Escape to some of Southeast Asia's most spectacular beaches with this far-reaching 21-day journey through Thailand and Cambodia. Island hop around Phuket, spend the day with elephants in Railay, kayak off the white sands of Krabi, and zoom around Ko Samui's Angthong Marine National Park by speedboat. Take a break from sun and sand for a dose of culture in Bangkok and Siem Reap, then end on the blissful shores of Cambodia's up-and-coming island paradise of Koh Rong.


  • Cruise the Phi Phi Islands from Phuket and cruise to Phang Nga Bay
  • Play with elephants at Ao Nang Elephant Sanctuary
  • Explore the bustling atmosphere of Thailand's capital, Bangkok
  • Watch the sunrise over the ancient temple complex of Angkor
  • See bioluminescent plankton glow in Koh Rong's waters

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Phuket (Thailand), Thai Massage at Oasis Spa Phuket
Day 2 Speedboat Tour of the Phi Phi Islands Phuket
Day 3 Boat Cruise to Phang Nga Bay Phuket
Day 4 Transfer to Railay, Rock Climbing, Beach Time & Bioluminescence Railay
Day 5 Island Hopping Around Railay by Speedboat Railay
Day 6 Ao Nang Elephant Sanctuary Half-Day Tour Railay
Day 7 Transfer to Krabi, Wat Tham Suea Temple & Night Market Krabi
Days 8-9 Two Free Days to Explore Krabi at Your Own Pace  Krabi
Day 10 Fly to Ko Samui, Relax on Bophut Beach, Visit Fisherman's Village Ko Samui
Day 11 Speedboat Tour of Angthong Marine National Park Ko Samui
Day 12 Explore Ko Samui's Beaches, Waterfalls & Markets Ko Samui
Day 13 Fly to Bangkok, Explore the Capital's Landmarks Bangkok
Day 14 Visit Damnoean Saduak Floating Market, Tour the Grand Palace Bangkok
Day 15 Fly to Siem Reap (Cambodia), Street Food Tour by Tuk-Tuk Siem Reap
Day 16 Watch the Sunrise Over Angkor Wat, Explore Angkor Thom & Ta Prohm Siem Reap
Day 17 Visit the Floating Villages of Tonlé Sap, Fly to Sihanoukville Sihanoukville
Day 18 Transfer to the Tropical Paradise of Koh Rong Koh Rong
Day 19 Snorkeling, Barbecue Dinner & Glowing Plankton Koh Rong
Day 20 Spend Your Last Day Enjoying the Island's Natural Landscapes Koh Rong
Day 21 Transfer to Phnom Penh via Sihanoukville, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Phuket (Thailand), Thai Massage at Oasis Spa

Spot Phuket's famous Big Buddha statue, which overlooks the island

Welcome to Thailand's largest island, Phuket! Meet your driver outside Phuket International Airport to transfer to your hotel near the beach. Head out for a stroll along the white sand or a leisurely swim to wind down after your flight, but keep an eye on the clock—at an agreed time, your driver will pick you up and take you to Oasis Spa for a two-hour, traditional Thai massage.

Relax as your masseuse performs slow pressing, kneading, and stretching movements across your entire body, which helps energize and increase blood and oxygen circulation. Once you're rejuvenated, venture into Phuket's Old Town to discover the streets full of charming cafés, local eateries, and trendy restaurants. Choose from a mix of international and Thai dishes to fill your belly before returning to the hotel to rest. 

Day 2: Speedboat Tour of the Phi Phi Islands

Cruise across the turquoise waters surrounding the Phi Phi Islands

Today, you get to explore the popular Phi Phi Islands, which bring many travelers to the area. Hop in a boat and set off to discover the island group, home to pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant marine life. Start your tour at Ko Phi Phi Ley, made famous by the movie "The Beach," filmed in Maya Bay. Enjoy views of the turquoise bay from the boat and continue around the island to Pileh Cove to swim in the warm waters.

Next, cruise to the nearby Viking Cave to see the ancient paintings lining its walls and hanging bird's nests locals use for culinary and medicinal purposes. Head to Ko Phi Phi Don to visit Monkey Beach, where you can get up close and personal with the playful monkeys that inhabit the area. Swim or snorkel around the island to see the colorful coral and fish before enjoying a local lunch on land. End your boat cruise at Bamboo Island, where you can swim and relax before returning to Phuket.

