From ancient ruins to glittering golden temples, buzzing cities to tropical jungle and some of the most gorgeous beaches and islands in the world – there’s so much to see in the Land of Smiles that you may be wondering how to create the best Thailand itinerary so that you can fit it all in to one holiday.
Don’t worry, with 2 or 3 weeks in Thailand you’ve got enough time to explore the exciting metropolis of Bangkok, the jungles and temples in the north and also island hopping in the south.
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To help you plan your trip to Thailand I’ve put together all my travel tips into the ideal 2 – 3 weeks in Thailand itinerary to inspire you on how to spend 2 or 3 weeks in Thailand, which I think is an ideal amount of time to see all the highlights in both north and south Thailand.
I’ve been lucky enough to explore this amazing country from top to bottom several times. I even lived on the island of Koh Phangan for a while, so I know this beautiful country pretty well! I want you to have an amazing holiday in Thailand and love it as much as I do, so this post is a mini travel guide to Thailand to help you plan your trip.
As well as the best 2 – 3 week Thailand itinerary, I’ll also give suggestions for other timeframes, along with all the practical Thailand travel tips you need to know when planning a trip to Thailand.
Planning your 2 – 3 week Thailand Itinerary
If you want to tick lots of things off your Thailand bucket list in just 2 or 3 weeks then you’re going to need to plan your Thailand itinerary carefully.
You don’t want to ruin your Thailand vacation by planning a trip that’s too ambitious and end up exhausted and stressed from trying to see too many places, but you also don’t want to miss somewhere amazing and regret it.
Many people only see Thailand’s islands and miss out on northern Thailand’s incredible sights. It’s such a shame because they’ve only seen half of what this amazing country has to offer so allow time for both in your Thailand itinerary.
Luckily with 2 or 3 weeks in Thailand you can see the highlights of both.
The north of Thailand used to be the Lanna Kingdom and has it’s own distinct culture. Highlights include Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, where you can experience temples like Wat Rong Khun, traditional Thai culture, night markets, jungle adventures, trekking and elephant sanctuaries.
The south of Thailand is home to some of the most beautiful tropical islands in the world. Famous for towering limestone cliffs and turquoise waters. There’s excellent rock climbing and scuba diving, pampering beach holidays and easy island-hopping day trips through national marine parks.
When planning a 2 week Thailand itinerary you’ll want to make use of the network of cheap domestic flights which will save time and enable you to see much more.
If you only have 2 weeks in Thailand another way to make the most of your time and save yourself stress and energy is to base yourself in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket or Koh Samui and take day trips from there instead of moving around too much.
If planning for 3 weeks then you can take night trains and have more time in each destination. You could fit in some extra islands or towns in the north that you wouldn’t have time for with a 2 week Thailand itinerary.
If you have 3 weeks you can visit most of islands I mention, but for a 2 week Thailand itinerary you’d probably find it more enjoyable to just choose a couple of neighbouring islands and spend more time relaxing on the beaches than traveling.
If you don’t have so much time don’t worry, I’ll also give some suggestions for a 7 day Thailand itinerary and a 10 day Thailand itinerary too.
If you’ve got more time to play with then check out this 1 month Thailand backpacking route.
When to Visit Thailand
One thing that’s really important to know before you plan a trip to Thailand is the best time to visit Thailand.
Tropical Thailand is warm all year round but there are three different seasons in Thailand: hot, cool, and wet.
The best time to visit Thailand is in the cool season from November/December – February/March where sunny, clear skies and warm (not unbearably hot) temperatures are the most pleasant for traveling and sightseeing and beach days.
A highlight is the Loi Krathong festival. Celebrated in Northern Thailand in November where you” witness hundreds of lanterns being released into the air.
This is also the peak tourist season so it will be busier and prices will be higher. So it’s best to book ahead, especially in December and January and around Christmas and New Year.
April and May are still dry and sunny but can be uncomfortably hot for sightseeing in the North but a good time for relaxing on the beaches. Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year on 13th April can be fun but book accommodation and transport well in advance.
June, July and August see the start of the rainy season, which increases in intensity as it progresses. At first it’s usually just a short afternoon downpour that brings a welcome relief to the heat and humidity. See more about the advantages and disadvantages of traveling in the rainy season.
Phuket and the Andaman Coast experience the most rain in September – October, but the Gulf is still pretty dry at this time.
Koh Samui and the Gulf of Thailand witnesses downpours from November to December, but the Andaman coast has mostly dried up by now.
If you are looking for beach bliss just avoid those months or switch to the opposite coast.
How to Spend the Perfect 2 – 3 Weeks in Thailand
Start your Thailand trip with a few days exploring the capital Bangkok with a day trip to the floating markets and the temples at Ayutthaya.
