This 15-day itinerary gives you enough time to enjoy the best of Thailand. First, you'll explore Bangkok, wander through Ayutthaya's ruins, and see the famous Bridge on the River Khwae. Then head north to Chiang Mai, where you'll see elephants and meet local tribespeople, explore the famous Golden Triangle, and wander through spectacular temples. The last leg of your journey will take you to Phuket to explore the surrounding islands by boat, relax on the beach, and watch a Muay Thai fight.


  • Explore ancient ruins in Ayutthaya Historical Park
  • Relax on a bamboo raft as you drift down the River Khwae
  • Enjoy the stunning views and sparkling waters of the Phi Phi Islands
  • Get your adrenaline pumping as you watch a Muay Thai match

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bangkok, Explore the City, Optional Dinner Cruise Bangkok
Day 2 Visit a Floating Market & Get to Know Bangkok Bangkok
Day 3 Transfer to Ayutthaya & Visit the Historical Park Ayutthaya
Day 4 Transfer to Kanchanaburi, Take a Bamboo Raft Down the River Kwai Kanchanaburi
Day 5 Visit Erawan National Park, Optional Dance Performance Kanchanaburi
Day 6 Transfer to Bangkok via the Death Railway Museum & Mae Klong Market Bangkok
Day 7 Fly to Chiang Mai & Explore Chiang Mai
Day 8 Eco Elephant Care & Craft Workshop Visit Chiang Mai
Day 9 Explore the Famous Golden Triangle Chiang Mai
Day 10 Day Trip to Lamphun, Optional Khantoke Dinner Chiang Mai
Day 11 Fly to Phuket & Half-Day City Tour Phuket
Day 12 Boat Trip to the Phi Phi Islands Phuket
Day 13 Sail to Coral Island by Catamaran Yacht Phuket
Day 14 Watch Muay Thai in Phuket Phuket
Day 15 Depart Phuket  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bangkok, Explore the City, Optional Dinner Cruise

Bangkok skyline
Immerse yourself in the buzz of Bangkok, Thailand's capital

Welcome to Thailand, the "Land of Smiles!" Upon arrival, your driver will be waiting for you at the airport to transfer you to your hotel. Spend the rest of the day relaxing or exploring Bangkok on your own. Thailand's capital is known for its vibrant street life and ornate shrines. Get to know the city by stopping at some must-visit spots, like the Wat Saket Temple (Golden Mount), once the highest point in Bangkok. Though it was rebuilt and restored by King Rama I, this is one of Bangkok's oldest temples, dating back to the Ayutthaya era—lasting until 1767. 

After enjoying the stunning views from the temple, drop by a street food stall called Jay Fai, Bangkok's first street food stall to be awarded a Michelin star. Later, head to the famous Khao San Road, a bustling nightlife spot that is a great place to grab a drink and meet visitors from all over the world. Or, if you'd like, opt for a river cruise along the Chao Phraya, where you can spot the city's landmarks while enjoying a delicious buffet dinner. 

Day 2: Visit a Floating Market & Get to Know Bangkok

Floating market visit and Bangkok exploration day
Floating market visit

Leave your hotel early to visit one of Bangkok's famous floating markets. Klong Lat Mayom market is conveniently located close to downtown Bangkok and offers an authentic and uncrowded experience. Enjoy the colorful sights, sounds, and smells of the various food boats, listen to live music, and take in the local vibes. Then, move on to the iconic Wat Arun Temple (Temple of Dawn). This temple was built during the Ayutthaya period and is named after Aruna, the Indian god of the dawn.

Afterward, take a local ferry boat to the opposite pier to visit Wat Pho Temple, home to Thailand's largest Buddha image collection. Explore the spectacular grounds, then stop for a lunch break at a nearby restaurant. Next, walk for 10 minutes to visit the beautiful, immersive architecture of the Grand Palace complex, the official residence of Thai kings since 1782. If you have time and energy, take a tuk-tuk and finish your day at Bangkok's famous Chatuchak Weekend Market, where you'll find a variety of clothing, shoes, and handicrafts. 

