Uncover the diverse highlights of Thailand, from its cities to mountains and beaches, on this immersive 10-day itinerary. Starting in Bangkok, you'll see the top sights with a guide and explore famed temples on a bike tour. In Chiang Mai, visit an elephant sanctuary and learn how to prepare Thai food in a home cooking class. Conclude your journey with beach time and island excursions in the tropical paradise of Phuket.


  • Explore majestic temples and quaint canals in Bangkok
  • Feed, wash, and swim with elephants in Chiang Mai
  • Whip up an authentic Thai feast at a local cooking class
  • Soak up the sun at Phuket's beaches and nearby islands

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bangkok Bangkok
Day 2 Day Tour of Bangkok's Waterways & the Grand Palace Bangkok
Day 3 Free Morning in Bangkok & Evening Bike Tour Bangkok
Day 4 Fly from Bangkok to Chiang Mai Chiang Mai
Day 5 Elephant Sanctuary Day Trip Chiang Mai
Day 6 Thai Cooking Class & Free Afternoon Chiang Mai
Day 7 Fly from Chiang Mai to Phuket Phuket
Day 8 Free Day in Phuket Phuket
Day 9 Free Day in Phuket Phuket
Day 10 Depart Phuket  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bangkok

Central Bangkok and the Chao Phraya River

Welcome to Thailand! Start your trip in the energetic capital, Bangkok, known for its ornate shrines and vibrant street life. The boat-filled Chao Phraya River flows right through the city, and its banks are studded with landmark temple spires, bustling ferry piers, glitzy high-rise hotels and malls, and charming restaurants. Once settled in at your hotel, the day is free to spend however you see fit. Relax or maybe explore your surroundings aboard a tuk-tuk, Southeast Asia's iconic three-wheeled auto rickshaw.

For dinner, sample some local street food at a night market, or delve into the city's cosmopolitan dining scene at a chic restaurant. From classic Thai cuisine to global bites, there's something for everyone. You can also head down to Asiatique The Riverfront, a lively waterside mall with plenty of eateries and a giant observation wheel, Asiatique Sky.

Day 2: Day Tour of Bangkok's Waterways & the Grand Palace

Traditional long-tail boat on a canal in Bangkok
Take a guided day tour of some of Bangkok's most interesting sights on water and land. Board a long-tail boat and cruise down the bustling Chao Phraya River, with views of the Bangkok skyline along the way, before veering off the busy river and entering the klongs (canals). See the waterside temple Wat Khun Chan, known for its large Buddha statue sitting atop carved elephants. Then stop off at an artist's village, where you can explore vintage wooden walkways and a stupa (shrine) overgrown with jungle vines.

Return to the Chao Phraya River and disembark in the city center. Break for lunch, then head over to the Grand Palace. This monumental complex was built in 1782 as the royal compound for the kings of Siam and is Bangkok's biggest and most visited site. Take in the ornate, colorful architecture and step into Thailand's most sacred shrine, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, covered with gold leaf and glittering gems. After the tour, the rest of the evening is free to spend as you wish.

Day 3: Free Morning in Bangkok & Evening Bike Tour

A view of the massive toes of the reclining Buddha statue in Wat Pho, Bangkok

Take the morning and afternoon to explore Bangkok on your own. Learn new techniques in a cooking class, hit one of the city's myriad markets for some shopping, or relax with a Thai massage or spa treatment. In the late afternoon, you'll take a bike tour to see the city from a new perspective. After a short ride through the vibrant Bang Rak district, hop on the ferry to the Thonburi district. 

Visit a temple with a turtle pond and garden, learn about the area's Sino-Portuguese history, and taste traditional local pastries. Pedal over to the massive landmark Wat Arun to see the spectacular riverside temple light up at dusk. Take the ferry back across the river and continue to another temple, Wat Pho, whose star attraction is its huge, gilded statue of the reclining Buddha. Make a final stop at the Flower Market, where you can feast your eyes on exotic blooms before concluding the tour.

Day 4: Fly from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

The Great Holy Relics Pagoda Nabhapolbhumisiri in Chiang Mai

This morning, head to the airport for your hour-long flight to northern Thailand's cultural capital, Chiang Mai. After settling in, explore Chiang Mai on your own. Breathe in the cooler, calmer air of its mountainous and forested surroundings. Soak up the charming, laid-back atmosphere of Old Town. Don't miss Wat Phra Singh, which is the jewel of Chiang Mai temples thanks to its intricate, classical Lanna architecture. Wat Chedi Luang stands out for its evocative 15th-century stupa.

