Thailand Itinerary 2 Weeks – To Suit All Your Personalities!

Waterfall, Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Updated May 30th, 2018.

Whether you’re looking for a beach holiday, a spiritual retreat, to go trekking in the jungle, to get up in the mountains, to party, to escape the modern world, or perhaps immerse yourself in learning about Buddhism, meditation, Thai massage, Muay Thai boxing or yoga – Thailand has something to fit every side of your personality!

Below you will find four itineraries that will give you ideas on how to enjoy the best 2 weeks in Thailand, including a first-timer itinerary, a beach bum special, a mountain lover’s route and an off the beaten track adventure! At the bottom of this post, there are also more ideas for yogis, divers, party animals, fitness fanatics and bikers.

So why am I qualified to write such itineraries I hear you ask? Well, I first came to Thailand as a 23-year old solo backpacker. Over the past 10 years, I’ve lived in Thailand and have explored many parts of this amazing country. I’ve hit up most of the famous the tourist hotspots, the so-called ‘best beaches and islands’ and I’ve spent a fair bit of time off the beaten track, in parts of the country where it’s rare to see a ‘farang’ (foreigner).

Nikki Scott, Travel Expert & Founder of South East Asia Backpacker Magazine.
Me in Mae Hong Son, Northern Thailand – one of my favourite spots!

It really annoys me when I hear fellow travellers telling me that Thailand is ‘ruined’ or ‘too touristy these days’. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! Of course, there are places to avoid – in my opinion, give Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Samui and Pattaya a big swerve… (and you might want to check for Thailand destinations to avoid on our list of the worst places to visit in Southeast Asia here!)

However, depending on what you’re looking for, Thailand really does have something for everyone – even the backpacker snob! It’s cheap, safe, the street food is, in my opinion, the best in Southeast Asia, the people are friendly and there are plenty ways to avoid the beer-louts… or jump in and party with them if that’s what you’re looking for!

My one piece of advice when planning an itinerary for Thailand, or any country for that matter, is don’t try to cram too much in. In Thailand, for example, I would recommend choosing either the North or the South to explore. That way, you can spend more time getting to know each place and not jumping around hostels and spending too long on buses.

If you really must see the North AND the South, I’d recommend finding a cheap flight from Chiang Mai to either Krabi or Surat Thani, both gateways to the Southern islands… To get from the north to the south by bus or train will take two days out of your itinerary. On the other hand, if you have plenty of time and you prefer local, overland travel, then this can be a great adventure! You can book local transport here.

So without further ado, I present to you the following 2-week Thailand itineraries…

1. THE FIRST TIMER

2. THE BEACH BUM (SOUTH)

3. THE MOUNTAIN LOVER (NORTH)

4. THE TOURIST AVOIDER

Because everyone is different, of course, I couldn’t create just ‘one-size fits all’ itinerary! Which is the best Thailand itinerary for you? (Or why not mix and match!)

Two-week Itinerary for Thailand: The First Timer!

This first time Thailand itinerary (classic route with a twist!) is one that I’ve recommended to friends in the past. You’ll hit up some of the highlights of the country, but you’ll explore them a little differently, avoiding the obvious tourist traps and getting the best out of the destination!

Thailand 2 week Itinerary For First Timers!DAY 1-2: Bangkok

Many people like to get in and out of Bangkok as fast as they possibly can, catching a flight straight out from Suvarnabhumi Airport to the islands, but to miss out on a night or two in Bangkok is to misunderstand Thailand entirely!

If it’s the weekend, spend your day in Bangkok at Chatuchak Market, one of the biggest open-air markets in the world that sells everything from vintage clothes to puppies! (Be warned – it gets pretty crowded.)

If you want a quiet start to your trip, head out to the green refuge of Lumphini Park and people watch – you can even join in the 5 pm open-air aerobics if you like! Alternatively, grab a river boat taxi on the Chao Phraya River and head to Bangkok’s so-called “Green Lung” or ‘Bang Krachao’.

This little-visited area of the city is the perfect place to hire a bicycle and cycle along the tree-lined canals and alleyways. Head to Wat Klong Toey (temple) to start your adventure. While you’re at it, visit Wat Arun, also known as the ‘Temple of the Dawn’,  that’s also located on the quieter side of the river.

In the evening (just because you can’t visit Bangkok without laying eyes on it just once!) hit up the famous backpacker street Khao San Road for a messy evening of insect tasting, beer and buckets! Grab yourself a Singha Beer singlet and a multi-coloured hat with bells on and blend in with the rookie backpackers.

