Our ultimate 3 weeks in Thailand itinerary

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and spend all your holiday entitlement in one hit. Or you’ve been planning to check out Thailand as part of a longer travel itinerary. And straight off the bat, let me throw it out there and say it’s a decision well made. Thailand is one of the best places to provide you with sun, sea, sand, parties, jungles, hiking and vibrant cities – all within easy reach of each other. We’ve spent a bit of time in the country and have a few firm favourites, so have put together this travel guide to the best way to spend your time there – our ultimate 3 weeks in Thailand itinerary!

Wat Benchamabophit, Bangkok

Why choose Thailand?

If you’re already made your (excellent) choice and decided on Thailand, just head straight to Our 3 week in Thailand Itinerary below. But, if you’re still unsure, let’s spell out why you should choose Thailand as your destination of choice:

  • Firstly, it’s one of the easiest places to travel in all of South East Asia – they have been set up for tourism for many years. This makes it the perfect place to explore with convenience, especially if this is your first time in the region.
  • Since it’s geared towards tourism, most of the industry speaks great English, really helping to make your travel there painless, unlike some other countries in SE Asia.
  • It offers so much variety, whether you are interested in food – great cooking classes to learn. A passion for yoga – some amazing retreats. Consider yourself a beach bum – Island hopping in places like Phi Phi. Interest in history – you’ll get lost in temple heaven. An adventure enthusiast – hiking, white water rafting, abseiling, zip lining. Love nature – some of the world’s best national parks are in Thailand. You get the picture. There is something for everyone in Thailand
  • The food. Did we mention the food? Offering some of the most varied and delicious cuisine in the region, Thailand is a foodie’s paradise. Everything from Michelin-starred street eats to upmarket gourmet establishments to suit all budgets and tastes
  • Digital nomad? Thailand is a great option. It has very fast WiFi speeds, a number of great networking options and cafes, and a good expat scene
  • While it’s definitely not unexplored, there is still the opportunity to get off the beaten path and venture to areas where few tourists go
  • And of course the cost… Yes, it’s definitely increased in price over the last few years. But compared to holidaying in many western countries, it’s still an absolute steal.

Our 3 weeks in Thailand itinerary

  • Day 1 – 3 – Bangkok
  • Day 4 – 6 – Koh Pha Ngan (or Koh Samui)
  • Day 7 – 9 – Koh Tao
  • Day 10 – 13 – Ao Nang, Railay and Koh Phi Phi (or Koh Lanta)
  • Day 14 – 16 – Chiang Mai
  • Day 17 – 18 – Pai
  • Day 19 – 20 – Chiang Rai
  • Day 21 – Bangkok

Getting around Thailand

If you’re looking to book your own travel around Thailand, then we’d recommend checking out Bookaway for the best trains, bus and transfer options. They have amazing 24 hour support and many options have great cancellation options – which is a bit of a relief, when you need to change travel plans. Trust us, that happens more than you’d expect.

If you prefer flights, then make sure you check out the latest prices on Skyscanner.

Travel Insurance for your 3 weeks in Thailand

Got your travel insurance booked? We promise to never push a brand or product we don’t personally use, and the travel cover from Safety Wing is a policy we don’t just use, but we highly recommend. They offer some of the most flexible policies, amazing customer service and are affordable too.

Check out the latest travel insurance prices with Safety Wing here.

Bangkok – 3 days

The capital of Thailand, the largest city and one of the most vibrant places you’ll ever go. Bangkok is where you’ll likely be starting your 3 week itinerary and is a city, that sometimes divides opinions, is a great way to dive head first into Thai culture. The sights, sounds and smells are going to captivate your senses. So, enjoy the next three days. It time to explore a city that you will never forget.

Bangkok street, Thailand

Where to stay

Luxury: Banyan Tree is a lovely smaller boutique chain of hotels across Asia that turns out impeccable rooms and wonderful food. The Bangkok location is no different and offers fantastic views of the city, a world-class spa and gorgeous luxuries making it a home away from home.

Midrange: When in Bangkok, we stay at the Printing House Poshtel, which essentially is aimed at flashpackers and those looking for a bit more luxury than the typical hostel. Set in a really convenient area, it has well-appointed rooms, great service and a delicious range of food on offer at affordable prices in it’s restaurant downstairs.

Budget: Bangkok is the start of the backpacker trail so you are spoiled for choice in terms of hostels in this city. Generally Diff Hostel gets the best reports from travellers – it’s a small hostel but comes with great amenities (USB chargers, privacy curtains) and a great atmosphere for networking.

Day 1 Bangkok

You’re probably going to land into Bangkok’s International Suvarnabhumi Airport, if you’re arriving on a long haul flight. But if you’re jumping over from another place in South East Asia, you’re likely to be entering via Don Mueang Airport, which doesn’t have such good transport links. We’ve put some info on the best ways to get from the airports into town below.

After checking into your hotel, hostel or Airbnb, it’s straight out to get your fix of the city’s famous temples. There are so many to explore but we would recommend the following three as some of our favourites…  and all being near to each other, along with a quick river crossing, you get to cross off a number of key sights relatively quickly. Give yourself a few hours, and if you are able to spend more time in the city, it is great to go to these as early as possible. That way you’ll miss the crowds and, usually, it’s cooler since Thailand can get incredibly hot and humid.

Wat Phra Kaew

First up on your 3 week Thailand itinerary is Wat Phra Kaew. Also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, it is regarded as the most sacred temple in all of Thailand. The Wat is located in the Palace Grounds, so you also can explore the Grand Palace at the same time. The Emerald Buddha irself is actually relatively small at 66cm tall, but made from a single jade stone. The cost to enter is relatively steep at 440 THB (approx. 11 GBP), but we think it’s really worth forking out the cash for this one.

The Grand Palace, Bangkok

Location: Na Phra Lan Rd, Khwaeng Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand

Open: Open daily from 8.30am to 3.30pm

Wat Pho

Next up, and literally just around the corner, is probably our favourite Wat in BangkokWat Pho. You’ve probably seen photos of this on Instagram of the giant reclining gold Buddha. And trust us, it is spectacular to see. Wat Pho is both the largest and the oldest temple in Bangkok. We found this one of the quieter temples to visit, with lots of opportunities for photos in the grounds with virtually no one else around. This is of course dependent on time of year and day that you go.

Reclining Budhha Wat Pho, Bangkok

The cost to visit is 100 THB (so about 2.50 GBP).

Location: 2 Sanam Chai Rd, Khwaeng Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand

Open: Daily 8.00am – 5.00pm

Wat Arun

And finally, if you carry on along Thai Wang Alley, across a 4 way intersection, you’ll come to the Ferry terminal. Here you can jump on a boat across the Chao Phraya River to visit the final Wat – Wat Arun; easily one of the most instagrammable places in Bangkok! The cost for the ferry is 10 THB (approx. 0.25 GBP), but only takes about 5 minutes to do the river crossing. It’s actually a great opportunity to take some snaps of river life, with numerous boats heading up and down the river, ferrying everything from goods to passengers.

