2 Weeks in Thailand Itinerary for First-Timers: Perfect for 2020
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The mystical kingdom of Thailand has been attracting tourists in their thousands for decades now. It is famed for its beautiful beaches, serene temples, wild jungle, tasty food and smiley people. Thailand is a prime traveller’s destination – it has the perfect mix of conveniences and adventure, as well as something to suit every type of traveller.
Now, you may have seen, I really like creating itineraries – I find them really useful posts myself, so I make them for every country that I’ve travelled extensively in. But one of the main reasons I do create these itineraries is because I’m really keen to push overland travel.
It’s more sustainable, there are more opportunities to experience local life, and I just believe it’s an all-round richer experience travelling at ground level than high in the sky. For your Thailand itinerary 14 days is sufficient to explore on overland transport – you could even do the same Thailand itinerary with 12 days in the country (and just slice off a day in Bangkok and in Koh Chang each).
So when creating this 2 weeks in Thailand itinerary, I wanted to include destinations that give a feel for all types of Thai culture and landscapes, but are also not absolute b*tches to reach without flying. The best itinerary for Thailand includes beaches, mountains and cities and I think that this Thailand travel itinerary has the best of everything!
This Thailand itinerary starts in Chiang Mai, in the country’s north, enjoying the best places to visit in Northern Thailand first. This works perfectly if you’re crossing from Laos (many people arrive into Chiang Mai from Luang Prabang) If you’re flying into Bangkok, it’s an easy train ride north, and you can begin there (doing it this way, and enjoying Bangkok in the middle, saves two back to back travel days).
Two Weeks in Thailand: Where to Go
So, this Thailand travel itinerary will include the following destinations:
- Chiang Mai
- Chiang Rai (on a day trip from Chiang Mai)
- Koh Chang
How to get to Thailand
It’s also a great place to reach by travelling overland, if you’re already in the region. You can easily reach Bangkok from Cambodia and Southern Laos, and northern Thailand (the main city being Chiang Mai) is reachable from Laos’ north (where most of the travellers are based).
If you want to travel overland from Vietnam, you’ll need to cross through Laos or Cambodia.
Malaysia sits to the South of Thailand, and its easy to travel between the two countries by buses or trains – or even boats, if you’re coming from the Malaysian island of Langkawi.
I use 12go.Asia to book advance overland travel in South East Asia and really recommend them. You can check them out here.
Visas for Thailand
Most nationalities get 30 days visa to Thailand, free on arrival. There are some laws about overland crossings – at the moment you can only cross into Thailand overland twice a year, and there is no limit on entering by air.
Double check requirements if you are entering overland (I’ve gone into Thailand twice overland in the last year and have been fine but I don’t think I could do it again), and do check your government website about current visa requirements, although as far as I’m aware there is no reason why they should randomly change.
WiFi in Thailand
WiFi in Thailand is generally great! Bangkok has super high speeds, some of the best in the world, and the rest of mainland Thailand has a decent connection. The islands can be a bit more spotty, but it’s still managable. Nearly all hotels, hostels and guesthouses in Thailand will have WiFi, and most restaurants, bars and cafes will too – especially in Chiang Mai, the digital nomad capital of the world.
When to Visit Thailand
Thailand is hot hot hot most of the year – the only real exception being in the mountains around Chiang Mai, where it’s a lot cooler in the winter.
The country has three seasons ‘cool season’ (which, if you’re British or from any other colder country, you’ll laugh at – temperatures are still 25-30 degrees daily), ‘hot season’ and ‘wet season’.
Most people say that the best time to visit Thailand is in the ‘cool’ or ‘not so cool’ season, due to the almost-guaranteed dry weather (in saying that, I was in Thailand over Christmas in the heart of the cool season and it did rain twice, so there’s still a chance!). The drawback of visiting at this time is that it’s suuuper busy and expensive – Christmas especially!
I’ve also been to Thailand twice in May, which is the end of the ‘hot’ and the start of the ‘wet’ – it’s quite hot then and definitely can rain, but prices are a lot cheaper and it’s quieter. The rain isn’t really enough to completely put a dampener (hoho) on your holiday, so I still consider May a good time to visit Thailand, if you can handle the intense heat that is!
So, weather-wise, if the heat affects you and you want as little a chance as possible of being rained on, go in the dry season (November-February). If you aren’t bothered by heat and rain and want to save a few bucks and enjoy Thailand’s attractions in blissful solitude (probably won’t happen at the most popular temples, but it’ll be a lot quieter!), go in the hot/ wet season.
Thai New Year, or Songkran, is held in mid-April. I haven’t been yet but it sounds like SO MUCH FUN and I’m planning on going at some point in the next couple of years. It’s basically a country-wide water fight! But I imagine that it gets busy and prices go up at this time, so if you don’t want to join in the jollies of running around the streets of Bangkok and having to duck from streams of water hitting you at every step, maybe reconsider your travel dates.
Health and Safety in Thailand
Thailand is pretty safe. Awful incidents happen that make the news, but I don’t think that this is necessarily a reflection of Thailand’s safety as a country.
