Experience Thailand's amazing highlights from north to south on this exciting 10-day itinerary. Kick off the trip in Bangkok, equipped with a local guide, where you'll hit the city's best monuments and foodie options. From here, head to Chiang Mai for elephants and hiking trails in a pristine national park. Finish the adventure on the western gulf coast for your pick of powdery beaches and underwater activities.

Highlights

  • Let a guide show you the Grand Palace, Wat Po, and Emerald Buddha 
  • Eat your way through the city's best foodie district
  • Play, feed, and bathe with elephants on a farm near Chiang Mai 
  • Island-hop around Koh Samui with opportunities to snorkel and kayak
  • Get plenty of free time to hit the beaches before you depart

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bangkok Bangkok
Day 2 Bangkok City Tour Bangkok
Day 3 Historic Bang Rak Food & Culture Tour Bangkok
Day 4 Fly from Bangkok to Chiang Mai Chiang Mai
Day 5 Patara Elephant Farm Excursion Chiang Mai
Day 6 Doi Inthanon National Park Excursion Chiang Mai
Day 7 Fly from Chiang Mai to Koh Samui Koh Samui
Day 8 Angthong Marine Park Excursion Koh Samui
Day 9 Koh Samui Beach Free Day Koh Samui
Day 10 Depart Koh Samui  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bangkok

Wat Arun Temple
Wat Arun Temple

Welcome to Thailand! Get ready for a smooth and easy arrival at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport with VIP Meet and Greet and Fast Track Service. This special process starts at the airport's air-bridge where you'll be met by a representative who will personally escort you to the immigration counter without a queue. You'll then be introduced to your private driver for transportation to the hotel.

The rest of the day is free time: You can either rest and acclimate to your surroundings at the hotel or get out and explore the city on your own. Bangkok will certainly jolt your senses: it's a steamy, exotic, and chaotic capital of eight million residents, which melds a bit of old and new, east and west, so get out and poke around the nearby streets if you're feeling up for adventure.

Day 2: Bangkok City Tour

One of the city's Buddhist must-sees: Wat Po

This morning, after breakfast at your hotel, your guide will pick you up at your hotel and take you to Wat Po in time to experience the monks' early morning chanting ritual, which starts at 9 am. One of the oldest temples in Bangkok, Wat Po is home of the famous 147 foot (45 m) reclining Buddha as well as being the original school of traditional Thai massage.

Continue to the Grand Palace, the most important and impressive royal palace in Thailand. Your guide will show you the palaces used for different occasions including the Funeral Palace, the Reception Palace, the Throne Hall, the Coronation Hall, the Royal Guest House, and, of course, the mysterious Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddha image in Thailand. Appropriate dress is required (or can be rented on site).  

Once you've had lunch at a riverside restaurant, you'll board a private longtail boat passing shop houses, local temples, and food vendors on a famous waterway once used as a major trading route. Your guide will point out local landmarks and cultural idiosyncrasies of the area.

En route back to the hotel, you'll stop at Wat ArunTemple of Dawn on the banks of the Chao Phraya River—easily one of the most stunning temples in Bangkok. From here, you'll have the rest of the evening to explore and have dinner on your own.  

Day 3: Historic Bang Rak Food & Culture Tour

Som Tum
Som Tum in Bang Rak

This morning, you'll meet your guide in the hotel lobby for a fun and delicious food-related day-trip. You'll use local transportation to transfer to the district of Bang Rak where you will learn all about Thailand's historic cuisine on an adventure that gets to the heart of the well-known neighborhood's best sites and flavors.

To locals, the city's Bang Rak area is the ultimate center of diverse and authentic flavors. From home-style mom and pop shops to superb restaurants displaying exquisite dishes, you will be able to taste the down-home cooking that has brought Thai cuisine to the forefront of the international palette. 

In the afternoon, return to your hotel where you'll have the rest of the afternoon and evening to spend as you wish. 

Day 4: Fly from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Doi Suthep temple
Doi Suthep's golden temple

Today, after breakfast at your hotel in Bangkok, it's time to explore more of Thailand! You'll first take a memorable transfer by longtail boat to Resotel Pier—a fitting way to end your time in Thailand's capital. At the pier, you and your guide will transfer back to the Bangkok airport for your short flight to Chiang Mai. 

Upon arrival in Chiang Mai, you'll transfer to your hotel for check-in. Thailand's fourth largest city has a distinct culture steeped in history, yet also thrives as a cosmopolitan city. Despite the city's modern growth, the historic center of Chiang Mai still feels quaint—more like a rural town than a bustling city, evidenced by its strict conservation efforts. 

Once you're settled at the hotel, put on some walking shoes and get ready to explore on your own. First-timers will definitely want to head for the Old City and its narrow streets, which are lined with historic buildings, beautiful temples, and old shops. All you have to do is walk around and enjoy the area's relaxed atmosphere while visiting the city's finest monuments, including Wat Phra SinghWat Chedi Luang, and Wat Phan Tao—all within walking distance of each other.