Wat Arun, Bangkok

Set on the shores of the Chao Phraya river, Wat Arun is best visited at sunrise (it is known as the Temple of the Dawn), so if you have time in the schedule, you could also reserve this one for an early morning excursion. That said, you are able to climb a little way up the central tower to get a view of the city.

Cost to visit is 50 THB (so 1.25 GBP).

Location: 158 Thanon Wang Doem, Khwaeng Wat Arun, Khet Bangkok Yai, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10600, Thailand

Open: 8.30am – 5.30pm

Some tips: Make sure you are dressed in the correct clothing for visiting temples. Thailand can be quite conservative in their dress outside the main backpacking and beach areas/islands. It may sound obvious, but the number of people that we saw turned away for short shorts, skirts and uncovered shoulders made us cringe a little, else they had to hand over cash for a well-worn cover-up at the door.

Definitely don’t take any tuk tuk that is hanging around one of these Wat’s. They’re probably going to try and take you to a ‘friends’ store or scam you in some way… they’ll normally stand by an entrance not open and say that the Wat is closed for the day. Just walk past and find the right entrance! Use Grab, which is South East Asia’s equivalent to Uber. And, if you are really keen to take a tuk tuk, we’d recommend you do this in Northern Thailand, as the costs are far cheaper.

Wang Lang Market

By now, you’re definitely ready to indulge in some delicious Thai fare. About 2km (a 20 minute walk) from Wat Arun, you can find the Wang Lang market. This is a great area to explore a number of food stalls and try some authentic Thai street food; it’s one of the markets catering more to locals than tourists, so is fascinating to visit. It was also the first place that we tried one of our favourite street snacks – coconut pancakes – gooey, warm little balls of heaven!

Wang Lang Market, Bangkok

Location: Wang Lang Market, 45 Arun Amarin Rd, Khwaeng Siriraj, Khet Bangkok Noi, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10700, Thailand

Next, head back to your accommodation to rest up, maybe a quick nap if you’re jet-lagged, as tonight we’re going to visit the infamous Khao San Road. Here you will really get a glimpse of why Bangkok is so synonymous with backpackers and partying.

Khao San Road

You’ve probably seen the scene from the film The Beach, where Leonardo Di Caprio stumbles along the Khao San Road. With drunken backpackers falling out of bars, market stalls selling Chang Beer t-shirts and elephant trousers to the food stalls offering fired insects to crocodile meat and hawkers offering you everything in between, the film which was shot back in 2000 is still not far away from what it is like today. James was last here in 2001, and it really hasn’t changed. But we think that no trip to Bangkok is complete until you’ve spent the time to wander down the road, maybe stopping in one of the quieter bars and doing some people watching. It really is fascinating, overwhelming, a must-see in Bangkok.

Khao San Road, Bangkok

Oh and if you haven’t seen the film (or better yet, read the book), it is really worth a watch (or read) before you start your 3 week itinerary.

If you’re keen for some dinner, really close to the Khao San Road is one of our favourites Krua Apsorn. This little gem is in the Michelin guide for it’s affordable yet lipsmackingly good food. Don’t expect great service but do expect fragrant egg omelettes and to-die-for crab and prawn dishes. For about 400 THB (10 GBP) you can have a great meal for two.

Day 2 Bangkok

Chatuchak Weekend Market (or MBK Centre)

Now, we’re obviously taking a bit of an assumption here that you’ll be in Bangkok over a weekend, so our first stop for day two is at the Chatuchak weekend market. Don’t fret if you’re not as we have an equally good option for you – just read on.

The Chatuchak Market is located handily on both the Skytrain (to Mo Chit) and also the MRT (get off at the Chatuchak Park station), this is the largest market in all of Thailand. And if markets are your thing, you could easily spend the whole day walking around the numerous stores that sell everything from clothing to handicrafts. So make sure that you leave some space in your suitcase BEFORE you arrive so you can fill up on some great wares.

Do note that the market is so massive (about 8,000 stalls) and over a weekend it can attract 200,000 visitors, so be prepared for a bit of a crush.

Chatuchak Location: Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900, Thailand

Open: Fridays – 6.00pm to midnight. Saturday/Sunday – 9.00am to 6.00pm

If you aren’t in Bangkok over a weekend or if you just love to shop, another great location is to head to the MBK Centre. Probably the most famous mall in Bangkok, this shopping centre sits over 8 floors and is rammed with over 2,000 stalls, selling everything from the latest electronics to cheap clothing. And if you barter hard, you can really pick up a bargain.

Picture of Bangkok-branded underwear

Handy tip: if you are there over a weekend and want to visit both the MBK centre and the Chatuchak Market, then best to head to MBK first, as our next stop is right next to Chatuchak and is a little gem that you CANNOT miss.

MBK Centre Location: 444 Phayathai Rd, Khwaeng Wang Mai, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330, Thailand

Open: Daily 10am – 10pm

Or Tor Kor Market

And the next stop today, and luckily so, as you’re probably famished from all that stiff bargain negotiating, is the Or Tor Kor Market: our favourite food market in all of South East Asia and a real Thai hidden gem. You just have to spend some time here – it’s a foodie’s dream. This market was set up by the previous Thai King as a way to support farmers from the north of Thailand in promoting their goods. The catch? They needed to put out the finest that they had, and they also had to convert it into ready-to-eat cuisine, to be sold at the market’s central food court.

Or Tor Kor Market. Spices.

We would highly recommend booking a food tour to get the most out of your time at the market. Read all about the Or Tor Kor tour and experiences we had at this market.

Or Tor Kor Location: Khwaeng Chatuchak, Khet Chatuchak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10900

Open: Daily 8.00am to 6.00pm

Bargaining Tips: Now if you’re anything like Lee, you might be really quite uncomfortable with bartering to get a discount on your goods. But it’s really important to know that it is part and parcel of the Thai culture. And if it’s done it the right way, you’ll probably find that you get a kick out of it and it adds to your experience.

  • Our most important tip is always smile, be friendly and, where you can, bargain with humour. A smile goes a hell of a long way with a seller.
  • Think of the price that you are willing to pay, and be happy if you pay that, or even slightly less.
  • Don’t forget, if they’re willing to sell something to you at a price, they’re making money on it. They wouldn’t sell it if not.
  • It’s ok to walk away, and then return a little bit later; and can be a good tactic

The Sky Bar, Lebua for drinks and sunset

If you’ve seen the Hangover Part II film, then you’ll probably know of the views that you can get from the rooftop bars in Thailand. The setting for this film is the Sky Bar, Lebua. It’s popularity has obviously sky-rocketed (excuse the pun) since the film but it is still one of the best places to view the city at sunset and into the night. Although don’t be surprised that the drinks here are possibly the most expensive that you’ll have in South East Asia – up to 20 GBP for a cocktail or a beer!

