THE ULTIMATE THAILAND TRAVEL ITINERARY

THE ULTIMATE THAILAND TRAVEL ITINERARY

So, you’ve decided to go to Southeast Asia.

Whether you’re heading there for a honeymoon or a month-long backpacking trip, Thailand – a culturally and historically rich country – is undoubtedly on your itinerary.

This well-renowned tourist destination offers it all: stunning beaches, beautiful forests and exotic wildlife, golden temples, varied and delicious street food, amazing retail therapy, epic nightlife, the best spa experiences with out-of-the-world massages and beauty therapy, as well as cooking classes!

Considering the varied locales, activities, and experiences, it’s only natural if planning a Thailand travel itinerary can feel a little intimidating.

How do you fit it all in?

This country has so much to see and do, AND it’s considered a travel haven.

You can simply show up in Thailand and the adventures come to you.

But traveling without a plan may not be ideal, especially if you would like to cover as many activities and explore as many places of your choice as is practically possible in a short time.

So, without further ado, I’ll show you how to create the perfect Thailand travel itinerary from where, when, and how to go.

Let’s get started. 

Busy-street-in-Bangkok-Thailand

Where to Go in Thailand

You can’t plan a Thailand travel itinerary without knowing where to go.

I’ll list out the top places to visit in Thailand and tell you a little bit about each.

You can pick your favorites and string them together to create the ultimate plan.

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai always tops the list when putting together a Thailand travel itinerary.

This city offers a beautiful and mountainous landscape with an Old City that gives you lots of history.

You’ll also see historical temples like Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang.

Chiang Mai is also famous for its night market where you can try new foods or shop for goods.

Museums and national parks are other favorite haunts and if you’ve ever dreamed of bathing elephants at a sanctuary, white water rafting amidst a scenic background, or zip-lining in a forest, then you’re in luck.

This is the place in Thailand to do it and where everyone gets those fabulous Instagram pictures.

A once-in-a-lifetime experience is participating in the lantern festivals Loy Krathong and Yee Peng, which are typically held in November here.

In the former, celebrated across the country, beautiful lotus-shaped baskets decorated with flowers and candles are released into water bodies like rivers, canals, and ponds. 

Yee Peng is mainly celebrated in Chiang Mai, where floating lit lanterns are released into the sky amidst a festive atmosphere marked by fireworks, food stalls, and public places and homes decorated with colorful lanterns.

The festival of lights is also accompanied by handicraft sessions, an official parade, and live music.

Elephants-eating-at-the-Elephant-Rescue-Park-in-Chiang-Mai-Thailand

Bangkok

This is quite likely on your Thailand travel itinerary, because it’s Thailand’s capital city that provides a rich cultural experience and a ton of other fun-filled activities.

It’s a chaotic, cosmopolitan city that offers quite a bit of bustle along with modern sights.

Be prepared to witness the grandeur of palaces and ornate shrines amidst modern skyscrapers alongside vibrant streets full of activity.

Everyone can revel in this buzzing albeit charming city as it offers everything: diverse cuisine to suit every taste, beautiful temples and grand palaces for those who want to soak in the culture or simply marvel at their beauty, shopping hubs and malls for those who cannot resist retail therapy, and an assortment of partying hot spots that include sky bars, glitzy discos, gay nightclubs, and not to mention, red-light districts.

Even non-shoppers who typically don’t enjoy shopping won’t be able to resist the retail fare here.

So it’s safe to say that shopping is an activity that’s included in every Thailand travel itinerary.

And Bangkok doesn’t disappoint, as the shopping experience here is unparalleled and deserves a dedicated space.

But for now, let’s just say that there’s an array of shopping avenues that range from shopping centers and traditional floating markets to street-side shops and glamorous malls. 

There’s a variety of activities here to satisfy everyone, however some must-visit places are: 

  • The Grand Palace, which also houses the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and has been a residence of the royal family for several generations.
  • Wat Pho or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha is a famous temple located near the Grand Palace and houses the long, reclining Buddha statue.
  • The Chatuchak Market, one of the largest outdoor markets, is known as the king of markets and is comprised of more than 8,000 stalls spread across 35 acres.
  • Terminal 21 is the famous airport-inspired mall that features offerings from international luxury brands as well as domestic products.
  • Chao Phraya River offers an excellent view of the most popular city attractions, ferry rides, and cruises with on-board scrumptious dinners.

Apart from the aforementioned tourist attractions, be sure to visit some of the other traditional sites along with Bangkok’s 300,000 street food stalls.

If you’re eating at a restaurant, you’re doing it wrong!

Aerial-view-of-Bangkok-skyline

Phuket

Phuket is Thailand’s largest island, and it’s absolutely loved by travelers.