Then head to Chiang Mai and explore the temples, culture and natural beauty of northern Thailand. If you have only 2 weeks in Thailand just take a day trip to Chiang Rai to see amazing Wat Rong Khun, but if you have 3 weeks you could spend a few days in Chiang Rai and Pai or even take a trip to the Golden Triangle.
Take a flight down to the south for some island time. With 3 weeks you can island hop the best of both east and west coast but, if you’re planning a 2 week Thailand itinerary, you’ll probably find it more enjoyable to pick one side and relax instead of trying to fit all the islands in.
Whatever you decide, don’t forget to allow time in your itinerary to get back to Bangkok in time to catch your flight home!
I’d recommend booking your transport, accommodation and tours in advance so when you get to Thailand you can just relax and enjoy your trip.
By the way, I’ve used affiliate links in this article which allow me to make a small commission if you book which helps me to keep this site going, an unbiased, at no extra cost to you.
Suggested Thailand Itineraries for 1 – 3 Weeks
Here’s a quick rundown of the best Thailand itinerary depending on how much time you have:
3 Weeks in Thailand Itinerary
Bangkok (3 days) – Chiang Mai (3 days) – Chiang Rai or Pai (2 days) – Koh Samui (2 days) – Koh Phangan (2 days) – Koh Tao (2 days) – Phuket (2 days) – Koh Phi Phi (2 days) – Krabi (2 days) – Bangkok (1 day)
2 Weeks in Thailand Itinerary
Bangkok (3 days) – Chiang Mai (3 days including day trip to Chiang Rai or Pai) – Either – Koh Samui (3 days) – Koh Phangan (2 days) – Koh Tao ( 2 days) – Or – Phuket (3 days) – Koh Phi Phi (2 days) – Krabi (2 days) – Bangkok ( 1 day)
10 Days in Thailand Itinerary
Bangkok (3 days) – Chiang Mai (3 days) – Koh Samui (2 days) + Koh Phangan (2 days)
7 Days in Thailand Itinerary
Bangkok (2 days) – fly to – Chiang Mai (2 days) – fly to – Phuket (3 days)
Read on to find out more about each destination, the best things to do there, where to stay and how to get there plus more tips for planning your perfect Thailand itinerary.
The Best 2 – 3 Weeks Thailand Itinerary
Bangkok – 2/3 days
The capital of Thailand is one of the most exciting cities in the world and has plenty of flight connections making it the ideal place to start your Thailand itinerary.
The streets of Bangkok are a truly fascinating mix of old and new, packed with temples, culture and a buzzing atmosphere.
The first thing I do in a new city is taking a guided walking tour as it’s the best way to get to know the city in a short time.
Take a cruise along the Chao Phraya River for one of the most relaxing ways to see the city then climb Wat Arun, the temple of the dawn, at sunset.
Explore the spectacular Grand Palace, a gorgeous glittering masterpiece that is the former royal residence and home to Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, and marvel at the huge, golden, reclining Buddha at Wat Pho.
Bangkok is also some of the world’s most legendary, vibrant and fun nightlife. Drink buckets and party on the infamous Khao San Road and try the cheap and delicious street food stands that serve up fresh and tasty thai cuisine like pad thai.
Sip cocktails at one of the trendy rooftop bars of the luxury hotels that line the river and soak up the views of the Bangkok skyline and city below. The sky bar observation deck at Baiyoke Sky Hotel is one of the best.
Allow enough time in your Bangkok itinerary to take day trips to visit the impressive historic temples at Ayutthaya, an ancient city, former capital of Thailand and UNESCO world heritage site.
Another must see is the Damnoen Saduak floating market and the unique Maeklong railway market where you’ll experience the vendors jumping out of the way as the train comes through the market. You’ll also find bargains and souvenirs at the colourful Chatuchak weekend market.
A day trip to Kanchanaburi to see the Bridge over the River Kwai is also possible.
Allow at least 2 days to see Bangkok’s highlights, but there’s so many activities and temples in Bangkok to keep you busy for 3 days or more.
You’ll probably want to stay one more night in Bangkok at the end of your Thailand itinerary for some last minute shopping before you fly home.
Where to Stay in Bangkok
Start your Thailand trip off in style with the amazing sweeping views over the Chao Phraya River and the city’s skyline from the private balcony of your spacious and full equipped luxury suites at the 5 star Lebua at State Tower – one of the highest buildings in Bangkok.
There’s a swimming pool, spa and restaurant serving fine Thai cuisine. It’s also home to one of Bangkok’s best rooftop bars with breath taking views. See if you can spot Wat Arun and The Grand Place glittering at sunset.
