From the mountains of Chiang Mai to the beaches of Phuket, discover the many flavors of regional Thai cuisine on this food-focused 11-day itinerary. Touch down in Bangkok and sample classic street food as you stroll its busy night markets, then head north to Chiang Mai to learn about Lanna cuisine from a local family (and spend some peaceful downtime at an elephant sanctuary). Then it's off to Phuket to learn about the diverse influences of southern Thai food against a backdrop of white-sand beaches.


  • Visit Bangkok's major temples by day and explore its food markets by night
  • Discover Ayutthaya Historical Park and learn about its key sites
  • Take a northern Thai cooking class in Chiang Mai with a local family
  • Visit an elephant sanctuary and learn about its primary residents
  • Sample southern Thai flavors at Phuket's food markets 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bangkok, Chao Phraya River Dinner Cruise Bangkok
Day 2 Bangkok Guided City Tour & Evening Street Food Bangkok
Day 3 Day Trip to Ayutthaya Historical Park Bangkok
Day 4 Visit Mahachai Market & Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Bangkok
Day 5 Fly to Chiang Mai, Visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep & Chang Puak Night Market Chiang Mai
Day 6 Chiang Mai Temple Tour, Cooking Class with a Local Lanna Family Chiang Mai
Day 7 Visit an Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, Traditional Khantoke Dinner Show Chiang Mai
Day 8 Fly to Phuket, Afternoon Highlights Tour Phuket
Day 9 Thai Cooking Class, Free Afternoon in Phuket Phuket
Day 10 Free Morning in Phuket, Taste of Phuket Food Tour Phuket
Day 11 Depart Phuket  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bangkok, Chao Phraya River Dinner Cruise

Soak up Bangkok's incredible nightlife at the markets
Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand! You'll arrive in the capital of Bangkok, known for its sacred Buddhist sights, vibrant energy, and delicious street food. Upon arrival, you'll be met by your driver and transferred to your hotel. Settle in and relax after your flight before heading out to explore. Visit the Wat Saket temple, once the highest point in Bangkok, and climb the 320 steps to the top for extraordinary city views. Later, if you're feeling peckish, stroll along Khao San Road, one of the best places in the city to sample street food and people-watch.

In the evening, you'll have the option to board the Manohra Luxury Cruise to see Bangkok from a different angle. Enjoy an exquisite dinner while floating along the Chao Phraya River, appreciating the fantastic night views of the city from a traditional teak wooden boat decorated in classic style. After the cruise, your private guide and driver will transfer you back to your hotel.

Day 2: Bangkok Guided City Tour & Evening Street Food

Grand Palace
Don't miss the Grand Palace, a highlight of your Bangkok tour

Meet your guide and driver bright and early at your hotel and head to Wat Pho in time to experience the monks' morning chanting ritual. As one of the oldest temples in Bangkok, Wat Pho houses the famous 148-foot (45 m) reclining Buddha and the original school of traditional Thai massage. Step into Wat Traimit, the Temple of the Golden Buddha, to marvel at its 900-year-old, 5.5-ton solid gold image. Afterward, visit Wat Arun, better known as the Temple of the Dawn, to admire its shell and porcelain-decorated spires glittering in the morning sun. 

In the afternoon, move on to the Royal Grand Palace, the highlight of today's tour. As the official residence of successive Kings of Siam (and later Thailand) from 1782 until 1925, the palace is a must-see in Thailand. The adjoining Wat Phra Kaew (Emerald Buddha Temple) is the most important Buddhist temple in the country. Here you'll learn more about Thailand's traditional art and architecture, before returning to your hotel for an afternoon rest.

This evening, you'll visit some of the locals' favorite places to try authentic, delicious Thai dishes. Hop between family-run restaurants and hole-in-the-wall street food vendors before ending your night at a rooftop bar, where you'll enjoy scenic views over the Chao Phraya River. After the tour, your driver will drop you off at your hotel.