Many people stay in Phuket to party or use it as a stopping point as they venture to other smaller islands that feature on their Thailand travel itinerary.

It has pretty white-sand beaches, blue water, and low travel costs but accommodation rates are particularly high during the peak season.

The good news, though, is that it has many hotels that suit different budgets.

Being highly developed, Phuket offers not only superb avenues for shopping and nightclubbing but also stunning temples – no wonder it’s favored by everyone: families, honeymooners, and singles alike!

Make sure you take advantage of your time here by swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, surfing, or scuba diving.

Something on the water is a must!

Ayutthaya

As a UNESCO World Heritage city, this spot places a big emphasis on Thai history.

It was once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Siam, and it was packed with monasteries, temples, statues, and archaeological ruins.

You can explore these sites by cruising along the quaint city on motorbikes and bicycles as you soak in their beauty at your own leisure.

Its proximity to Bangkok (approx. one hour bus ride away) makes it an easy to access location and one that all history buffs would definitely love to explore!

Pai

Pai is a neat town in Northern Thailand that is situated in a deep valley on the banks of a river and lined by tall mountains, offering unique opportunities for clicking Insta-worthy pictures. 

While it’s no doubt still a paradise for hippies, it has grown to be so much more, encompassing a range of tourist-friendly offerings!

It’s no wonder that its value to tourists has exploded in the last few years as, apart from a stunning backdrop for photographs, it boasts restaurants with varied vegetarian options alongside meat and seafood dishes, organic farms, great nightlife, gorgeous gorges and hot springs for relaxing, as well as holistic and yoga centers for the health fanatics. 

Nature lovers and those looking for a scenic but quiet spot for trying adventurous sports like river rafting, hiking, or mountain trekking would also revel here!

In addition, it has a ton of waterfalls and ethnic villages to explore.

There’s also a plethora of food stalls, bars, and café galleries as well as handicraft shops that offer souvenirs.

Be sure to visit Baan Santichon, where you can explore authentic Yunnan cuisine. 

Nighttime-at-Phra-Nakhon-Si-Ayutthaya-Thailand

Krabi

A tourist destination that draws photographers and rock climbers alike, Krabi is located in southern Thailand.

From towering limestone cliffs and mangrove jungles to several offshore islands and white-sand beaches with turquoise waters, Krabi is a paradise for nature and beach lovers!

The beauty of its scenery is further highlighted by caves and the presence of exotic wildlife.

This laidback and slightly less developed town caters to low and high budgets as its accommodation options range from budget to luxury.

If you’re into rock climbing, you must visit Railay beach. 

Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi has historical ties to World War II, so it’s a great site for history junkies who can visit the Jeath War Museum, Allied War Cemetery, and temple ruins to relish the historic relics.

However, please note that the city also meets the needs of nature and adventure lovers. 

Its scenic beauty is no doubt defined by the Kwae River but the crown jewel is the seven-tiered waterfall housed in Erawan National Park, which is a delight to explore in and of itself. 

Apart from taking in the stunning natural beauty here, tourists can also enjoy bamboo rafting.

Gemstone lovers should make a special note of this historic city as it has a dedicated space or rather village called Gemstone village where you can shop for beautiful gemstones and jewelry.

After a tiring day spent shopping or exploring, you can let your hair down at karaoke bars and discos. 

Interested in finding some more hidden gems of Thailand?

Read about the Top Secret Vacation Spots of Thailand.

Boats-lined-up-on-a-beach-in-Krabi-Thailand

When is the Best Time to Travel to Thailand?

The best time to visit Thailand is during its cool and dry season between November and early April.

This is typically when the temperatures range from 84 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit or 29 to 36 degrees Celsius.

That said, the climate does vary throughout the country, so you can visit year-round if those specific months do not work for you.

Especially around the east coast, the weather is great for almost the entire year but light showers are expected in January and February and heavy downpours in November. 

While travelers just often prefer to avoid the rain if possible, one bonus to traveling to Thailand in the off-season would be cheaper prices.

So, How Do You Plan the Perfect Thailand Honeymoon Itinerary?

Thailand tops The Knot’s best honeymoon destinations.

You’ll be able to explore those sandy beaches you dream of while also showing off your more adventurous side.

