Travel Thailand from the mountainous north to the beach-studded south on this 13-day tour. You'll discover grand palaces and UNESCO-listed ruins in Bangkok and Ayutthaya before heading to the forested north. Here, you'll float above the countryside in a hot-air balloon and visit hill tribe villages, then take a trip to Thailand's highest peak, Doi Inthanon. The adventure ends in the sun-soaked south, where you'll hike through Khao Sok's ancient rainforest and relax on warm sands.


  • Discover Bangkok's floating markets, palaces, and temples
  • Tour the UNESCO-listed Ayutthaya ruins
  • Explore Thailand's highest peak at Doi Inthanon National Park
  • Float above the northern Thai countryside in a hot-air balloon
  • Visit Khao Sok National Park's lakes, villages, and cave temples

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bangkok, Explore Bangkok
Day 2 Day Trip to Ayutthaya Ancient Ruins Bangkok
Day 3 Bangkok Floating Markets, Temples & Palaces Bangkok
Day 4 Fly to Chiang Mai, Explore the Temples Chiang Mai
Day 5 Day Trip to Doi Inthanon National Park Chiang Mai
Day 6 Transfer to Chiang Rai & Sunset Hot-Air Balloon Flight Chiang Rai
Day 7 Visit Karen Long-Neck Village & Elephant Care Chiang Rai
Day 8 Transfer to Khao Sok National Park Khao Sok National Park
Day 9 Khao Sok Biking Adventure Khao Sok National Park
Day 10 Transfer to Khao Lak, Explore Takua Pa Old Town Khao Lak
Day 11 Khao Lak-Lam Ru National Park Hiking Khao Lak
Day 12 Whitewater Rafting & Ziplining Khao Lak
Day 13 Transfer to Phuket, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bangkok, Explore

Bangkok Half-Day City Tour
Bangkok Half-Day City Tour

Welcome to Thailand! Touch down in Bangkok, where your driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel in the city's heart. Thailand's capital is beloved for its chaotic energy, delicious street food, nightlife, and sacred Buddhist sights. You'll discover its charms independently today, perhaps starting with Chinatown's fragrant street food. If you like shopping, spend time at Siam Paragon, one of Bangkok's biggest and most luxurious malls.

If you're visiting over the weekend, don't miss Chatuchak Market—with more than 15,000 stalls, it's one of the world's biggest outdoor markets and sells everything from clothes and flowers to food and antiques. For sports lovers, seek a muay Thai (Thai boxing) match, Thailand's signature sport. Alternatively, see a puppet show for some traditional culture or visit Warehouse 30 for modern art exhibitions. Famous Michelin street food restaurant, Jay Fai, is a top dinner spot famed for its crab omelet if in need of a recommendation.

Day 2: Day Trip to Ayutthaya Ancient Ruins

Take a day trip to Ayutthaya, for ancient, crumbling, UNESCO-listed temples

The day begins with a 90-minute drive from Bangkok to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed city of Ayutthaya, passing through verdant countryside and paddy fields. This 14th-century archaeological site was once the capital of the Siam Kingdom, and today, you can wander among the ruins of its palaces, temples, and monasteries. Explore highlights such as Wat Yai Chaimongkol, Wat Mahathat, and Wat Chai Wattanaram.

After lunch, you'll visit the Ancient Palace and Bueng Phra Ram Park, which lies in the center of Ayutthaya's city island, shaded by trees and surrounded by ancient structures. The tour continues with a trip to the Portuguese Archeological Museum, where you'll learn about the Portuguese role in Ayutthaya's weaponry, skills, and trading history before returning to your hotel in Bangkok for the night.

