Thailand Budget Travel Guide

Itinerary advice, top places to visit, and tips for traveling in Thailand

Once just a haven for intrepid backpackers, nowadays Thailand is one of the most-visited tourist destinations in the world. Different parts of Thailand cater to different crowds—from wide-eyed adventurers at the start of a big journey to throngs of package tourists on a lazy holiday.

That means to get the experience you’re looking for you have to know where to go!

The Blue Temple in Chiang Rai

Yep, there’s the island of Koh Phi Phi, the Full Moon Party, or Bangkok’s tourist street of Khao San; these places get mentioned every time. They can be fun, even though they’re a little tacky and overhyped.

But there’s much more to Thailand, and in this guide I will try to highlight some other best places to visit, a few places to avoid, and give you some general Thailand travel tips.

To be honest, if you’ve already lived with goat herders in Kazakhstan or battled frostbite on Mt Everest, then maybe Thailand is not quite adventurous enough for you. But if you’re just looking for something fun and exotic, then it’s the perfect country to visit.

From Golden Buddhist temples to buzzing night markets, and from its delicious food to its gorgeous coastline, it’s easy to see why Thailand remains ever so popular.

Bangkok’s tourist district of Khao San

Where to go in Thailand

Before listing some of the key places to visit, let me give you an overview of Thailand. The map below shows some of the top travel destinations.

While it can be fun to go off the beaten track, most people will inevitably end up in many of these places:

Map of Thailand with some of the top places to visit

When creating your route, it’s a good idea to go to the north first. You will find more cultural and natural attractions there, and many people think it’s nice to tick these off the list before heading to the coast. If you go to the southern beaches straight away, you might just get stuck in a hammock and not do anything else!

Northern Thailand

This region is more mountainous, has cooler temperatures, and is more relaxed. With its misty mountains and lush valleys, the region is popular for jungle trekking and for visiting indigenous hill tribes.

The main city Chiang Mai has super low prices and an easygoing atmosphere, making it a great base from which to explore. Three hours north of Chiang Mai is the small town of Pai, a funky backpacker hangout amid a rural landscape with rice fields, hot springs, and waterfalls.

Northwest of Chiang Mai is the Mae Hong Son province, Thailand’s least populous region. For a great road trip, you can rent scooters and ride the Mae Hong Son loop through these tranquil backwaters of Thailand, starting and ending in Chiang Mai or Pai.

To the northeast, the province of Chiang Rai is also worth checking out. It has good trekking, some amazing mountain views, and it’s a nice stepping stone for onward travel to Laos.

One of several waterfalls around Pai in northern Thailand

Central Thailand

Besides the capital of Bangkok, of particular note in Central Thailand are the archaeological sites of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, both filled with the crumbled remains of ancient Buddhist temples.

About 120km from Bangkok is the small riverside city of Kanchanaburi, made famous by the movie Bridge over the River Kwai. It has a minor traveler scene, and it is a good base for visiting historical sites, waterfalls, and Sai Yok National Park.

Southern Thailand

The south of Thailand is all about the beaches and islands.

The west coast along the Andaman Sea has some of the most developed resorts in Thailand, with Phuket focused mainly on fly-and-flop package holidays. Phuket (and Patong) honestly aren’t  great places to be for an independent traveler. I think Ao Nang beach and Khao Sok National Park make for nice stops around here, as do the islands of Koh Lanta, Koh Lipe or Koh Kradan.

The east coast has fewer islands, but thanks to a shorter monsoon they can be enjoyed almost year-round. Koh Samui has its own airport and is mainly home to upmarket holiday resorts.  Koh Phangan and Koh Tao are more popular with backpackers and scuba divers respectively.

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Places to visit in Thailand

Opinions will always differ on the best places to visit in Thailand, but I think the following are some of the must-see highlights that are worth adding to your itinerary.

See Bangkok’s Grand Palace and temples

The palatial grounds in Bangkok were long the nerve center of the Siamese kingdom. The vast complex is full of throne halls, royal residences, and golden Buddhist temples, and nowadays most of the court and temples are open to visitors. The Grand Palace and royal temple of Wat Phra Kaew [map] are typically open from 8.30 am to 3.30pm. It’s a good idea to go in the morning when there are fewer people there. Later in the day, it can get pretty rammed! Admission fee is 500 Baht.

Just around the corner from the Grand Palace is also Wat Pho, or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, which was once a traditional medicine education center and is the birthplace of the traditional Thai massage. It houses a 46 meters long gilded reclining Buddha statue, and the temple itself features beautifully intricate detailing.

From the riverbank near Wat Pho, you can take a ferry across to the other side, where you can marvel at Wat Arun (also known as the Temple of Dawn). From the top of this tallest temple in Bangkok, you get some great views of the city.

These are some of Bangkok’s prime tourist sights, so don’t expect to be alone! The temples open at 8:00 and this can be a great time to visit, as most tour groups arrive later in the day.


Get lost in Bangkok’s Chinatown

For a great taste of the vibrant hustle-and-bustle of Bangkok, go to the Chinatown district [map] and get lost in its maze of markets and narrow alleys. You’ll see fishmongers chopping fish, welders fixing equipment, and exotic foodstuffs for sale—all amid a sea of Thai and Chinese neon signage.

This beehive of commercial activity is a feast for the eyes and a fantastic place for street photography. Put your map or phone with GPS away and just wander around, and don’t be afraid to explore the little alleys where you can find some of the hidden local markets.


Explore hidden Bangkok

Can you believe this is actually in a suburb of Bangkok?

One of the most fun things I did in Bangkok was to take a bicycle tour through some of the less-visited neighborhoods, followed by a longboat tour of rural Bangkok. It’s a side of Bangkok that relatively few get to see. You can find many different bicycle tours here, most of which take you into the outskirts of Bangkok and let you explore local markets and temples.

A bicycle tour is not the only way to get a different perspective; the Withlocals platform provides walking tours run by locals, as well as dining experiences at local Thai homes, which can add a more meaningful twist to your Bangkok visit.

Our detailed guide to Bangkok helps you find the best local neighborhoods to explore!


Stay in funky Aree in Bangkok

If you’re a budget traveler in Bangkok for the first time, chances are you’ll end up in Banglamphu (which has the famed backpacker district of Khao San Road) or in the Silom or Phayathai areas. These are all in downtown, putting you right in the middle of Bangkok’s love-it-or-hate-it chaos. All of these are good areas to stay if you want to be close to the action.