If you’re thinking of Thailand for your honeymoon, you should consider all of the following:

  • Expect to lose some days to travel. TIP: If you’re coming from North America or Europe, you’re going to lose at least a day or two on each side between travel and jetlag, especially if you take your honeymoon right after your wedding. Plan this into your trip so you can truly enjoy the place you’re visiting. Even the most experienced travelers won’t want to rush through Thailand right after they’ve had the wedding of their dreams.
  • Start from Bangkok. Since you’ll likely be flying internationally, expect that you’ll fly into Bangkok because that is the largest international hub in the country. You’ll probably want at least 2 days to get acquainted with the city before you move on. The Sukhumvit area can be great for honeymooners.
  • Plan for at least 1 to 3 destinations depending on time. It would be great to have all the time in the world for your honeymoon. Unfortunately, not everyone gets to take a month (in fact you could spend several months in Thailand and not get bored!). If you have 1 week, you may choose to split your time between 2 cities. If you have 2 weeks, you can be more flexible.
Couple-holding-hands-and-walking-in-Ko-Samui-Thailand

What to Wear in Thailand

You’ve probably seen crop tops and short skirts in Instagram pictures to think anything goes in Thailand and that is true… well almost.

Hot weather clothing is permitted on beaches and almost everywhere else, except for temples – which feature on every Thailand travel itinerary – where wearing revealing clothing is not permitted. 

In addition, when visiting remote towns or villages, it’s best to be respectful of the conservative Thai culture and to dress modestly. 

So along with your shorts and tank tops, be sure to pack a long skirt and a shawl or cardigan to cover your legs and shoulders, when visiting a temple or any remote place. 

For the remaining duration, it’s important that you pack clothing that you’re comfortable in, and that fits the activities you’ll be participating in.

Carrying a pair of stilettos or two is great for evenings, when you’re dressing to go clubbing or for a night about town.

But you will need comfortable shoes, flip flops, or sandals to wear during the day when you’re out on excursions (which will cover a major part of your Thailand travel itinerary) or when you’re simply exploring the place on foot. 

A bonus packing tip: You may not want to fill your luggage with too many items, because Thailand is a shopper’s paradise. So be sure to leave considerable space in your suitcase for new purchases – in fact keeping an empty duffel bag or suitcase if you’re a compulsive shopper is not a bad idea.

Female-covering-shoulders-with-shawl-at-Wat-Phrathat-Doi-Suthep-temple-in-Thailand

Here are some tips on what you may need to pack so you can decide according to your preference.

For Ladies:

  • Dresses, sundresses, t-shirts, tank tops, dry-fit tops (for hiking), or flannel

          o   Flowing or fitted is acceptable

          o   When visiting a temple, shirts should cover your shoulders and have a semi-high collar line; avoid                             spaghetti straps without a shawl or cardigan

  • Leggings, shorts, jean shorts, athletic shorts
  • Swimwear and cover-up to wear over bathing suit
  • Sneakers, sandals, flip-flops, hat, and sunscreen

 For Men:

  • Polo shirts, quality t-shirts, button-down collared shirts, or flannel
  • Tank tops, singlets, or dry-fit shirts (for hiking)
  • Athletic shorts, board shorts, golf or Bermuda shorts, and hiking pants
  • Flip flops, sneakers, hat, and sunscreen

You should also pack comfortable, water-resistant shoes.

You’ll be asked to take off your shoes before entering anyone’s house or temple.

And while barefoot is preferred in these instances, it is not preferred all the time.

Do NOT walk around barefoot as going barefoot is seen as bringing “city grime” into a Thai home or business, which is offensive.

Here are some tips on what you may need to pack so you can decide according to your preference.

For Ladies:

  • Dresses, sundresses, t-shirts, tank tops, dry-fit tops (for hiking), or flannel

          o   Flowing or fitted is acceptable

          o   When visiting a temple, shirts                     should cover your shoulders                       and have a semi-high collar                         line; avoid spaghetti straps                         without a shawl or cardigan

  • Leggings, shorts, jean shorts, athletic shorts
  • Swimwear and cover-up to wear over bathing suit
  • Sneakers, sandals, flip-flops, hat, and sunscreen

 For Men:

  • Polo shirts, quality t-shirts, button-down collared shirts, or flannel
  • Tank tops, singlets, or dry-fit shirts (for hiking)
  • Athletic shorts, board shorts, golf or Bermuda shorts, and hiking pants
  • Flip flops, sneakers, hat, and sunscreen

You should also pack comfortable, water-resistant shoes.

You’ll be asked to take off your shoes before entering anyone’s house or temple.

And while barefoot is preferred in these instances, it is not preferred all the time.

Do NOT walk around barefoot as going barefoot is seen as bringing “city grime” into a Thai home or business, which is offensive.

Other Helpful Tips

  • Bargaining is common – Except for food or drinks, it’s quite common to bargain when shopping on the street side or even in some shopping malls as the pricing is flexible here. Even haggling for lower prices for activities and negotiating the rates for accommodation (in some hotels or guest stays) is a common practice. 
  • Tipping is not the norm Since it’s not the norm to tip in Thailand, it’s highly recommended to curb tipping here, except for a few places. Although you may wish to reward staff for their good work, remember that it may promote an unfair preference for catering predominantly to foreign tourists who are known to tip generously and it may then establish tipping as a common practice.
Aerial-View-of-Rot-Fai-Train-Night-Market-in-Thailand

Is Thailand Still Cheap?