When you want to come down and explore the Grand Palace and the rest of the city this luxury hotel is conveniently located close to the Saphan Taksin stop on the BTS sky train.
The Lebua is one of the more affordable luxury hotels on the riverside, which is one of my favourite areas to stay in Bangkok, a far cry from the backpacker scene on Khao San Road.
How to get to Bangkok
Bangkok has some of the best flight connections in Southeast Asia and receives many international flights from around the world.
The city has two airports, Suvarnabhumi international airport (BKK) – which handles mostly long haul international flights, and Don Mueang (DMK), which handles low cost flights with carriers like Air Asia with domestic flights around the rest of Thailand.
You’ll probably fly into Suvarnabhumi airport and start your Thailand itinerary there. The airport rail link that connects the airport to the BTS Sky train is the quickest and cheapest way to get into the city. It takes about 30 minutes to reach the Phaya Thai BTS station.
Taxis are available but will probably take longer if there is heavy traffic. Uber or Grab are easier if you don’t speak Thai. You can also ask your hotel if they offer an airport transfer or shuttle service.
Once in Bangkok the super modern BTS Skytrain and MRT Metro are the quickest way to get around. Tuk tuks can also be a fun way to explore the city but agree on the price before setting off.
There’s plenty of bus, train and flights from Bangkok offering easy onward travel around the rest of Thailand. If you only have 2 weeks in Thailand definitely consider taking a few budget flights as it will save you alot of time.
You can book your transport all around Thailand with 12 Go Asia.
Sukhothai – 1 or 2 days
If you’re into history and culture then one of the best places to visit in Thailand is Sukhothai.
Sukhothai was Thailand’s capital during the 13th Century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site that will take you back in time.
Explore the ruined city, temples and massive Buddhas in the Sukhothai Historical Park. It’s a pretty vast site so it’s a good idea to visit early in the morning to avoid the mid day heat.
Either hire a bicycle or join a cycling tour so you can see all of the ruins while also learning about the history surrounding them.
Where to Stay in Sukhothai
Hands down the best place to stay in Sukhothai!
This modern 4 star resort features classic Thai style rooms with views over the canal or temples from the balconies, an outdoor pool, spa and restaurant where you can enjoy a Thai classical dance performance over dinner.
Another highlight is the wide range of cultural activities available, including an almsgiving experience, Buddha amulet making, traditional Thai cooking class and Sukhothai style handicraft weaving classes.
It’s located on the banks of Mae Rampan Canal just steps away from Wat Chang Lom, the ancient Elephant Temple, and 1km from Sukhothai Historical Park.
How to get to Sukhothai
Bangkok Airways now runs daily direct flights between Bangkok and Sukhothai which take only 1 hour 20 mins.
Getting from Sukhothai to Chiang Mai by train or bus takes about 8 hours, or a private transfer will get you there in 4 hours.
Chiang Mai – 2/3 days
Chiang Mai is a beautiful city amongst the mountains of northern Thailand. It’s the country’s 2nd city but offers a much more peaceful experience than Bangkok and should not be missed from any Thailand itinerary.
The city of Chiang Mai was founded in 1296 and the temples, walls and moats from the Old City still stand today, making it a fascinating place to learn about Thailand’s history and traditional Thai culture.
Temple hopping is a popular pastime when visiting Chiang Mai as the old city offers tons of gorgeous temples to explore such as Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phra Singh, Wat Phan Tao and Wat Chiang Man. You can even chat with the monks at Wat Chedi Luang.
The city also makes a great base from which to explore the mountains and jungles of Northern Thailand with many trekking, mountain biking, rock climbing, white water rafting and kayaking trips on offer. Check out all the activities and excursions available.
Just outside the city, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is a beautiful temple with equally as spell bounding views. If you want to learn more about traditional Thai culture then the Lanna Folklore Museum is worth a visit.
Nature and animal lovers should head to the Elephant Nature Park and Doi Inthanon National Park. For more adrenaline try the Flight of the Gibbon zipline.
Chiang Mai is a modern and fun city with plenty of trendy cafes, bars. Don’t miss the night market and walking street where you can find street food bites, arts, crafts and souvenirs.
It’s also a great place to learn something new. Take a traditional Thai cooking class, Thai boxing lessons, Buddhist meditation, massage and yoga.
Where to Stay in Chiang Mai
A wonderfully atmospheric traditional Thai style boutique hotel with super clean and comfortable rooms and plenty of teak features, heritage artefacts and gorgeous tribal fabrics.
A highlight is the serene swimming pool surrounded by luscious tropical gardens and majestic tamarind trees, and the super helpful staff.
