding that 12 hour bus ride. Chiang Mai is a beautiful and relaxing city with Thai massages, meditation lessons, jungle tours and elephant rides! With 3 weeks, it would be a tragedy not to make it up there.
Pai – Pai is super, super, super laid back. It’s 3-4 hours by shuttle from Chiang Mai and the drive is a winding tour of the northern mountains of Thailand. Get your hippy on and prepare to relax at the hot springs, ride scooters to waterfalls and peruse the bars and shops along the main street. This is one of your optional add-on cities and the one I’d recommend the most.
Chiang Rai (Click the link to read what Annette from “BucketListJourney.net” has to say about Chiang Rai!) – I haven’t made it to Chiang Rai. It sounds similar to Chiang Mai, but a little farther north and home to the famous “White Temple” (Wat Rong Khun).

B: Tamer Not Lamer!
Fish Eating FeetPhuket– Again, Phuket is a great way to start Thailand because of the international airport. Enjoy the beaches, nightlife and excursions and take your time … you have 3 weeks in Thailand! you can easily spend 3-5 days here if you want. Then, meander north (Recommended: Take a bus! It’s the best way to travel in Thailand.)
Koh Samui (transfer to Koh Phangan) – Here we go … the Full Moon Party! I haven’t been so check out Nomadic Matt’s Ultimate Guide to the Full Moon Party. Make sure you PLAN AHEAD and allow yourself a lot of time to get to and from the islands and try to get there a few days early. If you go to Kho Phangan, I would cut out Hua Hin and head straight to Bangkok.
Bangkok -Move on to the chaos of Bangkok. Check out the sites and enjoy the food. Bangkok is huge, organized and serves as the heartbeat of SE Asia. It’s a great city and well worth your time! … click the link above to find out more!
Pattaya (link goes to Lonely Planet’s Pattaya guide) – I never made it to Pattaya but its reputation precedes itself and you can see it in as little as a 1-day trip from Bangkok. I’ve heard Pattaya has become packed with tourists and busy beaches … but so has everywhere else. Consider 1-2 days max in Pattaya or save the days and head north!
Chiang Mai – From Bangkok, I’d recommend flying to Chiang Mai (Get a return ticket and then take your final flight out of Bangkok). It will save you a day of travel by avoiding that 12 hour bus ride. Chiang Mai is a beautiful and relaxing city with Thai massages, meditation lessons, jungle tours and elephant rides! With 3 weeks, it would be a tragedy not to make it up there.
Pai – Pai is super, super, super laid back. It’s 3-4 hours by shuttle from Chiang Mai and the drive is a winding tour of the northern mountains of Thailand. Get your hippy on and prepare to relax at the hot springs, ride scooters to waterfalls and peruse the bars and shops along the main street. This is one of your optional add-on cities and the one I’d recommend the most.
Chiang Rai (Click the link to read what Annette from “BucketListJourney.net” has to say about Chiang Rai!) – I haven’t made it to Chiang Rai. It sounds similar to Chiang Mai, but a little farther north and home to the famous “White Temple” (Wat Rong Khun).

4 Weeks

Thailand, itinerary, 4 weeks

The more the better! 4 weeks is enough time to move from north to south and see just about everything at a reasonable pace. Keep in mind, The Full Moon Party (Koh Samui/Koh Pha Ngan) could take up to a week to get there and then get out. If you cut it out entirely, you will have much more time to relax and ease your way through Thailand. If you want to go though, I still think you can go to most of the cities on this itinerary … just a bit less time in each place!

* Only one route this time! I think all of these places are managble in 1 month and of course, you can pick and choose what locations fit your needs! This is only a Recommended Itinerary and you should tailor it to your own perfect trip! Have fun out there~

