I’ve been to Thailand twice, well technically 3 times, but I have travelled all over the country and had an amazing time. Therefore I thought it was time to reveal my ultimate 3 week Thailand itinerary. If you’re planning a trip to Thailand, then keep reading!
If you’re wondering “is 3 weeks in Thailand enough?” then the answer is yes.
3 weeks in Thailand, for me, is the perfect amount of time to explore the whole country and get a real feel for temples, culture and beautiful beaches.
Getting into the country: getting a Visa
The question is: do I need a visa for Thailand?
Truly the answer depends on what country you’re from.
If a British or Irish citizen you get 30 days in without a visa, as part of the visa exempt programme.
This can be reset once you stamp out of the country and back in again. For example, I left Thailand to Cambodia, then came back via Laos and got another month (well, actually I got two months, and I am not sure why, but I didn’t need the extra month, but thank you Thai immigration office!)
You can travel in twice from land borders in one year, but air travel borders is different. I don’t believe there is a limit.
It’s 2000 baht for a visa on arrival, but actually up until the 13th of Jan 2019, this is not the case (apparently a bit of a new years present, i.e they want more people to come to Thailand)
So, let’s start with my technical route, then I will suggest duration's and the top things to do on each of your stops!
Extending my Thai Visa
You can extend to 60 days in the country by going to an immigration office. You can find out more about the process here.
The Ultimate 3 week Thailand itinerary
Follow this route for 3 weeks in Thailand.
This route is going to take you down south and we are going to hit the beaches and islands of Thailand first, then from the bottom, you can either bus your way back to Bangkok and head North via bus, or you can make life easier and get a cheap internal flight from Phuket to Chiang Mai…..but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
South Thailand itinerary 3 weeks route
Bangkok > Hua Hin> Ko Samui> Ko Phangan> Ko Tao> Krabi> Ko Phi Phi islands> Phuket
From Phuket you can either bus up to Chiang Rai, which will prob require a bus change in Bangkok OR you can fly with airasia or Thai airways for cheap up to Bangkok (which is what I did) and then get a bus to Chiang Rai from there.
North Thailand itinerary 3 weeks route
Okay, now that we are back in the centerpiece of Thailand: Bangkok, it’s time to head North.
This is my suggested Thailand itinerary for north Thailand
Bangkok> Chiang Rai> Chiang Mai> Pai> Chiang Mai
And then you can either fly home from Chiang Mai or get a bus to Bangkok and fly back from there.
Okay, let’s break this Thailand Itinerary 3 weeks route down. We have 21 nights and a lot of ground to cover!
Stop 1: Bangkok: 2 nights
During this 3 week thailand itinerary we are going to be making 3 spots at Bangkok, and there is so much to do in Bangkok (I’ve made a whole Bangkok travel guide), but we will break it down what we will do.
Start with 2 nights in Bangkok. Use your first night to recover from your flight and go visit Koh San Road (maybe see a ping pong show if you’re not shattered).
Then the next day in Bangkok, so see some of the top temples such as the Grand Palace, Wat Arun, and the leaning buddha.
It will be a day of temple hopping then in the evening hit one of the amazing markets and eat street food and drink Thai beer!
Stay here: Zee Thai (amazing place!)
Stop 2: Hua Hin: 1 night
From Bangkok you get a cheap bus to Hua Hin (taxi was 2000 baht in 2015), bus is a lot cheaper and the journey is around 4 hours.
Head early so you get the day in Hua hin. You can go visit the amazing elephant sanctuary that allows you to walk, feed and wash the elephants (no riding here!).
Then in the evening hit the fantastic Hua Hin night market. Amazing food galore!
There is also a nice beach in Hua hin (if you get the time!)
Stay here: Jenny Hostel
Stop 3: Ko Samui: 2 nights
Ko Samui is a beautiful island and you get there via bus and boat from Hua Hin. Buy your tickets online with Lomyhra and get ready to see some beautiful beaches.