Day 3: Boat Cruise to Phang Nga Bay

Discover deserted beaches and hidden inlets on today's cruise around Phang Nga

Join another overwater adventure today to the limestone cliffs and emerald-green waters of Phang Nga Bay. Head to Ao Por Pier, where you can enjoy complimentary coffee, tea, and dessert before boarding your luxury boat. Stop at Panak Island to transfer to a canoe with your guide so you can enter either the Bat Cave or Mangrove Cave. Both caves are aptly named, so it's up to you to decide whether you want to explore the lush mangroves or see the sleeping bats hanging from the ceiling.

Paddle back to the boat to cruise to Hong Island, where you can jump into a canoe again to discover the hidden caves and lagoons. Enjoy a delicious buffet lunch back on board before cruising to Ko Tapu, better known as James Bond Island, as it was the filming location for the movie "The Man with the Golden Gun." Admire the sheer limestone monolith from the boat, then jump in the turquoise waters for a refreshing swim. Climb back into the boat and return to Phuket for the night.

Day 4: Transfer to Railay, Rock Climbing, Beach Time & Bioluminescence

Railay's limestone cliffs make it a haven for rock climbing and caving

Say goodbye to Phuket as you embark on a 3.5-hour transfer to Railay, a small peninsula between Krabi and Ao Nang. Check into your hotel, then head out to discover the area on your own. If you're feeling adventurous, join a rock-climbing tour to explore the giant limestone cliffs along the coast. Don't worry if you have no experience, as some rock faces are even suitable for beginners.

Those looking for a more relaxing afternoon can go to Railay Beach, nestled on the Andaman Sea. Swim in the shadows of the dramatic cliffs or lay on the white sand to sunbathe. After your adventurous or relaxing afternoon, join an evening tour to see the bioluminescent plankton light up Railay's waters in a soft, blue glow. End the night with a drink at Walking Street, a pedestrian-only avenue full of casual, open-air bars. 

Day 5: Island Hopping Around Railay by Speedboat

Find the chicken head shape in the rocks of Ko Kai

Wake up early for an island-hopping tour, starting at the small, uninhabited Ko Tup, only 2 miles (3 km) south of the peninsula. After a quick cruise, hop off the boat into the shallow water to walk along the sandbar that emerges at low tide. Walk across the crystal-clear water to the nearby Ko Kai, better known as Chicken Island, since the rocky isle is shaped like a chicken head. Explore both islands, then swim or snorkel in the surrounding waters before continuing to Ko Poda to enjoy a delicious picnic lunch. 

After lunch, swim in the turquoise waters, admiring the towering limestone rock formations on the shores. In the early afternoon, cruise to Phra Nang Beach, where you can discover the nearby cave dedicated to the goddess Phra Nang, whose ghost locals believe resides inside. Enter this sacred place and admire the colorful offerings fishermen still leave here, asking the goddess for help. Wave goodbye to the islands as you return to the pier around 2 pm. Head back to the hotel to relax or visit one of the nearby beaches to catch some more sun. 

Day 6: Ao Nang Elephant Sanctuary Half-Day Tour

Spend time with the rescued elephants at Ao Nang Elephant Sanctuary

Today, you get to interact with Thailand's national animal, the Asian elephant, at Ao Nang Elephant Sanctuary in Krabi. Upon arrival, meet your guide and listen as they teach you about the elephants in the sanctuary, many of whom were rescued from the logging or tourism industries. Then, you get to feed these gentle giants fresh fruit and watch as they enjoy a mud spa.

If you don't mind getting messy, you can join in and help cover them in mud to moisturize their thick skin. Once they're covered, walk with the elephants to the water so they can bathe and cool off. You'll have a chance to brush the animals and watch them enjoy being pampered. When all the elephants are clean, take some final photos before you say goodbye to your newfound friends, change into dry clothes, and return to Railay. 