There are a lot more tourists in Thailand than many other countries in the world, which explains why there are a lot more incidents involving tourists in Thailand than other places in the world. It’s also somewhere that is likely to be reported in Western media, because everyone knows Thailand as a holiday destination.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of tourists in Thailand who take things far too far with the booze, and do put themselves in dangerous situations. Places like Koh Phangnan, Phuket and even Pai have become capitals for hedonism, and honestly, I think the biggest danger in Thailand, especially for young tourists, is themselves.
Thailand has one of the best healthcare systems in Asia, and many institutions are world-class. Hospitals like Bummungrad Hospital are pricier (not unaffordable but not somewhere you’ll want to visit every day), but do offer amazing service. Bangkok hospitals are actually so good that I’ve chosen to have various check-ups there when travelling, rather than have to go back to the UK.
You’ll need a few jabs for Thailand – find out which ones here. Malaria tablets are needed in some areas. Dengue fever is present in many places in Thailand, so use mosquito spray and take other precautions against bites.
Don’t drink the tap water, and be careful with food – but don’t let being careful take over your trip, as sometimes you can take every precaution and still get the ol’ travellers’ diarrhoea. It happens to the best of us.
Where to Stay on your Thailand travel itinerary
There are so, SO many places to stay in Thailand. I always use Booking.com to book accommodation, because they have a great range, a good review system and if you use them frequently you become a Genuis and get some nice little perks.
Places to stay in Thailand range from super 5* luxury hotels (often at very reasonable prices!) to budget backpacker hostels. And everything in between. I’m going to recommend a range on this Thailand itinerary – I’ve stayed in all sorts of places all over Thailand – but I would recommend that you spend at least a bit of time in a nice hotel, even if you normally travel on a budget.
This is because there’s arguably no place to enjoy beautiful hotels like Thailand at such a decent price – you can get a lot for your money here, and many of the hotels are fab. Some of my favourite Thailand hotels include Eastin Hotel Makkasan in Bangkok, Lotus Pang Suan Kaew in Chiang Mai, and BlueSotel in Krabi (which isn’t featured on this itinerary for Thailand but may be on a later one!)
How to Get Around Thailand
There are lots of ways to get around during your two weeks in Thailand: I think that train is the best, but it doesn’t go everywhere. The train is ideal to travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and to a few places in Southern Thailand. For other destinations, you can get the bus (night buses for long journeys) or a tourist shuttle.
There are multiple airports in the country and internal flights, but I’d advise travelling overland as much as possible – you get to see more of the country that way, and it’s so much more eco-friendly. If you make use of night transport, it can be very time efficient as well.
You can check out my YouTube video of the Krabi to Bangkok night bus to get a feel of what night buses in Thailand are like:
How Long to Spend in Thailand
How long is a piece of string?! Honestly, even though this is a 2 week Thailand travel itinerary, I’d recommend a month to really see the country. And of course you could spend longer if you visited some less touristy destinations.
I’ll write a one month Thailand itinerary in the future (there are a few more places that I want to visit first, to make sure it’s as comprehensive as can be!) but I thought that I would create this 2 week Thailand itinerary as I know that a lot of people visit the country for just a 2 week holiday.
While there is lots more to do on a Thailand itinerary 2 weeks is sufficient to see the best parts of the country: the huge cities, the amazing beaches, and the beautiful mountains.
If you only have one week in Thailand or less, I would recommend just doing Bangkok and Koh Chang or Bangkok and Chiang Mai/ Pai or Chiang Rai.
Thailand Itinerary for 2 Weeks
Chiang Mai – 2 full days
The northern city of Chiang Mai is a fantastic starting place for your Thailand itinerary. Here you can enjoy temples, mountains, and elephants (responsibly!) to your heart’s content.
Chiang Mai is a historic walled city, with plenty of great restaurants and cafes (it’s one of the most popular places in the world for digital nomads to live), massage parlours and boutique hotels. It’s a highlight on many people’s two weeks in Thailand.
Where to Stay in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai has a range of accommodation, from luxury digs to backpacker hostels. I recommend the following:
Hostel I’ve heard very good things about Sherloft Home & Hostel, which has free WiFi, modern rooms and bathrooms with rain showers. Click here for rates and to book.
The only hostel I’ve stayed at in Chiang Mai is Mad Monkeys (formerly Brick House), which has a rep for being a party hostel, and I’m not a partier. So not sure why I stayed there – I’d stayed at the one in Siem Reap and appreciated their sustainable initiatives, but I didn’t like the Chiang Mai branch as much.
It does have an atmosphere that 19 year old Claire would have loved and if you want to party, it is a good place – but also do remember to be respectful in Thailand and don’t go overboard with the partying! Click here to read more about Mad Monkeys Chiang Mai.
Mid-Range Hotel Riverside House Hotel is a decent mid-range place to stay in Chiang Mai, and is somewhere else I have personally stayed in the city. It has good-sized rooms and bathrooms, as well as a pool and complimentary breakfast, as well as WiFi throughout the whole property. The staff are very friendly too. Click here to read more and to book.
Luxury Hotel I LOVED Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel – it was a more affordable luxury option at around 50 GBP per night. The rooms are stunning, done in an old-fashioned Thai style but with modern features. The lobby was spacious and beautiful.