The location is unbeatable, a hidden oasis conveniently situated in the heart of the Old City. The spa and restaurant are both excellent and the friendly tour desk makes planning trips and activities a breeze. This is my favourite place to stay in Chiang Mai and probably my favourite in all of Thailand.
How to get to Chiang Mai
The quickest way to get from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is by flight which takes about 1.15 hours. Chiang Mai’s airport (CNX) has both international and domestic flights with regular connections to Bangkok.
Budget airlines like Air Asia, Nok Air and Thai Lion fly from Bangkok’s Don Muang airport (DMK). Flights only take about 1 hour 15 minutes and will save you precious time if you only have two weeks in Thailand.
There are train services every day from Bangkok’s Hualamphong train station to Chiang Mai but I would recommend taking the overnight train as it will save you time and can be a fun and comfortable experience if you get a sleeper berth with air con.
The journey takes about 11 hours and there’s a bar and restaurant car which sometimes turns into a bit of a party with the locals.
There are also modern buses which take about 10 hours from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, but if you’re planning a 2 week Thailand itinerary then I’d recommend taking either the night train or a flight to save time.
Chiang Rai – 1 or 2 days
Chiang Rai is home to some of the most amazing temples in the world, including Wat Rong Khun, which shouldn’t be missed from any Thailand itinerary.
If you’ve only got 2 weeks in Thailand then you can visit the highlights of Chiang Rai on a day trip like this one from Chiang Mai.
The undoubted highlight is Wat Rong Khun, the White Temple. This is one of the most amazing temples and sights I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen lots of temples!). It’s more like an art exhibit than a temple, with intricate and interesting designs that you might not expect to see in a Thai temple.
Then there’s Baan Dum (the Black House), Rong Suea Ten (the Blue Temple) and Thailand’s biggest Guan Yin statue. The Hilltribe Museum and Education Centre are also worth a visit.
You could also take a day trip to explore the Golden Triangle. An area along the banks of the Mekong River that borders Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, famous for it’s history of growing opium.
Chiang Rai is about 3 hours from Chiang Mai so it makes for quite a long day trip but it’s still the quickest way to see the highlights. Even if you only have two weeks in Thailand you really must see the White Temple, Wat Rong Khun, it’s my favourite temple in the world!
If you’ve got more time then I’d recommend staying in Chiang Rai for 1 or 2 nights and exploring the temples at leisure.
Where to Stay in Chiang Rai
A stylish modern boutique hotel with a lovely pool and great location just steps away from the centre of Chiang Rai and Saturday Night Walking Street.
The breakfast is delicious, the staff are super attentive and hotel even offers guest free bikes to explore the area. It’s the most chic and convenient base from which to explore all that the city and surrounding areas have to offer.
How to get to Chiang Rai
Frequent, modern, air conditioned buses take 4 hours to travel between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Taxis take around 3 hours each way.
Pai is a small town nestled on the banks of the river in the mountains of northern Thailand that offers a laid back base from which to explore the surrounding forests, hot springs, waterfalls, mountains and Pai canyon.
A great way to explore the area in a short time is to rent a scooter or motorbike. Just driving around exploring is delightful but make sure not to miss trying one of the many treks around Pai, Tha Pai hot spring and Mae Paeng Waterfall.
Catch the breath-taking sunsets from the Big Buddha or Pai Canyon – a beautiful orange canyon just outside of the town that you can hike along. You could also drive the Mae Hong Son loop.
Pai’s chill vibes and stunning nature have made it a popular hangout with plenty of cosy and colourful vegan and vegetarian cafes. There’s also bars with live music, a night market and walking street with all the Thai street food delights.
If you have 2 weeks in Thailand you could visit Pai with a day trip from Chiang Mai, but if you have more time then it’s better to stay at least 1 or 2 nights to soak up the relaxed, hippie vibes and gorgeous scenery of Thailand’s most beautiful valley.
Where to Stay in Pai
Rustic yet comfortable Thai style wooden cottages situated in tropical gardens along the banks of Pai River. The location is unbeatable, close to the walking street and attractions in Pai but on a peaceful, scenic spot on the river.
The resort is complete with a swimming pool, restaurant, massage parlour, private farm and wonderful staff. You can also request a pickup service from Chiang Mai for added convenience.
How to get to Pai
There are frequent minibuses going from Chiang Mai to Pai. The journey takes about 3 hours and is quite windy so not great for those who experience travel sickness. A taxi would take only about 2 hours.
And now time for the beach!
The beaches and islands in Thailand are some of the very best in the world and it would be a crime to not include any beach time or island hopping in your Thailand itinerary!
There are hundreds of beautiful beaches and paradasical islands in Thailand but if you’re planning a 2 or even 3 week Thailand itinerary you won’t be able to see them all – but you can make a good start!