Day 7: Transfer to Krabi, Wat Tham Suea Temple & Night Market

Climb over 1,200 steps to visit Wat Tham Suea for a bird's-eye view over Krabi

Enjoy your final breakfast in Railay at the hotel, then meet your driver and head 2.5 hours down the coast to Krabi, another coastal gem along the Andaman Sea. Check into your new hotel and venture out to explore the town on your own. Discover one of the many temples in the area, such as Wat Tham Suea, also known as the Tiger Cave Temple, as the nearby cave is said to have been inhabited by tigers in the past. Put on comfortable shoes and climb the 1,200 stairs to the summit. The trek will be worth it, as you can enjoy panoramic views of the countryside and turquoise coastline at the top. 

After taking in the view, enter the temple itself to admire the large golden Buddha statue inside. Hike back down the mountain and visit a local restaurant for delicious, fresh seafood overlooking the water. When you're full, stroll to a nearby beach to watch the sunset over the sea. End the night at Krabi Town Night Market, browsing the stalls adorned with colorful crafts, clothing, and souvenirs. Shop, try some street food if you're still hungry, or get a drink and enjoy the lively atmosphere. 

Days 8-9: Two Free Days to Explore Krabi at Your Own Pace 

Kayak across the pristine waters off Ao Nang Beach

The next two days are free for you to enjoy this coastal town at your own pace. You can spend an entire day at Ao Nang Beach, celebrated for its pristine shoes and limestone formations. The gently curving bay creates the ideal setting for swimming and watersports like paddleboarding or kayaking. Relax on the white sand or stroll down the coast, ending the day watching a colorful sunset over the water. 

After a relaxing day on the beach, you can spend your following free day at Khao Phanom Bencha National Park, discovering its expansive rainforest and rugged mountain terrain. Trek through the dense jungle to reach hidden waterfalls and natural pools. Stop at the notable Huai To Waterfall to swim and unwind amid the serene sounds of nature. Keep an eye out for exotic birds or monkeys in the trees as you return to the entrance and transfer back to Krabi.

Plan your trip to Thailand
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 10: Fly to Ko Samui, Relax on Bophut Beach, Visit Fisherman's Village

Another Thai island paradise awaits you on Ko Samui

Leave the Andaman Sea behind for the Gulf of Thailand as this morning, you fly to Ko Samui, the second-largest island in the country. After the 50-minute flight, check into your hotel, then head to Bophut Beach to lay on the golden sand and surround yourself with swaying palm trees. Swim in the turquoise waters or take a leisurely walk along the shores before visiting the nearby Fisherman's Village, a quaint neighborhood full of traditional Thai-Chinese architecture.

Walk down the narrow alleys, exploring boutique shops and savoring fresh seafood at one of the beachfront restaurants. If you visit on a Friday, wait until dark to discover the weekly night market. Browse the many stalls selling clothing, jewelry, sunglasses, and handmade souvenirs. Shop for one-of-a-kind treats or enjoy a cold Thai beer at one of the market's many bars to end the night. 

Day 11: Speedboat Tour of Angthong Marine National Park

Snorkel in the crystal-clear water of Angthong Marine National Park

Wake up early to explore Angthong Marine National Park, an archipelago composed of 42 islands. Check in at the tour office, pick up your snorkeling gear, and have a light breakfast before hopping on a speed boat at the pier. Cruise to Ko Wao to snorkel around Wao Rock. Dive under the water and discover the kaleidoscope of coral reefs teeming with an array of marine life, from colorful fish to sea turtles, before continuing to Ko Mae Ko to see Talay Nai, the "Emerald Lake."

Disembark and start the short hike to the lake. Enjoy the pristine waters from the dock, as swimming is forbidden here. Visit Ko Wua Ta Lap next to enjoy a buffet lunch at one of the island's restaurants. Once you're full, choose between laying on the beach, kayaking around the island, or climbing to the top for a panoramic view of the surrounding islands. Say goodbye to the national park as you return to the tour office for some cookies and fruit before transferring back to your hotel.

Day 12: Explore Ko Samui's Beaches, Waterfalls & Markets

Trek to Hin Lad Waterfall and swim in the natural pool

Enjoy a free day to explore Ko Samui at your own pace. Visit one of the 30 beaches across the island, such as Chaweng or Lamai, and spend the day relaxing in the sun. If you're looking for a more adventurous activity, you can trek into the jungle to see Hin Lad Waterfall instead. Start the easy, 30-minute hike into the trees, crossing streams and admiring the local flora and fauna. When you reach the cascading waters, jump into the natural pool for a refreshing dip before returning on the same path. 