Picture of Bangkok night skyline from Sky bar

Location: Lebua at State Tower, 1055 Silom Road, Bangrak

Open: Daily 6.00pm to 1.00am

If you’re looking for other (cheaper) options for rooftop bars as part of your 3 week travel itinerary, Thailand, there is a great list here. Also good to note that a lot of the rooftop bars have stricter dress codes: closed shoes and long trousers for men.

Day 3 Bangkok

For your final day in Bangkok, we’d recommend getting up early and heading over to one of the most vibrant parts of Bangkok, Chinatown. This district – called Yaowarat – makes it onto CNN’s list of the best places for street food, and offers not just mouth-watering meals, but temples and viewing points galore. Many people will recommend that your last day would be better spent visiting a local floating market but, if we’re honest, we wouldn’t advise this: they are heavily over commercialised and really don’t offer too much in the way of experience.

Sampeng Market

Start out the day at Sampeng market, which offers local food, souvenoirs, homewares and handicrafts. We’d recommend getting a good coffee here but also you could try out some morning dim sum or yummy egg omelettes.

Sampeng Location: Soi Wanit 1, Khwaeng Chakkrawat, Khet Samphanthawong, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10100, Thailand

Open: Daily 8.00am to 6.00pm

Wat Traimit

We’d suggest visiting two temples in Chinatown, and this is the first and best. Home to the world’s biggest seated Buddha (which is, incidentally, also the largest gold statue in the world), this Wat was built in the 14th century and is quite the popular site. It is technically free to visit but if you want to frequent the museum that is 10 THB (0.25 GBP)

Wat Traimit Location: 661 Charoen Krung Rd, Khwaeng Talat Noi, Khet Samphanthawong, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10100, Thailand

Open: Daily 8.00am to 5.00pm

Wat Mangkon Kamalawat (Wat Keng Noei Yi)

Dating back to 1872, this temple is one of the most important Chinese-Buddhist temples and has a mix of Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian shrines, making it a really interesting place to explore. It was originally named Wat Leng Nui Yee, but this was changed to Wat Mangkom Kamalawat (Dragon Lotus Temple) by King Rama V.

Wat Mangkon Kamalawat Location: 423 Charoen Krung Rd, Khwaeng Pom Prap, Khet Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10100, Thailand

Open: Daily 9.00am to 5.00pm

Street eats and drinks

We recommend you head back onto the streets of Chinatown, kicking off with a hearty helping of kui chai. Just a stone’s throw (about 250 metres) from the Wat is Jay Noi’s Kuichai Meal, which offers you a steamed Chinese chive cake, with dipping sauce. This is a simple push cart vendor but absolutely delicious, and perfect for vegetarians! They also include a few other veggie options including fried taro which will fill your belly with delight.

Picture of streets of Chinatown, Bangkok Thailand

Finish off your day trying different delicacies in the neighbourhood (we’re told Mangkorn Khao has the best egg noodles), and finally end your day with a drink or two. Try Ba Hao for a refreshing signature cocktail or, for the ultimate view, head to the Grand China Hotel. It has a revolving restaurant which gives you panoramic views of the district and of the river.

Insider tip: Want to see Bangkok from a different angle, at night? We love the Bangkok Night Cycling Tour, where a local guide will take you past another side of the city after dark, from the back of a bicycle!

Getting from Bangkok airport into town

From Suvarnabhumi Airport

Taxi: The most convenient and, of course, the most expensive. You can take a taxi from Gate 4 and 7 of the passenger terminal – make sure to ask them to put the meter on! It takes between 40-50 minutes and ranges from 350 to 450 THB (7.50 – 10 GBP). You can also book a Grab taxi via the Grab app, which usually ends up a slightly cheaper.

Public Van: The vans make stops along the route to Victory Monument in the city center, ensuring they take a bit longer than a taxi – about 45 minutes to an hour depending on the number of drop-offs. Usually the cost is 40 THB (1 GBP) and from Victory Monument you can either walk, or take another bus, van or Skytrain.

Airport Rail Link: The fastest option, this connects the airport with downtown Bangkok and only takes between 25-30 minutes. It makes six stops and ends at Phayathai station which again provides the option of bus, van or taxi. Cost at time of writing was 45 THB (1.2 GBP)

From Don Mueang Airport

Taxi: The airport is about 24 km from downtown Bangkok, and taxi is the easiest way to travel between the two points. The journey takes between 30-60 minutes depending on traffic and price ranges from 300-400 THB (7.50 – 10.00 GBP)

Bus: A more affordable option is to take Bus No 29 which costs 20 THB (0.5 GBP). This takes between 45-75 minutes.

Koh Pha Ngan – 3 days (or Koh Samui)

After a few days taking in the sights and sounds of the big city, we would recommend for the next part of your 3 weeks in Thailand itinerary to head to the islands in the south to get in some sun, sand and sea. There are a few choices to make, firstly, which area to head to – the islands of Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui on the east coast, or the likes of Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Jum. You could also stay in Phuket or Krabi on the west coast.

Bluerama pool, Koh Pha Ngan

On this itinerary we have chosen to do both east and west coasts, but during the monsoons the weather can be miserable so best to check what time of year you are going on where to go.

And secondly, how best to get from Bangkok to the south. On our most recent trip, we took the overnight train from Bangkok to Surat Thani, then the ferry across to the east coast islands. One positive is that the night train saves you a night’s accommodation, but it’s obviously a lot slower than flying and wasn’t entirely comfortable. We generally recommend air travel, since you can fly directly to Krabi, Phuket, Surat Thani or Koh Samui but we’ve put the detail on the train-ferry combo below.

Getting from Bangkok to Koh Pha Ngan

We’d recommend booking with Bookaway. If you’re looking for hassle free travel, 24hr support and great cancellation policies, these guys are great otherwise it’s also pretty easy to sort yourself.

We booked the overnight train that, on arrival in Surat Thani, provided you with a connection bus to take you to the corresponding ferry operator. We went with Lomprayah (high speed catamaran) as it is the fastest option taking about 2.5 hours, but there are a couple of others which are cheaper and slightly slower. Although after a night on the train, if you’re like us, you’ll probably be aching to get to the beach as quick as possible… We heard that the bus and ferry combination was a better option.

Where to stay

Here is a list of favourite hotels in Koh Phangan to try:

Luxury: Anantara Rasananda Koh Phangan Villas is part of the larger Anantara chain, which always offers great luxury at more affordable (but still premium) pricing. These villas offer some of the best experiences on the island, amd is one of the best family friendly hotels in Thailand.

Midrange: Our vote is for Le Divine Comedie in the Baan Tai area. This is  quieter area but yet very popular for travellers, and this resort is not only beautiful but – bonus – serves breakfast all day! So even if you have a late night (or morning) after the Full Moon party, you won’t miss out on your bacon and eggs…

Budget: Backpackers will tell you that Koh Pha Ngan offers heaps of great accommodation options but Oasis Hostel is one of the more well-known and regarded.

