After having been to Thailand around three times now, it is about time that I would create some sort of Thailand itinerary at some point. There are a lot of reasons why I have returned to Thailand so often other than the cheapest and most convenient flight connections: everybody is so friendly, the food is the best and there is lots to see and do. Thailand is also an amazing place for solo female travellers.
If you want to have a chilled beach vacation, go hiking, learn more about Thai culture or experience the busy city life of Bangkok; Thailand has something great to offer to almost every type of traveller. On top of that it is really affordable and safe as well.
If you want to check out the beauty of Thailand as well then this is the right blog post for you. Here is my three-week Thailand itinerary which includes a bit of everything: Beaches, Bangkok and the beautiful nature in the North of Thailand.
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Table of Contents
- Day 1 – 4 (3 nights): Bangkok
- Day 4: Take the night train to Chiang Mai
- Day 5 – 9. Chiang Mai
- Day 9: Flight to Krabi
- Day 9- 10 Krabi
- Day 10: Ferry to Koh Phi Phi/ Koh Lanta
- Day 10 – 12 Koh Phi Phi or Koh Lanta
- Day 12: Travel to Koh Tao/ Koh Samui
- Day 12 – 15 Koh Tao / Koh Samui
- Day 15: Take ferry to Koh Phangan
- Day 15 – 19 Koh Phangan
- Day 19 Travel to Bangkok
- Day 19 – 21: Bangkok
Day 1 – 4 (3 nights): Bangkok
You will most likely be starting your trip off in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. Personally, I believe 3 days in Bangkok are not enough but you will most likely end your trip there in the end anyway.
My favourite Hostel in Bangkok has got to be Nap Park Hostel. I have stayed here about four times and also got to leave a suitcase there for about two weeks while I was travelling in Cambodia.
Eat some street food
One of the best things about Thailand has got to be its street food. Thai food just is super delicious, easy accessible and affordable and in a place like Bangkok you will have a lot of options to choose from. From Pad Thai to Mango sticky rice to delicious fruit juices, I’m sure you will find something you like. Most likely all of it!
Take a boat to Wat Arun
Wat Arun, also known as the temple of dawn, is one of Thailand’s most famous temples. It is located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya river. This means that you will have to take a boat in order to reach it. While there are some boats that will just take you across the river, you can also take a boat along the canal houses and stop at Wat Arun on the way.
But make sure to find some more people to share a boat with because it is paid per boat and not per person. They will drop you off at the temple and then wait for you there. And in addition you get to experience some less visited parts of the city by boat.
Explore the temples
There are so many incredible temples in Bangkok that are all worth the visit. Make sure to visit the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, also known as the temple of reclining Buddha. You can usually get a TukTuk driver that will take you to several temples and wait for you outside so you don’t have to find a new TukTuk driver after every temple.
Enjoy a night out at Khao San Road
You can either love or hate Khao San Road. It is a pretty unique place and pretty much the middle of the Bangkok backpacker scene. During the day you can find souvenir vendors and some street food, whereas at night you can find loud music, bars and laughing gas. If you are looking for a quiet place to stay at in Bangkok then stay away from Khao San Road.
Day 4: Take the night train to Chiang Mai
From what I have heard, taking the night train up North is a unique and interesting experience. On top of that you will save a night of accommodation and don’t have to spent your precious day time on traveling. I flew to Chiang Mai instead since I had booked it in advance but actually wish I would have taken the train instead. (Been traveling way more flexible ever since).
Travel time will be between 11 and 14 hours. There are three night trains that depart daily at 6:10pm, 7:35pm and 10pm.
Day 5 – 9. Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is a lot less busy and less chaotic than Bangkok. Within the city you can find a couple of temples, great restaurants and a big contrast to Thailand’s capital. It’s the surrounding areas which also make this destination so attractive to travellers. You can not only explore Chiang Mai itself but it is your getaway to Pai more up North or to other surrounding areas. But let’s start with what should be included in any Chiang Mai itinerary.
Walk around, get a feeling of the city
I always like to get an idea of how a city looks like first when I arrive to a new place. In Chiang Mai you can find a long main street with lots of restaurants and some street food. I would suggest just walking around the city centre for a little bit and discover the city.
Take an afternoon cooking class
Thai food is super delicious so why not learn how to make Thai food yourself? Especially in Chiang Mai you can find a wide array of cooking schools. Most of them offer different types of classes such as full day ones or afternoon half day classes. If you have the time, definitely make sure to include a Cooking class in your Thailand itinerary.
Even in the afternoon classes you can learn five delicious dishes in just a couple of hours such as Mango sticky rice, green curry and Pad Thai. At my cooking class, I also got a little cook book and a certificate so that was a nice touch as well.