Day 3: Transfer to Ayutthaya & Visit the Historical Park 

Ayutthaya Historical Park
Ayutthaya Historical Park

Today, you'll explore Thailand's ancient capital, Ayutthaya, a UNESCO-listed archaeological site. In the 17th century, this was one of East Asia's largest and wealthiest cities. It was also once the capital of the Kingdom of Siam and was a prosperous international trading port from 1350 until the Burmese demolished it in 1767. The ruins of the old city now form the Ayutthaya Historical Park, an archaeological site that contains monasteries, palaces, statues, and Buddhist temples.

Ayutthaya Historical Park consists of over 300 historical sites, including the three surrounding rivers (the Chao Phraya, Pa Sak, and Lopburi) and the ruins within the complex. Wander around and explore the fascinating and picturesque buildings here, then take the afternoon to visit the Ancient Palace and Bueng Phra Ram Park. Afterward, enjoy a tour of the Portuguese Archeology Museum, where you'll get a glimpse into the role the Portuguese played in Ayutthaya's weaponry, skills, and trading history through displays and pictures.

Day 4: Transfer to Kanchanaburi, Take a Bamboo Raft Down the River Khwae

Rafting on the River Kwai
Sit back as you take in the Thai scenery on a raft down River Khwae

Leave the ancient ruined city of Ayutthaya and move on to your next destination, Kanchanaburi, in a mountainous region bordering Burma. The drive takes around 2.5 hours, and you'll see plenty of lovely views along the way.

Once you arrive, settle into your accommodation and head out for a little bamboo rafting. The rafts used in this area are made by local Mon people using traditional materials. As you relax on the raft, a local staff member will steer for you while you sit back and enjoy the lush natural scenery. This leisurely, 50-minute activity is suitable for all ages. 

Day 5: Visit Erawan National Park, Optional Dance Performance

Erawan National Park
Enjoy a walk through Erawan National Park to see its namesake falls

Enjoy a visit to one of the most beautiful parks in Thailand, Erawan National Park. Here, seven waterfalls follow one another along a marked trail of about 1 mile (2 km). The best time to visit Erawan Falls is when the water level is high, between September and December, right after the rainy season and before the dry season. Hike along a trail that takes about 1.5 hours to hike up and about half an hour to get down. As you approach the sixth and seventh waterfalls, the path becomes less accessible and more adventurous.

Each waterfall pours into a natural pool of turquoise water, where you can stop for a refreshing swim break. The second waterfall, Wang Mat Cha, is a great spot to sit and relax. Later, dry off and head back for dinner and some free time to enjoy the exceptional natural setting of your accommodation. If you'd like, spend the evening at a Mon cultural dance show, where you'll see villagers dressed in traditional costumes performing six unique dances, accompanied by a live orchestra. 

Day 6: Transfer to Bangkok via the Death Railway Museum & Mae Klong Market

Death Railway Bridge over the River Kwai, Kanchanaburi
Death Railway Bridge over the River Khwae, Kanchanaburi

Depart from Kanchanaburi and return to Bangkok. On the way, visit the Kanchanaburi Museum to learn about the tragic history of the Death Railway and the famous "Bridge on the River Kwai." During World War II, it is estimated that more than 100,000 people died during the construction of this railway, which was to link Thailand and Burma.

Then, drive onward to the Mae Klong Railway Market. This unique market stands on the edge of a railway line and folds and unfolds to make way for trains as they pass by at an impressive speed. After the visit, head to the city center of Bangkok, where you'll check into your hotel and relax. If you want something to do in the evening, consider joining a tasting tour in Bangkok's Chinatown. There, you'll have the chance to sample various street food—from traditional foods, like pad thai and fried rice noodles, to more adventurous options, like fried scorpions and bamboo worms!