Day 4 Koh Pha Ngan

For our time on the east coast islands, we selected both Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao as our favourites, but depending on your interests, pick any two out of three or even just one if you want to spend less time travelling.

When arriving into Koh Pha Ngan, you’ll be dropped off at the Thong Sala Pier, on the south west side of the island. There will be a bunch of songthaew (converted pick-up trucks acting as taxis) waiting – and asking where you are heading to. It’s good to chat to them and barter hard to take you to the area that you’ll be staying in… they will hang around a bit to make sure they have a full load before departing.

It’s good to note that just near the Thong Sala pier is the weekend night market, which is well worth a visit, and if you’re staying near here (like we did), every night there is the Phantip food market which is a fantastic spot for cheap, but very good street food.

Snorkelling at Haad Mae

For your first day on Koh Pha Ngan, we’d probably suggest some rest and relaxation, which would include a trip up to Haad Mae. This pristine white strip of beach is a perfect introduction to island living – just rent a beach chair from an enterprising local, and take in the ocean views for the day. There are also a number of mid-range beach resorts in the area, many of them offering an easy yet affordable lunch.

Mae Haad, Koh Pha Ngan

Haad Mae beach is the best snorkelling spot in Koh Pha Ngan and also offers a short beach walk since at low tide you are able to walk over to the Koh Ma Island. Simply rent a snorkel from one of the beach huts (or a stand up paddle board if you prefer), and spend a few hours under the water chasing angel fish before heading over to Koh Ma to look around.

Haad Mae beach Location: https://goo.gl/maps/Xqt64gB4yyKQYcHj6

Wang Sai Waterfall

The Haad Mae area also offers a chance to take in the first waterfall of your Thailand 3 week itinerary: the Wang Sai waterfall. This water feature is easily accessible since it’s literally just before the entrance to the beach. Wang Sai is impressive all year around and has a small basin at the bottom, meaning you can take a dip in it’s refreshing, cool water. The entrance is about 100 metres before Maad Hae Beach – park your motorbike or car and take the small footpath on the right for about ten minutes. There is signage directing you.

Wang Sai waterfall Location: https://goo.gl/maps/t1uQejLR86DbVp8L6

Day 5 Koh Pha Ngan

Without doubt one of our highlights of our itinerary in Thailand was our day trip to Ang Thong National Park. You can read a full review along with the day’s itinerary right here.

Lee overlooking mu ko ang thong national park

It’s not well known but the real inspiration for Alex Garland’s novel The Beach (which we mentioned earlier), was Ang Thong, and not Koh Phi Phi or Krabi as some might think. The National Marine Park is actually an archipelago of 42 islands, characterised by incredible towering limestone cliffs, white beaches and – as we found during our exploration –  vivid sea life, baby blue lagoons and thick, humid jungle bush.

So if there’s anything that you take from this list, we can’t rate this experience any more highly! It’s important to note that it can get crowded, so pick an operator that uses speedboats to beat the crowds and also goes out of it’s way to find secluded spots. We went with Safariboat tours and had the most amazing time.

Ang Thong can be reached from both Koh Pha Ngan and Samui, so definitely do also add it to your itinerary! If you’re coming from Koh Samui, we’ve heard great things about this tour.

Day 6 Koh Pha Ngan

Now, to the other extreme of Koh Pha Ngan, and what this island is most famous for: the party scene. For the last day (and evening), we’d suggest that you head to Haad Rin, where you can party to your hearts content. This is the place where the Full Moon Party was created – all the way back by a bunch of friends in 1970s!

Full Moon at Haad Rin, Koh Pha Ngan

If you haven’t heard of it before, this is a monthly beach ‘festival’ celebrating the arrival of the full moon. And over the years it has become synonymous with travellers and gap year students who want a night they won’t forget. Essentially a night of bad decisions and good music. So if you are able to time your arrival to coincide with the full moon, that’s great – here is a calendar of all the full moon dates.

However, don’t fear if you aren’t there during the full moon. With so many travellers wanting to experience the party scene and only 12 nights of the year to host the party, there are now also quarter and half-moon parties along with secret jungle parties every week. So you won’t miss out on the fun…

Koh Tao (Turtle Island) – 3 days

Travelling between the islands is really easy, again hop on one of the operators and head from Koh Pha Ngan to Koh Tao – the smallest of the Chumphon Archipelago. The journey only takes 60 mins on the high speed ferry with the slowest option taking a couple of hrs. Don’t forget to book ferries in advance, especially if you’re travelling in high season!

Where to stay

If you’re doing a dive course it might make the most sense to take advantage of the rooms offered alongside the dive course, as we did with Crystal Dive. However, there are a number of great places to stay in Koh Tao, to suit every budget!

Dive Squad

Luxury: For those looking for a bit of premium travel, The Haad Tien is a great hotel based on Haad Tien beach. It’s actually paired with a slightly cheaper sister hotel, Beach Club by Haad Tien, if you want to save a few pennies.

Mid-range: While it’s quite north of the island, its relaxing to stay near Mae Haad beach, and the best pick of the mid-range bunch is Koh Tao Beach Club. It’s a family-friendly beach resort with great on-site facilities.

Budget: It’s not necessarily a backpacker hostel but Nat Resort is a fantastic budget option. A stone’s throw from the Haad Sairee beach, it offers cheap rooms with an amazing location.

Day 7 to 9 on Koh Tao

Now the main reason that you’re going to head to Koh Tao is for the scuba diving, it’s potentially the cheapest place in the world to learn. We recently did both a refresher course (James hadn’t been diving in 12 years) and an open water dive course (Lee was a total newbie) on the island. If you’d like to read more about who we’d recommend if you’d like to learn to dive – check it out here.

Good to note that you’d need a minimum 4 days on Koh Tao if doing the full open water course, so you may want to cut short another location. Although a good tip to save time: look at doing a part PADI open water at home (pool skills and theory) before you arrive to just enjoy your time in the water! Most good scuba schools are very open to this.

So what to expect from the island and what to do if you don’t want to dive the whole time?

Well the obvious alternative to scuba diving is going on a snorkelling trip. And you won’t be disappointed! At certain times of the year, there is also the chance to see and swim next to a whale shark. These peaceful giants of the sea are pretty rare, and a massive bucket list for many divers, so if you get a chance to swim with them you are in for a real treat.

Blue spotted ray

If you head over to the south of the island, for us there are two great things to do: Firstly, snorkelling in Shark bay, where you’ll often get to swim with young black tip reef sharks. A thrilling experience. And also hike up to the John-Suwan Viewpoint, to give you some beautiful views of the coast. It’s a little bit of a strenuous hike, so good to do early in the morning or for sunset, but so worth it…

What we also really loved about Koh Tao is that the island has really taken on eco-tourism. The island doesn’t allow plastic bags at shops, most places won’t provide you with  a straw etc. Its so great to see them trying to make a difference.

