This weeklong Thailand itinerary covers everything from wildlife and the outdoors to cuisine and culture. Start in Chiang Mai, where you'll meet gentle giants up close at an elephant sanctuary. Dive into nature at Khao Sok National Park on a night safari, and stay in a private treehouse among the jungle treetops. Explore the tranquil shores of Cheow Lan Lake before heading for Phuket, where you'll have ample time to enjoy the rich history and spectacular beaches of this captivating corner of Thailand.

Highlights

  • Explore the culture and cuisine of Chiang Mai
  • Play with, bathe, and feed elephants at an ethical elephant sanctuary 
  • Enjoy a night safari in Khao Sok National Park 
  • Stay the night in a floating bungalow on Cheow Lan Lake
  • Discover the turquoise seas and white sand beaches of Phuket

Daily Schedule

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Chiang Mai Chiang Mai
Day 2 Visit the Elephant Sanctuary Chiang Mai
Day 3 Transfer to Khao Sok National Park, Night Safari Experience Khao Sok National Park
Day 4 Cheow Lan Lake Explorer Khao Sok National Park
Day 5  Transfer to Phuket Phuket
Day 6 Beaches & Culture in Phuket Phuket
Day 7 Depart Phuket  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Chiang Mai

The Great Holy Relics Pagoda Nabhapolbhumisiri in Chiang Mai

Touch down in Thailand for the exotic adventure of a lifetime. After you've gotten your bearings and collected your baggage, a private English-speaking driver will be waiting to escort you to your accommodations in Chiang Mai, an area in northern Thailand famed for its mountainous landscape and laid-back vibe. Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring at your own pace.

Considered the country's cultural capital, Chiang Mai is home to a charming Old Town and a remarkable selection of temples—like the intricate Wat Phra Singh, the 15th-century Wat Chedi Luang, and the mountainside Doi Suthep—which is the perfect spot to take in a spectacular sunset. As night falls, sample some local cuisine like khao soi (coconut curry soup) at one of the town's many street food stalls and restaurants.

Day 2: Visit the Elephant Sanctuary

Meet the rehabilitated residents of an elephant sanctuary near Chiang Mai

Many people come to Chiang Mai to enjoy an up-close, ethical experience with rescued elephants at a local sanctuary. Make sure you've packed your swimsuits today, then meet your driver for a transfer into a picturesque valley nearby to meet a herd of gentle giants. Once you've changed into your mahout clothing (traditional elephant-keeper garb), you'll spend the best part of the morning feeding and washing the elephants and getting to experience these majestic creatures up close.

After lunch, cool off in the pool and soak up the surrounding views of the Chiang Mai Valley. Then, indulge in a mud bath with the elephants; this is a fun way to build a natural barrier on their sensitive skin, keep them clean, and protect them from the scorching sun. Elephants feel most comfortable when bathing and are more likely to interact and play with you during this time. The elephants will then enjoy the opportunity to roam free and snack on some more food before you hop in your private transfer back to your hotel in the heart of Chiang Mai.

Day 3: Transfer to Khao Sok National Park, Night Safari Experience

Heo Suwat Waterfall
Heo Suwat Waterfall in Khao Sok National Park

On day three, you'll have ample time to enjoy breakfast in your hotel before getting picked up for your flight to Surat Thani. Located close to the mouth of the Taki River on the Gulf of Thailand, this area is the gateway to many of Thailand's most breathtaking islands—including Ko Samui, Ko Tao, and Ko Pha Ngan

Upon arrival, a driver will be waiting to collect you for the two-hour transfer to Khao Sok National Park, an area teeming with flora and fauna, limestone mountains peppered with caves, and the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world. It's also chock full of giant lakes and dense forests, ideal for canoeing and jungle trekking. Once you've arrived, you'll head to your unique accommodations deep within the rainforest and settle into your own traditional Thai-style private treehouse with sweeping river or valley views.

Enjoy a dinner sourced from the on-site organic farm, then head out on a night safari as the sun sets. Follow your guide for two hours through the tropical rainforest and keep your eyes peeled and flashlight on to spot slow lorises, sambar deer, bats, or even a reclusive leopard.

Day 4: Cheow Lan Lake Explorer

Set off for the shores of Cheow Lan Lake today

More adventures await on day four as you set off for a stay on Cheow Lan Lake in the heart of Khao Sok National Park. Surrounded by limestone karst and thick, ancient rainforest, it's an area rich in natural beauty and home to all sorts of wildlife, from Malayan sun bears and leopards to elephants and wild guar buffalo. The site also thrums with hundreds of bird species, as the lake is filled with various freshwater fish and is a valuable food source for the local bird population.

Watch the sunset as you feast on a dinner of fresh fish caught from the lake, and chill out in your own private, floating bungalow with the backdrop of the lake glistening under the star-filled night sky.

Day 5: Transfer to Phuket

Phuket's Big Buddha

Awake this morning to the calls of gibbons, birds chirping, and the insect world's rhythmic hum. Start the day with a hike through the jungle on a half-day safari trip, where you'll see carpets of blooming flowers and plentiful wildlife. Afterward, a driver awaits to transfer you south to your next destination of Phuket, where a mosaic of magnificent beaches, palm-lined streets, and fabulous food awaits on Thailand's largest island. 

After settling in, enjoy some downtime exploring everything the island offers, from incredible street food and restaurants to buzzy nightlife and historic architecture. The Old Town is jam-packed with magnificent shrines, temples, and beautifully preserved townhouses, and the streets are full of picturesque cafés, artisan shops, and local galleries showcasing a range of art, from ancient to contemporary. For dinner, embrace the prominent Chinese influence of the island and chow down on authentic Chinese cuisine and fusion Thai food.

Day 6: Beaches & Culture in Phuket

Phuket's Ya Nui Beach

Today is free to discover more of Phuket at your leisure. Spend some time exploring the diversities of this eclectic island, from the breathtaking beaches that make up its southern and western coastlines to the glamorous beach clubs dotted around the northwest. A great place to start is at Karon View Point, located south of Kata Noi Beach. It offers views of the Andaman Sea and three of Phuket's most breathtaking beaches. Next, head to the island's Big Buddha, a 148-foot (45 m) iconic statue of the Maravika Buddha and one of Phuket's most popular landmarks. 

For a day at the beach, Patong and Karon offer stretches of white 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. If you want to explore more of the underwater world, Phuket has its fair share of incredible dive sites, but it's also only a stone's throw away from some of the best diving spots in the entire region. 

If it's culture and heritage that you're looking to sink your teeth into, explore more of Phuket Town. Over the years, the area has cemented itself as an exciting destination for culture seekers. Spend some time flitting between the museums here; from eye-opening exhibitions on the history of Phuket to a seashell museum showcasing magnificent seashells sourced from all over the world, there's something for every type of traveler.                     

Day 7: Depart Phuket

Sunset over Phuket's Phang Nga Bay

After a leisurely morning and breakfast, it's time to say goodbye to Thailand. Hop into your private transfer, head for the airport, and enjoy a safe journey home. 

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Map

Map of Nature & Culture in Thailand: Chiang Mai, Khao Sok National Park & Phuket - 7 Days
Map of Nature & Culture in Thailand: Chiang Mai, Khao Sok National Park & Phuket - 7 Days