Seven days in Malaysia and Thailand makes for a short but sweet itinerary. Savour your days in each thriving capital city, sampling street food and sights in equal measure, before heading to the coast. Spending a minimum of two days in each destination is the best way to get a feel for each place. Our handcrafted itinerary covers three destinations, with options to select from Malaysia and Thailand’s highlights depending on your interests. Opt for a coastal city getaway or beach-side escape while discovering the bustling capitals of two very different countries. This itinerary is perfect for anyone who wants to discover two countries in a limited amount of time.

Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur (2 days)

Malaysia’s capital is a melting pot of cultures and cuisines. Kuala Lumpur has a bustling, metropolitan centre where the iconic Petronas Towers illuminate the skyline. The shambling streets of Bukit Bintang are a shopping mecca and street food haven.

Spend your first day in the city centre, ascending the Petronas Towers for panoramic views across the city. Families with kids can spend hours in the Petrosains Discovery Center, an interactive museum within the tower. Head to Bukit Bintang for an afternoon of shopping in the malls, or get in touch with nature at the Botanic Gardens where you can enjoy the Bird Park, Orchid Garden and Butterfly Farm.

Head to Jalan Alor for dinner where plastic furniture spills out of open restaurant fronts and satay is grilled in the open air. Or, for a slice of fine dining with the best views in town, head up to the KL Tower revolving restaurant.

Escape the city crowds on day two with a day trip to the Batu Caves. Just a 35-minute train journey from KL Sentral, this site of holy pilgrimage is easy to do in just half a day.

Head back into the city to experience one of the world’s best aquariums at KLCC Aquarium or perhaps try one of the city’s many theme parks hidden within shopping malls, or in the open air with water slides for the hot weather.

Thailand

Bangkok (2 Days)

Packed with temples, palaces, atmospheric canals and streets beating with life, you need to spend at least two days in Bangkok. Airlines like Air Asia, Thai Airways and Malaysia Airways run direct flights from Kuala Lumpur with a flight time of just over two hours. Flights depart and arrive throughout the day.

Begin your Bangkok experience in the heart of the Old City, where street eateries and canal-side cafés line narrow alleys for breakfast or lunch. Head to the Royal Palace where pagoda-roofed temples and golden stupas make for picture perfect scenes. Visit the nearby Wat Po, a temple complex built for royalty with unique stupas covered in intricate mosaics.

If you’re a social butterfly, spend the evening eating and drinking on Khao San Road where bass thuds from the bars and everyone wants to sell you a cheap drink deal. For a more laid-back vibe, head to the adjacent Rambuttri Street, lined with bars and restaurants blaring Bob Marley rather than frenzied dance tracks.

On day two, stay in the city and perhaps tour the canals by boat, either public taxi from pier to pier or an organised canal boat tour. This is the perfect way to get a feel for day-to-day life in the Thai capital. If you haven’t had your fill of temples, head up to the top of the Golden Mountain Temple, rising above the shambling city.

Get a slice of market life in the city centre with a walk through Chinatown. Or, head out of the city to one of the floating markets where fresh food and handicrafts can be bought from colourful wooden boats. Damnoen Saduak floating market on the outskirts of the city is the most popular.

There is so much street food to sample in Bangkok that even two weeks in the city wouldn’t cover it. Take a street food tour in the evening to cram as many gastronomic delights in as possible, with an expert local guide.

Pattaya or Phuket (2 Days)

After Bangkok you could either head to the pristine beaches and party towns of Phuket or the alluring mix of electric nightlife, beach-side fun and ancient traditions of Pattaya.

Two days in Pattaya can fly by. You could spend the first day embracing the variety of watersports available on the city’s beach. Try your hand at flyboarding, windsurfing and jet-skiing. Or just kick back at one of the beach bars and relax with a view out over the water. Families with kids can take advantage of the amazing waterparks in Pattaya, like Cartoon Network Amazone Waterpark, filled with flumes and rides.

Find Pattaya’s cultural side at Wat Phra Khao Yai, or the Big Buddha Hill, where a giant golden buddha overlooks a stunning view. If you missed out on the floating markets of Bangkok, head to Pattaya Floating Market where women from across the province sell their wares from colourful wooden boats. At night the city bursts to life, brimming with clubs, bars and fabulous cabaret shows.

Two days in Phuket can be spent whiling away the hours on the stunning beaches. Patong Beach is the most popular, but you can also head to Karon or Kata beach for uninterrupted views of the turquoise Andaman Sea from the bone-white sand. In the evening head the Bangla Road for the best nightlife in Phuket.

Spend a day exploring the islands off Phuket, like Koh Phi Phi where The Beach was filmed and James Bond Island in the striking Phang Nga Bay.

Pattaya is closer to Bangkok and much easier to reach without taking a flight. Most people use the frequent buses to reach Pattaya and travel time is around 2 hours. It’s a vibrant coastal city, so anyone looking for jumping nightlife, or a continuation of Thai cultural sights like temples and floating markets should pick Pattaya.

Phuket offers more by way of beaches, and you can easily get away from the hustle and bustle of towns for a romantic retreat. If you’re looking for peace and quiet at the end of your trip, Phuket is your best option. Activities are mostly beach-based, and if you’re looking for cultural experiences like temples and local markets you might be disappointed with Phuket. Getting to Phuket from Bangkok is easiest by plane, as trains/buses take more than a day.

Summary

You can cram a lot of action into seven days in Malaysia and Thailand and still leave room for relaxation at the end of the trip. Our itinerary covers the very best of Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok and gives you a chance to unwind on an idyllic tropical beach or chill out in an infamous coastal party town so you can sample both countries and still feel like you’ve had a holiday.