Ultimate Thailand Itinerary and Travel Guide
- by Ari Travels
Living in Thailand was one of the best decisions I made. The landscapes, locals, culture, food, and everything else in between are unbeatable here. I cannot wait to go back! In this detailed itinerary, you will find what to do, where to stay, the best beaches, the best food, and many other tips along the way from start to finish. During my four months here, I was able to backpack the entire country which built lots of knowledge. Today, I want to share my knowledge with you and give you tips in order to have the best experience and a trip of a lifetime. Feel free to book a call with me for any additional questions or help with traveling to Thailand. Now let's head to Southeast Asia!
Things to know about Thailand
Visa requirements: You can obtain a visa on arrival. It is free, valid for 30 days and can be extended up to 90 days.
Download the Grab app prior to your visit. This is basically the same version as Uber, but used in Southeast Asia. Using Grab is cheaper than calling a taxi from the road. If I don't have a lot of stuff on me, I like to use the motorbike taxi through the Grab app. It's a fun and affordable way to get around!
Buy bug spray. Mosquitos in Thailand can carry disease, so it's always important to have bug spray with you. Deet is a good brand that works, otherwise any bug spray in Thailand is specially made to keep them away from you.
Thailand is a conservative country, women need to cover shoulders and knees for temples and men need to wear long pants. Outside of temples, its acceptable to dress however you want, but please be respective of the culture.
Thailands main form of payment is Cash. They use the Thai Baht. One US dollar is equal to about 30 Baht. Make sure you have the Charles Schwab Debit Card to withdraw cash from ATMs to avoid paying the ATM fees. When using your credit card, I recommend using a card that doesn’t charge international transaction fees such as the Capital One Venture card.
Make sure you have the proper travel adaptor for electronic use. You cannot use your electronics in Thailand without an international adaptor because their wall plugs are different than ones back home.
Make sure your phone is unlocked before departing to Thailand. I would highly suggest getting the Airalo App and downloading an eSim Card. Airalo is an app that allows you to have affordable cell data plans all over the world without needing a physical Sim Card which is what makes using your phone without wifi extremely convenient. Use my code ARIAHN516 for $ off!
Water is not drinkable from the tap here. You can buy large bottles of water at the 7Eleven for as little as 7 cents. Depending on your accommodation, they may have a water filter which then you can drink the tap. Just ask in advance!
To make this trip as stress-free and affordable as possible, I recommend booking overnight sleeper buses or trains using 12goasia to get from place to place. You can also get discounts on flights using this website! 12goasia is amazing because you can book your transportation in a "bundle" meaning for example if there is a bus and a ferry, it will be booked for you, so you have nothing to worry about. 12goasia is also the most affordable way to book your transportation
Click here if you're a broke backpacker and want to read all about traveling to Thailand if you’re on a budget!
2-4 days: Bangkok
You will want to fly to Bangkok from your hometown. It's the Capitol of Thailand and the main airport hub. Bangkok is a huge city of life! Plan to spend 2-4 full days here.
Things to do in Bangkok
Temples: Grand Palance, Wat Arun (you take a boat taxi here!), Wat Pho
Floating Markets: Damnoen Saduak or Amphawa
Nightlife on Khao San Road
Eat LOTS of street food. It's delicious. Mango sticky rice and Pad Thai are my absolute favorite!
Enjoy the rooftop pool at the Sindhorn Midtown (they sell day passes here! Pool is pictured below)
Read this blog post on 3 affordable day trips from Bangkok for inspo.
Eat brunch at After the Rain Coffee and Gallery. Can you believe THIS is a brunch spot? You can also rent canoes for free and paddle through the canals.
Where to Stay in Bangkok
Of course, I love staying at Hostels when I travel so I can make friends. I stayed at multiple hostels in Bangkok. Some recommendations I have are located right on Khao San Road which is the backpacker hub for Bangkok.