Day 7: Fly to Chiang Mai & Explore

Welcome to Chiang Mai!
Monks in Chiang Mai

Take a short flight to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand today. After checking into your hotel, head out to explore. The Old City area retains traces of moats and walls from its history as a religious and cultural center. It's also home to hundreds of ornate Buddhist temples. To begin with, you might want to visit the city's largest central market, Warorot Market, locally known as "Kad Luang." You'll find different fresh fruits, preserved foods, local delicacies, and flowers here.

Next, head to Wat Chedi Luang, home to Chiang Mai's most prominent Buddhist chedi (stupa) and a beautiful example of traditional Lanna architecture. Or, visit Wat Chiang Man, the oldest temple in Chiang Mai. The Lanna-style ordination hall enshrines Phra Kaew Khao, an ancient Buddha image Chiang Mai locals revere. You can also enjoy the colorful sunset at Wat Phra Singh or head to Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, famous for its handicrafts, portrait paintings, jewelry, toys, clothing, and vintage items such as CDs and DVDs. 

Day 8: Eco Elephant Care & Craft Workshop Visit

Happy elephants bathing in the river
Happy elephants bathing in the river

Interact with gentle elephants in a natural setting today as you visit an eco-elephant care project that aims to improve elephants' well-being and increase awareness of their conservation. The project was started by a local family in Meung Kud Village, who have devoted their lives to caring for elephants from generation to generation. You'll have the opportunity to get to know these creatures joyfully and humanely.

Afterward, transfer to the San Kamphaeng District of Chiang Mai for a memorable handicraft excursion. Many of Thailand's major producers are located here, and this half-day tour will allow you to shop for quality local products. Browse the selection of elaborate teakwood carvings, intricate silverware, lustrous black lacquer ware, high-fired ceramics, and silk parasols in an array of dazzling rainbow hues. You can also watch artisans traditionally weave Thai silk and cotton on rustic wooden looms and skilled artists deftly and swiftly paint artwork on parasols. 

Day 9: Explore the Famous Golden Triangle

Famous Golden Triangle Exploration
Explore the famous Golden Triangle

Start your adventure in the Golden Triangle area today. Your driver will pick you up from your hotel and head off along a route that winds through scenic hills, valleys, and villages via Doi Saket. On the way, take a short break at Mae Kachan Hot Spring. After refreshing in the hot spring, continue the drive until you reach Wat Rong Khun, better known as the "White Temple." This privately-owned art exhibit in the style of a Buddhist temple opened to visitors in 1997.

Afterward, pay a visit to the famous long-neck and hill tribes of northern Thailand. Meet the tribespeople, talk to them, and learn about their daily life and languages. Then, head to the banks of the Mekong River to learn about the Golden Triangle, infamous for its association with the opium trade. After lunch at a local restaurant, take a boat trip along the river to nearby Laos Island before returning to Chiang Mai. 

Day 10: Day Trip to Lamphun, Optional Khantoke Dinner

Lantern festival in Lamphun
Lantern festival in Lamphun

Leave your hotel in Chiang Mai and travel 16 miles (26 km) south toward Lamphun. This city was once part of Hariphunchai, an ancient Mon empire founded around 660 CE. As you enter the city, you'll see the remnants of the old fortified walls and the surrounding moat, constructed in the 16th century. Make a first stop at the main temple of the province, Wat Prathat Hariphunchai, a Royal Temple built in 897 CE by the King of Lamphun. This temple is notable for its massive 167-foot (51 m) Golden Pagoda that enshrines a relic of the Lord Buddha from India.

In the same compound, explore sites like the Buddha Footprint and the Teak Wood Library, which houses many ancient Pali scripts, as well as a Lanna-style chedi and a huge call-to-prayer gong. Then, visit Wat Jammathevee, named after Queen Jammathevee, the first ruler of Haripunchai. Afterward, proceed to Pa Sang Village, a cotton-weaving community, where you can see how cotton is woven on a traditional wooden loom. In the evening, return to Chiang Mai, where you'll have the opportunity to enjoy a traditional multicourse Khantoke dinner accompanied by live music and dancing. 