In Koh Samui you can check out big buddha, beautiful beaches and party your heart out if you want to!
Stay here: Sirinsamui Boutique Hostel
Stop 4: Koh Phangan: 2 nights
I’ve included this route as if you are going to the full moon party Thailand (which you totally should) and is the reason most people head down south anyway. #
Head there a day before the full moon party for the “pre moon” party, and if you really want to you can stay an extra night for the jungle party.
But in the interests of this being a 3 week thailand itinerary, I’m suggesting 2 nights!
Stay here: Phangan Beach Resort OR First Villa Beach Resort
I stayed at them on on two different full moon parties.
Read also: A guide to surviving the full moon party Thailand.
Stop 5: Koh Tao: 1 night
Koh Tao is the smallest of the islands in this region and is worth a night stay. It’s well known for its snorkelling and beautiful beaches.
Ko Tao is actually the only island I haven’t been too. Mainly because I kept running out of time. BUT, I have friends who have been and loved the snorkelling, and it’s definitely somewhere I will make a stop at next time I am at the full moon party.
You get between all these islands via boat. My island hopping guide gives you so much advice on booking boats etc.
Stay here: Pahili Pool Villas Koh Tao
Stop 6: Krabi 2 nights:
I am suggesting two nights because by the time you get to Krabi, you’ll have wasted a day travelling. Krabi has the brilliant Railay beach which is beautiful and iconic.
It’s also got an awesome strip of bars and restaurants.
Stay here: Haleeva Sunshine
Stop 7: Phi Phi: 2 night:
Phi phi is small and known for partying. You can also visit other islands off Phi Phi, so 2 nights is good if you want a day for recovering then an actual day sightseeing.
Stay here: Phi Phi Sky Resort
Stop 8: Phuket: 1 night
Phuket is actually quite dire. Other than Patong beach which has a strip known as bangla road, is like the party capital/weird sex capital/ ping pong/sex show capital of the area.
If you want cheap shots, then there we go! But Phuket has got an airport, and you need to get back to Bangkok.
Stay here: Oscar Boutique Hotel
This actually has a pretty low score now, but honestly when I stayed it’s great. Big, clean rooms, good pool, nice views, free gym, and the let us stay in the room until a late night flight for an extra £5. Great staff too.
Stop 9: Bangkok: 1 night
Whilst in Bangkok for a night, go and organise your bus to Chiang Rai then head and see a Thai boxing match in the evening! Always fun!
Stay here: Find unique accommodation here.
Stop 10: Chiang Rai: 2 nights
Chiang Rai is home to the best temples in Thailand, and probably Asia (in my opinion). The white temple is iconic architecture, and absolutely beautiful, and the blue temple is peaceful, stunning and free.
I think more and more people are beginning to visit the blue temple so it might be more crowded nowadays. Then you’ve got the black temple, amazing waterfalls and mountains to chase.
Stay here: Ann Guest House
Stop 11: Chiang Mai: 2 nights
Chiang Mai is the digital nomad capital of the world (due to cheap rent and low cost of living), but it’s also got some fabulous temples, waterfalls, waterparks, swimming areas, markets and much more. I love Chiang Mai, and you probably will too!
Stay here: I completely forget the name of where I stayed...so check for accommodation here.
Stop 12 Pai: 2 nights
Pai is north north Thailand, and you can either rent a moped and drive these winding roads yourself, or you get a little mini bus from the Arcade Chiang Mai bus station for 150 baht.
There is a 80% chance you will throw up on the journey, or if you don’t throw up, you’re going to be close to it. Take motion sickness tablets.
But trust me when I say it’s totally worth it!!
Pai is beautiful and just filled with natural beauty. It’s got a fantastic night food market (like my favourite in the world), amazing natural hot springs dotted everywhere, stunning buddha's to climb and see, strawberry fields, the pai canyon and much more. Pai is amazing.