Day 3: Bangkok Floating Markets, Temples & Palaces

Visit Bangkok's Wat Arun, which sits beside the Chao Phraya River

This morning starts early with a trip to one of Bangkok's iconic floating markets, which vary depending on the day of the week. Catch a glimpse of local life, watching shoppers barter with vendors for fresh produce and goods from tiny wooden boats. Move on to Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn (as it's named after the Indian dawn god, Aruna), followed by a ferry across the Chao Phraya River to Wat Pho. This temple was founded during the 16th century and houses a giant, 150-foot-long (46 m) reclining Buddha statue whose feet are inlaid with mother-of-pearl.

Take a break for lunch before visiting the Grand Palace, a complex of intricate temples and palaces built in 1782, which served as the royal family's home for 150 years. Today, the palace is used for royal ceremonies such as weddings, funerals, and state banquets. Highlights include the Reception Hall, Coronation Hall, and Wat Phra Kaew, which houses the Emerald Buddha statue.

Day 4: Fly to Chiang Mai, Explore the Temples

Wander Chiang Mai's moat-encircled Old City

Say goodbye to Bangkok this morning and fly north to Chiang Mai. Set in the cooler, mountainous north of Thailand, Chiang Mai was once the capital of the Lanna Kingdom and still retains its moat-encircled Old City. Chiang Mai is a cultural mecca, home to historical architecture and over 300 temples where orange-robed monks live and worship.

Settle in and then head out to wander the streets of the Old City. Highlights include Chiang Mai's largest central market, Warorot, where locals sell fresh fruit, flowers, and vegetables. For an introduction to the city's ornate temples, visit Chiang Mai's oldest, Wat Chiang Man, and Wat Chedi Luang, built in Lanna style with a towering golden stupa. Wat Phra Singh is the place to enjoy a fiery sunset, then make your way to the Night Bazaar to shop for everything from clothing to paintings and handicrafts.

Day 5: Day Trip to Doi Inthanon National Park

Cool down atop Thailand's highest peak, Doi Inthanon
Plan your trip to Thailand
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Escape the city for the day on an excursion to Doi Inthanon National Park, named for Thailand's highest mountain, Inthanon, which towers over 8,400 feet (2,565 m) above sea level. Your driver will take you to the top of the mountain, though the final steep climb is up to you to reach the summit for panoramic views over the countryside. Stop at a stupa where the remains of Chao Inthawichayanon, the last independent ruler of Chiang Mai, are enshrined.

You'll also get to walk the scenic Ang-Kha Nature Trail, lined with ferns and, in January and February, bright rhododendrons. Continue to the park's purple-hued twin pagodas, built by the Thai Air Force in honor of the Thai King and Queen for their 60th birthdays. Afterward, drive to a Hmong tribal market and have lunch at a nearby restaurant.

This afternoon, explore the flower farms run by the Royal Project, established to provide income for locals like the Khun Klaang, the area's biggest Hmong community, who previously made a living growing opium. Wander through greenhouses and gardens of beautiful flowers before stopping at the Karen village of Baan Sop Had and Wachiratarn Waterfall on your way back to Chiang Mai.

Day 6: Transfer to Chiang Rai & Sunset Hot-Air Balloon Flight

Soar above Chiang Rai in a hot-air balloon for stunning views

Head three hours north this morning to Chiang Rai, the northernmost city in Thailand. The city once served as the capital of the Mengrai dynasty and is home to ornate Thai buildings, temples, and Lanna art. Chiang Rai is also known for its iconic clock tower and buzzing night bazaar, where you can shop for handicrafts made by Thailand's hill tribe communities.

Head to nearby Singha Park in the afternoon, where you can wander flower gardens and tea plantations and take a boat out on Swan Lake. End the day with spectacular aerial views of Chiang Rai on a sunset hot-air balloon ride. Sail into the sky and float over the northern Thai countryside as the sun sets in golden hues. When you land, you'll be greeted with Champagne and a balloon flight certificate.

Day 7: Visit Karen Long-Neck Village & Elephant Care

Members of the Karen hill tribe
Learn about the Karen hill community on today's excursion

Delve into some of northern Thailand's unique hill community culture with a trip to a Padong Karen village today. In this agricultural community, the people grow rice, tea, and tobacco. The Padong people are well known for their jewelry; women wear brass rings around their necks from an early age, which creates an elongated neck.