Hop in a cab to catch the sunset at the hillside temple Doi Suthep, where you can climb its iconic 306-step staircase—flanked by carved sea serpents and thick forest—to elaborate grounds with a huge golden chedi (stupa) and sweeping views. Tonight, follow the irresistible aromas of street food stalls and restaurants where you can try out the ultimate local dish, khao soi (coconut curry soup), and other northern Thai specialties.

Day 5: Elephant Sanctuary Day Trip

Meet the rehabilitated residents of an elephant sanctuary near Chiang Mai

Today you'll venture on a full-day excursion to the Happy Elephant Home, an ethical elephant sanctuary for animals that have been rescued from the tourist trade. Spend the morning feeding and washing the elephants and enjoy a home-cooked Thai meal for lunch. Afterward, walk alongside the elephants as they go down to the river for a mud bath—bring a swimsuit if you want to join them! In the afternoon, return to the camp, bid farewell to your new pachyderm friends, and transfer back to your hotel. Enjoy the evening in Chiang Mai at your leisure. 

Day 6: Thai Cooking Class & Free Afternoon in Chiang Mai

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Chiang Mai Thai Cooking Experience
Khao Soi egg noodle soup

Today you'll roll up your sleeves and get hands-on with Thai gastronomy during a half-day cooking experience. Start by visiting a local market in Chiang Mai with your instructor to shop for ingredients. Head to your classroom in a beautiful home garden setting to learn how to make a variety of dishes like som tam (papaya salad) and traditional Thai curries and soups. During the course, gain an understanding of the philosophy and flavor balance of Thai cooking.

After the lesson, it's time to taste all the appetizers, soups, curries, and stir-fries you and your classmates have prepared. Transfer back to the hotel in the mid-afternoon with a souvenir cookbook. The rest of the day is free to spend as you wish. Wander the markets, hit any temples you might have missed, and gobble up more local culinary specialties before switching gears and heading for the beaches of Phuket tomorrow.

Day 7: Fly from Chiang Mai to Phuket

Big Buddha in Phuket
The Big Buddha in Phuket
This morning, a private transfer will bring you to Chiang Mai airport for your short flight to Phuket. An English-speaking driver will take you to your accommodations, and you'll have the next 2.5 days free to explore on your own. Whether you're looking for party vibes and water activities or chill atmospheres and quieter coves, there's a beach for everyone here. After getting some swimming and sunbathing done, hop on a bus down to the southern tip of Phuket to watch the sunset at Cape Promthep.

Day 8: Free Day in Phuket

Phi Phi island
Crystal clear waters of Phi Phi island

For your first full free day in Phuket, you can stick with the perennial favorites—beach, seafood, and drinks—but today might also be a good opportunity to take an add-on boat excursion to Phuket's spectacular Andaman Sea neighbors, the Phi Phi Islands. Don't miss a chance to see these impossibly beautiful emerald coves and limestone cliffs. There are numerous tour options that also include lunch at a beachfront restaurant, plus picturesque swimming and snorkeling stops that are only accessible by sea.

For those looking to stay in Phuket, experience any number of the island's fantastic beaches. Patong and Karon offer stretches of sand and upbeat party vibes. Those looking for quiet can visit the crystal blue waters and quiet atmosphere of Kata Noi or the 7-mile (11 km)  stretch of the wild and untouched Mai Khao. In the evening, explore Phuket's thriving nightlife, where you'll find bars, restaurants, cabarets, and live Muay Thai boxing matches.

Day 9: Free Day in Phuket

Laem Singh Beach in Phuket
Laem Singh Beach in Phuket
Enjoy your last free day in Phuket to explore other unseen parts of the island. Consider checking out the tree-lined beach of Rawai or heading to the relaxing shores of the more secluded Kamala. Laem Singh is a favorite spot that has the feel of a secret beach with its palm tree-filled bay. In the evening, stroll around Phuket's colorful Old Town and pay a visit to the hillside Big Buddha, Phuket's most famous architectural landmark, or an iconic overlook such as Karon Viewpoint.

Day 10: Depart Phuket

Sunset over Phuket's Phang Nga Bay
Goodbye, Phuket and Thailand! After breakfast and check-out, transfer from your hotel to Phuket's airport and catch your flight home or to wherever your travels take you next.

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