Active travelers will love this 15-day tour of Thailand's cities, national parks, and tropical islands. Start by exploring Bangkok and Chiang Mai followed by a multi-day hike amid the hill tribes of the mountainous north. Next, fly south for more hiking, plus hands-on activities with local communities. Head to a beach resort on the Andaman coast for snorkeling and soaking in hot springs to complete the adventure.


  • See Bangkok's top sites with a guide using various modes of transportation 
  • Spend three days hiking between hill tribe villages in northern Thailand 
  • Swim in beautiful waterfalls in both the north and the south
  • Travel around tropical islands on both traditional long-tail boats and speedboats
  • Stay overnight in a mix of homestays, lodges, hotels, and even a beach resort

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bangkok, Explore Bangkok
Day 2 Full-Day Tour of Bangkok Bangkok
Day 3 Half-Day Tour of Ayutthaya Bangkok
Day 4 Fly to Chiang Mai, Explore Chiang Mai
Day 5 Transfer to Mae Taeng, Hiking Adventure (Day 1) Mae Taeng
Day 6 Hiking Adventure (Day 2) Mae Taeng
Day 7 Hiking Adventure (Day 3), Transfer to Chiang Mai Chiang Mai
Day 8 Fly to Surat Thani, Transfer to Khao Luang National Park Khao Luang 
Day 9 Transfer to Phrom Lok, Community Activities (Day 1) Khao Luang 
Day 10 Community Activities (Day 2) Khao Luang 
Day 11 Transfer to Krabi, Half-Day Guided Tour Ao Nang
Day 12 Day Trip to James Bond Island Ao Nang
Day 13 Day Trip to Phi Phi & Bamboo Islands Ao Nang
Day 14 Day Trip to Krabi Hot Springs & Emerald Lagoon Ao Nang
Day 15 Depart Krabi  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bangkok, Explore

Start your Thailand adventure with a self-guided tour of this modern capital
Sawadika (greetings) and welcome to Thailand! Upon arrival at the airport in Bangkok, your guide will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel in the city. Bangkok boasts a long and storied history as it started as a village settled by the Tai people of southern China back in the 10th century. Various empires ruled for centuries (including the Khmer of Cambodia) until 1782 when King Rama I officially founded Bangkok as the capital of Thailand.
Today, Bangkok is a modern metropolis of over 10 million people that displays its history and culture in the form of hundreds of wats (temples) and shrines. On a self-guided tour, you can see some of these highlights, like the Golden Mount Temple, which sits on the only hill in Bangkok. Climb 320 steps that lead to the top and enjoy some of the best views of Bangkok along the way. You can also take a boat ride down the Chao Phraya River, the city's arterial waterway that flows past Rattanakosin Island, Bangkok's historic center.
Also, be sure to indulge in Bangkok's famous street food. It's some of the best in the world and staples include pad thai, papaya salad, moo ping (grilled pork skewers), jok (rice porridge), and many more. There are even street food stalls, like Jay Fai, that have earned Michelin stars. One of the best places to delight in Bangkok's street eats is in the Chinatown neighborhood, which is the largest Chinatown in the world (outside of China, of course). Younger types may want to have a beer on Khao San Road amid the backpacker atmosphere.

Day 2: Full-Day Tour of Bangkok

Jump on a ferry to get between Wat Arun and Wat Pho

Following breakfast at the hotel, your guide will take you on a full-day tour of Bangkok by road and water. First, you'll hop in a car for the ride to Wat Arun. Located on the Chao Phraya River, this 18th-century Buddhist temple was built during the Ayutthaya period and is named after Aruna, the Hindu god of dawn. After touring Wat Arun, you'll hop on a ferry to the opposite side of the river and Wat Pho. This temple site is one of the oldest in Thailand (it possibly dates as far back as the 13th century) and is known for its 150-foot (46 m) Reclining Buddha

Then it's a short 10-minute walk over to the Grand Palace. This royal complex was constructed in 1782 and has been the official home of Thai royalty ever since. After admiring the architecture and visiting the throne hall, you'll transfer by tuk-tuk (auto rickshaw) to Chatuchak Market, the largest and most famous weekend market in Bangkok. There are around 15,000 vendor stalls, including food kiosks, which makes this a great place to stop for lunch. If you want to do some shopping, you can browse souvenirs, clothing, jewelry, handicrafts, artisanal items, and much more. 
Afterward, you'll visit the Flower Market. Operating 24 hours a day, this colorful marketplace is filled with vendors selling local and imported flowers, including jasmine, roses, orchids, lilies, snapdragons, irises, and many more. When it gets closer to sunset, you'll continue over to Chinatown to sample the delicious street food. At the end of the day, return to your hotel.

Day 3: Half-Day Tour of Ayutthaya

This UNESCO-listed site is a two-hour drive north of Bangkok

Today begins with a half-day tour of Ayutthaya, an ancient city that was once the capital of the Siamese Kingdom (a precursor to Thailand). Located about 50 miles (80 km) north of Bangkok, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was founded in 1350 and quickly became a prosperous international trading port. By the 17th century, it was one of the biggest and wealthiest cities in East Asia. Its ruins now form the Ayutthaya Historical Park, an archaeological site that contains palaces, Buddhist temples, monasteries, and statues.