However, there were a couple of big drawbacks to this hotel – the WiFi barely works on the higher levels and it can be very noisy when there are bands playing in the lobby, as all of the rooms open up to a mezzanine.
I would definitely stay here again as the rooms really were wonderful, but it’s definitely worth mentioning these two things. Click here for more information and to book.
If you want real luxury, Akyra Manor Chiang Mai has exceptional reviews on booking.com. Reviewers love the location, the facilities and the staff. I haven’t stayed here personally, but you can read more information about the hotel here.
Day One: Elephant Nature Park
I’d recommend starting off your two week Thailand itinerary with a fab day at Elephant Nature Park. This is one of the only legitimate elephant sanctuaries in Thailand, and I really would advise against booking with any other sanctuary. This includes Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, who are sadly not as good to the elephants as they make out. Click here to learn more about why Elephant Nature Park is ethical and other sanctuaries aren’t.
Elephant Nature Park books up far in advance – so book it as soon as you have confirmed your dates for Chiang Mai. Click here to book it. I would recommend the short day experience, as even though it’s an amazing time, you do pretty much see the whole park during the short day and it’s very hot, with little shade. I did the short day and don’t feel like I needed any more time.
You’ll get to meet various different elephants and observe them, and you’ll learn lots about the conservation of elephants in Thailand. Elephant Nature Park does not offer bathing, which is good for the elephants – they don’t need humans to bathe, they do it just fine themselves!
And of course, there is no riding or other inhumane treatment of the elephants at Elephant Nature Park. When you look back on your trip, these will be some of your very best memories.
I recommend a stroll to the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar after you return. This is the most famous night market in Chiang Mai and is a great place to experience the effervescence of this city. If you want to pick up any clothes for your trip, buy souvenirs, or just enjoy some great street food – here’s your chance!
Day Two: Chiang Rai Day Trip
Day number two in Chiang Mai calls for another day trip – this time to Chiang Rai, a city about three hours away. This is a long trip but is worth it to see the famous white temple. I actually spent a few days in Chiang Rai and can contest that it’s well worth it if you have the time, but if not I would still recommend heading there on an organised tour.
The White Temple, with its gorgeous outside decor and quirky illustrations, is unlike any temple that you’ll have seen in South East Asia or elsewhere in the world.
This tour includes a trip to the White Temple, visiting the Golden Triangle where you can see both Laos AND Burma, and a cruise down the Mekong. Transfers and lunch are included. Click here to learn more about it.
Day Three: Chiang Mai and Pai
On the morning of your last day in Chiang Mai, head up into the mountains to Wat Doi Suthep. You’ll need to be up early for this one, as you’ll want to take an afternoon shuttle to Pai – I’d recommend getting a songthaew from the main street at about 8am, or taking a taxi to the top (Grab works well in Chiang Mai).
Wat Doi Suthep is Chiang Mai’s most famous temple and looks out majestically over the city. It’s a huge compound that takes a while to explore – give yourself a couple of hours up here before heading back down.
If you have more time in Chiang Mai, or are thinking of returning, there is a Vipassana school which offers meditation retreats here. I took one and had mixed feelings about it, but I’d be open to trying it again.
Take an afternoon shuttle to Pai. You can probably arrange this with your accommodation or book online here.
Pai is a chilled out town nestled in the hills of northern Thailand. It’s loved by backpackers and travellers alike – but I don’t know why, I just didn’t quite get the vibe. Nonetheless, so many people do visit and love it, and I won’t argue that the nature is stunning, which is why I’ve included it on this Thailand suggested itinerary.
You’ll arrive in Pai as evening falls. There are dozens of places in town to grab dinner and a drink – there’s even a burger restaurant named Burger Queen, which actually does really decent food (with vegan options!).
Where to Stay in Pai
Being a typical touristy town, Pai has lots of accommodation options. The following are good options:
Hostel: I actually also stayed in the Mad Monkeys in Pai – don’t know why I went on such a mad party hostel spree (I didn’t go on a mad party spree mind you, I went out and was home and in bed by 10:45pm), but there you go. It’s actually quite a lot more chilled in Pai than other destinations, and all of the dorms are in cabins. Click here for rates or to book.
Budget Hotel: The Countryside Pai has very cheap rooms in rustic huts. There’s a pool on site, with a restaurant and activities can be arranged by the hotel. It’s 1km from the town centre but is in a rural setting. Click here for more information and to book.
Mid-Range Hotel: The 3* Kirina Retro House has great reviews (9.2 on Booking.com) and has cosy cabins and villas with lovely views. It’s a little way from the centre (although most decent hotels in Pai are!) but is in a lovely rural location – and it would be my recommendation to stay a little out of the centre because in the centre it is intense and sometimes resembles spring break y’all. Click here for rates and to book.
Luxury Hotel: There’s couple of luxury digs that I’m crushing on in Pai (I generally look at all sorts of accommodation options before I go to the place, then decide if I want to go for luxury or hostel life). I ended up saving my pennies for Pai, but the most amazing place was Pai Village Boutique Resort & Farm. It has a 9.3 rating, it’s reported to be clean, spacious and the rooms are absolutely gorgeous. Click here for rates and to book.