Hostels in Bangkok (click for more)
Suneta Hostel $10/night or $5 per person
Tales $9/night or $4.50 per person
Hotels in Bangkok (click for more)
2-3 days: Chiang Mai
If you are on a budget, take the overnight sleeper bus to Chiang Mai from Bangkok for less than $20 or the sleeper train for around $30. Book on 12goasia for the best prices.
You can opt to fly into Chiang Mai from Bangkok as well.
Chiang Mai is a mountainous northern Thailand. Home to elephant sanctuaries, temples, and beautiful landscapes. This chill city will be a very different feel than busy Bangkok.
Things to do in Chiang Mai
Visiting an ETHICAL elephant sanctuary
- NOTE: There are many elephant sanctuaries that are actually abusive to the elephants. I would recommend you go to Elephant Nature Park, as it's completely ethical and is a rescue for previously abused elephants. If you choose a different sanctuary, PLEASE do your research, pick a good one, and DO NOT go anywhere that lets you ride the elephants.
Temples to visit in Chiang Mai
- Wat Doi Suthep
- Wat Chedi Luang
Take a Thai cooking class
Doi Inthanon National Park
Where to stay in Chiang Mai
Hostels in Chiang Mai (click for more)
Smile Robotist Hostel: $6/night
Hostel Lullaby: $12/night
Hotels in Chiang Mai (click for more)
Chiang Mai is extremely affordable to travel to, so if hostels are not your thing, there are plenty of discounted hotels here.
Saming Chiang Dao Guest House: $10/night or $5 per person
Serenity1 Homestay: $24/night or $12 per person
Buraphat Resort: $35/night or $17.50 per person
3 days: Khao Sok National Park
Camping in rustic bungalows over a tropical lake, jungle safaris, kayaking, long tail boats? What more could you want? This place is perfect for the adventurous soul.
How to get to Khao Sok National Park
You will take an hour's flight for around $60 from Chiang Mai to Surat Thani which is the closest city to Khao Sok National Park. From there, you can call a taxi to drive you for an affordable cost to Coco Khao Sok Hostel.
Things to do in Khao Sok National Park
Book a tour with Coco Sok Hostel. This 3-day, 2-night adventure costs around $100 USD. This tour includes one night at Coco Sok Hostel, a night safari, a longboat lake tour of the iconic rocks & even an overnight experience in a floating bungalow on Cheow Lan Lake. I found this tour to be the cheapest yet best tour I’ve seen for Kaho Sok National park. You must book a tour in order to access the famous lake. It’s truly an amazing experience and probably one of the highlights of my Thailand travels.
2-3 days: Krabi
Beautiful beaches, mountains, and hikes this place will basically make you feel like you’re in a real-life pandora.
How to get to Krabi
You can take a van from Surat Thani to Krabi for as little as $8. It only takes about 3 hours to get here from Surat Thani
Things to do in Krabi
Hike to the Railay Beach Viewpoint
- Make sure to bring lots of water and good shoes. The hike is more on the difficult side, but the view is worth it. There are areas where you have to use ropes to go up the cliff.
- You can access the starting point down the southern end of the Railay West Beach where the longboats are parked. There are several pathways that lead up the cliff. Take any path that leads up the cliff is they all intersect and there really was no clear main path.
Sunset boat party/tour
- My friends and I booked this tour right with our hostel. For only $30 we got to party on a double-decker boat with a DJ, lunch & have drinks. We stopped at 4 islands where we could swim and Kayak plus we got to jump off the boat!
Beaches to enjoy
- Phra Nang
- Ao Nang
Other Tours in Krabi
Where to Stay in Krabi
This has to be my ALL TIME FAVORITE hostel I have ever stayed at. Blanco Hideout Railay is honestly the best. It’s only $8 for a shared dorm room. The staff is so awesome. There were pool parties & happy hour every day. The views are incredible and they offer lots of fun tours such as the one I mentioned up above. I would highly recommend staying here during your trip to Krabi.
Hostels in Krabi (click for more)
Pak-Up Hostel: $7/night
Hotels in Krabi (click for more)
Krabi is slightly more expensive than other places in Thailand because it is so popular although accommodation is still very cheap.