If you’ve got 2 weeks in Thailand then I’d recommend picking 2 or 3 neighbouring islands.
For diving and partying head east to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
For the iconic limestone cliffs head west to Phuket, Koh Phi Phi and Krabi.
A great way to see more islands in a short period of time is to join an island-hopping day trip. You can find them operating from many of Thailand’s most popular islands.
If you try to squeeze all the islands that I’ve mentioned into 2 weeks you’ll probably end up more stressed out than blissed out!
How to get to the Thai Islands from Chiang Mai
The quickest way to get from Chiang Mai to the Thai islands is to take a flight from Chiang Mai to Phuket or Koh Samui.
Bangkok Airways runs direct flights from Chiang Mai to both Koh Samui and Phuket which will take about 2 hours.
There’s also airports at Krabi and Surat Thani. There are also many connecting flights through Bangkok, but that route will probably take nearer 5 hours.`
You could get the bus or an overnight train back down to Bangkok and then catch a connecting train or bus going south. Travel agents often sell a combined mini bus, bus and ferry package that will get you smoothly from door to door which is the best option if you want to avoid flying.
However, this will probably take you about 24 hours. So regardless of whether you are planning a 2 week or 3 week itinerary I’d recommend taking the flight here as it will save you time and, if you book in advance with a budget airline, it’s often not much more expensive to fly.
Remember to leave enough time in your Thailand itinerary to fly back to Bangkok and maybe spend another day or night there before catching your flight home.
The Gulf of Thailand
The Gulf of Thailand, on the East Coast, is home to three of Thailand’s best islands – Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
All offer beautiful beaches with powder soft sands, azure waters and boat trips to the stunning Ang Thong Marine National Park, but each have a different vibe and are all worth exploring.
Their proximity to each other make for a fantastic and easy island hopping adventure.
Koh Samui – 2/3 days
Start off your Thailand island hopping adventure by flying to Koh Samui located in the east coast in the Gulf of Thailand.
Thailand’s second largest island has everything you’d want from a tropical island – soft white sand beaches, clear turquoise oceans, swaying palm trees and plenty of resorts, eateries, spas, bars and healthy retreats.
Highlights of Koh Samui are it’s natural beauty spots, relaxing beaches, warm tropical waters and the opportunity to take snorkeling or kayaking tours to sensational Ang Thong Marine National Park.
There’s also plenty of temples to visit including Wat Phra Yai with its Big Buddha statue and the Secret Buddha Garden.
You can also trek to waterfalls, see the infamous phallic rock of Hat Lamai, visit the Ethical Elephant Sanctuary, take an off road jungle safari tour, ride an ATV through the jungle or splash about in the waterparks.
There’s plenty of accommodation options to suit all budgets from luxury resorts to family friendly hotels and backpacker hostels, from gourmet dinning to street food stalls.
If you’re looking for a party atmosphere head to busy and popular Chaweng Beach. If you just want to chill out, coconut in hand, better to head to the other beaches.
Where to Stay on Koh Samui
A beautiful secluded beachfront resort with luxe modern rooms, villas and suites, some with private pools or outdoor bath tubs and sea views. There’s 2 swimming pools, 2 restaurants, 3 bars and a spa where you can indulge in a massage under a gazebo on the beachfront.
Melati Beach Resort is located in Choeng Mon – an area home to the most beautiful beaches on the island. It’s only 15 minutes from the airport and the property provides airport transfers and shuttles to Chaweng Beach so you can relax in peace and still enjoy all the action in Chaweng.
How to get to Koh Samui
Koh Samui’s airport (USM) makes getting to the island quick and easy.
Bangkok Airlines has a daily direct flight from Chiang Mai to Koh Samui which takes under 2 hours. There are also many flights via Bangkok that will take you about 4 hours in total.
You can also buy combined travel tickets with an overnight train from Bangkok, then bus and ferry rides to Koh Samui. An easy place to buy tickets online is 12goAsia.
Koh Phangan – 2/3 days
If you are a party person then you’ll want to plan your Thailand itinerary so that the dates you will be on Koh Phangan, also known as Koh Pha-Ngan, coincide with the date for the famous monthly Full Moon Party.
This massive party takes over the whole of Haad Rin beach and attracts tens of thousands of people every single month for a bucket list experience. Deck yourself out in UV glow paint, sip on buckets of booze and party on the beach until sunrise with loud dance music blasting from the many bars along the beach.
Many hotels in Haad Rin have a minimum stay of 3 nights around full moon. Make sure you book your accommodation well in advance if you’ll be in Koh Phangan for the Full Moon Party.