Or, for a classier evening, head to Vertigo, the rooftop bar on the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel for amazing views of the city! Drinks are naturally more expensive here, but the view is worth the price.

The following day, if you have time, why not head to Wat Pho, the most beautiful temple in Bangkok (in our opinion!) and find out about the history of Thai Massage through the interesting murals that line the walls of the temple. Of course, it would be rude if you didn’t go for a traditional Thai massage yourself!

One hour will cost you 420 THB. Be prepared to get beaten up! (Many people take courses here to learn the ancient art for themselves) While you’re here you can also visit the reclining Buddha. (100 THB entry fee to Wat Pho and the Reclining Buddha.)

From here, the Grand Palace is just up the road so if this is on your bucket list, then, by all means, feel free to tick it off today! It will set you back a hefty 500 THB though!

That evening, head over to Chinatown for some amazing street food in this unique and chaotic part of the city. About a 5-minute cycle ride or 10-minute walk from Chinatown you will also find the unique 24-hour Flower Market (Pak Khlong Talat) which is busiest between 1 am and 3 am as people buy fresh flowers for events and ceremonies taking place the next day! It’s an interesting market and one of the best smelling!

From Chinatown, the train station of Hua Lamphong is just a short walk where you can hop on an overnight train to Chumphon, on the east coast of Thailand. Book your train ticket in advance here to save any time wasting while you’re in the city.

OVERNIGHT TRAIN

DAY 3-5: Koh Tao

You’ll wake up in the very early morning on the train in the South of Thailand – a land of paradise beaches and picture-postcard islands! So many islands – which one to choose?

We recommend starting with the tiny turtle shaped Koh Tao – a manageable island with gorgeous beaches and a great place for beginners to learn how to dive! From Chumphon Pier, the first ferry of the morning leaves at 7 am with Songserm which takes 2-3 hours to reach Koh Tao. Later ferries take 1 hour 30 minutes.

Once you’re settled in, why not take a 3-day Open Water Dive Course, or if you have less time on the island, take a one-day Discover SCUBA Diver Course where you can explore the amazing underwater world of Koh Tao without having a diving certificate.

Some of the new buddies you’ll meet whilst diving in Koh Tao, Thailand!

Chilling out on Koh Tao’s beaches in the evening with a cocktail in hand watching the fire dancing, you’ll feel your body start to relax as you fully embrace laid-back Thai beach life!

Let’s throw an extra day in here to chill out on the beach. Or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, hire a motorbike and explore the quieter eastern of the island with its gorgeous beaches and unusual rock formations. For those of you who can’t sit still, why not do some rock climbing or even the flying trapeze with our friends over at Goodtime Adventures.

DAY 6-8: Khao Sok National Park

Today, it’s time to start your journey to Jurassic… (Khao Sok National) Park. (See what I did there?) You’ll hop on a boat to the mainland and take a minivan for three hours to reach the national park, home to wild elephants, giant monitor lizards, spectacled langurs and the world’s biggest flower that gives off the stench of rotting flesh – the Rafflesia!

Why not book yourself on a 2-day, 1-night trek where you’ll stay overnight in a floating bungalow on the gorgeous Cheow Larn Lake. You’ll also visit caves, waterfalls and swim in the lake next to the beautiful karst rock formations. (A 2-day, 1-night tour with a stay in a floating hut is around 2,500 THB)

Travellers at Khao Sok National Park, Thailand
Travellers at Khao Sok National Park, Thailand.

You can also explore the park independently, buying a ticket for 300 THB at the park entrance and setting off on one of the hiking trails. Give yourself a full day for this as the best bits of the park (and the areas where you are most likely to spot wildlife) start when you’re already around 2 hours into your trek!

After that… why not go for another massage to soothe your aching muscles after all that trekking!

DAY 9-11: Railay Beach

Today, hop on a minivan and head to Krabi (two-hour journey), the West coast of Thailand that’s famous for the limestone cliffs that make it a Mecca for rock climbing enthusiasts from all over the world!

From Krabi Town, where your minivan will deposit you, it’s just a 20-minute long-tail boat ride to the spectacular Railay Beach, one of our favourite beaches in the whole of Thailand! As your boat turns the corner around the enormous limestone cliffs and you cast eyes on Railay for the first time – you’ll see why!