After your village visit, take part in a Karen elephant care experience. You'll learn how the Karen people traditionally care for Asian elephants and get up close to these gentle giants. Return to Chiang Rai afterward for a final evening in the city.

Day 8: Transfer to Khao Sok National Park

Soak up spectacular scenery in Khao Sok National Park

Today starts with a flight south to Surat Thani, where a driver will pick you up for the two-hour journey to Khao Sok National Park. This protected area is home to the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world, crashing waterfalls, and towering limestone karsts. The vast Cheow Lan Lake, created by a damming project, takes center stage in the park with floating raft houses where you can sleep among nature.

Day 9: Khao Sok Biking Adventure

Khao Sok adventure in Two Wheels!
Explore Khao Sok's schools, farms, and temples by bike

Explore Khao Sok today on a bicycle tour. Accompanied by a guide, your first stop is the local school, where the students will greet you. Next, visit a family-run organic farm to learn about rural life in Thailand. Continue cycling, surrounded by lush forest shadowed by hills, to a mushroom farm.

After a break, pedal back toward your hotel, stopping at Wat Tham Phanthurat, known as the Monkey Temple. This atmospheric cave temple lies next to a massive jungle-clad cliff and is home to playful monkeys you'll witness jumping through the trees. Return to your hotel in time for lunch and spend the rest of the day as you please.

Day 10: Transfer to Khao Lak, Explore Takua Pa Old Town

photo credit: buket list
Shop for souvenirs or snacks in Takua Pa

It's time to experience Thailand's iconic white-sand beaches today. Make the one-hour journey to paradisiacal Khao Lak Beach, where you'll check into your hotel and hit the soft sands. Take the rest of the day to relax on the sun-baked beach and swim in the azure waters.

Later, if you're feeling active, visit the nearby Takua Pa old town. This former mining town is filled with colorful Sino-Portuguese architecture and has a main walking street where you can shop and snack on street food. Alternatively, rent a kayak to explore the coast's rich mangrove forests, home to tropical birds and monkeys.

Day 11: Khao Lak-Lam Ru National Park Hiking

Enjoy the soft sands of Khao Lak Beach
Enjoy more beach time in Khao Lak today. You can also opt to hike in nearby Khao Lak-Lam Ru National Park, which has coastal walking paths that'll take you to secluded sandy coves where you can relax and swim without the crowds. Soak up the sound of the waves, wade into the sparkling water, and bask in the sun. Return to your hotel for a Thai dinner and a restful evening ahead of tomorrow's adventures.

Day 12: Whitewater Rafting & Ziplining

Whizz through rapids on a whitewater rafting adventure

Get your adrenaline pumping today with a whitewater rafting and zipline tour. Your guide will pick you up for the transfer to the rafting camp, where you'll listen to a safety briefing and undergo some basic training for your whitewater rafting excursion. Set off along the thrilling 3-mile (5 km) course, riding through rapids and paddling together as a team.

Back on land, head to the zipline site, where you'll get strapped into a harness to tackle the forested zipline course. Soar through the treetops along 500-foot-long (150 m) lines, taking in aerial views of the forest. Afterward, you'll take a lunch break at the camp before returning to your resort, stopping at a waterfall en route.

Day 13: Transfer to Phuket, Depart

Perhaps grab some souvenirs before you leave Phuket today

Today your Thailand adventure ends, and you'll be transferred to the airport in Phuket for your onward flight. Safe travels!

More Great Thailand Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Thailand? Check out these other Thailand itineraries, explore different ways to spend 13 days in Thailand, or discover the best time to visit Thailand.


Map of Thailand North to South: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Khao Sok & Khao Lak - 13 Days
Map of Thailand North to South: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Khao Sok & Khao Lak - 13 Days
Written by Tina Oo, updated Apr 13, 2023