If it’s not full moon time when you visit don’t worry as there are still lots of amazing parties like the Half Moon Party and the Jungle Experience, which are in many ways better than the Full Moon party anyway.
Koh Phangan also has a hippie, spiritual side with many yoga retreats and numerous meditation and tantra classes available on the other side of the island.
Nature lovers should head to Than Sadet Ko Phagnan National Park which has numerous waterfalls, secluded beaches, and gorgeous hiking opportunities. Phaeng Waterfall is a beautiful waterfall with a nice lookout point in the jungle. Also check out the pretty Chinese style Guanyin Temple.
Where to Stay on Koh Phangan
Located on the beach front of secluded Leela Beach just 700m away from Haad Rin Beach where the Full Moon Party takes place.
This means it’s within stumbling distance from the epic party so, once you’re done revelling, you can easily retreat to your luxurious room or the multi layer beach front pool to rest and recover.
The resort has a modern industrial style and rooms come with mountain or sea views. Some suites even have a private plunge pool overlooking the ocean. The property offers a free pick-up service from Haad Rin Pier for added convivence.
How to get to Koh Phangan
Ferries from Koh Samui go regularly to Koh Phangan taking between 30 minutes and 1 hour, and then continue onwards to Koh Tao.
Koh Tao – 2/3 days
The tiny turtle shaped island of Koh Tao is one of the best places not just in Thailand but in the whole world for scuba diving due to its colourful and vibrant coral reefs and warm tropical waters.
Koh Tao is one of the best, and cheapest, places in the world to do your PADI open water course and learn how to scuba dive.
If you only have 2 weeks in Thailand and still want to give diving a try you can also do a 1 day discover dive, or just go snorkelling.
Under the water you have the chance to see turtles, rays, whale sharks, and numerous other species of fish and wildlife.
The island is also home to many beautiful bays, groves, and secluded beaches. Don’t miss the trek up to the Koh Nang Yuan viewpoint to take in the gorgeous panorama.
Most diving courses take 3 or 4 days, so if you want to do both the Full Moon party on Koh Phangan and a diving course in Koh Tao you might want to spend less time on Koh Samui to fit it all in to your Thailand itinerary.
Koh Tao has a party scene too, Sairee Beach is where most of the amenities and nightlife are but can be a noisy place to stay.
Where to Stay on Koh Tao
Air conditioned wooden bungalows nestled in luscious gardens and tropical jungle with a lovely pool area and a restaurant overlooking the beach.
The property is conveniently located overlooking Mae Haad Beach, a good snorkeling spot. It’s also within walking distance from the port and popular Sairee Beach but far away enough from the nightlife so that you can get some sleep!
How to get to Koh Tao
The ferry from Koh Phangan to Koh Tao takes about 1 hour. From Koh Samui it’s closer to 2 hours.
After Koh Tao, head back to Koh Samui for better onward travel options.
For the 2 weeks in Thailand itinerary catch a flight from Koh Samui back to Bangkok to catch your flight home.
For the 3 weeks in Thailand itinerary head over to the West Coast to explore the islands of the Andaman Sea. Either fly or get a ferry and bus combination ticket and head to Phuket or Krabi.
If you’re a nature lover visiting Khao Sok National Park on your way between the East and West coasts is a worthy detour. Trek through the lush jungle or raft on Cheow Lan Lake while keeping an eye out for the many species of flora and fauna.
The Andaman Coast
Thailand’s Andaman Coast is where you’ll find the picture postcard Thailand you’ve been dreaming of.
Hundreds of emerald, jungle covered islands with soft white sands, sparking turquoise seas, towering limestone cliffs and colourful long tail boats.
The Andaman Coast is home to some of the most famous spots in Thailand like Phuket and Koh Phi Phi and is where movies like ‘The Beach‘ and ‘James Bond – The Man With The Golden Gun’ were filmed.
Unsurprisingly it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand, but the beauty still exceeds the hype.
Phuket – 2/3 days
Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and known as the Pearl of the Andaman Sea. Sometimes Phuket doesn’t feel so much like an island but it’s the best destination for those who want to experience a bit of everything in one easy package.
Phuket offers a huge range of hotels, restaurants, bars, spas, beaches and activities. From boat trips, water sports, diving, snorkelling, zip lining and white water rafting to exploring Sirinat National Park and Khao Phra Thaew Royal Wildlife and Forest Reserve, home to the Phuket Gibbon Rehabilitation project.
The legacy of Phuket’s history as a rubber and tin trade post is seen in the colourful and pretty old Phuket Town which blends many cultural influences with arty coffee shops, boutiques and galleries. It’s a delight to explore.