If you haven’t tried rock climbing before, there is no better place to try it, with the most amazing views imaginable. Try this one-day rock climbing course where you’ll scale the limestone cliffs and visit a cave with a view!

Rock Climbing in Paradise - Krabi, Thailand
Rock climbing in Railay, Krabi.

If you prefer chilling out on the beach, then be our guest… but you can’t miss a visit to the Penis Cave – just saying!

The more adventurous of you may want to trek to the lagoon or trek over to nearby Ton Sai Beach. Snorkel trips are also available from Railay where you’ll go island hopping and enjoy a seafood beach barbecue on one of the nearby islands…

DAY 12-14: A Castaway Island of Your Choice!

Get away from all of the crowds and head out to one of the smaller islands dotted around the Andaman Sea. Google Koh Jum, Koh Bu Bu, Koh Ngai or Koh Kraadan – all peaceful dreamy islands that have barely any visitors compared to neighbouring Koh Phi Phi! (Which recently closed down its most popular beach, Maya Bay, due to damage from too many tourists!)

Koh Bubu, Andaman Coast, Thailand
Beautiful Koh Bubu, located in the Andaman Sea, Krabi.

Spend a night in a beach hut on Koh Jum and live that castaway island feeling! (Joy Bungalows is a good option. Affordable and beautiful beach just footsteps away… (Be warned though, there is no electricity in the basic rooms – purely for that added castaway island feel!) You can catch a boat from Krabi mainland to all of the islands mentioned above.

As we only have two weeks, I’m afraid it’s now time to drag ourselves away from the beaches of Southern Thailand and catch a flight from Krabi Airport back to Bangkok!

Other Great Adventures for First Timers to Thailand!

Two week Itinerary Thailand: The Beach Bum!

If you’re looking for the perfect beach holiday, Thailand can offer you that with lashings of cream! Forsake the busy city and the sweaty jungle, maximise your time on the beach with this Thailand two week itinerary for beach bums!

Thailand Itinerary Beach BumDAY 1: Bangkok

Arrive in Bangkok and get straight out! (There’s no time for pavement pounding on this itinerary, we’re after the beach!) If your flight arrives early enough, you can catch a flight (find cheap local flights on Momondo) straight to Surat Thani, the gateway to the Thai islands…

DAY 2-4: Koh Phangan

Start your ultimate 2-week beach holiday in Koh Phangan. Notorious for the Full Moon Party, many people don’t realise that Koh Phangan is also a hippies paradise! You see, the Full Moon Party takes place on a tiny nodule of land known as Haad Rin, which is easily avoidable.

And, because backpackers filter in and out once a month to attend the famous shenanigans, the island is left free of lager louts the rest of the time! In fact, the West coast of the island is home to a large community of yogis, vegans and spiritual types! (If you ask them, they’ll say that the quartz in the bedrock of Koh Phangan has drawn them there!)

So, if you want to detox and then re-tox, or just detox, Koh Phangan could be your favourite island! We’d recommend staying on the West coast beaches of Haad Yao, Sri Thanu and Haad Salad – far away from the buckets and banging music of Haad Rin.

From here, you can snorkel the coral reef near Haad Yao, visit the waterfall, take a yoga class or two (or a yoga retreat if you have time) hire a motorbike to explore the island, trek through the jungle to visit Bottle Beach (Haad Yuan) and spend your nights feasting on seafood barbecues on the beach. For a great place to stay on the West coast of the island, check out Shiralea Backpackers Hostel.

DAY 5-7: Koh Tao

Just an hour away from Koh Phangan is the tiny turtle shaped island of Koh Tao. Many backpackers head to Koh Tao to learn to dive as it’s one of the cheapest places to learn in the whole of Asia, if not the world! If you’re short on time you can try a one-day Discover SCUBA Diving Course where you’ll get to explore the underwater world and see loads of tropical critters without needing to get your diving certificate.

If you can stay as long as three days on the island why not get your underwater licence by taking a 3-day Open Water Dive Course. Once completed, you’ll be able to dive up to 18 metres anywhere on the planet!

Other activities in Koh Tao include rock climbing, boat trips, snorkelling, jungle trekking (see above itinerary) or simply sipping a cocktail as you watch the sun go down and the fire dancers start to do their thing!

Learning to dive in Koh Tao, Thailand
Spend a few days of your 2 weeks in Thailand learning to dive in Koh Tao!