Many visitors feel overwhelmed by Bangkok initially, but grow to appreciate it more on subsequent visits. Since Bangkok is such a key travel hub, you are likely to pass through more than once — and if you do, it’s nice to stay in Aree (or Ari) [map] on your second visit.

It’s not quite as close to the sights, but it’s an oasis of calm and a world apart from Khao San. It’s mainly locals, expats, and travelers-in-the-know who hang out here, with just a few top rated hostels and guesthouses tucked away in its residential streets. Foodies shouldn’t miss the nearby Boat Noodle Alley.


See the ruined capital of Sukhothai

The ruins of Sukhothai in central Thailand – photo credit

The ancient capital of Sukhothai, once the heart of the Siamese empire, is now a complex of temple ruins that makes for a perfect stop if traveling between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The ancient ruins are spread amongst multiple zones, and those interested in the history can easily spend several days here. Even on a shorter visit, it’s worth spending the night so that you can have at least one full day the site.

The historical park is more compact than Angkor Wat in Cambodia or Bagan in Myanmar, and most easily explored by bicycle.


Stroll Chiang Mai’s night markets

Every evening, the center of Chiang Mai comes alive with a massive street market. You can find anything here ranging from genuinely lovely handicraft souvenirs to Thai bootleg DVDs. The Night Bazaar has a friendly atmosphere and is worth going even if you don’t intend to buy anything, with all manner of restaurants and entertainment clustered around the market streets.

The regular night market takes place every day, though there are two separate night markets on the weekend that tend to have more authentic or higher quality wares. It’s worth timing your stay in Chiang Mai to coincide with the weekend markets. The Saturday evening market is along Wualai Street, while the Sunday Market goes through the old town along Ratchadamonoen Road. For more, check out our travel guide to Chiang Mai, which includes some local and less-known highlights.


Feed gentle giants at Elephant Nature Park

Time for a confession: the first time I was in Thailand I rode an elephant. I didn’t know anything about how they get tortured when they’re young (so they will later obey commands) or any of the other animal welfare abuses. The mahouts assured us everything was fine, but they were pulling wool over our eyes.

Thankfully, there are now more enlightened elephant parks that have stopped the practice of riding the elephants (so they don’t need to be horrifically broken in). Instead, they invite visitors to merely feed and wash these beautiful gentle giants. Elephant Nature Park near Chiang Mai is known for its ethical practices.


Go on a hill tribe trek

Numerous trekking companies organize one- or multi-day treks around Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Pai, passing through green rice paddies and lush jungles, and stopping by some of the hill tribe villages along the way.

The people in these traditional villages live in wooden houses on stilts, and while they have facilities like water tanks and solar panels, they usually still cook over wood fires and live on subsistence farming. Someone in the village will typically prepare a meal for you, which you eat while sitting on the floor. On multi-day treks, you’ll be offered a homestay in one of these villages.

A hill tribe trek is a perfect way to enjoy the landscapes of northern Thailand while gaining a cultural perspective as well. Remember to be respectful and only take pictures of people if they allow.


Chill in hippie getaway Pai

Pai in northern Thailand – photo credit

Once a rural backwater, over the years the tiny village of Pai evolved into a key spot on the Thailand travel trail. Accommodation consists mostly of bungalows, hostels, and funky tree house resorts. While it’s been a couple of years since I was last in Pai, people tell me its laidback vibe hasn’t changed, despite more Chinese and Western package tourists making their way here. One of our contributors more recently spent several months there and shares her top tips for staying in Pai.

There’s a great bar scene that’s a bit more down-to-earth than in southern Thailand. Mini day trips to the Mo Paeng and Pam Bok waterfalls, the Pai Canyon, hot springs, and an odd little sight called the Land Crack can keep you busy for several days. It’s best to rent a motorbike so you can explore the area on your own.


See Tham Lod cave

Along the Mae Hong Song loop in northeast Thailand you’ll find a small town called Soppong (also known as Pang Mapha), a beautiful place from where you can explore countless caves and caverns.

Tham Lod is the largest of these caves, which you enter on bamboo rafts and explore just by the flickering light of a gas lamp. You’ll see some prehistoric 1,700-year-old coffins along the way, and if you time your visit well, you can witness hundreds of thousands of swifts leave the jungle and fly into the cave to rest for the night. This is, in a word, epic.

Other smaller caves in the area let you swim through cave rivers, crawl through crevices that just barely fit a person, and gasp at underground waterfalls. Guided treks are available via the Cave Lodge, which is a quiet and rustic base for hikers and spelunkers in the middle of the forest.


Explore Chiang Rai Province

The road to Mae Salong, Chiang Rai Province

While not undiscovered, the northeast of Thailand isn’t included in most standard itineraries, making it a nice alternative region to check out. Chiang Rai city has a relaxed atmosphere and a couple of attractions, including some unique contemporary Buddhist temples (very different from others you may have already seen).

But the city is best used as a base for exploring the surrounding Chiang Rai province. With its rice fields, forests, and gentle hills, it’s a good region for trekking and cycling. Multiple peaks along the border with Laos offer breathtaking views, with lower areas often shrouded in mist in the early morning. Another highlight is Mae Salong, a charming village surrounded by tea plantations settled on a hilltop north of Chiang Rai.


See the craggy cliffs of Krabi

The province of Krabi is famed for its beached ringed by tall karst cliffs. The most iconic of these are Ao Nang beach and the beaches of Railay (or Rai Leh), a peninsula reached only by longtail boat from Ao Nang. The beach itself has only high-end resorts, but you can still find some medium-budget options towards the back. Since Railay beach is getting increasingly busy, consider perhaps staying in Ao Nang or Krabi (where there is more space and more accommodation) and taking a day-trip to Railay.

The scenery is impressive and worth seeing despite the crowds — be sure to climb up to the lagoon and viewpoint. The area is also world-famous for its rock climbing, with introductory courses and equipment rental available in Railey, Ao Nang or Krabi Town.


Discover Khao Sok National Park

Khao Sok is a wildlife reserve in southern Thailand. It’s a spectacular park, featuring lakes with floating bamboo houses, and limestone karst often rising from the jungles. Spending some time here on a 2-day (or longer) excursion is a great way to add some adventure to what will inevitably be a very beaches-and-islands focused part of your trip to the south.