If you'd prefer a panoramic view of the island, scrap the waterfall and catch a cable car up the mountain of Laem Mai to Lamai Viewpoint, located 107 feet (32 m) above sea level. Enjoy the picturesque view, then jump on a zipline across the jungle if you're feeling adventurous. The backdrop of the island's beaches and the sparkling ocean add an extra layer of excitement to the adventure. If your free day falls on a Sunday, end the night at Lamai Night Market along the beach. Walk through the lively market to try delectable street food, look for souvenirs, or listen to the array of live music.

Day 13: Fly to Bangkok, Explore the Capital's Landmarks

Admire the 150-foot-long reclining Buddha in Wat Pho

Bid farewell to Thailand's beaches and islands as you jump on a 1.5-hour flight to the bustling capital of Bangkok this morning. Meet your driver outside the airport and transfer to your hotel in the city. Leave your bags in your room and venture out to explore on your own. Visit one of the many colorful temples, such as Wat Pho, the oldest and largest temple complex in the city. Enter the main building to see the colossal reclining Buddha lying at 150 feet (46 m). 

Walk to the nearby Chao Phraya River for a cruise along the city's arterial waterway to see landmarks like the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. Disembark and head to Jodd Fairs Night Market, one of the most popular markets in the country. Stroll the narrow alleys full of food and souvenirs, trying traditional dishes like leng saap, a spicy pork bone soup with chilies. If you're feeling adventurous, try some of the deep-fried insects you can find at every Thai market. Wash them down with a Chang, a local beer, before returning to your hotel for the night.

Day 14: Visit Damnoean Saduak Floating Market, Tour the Grand Palace

Cruise down the canals of Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

This morning, your driver will take you 1.5 hours out of the city to Ratchaburi province, home to today's destination, the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. When you arrive at the pier, hop on a long-tailed boat and cruise through remote plantations and villages to get to the market. You'll be greeted by vendors selling their wares in boats and on the canal's shores. Browse their selection of street food, fresh fruit, and souvenirs on the water, then disembark to stroll through the winding alleyways. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before returning to Bangkok to visit the nation's landmark, the Grand Palace.

Enter the opulent palace grounds to explore the old residence of Thailand's royal families, as the complex is now used for ceremonial purposes. Walk through the many courtyards, admire the mix of Thai and European architectural styles, and enter Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) to see the most revered image of Buddha in the country. Return to the hotel to rest your feet before heading back out for dinner. You can discover one of the many night markets or meander through Chinatown's streets for some delicious street food. 

Day 15: Fly to Siem Reap (Cambodia), Street Food Tour by Tuk-tuk

Try traditional Khmer dishes, like this fish amok, on your tuk-tuk street food tour

Enjoy your last breakfast in Thailand at the hotel, as this morning, you fly to Siem Reap, the gateway to the Angkor ruins in northwestern Cambodia. After the quick, one-hour flight, meet your driver outside Siem Reap International Airport and transfer to your new hotel. You can stay in and rest or venture out to explore the city on your own before tonight's activity. Rent a bike to cycle the countryside, visit the Angkor National Museum to learn about the temples before you see them tomorrow, or head to Phsar Chas, the Old Market, to shop. 

Return to the hotel in the evening to embark on a local street food tour. Hop on a motorized rickshaw called a tuk-tuk and listen as your guide teaches you about Cambodian life and culture so you can truly appreciate their traditional dishes. Sample authentic Khmer dishes from the best streetside food stalls and local markets, such as lok lak, a stir-fried beef dish, or fish amok, a steamed fish curry. End the night with a drink at the classy Miss Wong Cocktail Bar

Day 16: Watch the Sunrise Over Angkor Wat, Explore Angkor Thom & Ta Prohm

Watch the sunrise over the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Angkor Wat

Set your alarm this morning to catch a sunrise over the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Angkor Wat. Once the sun's rays illuminate the temple's spires, return to the hotel for breakfast. After refueling, continue your tour of the Angkor ruins at Angkor Thom, established in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII. Enter through the iconic South Gate, flanked by towering stone statues, as you cross over the moat into the city's fortified walls. Explore the many temples and structures within, such as the enigmatic stone faces lining the Bayon Temple or the bas-reliefs sculpted into the Terrace of Elephants.