DAY 8-9: Krabi (Railay Beach)

Get up early to make the three-hour journey over from the Gulf of Thailand to the Andaman Coast. Your first stop here will be the city of Krabi, but we won’t linger too long here as the perfect beach destination of Railay awaits! (Psst… While you’re here and before you hop over to Railay, if you want to climb to Tiger Cave Temple on the top of a mountain overlooking Krabi, then you’ll be rewarded with awesome views of the Andaman coastline! You could also stop by for a dip in the hot springs afterwards!)

The jaw-dropping views in Railay Beach, Krabi, Thailand.
The jaw-dropping views in Railay Beach, Krabi, Thailand.

To get to Railay Beach, jump on a long-tail boat and in 20-minutes you’ll be in one of the most postcard-perfect beaches in Thailand. Why not book yourself on a half day or full day rock climbing session to get that adrenaline pumping and be rewarded with amazing views of the surrounding limestone cliffs. (Read more about rock climbing in Southeast Asia here.)

If you don’t fancy getting roped up, there are loads of other things to do in Railay, from a snorkelling boat trip, kayaking adventure, go diving (again) or visit Railay’s lagoon. Oh and don’t miss the Penis Cave! (The unusual cave, that is situated on Phra Nang Beach, is home to hundreds of ‘lingams’ (phallus) which have been put there by local fishermen to honour the ‘Phra Nang Princess’ who they hope will protect them on their sea voyages and bestow on them a plentiful catch!) 

DAY 10-13: Koh Lanta

From Railay Beach, it’s only a one-hour ferry to the island of Koh Lanta. Less visited than nearby Koh Phi Phi (which has recently closed down their most popular beach, Maya Bay, due to too many tourists), Koh Lanta is an island that has something or everyone.

Hiring a motorbike here is a must to explore all that the island has to offer; the national park in the south (200 Thai Baht to enter), the trek to the waterfall, the two impressive caves on the island and exploring the little visited Lanta Noi.

If you’re looking for awesome day trips from Koh Lanta, why not do the Four Island Boat Trip, take a trip to Koh Rok for some amazing snorkelling (and maybe spot the Komodo dragons!) or go diving in Koh Haa, one of the best places to dive in Thailand! A recommended place to stay is Sweet Life Community Guesthouse in Lanta Old Town on the quieter and more local East coast of the island. (We spent 5 months on this side of the island!)

Khlong-Nin-Koh-Lanta
Koh Lanta has so many beautiful beaches! (Khlong Nin Beach)

DAY 14: A Castaway Island of Your Choice!

On your last day, why not rent a long-tail boat and head out to one of the islands off the coast of Koh Lanta. (From the east coast you can kayak to Koh Ngai during high tide!) You can also hire a long-tail boat with a local fisherman from Lanta Old Town for around 4,500 THB for a group of 5 people. (Team up with some travel buddies to make it cheaper.)

Koh Bubu, Andaman Coast of Thailand
Koh Bubu, Andaman Coast of Thailand.

The driver will take you to any paradise island you like – Koh Ngai, Koh Mook, Koh Bubu, Koh Jum… Take a 7-11 picnic and make a day of it! If you have more time, you can arrange accommodation in a beach bungalow and stay overnight. Due to less tourist infrastructure, the prices on the smaller islands are often more expensive than on the bigger islands and you’ll pay more for a bungalow.

Oh no! Your 2 weeks are over… Call boss and quit your job or… take a cheap flight back from either Krabi or Trang Airport to Bangkok to end your beachy adventure!

Other Great Adventures for Beach Bums in Thailand!

2-week Northern Thailand Itinerary: The Mountain Lover!

If you don’t mind missing out on the beaches of southern Thailand and you prefer to place your focus on the mountainous north of the country, then this two-week itinerary for Northern Thailand is for you! The route essentially follows a famous motorbiking loop known as the ‘Mae Hong Son Loop’, but you can do the following by bus, car, or bicycle – whichever vehicle you like! (Even drive your own tuk-tuk on this adventure!)

Mountain Lovers Itinerary ThailandDAY 1: Travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

As Bangkok is the main hub for international flights into the country. Most travellers start their journey here in the capital.

If you don’t want to spend any time in this hectic city, you can grab a cheap flight up north one hour to the city of Chiang Mai. Or you can take the overnight train from Hua Lamphong Train Station. (See the ‘Classic Itinerary’ above for some tips on spending a few days in Bangkok.’)