Ao Nang, Railay Beach and Koh Phi Phi – 4 days

So your time on the east coast islands has come to an end, but now we’d suggest heading over the peninsula to the west coast. There is so much to explore but we’ve tried to pick out our highlights for your 3 weeks in Thailand itinerary.

First up, heading from Koh Tao across to Krabi. It’s a bit of a journey, but a couple of ferries and a coach ride takes a good half day, so make sure you factor this into your planning. You’ll arrive in the old town, but we’d recommend heading straight out and be based over in Ao Nang for the next few days. It’s a good place to book day trips from, has some great accommodation options, a nightlife scene and good dining options.

Check out the latest travel options between Koh Tao and Krabi here.

Where to stay in Ao Nang/Railay Beach

Looking for the best places to stay in Ao Nang? Here are some of our best picks in each price range.

Luxury: It reminds us of an African lodge, so it’s no wonder we would recommend Peace Laguna Resort. It boasts detached cottages that are gorgeous inside and out, plus has a number of different pools (three in fact) and is about 500m from the beach.

Mid-range: When last in Ao Nang, we stayed at Deevana Krabi Resort and we can’t recommend it enough. Well-appointed rooms, fantastic service and delicious food in its restaurant shared with its sister hotel. It’s slightly off the main strip so there is a 10 minute walk to the beach but it’s well worth it, since the promenade can get very busy and you’ll probably love the quiet. It is Adults Only but the sister hotel allows children.

Budget: Pod-style living is all the rage and it’s well-delivered at Mini Boxtel Ao Nang, one of the best hostels in the area. Right by the beach and in the action, this is a clean, highly-recommended hostel which is a bit less social than others but offers a great experience in Krabi.

If you’re keen to have a few days of pure relaxation, you may want to instead check out Koh Lanta. We absolutely loved spending a few days chilling on Koh Lanta!

Day 10 Ao Nang

So after a pretty long travel day, you’ve arrived into your accommodation in Ao Nang, a good chance to freshen up, and maybe a quick nap if needed. Before you head out to experience Ao Nang, the main street on the beach front offers a load of dining options, some good cafés and an array of souvenir shops.

Just before night falls, it’s definitely worth heading down to Ao Nang Beach where you’ll get the chance to see a cracking sunset.

Image of girl on Ao Nang beach during sunset

For dinner, we absolutely loved Kodam Kitchen. It’s just nestled a couple of streets back from the main drag, but the food and hospitality is so so good. We ended up eating there 2 nights in a row and kind of wished we found it earlier.

Day 11 Railay Beach

It’s a must-see as part of your 3 week Thailand itinerary. One of the most famous Thailand beaches, we’d recommend that you get up early to enjoy Railay Beach to it’s fullest. First thing when there is virtually no one else there. So head down to Ao Nang beach, wander along and you will find plenty of longtail boat drivers waiting to take you the short hop over to Railay. At time of writing you needed to have a minimum of 6 to a boat and it cost between 20-60 THB (0.5 – 1.5 GBP) per person.

Although we travelled in low season, we arrived at the beach around 7.30 am and found a few others also looking to make the 10 minute boat ride to Railay beach.

Railay Beach, Thailand

You’ll be dropped off on Railay Beach West. Take some time to stroll up and down the beach, before heading over to the East side. It’s nowhere near as pretty as the West beach, but if you then walk towards Phra Nang beach and the Phra Nang cave shrine (it’s well signposted), you are in for another treat. Probably the most spectacular of all the beaches in the area.

Phra Nang beach, Thailand

If you’re keen on rock climbing, there is some of the best rock climbing in Thailand on Railay (we are told that Krabi Rock Climbing are the best operators), and if you’re feeling energetic there is a great viewpoint that can be accessed on the walkway between East Railay and Phra Nang. We weren’t able to climb the viewpoint as it was a bit wet from a couple of days prior. But it looked pretty steep and tricky!

Once you’ve had time to explore, swim and sunbathe on Phra Nang, head back to Railay West for more of the same… it’s a great place to chill out for the day. And whenever you are bored or keen to head back to Ao Nang, head over to the longtail boats to catch the ride back.

Day 12 Koh Phi Phi

Another highlight in the region is taking a speedboat tour of Koh Phi Phi. Koh Phi Phi is actually an archipelago of 6 islands, which are about 30 km south of Ao Nang in the Andaman Sea. So, today you will have the chance to swim and snorkel with some beautiful fish and coral reefs. And relax on the soft, white sand beaches of the islands.

Picture of boats on the water in Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

After your pick up from your accommodation, and the speed boat ride to the islands, first stop will be Pileh Lagoon, a natural lagoon framed by sheer cliffs. Next, you’ll head over to Maya Bay, one of the filming locations of The Beach. Be aware at time of writing, no boats are able to enter the bay since there are ongoing conservation projects to try and rejuvenate the fish and coral population due to over tourism.

The next stop on the itinerary will be Monkey Bay, where you’re likely to encounter a few cheeky macaques, often they’ll come right up to you on the beach. Following the monkeys it’s time for some lunch on Koh Phi Phi Don, the largest of the islands. Followed by some snorkelling, swimming, and exploring Bamboo Island before transfer back to Ao Nang.

It’s a pretty long day – about 8 hrs or so, but a very memorable experience.

Day 13 Try Muay Thai and travel to Chiang Mai

Now, we’d never really done any combat sports beforehand, but a morning lesson with a Muay Thai expert turned out to be one of our favourite sporting activities that we did while in Thailand. There are no issues if you are a complete newbie to boxing/kick boxing, you can actually pick up loads in just an hour long lesson.

We had a private lesson at Deevana Krabi and apart from being absolutely exhausting. It was so much fun. And something we’d definitely do again in a heartbeat. Find out more here.

So after an early morning bit of exercise, you’ll be raring to go, as today is another travel day. Freshen up from the workout, pack up your stuff and use the remaining time to explore Ao Nang a bit more before heading over to Krabi airport to head to the north of Thailand.

We’d recommend taking the evening flight from Krabi to Chiang Mai. Air Asia has two daily flights direct, which only takes a couple of hours. There are other providers, but they all require a stop in Bangkok.

Chiang Mai – 3 days

The largest city in northern Thailand is without doubt our favourite, and if you are a digital nomad, you can seriously consider it as a base to stay for a little while. Alongside great cafes (awesome spots to catch up on some work), restaurants and accommodation, the city is teeming with history. You can get lost wandering around the old city and there are also some pretty cool activities to do too, with hiking in the hills and visiting waterfalls a must! Which is why we have dedicated 3 days to seeing the sights as part of this 3 weeks in Thailand itinerary!

Where to stay

Luxury: Ten minutes from the night market is one of the most beautiful boutique hotels in Chiang Mai, 137 Pillars House. It offers huge, luxurious suites with garden views and has an outdoor pool, a highly-rated spa and gym.