Day 4: Around Pai
If you can ride a scooter, I would recommend doing so in Pai – but please do know what you’re doing before you head out, and think seriously about doing it if it’s your first time.
You can easily rent one out, and then you’re free to explore the surrounding nature. And it is stunning – you’ll get to see waterfalls, caves, a land split and a mini canyon, amongst much more!
If you can’t ride a bike or don’t want to on these windy roads (don’t blame ya, I wouldn’t get on one for 100,000 baht), you can take a songthaew tour that visits all of these spots. It’s not quite as liberating as riding along on a bike and choosing exactly where you stop, but it’s cheap, you’ll meet some new people and it packs a lot into one day. This is how I saw all of the beautiful nature spots around Pai.
You can book this with your accommodation.
Day 5: Pai and Return to Chiang Mai
Spend the morning of your next day seeing more of Pai – you could head to the Pai Circus School to learn some new tricks, try out some yoga, or rent out a scooter to see some more of the natural attractions in the area.
Then take an afternoon shuttle to Chiang Mai at around 3pm. You’ll arrive back into the city at about 7pm.
Day 6: Chiang Mai and Night Train to Bangkok
Spend the day today exploring Chiang Mai, before your night train that takes you to Bangkok. My favourite things to do in Chiang Mai involve eating and making use of the fantastic spa scene, so if you take my advice you’re in for a relatively chilled day!
Two businesses I really recommend are:
- Fah Lanna Spa – this is kind of pricey for Thailand standards, but really worth it. You get class A service and some wonderful extras, and it’s in a really tranquil surrounding. Advance booking recommended.
- Goodsouls Kitchen – they got to know me well here while I was in Chiang Mai! Featuring Thai classics and Western food, it’s all delicious and made to the highest quality. Plus it’s bright, clean and the staff are lovely. And they use metal straws instead of plastic!
Other, more active things to do in Chiang Mai include:
- Visiting the other temples in Chiang Mai: Wat Phra Singh is the most popular temple in the city, Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Chiang Man. You can do a Chiang Mai temples tour to really appreciate the temples. Click here to book in.
- Warorot Market: this is a more local market, so is great to visit for a more authentic experience. It is open daily until 6pm.
- Visit the Sticky Waterfalls just outside the city (they are a 1 hour 15 minute drive, so make sure that you factor this into getting back to the city for your train!).
Take a night train back to Bangkok from Chiang Mai. The sleepers are comfortable and clean (although take an eye mask if you’re sensitive to light when you sleep!). You do need to book ahead to do this though, they do sell out (I’m talking as someone who once spent the night on a seat, it wasn’t fun). You can book tickets here and here is my guide on how to get the Bangkok to Chiang Mai train (works fine the other way round too!)
Bangkok – 3 days
People slate Bangkok, but honestly, I bladdy love this city. It has so much energy, it’s super liberal and it’s a great spot for any type of traveler. The food is incredible, the people are friendly and there is plenty to do in 3 days in Bangkok. When you’re spending 2 weeks travelling Thailand, you can spend a good amount of time in the city and see all of its highlights.
I’ve actually written a full itinerary about this exact topic – you can find it here – or keep reading for a briefer summary of what I’d recommend doing in Bangkok on your 2 weeks in Thailand itinerary.
Where to Stay in Bangkok
I’ve also got a full where to stay in Bangkok guide as well – don’t say I don’t treat ya. Here are some quick ideas for where to stay in Bangkok:
Hostel: for all the times I’ve been to Bangkok, I’ve never actually stayed in a hostel – normally because hotels are so budget-friendly that they’ve been the better option. But friends have stayed in The Printing House Poshtel and really enjoyed it – it’s a bit more luxe than most hostels and offers pod-style beds for maximum privacy. Click here for rates and to book.
Mid-Range Hotel: Hotel Royal Bangkok @ Chinatown is decent, with a rooftop pool and bar/ restaurant. I stayed here once before an early morning flight so opted for a windowless room so I could get some sleep, which was a very good price. Rooms are clean and modern. Click here for rates and to book.
Asoke Residence Sukhumvit is also great if you’d rather stay in the new city. For a really good price, you get an entire suite. The WiFi was generally good, but did go down for about an hour while I was there. There is also a pool and gym facilities. Click here for rates and to book.
Luxury Hotel: I ADORED the Eastin Hotel Makkasan. It has gorgeous rooms with city views, a great pool area, friendly staff, delicious on-site restaurant – what more could you want? It’s a little far out of the city but is on a BTS line. Click here for rates and to book.
Day 6: Old and New Bangkok
You’ll arrive at the city either feeling fresh after a great night’s sleep on the night train (normally me, I weirdly always sleep excellently on public transport and not well at all in a bed…) or somewhat dozy and wanting to curl up for a few hours.
If your hotel offers early check-in, feel free to do just that. Day one in Bangkok is going to be pretty chilled out – we’ll save the cant-miss attractions for the other days!
But if you’re feeling up to seeing some stuff as soon as you get to Bangkok, I recommend the Jim Thompson House.