DAY 2-4: Chiang Mai

Contrary to what many travel blogs would have you believe, Chiang Mai is not the ‘quiet, charming, cultural soul of Thailand’ where school children bicycle in the street, monks stop by to say hello and you can’t find pizza amidst the abundance of fresh Thai herbs lining the streets…

The truth is that Chiang Mai is a fully-blown cosmopolitan city with shopping malls, pretentious jazz bars, restaurants, massage parlours, spas, cafés, crazy traffic and activities galore! (I wrote an article about the changes that the city has seen in recent years which you can read here.)

With so many activities to experience in Chiang Mai, it really depends on what you fancy. You can take a cooking class to learn how to make your own Thai dishes, take a cheap yoga retreat, take a Muay Thai Boxing lesson, get out in the jungle and do some trekking, or get up close and personal with the elephants at the Elephant Nature Park!

Chiang Mai has over 300 temples! If you don’t want to trawl around too many temples, but you want to see the most impressive ones, then check out this list of the Top 5 Temples in Chiang Mai. It would be rude not to go for a massage after a day of sightseeing, so make sure you head over to be massaged by the best masseuses in the city – at the Women’s Prison!

If your visit falls on a weekend, be sure to check out the weekend markets. (The larger one is on Sunday at Thapae Gate and Saturday at an equally impressive but slightly less crowded market is on Wui Lai Road on the other side of the walls.) If you miss out on these two, the student market near Chiang Mai University is also worth a visit, with cheap sushi and vintage clothes.

Wat Sri Suphan, Chiang Mai, the Silver Temple
Wat Sri Suphan, Chiang Mai – The city of over 300 temples!

If you’ve got time, check out the waterfall and take a motorbike ride up to Doi Suthep to visit the temple at the top for impressive views over the city. Drive further along to visit the coffee farms of Doi Pui.

If you want to extend your stay in the city, there are plenty of motorbike excursions: some of the best include a trip to Chiang Mai Canyon, Ob Khan National Park or the Sticky Waterfall.

Check out our article on alternative and free things to do in Chiang Mai, as well as our guide here and some more suggestions at the bottom of this article.!)

DAY 5-7: Pai

Get up early and take the three-hour minivan to every backpacker’s favourite mountain hangout, the town of Pai. Be careful – it’s a winding journey through the mountains (with 762 curves to be precise) so make sure you’re not hungover!

Pai is a beautiful town of rice fields, rolling hills, waterfalls, hot springs and canyons. A one-day nature trek is well worth it to get out into the countryside, visit a hill tribe village, a waterfall and find out about the flora and fauna of Northern Thailand. We recommend taking a trek with the knowledgeable guide, Mam of local trekking company, Pai Rapid Rangers.

Nature and Waterfall Trek in Pai.
On a Nature and Waterfall Trek in Pai, Northern Thailand.

If you have enough time to linger a while, be sure to take the two-day trekking and caving expedition to visit the awesome Tham Lod Cave in Soppong, an hour north of Pai, one of the largest and most impressive cave in Thailand – with huge limestone stalactite formations!

Or, if you’ve always wanted to try Muay Thai Boxing, why not have a go at this Muay Thai experience for only $15 USD, pick up from your hotel included.

Spend the evenings mixing with fellow travellers in Pai’s bustling bars with their live music and cheap cocktails.

DAY 8-10: Mae Hong Son

Head further east towards the Burmese border until you reach the beautiful lakeside town of Mae Hong Son, one of our favourite towns in the whole Thailand!

Here, you can climb the mountain for gorgeous views over the town and river, visit the beautiful bamboo bridge (Su Tong Pae Bridge) over the rice fields, take a one-day trek in the jungle or hire a motorbike and explore the amazing scenery that this remote part of Thailand has to offer!

In the evening, for a local experience, head to the night market, buy some cheap street food to eat sat around the lake with local Thais and the twinkling lights of the local temple setting the scene. Read more about Mae Hong Son in our guide here.

The Bamboo Bridge across rice fields in Mae Hong Son
The Bamboo Bridge across rice fields in Mae Hong Son.

DAY 11-12: Mae Sariang

Continue your Northern journey to the small town of Mae Sariang, a little-visited spot in northern Thailand. With even more gorgeous landscapes, forests and mountains, you’ll experience a mix of Thai and Burmese cultures here which is recognisable in the towns temples, food and people. Go trekking from the town or hire a bicycle to explore the surrounding countryside.

