When planning a trip to Thailand, being overwhelmed is very common. I know I was extremely overwhelmed - although, it was mostly because I wanted to go everywhere!
The truth is, there is no wrong way to do Thailand. It just depends on what you want out of the trip. Thinking about more adventurous plans? Head to Chiang Mai. Want to relax in the sun with a drink in hand? Get yourself to the islands. Love chaos and big cities? Bangkok is definitely for you.
On my honeymoon with Matt, we spent a little over 10 days traveling around the country but we could have probably spent another couple of months. There is just so much to see and do! Two weeks in Thailand is a pretty popular travel itinerary and I agree - it really works! It gives you a nice overview of this wonderful country. Here is my 10-day Thailand itinerary, hopefully, this will help you plan your own trip....
First up: Bangkok
First off, get yourself acquainted with this huge city with my Full Bangkok Guide
99.9% of tourists will fly into Bangkok. It is truly the gateway to Southeast Asia and tourists tend to love or hate this bustling city.
You may have heard that you can skip Bangkok... PLEASE DON'T.
Even if you only plan to stay for a couple of days you have to experience all that Bangkok has to offer. It is kind of like NYC on steroids. More people, more hustle and bustle, and more garbage (don't worry, you stop noticing the smell pretty quickly). Overall, it is pretty amazing.
How long should I stay in Bangkok?
Of course, this is a hard question to answer. And it really all depends on what type of person you are. I love big cities so I had a good time and enjoyed nearly 4 full days here. If you are more into nature, get in and get out in 36 hours.
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Where to stay in Bangkok
- Old City: Close to the main attractions of the city. The accommodations range from "omg this is gross" to "I can survive here for 2 nights."
- Khao San Road: Backpackers HEAVEN - if you're into partying until 5 am that is. Don't stay on this road unless you are totally fine with loud music or plan to be out all night.
- Sukhumvit: A huge backpacking crowd and close to new, modern Bangkok. Expect huge malls and the sky train.
- Thonburi: Across the river near Wat Arun.
What to do and see (and eat) in Bangkok
Don't you worry....I have millions (OK, maybe a little less than millions) of articles to help you plan your trip to Bangkok. Whether you are looking for rooftop bars or the famous sites check out the links below to plan your trip.
Next Up: North Thailand
I suggest visiting Chiang Mai since it is the biggest city and will give you the most options for day trips. Other good options are Chiang Rai and Pai. I can guarantee you this: any place you choose will be BEAUTIFUL. North Thailand is so different from the rest of the country. It is full of lush forests, raging rivers, gorgeous mist, and so much wildlife.
How long should I stay in Chiang Mai?
If you love outdoor activities and animals stay here as long as you can! Most of the tours offered from Chiang Mai are full day adventuring. If you want to spend some time in the city, make sure you don't over schedule.
Where to stay in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is sooooo CHEAP! I suggest taking advantage of this and staying somewhere super nice. I stayed at Khum Phaya Resort and loved my experience there. Plus it was only $87 a night and pure luxury! It had a beautiful pool that came up right to the back door of our room and a gorgeous canopy bed.
Other good options include:
- Zensala: Double rooms for only $40 a night
- Ping Nakara Hotel and Spa: Extremely high end, doubles start at only $100 a night
- Non@Chiang Mai Hostel: Beds start at $6 a night
What to do in Chiang Mai
I've got you covered on all the cool things to do in Chiang Mai. Check out the articles below for more.
Whatever you do in Chiang Mai (or Thailand in general....ok actually, anywhere in general) DO NOT RIDE AN ELEPHANT. I repeat DO NOT ride an elephant. You can read my whole rant here on why these gentle giants need to be respected and not ridden. But please, I know the picture is amazing for insta - but just don't do it. Also, don't go to Tiger Kingdom. More on that and other tours to avoid here.
Last: The Islands
You should always save the best for last - and the best of Thailand are undeniably her beautiful islands. Picking which one to go to can be hard, especially since there are over 1000 islands in Thailand! All of them offer a couple of things though: crystal clear waters, colorful boats, beachfront bars, and inflated prices.
Yup - this is going to be your most expensive spot. The good news is that it is expensive for THAILAND. Which is still pretty cheap.
How long to stay in the islands of Thailand
Forever. Moving on....
Ok, in all seriousness I would plan to spend at least 4 days here. A couple for adventuring, a couple for pure relaxation. All for pure relaxation. Whatever.
Which island should you stay on in Thailand
Ahhhh. The million dollar question. There are so many to choose from and EVERYONE has an opinion on all of them. If I give you any advice it is this: take everyone's advice with a grain of salt - including mine!
The good news is there are no right or wrong answers on this. Research as much as you can and go with what your gut says. If you love partying then ignore the people saying Kho Phi Phi is overrated and go party your heart out. If you don't care for crowds and loudness and drunk people then maybe stay away from Kho Phi Phi (oh how I wish I had listened to this advice before I went).
I have a huge article about the best 10 islands in Thailand here. It breaks down what each island is known for and what you can expect. Also, I have an article all about island hopping in Thailand here. Because why limit yourself to one island. See them ALL!
Things to do in the Islands of Thailand
Rest? Relaxation? Drinking? The islands truly offer everything.
- Here is an in-depth article with tons of things to do in the islands of Thailand
- Here is an article that just lists the top things you can't miss in Phuket
I hope this, kind of long, article helps you plan a seriously EPIC trip to Thailand. If you are heading to Thailand soon be sure to read What to pack for a trip to Thailand and Mistakes to avoid when heading to Thailand.
Last thing... even though researching ahead of time is great, I definitely recommend bringing a guidebook along with you. I always use Lonely Planet's pocket guides since they fit in my ...... pocket.
Read on: All the gear I pack on on every trip
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