Hit the highlights and awaken your senses on this well-balanced nine-day itinerary that takes you from Thailand's northern mountains to its southern islands. Start in Bangkok to discover beautiful floating markets, then head to Kanchanaburi and climb the seven tiers of Erawan Waterfall. Explore Chiang Mai as you learn about elephants and visit a secluded hill tribe village, and finish up your trip on the beaches of Phuket as you snorkel, relax and enjoy its perfect turquoise waters.


  • Explore a colorful floating market near Bangkok and enjoy its fresh fruit
  • Get up close to elephants in a humane way on an ethical sanctuary excursion
  • Visit a hill tribe village in the mountains near Chiang Mai 
  • Escape to Phuket's sumptuous beaches to swim, snorkel, and soak up the sun

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bangkok, Chao Phraya Dinner Cruise Bangkok
Day 2 Visit Klong Lat Mayom Floating Market & Chinatown Food Tour Bangkok
Day 3 Transfer to Kanchanaburi, Visit Erawan National Park  Kanchanaburi
Day 4 Fly to Chiang Mai, Explore the Old City Chiang Mai
Day 5 Elephant Sanctuary, Temple Hike & Hill Tribe Village Chiang Mai
Day 6 Fly to Phuket, Phuket Town Half-Day Tour Phuket
Day 7 Beach Day in Phuket, Evening Muay Thai Competition Phuket
Day 8 Boat Trip to the Phi Phi Islands, Simon Cabaret Show Phuket
Day 9 Depart Phuket  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bangkok, Chao Phraya Dinner Cruise

photo credit: vecteezy.com
See Bangkok come alive at night with a cruise down the Chao Phraya River

Welcome to Bangkok! Upon arrival, your guide will be waiting to take you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to explore Thailand's capital, known for its ornate shrines and vibrant street life. Wander this dynamic city and see the boat-filled Chao Phraya River, which feeds its network of canals, flowing past the Rattanakosin Royal District. Visit the Wat Saket temple, once the highest point in Bangkok, and climb the 320 steps to the top for extraordinary views. Later, drop by the famous Jay Fai, Bangkok's first street food stall to be awarded a Michelin star.

Finish sightseeing by heading to Khao San Road for a beer and some people-watching. This evening, you will have the option of taking a luxury dinner cruise in Bangkok. Your driver will pick you up at the hotel lobby and take you to the River City Pier 1 to board your boat. See the city's historical landmarks as you cruise along the Chao Phraya River while enjoying an international buffet. After dinner and a night of dancing, your driver will be waiting for you at the pier and return you to the hotel.

Day 2: Visit Klong Lat Mayom Floating Market & Chinatown Food Tour

Floating market visit and Bangkok exploration day
Snap incredible, colorful photos at Klong Lat Mayom Floating Market 

This morning, leave early to visit Khlong Lat Mayom, conveniently close to downtown Bangkok. This market offers an authentic experience while allowing you to avoid the hoards of tourists found at more well-known markets. After buying some fruit and snacks from the many stalls, head to the iconic Wat Arun temple, built during the Ayutthaya period and named after Aruna, the Indian god of the dawn. Later, take a local ferry to the opposite pier to visit the temple of Wat Pho. Have a lunch break before walking 10 mins to the Grand Palace, where you'll admire the beautiful architecture.

If you have time, take a tuk-tuk to the famous Chatuchak Market. You'll find clothes, shoes, handmade items, and more. Tonight, you can try different Thai food and drinks in Chinatown. Wander the alleys with street vendors selling various edibles, including fried insects such as scorpions and bamboo worms. No worries, there are plenty of choices besides insects! Try rice noodle soups, pad thai, fried rice noodles, som tam, or papaya salad. Have grilled chicken or super spicy raw prawns with lime. With your guide, you'll visit five or six shops to discover the distinctive flavors of authentic Thai food.

Day 3: Transfer to Kanchanaburi, Visit Erawan National Park

photo credit: vecteezy.com
Cool off in the waterfalls of Erwan National Park

A driver will pick you up at the hotel this morning, and you'll head to Kanchanaburi, a town known for its beautiful ponds and waterfalls. Along the way, you will see rice paddy fields and stunning green landscapes. Once you've settled into your hotel, visit Erawan National Park and follow a 1.2-mile (2 km) marked trail to its seven-tiered waterfall. Erawan Falls are best to visit when the water level is high between September and December, and the trail takes an hour and a half to hike up (but renting bicycles at the visitor center to reach the second tier is also possible).

Plan your trip to Thailand
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
As the waterfalls progress, the path becomes less accessible and more adventurous after reaching the sixth and seventh tiers. Each cascade pours into natural pools of turquoise water where you can jump in for a refreshing break. If you want to sit and relax, the second waterfall, Wang Mat Cha, is a great spot to cool off, with plenty of seating areas. Return to your hotel in the evening and have free time to enjoy its exceptional natural setting.

Day 4: Fly to Chiang Mai, Explore the Old City

Make your way to Chiang Mai's What Phra Singh in time for sunset

Bid farewell to the beautiful lakes of Kanchanaburi and return with your driver to the airport in Bangkok to catch a short flight to Chiang Mai. Upon arrival, a driver will meet you and take you to your hotel. After check-in, head out to discover more of this mountainous metropolis in northern Thailand. Its Old City area retains vestiges of walls and moats from its history as a cultural and religious center, while the surrounding area is home to hundreds of elaborate Buddhist temples, diverse hill tribes, tea plantations, and elephant sanctuaries.

