Discover the many different sides of Thailand on this 15-day tour, from the busy streets of Bangkok to the laidback and spiritual north and the beautiful beaches of the south. Start your adventure in the cosmopolitan capital, before heading up to Chiang Mai and Pai. Connect with nature at an elephant sanctuary, visit hill tribes, and ride a bamboo raft through a cave, and then fly down south to the sleepy fishing village of Khanom, before ending your journey on Koh Samui, the original tropical island paradise.

Highlights

  • Explore Bangkok by night on a Midnight Food Tour
  • Visit an Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai
  • Ride a Bamboo Raft through Tam Lod Cave
  • See Pink Dolphins off the coast of Khanom
  • Kayak through the Angthong Marine Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Bangkok Bangkok
Day 2 Bangkok City & Boat Tour, Midnight Tuk-Tuk Food Tour Bangkok
Day 3 Fly to Chiang Mai, Sunset at Doi Suthep Chiang Mai
Day 4 Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Chiang Mai
Day 5 Doi Inthanon National Park Chiang Mai
Day 6 Chiang Mai to Pai Pai
Day 7 Pai Countryside Tour, Yuan Lai Viewpoint, Tam Lod Cave & Jabo Village Pai
Day 8 Pai to Khanom via Chiang Mai & Surat Thani Khanom
Day 9 Boat Trip to Koh Nui Nork, See Pink Dolphins Khanom
Day 10 Free Day in Khanom Khanom
Day 11 Khanom to Koh Samui via Ferry Koh Samui
Day 12 Angthong Marine Park Snorkeling & Kayaking Tour Koh Samui
Day 13 Free Day on Koh Samui Koh Samui
Day 14 Flight to Bangkok & Final Goodbyes  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Bangkok

Welcome to Bangkok!
Welcome to Bangkok!

Welcome to Thailand! When you arrive in Bangkok you will be met by your guide who will pick you up at the airport and take you to your hotel in the heart of this magical city.

Once you have checked in, you have the rest of the day free to explore or relax as much as you like. Take to the streets and explore the temples, markets, and quaint cafes of Thailand's fascinating capital, go shopping, or hop on the river taxis to catch a glimpse of the city from the water.

Day 2: Bangkok City & Boat Tour, Midnight Tuk-Tuk Food Tour

Go on a late-night tuk-tuk street food adventure
Go on a late-night tuk-tuk street food adventure

This morning, meet your guide and begin your discovery tour of Bangkok. Your first stop is the Grand Palace, the most impressive and important palace in Thailand. Within the royal complex, there are several palaces that are used for different occasions, such as the Funeral Palace, the Reception Palace, the Throne Hall, the opulent Coronation Hall, and the Royal Guest House, as well as the sparkling Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddha statue in Thailand.

From there, hop into a private longtail boat and cruise through the peaceful canals, stopping by shop houses, local temples, and vendors along a waterway which was once a major trading route. On the way, your guide will point out local landmarks and tell you about life in the area.

Round off your morning tour with a visit to Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, before heading back to your hotel. Spend the afternoon relaxing or going out exploring yourself before meeting your guide in the evening to begin your Midnight Food Tour.

Known as 'the city that never stops eating', Bangkok is famous for its street food, that you can get at all hours of the day (and night!). This food tour will take you to some of the city's street food hotspots by tuk-tuk, which is arguably the most fun way to travel around the city—especially after dark.

Taste a variety of different food from across Thailand, including Northeastern Thai Food (Esan Food), the town’s Best Pad Thai, and the popular home-style Thai snack. Between meals, stop off to visit old-town landmarks and temples for a different perspective.

You will return back to your hotel by midnight.

Day 3: Fly to Chiang Mai, Sunset at Doi Suthep

Visit the sacred Doi Suthep Temple at sunset
Visit the sacred Doi Suthep Temple at sunset

Today, you will say goodbye to Bangkok and make your way to Chiang Mai, the cultural capital of the north.  The flight should take around 1.5 hours, giving you plenty of time to explore this laidback and spiritual city.

Once you arrive at the airport, you will be picked up by your guide who will take you to your hotel where you can check in and relax, before heading out to visit the mountain-top Doi Suthep temple, which is said to have been founded in 1383.