It was the residence of – you guessed it – Jim Thompson, who was an American who revived the Thai silk industry. The house tells his story, ending in his mysterious disappearance in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia – he eerily went out hiking and was never heard from again. When visiting his house, you’ll see a traditional Thai dwelling, as well as learn about his story.
After the Jim Thompson House, you could visit Siam Paragon. This is one of Thailand’s largest shopping complexes – if you want to experience Thai shopping culture, it’s a great place to do it. Nearby Central World has cheap massages and more cloth shopping opportunities. There are also lots of restaurants in the area – including a Jamie’s Italian – but nothing particularly authentic.
Do you still have some energy? If you’re wanting to squeeze out as much of Bangkok as physically possible and slept like a baby on your night train, head to the Siam Museum. This museum is SERIOUSLY good. I’m not just saying that because I’m a museum addict and go to every national museum possible – it’s ace.
It’s got lots of interactive exhibits, so it’s super easy to learn about ‘Thai-ness’ (which is what the museum focuses around) and what makes the country ‘Thai’. In fact, it’s so far removed from your normal museum that I think it’s one of the best things to do in Bangkok after a night train, because the displays and interactive-ness will stimulate your brain rather than send it to sleep!
You should be approaching sunset by now, so head to the Golden Mount Temple. This temple is a popular sunset spot, but does warrant some exploring in itself – it’s really beautiful. Make sure you grab yourself a good spot nice and early though, so you can watch the sun saying goodbye to the sky for another day (I should be a poet, I know).
Another option to enjoy the sunset is to book yourself on a sunset/ night time cruise along the river – this will take up your entire first night in Bangkok as well. Click here for more information about this.
If you opt to not do this, spend the evening enjoying Bangkok’s fantastic restaurant scene. Most of my recommendations are going to be vegan/ veggie restaurants, just because that’s where I eat. But seriously, Bangkok is one of the best places in the world for vegan and veggie food, so give it a go while you’re here – even if you’re a keen meat-eater!
- May Veggie Home: I go here 100% of the times I visit Bangkok, it’s SO GOOD. It claims itself to be ‘vegan food for meat lovers’ but as a non-meat lover, I can attest it’s still really good. Get the green curry or the Vietnamese noodle soup!
- Brocolli Revolution: if you’re looking for some home comforts, try Brocolli Revolution. They have all sorts of different dishes, from Thai food to Western Food. The staff are lovely and they serve pressed juices on site.
- Dosa King: if you fancy Indian food, Dosa King is cheap and delicious and is conveniently located on Sukhimvit.
- Condoms and Cabbages: this is a restaurant with a difference – they raise awareness for HIV and AIDS and hope to reduce the numbers of it through their work. I haven’t actually been yet, so I can’t comment on their vegan options, but I’ve heard that the food in general is good.
If you’re really tired and just want to curl up in a ball in your hotel, do so and use Food Panda to get takeaway delivered. We don’t judge here.
Day 7: Bangkok’s Temples
Ok, have you had a great sleep and are refreshed? Good, because today is TEMPLE DAY! Hope you’re as excited as I appear to be!
Begin your temple adventures at Bangkok’s most famous – The Grand Palace. This compound is not all temples, but it has the regal and ornate architecture that Thailand is famous for.
It is home to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha which is one of the most spiritual places in the country, but is so much more than that.
The Grand Palace was built by King Rama I in 1782, and acted as royal residence until 1925. It is still sometimes used for ceremonies, but is primarily a tourist attraction.
It costs 500 baht to enter. If you want to know all there is to know about its history, there is another option – but I’ll get into that below.
Next up is the nearby Temple of the Reclining Buddha, or Wat Pho. It houses the biggest reclining Buddha in the world – seriously, this Buddha is large. It’s also very busy, but definitely worth seeing.
Make sure to factor time into seeing the rest of Wat Pho – there’s a lot more than the Reclining Buddha, and the rest of the compound is much more zen. I loved walking around here in tranquility! There’s also the country’s most famous massage school on-site – basically the best place in the world to get a Thai massage – so you could seriously think about that as well.
As a side note, one of the options for evening activities for this night includes a night stop at Wat Pho, so if you decide to do this, you might not want to spend too much time seeing the whole temple during the day. However, you cannot see the reclining Buddha at night so I’d definitely recommend seeing at least that part of the temple in daytime.
Next up is Wat Arun. This temple is just over the river – you can take an easy and cheap water taxi over and enjoy the impressive skyline with old and new buildings. The temple is pretty small compared to the other two that you’ve seen today, but I personally love it – the architecture is completely different. You’ll get around the whole thing in about half an hour though.
If you want to make the most of Bangkok’s temples and fully learn about its history, I would recommed that you do a guided tour. I have not personally done one of these – both times I’ve been to these three temples I’ve just read a lot of information online before, but they are a great way to learn about the places as you walk around them. You can check out tours here.
There are a few different ways you could spend this evening on your Thailand itinerary. Let’s chat about them:
- What I would probably do is a tuk-tuk tour around the city. I had such a fab time doing this – it includes a stop at a couple of temples (including Wat Pho), the nighttime skyline, eating (and queue jump!) at the world’s most famous Pad Thai restaurant, various markets, and other nighttime attractions. You’ve also got an English-speaking guide and friendly drivers. Click here for more information and to book.