Day 11: Fly to Phuket & Half-Day City Tour

Phuket Half-Day City Tour
Fly south to laid-back Phuket and explore Sino-Portuguese Old Town

Depart northern Thailand today as you transfer to Chiang Mai Airport for your flight to Phuket. Upon arrival, meet your driver and prepare for a half-day city tour of Phuket's old town area on foot.

You'll pass by colorful Sino-Portuguese shophouses, charming cafés, and some excellent local Thai restaurants. As you wander around town, you'll also have the chance to visit Thai temples, Chinese shrines, historic mansions, and museums. To conclude your tour, spend some time snapping photos on the bright and cheerful Thalang Road, where you'll find a bustling weekend market. Then head to your hotel for check-in, and spend the rest of the day exploring at your leisure. 

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

Day 12: Boat Trip to the Phi Phi Islands

Boat trip to Phi Phi island
Boat trip to the Phi Phi Islands

Visit the Phi Phi Islands on a day trip. This island group is one of southern Thailand's most beautiful and well-known destinations. You'll visit the islands by boat, and explore Ko Phi Phi Le, Maya Bay, Pileh Bay, and the Viking Cave, as you enjoy splendid views of the sparkling emerald sea. This area is home to some of the best snorkeling in Thailand, thanks to abundant marine life and excellent visibility. You can snorkel, dive, or swim in the blue lagoons during the trip.

Once the excursion is finished, dry off and enjoy a relaxing lunch at a nearby beach area. Then, return to your hotel for the evening. 

Day 13: Sail to Coral Island by Catamaran Yacht

photo credit
Enjoy a sailing trip to Coral Island

Coral Island is situated 6 miles (10 km) south of Phuket. The island is surrounded by multicolored coral reefs and features two long stretches of white-sand beach, crystal-clear waters with plenty of tropical fish, and a few quiet bays. Promthep Cape is the southernmost point of Phuket. This point is one of the most popular areas of Phuket and has earned iconic status. Due to its southern-facing location, it offers a picturesque view of the Andaman Sea.

Around noon, your driver will pick you up in your hotel lobby and transfer you to the pier. Then, you'll sail to Coral Island on a catamaran yacht. Upon arrival, enjoy some snorkeling, and spot various species of fish and beautiful coral reefs. You'll also have time to relax on the beach and swim in the crystalline waters. When the sun goes down, savor a romantic dinner onboard the yacht before returning to the island.

Day 14: Watch Muay Thai in Phuket

Muay Thai in Phuket
Muay Thai in Phuket

Muay Thai, also known as Thai Boxing, is Thailand's national sport and cultural martial art. It was developed several hundred years ago as a form of close combat that uses the entire body as a weapon. This martial art incorporates the use of hands, knees, shins, and elbows. This allows the practitioner to use all the weapons available to the human body in kicking and punching range, as well as the clinch position.

In Phuket, most Muay Thai competitions start from around 6 pm to 9 pm, depending on the stadium. Watching a traditional fight is exciting, and today you'll experience the adrenaline rush firsthand as you attend a match. After a day of relaxation in Phuket, meet your driver in the evening to head to the fight, then return to your hotel. 

Day 15: Depart Phuket

Say goodbye to Phuket
Say goodbye to Thailand today! Meet your driver in your hotel lobby, and head to Phuket's international airport to catch your flight home. Enjoy your travels, and have a safe and comfortable journey!

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Map of Nature & Culture in Thailand: Bangkok to Phuket - 15 Days
Map of Nature & Culture in Thailand: Bangkok to Phuket - 15 Days
Written by Tina Oo, updated Mar 28, 2023