You need to be willing to ride a moped when you get to pai. It’s how everyone gets around, and there ain’t a lot of taxis. It’s like £2 to rent a moped and everywhere is selling them.
Don’t forget that international driving licence (which in the UK you get at the post office for £5.50)
Stay here: Pai Fuh Pha Resort
Stop 13: Bangkok: 1 night
Spend your last night in Bangkok with dinner and drinks at a rooftop bar with the stunning skyline of Bangkok beneath you. Stay in a hotel with a rooftop swimming pool for an extra special send off.
Stay here: I Residence Hotel Silom
If my calculations are correct, then we have ourselves 21 nights which makes a Thailand itinerary of 3 weeks!
You could do this route from back to front and when you end in Bangkok after the islands, you fly home then. If you want to do full moon, then I would do it first and then work my way north.
It’s personally a nicer way to do it.
Both south and north Thailand offers great things, but they are very different. South is much more about partying and beaches, and generic backpacking, but the North is filled with natural beauty in the form of waterfalls and hot springs, and mountains and I love it!
All the hotels I have noted throughout are the places I stayed in with Bradley when undertaking this Thailand itinerary of 3 weeks.
So now you’ve got the ultimate 3 week Thailand trip, you’re almost ready to go, but check out the rest of my information on this Thailand travel guide (if you will :P) to ensure you’re prepared to go!
Getting around Thailand
Getting around Thailand is EASY! There are lots of options.
Buses: There is a vast tourist bus network for getting around Thailand and I always use 123goAsia to book my bus tickets in advance. Just ease of mind and I hate negotiating.
Flying: Thanks to the Ryanair of Asia (AirAsia) it’s super cheap to fly between different places in Thailand. You can get flights from Chiang Mai to Bangkok for less than £20.
Use Skyscanner to find the best prices.
Trains: I personally never used the train network in Thailand, but I do know you can get trains. It’s a cheap and comfortable way to travel and you can find out more here.
Within cities you can get tuk tuks, but I always say use Uber or Grab. It saves you the hassle of getting ripped off and you know what you’re in for. Plus it’s just convenient.
You can still order a tuk tuk off uber.
Also, in every place apart from Bangkok, it’s worth renting a moped to get around and explore. It’s safe and hassle free. You can find out more about renting a moped in south east Asia here.
What are the best things to do in Thailand?
For each destination I’ve listed I’ve linked through to a guide on that part of the country and within that I’ve listed some top things to do. For the islands, they don’t have their individual guides, but my complete guide on island hopping covers them all individually.
BUT, to get you excited, here are some things you should miss on a Thailand itinerary.
- Visiting the Grand Palace in Bangkok
- Experience a Floating Market
- Relax in the natural hot springs in Pai
- Try Strawberry Vodka and wine at a strawberry farm
- Party till you drop at the Full Moon Party Thailand
- Snorkel in Koh Tao
- Relax and explore on Railay Beach
- Explore the Khao Yai National Park
- Take a Thai cooking class
- Visit a elephant sanctuary (do not ride)
If you complete at least all of these 10 things, then you’ll have done some of the best things Thailand has to offer.
A suggested budget for Thailand
3 weeks in Thailand cost: Thailand isn’t expensive and neither is Bangkok. The most expensive site there is the Grand Palace and it’s only around £12 which in comparison to sites in Sri Lanka for example, is cheap as chips.
You could survive in Thailand on a budget of $20-30 a day and this would include accommodation, food and transport.
Bradley and I spent around that, then a little extra for some sights.
Food is dirt cheap, especially if you are eating street food, which safe, clean and just use common sense. If a stall is empty and everywhere else is busy, then avoid it. Thai red curry is amazing and Pad Thai is the go-to cheap common dish ($2).
I’m craving it now as I write.
Our Thailand itinerary (3 weeks) takes you through all of the country, not just a focus on the South or the North.