- You could also spend a night on Koh San Road. This is probably my least favourite place in Bangkok, but 18-22 year old Claire would have loved it. If you want somewhere more chill, the nearby Soi Rambuttri is just that.
- Another option, if you’re feeling a lil classy, is to enjoy one of the rooftop bars (if you are a night owl, this can also be done as well as the tuk tuk tour). I enjoy SkyBar and Octave, the bar at the top of the Marriot.
- Or, you could just enjoy a nice dinner at one of the restaurants mentioned above or others in the city!
Day 8: One of the Best Day Trips from Bangkok
It’s time for a day trip from Bangkok! Depending on your interests, there are a few great places to visit from Bangkok.
If you aren’t ‘templed out’ by this point, Ayutthaya is well worth a visit. It was the largest city in the world just 300 years ago, accommodating a million people, and was the capital of Thailand in its heyday. It was then pretty much destroyed by the Burmese, and now stands as just ruins.
There are so many ruins, including temples, and is one of the most impressive complexes in Thailand. It was given world UNESCO Heritage Status in 1991.
It’s a long day trip, and there’s not much shade, but it’s well worth it. You can do a day trip from Bangkok (check one out by clicking here), or get the train or a taxi.
Khao Yai National Park
Located about 3 hours from Bangkok, Khao Yai National Park was the country’s first national park. It was established in 1962 and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There’s a huge diversity of flora and fauna and great hiking opportunities. It’s definitely one of the best places to get a nature fix near to Bangkok: you can book a day trip by clicking here.
Kanchanaburi is a city of contrasts. It’s famous for being the home of the ‘Death Railway’, where many POWs laboured and lost their lives at during WW2. You can see the actual railway and go to the museum which details it. It’s also a prime location for hiking and enjoying nature. Click here for a tour that involves the two.
Day 9: Floating Markets, Cooking Classes and More
I’ve been to Bangkok more times in the last year than I have fingers on one hand (by that I mean I have been to Bangkok 6 times in the last year), so have racked up more than three days of things to do in Bangkok. This means that you have some more options for your third full day in Thailand’s capital.
Option number one, and what I recommend in my Bangkok itinerary, is a trip to the floating market. Visiting the floating market is thought to be a rather quintessential ‘Thai’ experience, although some are rather over touristy nowadays.
I’ve visited both Taling Chan and Damnoen Saduk. They each have their pros and cons; Damnoen Saduk is bigger, more touristy and open every day but is further away, and Taling Chan is smaller, only open weekends and is an easy 20-minute taxi ride from Bangkok.
If you’re visiting Bangkok at the weekend, I’d probably recommend Taling Chan. If not, Damnoen Saduk is worth the trip, but only on a guided tour. I did it by taking the bus, and while it was uncomplicated it took SO MUCH TIME.
The floating markets are cool and worth checking out, they’re a great place to buy souvenirs, eat local food and tour the canals (known as Khlongs in Thai), but they’re not the super-local experience they once were.
If you’re keen to see Damnoen Saduk by a tour, you can click here for a reputed one.
Option number two is a cooking class. As previously discussed, I am veggie, so anything food-related for me will be vegetarian. I therefore highly recommend May Kaidee Vegetarian Cooking Class, even if you’re a meat-eater (my teacher actually said the majority of people taking the class actually aren’t veggie).
I created a video of my time at this class (not affiliated, but if you feed me good food I will most likely sing your praises from the rooftops), so I’ll let that do the talking:
You can also read my full review of the vegetarian cooking class in Bangkok here.
Option Three, if you’re in Bangkok on the weekend, is the Chatuchak Weekend Market. If you missed out on the floating market, you can purchase all of your souvenirs here – and it’s a much more local (although still kind of touristy) experience.
Whatever option you choose, you’ll likely have some free time in the afternoon. I recommend heading to Lumphini Park for a nice little stroll, to stretch your legs before your long bus ride. The Unicorn Cafe is also in this area, which, true to its name has been like a unicorn and has never been open when I tried to go (this was around New Year time though), but if you’re into extra cafes filled with pink stuff and rainbows, this may be just the place for you.
Night bus to Koh Chang: I didn’t actually do this when I travelled from Bangkok to Koh Chang – I went in the day as I didn’t know that there was a night bus. But recently when I was travelling from Bangkok to Sihanoukville, the bus actually went to Trat port, where there are boats to Koh Chang. If you want to maximize your time on the islands and not waste a day travelling, I’d definitely recommend this. Click here to book.
Part Three: 4 days in Koh Chang
I really love this island. It was the first Thai island I visited, and I immediately fell for the gorgeous beaches, the jungly interior, the wonderful resorts and the amazing atmosphere. It is quiet and chilled compared to other Thai islands, but still has everything you need: great hotels, restaurants, diving schools and tour operators. It will be a highlight of your Thailand travel itinerary.
Koh Chang is an ideal place to visit if you’re looking for somewhere to kick back and chill out to end your two weeks in Thailand, but there are also a tonne of things to do here. Let’s check them out!