If you're in town on a Sunday, make sure to check out the Sunday Walking Street Market. This is when the Old City's main road gives way to thousands of pedestrians who come for street stalls selling a range of local goods and unique gifts. For dinner, you can enjoy a cheap and delicious dinner at one of the many street stalls which can be found all over the city, including the North and South Gates of the Old City. 

Day 5: Patara Elephant Farm Excursion

Take part in the bathing process at Patara Elephant Farm

After an early breakfast this morning, you'll get picked up from the hotel for the transfer to Patara Elephant Farm. Once you've arrived, there will be a registration process where you'll get a briefing on the history of domestic elephants in Thailand. Staff will also provide you with a set of training clothes that you'll wear while on the farm. 

Your exciting morning continues with a hike through the bush to find the elephants where you'll learn about animal management and the farm's specific breeding program. You'll also learn how to act near the elephants, as well as how to observe and recognize their specific temperament. When you're equipped with the basics, you'll be allowed to take part in the morning feeding and bathing process while learning more about the elephants' health and skin care regime. 

Then it's time for a bare-back riding session. Learn how to properly get up on the elephant neck and sit while practicing basic riding skills and spoken commands. Head uphill on your elephant to visit a waterfall for a picnic lunch and a refreshing dip in the water with your new friends. At the appropriate time, you'll ride your elephant back to the farm for their evening feed. It may be hard to say goodbye to these gentle giants, but in the mid-afternoon, you'll transfer back to your hotel for dinner on your own. 

Day 6: Doi Inthanon National Park Excursion

Doi Inthanon
Doi Inthanon

Today, after breakfast in Chiang Mai, you will spend a day in the lush Doi Inthanon National Park, which is famous for its cool climate, numerous waterfalls, various hill tribe villages, and—last but not least—Thailand’s highest point at 8,415 feet (2,565 m). The park is located only about an hour’s drive away from the city but the scenery is completely different.

In fact, Doi Inthanon is a nature lovers' paradise with manicured gardens and hiking trails that offer views of the surrounding misty mountains. The year-round temperature is almost always pleasant and cool, which can be a welcome relief after several days in the steamy lowlands. Be sure to pack a few layers in case of the chill. 

You can spend the day hiking to epic waterfalls in the park as well as peaceful and scenic temples nestled high in the mountainous landscape. The vegetation is breathtaking with colorful butterflies and songbirds along the way. You can even taste locally-grown coffee and meet some of the Karen hill tribes that live on the mountain slopes.

In the afternoon, transfer back to your hotel in Chiang Mai. 

Day 7: Fly from Chiang Mai to Koh Samui

Spend the afternoon relaxing on Koh Samui

Today, you'll have a free morning to spend in Chiang Mai however you see fit. At the designated time, a private driver will pick you up and transfer you to the airport for the flight south to Thailand's second largest island: Koh Samui

Upon arrival, you'll be picked up and transferred to your hotel. Enjoy an afternoon and evening exploring this beautiful area of the country on your own. Located on the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui offers palm-fringed beaches, coconut groves, and dense, mountainous rainforest, along with luxury resorts and posh spas. In the charming village of the same name (located on the north coast), you can explore a range of shops, restaurants, and markets while soaking in the local Thai-Chinese atmosphere.

Day 8: Angthong Marine Park Excursion

Snorkeling
Snorkel with colorful marine life

After an early breakfast at your hotel, you'll be picked up for a boat ride to the dreamy islands of Angthong Marine Park. The tour starts at Dragon Island, or Koh Wao, where you can swim or snorkel through the coral reef amongst colorful fish. The boat then takes you on a sightseeing tour of a few of the islands where you can see the otherworldly rock formations and sheer limestone cliffs.

Once you reach Mae Koh, you can climb uphill to see the Green Lagoon, a beautiful emerald salt-water lake. At lunchtime, you will be served a buffet lunch on one of the park's islands followed by plenty of free time to kayak, swim, snorkel, and relax before returning back to your hotel in Samui in the late afternoon.

Day 9: Koh Samui Beach Free Day

Koh Samui
Koh Samui's infamous shades of blue and green

Finish up your Thailand experience with a free day to hit the beaches! Koh Samui and the surrounding area is known for its outstanding beaches, bays, and small coves offering a wide variety of scenery, activities, and endless stretches of powdery white sand to throw down a towel. From the long and busy beach of Chaweng to the short and secluded coast on Choeng Mon, you'll have many options to choose from. 

Before dinner, consider taking one more beach stroll around sunset with the possibility to stop and have a refreshing drink at one of the island's many bars along the shore.

Day 10: Depart Koh Samui

View from the resort
View from a resort on Koh Samui

It's time to say goodbye to Thailand! After breakfast at your hotel, enjoy any remaining free time on the island. At the designated time, you'll be escorted to the airport for your departure flight home. 

Ha
Written by Ha Thu, updated Apr 1, 2019