Mid-range: Chiang Mai has a host of great options in the midrange budget but the best of the bunch is 18 In Town Homestay. It has a lush green garden, lovely cozy clean rooms and free bikes to help you get around the town.

Budget: We stayed at Hostel by Bed, and would really advocate for this great little hostel. It’s impeccably clean, has a huge shared kitchen, friendly staff and delicious breakfast each day!

Day 14 Chiang Mai

Coffee stop

So first thing in the morning, it’s worth getting a taste of the fine northern Thai coffee, and what better place to try than at Akha Ama Coffee. Probably the best coffee in Thailand. And also handily located right next to the most beautiful Chiang Mai temple, Wat Phra Singh. Make sure you hit up the right one though – Akha Ama La Fattoria – or you’re in for a bit of a hike to the temple!

Picture of tea and coffee at Akha Amma Coffee in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Location: Tambon Si Phum Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Open: Daily 8.00am to 5.30pm

Wat Phra Singh

Just a quick stroll along from the café, you’ll find the Wat Phra Singh. The original temple here was built in the 14th century, and since then several other buildings added to form a large complex with several smaller chedis and kuti, where the monks live. It’s one of the most attractive temples in Chiang Mai, with gorgeous gilded rooftops and whitewashed walls but also one of the remaining working temples, as you see the monks roaming about and there is a school on the grounds itself.

Wat Phra Singh, Chiang Mai

Location: 2 Samlarn Rd, Phra Sing, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50280, Thailand

Open: 6.00am to 5.30pm

Day 15 Chiang Mai

So time to either hire another driver/tour guide for the day, and head out to the Bua Tong Sticky Waterfalls. The limestone waterfalls are about 90 minute drive north of Chiang Mai (60 km). If you are going to visit any waterfall in Northern Thailand, we would definitely recommend this one! Before arriving in Thailand we’d never heard of these falls, but soon learned about how they get their name…  limestone mineral deposits have been left over the years which act as a grippy surface. Essentially enabling you to scale the falls through the gushing water, something that is impossible at most other waterfalls.

Picture of couple at top of Sticky Waterfalls in Chiang Mai

Our guide for the day, PD (Piangduan) was fantastic. Book your tour to the Sticky Waterfalls, with Get Your Guide here.

Of course you could hire a motorbike and drive there yourself, but we really valued the guide helping us to navigate the waterfalls the first time. But we strongly recommend that you get there early – it can get busy by the afternoon. And also worth putting on some insect repellent. We didn’t and the mosquitoes loved James…

Location: Mae Ho Phra, Mae Taeng District, Chiang Mai 50150, Thailand

Open: Daily 8.00am to 5.00pm

Day 16 Chiang Mai

Wat Chedi Luang

One of the oldest temples in Chiang Mai, which was partially destroyed due to an earthquake in 1545 and then restored, partially, by UNESCO in the 1990s, we really enjoyed our time at this unique temple. The temple was really cool, but what we enjoyed most was the opportunity to chat about Buddhism and Chiang Mai with its monks. Everyday the Wat hosts ‘monk chat groups’ where you can have a great conversation with them. Note there is a 40 THB entrance fee (about 1 GBP).

Wat Chedi Luang, Chiang Rai

Location: 103 Prapokkloa Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Open: 6.00am to 6.30pm daily

Thai cooking course

Of course, you can’t come to Thailand without trying your hand at a spot of Thai cooking. What better way to take home a real souvenir than to learn how to cook some Pad Thai or Thai Green Curry? Well look no further than booking yourself into one of Chiang Mai’s many cooking ‘schools’ for an evening’s introduction into the art of fine cuisine.

Picture of food from a Thai cooking course

There are loads of options, but the most popular is May Kaidee’s Cooking School. Founded in 1988, the school specialises in vegetarian dishes and runs twice daily, at a cost of 1,500 THB per person (about 40 GBP)

Getting from Chiang Mai to Pai

By minibus: There are buses every hour from Chiang Mai to Pai and it takes about 3 hrs to get there.

Note: If you are skipping Pai, there are lots of options to go directly to Chiang Rai, ideally taking the Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai bus.

Pai – 2 days

You’re made it to Pai, one of the newer attractions on the Thailand circuit. And for good reason: it’s a dynamic, vibrant place filled with interesting people, great cafes and incredible scenery like waterfalls, canyons and bamboo bridges. So a must on your 3 weeks in Thailand itinerary.

Where to stay

Luxury: Treat yourself to a luxurious getaway with Puri Pai Villas. Overlooking Pai, these rooms are well-appointed, with friendly staff, wonderful food and a hopping bar, the Barn, which offers panoramic views.

Mid-range: Just 300m from the bus station is Pai Cherkaew Boutique House, the perfect oasis for your stay in Pai. Cool aircon, strong wifi and a lovely shared lounge which allows you to network with other guests, the rooms are spacious and include all the mod cons like flatscreen TVs.

Budget: If you’re looking to meet fellow travellers, Pai Circus is the backpacker’s dream hostel. The rooms are a bit basic but the social aspect and fantastic activities (bonfire nights, barbeques, you name it) make up for the lack of facilities.

Day 17 Pai

Pam Bok Waterfalls

The Pam Bok waterfalls are relatively close to Pai and a great reprieve from the heat. Hike or take a motorbike out here and spend the morning relaxing in the cool water, before heading to your next stop.

Location: Tambon, Thung Yao, Pai District, Mae Hong Son 58130, Thailand

Elephant conservation

Now, a caveat. We are not huge fans of elephant tourism and we have not done this particular activity ourselves, as we have a personal aversion to animal tourism. However, Conserve Natural Forests offers a great sustainable version of elephant conservation, as the animals wander freely. You are able to feed, stroke and wash the elephants, at a cost of 1,000 THB (26 GBP) per person. There is also apparently a good ethical elephant experience in Chiang Mai.

Elephants, Thailand

Location: Tambon, Thung Yao, Pai District, Mae Hong Son 58130, Thailand

Open: Tours between 01.30pm and 5.00pm daily.

Wat Phra That Mae Yen

We’d suggest heading back to your hotel to clean up, and then going out to catch the sunset at the ‘temple on the hill’ or Wat Phra That Mae Yen. This offers a gorgeous view of the town and surrounding mountains, and is a popular sunset spot, although is about 350 steps to walk up!

You can also walk a little further to the World War II Memorial Bridge, which is lit up every night.

Location: Mae Hi, Pai District, Mae Hong Son 58130, Thailand

Open: 24 hours a day

Night Market/ Walking Street

What better way to spend first night in Pai than in one of the best walking streets in South East Asia. The street comes alive around 6.00pm, as it becomes pedestrianized and loads of little stalls start popping up. Try the sizzling kebabs, buy some souvenirs or find those delicious coconut pancakes that Lee loves so much!