Where to Stay in Koh Chang
Resorts are big here, but there are some backpacker options as well.
Hostel: Riverview Hostel has fantastic location with a bar, garden, lounge and tour desk. It’s said to be very clean, with friendly staff. Click here for rates and to book.
Mid-Range Hotel: I stayed at the Aana Resort and Spa and really loved it. It has two pools, a private beach, a restaurant and free breakfast, and the rooms are rustic and beautiful, located in little cabins. Click here for rates and to book.
Luxury Hotel: Santhiya Tree Koh Chang Resort is located on Klong Prao Beach, has gorgeous rooms with four-poster beds and all of the features you expect in a luxury hotel like a spa, a fitness centre, and amazing bathrooms with huge baths. Click here for rates and to book.
Day 10: Arrive in Koh Chang
I’m guessing you’ll arrive at your Koh Chang hotel, hostel or resort feeling pretty tired and ready to chill, so I’m recommending you do just that today! If you stay at Aana Resort and Spa (highly recommended), you can use their restaurant, private beach, pool and spa facilities while you wait for your room to be ready. There are plenty of similar resorts on Koh Chang Island, but Aana Resort and Spa was really excellent, one of the best places I’ve ever stayed, with lots to keep you occupied!
However, if you’re solo travelling and want to hang around with other backpackers, you might want to stay in a hostel at Lonely Beach, which is the backpacker spot. Note that this is nothing like Koh Phi Phi or Koh Phangnan – if you’re looking for a raucous party you’ll probably want to go somewhere else – but there are places to drink, get good food, and hang out with good people. If you’re not staying in a resort, you can still spend day number one on the beach!
Day 11: Diving in Koh Chang
Day number two on Koh Chang should be spent diving. There are plenty of dive schools around the island – I used Dolphin Divers and they were pretty good, taking us to two dive spots. I did two certified dives and my friend (who didn’t have his open water) did two ‘fun dives’ – but they overlapped so we did one together. My other dive was of the HMS Chang Wreck, which is the most popular diving spot in Koh Chang.
The dive trip takes all day and lunch, snacks and drinking water are included.
Day 12: Hiking in Koh Chang
For day number three, I’d recommend taking a trek around the island. You can head to easy spots like the ? Waterfall, or do an organised hike with a guide. There is so much jungle in Koh Chang, so it’s a great spot to enjoy some nature that’s not the beach!
Day 13: Hang Out at the Beach
There are a few things to do in Koh Chang on day number 13 of this epic Thailand itinerary. You could spend the day chilling on the beach or at the pool, drinking coconuts (don’t forget your metal straws!) and having an all-round good time. I wouldn’t blame ya. It’s been a busy 2 weeks in Thailand, and putting your feet up for a whole day might be just what the doctor ordered!
However, if you’re not the beach-relaxing type, there are plenty of other things you can get up to on your last day. If you didn’t get the chance to do the cooking class in Bangkok, there is an option to do one here. This highly-rated cooking class operates on Koh Chang and offers vegetarian options. Click here to book.
Or if you’re after something a bit more adrenalin-fuelled, how about checking out the tree-top park, where you climb, zipline and swing around the forest? Click here to book your spot!
If you can drive a bike and are confident that you can handle Koh Chang’s mountainous roads (please only do this if you are confident, it’s not the safest activity especially if you don’t have experience! You can rent a bike from lots of places on the island and see all of the beautiful spots yourself.
If you aren’t a biker, you can do a Koh Chang ATV tour through the jungle which is a great way to see the island’s nature. This is a safer alternative to get around the island! Click here to book.
Or, if you’re a water baby and want to get back into Koh Chang’s beautiful oceans, you can take part in a snorkelling tour. Click here to book your spot.
Once your day’s activities are complete, celebrate your time on the island with a happy hour cocktail and a beautiful sunset!
Day 14: Return to Bangkok – 1 day OR onto Cambodia
The last day on your 2 weeks in Thailand itinerary may be slightly uninspiring, as it is likely to include a trip back to Bangkok to complete your channels. You can take a shuttle bus from your hotel directly, or a boat from the port to Trat and then a bus from Trat to Bangkok.
Many travellers fly from Bangkok to their next destination, and it is a hub where you can get to many places around the world.
However, if you’re staying in the region, I would encourage you to travel overland. Here’s how.
Bangkok to Laos: you can hop on a bus from Bangkok to Pakse, it takes around 13.5 hours. Check times and book tickets here.
Or you can head to Vientiane, Laos’ capital, in about 19 hours. You can read more information and book tickets here.
Bangkok to Malaysia: you can get a train from Bangkok all the way to Butterworth (which is on the mainland opposite Penang).
You could also extend your Thailand itinerary and visit its South Eastern Islands and places like Krabi before heading into Malaysia. Bus connections do this whole route.
Thailand to Cambodia: you can cross the border near Trat and then jump on a bus to Sihanoukville or Phnom Penh. Sihanoukville is awful, one of the worst places on the subcontinent, but it’s a good jumping point to visit Koh Rong and Kampot. Phnom Penh is worth the visit.