Many tourists are drawn to Thailand for its beautiful sights, sounds, and experiences.

However, its sheer popularity as a travel destination has driven travel costs up over the last decade or so, and this influx of tourism money has also brought an uptick in services and amenities — as well as cost — which were far more primitive in years past. 

But while a trip to Thailand may be more expensive today than one just a decade ago, it’s still much cheaper than a comparable trip in Europe or North America.

That said, Thailand is more expensive than neighboring Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam, so it’s important to be prepared if you’re planning a Southeast Asia trip and follow common Thailand travel tips when you’re out and about.

One nice thing about Thailand’s travel is that the hotels are cheap.

Thailand boasts five-star hotels like So Sofitel Bangkok and Eastin Grand Sathorn, as well as lush beach resorts like Sunrise Tropical Resort in Krabi, that are bona fide experiences for about what you’d expect to pay for a low-tier Western hotel.

Airbnbs and budget hotels are even more affordable at $20 a night or less — and hostels are even cheaper — so it’s possible to stay for weeks and only shell out a few hundred dollars on your accommodations.

Transportation in Thailand is also cheap, and it’s easy to get around via the BTS or MRT public transportation systems.

Thailand even has its own Uber app called Grab, which can be used to hail private transportation in the major metro areas.

For longer trips, one of the ultimate Thailand travel tips is to jump on a low-cost airline like Thai AirAsia or Thai Smile.

Unlike in North America, flights are ridiculously cheap, and you’ll be off the plane, wandering around before you know it.

If you eat Thai food, you can also save a bundle on eating and drinking, which could cost you as little as $1 or so for a yummy meal of chicken rice or fried chicken with basil.

But if you want to keep a Western diet, be prepared to pay for it.

Seafood and other Western dishes are prohibitively expensive, and so is alcohol, which could run you more than $10 for a decent cocktail. 

Vendors-selling-fruits-from-boats-in-Thailand

Thai activities are one place where your money doesn’t go quite as far as it did in years past.

Half-day excursions at the Elephant Nature Park near Chiang Mai can cost more than $100 due to ethical subsidies, which can drive the price up.

That said, common activities such as scuba diving are much cheaper than in other countries, even if they’re expensive by local standards.

Regardless of your Thailand travel itinerary, it’s important to be on the lookout for fees.

Unfortunately, added fees are commonplace, and most Thai ATMs charge upwards of $7 per transaction, which can quickly add up if you’re making lots of withdrawals.

The use of credit cards is also taxed at 2-3 percent on top of your bill, and many merchants engage in “farang” pricing, which inflates prices for foreigners in markets and elsewhere.

But before you make any decision to travel, take a look at the Thai baht exchange rate.

It can range from 30 to 40 Baht to the U.S. dollar, which could raise costs by a full third if you go at an inopportune time.

A favorable exchange rate, on the other hand, could save you 25 percent or more during your trip.

In general, while you can make do with about $25 or $30 dollars a day, especially if you stay in affordable hotels or hostels, $100 per person is a more reasonable budget to have a comfortable and inspiring time while in Thailand.

A prolonged trip of two weeks for two people could run $3,000, not including travel in and out of the country, which makes it decidedly affordable but not necessarily cheap. 

Tourists-in-wooden-boats-at-Koh-Phi-Phi-Don-in-Thailand

Final Thoughts

The great thing about visiting Thailand is that it’s a tourist-friendly country.

You can have most of your plans mapped out, but often good opportunities will find you whether you are looking for them or not.

However, if you’re looking to maximize your travel experience based on a limited time schedule and budget, it’s best to plan ahead of time.

Do you have any additional tips for a Thailand travel itinerary? If you do, comment below!

If you are looking for a step-by-step guide to help you plan your trip to Thailand, check out The Ultimate Guide to Trip Planning.

Also, Brillini Travels designs customized trips based on your personal preferences and priorities.

Whether you’re inclined towards hiking through gorgeous trails, sunbathing by the beach, partying in thriving nightspots, visiting golden temples, soaking in the Thai culture in bustling cities, or enjoying local street-side or gourmet Thai food, Brillini Travels can help you experience all that you want, via the perfect Thailand travel itinerary that is bound to create unforgettable memories.

The beauty of it is that we can plan as much or as little of your trip, as you require.

To get started, please email us at [email protected] or fill in the form.

We respond within 48 hours. 

For more information on vacationing in Thailand, read our other blog about Essential Travel Tips for Vacationing in Thailand.

If you are still feeling overwhelmed, or simply do not have the time to plan your trip to Thailand, why not let us help you? We will create the perfect bespoke itinerary just for you!

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