Location: Chai Songkhram Rd, Wiang Tai, Amphoe Pai, Chang Wat Mae Hong Son 58130, Thailand

Open: Daily from 6.00 – 11.00pm

Day 18 Pai

Pai Canyon

It’s one of the must-do sights in Pai and the perfect way to kick off your second day, as you see giant red cracks across the earth. There is a narrow walking trail along the edge, which you need to navigate.

Picture of the view from Pai Canyon, Thailand

Go early in the morning to get the sunrise but also the entire place to yourself.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/ijhUCzbPsm2wyCMPA

Hot Springs

After a busy morning hiking the canyon, the best way to relax is in a natural hot spring! These are about 8km from Pai so take a tuk tuk out there and spend the afternoon relaxing in the various pools.

It costs 300 THB (approx. 8 GBP), and includes mineral baths, hot springs and a swimming pool.

Location: 84-84/1 Moo 2, Mae Hee, Pai, Mae Hong Son, Pai, 58130, Thailand


Treat yourself for your last dinner in Pai by eating at Silhouette. It’s a delectable fine dining experience – you’ll feel like you are sitting in a European restaurant, albeit with Thai flair.

However, if you’re looking for something more affordable, local expats recommend Lemon and Thyme café. Run by two young Thai men, they specialize in delicious sandwiches but also eclectic weekly specials and fish dishes.

Getting from Pai to Chiang Rai

By minibus: The trip takes about 6 hours departing at 7am. Check out the latest options here.

Chiang Rai  – 2 days

The most northern city in Thailand, in reality Chiang Rai is a bit of a sleepy town – one of the reasons why we love it. Another perfect place to relax, hang out and see some stunningly picturesque sites. It’s also a great place to base yourself to explore the north if you have more than 3 weeks, with trips to the Golden Triangle and to visit hill tribes or head out on some hiking adventures.

Where to stay

Luxury: About 2km out of town is The Riverie. Nestled on an island in the middle of the Kok river, is is one of the best luxury resorts in the region and boasts stunning views across the mountains, and fantastic rooms and facilities.

Mid-range: While its quite out of town, we’d make a very strong recommendation for Bura Resort. An eco resort, each bungalow has its own cascading waterfall! It is beautifully designed and what makes it so special is the staff: attentive, kind and willing to help with whatever you need.

Budget: Right by the Chiang Rai night bazaar and near the city centre is Mercy Hostel. This great gem of a hostel offers dorms and private rooms, all with wifi, aircon and a communal swimming pool and snooker table!

Day 19 Chiang Rai

We would recommend getting a driver for the day to take you around to the famous temples and sites – yes those ones that you’ve seen from Instagram! The cost for a driver for the day is about 1,600 THB (40 GBP), so although it was a little expensive it just made the day a lot simpler. However, if you’re relatively comfortable riding a moped, then you could also hire one for the day, but there is a bit of distance between these sights. Also, Grab (the SE Asia version of Uber) works well too, and taxis aren’t too expensive.

The White temple

Make sure you head out early to visit Wat Rong Khun, also known as the White Temple to try and avoid those crowds. One of the most famous landmarks in Thailand, this temple is actually a privately owned art exhibit, created by Chalermchai Kositpopat… it definitely is stunning but totally unconventional and a refreshing alternative to many other temples. Alongside the main white temple, there are loads of other interesting exhibits and buildings to explore. There is an entrance fee of 50 THB (approx. 1.25 GBP).

The White Temple, Chiang Rai

Location: Pa O Don Chai, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Open: Daily 6.30am to 6pm

The Black House

Another alternative experience, and from chatting to many travellers, their favourite in Chiang Rai. For us, although it wasn’t quite as cool as the White Temple, The Black House or it’s real name Baan Dam is definitely worth the trip. The Black House is actually a park with a strange selection of buildings, displays, sculptures and installations. Baan Dam is a display of the life’s work of Thai artist Thawan Duchanee. There is an 80 THB entrance fee (about 2 GBP).

The Black House, Baan Dam, Chiang Rai

Location: 414 Moo 13, Ban Du, Chiang Rai

Open: Daily 9.00am to 5.00pm

Refuel at Chivit Thamma Da

To give you a real taste of colonial style living, and because it is just down the road from our final stop of the day we’d recommend heading to Chivit Thama Da for a spot of lunch or even just some afternoon tea and cake. The place is a little on the pricier end, but make sure you sit upstairs in the library areas, where you can play free pool or snooker while eating out on the veranda overlooking the river Kok.

The Blue Temple

And onto the final stop for the day, a 2 minute drive or 5 minute walk from the restaurant, you’ll find the Blue Temple, Wat Rong Suea Ten. If you haven’t seen photos of this place, you’ve probably guessed by the name, this Thai temple is decorated almost exclusively in blue, providing it with a very unique style.

The Blue Temple, Chiang Rai

Location: 306 Maekok Rd, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57100

Open: Daily 6.00am to 7.00pm

Day 20 Chiang Rai

Wat Huay Pla Kang

This morning, head out towards the north of Chiang Rai, where you will find the Chinese temple complex of Wat Huay Pla Kang, which has three separate, and all very different temples. Firstly there is the giant Buddha, pretty impressive on it’s own, but when you add the steps leading up to it, protected by giant dragons – it makes for a pretty magical place. You can also take an elevator up inside the Buddha with great views.

Dragons, Wat Huay Pla Kang, Chiang Rai

Right next door, you have a very elaborately decorated white temple, and then next to that the 9-storey pagoda which again you can climb to the top, providing an excellent view of the surroundings.

One of the best things about Wat Huay Pla Kang is that it was also relatively empty. We went in the middle of the afternoon and found ourselves virtually alone.

Location: 553 Moo 3 | Rimkok, Chiang Rai 57100

Open: Daily 8am to 6pm

Cat Café

After spending time at the temple complex, it’s time to head back into Chiang Rai. If you’re hungry we’d definitely recommend that you try the Veggie burger and sinfully chocolate shake at Kunda Vegan. Then time to unwind by spending the afternoon relaxing among some furry friends at the CAT ‘n’ A CUP Cat Cafe. We have visited a few cat cafes in Asia and this is one of our favourites: there are strict rules around handling the animals, which means this is a more sustainable sort of animal tourism.

Location: 596/7 Phaholyothin Rd, Chang Wat Chiang Rai 57000

Open: Daily 11.30am to 10.00pm

Night Bazaar

Open every night, we found this night market a great one to explore and try out some local treats. It has everything you’d expect from a Thailand night market, but given it’s proximity to the centre of town and friendliness of the stall holders, we loved it and would definitely put it on the list of things to do here.

Location: Phaholyothin Rd, Chiang Rai

Open: Daily from 6pm to 11pm

Getting from Chiang Rai to Bangkok

By plane: There are loads of direct flight options to Bangkok – these take about 1.5 hours

By bus: The night buses take about 12+ hours between Chiang Rai and Bangkok. Check out more options on 12go Asia.