Day 3: Day Trip to Ayutthaya Historical Park

Bang Pa-In Summer Palace
Explore the 300 sites of Ayutthaya Historical Park

In the morning, a driver will be waiting in the hotel lobby to take you to Thailand's ancient capital city, Ayutthaya, a UNESCO-designated archaeological site. Just two hours away, it was one of East Asia's biggest and wealthiest cities in the 17th century. Start your tour from Bang Pa-In Summer Palace, a royal summer retreat, to see its masterpieces of architecture and art. Continue to Wat Maha That to witness the sight of Buddha's head engulfed by Bodhi tree roots. 

Afterward, move on to the Ayutthaya Historical Park. Visit Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, a royal temple back in the Ayutthaya period and a model for Bangkok's Wat Phra Kaew. Next, see the adjacent Viharn Phra Mongkolbopit, which houses a large seated bronze Buddha image. After the tour, you'll return to Bangkok for the night.

Day 4: Visit Mahachai Market & Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

 Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Bangkok
Revel in the explosion of color at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Today you'll get an in-depth look into Thai culinary traditions with the help of a local guide. First, go to Mahachai Market, one of the largest seafood markets in Thailand. Here you'll get a primer in traditional Thai food and ingredients, from seafood to vegetables and fruits. 

Afterward, take a boat ride to visit the traditional Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, which is a paradise for food lovers and the most popular floating market in the country. Its maze of canals offers fantastic photo opportunities and fresh food, giving you an insight into a bygone way of life. An early morning start is worth it to avoid the heat and catch Damnoen Saduak at its liveliest. Purchase snacks and delicacies from hawkers on boats laden with exotic food and then enjoy them on the banks like a local. Return to the hotel with a full stomach and relax for the rest of the day.
Plan your trip to Thailand
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 5: Fly to Chiang Mai, Visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep & Chang Puak Night Market

Wat Doi Suthep
Go sightseeing by day and fill your stomach by night

It's time to head north this morning. Your driver will take you to the airport in Bangkok so you can catch the 1.5-hour flight to Chiang Mai. Upon landing, a driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel in this mountainous northern city. Then it's time to join your guide for a drive to nearby Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a revered temple that sits on the top of Mount Doi Suthep. Climb the 306 steps of the Golden Naga staircase to reach its golden pagodas and enjoy gorgeous views over Chiang Mai and its surroundings.

After you return to your hotel, rest up for this evening's activity. Your food tour will start at the locally-loved Chang Puak Night Market. You can sample traditional Thai favorites, from timeless classics to delicious street snacks like sai oua, the quintessential Chiang Mai sausage. Don't miss regional specialties like braised pork leg over rice or the ever-popular spicy papaya salad. 

Day 6: Chiang Mai Temple Tour, Cooking Class with a Local Lanna Family

Wat Chedi Luang
Enjoy cooking with the locals before sitting down to eat

This morning is reserved for a guided temple-hopping tour in Chiang Mai. After breakfast, set out to visit two remarkable temples inside the old walled city center. Wat Chedi Luang, with a long history dating back to the 14th century, was once the largest building in the whole Lanna Kingdom, while Wat Phra Singh features stunning examples of traditional Lanna architecture. Step into these stunning temples and learn more about Thai Buddhist culture as you explore their intricate interiors.

Spend the latter half of the day experiencing the traditional Lanna way of life with a cooking class in an authentic Thai neighborhood on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. Following the welcome drink, the host of the local Lanna family will invite you to visit their traditional teakwood house. Then, take a stroll through their garden full of various fruits, spices, and herbs. Finally, help prepare a delicious home-cooked northern Thai meal with the family for dinner.

Day 7: Visit an Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, Traditional Khantoke Dinner Show

Full Day Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Experience
Bathe with elephants at a local sanctuary 

Trade the city for the dense forests of the countryside today as you transfer 1.5 hours from Chiang Mai to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary for a full-day experience with its principal residents. Meet your guide upon arrival, change into traditional elephant-keeper clothing, and attend an introductory lesson to learn about the elephants' history and behavior. Then, feed these gentle giants and interact with them in a natural environment. After a traditional Thai lunch, join the elephants at a nearby river, where you can bathe and brush them before plunging into a therapeutic mud spa. 