When you arrive at the temple, experience a unique private blessing and witness the monks in prayer and chanting. At sunset, visit a viewpoint to see the sky burst into life and illuminate the countryside below.  As darkness sets in, make your way back to the city for a late dinner and an early night.

Travel Time: 1.5 hr
Travel Distance: 429 miles (690 km)

Day 4: Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

Visit the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary outside of Chiang Mai
Visit the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary outside of Chiang Mai

After breakfast, make your way to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in a Karen village in the hilly countryside, about an hour and a half's drive from Chiang Mai. When you arrive, go for a quick walk through the village, where you will learn about the history of the Karen tribes and life here.

Change into traditional Karen clothing and learn about elephant anatomy, history, and behavior, before meeting the elephants. Feed, interact, and play with the elephants in their natural home, before walking with them to the river where you can bathe and brush the elephants. After that, join them for a mud spa with a difference and take a dip in the river with these gentle giants. 

In the afternoon, drive back to Chiang Mai, where you will be dropped back at your hotel and have the rest of the evening free. If you feel up to it, check out the Chiang Mai Night Market.

Day 5: Doi Inthanon National Park

Spend the day exploring the Doi Inthanon National Park
Spend the day exploring the Doi Inthanon National Park

Head out into nature today with a trip out to Doi Inthanon National Park. About 1.5 hour's drive from Chiang Mai, Doi Inthanon is one of northern Thailand's most famous national parks, and is a sanctuary for wildlife, with over 383 species of birds.

When you arrive, meet your local Karen guide and go on a short trek through the lush green forest to Pha Dok Siew Waterfall, where you can cool off in the refreshing waters before continuing on to a Karen Hilltribe village, Ban Mae Klang Luang. Learn about how the Karen people live in harmony with nature and take a walk through villages surrounded by coffee plantations and terraced rice paddies. 

After, take a quick drive over to the Twin Chedi’s, which were built by the Thai Airforce to honor the beloved Thai King Rama IX and Queen Sirikit. Then, visit a Hmong fresh market and have lunch at a local restaurant.

In the afternoon, visit the scenic Wachiratharn Waterfall, before continuing back to Chiang Mai where you will have another evening free to explore the city at your own pace.

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

Day 6: Chiang Mai to Pai

Make your way up to the laidback hill town of Pai
Make your way up to the laidback hill town of Pai

In the morning, check out from your hotel and start your journey towards the laidback hilltop town of Pai, in Thailand's northern Mae Hong Son province. The three-hour drive from Chiang Mai will take you through the lush countryside along winding mountain roads.

Stop along the way to visit Mork Fah Waterfall and Pong Dued Hot Springs, where you can take a quick soak in the mineral waters. After lunch, continue on your journey to Pai, where you will have the rest of the evening free to relax and enjoy the chilled out atmosphere and quiet streets of this picturesque town.

Travel Time: 3 hr
Travel Distance: 80 miles (128 km)

Day 7: Pai Countryside Tour, Yuan Lai Viewpoint, Tam Lod Cave & Jabo Village

Explore Tam Lod cave system by boat or bamboo raft
Explore Tam Lod cave system by boat or bamboo raft

Get the day off to an early start today with a trip up to Yuan Lai Viewpoint to watch the sunrise. Return to the resort for breakfast, before continuing on with your countryside tour with a drive out to Tam Lod Cave, where you can hop onto a bamboo raft and float through this famous cave system, marveling at the stalactites and stalagmites, and the cracks and openings in the cave where you can catch glimpses of lush jungle and sun rays.

Your next stop is the nearby village of Jabo, which is home to the colorful and welcoming Black Lahu Tribe. This eco-village set up its own sustainable tourism initiatives to demonstrate their cultural traditions, healing methods, and ability to live in harmony with nature.

On the way back, swing by the Kiew Lom View Point, where you can see mountains that stretch all the way across northern Thailand and through Myanmar. From there, head back to Pai and spend the rest of the evening at leisure.

Day 8: Pai to Khanom via Chiang Mai & Surat Thani

Make your way from Pai down to the quiet fishing village of Khanom
Head down south to the quiet fishing village of Khanom

Settle in for a long travel day today as you head from Pai all the way down to the beach town of Khanom in the south. Off the standard tourist trail, this quiet fishing village is the perfect place to stop and recharge after a week of exploring.