Don't miss the Terrace of the Leper King, named after King Darmaraja, before returning to Angkor Wat to get a deeper look at the massive temple complex. Admire the intricate stone carvings, look into the serene reflection pools, and stand in the expansive courtyards to wonder at the grandeur of the Khmer Empire. Follow your guide to Ta Prohm next, a temple built in 1186 CE. This building is unique as kapok trees have intertwined with the structure over centuries, creating an otherworldly atmosphere that blends natural and human-made elements.

Day 17: Visit the Floating Villages of Tonlé Sap, Fly to Sihanoukville

See how the locals live in the floating villages of Tonlé Sap, Cambodia's "Great Lake"

Your last day in Siem Reap takes you on a guided excursion 11 miles (18 km) south of Siem Reap toward Tonlé Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. Hop on a private boat and cruise across the lake to its famous floating villages and permanent communities, including schools, markets, and restaurants, all built on the water. Learn how the communities sustain themselves throughout the seasons, visit one of the many floating restaurants, or continue your boat ride through flooded forests of mangrove trees.

After this insightful tour, head back to Siem Reap to grab your bags and hop on a one-hour flight to Sihanoukville, a coastal town popular for its white-sand beaches. Check in at your hotel and venture out for dinner at one of the many beachfront restaurants and bars. If you're up for it, you can check out one of the opulent casinos that grant the town the nickname "the Las Vegas of Cambodia."

Day 18: Transfer to the Tropical Paradise of Koh Rong

Stroll to the beach near your hotel on Koh Rong
Today takes you back to island life as you catch a one-hour speedboat transfer to Koh Rong, a Cambodian island nestled in the Gulf of Thailand. Check in at your hotel and get your bathing suit on for a relaxing afternoon on the beach just steps away from the property. Swim in the crystal-clear waters, walk along the white sand, or rent snorkeling gear to explore the coral reefs. If you want a bit more adventure, venture into the nearby jungle for a hike to discover hidden waterfalls.

Day 19: Snorkeling, Barbecue Dinner & Glowing Plankton

Watch the bioluminescent plankton light up Koh Rong's waters
After a nourishing breakfast, head back to the beach near your hotel and hop on a boat to visit the best snorkel spots around the island. Swim through the turquoise waters, looking for tropical fish, sea turtles, or graceful rays. You can also try your hand at fishing before enjoying an authentic Cambodian barbecue dinner on the beach while the sun sets around you. When it's dark, jump back into the water to create movement so the blue glow from the resident bioluminescent plankton appears. After watching this natural light show, cruise back to your hotel for the night.

Day 20: Spend Your Last Day Enjoying the Island's Natural Landscapes

Zipline through Ko Rong's lush jungle
The penultimate day of your trip is yours to enjoy as you wish. Head back to the beach near your hotel or one of the other amazing stretches of beach on the island, such as Lonely Beach or Lazy Beach, to lay on the sand or swim in crystal-clear waters. If you want a more action-packed day, you can zipline through the island's lush jungles. As you soar above the treetops, take in panoramic views of the pristine beaches and emerald-green canopies. End your last night with dinner and a drink at Skybar for a panoramic view of the coastline. 

Day 21: Transfer to Phnom Penh via Sihanoukville, Depart

Say goodbye to the beautiful Cambodian beaches as you fly home today
Your Southeast Asian nature and history adventure ends today. Hop in a speed boat for a one-hour ride to Sihanoukville, where a driver will take you 2.5 hours back to Phnom Penh for your flight home. If you have a bit of time before your flight, make one final stop at Phsar Toul Tom Poung, also known as the Russian Market, to look for some last-minute, handcrafted souvenirs. When it's time, transfer to Pnom Penh International Airport in time for your flight. Safe travels! 

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Map of Islands, Temples & Beaches in Thailand & Cambodia - 21 Days
Map of Islands, Temples & Beaches in Thailand & Cambodia - 21 Days
Written by Hien Do, updated Jan 29, 2024