Back in Chiang Mai, spend your evening at a Khantoke dinner show, a perfect way to experience more of northern Thailand's Lanna culture and hospitality. Sitting on mats on the floor, diners gather around individual tables set with a variety of northern dishes served in large lacquerware platters. As you enjoy your meal, you will be entertained by a selected performance of traditional entertainment, including the charming fon lep (Thai finger dance), ram dab (Thai sword dance), fon thielen (Thai candle dance), and ram wong (group dance).

Day 8: Fly to Phuket, Afternoon Highlights Tour

Phuket Landmark - Big Buddha Statue
See Phuket's Big Buddha statue on this afternoon's tour

The beach awaits today as you bid Chiang Mai farewell and catch a two-hour flight south to the idyllic southern Thai province of Phuket. Upon arrival, you'll be greeted at the airport and taken to your hotel in the city. Phuket is more than just a busy tourist destination—you'll find culture, history, and adventure here alongside plenty of picture-perfect white-sand beaches.

Join a guide this afternoon to visit some of the island's highlights, starting with famed overlooks like the Karon Viewpoint and Cape Promthep, each offering stunning panoramic views of the island's coastline and the Andaman Sea. Visit the ornate and verdant grounds of Wat Chalong, Phuket's most important Buddhist temple, and the 148-foot-tall (45 m) Big Buddha, an unmissable hilltop landmark clad in white marble. Your tour ends in Phuket's lively Old Town, where you'll stroll among colorful Sino-Portuguese shophouses, colonial mansions, and cafés.

Day 9: Thai Cooking Class, Free Afternoon in Phuket

Love Cooking Class
Learn about, cook, and eat southern Thai cuisine

Participate in a cooking class at the Phuket Thai Cookery School today. You'll start with a trip to the morning market to explore and see hundreds of exotic ingredients, taste delicious seasonal fruits, and learn about traditional-style homemade specialties, such as curry paste. During the cooking class, you'll prepare, cook and eat your final creations at the school. When it's all finished, you'll receive foolproof recipe cards to take home. Lessons are led by professional instructors, who are also very attentive to assist you while you are cooking. 

The rest of the day is yours to discover Phuket. Apart from fine white sands, nodding palm trees, glittering seas, and lively towns, Phuket is also known for its exotic culture, amazing temples, and adventure activities. If an afternoon at the beach sounds too sedate, you could easily organize a snorkeling trip, boat rental, or rock climbing adventure.

Day 10: Free Morning in Phuket, Taste of Phuket Food Tour

Wander Phuket's markets and learn about its unique cuisine and history
Take the time to enjoy Phuket's sun, sea, and sand on your own this morning. Mai Khao Beach might be a good choice if you are looking for a quiet, laid-back place. The water is shallow and calm here, so you can enjoy swimming and sunbathing in peace. With close to 6 miles (8 km) of pristine coastline, you'll find beautiful lagoons and numerous restaurants at Bangtao Beach, which is also suitable for families. Other beaches, like Kamala Beach, Patong Beach, and Karon Beach, are also good options within easy reach.
Later today, celebrate the penultimate day of your trip with a memorable food tour, learning about the diverse origins of Phuket's cuisine, which bears the influences of Arab, Indian, Portuguese, French, and Chinese immigrants. Follow your guide to discover hole-in-the-wall restaurants for regional delicacies that only the locals know about. Indulge in a little dim sum place behind the fresh market, stroll through the charming streets of the city center and sample delicious roti with curry, and try a Sino-Thai-style feast of noodles that you'll never forget.

Day 11: Depart Phuket

Farewell Phuket!

Today, it's time to say goodbye to Thailand. Spend a final few hours on the beach or souvenir shopping in Phuket, and grab some final local treats and snacks before your transfer to the airport for your departing flight. Safe travels!

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