Simple House Ao Nang: $15/night or $7.50 per person
Krabi Golden Hill Hotel: $23/night or $11.50/person
2-3 days: Koh Samui
If you are on an extreme budget, I recommend you avoid this island, but if you have the budget definitely stop here. You can skip this island and go on to the next one from Krabi.
Koh Samui is one of the more popular islands, which makes it a little pricier than other places in Thailand, but for good reasons
How to get to Koh Samui
To get to Koh Samui, you take a shuttle and Ferry. You can book a package on 12goasia for $10-$20
Things to do in Koh Samui
This is a pretty large island so I recommend renting a motorbike and exploring it on your own to save money. Motorbikes cost around $6-$8 per day depending on what you find.
See the Big Buddha
Beaches to chill at
- Chaweng for drinks and food (it's the busiest I recommend going to other beaches too)
- Lipa Noi
- Bang Por
- Lamai Beach
There are plenty of watersports such as jet-skiing, snorkeling, etc. to offer. You can book them right on the beach and pretty much anywhere on the island for a lower cost vs. booking online ahead of time.
Hike the Nathon Mountain Ridge Trail or the Maenam Viewpoint
Visit Na Muang falls
- There is a small fee to park your motorbike here, but the waterfall is free to visit
Day party at Seen beach club (avoid if you are trying to save $)
Where to Stay in Koh Samui
As mentioned above, Koh Samui is one of the priciest islands so I highly recommend booking a Hostel.
Hostels on Koh Samui (click for more)
My favorite Hostel here was Lub D. This hostel is extremely modern and located right on Chaweng Beach. It has lots of entertainment and an infinity pool overlooking the ocean. I highly recommend staying here. Dorm rooms cost about $15/night.
Hotels in Koh Samui (click for more)
There are lots of hotel options here for good prices on Booking.com that you can find on a budget. Below are also some more recommendations
Bangpo Village: $25/night or $12.50 per person
Baan Sukreep Resort: $41/night or $20 per person
If you are looking for luxury accommodation in Thailand, Koh Samui is the perfect island for that. The island offers unique luxury accommodations that many include private infinity pools overlooking the ocean.
2-3 days: Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan is one of my favorite islands in Thailand. You can understand why by reading my post about the best islands to visit in Thailand. To make it short and sweet, Koh Phangan has SO much to offer from adventures to beaches to nightlife to immaculate sunsets. It truly is its own paradise. Make sure to rent a motorbike to get the full experience of what this island has to offer.
How to get to Koh Phangan
From either Koh Samui (if you choose to make that stop) or Krabi, you can take a shared van and a ferry over to Koh Phangan very easily for a low cost.
Things to do in Koh Phangan
Attend one of the famous full moon parties (make sure to book accommodation and transportation 2 months in advance at least)
Beaches I recommend you visit
- Haad Salad
- Haad Yuan
- Secret beach
- Leela Beach resort (this beach has a beautiful swing pictured below. It’s on a resort so be respectful of the people staying there. There is no fee to enter the resort beach)
Watch the sunset (free to enter both places!)
- Top rock bar
- Amsterdam bar
- Bottle Beach viewpoint (Starts at bottle beach and is pretty much a straight-up hike. Hike views pictured below!)
- Khao Ra Mountain (starts at Khao Ra Retreat and you can follow the marked path for the hike)
Thong Sala Night Market
Where to Stay in Koh Phangan
My friends and I stayed at Jungle Vibes Hostel. I couldn’t recommend this place more. The owner was so friendly. He gave us tons of suggestions of where we should explore. He also offered free tours of the island such as the bottle beach hike. He threw the most fun pregame before the full moon party and lastly, also rented out our motorbikes to us. It's around $6 per night for a dorm bed
Hostels in Koh Phangan (click for more)
Some of my friends stayed at Eco Beach Hostel and loved it. The cost is only $5/night.