There is a variation in price. The north is cheaper than the south, but alcohol is cheap in Thailand but you need to exercise caution that you are drinking actual real alcohol, so see your drinks being poured, and if buying buckets at the full moon party, make sure you make the bucket yourself with a sealed bottle of spirit at purchase.
The reason I’ve included both north and south Thailand is that those who only go to the South can sometimes feel disappointed in their experience.
This is because the south of Thailand is very well known. We’ve seen the pictures on Instagram many times, and most of them are overly edited and don’t look like that in person. So people are disappointed when they go.
Actually, in the north, with the blue temple, I see high travel profiles share photos of the blue temple and they edit the colour so much it turns the temple into sort of a light blue, which looks pretty, but the temple doesn’t have that colour, it looks like this, below.
It doesn’t need a new blue, it’s already beautiful. So, yes, use Instagram to inspire you to go to a destination, but do not expect it to look like the picture with the lightroom preset on it!
(Which I use myself btw, but I don’t change how a place looks entirely lol)
2 week Thailand Itinerary
If you find yourself with only 2 weeks in Thailand, then I’d maybe suggest sticking to the south. You’ll get to explore Bangkok and a lot of beautiful temples, island and beaches.
Bangkok>Hua Hin> Ko Samui> Ko Phangan> Krabi> Phi Phi> Phuket
Bangkok: 2 nights
Hua Hin: 1 night
Ko Samui: 2 nights
Ko Phangan: 3 nights
Krabi: 2 nights
Phi Phi: 2 nights
Phuket: 2 nights
Back to Bangkok and ready to go!
Or IF you want a north 2 week Thailand itinerary, try this one:
Bangkok> Thung Salaeng Luang National Park> Chaing Rai> Chiang Mai> Pai> Bangkok>Hua Hin>Bangkok
Bangkok: 2 nights
National park: 2 nights
Chiang Rai: 2 nights
Chiang Mai: 3 nights
Pai: 3 nights
Bangkok: 2 nights
Thailand 1 week itinerary
If you’ve only got a week in Thailand, then you’ll want to do the highlights, which you can, but you need to fly!
Bangkok>(fly to)Koh Samui> Ko Phangan>Koh Toa> fly back to Bangkok
Bangkok: 2 nights
Koh Samui: 2 nights
Ko Phangan: 2 nights
Koh Tao: 1 night
Fly back to bangkok from samui and fly out!
OR the north option is
Bangkok>(fly to) Chiang Mai> Pai> Chaing Rai> Bangkok
Bangkok: 2 nights
Chiang Mai: 2 nights
Bangkok: fly home!
Final few tips
I thought I’d include a few final tips to help your Thailand trip go smoothly!
Get yourself a Revolut Card: So, in 2016, it was announced that every Thai ATM/bank would charge foreign cards (including travel cards) a stupid fee of around $5-6 per withdrawal.
If you get a revolut card and choose the option “continue WITHOUT conversion” (you’d be surprised at how often people get this wrong) you’ll get the best exchange rate, so loose less money.
But basically it’s a good idea to bring as much Thai Baht in with you as you can and your revolut card is free for atm transactions so use that.
People either love or hate Thai people. They really are a mixed bag. Some you get are super chirpy and happy, whereas others act like they’ll only talk to or interact with you if you’ve got money. Which is annoying.
But I met many great-hearted Thai people in Thailand and I therefore can’t let the minor few ruin the reputation of everyone.
7/11 are everywhere and are the best shop for snacks/drinks/AND ICE LATTEE. It’s like 80 pence and unbelievably good. I miss them SO much.
There are some “Cafe Amazons” in Thailand, which are also just out of this world with coffee.
The Hard Rock Cafe in Bangkok has the best live band (still the same one for the last 5 years), and the best staff. So if you want something generic, go there.
Tipping of 10% is customary.
Bring a Shawl to cover up for temples or else you will have to pay to borrow clothes!
So, there you have it! My Thailand itinerary 3 weeks in the country! I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and if you’ve got any other suggestions, then pop them below.