Another highlight is the Big Buddha statue which offers wonderful vistas from Phuket’s finest viewpoint.
Phuket makes a great base for exploring the hundreds of other beautiful Andaman sea islands. Tha Rassada, 3km south of Phuket Town, is the main pier for boats, ferries and day trips to the Phi Phi islands, Krabi and beyond.
If you only have 2 weeks in Thailand, or less, then basing yourself in Phuket and taking day trips will allow you to see the most in the time you have.
One of the best excursions from Phuket is to the insanely pretty (and popular) Koh Phi Phi islands and Maya Bay. If you only have two weeks in Thailand then I’d recommend just taking a day trip to Koh Phi Phi, unless you want to party as Koh Phi Phi Don has become quite the party island.
Another great day trip is to Ao Phang Na National Park, Phang Nga Bay and James Bond Island where you’ll see some of Thailand’s most spectacular sights, have lunch at a fishing village and have fun swimming and canoeing. Check it out here.
More offbeat options include the Similian Islands but you’ll probably only have time for these with a 3 week Thailand itinerary.
Where to Stay in Phuket
Simply stunning 5 star resort located on Karon Beach, a long sandy beach that offers a more peaceful stay than busy, and slightly sleezy, Patong. You get the best of both worlds as the resort offers a free shuttle if you want to check out Patong’s nightlife which only takes 10 minutes.
As well as the five swimming pools, each with a pool bar, and breath taking views from the restaurant, the highlight at Mandarava is the villas which feature a private, over water deck with direct swimming access to the main pool.
How to get to Phuket
Phuket has some of the best transport connections to the rest of Thailand and abroad with an international airport and many bus and boat connections which make it quick and easy to visit even if you’re short on time.
If you’re coming from Koh Samui you can fly directly to Phuket airport with Bangkok Airlines in just 1 hour.
You can also take a ferry and bus combination ticket which takes between 6 and 8 hours.
Koh Phi Phi Don – 1 or 2 days
The small islands of Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh Phi Phi Leh are possibly the most beautiful islands in Thailand. These idyllic slices of tropical paradise shot to fame after the movie ‘The Beach’ was filmed in Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi Leh.
The forested island still doesn’t have any roads but boat rides and treks through the jungle will lead you to discover quiet bays away from the lively nightlife hub of Ton Sai Village and Ao Lo Dalam. The steep hike up to the Koh Phi Phi viewpoint is well worth it for the panoramic vistas.
There’s no accommodation on tiny Phi Phi Leh, and due to the island’s popularity you can no longer camp on Maya Bay, but long tail boat trips and sunset cruises around the islands are a great way to soak up the stunning scenery.
Snorkelling and scuba diving offer the chance to swim with reef sharks and you can also rock climb the limestone cliffs.
Where to Stay in Koh Phi Phi
Spacious air conditioned bungalows and villas with teak wood furnishings and private balconies, most with sea views. There’s also a coffee bar, restaurant, beachfront cocktail bar, massage parlour and a swimming pool complete with sunset views.
The resort is situated in Hat Yao (Long Beach) which offers a gorgeous beach with good snorkelling and is a peaceful escape from noisy Ton Sai Village and Ao Lo Dalam. Take the free boat transfer service to Ton Sai pier or a 30 minute walk to enjoy the bars and clubs and then retreat back to the resort for a peaceful nights sleep in paradise.
How to Get to Koh Phi Phi
Ferries regularly run to Koh Phi Phi from Phuket and Krabi.
The speedboat from Phuket is the quickest way and only takes 1 hour. From Krabi it takes about 2 hours.
Krabi – 2/3 days
Krabi is home to spectacular limestone karst formations that tower over the ocean, dense forests, a 150-kilometer coastline, and tons of tiny islands just outside of its shores. For beachside stays in Krabi head to either Ao Nang or catch a long tail boat to Railay Beach.
The picturesque towering cliffs of Krabi’s Railay Beach are a dream for rock climbing. As Railay is cut off from the mainland by thick jungle and rugged cliffs getting there is an adventure in itself – it’s only accessible by boat.
Other things to do here include taking a long tail boat trip to visit five nearby islands in one day, sailing to penis cave – a shrine to fertility, visiting the night market in Krabi Town, taking a trip out to Wat Tham Seua – the tiger cave temple, and experiencing the hot springs and freshwater pools at Khlong Thom. Check out more excursions from Krabi here.
Krabi is more laid back than Phuket and less busy than some of the other spots in southern Thailand, but still one of the most beautiful places to visit in Thailand.
Koh Lanta is also a good option if you want to escape the crowds, but might be tricky to fit in to a 2 weeks in Thailand itinerary.