Phangan Arena $5/night
Nomad House $7/night
Bodega Beachfront Hostel $11/night
You can find many budget hotel options on Koh Phangan as well if you’d rather not stay at a hostel. Below are some of my recommendations
Bottle Beach 2 Bungalows: $20/night or $10 per person
The Cosy: $15-$30/night or $15 per person
Tiki Beach: $25/night or $12.50 per person
Malibu Beach Bungalows: $35/night or $17.50 per person
Little Paradise: $30/night or $15 per person
Zama Resort: $40/night or $20 per person
2-3 days: Koh Tao
If snorkeling and scuba diving is your thing, you will definitely want to make a stop on this island. Koh Tao (known as turtle island) has some of the best diving/snorkeling sites in Thailand.
How to get to Koh Tao
From Koh Phangan, you can take the Ferry by booking it on 12goasia.
Things to do in Koh Tao
Koh Tao is one of the cheapest places in the world to get scuba certified. You can do it for only $300! I recommend doing the course with Mojo Divers
Top Diving and Snorkeling Spots in Koh Tao
- Tanote Bay
- Aow Leuk
- Mango Bay
- White Rocks
- Japanese Gardens
Visit Koh Nang Yuan
- It is easy to get to the island. Take a taxi boat from Sairee Beach every time of the day. Don’t pay more than 250THB ($8 USD) per person for a return trip. Note that the island closes at 5pm and that there is an entrance fee of 100THB ($3 USD), but believe me it is all worth it
- This island is beautiful because its connected by sandbars with other islands
Beaches to Visit
- Freedom Beach
- Mango Bay
- Sairee Beach (the most popular)
- Sai Daeng
- Sai Nuan Beach (get here from Mae Haad pier and bring a snorkel too!)
Watch the sunset at Mango Bay Viewpoint
Where to stay in Koh Tao
Hostel recommendations (click for more)
Summer Hostel $5/night
Koh Tao My Hostel (hostel right on the beach with places to relax. Good if you want nightlife as well!) $7-$10/night
The Dearly Hostel (Newley remodeled, equipped with a pool, bar, yoga room, and more) $15/night
Hotels in Koh Tao (click for more)
If you’re looking for something more private there are many affordable hotel options here. Booking.com is always a good website to use for discounted hotels. I have also linked some budget recommendations down below.
Nat Resort Koh Tao: $12/night or $6 per person
Koh Tao Hillside Resort: $23/night or $11.50 per person
Take the Ferry and either the Sleeper bus back to Bangkok
This trip will be around $40
OPTIONAL ISLAND TO VISIT UPON ARRIVAL BACK TO BANGKOK: 2 days Koh Kood
I would highly suggest you make a trip to Koh Kood once you return to Bangkok. Koh Kood is located on the opposite side of the country, almost near Cambodia. You can read all about this island on my post about Favorite Islands in Thailand.
How to get to Koh Kood
From Bangkok, you can book a round trip sleeper bus, ferry & taxi to accommodation package on 12goasia for around only $40 bucks
What to do in Koh Kood
Beaches to visit
- Ao Noi Beach (in my opinion, the best beach in ALL of Thailand)
- Bang Bao Beach (good for sunset!)
- Ao Tapao Beach
Waterfall rope swing at Klong Chao Waterfall
Where to stay in Koh Kood
Hostels on Koh Kood (click for more)
My friends and I booked a hostel called Eve’s House. The owners were able to rent us motorbikes for only $7/day and give us recommendations of where to go and what to see.
Hotels in Koh Kood (click for more)
Pink Kangaroo Bungalows $15/night or $7.50 per person
Ao Salat View $20/night or $10 per person
Siam Beach Resort (has a beautiful walk-out pier on the ocean): $35/night or $17.50 per person
I-Lay House (located right on the beach with amazing amenities such as hammocks, kayaks and a beach bar) $38/night or $19 per person
Now that you have everything you need for the perfect trip to Thailand, it's time to start planning! For additional custom itineraries, travel consulting, or questions about Thailand, don’t hesitate to reach out to me and book a call! I am here to help you plan your dream trip to Thailand. Happy traveling! K̄hxbkhuṇ (thank you in Thai)!!!