Start at the most significant central market of Chiang Mai, Worarot Market, and see various fruits, local delicacies, and flowers. If you love temples, visit Wat Chedi Luang, home to Chiang Mai's most prominent Buddhist chedi, or head to Wat Chiang Man and its stately Lanna-style hall. Catch a spectacular sunset at Wat Phra Singh, then stroll the Night Bazaar in the evening, famous for its handicrafts and portrait paintings, and rub shoulders with the locals as you sample from the many food vendors for an authentic dinner.

Day 5: Elephant Sanctuary, Temple Hike & Hill Tribe Village

Happy elephants bathing in the river
See happy elephants in their natural environments on a visit to Eco Elephant Care

Today you'll visit an eco-friendly and ethical elephant care project that aims to improve the animals' well-being while increasing conservation awareness. The project was started by a local family in Meung Kud village, who dedicate their lives to caring for the elephants. Their motto is: "elephants are not for entertainment." You'll get the incredible opportunity to interact closely and respectfully with these gentle giants as you help harvest their food and learn about their day-to-day life at the sanctuary.

After lunch, prepare for a challenge as you hike 9 miles (15 km), rising 3,500 feet (1,066 m) above sea level, to visit Wat Prathat Doi Suthep, the most sacred temple in the city. Near the top, climb the final 306 steps, guarded by two magnificent nagas (serpents), for a bird's eye view of the entire city and the surrounding area. Then, continue by truck along a scenic mountain road to visit the White Hmong hill tribe. Originally migrants from China, the tribe lives isolated in a self-sufficient village preserving their primitive culture, ancient customs, and costumes. You will be transferred back to your hotel at the end of your visit.

Day 6: Fly to Phuket, Phuket Town Half-Day Tour

Sample street food on Phuket's colorful Thalang Road

Pack your bags again and keep your swimsuit handy, as today your driver will take you to the airport to catch your flight to Phuket. Thailand's largest island is located on the Andaman Sea, and its white-sand beaches, flavorful cuisine, and lively towns make it a perennial favorite for locals and tourists alike. Upon arrival at the Phuket airport, a driver will be waiting to greet you and lead you on a half-day tour of Phuket's Old Town before checking in at your hotel.

Follow your guide through the town's charming and compact center, easily explored on foot. Admire the Sino-Portuguese architecture, small boutiques, excellent local restaurants, and many hip coffee shops. Walking around town will also allow you to visit Thai temples, colorful Chinese shrines, museums, and historic mansions. Then, you'll head to the bustling artery of Thalang Road, Phuket's most famous street and a popular Instagram playground. Spend some time at the street market, then continue to your hotel, where you'll have the remainder of the evening free.

Day 7: Beach Day in Phuket, Evening Muay Thai Competition

Choose a local beach and settle in for a day of sun, sand, and sea

Enjoy a free day today as you explore some of Phuket's most beautiful beaches at your own pace. Choose from a busy beach full of amenities, or head for a quieter stretch of paradise away from the crowds. You could spend your time lazing on the island's fine, white sands, or opt for something more active with a boat trip, snorkeling excursion, or standup paddleboard lesson.

As evening comes around, you'll up the excitement factor with a night out at a Muay Thai competition. Also called Thai boxing, this is Thailand's national sport and martial art, developed several hundred years ago as a form of close combat. Join in with the locals as you cheer on your favorite players amid a convivial and boisterous crowd. Your driver will pick you up at the hotel and wait for you until the match ends at the stadium.

Day 8: Boat Trip to the Phi Phi Islands, Simon Cabaret Show

Boat trip to Phi Phi island
Sit back and relax as you ride a long-tail boat to the idyllic Phi Phi Islands

Celebrate your penultimate day in Thailand with a scenic boat trip to the Phi Phi Islands, one of the region's most stunning locales. Cruise to this cluster of islands to explore Phi Phi Lay, Maya Bay, Pileh Bay, and Viking Cave. Dive into the emerald waters and experience some of Thailand's best snorkeling, with abundant marine life and excellent visibility. Cap the excursion off with a local seafood lunch at a nearby beach before returning to your hotel.

This evening, you'll have the option of attending the popular Simon Cabaret Show, which offers an evening of glamorous entertainment unlike any other. The show is one of Phuket's most popular events, and from the moment you enter the stylish and luxurious venue, you'll realize this will be an unforgettable night. A driver will pick you up at the hotel and transfer you to the theater, where a spectacular display of color, originality, and fun awaits. 

Day 9: Depart Phuket

Farewell Thailand!

Today, it's time to say goodbye to Thailand. Spend a final few hours on the beach or souvenir shopping in Phuket before your transfer to the airport for your departing 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 nine days in Thailand, or discover the best time to visit Thailand.


Map of Thailand's Temples, Markets & Beaches: Bangkok to Phuket - 9 Days
Map of Thailand's Temples, Markets & Beaches: Bangkok to Phuket - 9 Days
Written by Tina Oo, updated Mar 29, 2023