There are several trails from Khao Sok village that you can walk independently, though most of them technically require a guide. Organised tours are a little easier in practice and often include additional activities such as kayaking, bamboo rafting, caving, ziplining, wildlife spotting, or overnighting in the jungle. You can easily book tours from most guesthouses and locations in Krabi.


Relax on Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta might not be as instantly photogenic as other islands; while it has nice beaches, it lacks the craggy cliffs of Krabi or the hillside views of Koh Tao or Ko Phangan. But maybe that’s why Koh Lanta has stayed pleasantly low-key, offering family-friendly resorts along Khlong Khong beach along with a sprinkling of backpacker hostels mainly on Long Beach.

This island is large enough to want to rent a motorbike to see it all, but still small enough to feel like an island. A few caves, a lighthouse, some snorkeling spots, and waterfalls are some of the key sights to check out on Koh Lanta. It’s a great choice for something a bit more chilled out.


Party on Koh Phangan

Koh Phangan is famed for its Full Moon Party, which once began as a psychedelic hippie beach bonfire but since grew into a massively commercialized event attracting tens of thousands of drunken revelers every month. For many, it’s the key reason to visit. But outside of the Full Moon and Half-Moon events, Koh Phangan also happens to be much more than just a party island.

For secluded beaches with affordable bungalows, you only need to go to the west or northwest parts of the island. Bottle Beach in the north is even downright isolated, blissfully removed from the crowds in the south where the parties take place.


Snorkel & dive on Koh Tao

Koh Tao hosts the largest concentration of scuba diving schools in Asia (and quite possibly the world), with high competition resulting in unbeatable prices. If you ever wanted to become a certified SCUBA diver, it’s one of the most convenient places to do it.

I got my Open Water (4 days) and Advanced (2 days) on Koh Tao with Big Blue Diving, which I can highly recommend if you’re looking for a school with a fun and sociable atmosphere. The reefs aren’t the best if you’re already an experienced diver, but beginners can see many fishes, rays, and sea turtles in calm waters.

Koh Tao is also a pretty laid-back island due to being the furthest from shore in this island group. It’s got some very nice beaches, many with a sociable atmosphere where you can have drinks and watch fire shows in the evenings.


Escape to Koh Chang

Most people go to Thailand’s southern islands, like the ones mentioned above. These are the most well-known and are usually easiest to fit into a route.

But Thailand also has a third island group off to the east, near Cambodia. The Koh Chang Archipelago may be a bit out of the way, but that has also sheltered it somewhat from large-scale development.

Koh Chang, the largest island, does get its share of package tourism. It also has a thriving party scene around Lonely Beach. But since not all of the beaches are sandy (some have rocks or pebbles) and since its large interior is mountainous and covered in jungle, it can still feel a little wild! There are plenty of quiet spots, and it’s a great island for hiking.

Siam Bay, Koh Kood

Koh Kood (a.k.a Koh Kut) is very picturesque and unspoiled. It’s mostly the domain of some isolated resorts, but it’s still possible to be an independent traveler on Koh Kood. This very quiet island is best for doing nothing at all.

Ferries to the islands depart from the town of Trat, which is about 5 hours by bus from Bangkok. More than just a transit point, Trat is a nice non-touristy place to stay for a night or two.


Practical information

Thailand sees millions of tourists a year but that does mean travelling there is pretty easy—even if you have little travel experience.

Flying to Thailand

Bangkok’s airports are amazingly well-connected internationally. You can often find cheap flight deals to Bangkok from around the world.

The above link goes to, which is a flight search engine with some pretty great tools for finding the best deals more easily. If you feel lost, I also have a tutorial on how to find the best flights.

Finding places to stay

Thailand has great accommodation for any budget, ranging literally from bohemian bamboo huts to 5-star luxury resorts. I have highlighted a few picks on this page (scroll up if you missed them).

If you like smaller independent hotels then I recommend searching on and They have the largest selections of independent and boutique hotels, and Agoda is also specialized in the Asia region. I have a few tips on how to find the best accommodation.

Keep in mind that if you’re backpacking in Thailand, it’s also possible to wing it and just look for places when you get there. There’s almost always something available, though your time is not always well spent just walking around town looking for a place, and it does help to book ahead to get the best beds or the best deals.

Hostels are an excellent option if you’re on a budget. They are often of fantastic quality in Thailand these days (forget the prison cell-like hostel you may have seen in The Beach!). I listed some of the best hostels in Thailand in its own article, but you’ll usually have a huge choice of hostels pretty much wherever any tourists go.

Getting around

Don’t worry too much about travel logistics as there are always plenty of options. You can usually book your trips at any reception desk, but there are also tons of little travel agencies everywhere.

  • Buses and minivans are cheap and convenient and can you can easily book them from hostels or local agencies. If you need to book online, try which has the widest coverage in Southeast Asia for buses, trains, ferries, and transfers.
  • Air travel is widely available with plenty of regional airports. AirAsia is the leading budget airline, offering a range of convenient island transfer packages from Bangkok which include connecting ferry tickets to the islands. You can also find plenty of options through Kiwi: here’s an example of flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Single tickets on this route can cost as little as €25 or $30.
  • Trains are a good option for travelling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in the north (these trains also go overnight) or from Bangkok and Surat Thani in the south. Travelling by train has a certain charm and romance that flying just doesn’t have. If you’re in Thailand for an adventure, I recommend taking the overnight at least once, as it can be quite a fun experience if you’re not in a rush.

You can use 12Go Asia below to search for transportation options:

Powered by 12Go Asia system


While Thai people do not so commonly speak English, those working in the tourism or service industry often do—or at least, they will be able to understand what you want to buy/order/etc. with minimal effort. Most signs are also in English, unless you venture far off the beaten track.


Thailand is quite safe. Crime does occur (just as in any country), so keep your belongings secure and always apply common sense.

While Thailand is relatively worry-free, scams targeting tourists can be a problem. Be firm with taxi drivers or they may try to rip you off. Also, make sure you take some photos of any bicycle, bike, water scooter or anything else you rent before any use, as a popular scam is to claim you have caused damage and need to pay compensation.

Cost of travel

You can travel in Thailand on a backpacking budget of about $30 USD a day (which is €27 or £20). This assumes you eat local and stay in hostels or basic guesthouses. My Southeast Asia cost of travel overview has more info and average prices.

The center and the north of Thailand are the cheapest. In Chiang Mai, for example, you can still find dorm beds starting at $5 a night, while the most affordable private room might cost about $10.