Where to Stay in Krabi
Tropical style luxury rooms and cottages are nestled in nature amongst the dramatic limestone cliffs offering the best accommodation in the area.
The stunning sunset views over the ocean from the beachfront swimming pool are a real highlight and the airport shuttle service makes getting to paradise a breeze. Breakfast comes included and the pizza and seafood restaurant, spa, tour desk and room service complete the package.
Go for a deluxe room or splash out and book a cottage with either a spa bath or private pool in the private garden for an extra special experience.
How to get to Krabi
Boats take about 2.5 – 3 hours from Phuket and about 2 hours from Koh Phi Phi.
You can also take a minivan or taxi from Phuket to Krabi which takes about 3 hours.
Bangkok Airways also has direct flights from Koh Samui to Krabi which take 1 hour if you wanted to do the Andaman’s part of this itinerary the other way round.
Then head back to Bangkok
It’s just a 1 hr 20 min direct flight from Krabi back to Bangkok to catch your international flight home.
I’d recommend getting back to Bangkok with plenty of time to make your next flight, maybe spending one more night in Bangkok to eat some last pad thai, visit one more temple, get one more massage and do some last minute shopping and bring a bit of Thailand back home with you.
Essential Tips for Planning a trip to Thailand
Visas for Thailand
Getting in to Thailand is easy as the country offers 30 day visa free entry to most nationalities including U.K., U.S.A., Australia, Canada, New Zealand and most European countries.
You can only get the 30 days visa free if you arrive to Thailand via air with an onward ticket. If you arrive by land you only get 15 days visa free.
If you fall in love and want to stay longer you can extend your visa by another 30 days at an immigration office and paying about 2,000 baht. Or, apply for a longer visa at any Thai Embassy before you enter Thailand. More visa info here.
Covid-19 Update: Thailand is now fully open! From 1st October 2022, Thailand no longer requires travellers to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result. The length of stay allowed with the visa exemption has also increased from 30 days to 45 days.
Check the latest entry requirements and keep up to date with the latest news from the Thailand Tourism Authority.
Thailand is generally a very safe and welcoming country to travel in but whenever you travel abroad you shouldn’t leave home without travel insurance in case you fall ill, have an accident or have to cancel your trip.
It’s even more important nowadays to get travel insurance that covers Covid-19 related illnesses, cancellations or delays.
Getting around Thailand
Thailand’s transportation system is modern and efficient which makes getting around Thailand safe and easy. Trains, buses, flights, boats, taxis and tuk-tuks operate all over the country.
Trains are comfortable and can be a fun way to get to know some of the locals. Taking an overnight train can also save on a night’s accommodation.
Thai Buses are mostly modern, convenient and comfortable, especially if you book one of the luxury air conditioned buses that run frequently between major towns and tourist destinations. Minivans are also an affordable way to travel but can be cramped for long distances.
When planning your Thailand itinerary in advance you can book your transport online easily using 12 Go Asia
Accommodation options in Thailand
Thailand has all types of accommodation, whether you’re looking for luxury 5 star hotels with spas and rooftop pools, yoga retreats, affordable guesthouses and backpacker hostels plus everything in between.
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation in Thailand and prices are often considerably cheaper than you’ll find in Europe or the US.
In this post I’ve recommended mid range hotels and resorts for each destination that I feel represents both a great experience and great value for money without breaking the bank, but both ultra luxury and ultra cheap options are also available.
Thailand is quite safe and easy to travel independently but if you want to take the hassle out of planning and arranging your Thailand itinerary for yourself, or if you’re a solo traveller and don’t want to travel alone, then considering a small group multi day Thailand tour is a good option.
Taking a tour of Thailand will allow you to see all the highlights in a shorter period of time and are a good option if you want to fit as much as possible into a short trip.
If you pick the right tour you’ll also be traveling with a group of like minded people and make plenty of new friends. Tours often include some more off the beaten track and less touristy experiences that you might not have known about or that might be harder to reach on your own.
Taking guided tours are a great way to get to know more about the history and culture of country and can really bring a destination to life.
Day trips and island hopping tours are also a good way to see the highlights of other areas without the hassle and time spent switching hotels or organising it all on your own.
For guided tours and day trips I recommend Get your Guide where you can see all the activities and trips available, check out reviews and book them online in advance to save the time and hassle of organising it after you arrive, and the risk of missing out if the trip you want to take is fully booked.
The Lonely Planet Thailand Guidebook is packed with useful information for pretty much every tourist destination in Thailand. It’s invaluable for both planning your Thailand itinerary and for taking on the road with you.
Read more of my posts about Thailand here.
I hope you found this useful and that it helps you to plan your own perfect Thailand itinerary.
Have an amazing trip to Thailand!