There is so much to see and do in Thailand that we almost don’t know where to begin! No matter the kind of traveller you are, you’re bound to find something in Thailand that stirs up your senses and creates a holiday worth remembering.

Ideally, if you want to cover the best areas of Thailand, a two-week vacation will take you to its main regions and give you a real taste of its different aspects like beaches, parties, shopping, food, spas, temples, and natural beauty. You should spend at least two days in a city to get a glimpse of what the it actually has to offer.

However, if you only have about 7-10 days in hand to explore one of the world’s most exhilarating countries, we’ve put together a city-wise itinerary for you to make the most of your time.

Ideal for: This itinerary will work for those who prefer to spend their holiday out and about, while still being at an easy pace. City as well as beach lovers will find their time split evenly between the urban humdrum and the shoreline tranquility, with a little bit of partying and shopping thrown in.

Bangkok: 3 Days

The city of Bangkok is huge; every corner you turn will give you something new to experience. It’s unlike any other city in the world, with its bustling streets, colourful neon signs, food, and shopping lanes and an undying enthusiasm to stay up all night!

Things to do:

  • History, culture and tourism buffs can head to temples like Wat Arun, Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Pho, the Grand Palace, and sail down Chao Phraya River.
  • Revel in the upbeat vibe of Khao San Road, especially at night.
  • Spend a few hours in the busy canal markets of Damnoen Saduak Floating Market or Amphawa Floating Market.
  • Shop to your heart’s content in the lanes and malls of Siam.
  • Explore the neighbourhoods of Chinatown and Bangrak for their food markets, art galleries, and temples.
  • Catch a Muay Thai night fight at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium.
  • History and culture buffs can take a day trip to Ayutthaya or Kanchanaburi to see what small town living in Thailand is like.
  • Beach lovers can catch a bus to Pattaya or hop on a ferry to Koh Samet and spend a day lounging on a beach with a drink in their hand.
Tip: Stick to three days in Bangkok even for a 7-day trip, to cover the most important sights and experiences. 

Chiang Mai: 2 Days

It’s important to get an authentic taste of Thailand and its local cultures and traditions and Chiang Mai in northern Thailand offers just that. Hundreds of temples call this city their home, and it’s also a mecca for food lovers looking to try some lip smacking local delicacies. Families and expats have a great time here, as do culture lovers, architecture aficionados, and history buffs.

Things to do:

  • Visit the temples of Wat Chiang Man, Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phra Doi Suthep in the Old City.
  • Visit the Elephant Nature Park to learn about the animals in their natural habitat, and learn to care for them and protect them.
  • Watch the Chiang Mai Night Market come alive as the sun comes down, and stock up on souvenirs, clothes, and small items at cheap rates.

Phuket: 2 Days

Thailand’s largest and busiest island is a riot of local experiences. The area is huge and often hard to see entirely in a few days, owing to the meld of experiences on offer.

The eateries and clubs on the beaches are booming with activity during the core tourism months, but Phuket is just one of those islands that’s on the beach lover’s list all year round. You can find a bit of everything here; from relatively quiet beaches to wild nightclubs, and night shopping markets to traditional sightseeing spots.

Things to do:

  • Sit back and enjoy the sunset on Freedom beach or Kata beach.
  • Watch pulsating crowds flit in and out of beach restaurants on Patong beach.
  • Watch the night unfurl amidst colourful lights on Soi Bangla, Soi Tiger, and Soi Seadragon.
  • Get a panoramic view of the island from the Big Buddha statue atop a hill.
  • Navigate your boat through the stunning Phang Nga Bay as you explore lagoons, caves, and limestone cliffs.

The Islands: 3 Days

scuba diving on Koh TaoHillary Chu | Ithaka

What is Thailand without its islands? Countering the urban hustle and bustle of Bangkok, the pristine isles of Thailand are virtually uncountable and positively unmatched in terms of their beauty. The lush green bodies of rock and sand sit amidst blue-green waters with colourful boats bobbing in them as towering limestone cliffs and a blazing horizon vie for attention.

The vibe is relaxed, tranquil, and fun, as you feel the soft sand between your toes. You can even get some sand in your hair at a lively midnight beach party. You can pick from hundreds of islands based on what you like and how you’d like to chalk out your activities, but we’ve listed a few must-see ones to break it down.

Things to do:

  • Soak up the Thai culture with other travellers and experience pure island life on Koh Phi Phi.
  • Spend some quality time with your partner on the secluded beaches of Koh Lipe.
  • Pack in a complete holiday experience with beach clubs, spas, and tourist sights on Koh Samui.
  • Attend the legendary full moon beach parties on Koh Pha Ngan.
  • Get your dose of adrenaline with diving among marine life, scuba diving, and hiking on Koh Tao.
 Tip: A number of islands in Thailand are quite close to each other. You can easily hop onto a ferry and do some island hopping while sticking to one accommodation on one of the larger islands. 

Ithaka Pro-Tips

  • Thailand is a tropical country, so except for a few months of the year, it is quite hot and humid. Rainfall is also common in most places throughout the year. Carry sunblock, bug spray, a hat and an umbrella.
  • Some days of sightseeing can be hectic and involve a lot of walking. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes for long days out.
  • Fleecing and scamming tourists is quite common. Be aware of your surroundings, take care of your belongings and ask the locals for help if needed.
  • You can bargain freely for street wares but don’t go too low so as to disrespect the shop owner.
  • When eating out, eat at places and street stalls that are popular and running busy so you know the food is hygienic. Also, carry bottled water with you everywhere you go.
  • Respect the local traditions, people, and way of life. You’ll get the best out of the country if you do.