Things are more expensive in the south, particularly along the coasts and on the islands. Prices on Phi Phi Island, for instance, have drifted towards the mid-range, with dorm beds costing around $20 and a basic private room at least around $40. Even a budget traveler might see their expenses approach $50/day in the south, depending on season and location.

When is the rainy season?

Broadly speaking, the rainiest months are from September to October. The monsoon has a different length on each coast though: roughly May to October on the west coast and September until December on the east coast.

If you are in Thailand for a short time and need the weather to be ‘perfect,’ you may wish to go in the tourist high season of December to February. But outside of these months, you’ll have other advantages such as lower costs, more available accommodation, and fewer crowds. Even in rainy reason, it won’t rain all the time. Tropical rain showers are often intense but short-lived, and you can dry up pretty quickly. The forests and rice fields look greener and lusher during this time of year as well.

If you’re travelling through the Southeast Asia region, then keep in mind the monsoon in other countries can be the opposite of Thailand. For instance, Indonesia has its dry season from May to September, which is when it’s rainy season in most of Thailand, so you may wish to consider the order in which you visit the countries.

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  1. Souptik Biswas Reply December 24, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    How to book the overnight train?

  2. Serena Joy Reply October 30, 2018 at 9:39 am

    your article really makes me put Koh Tao in my top 3 destinations for next year! I have a friend who recently spent 3 weeks in Thailand and went diving in Koh Tao as well, she absolutely loved the Sail Rock ( and generally the whole island. she also fell in love with the food there and just remembering her food pics makes me crave it soooo badly!

  3. Dorota - Born Globals Reply October 3, 2018 at 8:49 am

    I spent two months this year in Thailand and I already dream about going back there. I focused on the Nothern part of the country last time so I sill have all the beautiful islands to explore. This could be my plan for upcoming January… 🙂
    Thanks for the tips!

  4. Tania Reply September 4, 2018 at 9:01 am

    Amazing tour guide regarding Thailand & every informative! In this single post, it contains all the information which fully describe the best places to see, stay & restaurants in the Thailand. If anyone asks me about best tour guide blog, then I would definitely suggest this.

  5. Niclas Reply July 19, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    I can’t wait to visit Thailand! Though many tourists visit, it just seems as such a beautiful country!:) Im visiting in January but am not quite sure what islands to focus on.I would like to try and get away from the “backpacking trail” if thats even possible.. Do you have any suggestions? Great post 🙂

    • Marek Reply July 19, 2018 at 5:33 pm

      Difficult but possible. The smaller islands on the Koh Chang archipelago are a good bet. Maybe Koh Kradan as well. 🙂

  6. Carlo Reply March 28, 2018 at 7:02 am

    Hi Marek, I love your website, you’re very helpful!

    Me and my girlfriend would like to pass one week in a place where we could be in complete contact with nature, whether it’s forests, volcanoes, hills or beaches (we wouldn’t dislike staying close to the sea but not just pass days sunbathing, you know).

    We live in Shanghai, so let’s say that for convenience we would consider only south Asia.
    We haven’t got experience as backpackers, also if we traveled a lot, mainly in Europe and Magreb.
    What would you suggest as a refreshing and breathtaking travel/adventure?
    Reading your blog we were considering Tahiland (so hard to choose from your guide), Palawan, Bali, Jeju island… But it’s so hard to choose, we would love to have your opinion.
    Thanks heaps!!!

    • Marek Reply April 12, 2018 at 2:06 pm

      Hard to say as Southeast Asia is so big! I like Northern Thailand for being in/around nature. Northwest Bali is good for that too (avoid the more built-up south). Palawan is awesome although El Nido and the lagoons are very busy these days. In the Philippines the Cebu/Bohol area can be awesome too… there’s fun hiking opportunities (search for osmena peak or casino peak), canyoning, etc.

      Just free-associating here for a bit 🙂 Hope it helps

  7. Tonkin-Travel Vietnam Reply January 24, 2018 at 8:05 am

    Really detailed guide to Thailand. In my opinion, Pai is the cozy and vibrant town, but it has the same situation with Sapa in Vietnam. Now both of them are too commercialized don’t bring me authentic experiences.

  8. Jamie Reply January 13, 2018 at 1:01 pm

    Hi Marek, really love this post and your blog in general. I’ve just spent a month in Thailand and I felt that it wasn’t enough time and this post backs that up! Will have to return in the future!

  9. valeria Reply December 2, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Hi Marek!!! Your blog it’s being my guide for days since I found it….Congrats! It’s amazing… I’ll be travelling on January, and I’d like to give more time to temples and ruins instead of the beaches… I’d like to go to Sukhothai, and I’m thinking it would be a ood choice to get there from Chiang Mai….before going to Angkor Wat and get further away. What do you think?? What would u do in terms of public transport??? I’d appreciate so much your response… Thanks for all the info you share with the world…So grateful!

    • Marek Reply December 2, 2017 at 2:43 pm

      Hey Valeria. Yeah, Sukhothai is definitely worth it 🙂 There are plenty of buses going from Chiang Mai. Takes about 4 hours if I recall correctly.

  10. Klara Reply October 22, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Dear Marek,

    I am a Czech girl from Prague who will travel alone. I will arrive in Bangkok on October 27th and leave back from Bangkok on November 24. So I have a month. I came up with the the following itinerary trying to get the most out of my Thailand/Vietnam experience while being able to enjoy it and without feeling rushed.

    I enjoy beautiful nature,interesting markets and people, fish markets, anything exotic, adventure, beautiful beaches with crystal clear water, places with a great vibe and atmosphere, exotic getaways, great Thai food, vibrant as well as untouched beaches and more.


    1) I will arrive in Bangkok on October 27th and without leaving the airport, immediately take a flight to Chiang Mai.In Chiang Mai (I have not booked that flight yet as I keep my options opened), I will stay for one week to explore all the highlights and must sees in that area leaving Chiang Mai on November 3rd (and might possibly consider to stay until Sunday November 5th to witness that amazing parade of that famous festival on the evening and leaving Chiang Mai on Monday November 6th instead (do not know if that is not too long though)

    2) Take a flight from Chiang Mai to Krabi and do the following in 7 to 10 days:

    Enjoy Krabi and then I might go to Khao Lak and possibly include Khao Sok park as well (however I read that guided tours there are extremely expensive and without them, it is not worth it and difficult to go there…is this true?). From Khao Lak, I am thinking about taking a 3 day snorkeling liveaboard to the Similan Islands (Is this worth it during this time of the year? I am not sure about this and would greatly appreciate other options and ideas) After Khao Lak, I would go to Koh Yao Yai. There is a ferry between Koh Yao Yai, Koh Yao Noi (a nearby, smaller, but more populated/developed island), and Phuket island

    3) Take a flight to Saigon and do the following in 7 to 10 days:

    a) Explore Saigon

    b)Relaxing in Nha Trang

    c)Explore Hanoi and Halong Bay

    4) Take a flight back to Bangkok (maybe spend a day in Bangkok as I have been there before and spend a week there) before taking a flight back home.