Thailand to Vietnam: you’ll need to head to Phnom Penh and then get a bus to Ho Chi Minh City. Night buses are available.
I use 12go.Asia to book transport around South East Asia and recommend you do the same! You can click through to it here.
What to Pack for Thailand
Thailand is a tropical location, and most people who are heading here will be spending at least a bit of time at the beach! You might also want some hiking gear and stuff for exploring the city.
- Beachwear: swimming gear, suncream (high factor – it’s hot here!), a beach towel
- Mosquito repellent: you can buy this in Thailand, but make sure you use it either way – dengue fever is a problem in Thailand and protection is the best prevention (sure you’ve heard that before!).
- Hiking shoes and hiking wear if you’re heading to the mountains
- Comfy shoes, a bumbag (or fanny pack if you’re from the US) and a camera for city exploration and photos. I use the Fuji x-a5 (new model Fuji x-a5) and my Samsung Galaxy S9 (new version S10).
- GoPro Hero 6, GoPro diving case and floating stick for if you’re going snorkelling and diving.
- Lonely Planet Thailand and Thai phrasebook.
Responsible Travel in Thailand
I could write a book on this.
Many, many tourists go to Thailand. To be exact, 38,270,000 went in 2018. That’s more than the entire population of Canada!
Some tourists travel responsibly. They respect local customs, shop and eat local, leave as little waste as possible, and try to be energy efficient while in the country.
Other tourists get raucously drunk, run around naked, do all sorts of illegal sh*t that they wouldn’t do in their own country, and basically treat the country like their playground where they can do whatever they want.
Don’t be these guys.
I’m just going to write a brief, bulleted list on how to be a responsible traveller in Thailand (you should already know most of these, but it won’t hurt to have them written down). Maybe I’ll go into more detail in the future, but for now:
- Have a few Changs and enjoy your holiday. But don’t go overboard, walk down streets being mouthy and making people feel uncomfortable, strip off in public (I’m not saying nudity is a bad thing, but some cultures in Thailand do find it offensive and this should be respected when in their country), or just generally act like a rowdy drunken fool. It’s not cool.
- Thailand is predominantly a Buddhist country. Be respectful at temples – cover your shoulders and knees at a minimum, don’t be loud, don’t go to places where you’re not supposed to or take photos where there are signs saying ‘no photos’. All of this sounds obvious, but there are still so many tourists doing it while in Thailand!
- Bangkok is a very liberal city which can be enjoyed while you’re there. But steer clear of ping-pong shows. You never know whether the person performing has been trafficked or is being coerced into doing so.
- Don’t ride elephants and don’t visit drugged-up tigers. Be careful of any sanctuary – most are still using animals for profit. Elephant Nature Park is one of the only legit elephant sanctuaries (there are a few others) – otherwise, see animals in the wild where they belong!
- Try to limit your plastic use as much as possible. This is hard in Thailand, I know, but it’s really important to keep the country looking beautiful and keep the marine life alive! You can use metal straws, reusable cups, and tote bags, and learn some Thai phrases to refuse plastic things.
- Use local businesses, like restaurants, shops and hotels where possible – and try to find sustainable businesses that give back to the community.
- Be respectful of locals and any customs that you may encounter – remember however liberal Thailand seems, it does have differences to Western countries that should be respected. Be mindful of this, remember that things might not go the way that they would at home, and have respect.
Useful Thai Phrases
|English||Thai (written)||Thai (pronounced)|
how much is this
one room for one night
no straw please
no plastic bag please
nī̀ rākhā thèā h̄ịr̀
h̄nụ̀ng h̄̂xng s̄ảh̄rạb h̄nụ̀ng khụ̄n
pord xỳā fāng
kruṇā xỳā chı̂ t̄hung phlās̄tik
If you want to learn more Thai phrases, click here to purchase a Thai phrasebook.
Books to Read about Thailand
If you’re looking to read some more about Thailand before you head on over, here are my top picks.
- Bangkok 8 written by John Burdett is a book series that focuses on the blend/ clash (depending on how you want to look at it) of old and new that is Bangkok. Click here to read reviews and purchase.
- Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon is a book that eventually inspired The King and I, and is a semi-fictional biography that focuses on the famous royal family of Thailand. Click here to read reviews and purchase.
- The Bridge Over the River Kwai (also a movie) written by Pierre Boulle focuses on one person’s struggle working on the ‘Death Railway’ in World War Two that stretched from Thailand to Burma. It’s well worth reading to understand Thailand’s role in the war. Click here to read reviews and purchase.
- The Beach is a thrilling page turner, loosely based on Lord of the Flies but set mainly on a Thai island. It explores overtourism and whether the paradise that some Thai islands have somewhat lost can ever be regained. Click here to read reviews and purchase.
Are you ready to visit Thailand?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this Thailand itinerary! Be sure to check out my other posts about travelling in Thailand and South East Asia:
- Is Elephant Nature Park Ethical?
- Taking the Night Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
- Am I the Only Person Who Doesn’t Like Pai?
- Bumper 3 Days in Bangkok Itinerary
- One Month Laos Itinerary
- One Month Vietnam Itinerary
You can also check out my YouTube channel where I am documenting my trip from Bali to London with no flights!