Planning Your Trip to Thailand
To get the most out of Thailand, plan on spending about 12 days. After all, the country is comparable in size to Spain and boasts a rich culture dating to around the 13th century, so it takes time to see the highlights. 12 days gives you ample time to fly between two or three regions, like the northern mountains around Chiang Mai and the inviting beaches on the Gulf of Thailand.
10 days is still enough time to visit a couple areas, see major attractions, go island hopping, and embark on nature excursions. Kayaking, fishing, and snorkeling are popular activities along the beach, and multi-day hikes in the northern national parks and visits to elephant sanctuaries are unforgettable experiences.
Eight days is just enough time for the highlights. You could travel to three different areas starting in Bangkok, continuing to the north, and ending on the southern coast and the dramatic limestone pillars of Phang Nga Bay. Active adventurers can embark on multi-day hikes around northern Thailand's tallest peaks. And if you're only here for five days, the best thing to do is plant yourself in one region, whether fishing with locals around the gulf or hiking between ethnic villages in northern Thailand.
Thailand in 5 Days
If you only have five days to spend in Thailand, get the most out of your brief schedule with a cultural tour around Phang Nga Bay or hikes around the national parks in the north.
A good example is this 5-day excursion in southern Thailand that will take you off the tourist trail. After arriving in coastal Phuket, you'll immediately leave the party city behind for a remote jungle lodge to relax in a hammock and enjoy fresh seafood. Spend the next couple of days kayaking through mangrove forests and visit a seaside village to accompany local fishermen on a long-tail boat. Then take a private cruise around the limestone pillars of Phang Nga Bay, snorkel amid coral reefs, and relax on the white-sand beaches of Khao Lak.
Experience another side of Thailand when you visit the northern end of the country on a village trekking tour. Your base will be the historic city of Chiang Mai, known for its incredible regional cuisine and street food. Hike to nearby temple ruins from the city, then venture into Inthanon National Park for a trek to waterfalls and ethnic villages around Thailand's highest peak. Spend the next two days on a scenic hike from village to village, stopping on the way to swim in natural pools and dine with friendly locals.
Thailand in 8 Days
A week and a day is a popular length of time to spend in Thailand, as it gives you a chance to shake the jet lag and go on active excursions in multiple regions while also seeing the most famous sights.
This Best of Thailand tour combines fun activities with relaxing leisure time. In Bangkok, you'll visit the most famous landmarks like the Grand Palace, the Emerald Buddha, and the sprawling temple complex of Wat Po. Travel to Chiang Mai, sample its world-renowned cuisine as you stroll the historic Old City—plus visit temples and even an elephant rescue center. The trip winds down on the white-sand beaches of Phuket and finishes with kayak rides and island hopping around Phang Nga Bay.
Another type of itinerary is a deep dive into Thai culture that will take you from temples to ethnic villages not found in guidebooks. Hop on a bike and ride through the remnants of the 13th-century Kingdom of Siam in northern Thailand as you tour fortress ruins and ancient Buddhist temples. A journey into the nearby mountains to visit hill tribes involves dining with the Karen people, cycling between villages, and overnighting in rural homestays. Before ending the trip with a walking tour of Chiang Mai, you'll spend some time hiking around mountain forests and even track a herd of wild elephants.
Also for mountain lovers is this unforgettable multi-day hike of Thailand's highest peaks. It begins on the historic streets of Chiang Mai, once the capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom in the 13th century. The following days include hiking around the pine forests of Doi Suthep Mountain, summiting the 8,415-foot 1,850-m) Chiang Dao Mountain, exploring the bamboo forests of Pha Daeng National Park, and hiking through rice paddies along the Mae Kok River. Rounding out the experience are visits to Hmong villages, making offerings at Buddhist temples, and trekking to small villages near the border with Laos.
Thailand in 10 days
Ten days allows for a more dynamic exploration of Thailand to enjoy more activities, see more highlights, and hop even more islands.
Or opt for an ultimate highlights tour that delivers on its promise. You'll not only see the main temples and palaces in Bangkok but also enjoy food tours and discover Thai culture one bite at a time. Excursions around Chiang Mai include visiting markets, learning about elephant behavior at rescue centers, and heading into the misty mountains to tour the well-manicured gardens and waterfalls of Doi Inthanon National Park. A trip to Koh Samui, Thailand's second-largest island, marks the last leg of the trip with a snorkeling tour around the coral reef at Angthong Marine Park.
Another excellent way to spend 10 days in Thailand is hopping around its islands. This romantic tropical adventure is filled with palm-lined white-sand beaches, catamaran tours between exotic isles, and cycling around jungle backroads to small villages. The base is the southern coastal region of Chumphon, from which the itinerary zigzags to the picture-postcard islands of Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, and Koh Samui. Besides kayaking and snorkeling around the marine parks at Koh Samui, you'll get to feed elephants at a rescue sanctuary.
Thailand in 12 Days
In 12 days, you can travel the length and breadth of Thailand, see highlights and undiscovered gems, enjoy the honeymoon to end all honeymoons, and even hop the border between Myanmar.
Do Thailand a little differently on this combined Myanmar-Thailand itinerary. The adventure begins in Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar (formerly Burma), where you'll visit a 19th-century Buddhist monastery and watch the sunset on the Thanlwin River. A train will take you through the jungles and colonial towns of southern Myanmar to the Dawei Peninsula to hike around its beaches and explore the coral islands of the Mergui Archipelago. After crossing into Thailand, enjoy excursions to the southeast coast and Khao Lak, Phuket, and the crystalline waters of the Similan Islands.
And in 12 days, you can go all out on an authentic grand tour that leaves no stone unturned in and around Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phang Nga Bay. It starts in the capital, where you'll visit landmarks like Wot Po, cruise the famous Floating Market, and at night race through the streets on a Tuk Tuk, stopping at the best local restaurants. Then travel into the western jungles to spend time at the legendary River Kwai before heading to Chiang Mai to tour various golden temples. More jungle fun is in store with a zip-line ride, and the trip ends with free time on the beaches of Phuket and kayak rides around Phang Nga Bay.
More Great Thailand Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Thailand? Check out these other Thailand itineraries, with outdoor adventures, beach trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.