    Questions to part 1 of itinerary: What are the absolute highlights and must sees in Chiang Mai and the surrounding areas that are just amazing? I mean I have my ideas but I would like to get your ideas and suggestions as I am trying to avoid wasting time through tourist traps where you get there and say to yourself why the hell did I come here? Also, is 10 days too much time staying in Chiang Mai exploring all it and the surrounding areas have to offer considering I have 30 days overall?

    Questions to part 2 of itinerary: Is 7 to 10 days a good amount of time to explore the south Thai islands as indicated in my itinerary? Again, I am looking for must sees and highlights that significantly add to the overall experience that have that wow effect. Would you add something or leave something out? Any specific advice/suggestions greatly appreciated.

    Questions to part 3 of itinerary Vietnam: Is 7 to 10 days a good amount of time to explore Vietnam as indicated in my itinerary? Again, I am looking for must sees and highlights that significantly add to the overall experience that have that wow effect. Would you add something or leave something out?

    Any specific advice,suggestions and ideas are greatly appreciated.

    Thank you so much for your help.


    PS: Is this a smart itinerary for this time of the year and considering I have a month? I am open to any suggestions, ideas and advice to make the most out of my trip.

    • Marek Reply October 22, 2017 at 2:56 pm

      Hi Klara! Looks like you already did a lot of research and it sounds like a fine plan in general. Lots of questions here so let me answer a few quickly:
      – 10 days in Chiang Mai is quite a bit (given you have a month), but you can consider adding nearby places like Pai and Chiang Rai which only take a few hours to get to. Elephant Sanctuary (look for the ethical ones) near Chiang Mai is fantastic, doing a hill tribe trek is highly recommended as well… you could do an overnight trek given that you have some time.
      – Regarding Khao Sok, it depends what you consider expensive. You can find 2 or 3 day tours there for under $100. It’s true you do get a better experience with a tour as it usually includes kayaking on the lake and other activities. Doing it independently is more difficult.
      – Nha Trang is not that amazing… it’s got a pretty standard city beach, and you’ll have seen much better in Krabi by then. Maybe it’s worth flying to Da Nang instead and visiting Hoi An or something, then heading up to Hanoi. That will make your route in Vietnam a bit more manageable.
      – As far as I know liveaboards are mainly about the scuba diving with snorkeling often added for those who can’t dive… might be a pricey experience for multiple days of snorkeling, though I must admit I’ve not done such a trip (so maybe it’s totally amazing, not 100% sure!). Maybe google around to see if any snorkelers enjoyed it as much as the divers and read some reviews.

  11. Charlotte Haugaard Reply October 10, 2017 at 5:20 am

    Hi marek!

    Super Nice blog, i Can really use a lot of it! Im travelling around for 6 month, mostly Thailand.have to go to Cambodia for new visa though, and thought i would go to The northern part of Thailand aftewards. Do you have any advise of how to get there? I would prefer not flyingeniør to much, since i have a lot of time anyways 😉

    Best Charlotte

    • Marek Reply October 11, 2017 at 4:13 pm

      The quickest is a flight from Siem Reap to Chiang Mai. Otherwise take a bus to Bangkok from Cambodia, then an overnight train to Chiang Mai. is a good site to check for this sort of thing. 🙂

  12. Unconvinced Reply August 29, 2017 at 11:43 pm

    A little of horse shit about Pattaya, or perhaps you haven’t been there in a while. It used to be known for the hookers and American soldiers (and other sex driven tourists), but since the Russian invasion (starting in 2001 and finally running most of it by 2014) it has cleaned up a lot.
    No longer do you see old men with little boys, still there are hookers but in certain locations now, and it’s been changed to a place for families to go. Many new malls and updated resorts. Good restaurants and fun activities.
    Check it out again sometime.

    • Marek Reply September 5, 2017 at 9:00 pm

      Admittedly I dedicated a whopping 1 whole sentence to Pattaya (sorry) so not much nuance I guess. Though while it may be changing it’s very commercial (big malls, hotels, etc.) and aimed at Russian tourists. Not fitting the target audience of this page…

  13. Chris Reply August 11, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Hi Marek, I plan on travelling to Thailand and staying for a month sometime around December. I’ve never been before so this is a great itinerary to keep in mind. Thanks!

    • Marek Reply August 14, 2017 at 12:17 pm

      Glad it’s helpful!

  14. Alex Reply July 20, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    Hey! I know that this is a tough question but I only have one week to explore Thailand (plus an additional 3 days in Bangkok) and I was wondering what do you think is the best way to split my time? What would you recommend doing in just one week?

    • Marek Reply July 21, 2017 at 10:31 am

      I always struggle to answer this question! I usually have the luxury of more time available.

      It depends on what you like. If you want to focus on culture, nature, temples, etc. then you might as well spend that whole week in northern Thailand – e.g. around Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Pai. There’s just loads to see and do there.

      If you want to include some beach time as well, then maybe spend 4 days in Chiang Mai and go to, say, Koh Phangang for 3 days (which is easily reached by flight from Bangkok to Koh Samui, then ferry).

  15. Michelle Reply April 21, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    You have some excellent tips.

    I lived in Bangkok for 14 years (just left last year) and can’t wait to get back, as I miss just about everything about the country, the food, the culture and, of course, the amazing Thais 🙂

  16. Eric Reply March 26, 2017 at 10:42 pm

    Marek- thanks so much for this guide. Visiting my brother who lives in Beijing and we’re flying down to Thailand for 10 days. Not a ton of time obviously, but we’re adventurers and want to fit in what we can. Given the time constraint, do you definitely recommend flying to those destinations? How easy is it to navigate those airports in Chiang Mai and the other smaller areas?

    Again, this guide is the bomb, thanks!