After a two-hour drive from Bangkok, you'll stroll amid the impressive ruins on an island surrounded by three rivers. The park consists of over 300 historical sites including the Ancient Palace and Bueng Phra Ram Park, a shady green area with temples nearby. Later in the afternoon, you'll visit the Portuguese Archeological Museum. It features exhibits and artifacts detailing the Portuguese influence in Ayutthaya's trading history as well as its weaponry. At the end of the tour, you'll return to Bangkok.

Day 4: Fly to Chiang Mai, Explore

Wat Phra Singh is a 14th-century Buddhist temple in the heart of Chiang Mai

After breakfast in Bangkok, you'll transfer to the airport and catch a 1.5-hour flight north to Chiang Mai. This city is unique in Thailand because from 1296 to 1558 it was the capital of the independent Lanna Kingdom. Much of its rich history still exists in the form of ancient walls, moats, and Buddhist temples found throughout the Old City (historic center). 

Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel in the city where you'll have the rest of the day to explore at your own pace. A good place to start is Wat Phra Singh, a 14th-century Buddhist temple in the Old City. Shoppers for their part can browse the crafts and ceramics along the Handicraft Highway. Or take a tuk-tuk to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a 19th-century temple and one of the most famous pilgrimage sites in Thailand. At night, don't miss the merchant stalls and street-food vendors on Chang Klan Road.

Day 5: Transfer to Mae Taeng, Hiking Adventure (Day 1)

Take a refreshing dip in this dreamy waterfall called Mok Fah
Rise and shine! It's time to start a multi-day hiking adventure in the mountains outside of Chiang Mai. First, you'll meet your driver and hiking guide for the ride north out of the city to the beautiful Mae Taeng region. En route, you'll stop at a rural market to purchase supplies, fresh fruit, and snacks.
Plan your trip to Thailand
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Then continue to Mok Fah, the first of many gorgeous landmarks you'll visit on this excursion. This romantic waterfall plunges 196 feet (60 m) into a lagoon where you'll have time to enjoy a swimming break. In the early afternoon, you'll stop for a local lunch at a traditional restaurant, then continue for about 30 minutes on a dirt road to Huay Nam Dung National Park. From here, you'll leave the vehicle and embark on a two-hour hike to a remote Karen village. Your guide will take the lead, pointing out the exotic flora and fauna along the way.
Once you arrive in the village, you'll meet your hosts for the evening. This is a special experience as the Karen people are part of a hill tribe that represents the largest ethnic group in Thailand. You'll spend the rest of the afternoon and evening meeting the locals and learning about their traditional culture and way of life. 

Day 6: Hiking Adventure (Day 2)

Visit an elephant sanctuary and participate in feedings

Wake up this morning and enjoy breakfast at your homestay in the village. From here, you'll head out on a four-hour hike through Mae Taeng to another Karen village, Bann Pang Khao Laam. The route is pleasant and mostly involves hiking in the shade of the green forest canopy. Upon arrival, a local family will welcome you into their home and serve a home-cooked lunch. 

In the afternoon, you'll take a walk around the village and chat with locals, with your guide acting as a translator. Then spend some quality time at a sanctuary for rescued elephants. During this unforgettable experience, you'll not only hand-feed these majestic creatures but also bathe them in the river. Afterward, return to the village for dinner and overnight in your homestay.

Day 7: Hiking Adventure (Day 3), Transfer to Chiang Mai

A woman of the Lahu Hill Tribe shows off her colorful textiles
After breakfast in the village, you'll hike down to the banks of the Mae Tang River and board a bamboo raft for a fun ride to Baan Pong Ngan. This village is populated by the Lahu hill tribe, a group who migrated into Northern Thailand from the Tibetan plateau sometime around the 19th century. They're known for their colorful clothing created from handmade textiles, which you'll see during a visit.
Next, continue riding the raft for another couple of hours to a village home to the Shan hill tribe. Enjoy lunch here before meeting a vehicle for the ride back to the city of Chiang Mai.

Day 8: Fly to Surat Thani, Transfer to Khao Luang National Park

Take an easy hike to Karom Waterfall to finish the day

It's time to jet off to the tropical south! In the morning, your driver will take you to the airport in Chiang Mai where you'll catch a two-hour flight to Surat Thani. This city sits on the Gulf of Thailand at the mouth of the Tapi River and is the gateway to the beautiful southern isles.

However, you won't be staying in Surat Thani. Upon arrival, a driver will meet you for the two-hour ride south into Khao Luang, a 220-square-mile (570 sq km) national park with hiking trails, exotic wildlife, caves, and waterfalls. Once here, you'll check into a lodge in the park.
Later, you can opt for an easy hike to Karom Waterfall. These falls originate at the top of the Nakhon Si Thammarat mountain range and cascade over 19 terraced rock pools. Hop in these lagoons for a refreshing dip before returning to the lodge for dinner.