Day Trip to Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle
While in Chiang Mai there is one place that you should not miss: Chiang Rai. Chiang Rai is located a little more than 3 hours up North from Chiang Mai. It is mostly known for its impressive white temple also know as Wat Rong Khun.
This temple needs to be included in your three-week Thailand itinerary. Unless you want to spend some more time in Chiang Rai I would recommend visiting it as part of a day trip. These day trips will take you to other places as well other than the white temple. There is the black temple which stands in total contrast to the white one. And you will also get to visit the Golden Triangle which is located all the way up in the North in the country.
It is called the Golden Triangle because it is the border region of three countries: Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. From there you can take a boat over the river to a small area of Laos (you will have to leave your passport in Thailand).
While there are mostly souvenir stalls and people trying to sell you Laos magnets and t-shirts, it is still cool to combine the day trip with setting foot on another country.
Some tours also combine Chiang Rai tours with a stop at “Long neck village”. There you can meet members of the Karen tribe who once came from Burma and are known for their golden jewellery around their necks.
However, I believe it is disrespectful to visit these places and take pictures with these women who have to pose for pictures with tourists. Therefore, I hope you choose a tour that does not include a visit to the village.
Visit an Elephant Sanctuary
If there is one things that you should absolutely never do when traveling to Thailand (or any other country) is riding elephants or visiting tiger temples or any unethical wildlife place.
However, when it comes to elephants there are some ethical places out there that do not offer elephant riding and care for elephants that have been saved from other places.
The money that is earned by visiting these elephant sanctuaries goes to keeping the elephant sanctuary going and possibly saving other animals in the future. Sometimes you can feed the elephants and still get close to the animals. Make sure to always do proper research beforehand though to figure out if the animals are treated correctly and all of it is ethical.
Day 9: Flight to Krabi
Krabi is a good starting point to travel to the islands. While you can also stay a bit longer in Krabi or in the surrounding areas I didn’t think it was necessary. But of course that is up to you. Since Krabi is located in the South of Thailand it will be best to travel by plane as otherwise you will have to stopover in Bangkok once again. Not that Bangkok is not amazing but you would waste a lot of time in trains or busses. Flights within Thailand are also not too expensive.
Day 9- 10 Krabi
Hostel Tip: If you want to stay in the centre of Krabi I would recommend Pak-Up Hostel. I’ve stayed here twice and really loved that hostel, super cheap, clean and great facilities. It’s also close to the ferry stop and bus stops.
Krabi is a great starting point when traveling to the Thai islands in the South Western part of the country. And you should definitely include a visit to some of the islands in your three-week Thailand itinerary.
Day 10: Ferry to Koh Phi Phi/ Koh Lanta
Take a ferry to one of the neighbouring islands which are just under two hours away. The easiest way is to just get the ferry ticket from your hostel so you will also get picked up there and taken to the ferry stop.
Day 10 – 12 Koh Phi Phi or Koh Lanta
Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta are two completely different islands. Both are beautiful but it really depends on what type of vacation you are looking for. Koh Phi Phi is definitely a party island. Whereas, Koh Lanta is way more quiet and feels more like a family location or a place for people that just want to relax.
On Koh Phi Phi there are no cars so that is nice for once. But there is a lot of trash on the island and on the beach which is pretty upsetting. On Koh Lanta you will have a long main street with cars and taxis but it is far from the crazy Bangkok traffic.
Koh Phi Phi
If you are traveling to Koh Phi Phi, make sure to enjoy the daily fire shows that take place along the beach every night. They are free but they collect some donations in the end so make sure to have some cash on you. During the day you can go scuba diving or go on boat tours around the island.
If you have ever watched the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio then you might be amazed to hear that the movie was filmed at a beach close by which you can visit by boat. Don’t expect it to be as deserted as you have seen it in the movie.
Koh Lanta is a much more quiet island and more family friendly. There is no big party scene as on some of the other islands such as Koh Phi Phi or Koh Phangan. If you are looking for a relaxed beach vacation with great food then Koh Lanta is the place to be. There are some great restaurants at the beach. Explore some caves, go scuba diving or take some cooking classes.
Day 12: Travel to Koh Tao/ Koh Samui
Getting to either of the two islands will probably take you the entire day. You can book transportation at one of the many tour desks in Koh Lanta or Koh Phi Phi. It will usually include a ferry to the main land, a long bus ride and then another ferry to one of the other islands. Both of the islands are located on the East side of the country.