    • Marek Reply March 27, 2017 at 11:33 am

      Thanks Eric. Yes, flying is a good idea if you don’t have that much time. Don’t worry, smaller airports like Chiang Mai, Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi, etc. are very easy to deal with. They get loads of international visitors and they’re really no different from other airports you may have been. 🙂

  17. Laura Reply March 22, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    Great summary! This seriously inspires my wanderlust and gives me the urge to return to Thailand! How fascinating is the Muay Thai kickboxing?! We went to one in Chiang Mai and they even had ‘blind’ fights with eye masks on!

    • Marek Reply March 22, 2017 at 4:19 pm

      Hah that’s awesome! I definitely love the Muay Thai, and especially how worked up the crowds get. 🙂

  18. Joshua Reply December 8, 2016 at 3:55 am

    Have you ever been to Chumphon? Really enjoying how quiet and untouristy it is. Close to some islands, parks and beaches so there are things to do and see. We were unsure of the area, but are really glad we gave it a shot!

    • Marek Reply December 8, 2016 at 2:01 pm

      I haven’t yet been, but good tip!

  19. Marcel Reply November 25, 2016 at 3:25 am

    Hey Marek, thanks for the info. Next year in April I will make my first solo trip to southeast Asia. After 3 weeks in Bali I want to travel about 10 days to Thailand or Vietnam. Which destination would you choose for that short time? Thanks

    • Marek Reply November 25, 2016 at 11:43 am

      Hoi Marcel. Hmm, that’s like choosing between chocolate and ice cream, both are amazing in their own way 😉 I’d probably simply pick the country that sounds the most appealing to you based on reading travel guides, and then pick one part of that country to focus on (e.g. spend a day or two in Bangkok and then either the islands or the north in Thailand, or choose between southern or northern Vietnam).

      • Marcel Reply November 27, 2016 at 2:07 pm

        Hi Marek. I think I have to visit both countries once. As you wrote in your reviews Thailand will be probably the first one to visit for someone who has never been in Asia before. I will definitely buy the expert guide to get the most of my trip. Thanks for your advice man!

  20. Hayden Reply November 10, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    I like the new menu system you have at the top. A good improvement!

  21. Jay Reply October 25, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Wow Marek that’s really helpful guide for Thailand. I’m glad that you have spent your time to write this wonderful guide.

    However, I just want to add something. I went to many blogs about guide to Thailand. None of them talks about the festivals in Thailand. For me, some of the festivals itself can be the main reason you want to visit Thailand.
    Right? I mean sometimes people just went to Spain just for the La Tomatina.

    Anyways, I have written down some the festivals in my blog. I hope maybe this can be a factor when you plan to visit next time.

  22. Saurabh Reply October 15, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    Hey Marek,

    Fabulous blog. I just booked my Thailand trip for 6-14 November. Unfortunately, I read about the king’s death recently. I believe the clubs/bars/markets will be shut now. I plan to chill, shop and a bit of partying. Some of my hotel bookings are non-refundable. What do you suggest I do? I’m a bit panicky. Thanks in advance.

    • Marek Reply October 17, 2016 at 8:48 pm

      It’s hard to say without knowing more about your expectations for the trip, but personally I would still go. There’s some useful info from the Thailand Tourism Authority here. Some more info here. The mood may be more subdued but tourists are still welcome.

  23. Travel Iago Reply September 16, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Hey Marek,
    We love your blog and wanted to share an app that food lovers might find helpful on their next trip to Thailand. It’s called Travel Iago ( and it’s kind of like Tinder for food. It is packed full of local dish options to swipe through, and you can even apply your personal preferences to ingredients and flavor choices. Anyway, check it out. I’m sure you will love it!

  24. Rich Reply August 24, 2016 at 11:42 am

    Hi Marek
    Just was reviewing your blog. I think it’s usefyul and awesome. I just left you a note on your blogging “nofollow” page
    Thought I would share with you and your readers my favorite island in Thailand- Koh Chang
    Visit the Stunning Paradise of Koh Chang, Thailand
    and I recommend elephant trekking on Koh Chang as well.

    Anyways, feel free to check out my blog and leave a link to yours as well. Keep up the great work!

  25. samy ibrahim Reply July 29, 2016 at 1:54 am

    hey, me and a friend are planning on going to vietnam and cambodia in october and i was just wandering, how bad is weather in thailand in october for doing snorkelling elephant riding and other beach activities. just because we were hoping we could fit thailand in as well .

    • Marek Reply August 13, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      October is apparently a bit of a lucky draw with the weather. I was in Thailand in October and while there were a few rainy days, it was mostly very sunny and nice. This was in the north though and I hear the weather on the coasts can be pretty average in Oct. If you have enough time on your trip you can take your chances though. Read a book on a rainy day, then enjoy some beach time when things clear up. I spent the tail end of rainy season in the Philippines in this way, and given that I wasn’t on just a short holiday, I didn’t mind.

      BTW elephant riding is typically not recommended from an animal welfare point of view – might want to read something about this before deciding to do this activity.

  26. Julian Wright Reply July 12, 2016 at 11:30 am

    If you are traveling as an independent traveler, the North East of Thailand is the most authentic area. Much cheaper than other areas and truly beautiful. There are so many things to do in the area where we live around Nong Khai, including The Sculpture Park only 7 km away, The Historical park 60 km away where people lived 3500 years ago, The Mekong River, and Giant Cat Fish…

  27. Kat Reply July 8, 2016 at 1:02 am

    Hey Marek,

    25 y/o female traveler planning to go to Thailand in about a month’s time from Brisbane, Australia. Aussie has been my first time out of the USA and I’m just a little bit nervous about transportation and getting to and from places effectively. I’m only going to be able to go for about a week…I was wondering if you have any links or guides about transportation in Thailand.

    I read someone’s comment previously about hostels. A few friends have told me that it’s best to just show up and walk around and find one that you like for a good price before you actually commit to staying in one. Opinion?

    Last question…how much money would you recommend for a week stay? I like to party but I’m not really planning on doing any of that because I’m going to be too busy making moves from destination to destination and don’t want to waste my time being hungover or anything. I really just want to see as many temples as I can and then obviously bake on the beach, and take a few souvenirs back for my family. I read one post that asked $550 but that one wasn’t answered either.
    Thanks so much!