Day 9: Transfer to Phrom Lok, Community Activities (Day 1)

Hike around this multi-terraced waterfall in Phrom Lok

Today your driver will pick you up for the ride to Phrom Lok, a small community located within the national park, where you'll stay overnight. Since 2007, the community has been part of a national initiative to promote cultural exchanges between visitors and locals. People here live traditionally and subsist in harmony with this ancient ecosystem by growing fruits like rambutan, mangosteen, rubber, and others. 

Upon arrival, you'll receive a warm welcome from your local hosts. Take some time to relax and then participate in a community activity, like learning the art of batik (an ancient technique of textile dying) where you can create your cloth design with the help of local artists. You'll then sit down with your new friends for a traditional lunch of southern Thai cuisine featuring seasonal fruits and herbal drinks. 
After eating, you'll hop in a songtaew (shared truck taxi) for a ride to the outskirts of the community for more activities and adventures. First, you'll visit Wat Khao Khun Phanom, an impressive cave temple with Buddha statues and frescoes. Then meet local farmers who will show you the secrets of growing organic produce. Next, hike up toward the fourth terrace of the stunning Phrom Lok Waterfall before returning to your homestay for dinner.

Day 10: Community Activities (Day 2)

photo credit: localalike
Learn about the farming industry and take a hands-on workshop
After a leisurely breakfast at your homestay, hop on a bicycle for a half-day tour of some of the farms around the community. These include mushroom fields, rubber plantations, fruit orchards, and many more. Upon returning to the village you'll participate in a workshop in which you'll learn to make traditional bracelets that you can take home.
Lunch will be served in the community in the early afternoon. Say goodbye to your new friends and then transfer from the homestay to a hotel in the park where you'll stay the night.

Day 11: Transfer to Krabi, Half-Day Guided Tour

Get a workout (and enjoy views) during a stair climb to Wat Tham Suea

This morning your driver will pick you up for the 2.5-hour ride west to the Andaman Coast and Krabi, the capital of the region of the same name. This resort area is filled with modern oceanfront hotels, which is exactly where you'll be staying during your time here—right on a stunning stretch of sand called Ao Nang Beach.

Before checking in to your hotel, you'll embark on a half-day guided city tour starting with Wat Tham Suea ("Tiger Cave Temple"). Hike the 1,200 steps to the top for incredible panoramic views of Krabi's countryside and limestone rock mountains. Speaking of mountains, you'll also head to the iconic Khao Khanap Nam, two towering limestone formations rising 328 feet (100 m) that feature caves with hanging stalactites and rising stalagmites. Finish the day at your beach hotel with some time to swim and relax on the sand.

Day 12: Day Trip to James Bond Island

Glide through towering limestone cliffs on a long-tail boat
After breakfast, your driver will pick you up for the 1.5-hour ride north to Phang Nga Bay. Here, you'll board a traditional long-tail boat for the ride to the famous Ko Ta Pu. This towering limestone islet is more famously known as James Bond Island, as it was a shooting location in the film "The Man with the Golden Gun." Upon arrival, you'll have time to take a canoe ride around the island followed by swimming and snorkeling. After lunch at a nearby village, return to your hotel for some free time.

Day 13: Day Trip to Phi Phi & Bamboo Islands

Swim and snorkel in the Phi Phi Islands before heading to Bamboo Island
Today's full-day island tour is a bit more fast-paced because you'll travel by speedboat as you zip around the famous islands in the Krabi Province. From the pier, it takes around one hour to reach the Phi Phi Islands, a small group of karst isles famous for their white sands and crystal-clear turquoise lagoons. You'll have the entire morning to swim and snorkel here. 
After lunch on the beach, head north to Bamboo Island. This tiny isle is fringed by coral reefs and is a prime spot for diving. Here you'll have time for more swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing before returning to the mainland.

Day 14: Day Trip to Krabi Hot Springs & Emerald Lagoon

Spend your last day in Krabi soaking in hot springs and a freshwater pool

Your driver will pick you up this morning for a tour of some hidden gems around the province starting with the Krabi Hot Springs. Located south of Krabi Town, the thermal springs here remain at temperatures of 104°F (40°C), which makes them ideal for a long and relaxing soak. There's even a small waterfall that you can explore that's fed by the same river as the springs.

Another natural wonder you'll visit on the tour is Sa Morakot, a beautiful freshwater turquoise pool that is known for its healing properties. After a swim here, transfer back to your hotel where you'll have the rest of the day to enjoy as you wish.

Day 15: Depart Krabi

Until next time, Thailand!

The day has come to say goodbye to Thailand! Enjoy your last few hours of beach time on Ao Nang. At the appointed time, you'll transfer to Krabi airport for your departure flight. Safe travels!

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Map of Hiking, Sightseeing & Island Hopping in Thailand - 15 Days
Map of Hiking, Sightseeing & Island Hopping in Thailand - 15 Days
Written by Tina Oo, updated Mar 14, 2023