A: The Full Circuit!
Flip Flops at a HostelPhuket – With 4 weeks you can pick your direction. Chiang Mai and Phuket both have international airports so you could reverse this itinerary and be just fine. Either way, you will definitely love the beaches, nightlife and excursions in Phuket! Take your time and then pick where you want to head next!
Koh Samui (transfer to Koh Pha Ngan) – Here we go … the Full Moon Party! I haven’t been so check out Nomadic Matt’s Ultimate Guide to the Full Moon Party. Make sure you PLAN AHEAD and allow yourself a lot of time to get to and from the islands and try to get there a few days early.
Hua Hin – This quaint little beach town will put you within a few hours of Bangkok and it’s a great place to relax, shop and continue your beach vacation. If you’re looking to retire in Thailand, there’s a growing retirement and expat community here and you can see what you think!
Bangkok -Move on to the chaos of Bangkok. Check out the sites and enjoy the food. Bangkok is huge, organized and serves as the heartbeat of SE Asia. It’s a great city and well worth your time! … click the link above to find out more!
Pattaya (link goes to Lonely Planet’s Pattaya guide) – I never made it to Pattaya but its reputation precedes itself and you can see it in as little as a 1-day trip from Bangkok. I’ve heard Pattaya has become packed with tourists and busy beaches … but so has everywhere else. Consider 1-2 days max in Pattaya or save the days and head north!
Chiang Mai – From Bangkok, I’d recommend flying to Chiang Mai (Get a return ticket and then take your final flight out of Bangkok). It will save you a day of travel by avoiding that 12 hour bus ride. Chiang Mai is a beautiful and relaxing city with Thai massages, meditation lessons, jungle tours and elephant rides! With 3 weeks, it would be a tragedy not to make it up there.
Pai – Pai is super, super, super laid back. It’s 3-4 hours by shuttle from Chiang Mai and the drive is a winding tour of the northern mountains of Thailand. Get your hippy on and prepare to relax at the hot springs, ride scooters to waterfalls and peruse the bars and shops along the main street.
Chiang Rai (Click the link to read what Annette from “BucketListJourney.net” has to say about Chiang Rai!) – I haven’t made it to Chiang Rai. It sounds similar to Chiang Mai, but a little farther north and home to the famous “White Temple” (Wat Rong Khun).

Thailand Extras & Considerations:

Elephant Kisses

Ride Elephants
(
Chiang Mai)

Elephants are super smart, intuitive and fairly gently animals. You will quickly fall in love with elephants if you decide to book an excursion with them. REMEMBER to look for a humane company when searching excursions. Don’t pick one with the “saddles” and look at the reviews before booking. Some companies really suck in Thailand, but most are good. Just research it beforehand and you’ll be good!

(Click the link read more)

Screen Shot 2015-07-18 at 6.31.49 PM

Full Moon Party
(Koh Pha Ngan)

I haven’t been, but it’s suppose to be awesome. The Full Moon Party (+ 1/2 moon and 1/4 moon parties) are huge parties that attract a growing amount of backpackers and tourists each year. It is very established now and will take at least a week in total to get there, party and then get back.

(Click the link to read Nomadic Matt’s
“Complete Guide to the Full Moon Party”)

IMG_3584

Koh Tao
(island)

If you’re into SCUBA diving this island is quickly becoming a massive tourist destination for experts and beginners alike. If you’re looking for warm, clear water and want to add some dives to the itinerary this is a good island to add!!

(Click the link read more)

IMG_3525

Ko Phi Phi
(island)

Leonardo Di Caprio made this beach famous in the movie “The Beach.” It is the secluded island that him and his friends discover. Now, the island is completely inhabited by a never-ending stream of tourist boats, ships and yachts. You will find absolutely zero seclusion here, but it is a cool island nonetheless!
You can easily book a trip from Phuket.

(Click the link to read more)

Chiang Mai, Thailand Waterfall

Waterfalls & Hotsprings (Pai)

There is no shortage of hot springs and waterfalls across Thailand, but if you can make it head to Pai (a 3 1/2 hour drive from Chiang Mai). The secluded mountain town is unlike anything you have ever experienced. Rent a scooter for $3.00 a day and leisurely explore the surrounding scenery!

(Click the link read more)

IMG_3936

Escape Hunt
(Bangkok)

Believe it or not, this is the #1 Trip Advisor Attraction in Bangkok! It is a super fun thing to do with 2+ people and it only takes an hour. If you have some time to kill in Bangkok, book your mystery room and see if you can escape in time!

(The link above goes to SFYZ’s article “The Madness of Bangkok”
To see Trip Advisor’s Escape Hunt page, click here)

massage

Thai Massage

Thai massages are known far and wide! Personally, I struggle to relax during them, but it is a fun experience and eventually really relaxing! They will bend, crack and stretch you in ways you didn’t know were possible! You can find Thai massages in almost every city in the country … it’s a huge industry there.

(Click the link to read more)

IMG_3441

Thai Food

Possibly the greatest part about going to Thailand … the food! Thai ffod is delicious, fresh and super cheap. After we had to leave Thailand it took me 3 months to stop missing Thai food on a daily basis. See for yourself: Pad Thai, Khao Soi, Tom Yum Soup and Curry Mmmmmm……

Did you like this Itinerary? Well, more are coming soon!

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