    • Marek Reply July 26, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      Yes, you can just show up and then ‘shop around’, but I think this technique is better used when travelling long term and not in a hurry. If you’re going for a week I’d advise to pre-book via a site like Hostelworld maybe a day or two in advance. You don’t want to waste time haggling or walking around town for ages looking for accommodation.

      Transporation is easily arranged ad hoc and most hostels can help you with this. There are also lots of little agencies around where you can buy bus tickets. For a long or important bus/train journey, you could consider booking online, e.g. For trains booking at least a day or two in advance is advised.

      Around $300 should be plenty for a week – though some travellers will spend less. Hugely dependent on your travel style though.

    • Marek Reply May 26, 2016 at 11:26 am

      Great video!

  28. Charlie Reply April 28, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    Congrats for all the info you posted here! My friends and I are planning to go to Thai on August, so we were a bit scared mainly about the weather…

    For sure we’re gonna follow some of your advices, thank u so much!!

  29. erica Reply March 22, 2016 at 4:20 am

    Looking to travel out of the country for the first time and will be going solo. Im a 23 year old female and some family and friends have their opinions on me traveling solo. Was wondering if you had any thoughts on this? Do you see many young woman traveling solo? And do you feel its just as safe as it is for the men traveling to Thailand? Would love to konw what you think! Thanks for all the great tips on here!

    • Hilary Reply April 17, 2016 at 2:05 pm

      I’m a 23-year-old chica that’s planning on doing some solo traveling in Southeast Asia as well. Though I haven’t been to Thailand before, I have several female friends who have traveled there alone and felt quite safe. Traveling solo in general is amazing and very liberating — I’ve mostly just done it in China and Japan so far but am excited to venture out more. Don’t let the worry of your family and friends keep you from doing what you love. Good luck and have a blast! <3

  30. Dan Reply February 8, 2016 at 3:55 am

    Come 2 days to teach English to novices at a temple, Monday and Tuesday, as a volunteer, in our city Nakhon Si Thammarat. You don’t need to be a native speaker of English but just be reasonably fluent and have a clear accent. We provide free breakfast, lunch and transportation. Like this you can experience real Thailand. Respond to this comment if you are interested.

    • Adrian Reply April 17, 2016 at 10:33 am

      Hey Dan!
      I am interested!! Can we connect? I will be in Chiang Mai soon and can go after that. Can you give me some details?

    • Rohan Agarwal Reply June 4, 2017 at 5:19 am

      Hey, I am interested in teaching the kids too, I will be in Thailand from 20th June to 27th June 2017. Could we connect please?

  31. Sasa Reply February 1, 2016 at 10:40 pm

    Hi Marek,

    Thanks for this good blog about Thailand. My girlfriend and I are planning to visit Thailand as our friends who already visited recommended us to go there, and it came on a short notice as she got unexpected vacation for few weeks, so we decided to give it a go and to travel this Sunday. As we don’t have much time to investigate the other countries in South East Asia, I wanted to ask, if possible, what country by your opinion is most worth to visit in that region, as we were looking for the cheapest and nicest ones, for example like Philippines, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand (for which we have close information from our friends). Is it maybe better to go to some of these countries, because of pricing, then to Thailand, as we’re looking for relaxation on nice beaches, good nightlife (for few nights to go out), to enjoy in good foods, and maybe do some cheap cloth and electronics shopping if possible (but this is not our main goal). We would appreciate very much if you could give us some advice where would be best to go in that region concerning prices and named above?

    Thank you Marek, or anybody else who could give us good advice here! Hopefully we’ll get your or somebody elses response and good advice.

    Thanks once again!
    Sasa & Sandra

  32. artwin Reply January 10, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    I’m gonna visit Thailand by the end of 2016, and I’ve heard that their waterfall sceneries are beautiful, any tips on that. I’m very interested in aquatic nature, so cna anyone tell if it would be worthwhile organizing a trip around Thailand only to see waterfalls (i.e. are they that good)?

  33. Charli Reply January 3, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    Thank you for such a wonderful guide! I’m just starting to think about a trip to SE Asia and this is full of incredibly useful information to come back to. Much appreciated!

  34. Reese Reply December 3, 2015 at 1:05 am

    Hi I want to visit Thailand for 15 days. Can you suggest a good itinerary which includes: BKK, Chiang Mai, Pai, Chiang Rai and the Andaman Region? is it doable? flights from BKK to Krabi is okay.

  35. Deen severino Reply November 29, 2015 at 7:21 am

    Thank you, thank you, and thank you for this! very helpful blog

  36. Sarah Reply November 25, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    Wow this is such a great comprehensive list. It definitely gives Fodor a run for their money (is that the saying?). And yes to the food part!! I always include eating at street carts as part of the tips I give my family and friends.

  37. Shannan Reply November 17, 2015 at 12:29 am

    Hey! I’m going backpacking next summer, flying in and out of Bangkok with a total of 43 days in between. Is that enough time to, comfortably, enjoy Thailand, Myanmar, and Cambodia? We’re really interested in both the Buddhist/Hinduism/Historical sites, such as Angkor Wat, and then the beaches, waterfalls, and mountains as well. We need to start our journey and end our journey in Bangkok, so how do you recommend laying out our path?


    • Marek Reply November 23, 2015 at 10:39 pm

      43 days should give you plenty of time to see those countries without rushing too much. Starting from Bangkok I’d probably hit up northern Thailand first (it’s the more cultural part of Thailand and a good place to start), then loop back down, overland it to Cambodia, and then come back to Bangkok. Maybe from there get a cheap flight with Airasia to and from Myanmar to save you some travel time. Then spend the last part of your trip on the Thai beaches in the south (a nice and lazy end to your trip).

      A route like this does have you circle back to Bangkok a few times, though it’s a very efficient travel hub and it’s not uncommon for travellers to pass through it a few times when travelling in Southeast Asia. Overlanding between Thailand and Myanmar can still be a bit complicated which is also part of why I’d suggest taking a flight there.

      Hope this helps!

  38. Kale Reply October 25, 2015 at 10:07 am

    I can totally recommend Rainy’s Tourist and Taxi services. We’ve been in Phuket Thailand many times and only used Rainy’s travel services, she speaks very good english and is friendly woman. Also this year we will definitely be using her services, which are very much cheaper than tourist offices provide. It’s so good to find someone you can trust.

    Contact info: Rainy mobile: +66843073993 or +66887541237
    email: [email protected]

  39. thesatorisaga Reply September 22, 2015 at 7:28 am

    Love this post, it has almost every tip that a first- timer would be looking for. I loved Pai.