Bangkok – 1 day

Day 21 Final Day exploring Bangkok

So depending on if you’ve flown out of Chiang Rai back to Bangkok the evening before, travelling overnight by bus or flying into Bangkok today, you may have a little more time to head out of the airport and explore the city. And so, we have left our favourite temple for you until last. The Golden Mount Temple – Wat Saket. Entrance fee is 50 THB (about 1.25 GBP), we loved it as it was so quiet and has a great view of the city. So make sure this is your final stop on your 3 weeks in Thailand itinerary.

Picture of girl at the Mount Temple in Bangkok Thailand

Location: 344 Thanon Chakkraphatdi Phong, Khwaeng Ban Bat, Khet Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10100

Open: Daily 8.00am to 5.00pm

And in case you have a bit more time in the city, here are a few more things that you may want to check out:

  • Tour the Jim Thompson House
  • Take a street food tour
  • Visit Lumpini Park
  • Soak up some history at the National Museum

So there you have it, a comprehensive 3 weeks in Thailand itinerary… but if you have any tips, think we’ve missed anything or have any questions, just let us know in the comments below or get in touch here!

When to go?

Thailand is made up of so many different regions, and not surprisingly the climates vary throughout. So although there are definitely ‘better’ times to visit, you really can get lucky or unlucky with the weather. We travelled in May, which is on the shoulder of dry into wet season, but were really lucky during our time and had virtually no rain anywhere we went. It also came with the added benefit of being ‘low season’ meaning costs were lower and we found notoriously busy places empty and our own to explore.

However, many sites will recommend that the best time to visit Thailand is during the cool and dry season between November and April.

As mentioned earlier in the article the weather in the south on the islands can vary hugely between the east and west. Where November to April is prime weather, although once the monsoon rains move in, from June onwards, you’ll get the best of the weather in the Gulf of Thailand. Where it can be lovely all year round.

What camera equipment and other gear do we use?

We’re living proof that you don’t need the most expensive gear to travel the world and take good photos. Here are some of our must have items that make it into the packing list for all our travels.

Some useful Thai phrases

  • Hello – Sawatdii
  • How are you? – Sabaaidii mai?
  • I’m fine – Sabaaidii
  • I’m not well – Mai sabaii
  • Thank you – Khop kun
  • Sorry – Khot hort
  • Goodbye – Bai

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I pack for Thailand?

Not sure what to pack for Thailand? Well, like most of South East Asia, you’ll need cool, lighter coloured clothing (ideally), sandals, sunscreen and definitely an adapter! Remember also that if visiting temples (which you inevitably will), you should cover your shoulders and your knees.

What are some other areas in Thailand that I could consider? 

There are really so many fabulous places to visit in Thailand. Favourites include Khao Sok National Park, Pattaya, Koh Lipe, Koh Chang or the ancient city of Ayutthaya.

How must does 3 weeks in Thailand cost?

Thailand is one of the pricier countries in South East Asia, but of course great value compared to the US or perhaps Europe. Also, your budget always depends on your travel style. If you’re on a backpacking budget, you could easily do a daily budget of 50 GBP / 65 USD or less. For us, we fall between backpacking and mid-range, and spent 80 GBP / 100 USD per day for our 1 month in the country; although this did include some more expensive pursuits like learning to scuba dive.

What is the best itinerary for Bangkok for only 3 days?

We’ve put together the Bangkok portion of the itinerary above as 3 days but you could also dive a little deeper, since we have a full post on 4 days in Bangkok.

Is 3 weeks in Thailand enough?

Probably, yes. You can see most of the key cities and sights, spend time in the islands, and trekking in the north. Obviously there is a host of other attractions that you could add, but 3 weeks in Thailand is undoubtedly a good start.

Is Koh Tao really a dangerous place to include in my itinerary to Thailand?

There was a lot of chatter about safety on Koh Tao since there was a high profile murder in 2014, and a lot of negative media attention particularly in the UK. However, Koh Tao is a very safe place to travel and these sensationalist reports should not put you off visiting this island paradise.

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  1. Kiran
    26th August 2019 / 5:48 am

    Amazing post, Really interesting to read. I would like to go there with my family on my next vacation. Thanks for your valuable information. It will be very helpful when I planned to go there.

    • James & Lee
      31st August 2019 / 8:00 am

      No worries! Drop us an email through the contact us section if you’d like any further information! Definitely make it your next destination… Thailand is amazing.

  2. Leon
    29th August 2019 / 5:40 am

    Fantastic blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers?

    I’m hoping to start my own website soon but I’m a little
    lost on everything. Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There
    are so many choices out there that I’m totally confused ..
    Any ideas? Thanks!

    • James & Lee
      31st August 2019 / 8:03 am

      Thank you! So glad that you like our writing… In terms of recommendations, we are only aspiring writers too. Especially Lee who is trying to pen her first novel! So not too many hints that we can provide. However, we really believe that experiencing what you write about helps!

      In terms of the WordPress question. 100% go for WordPress. It is amazing when you start to understand how to use it. And in terms of traffic from Google, much better than Squarespace, Wix etc…

  3. Jess
    10th January 2020 / 12:00 pm

    This is one of the most comprehensive, informative posts I’ve ever read! I’ve been confused with the logistics and places for months since I booked my 3 week trip to Thailand and you’ve explained EVERYTHING I need to know in a way I understand. Thank you so much! 🙂

    • James & Lee
      11th January 2020 / 4:47 am

      Hi Jess, thanks so much for the feedback on our post! We love hearing back from people that find our itineraries useful 🙂 Of course, if you have any queries, do feel free to drop us an email too and we’ll come back with as much information as you can? Whereabouts are you going in Thailand? We’re very excited to be heading back there early this year…

  4. Erika
    5th August 2021 / 6:39 pm


    Just wondering about the island hopping in the east and west coast, is it better to just station myself in one town/city on each side and go on tours to nearby islands day by day or should I move islands/accomodations as well? Just trying to find the best, most time efficient way of travelling south of Thailand. We wanted a mix of party and relaxation. Please let me know what you recommend. Thanks, Erika

    • James & Lee
      11th August 2021 / 7:43 am

      Hi Erika, great question! We’d definitely recommend on the most part that you move from island to island too. The islands are far enough away that often day trips aren’t that feasible, unless using speedboat options (we much preferred the slower large ferries). It also depends how long you plan on staying on the islands. I’d say the biggest mistake that people make are spending only one or two days on each island, as they want to see everything. And each island offers very different things, so it also makes a difference in what you’re interested in… but take it slow and relax, Koh Phangan is a great option for both (if you stay away from the main party areas). Hope that helps, but send us an email if you want on where you are thinking, and we’ll try and provide some recommendations! Best, James and Lee

  5. Austin
    27th October 2021 / 11:27 am


    I read a lot of your articles and all the articles are very informative. I too would like to contribute an article on your web page. I enjoy reading your blogs, and I love them, Thank you for sharing with us. All the information is in detail and explains everything.