Day 12 – 15 Koh Tao / Koh Samui
Koh Tao is definitely the ideal destination if you want to include scuba diving in your three-week Thailand itinerary. I have never personally been to Koh Samui but from what I have heard it is more of a family vacation where you can find bigger resorts and therefore a smaller backpacker scene. I am sure it is equally beautiful though its just depends what you prefer your ideal island to be like. hostels in Koh Samui
There are a lot of scuba diving companies located on Koh Tao. Koh Tao is also known as one of the cheapest places to get your PADI Open Water certificate or other certificates such as your Advanced Open Water or Rescue Diver certificate. As an experienced diver you will be paying around 2000 TBH for a two tank dive.
There are lots of great dive sites around for beginners as well as experienced scuba divers. You will often see fish such as triggerfish, angelfish or pufferfish.
Several diving resorts also offer free or cheap accommodation when you are getting a diving certificate. During my Rescue Diver course I had stayed at Ban’s diving resort which I can highly recommend.
If you do not want to spend your money on scuba diving or find it intimating, there are of course also options to rather go snorkelling. You can always ask at your accommodation if they know about the best snorkel spots nearby or book boat trips that take you to nearby reefs. There are a lot of souvenir shops that sell snorkelling gear if you want to have your own and just snorkel off the beaches a little bit.
Tour desks can organise some boat trips around the islands or to nearby snorkeling spots. Often you can also rent a privat boat with a driver who can take you to nearby places.
Going on a Pub crawl is always a fun time. Especially in Koh Tao as all the pubs are located close to the beach and you will most likely end your pub crawl at a beach party. Pub crawls in Thailand are usually not too expensive, you will get a T-shirt and meet loads of awesome travellers. You will usually find some crew members walking around the streets during the day and will tell you when to be where if you want to join a pub crawl.
Day 15: Take ferry to Koh Phangan
Depending on the ferry company you can be in Koh Phangan in just one and a half hours. Or in two hours when coming from Koh Tao. Koh Samui on the other hand is only 15 kilometres away. Koh Phangan can therefore be reached in just 30 minutes by ferry.
While I’m sure you can book your ferry tickets directly at the ferry station, you can also book it in advance at any tourist desk. In some cases your hostel or other accommodation as well.
Day 15 – 19 Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan is one of the bigger islands, which is mainly known for hosting the monthly full-moon party. Around that time there are also a lot of other big parties leading up to the full moon party such as the jungle party or pool party. Other than that the island offers some great beaches to hang out on. Koh Phangan is way bigger than for example Koh Phi Phi or Koh Tao so it is not really walkable. Slumber Party Hostel in Koh Phangan
Full Moon Party/ Half Moon Party
As the full moon party only happens once a month, it is wise to plan your trip a little around it. Only of course if that is something that you are interesting in. Alternatively, there is also a half moon party which, however, obviously is not as big as the actual one but should also be heaps of fun.
It is important to note that the island gets filled up quite a lot before the actual full moon party and lots of places will be booked out. Therefore, it is important to book your accommodation more in advance than you usually would. Also some require a minimum stay of up to 5 nights during that period.
The Challenge Phangan
For a bit of fun in the water head to the Challenge Phangan. It is an obstacle course with lots of challenges such as balance beams or rope swings. It’s a great place to spend a couple of hours, have a few drinks and see if you can master the challenge. It is also a child friendly activity and easily accessible by taxi.
90/22 Koh Phangan Ko Pha-ngan District, Surat Thani 84280; open Mon- Sun 10am to 6pm
Day 19 Travel to Bangkok
From Koh Phangan you can get a ferry + coach back to Bangkok. That will probably take up most of the day or night and most likely a bit of waiting in between at Surat Thani. In the end all things lead back to Bangkok. Check out some more activities to do in Bangkok.
Day 19 – 21: Bangkok
In the end of a trip I always like to not have anything planned and just relax on my last days or to do some shopping and go out. So if you are the same then end your trip with some delicious Thai food, maybe get a Thai massage and do some souvenir shopping.
Maybe have some drinks out, meet some new people and enjoy your last days in beautiful Thailand after almost completing your three-week Thailand itinerary.
Depending on where you want to go after your Thailand adventure, in most cases it makes the most sense to end your trip in Bangkok. Mostly since there are the best international connections. Unless you are heading down to Malaysia.
In that case the easiest way would be to get transportation from Krabi down across the border to Penang, Malaysia. I have done that border trip once the other way around and I had no issues at all. Or if you are heading to Cambodia next then you can also take a shuttle over the Cambodian border from Bangkok to Siem Reap.
And that completes my three week Thailand itinerary. Have you been to Thailand? To which places have you been and what was your favourite?
If you have not been to Thailand before also check out these things you should know before travelling to Thailand.
Talk to you later x
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