Start your journey by driving back to Chiang Mai where you will head to the airport and board an internal flight down to Surat Thani. The flight should take around an hour and 50 minutes. When you land, meet your driver who will pick you up and take you to your resort in Khanom, about an hour's drive from Surat Thani. Spend the rest of the afternoon chilling out at the resort or head to the beach for some sunset drinks.

Travel Time: 6+ hr
Travel Distance: 956 miles (1540 km)

Day 9: Boat Trip to Koh Nui Nork, See Pink Dolphins

See pink dolphins in the wild
See pink dolphins in the wild

Take to the waters today as you go out on a boat trip out to see rare pink dolphins in their natural habitat. In the morning, head to the port to meet a local expert who will take you out on their longtail boat and take you to their usual hangout spots.

From there, you'll head over to the tiny island of Koh Nui Nork and learn about the miracle of the legendary Buddhist monk, Luang Por Tuad, followed by lunch on a deserted beach.

In the afternoon, return to the mainland and spend the rest of the day at leisure before heading to the beach for another colorful ocean sunset.

Day 10: Free Day in Khanom

Spend a free day relaxing on Khanom's wild and empty beaches
Spend a free day relaxing on Khanom's wild and empty beaches

Enjoy a free day in Khanom to relax or go exploring at your own pace. You can either spend the day lazing around on the sandy beaches and swimming in the ocean, or head a little further afield and go exploring.

If you feel up to it, you can check out the nearby beaches, or head out to caves and waterfalls. You could also hire a taxi for the day and head up to Dat Fa Mountain, where you can enjoy amazing views over the countryside or out to Sikiet Waterfall National Park. Or, if you fancy something more active, rent kayaks and mountain bikes.

Day 11: Khanom to Koh Samui via Ferry

Head over to Koh Samui for a taste of island paradise
Head over to Koh Samui for a taste of island paradise

Spend the morning relaxing in Khanom before making your way over to the port, where you'll board a ferry to the tropical island of Koh Samui and continue on your Thailand explorations.

Located in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui is known for its palm-fringed beaches and rainforested interior. It is the second-largest island in Thailand but can be easily explored by car or motorbike in a few hours or days.

First inhabited by fishermen from the Malay Peninsula and southern China around 1500 years ago, Koh Samui is found on Chinese maps dating back from the 17th century but was actually pretty isolated from the mainland until the late 20th century. Before they built roads in the 1970s, it took over a day to hike through the mountainous central jungles to get from one side of the island to the other, but, luckily these days it's a different story.

When you arrive, check into your hotel and head to the beach to grab a sundowner, before spending the evening exploring the neighborhood or just relaxing at your resort.

Travel Time: 2.5 hr
Travel Distance: 50 miles (80 km)

Day 12: Angthong Marine Park Snorkeling & Kayaking Tour

Snorkeling
Snorkeling

This morning, set off early and enjoy a day of adventure exploring the Angthong Marine Park. Made up of over 80 islands, this island archipelago is an over and underwater paradise, with uninhabited islands ringed by white sand beaches, and colorful coral reefs full of tropical fish and sea life.

Start off your tour by going snorkeling in the clear water of Koh Wao, before checking out several of the islands and climbing up to the lookout point where you can see the emerald lake. Stop for lunch, before making your way to a deserted island to swim and relax on the beach on Koh Pha Luay. Finish off your day with a short guided kayaking tour through the Marine Park, before heading back to the mainland.

Day 13: Free Day on Koh Samui

Spend your last day in Thailand relaxing on the beaches

It's your last full day in Thailand, so you are free to do whatever you like. Spend the day exploring Koh Samui, relax and sunbathe, lie in a hammock with a coconut or a cocktail and watch the day pass you by, or head into town to do a spot of souvenir shopping. 

If you feel like heading a bit further afield, the beaches of Laem Yai and Mae Nam are well worth a visit, as is Bophut Beach, which has some great shops and restaurants. You can also take a drive out to Namtok Hin Lat Waterfall and Namtok Na Mueang Waterfall or visit different temples and villages.

Day 14: Flight to Bangkok & Final Goodbyes

It's time to say goodbye to paradise
It's time to say goodbye to paradise

Today, it's time to say goodbye to the island and to Thailand. After breakfast, check out from the hotel and make your way to the airport, where you will board a domestic flight up to Bangkok and begin your long journey home.

Ha
Written by Ha Thu, updated Mar 4, 2020