  40. Colin Heinrich Reply July 22, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    Just noticed you linked to my Full Moon Party article… glad you liked it! This is an awesome guide you’ve got here.

  41. Nicolas Cure Reply April 13, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    Hi Marek, Im planning a 19 day trip to Thailand and I want to fully know the country… what places do you recommend? traveling with my wife so maybe not up for sex tourists

  42. Stephanie Reply April 4, 2015 at 4:13 am

    How hard it is to get around and get food and accomodation if you can’t speak Thai? Especially in the less touristy places?

    • Marek Indietraveller Reply April 4, 2015 at 11:41 am

      In my experience it’s generally not an issue. Many people understand some basic English words, especially ones used for ordering food or finding accommodation. If you are in a really non-touristy or rural place, you might experience a little bit more difficulty. Being patient / friendly, miming things or using a little phrase book you can pretty much always deal with the essentials in some way or another.

  43. Anuj Reply February 6, 2015 at 4:36 am

    Hi Marek, Great tips and information. I am a first time solo traveller planning a month travel to Thailand in about two weeks from today. Would a month be too much or what ? Any tips on how should I be planning my tour.

    • Marek Indietraveller Reply February 6, 2015 at 12:29 pm

      It’s never too much! A month is actually a great amount of time to spend in Thailand. It’s good to get a rough idea/plan ahead of time, but with a month you have a lot of room to improvise as well. Ask people you meet what they liked most in Thailand and consider going to places by recommendation.

      • Anuj Reply February 8, 2015 at 1:51 am

        Thanks Marek. Getting into hostel accommodation in Chiang Mai, Kho Tao, can they be booked in a day advance or I should be looking into further ahead of time. Also how are the train bookings ?

        • Marek Indietraveller Reply February 19, 2015 at 2:13 pm

          Unless there is some special holiday then booking a day in advance is always fine in my experience. Same with trains. Ask for the timetable at your place of accommodation, they’ll probably just tell you to go to the station to buy a ticket, then you wait a bit and off you go.

  44. Huong Trang Reply December 26, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Hi Marek. I plan to go thailand by the end of january and early february 2015. I will flight from Singapore straight to Phuket. How many days should I spend on Phuket -> Koh Phi Phi -> Krabi? cos I don’t wanna miss the Full moon party on the 3rd of feb on Koh Pha Ngan. Thank you!~

  45. Nishant Reply December 5, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Hi Marek. Your posts are truly informative. I’m planning to travel to Thailand for 6 nights / 7 days in dec 2014. I’ll be landing and departing from Bangkok. Which island would you suggest for a peaceful getaway? I would avoid ‘sex tourism centric’ places as I’m traveling with Better Half. We were thinking either Krabi or Koh Samui. Please suggest itinerary. Thanks.

    • Marek Indietraveller Reply December 5, 2014 at 11:14 am

      Depends on what you’re after! Koh Samui is a very glossy and upmarket island and suitable for more of a luxury holiday. If you want something more backpackery then Krabi is worth looking into. The nearby island Koh Lanta is peaceful but still has a lot to do.

      • Nishant Reply December 5, 2014 at 12:36 pm

        Thanks. In your post I read about rice fields and bamboo huts. Are these basic ones or luxury accommodation?

        We would prefer being away from the hustle bustle so I guess John Samuel is kinds out? What about Phi Phi or Paint?

        Finally, should I be taking flights from BKK any of the locations or there are ferries or trains or taxis as well?

        • Marek Indietraveller Reply December 5, 2014 at 12:52 pm

          I’m guessing your phone autocorrect has gone to town on your message 🙂 Koh Phi Phi is very much a party island, so definitely a lot of hustle and bustle there. Trains in Thailand are pretty good so if you want to take the scenic route you can do that from BKK down to Krabi region. Another easy option is to fly: AirAsia sells combination tickets that fly out from BKK and get you a connecting ferry too.

  46. Zandra Kilde Reply November 30, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    Hi, I have read all of your post about southeast asia, and they are really good.
    I was wondering where you have made your orientation map? I’m trying to get something similar for Sydney, but I cannot find a nice clean map anywhere. Hope you can help me.
    Huge fan of yo blog.

    B/R Zandra

    • Marek Indietraveller Reply November 30, 2014 at 11:40 pm

      Finding clean maps can definitely be difficult. I create the maps myself using a vector image editor and map outlines provided by Hope that helps!

  47. fdfdd Reply November 28, 2014 at 10:03 am


    I will go to Thailand in Dec 2014. Can anybody help me to get a idea of a short trip of 4 days how much I shall bring? S$500 will be enough? I don’t want to do any shopping, want to hop to floating market, Pattaya of course and picturesque islands..

  48. Wu Reply November 26, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    I love to visit provinces in the northeast ( Isarn ) like Khonkaen and Sisaket. People are nice and friendly. Interesting culture 🙂

  49. Pat Reply November 20, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    Hey man, thanks for the information. I plan on going to Thailand for the second half of February. This will be my first backpacking trip so I’ll take all the help I can get. I want to try and do this itinerary: Bangkok -> Chiang Mai -> Pai -> Koh Tao. How many days do you think I need (excluding days for international travel)?

    • Marek Indietraveller Reply November 22, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      Hi Pat. It’s always difficult to answer that question as it depends on how much you want to see! For Bangkok > Chiang Mai > Pai I would probably say a week at bare minimum if you want to spend at least several days in each place, though there’s enough to do in all of these places that you could spend two weeks or more. Transportation is another factor. Going from Bangkok to Chiang Mai will take about 15 hours by train – taking a sleeper train is a good idea if you want to cover this part of your itinerary overland without eating too much into your travel time. Backtracking down to Koh Tao is going to take you the most time, so if you don’t have that much time it might be worth checking if there’s a flight from Chiang Mai down to the islands (or first to Bangkok and then to Koh Samui, from where you can take a boat to Koh Tao). Good luck on your trip!

    • Sarah Reply December 4, 2015 at 4:49 pm

      I loved Chiang Mai and Pai! Pai was my favorite. I would spend the least amount of time in Bangkok but I’m spoiled with NYC and wasn’t so enthralled with Bangkok… cept for the food carts. Those are awesome.

      • Sarah Reply December 4, 2015 at 4:50 pm

        oops I realized I posted on an old comment 🙂

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