DAY 13-14: Doi Inthanon

Continue your journey to Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain of Thailand where the temperatures can be lower than elsewhere in the country. Organise a trek here beforehand where you’ll visit waterfalls, visit hill tribe villages and learn about the plants and animals that inhabit the area. You can even camp here in the National Park if you fancy it!

DAY 14: Back to Chiang Mai

From Doi Inthanon, it’s a two-hour journey back to Chiang Mai by mini-van where you will complete your adventure of Northern Thailand! Why not end your experience with a cooking class in the city so that you can take a little bit of Thailand home with you!

Thai Cooking Class - Trichada
Take a cooking class in Chiang Mai including a visit to a local market.

Chiang Mai is home to an international airport so you can catch flights from here or take the train or bus back to Bangkok (8 hours).

Other Great Adventures in Northern Thailand!

Two weeks in Thailand: For Tourist Haters!

If you want to minimise the number of tourists that you see during your trip to Thailand, but still see a variety of the landscapes and local favourites, then this is the two-week itinerary for you!

2-Week Itinerary for Tourist HatersDAY 1: Bangkok (Local Neighbourhood) 

Avoid Khao San Road like malaria, there are loads of amazing local neighbourhoods to stay in Bangkok where you’ll have a much more local experience. Check out this article about some of the best neighbourhoods to base yourself in Bangkok.

Explore your local area, visit a market, eat some cheap street food and go for a massage (you’ll see that we recommend that a lot!) We recommend the lovely Siamaze Hostel in Din Daeng.

DAY 2-3: Bangkok’s “Green Lung” 

Head over to the canal stop of Wat Klong Toey for your adventure in Baan Krachao, also known as Bangkok’s Green Lung. This area of Bangkok is little visited by tourists and a great place to hire a bicycle and explore the tree-lined canal ways and alley-ways of Bangkok. Stop off for some pad grapow moo (spicy pork with basil) and if you see a small bar ask for a shot of ‘yadong’ – the Bangkok local moonshine which will give you some fuel to pedal!

And, if you’re looking for an unusual experience, why not visit Bangkok’s Aeroplane Graveyard!

Or, if you want to do a guided bicycle tour, check out the night bike tour offered by Bed and Bike Hostel where you’ll see all of the highlights of the city in the evening when it’s cooler and there are fewer tourists. Includes a magical visit to Wat Pho after hours! (You’ll also go for the best Pad Thai in Bangkok according to many locals.)

DAY 4-5: Prachuap Khiri Khan

Catch a minivan three hours down the coast to your first stop, the small beachside town of Prachuap Khiri Khan. Little visited by first-timers to Thailand, this beachside resort town is popular with holidaying Thais and is home to a few rather smug expats who have discovered the charms of this perfectly located seaside town.

Visit the sweeping bay of Ao Mano (Lime Bay), located on a Thai Military Air Base, this lovely beach gives you an idea of how local Thais ‘do beach life’. Bring a picnic, grab a plastic chair, a bottle of whiskey and some ice and sit under the shade of the trees watching the daily beach activities.

Ao Manao Prachuap Khiri Khan
Ao Manao, Prachuap Khiri Khan.

While you’re in Prachuap, try some delicious seafood, visit the extensive weekend market and be sure to climb the mountain overlooking the town to visit Thammikaram Worawihan Temple. Be warned though – take a big stick to fend off the monkeys – this is their territory and they will make you aware of that!

DAY 6: Kui Buri National Park & Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

From Prachuap (as the locals call it), take a day trip and visit Kui Buri National Park and its surroundings. This is one of the only places in Thailand where you may be able to spot wild elephants. While we spotted the back of a herd in the park whilst we were with a ranger, by far the most rewarding experience was driving away from the park at sunset on our motorbike and seeing a family of elephants at the roadside!

A wild elephant in Kui Buri National Park, Thailand.
A wild elephant in Kui Buri National Park, Thailand.

Nearby Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park is also a beautiful National Park to explore with abundant bird life, caves and completely deserted beaches. This area of Thailand is stunning and devoid of tourists and you can camp overnight on what feels like your own private beach! (Now you’re starting to understand why I get so annoyed when people say – yuk! Thailand, it’s just soooo overrun with tourists!)

DAY 7-9: Chumphon

Make your way further down south (2-3 hours) and make a stop in Chumphon. While this is a jump-off point for the popular Thai islands of Koh Phangan, Koh Tao and Koh Samui, Chumpon itself remains relatively unexplored as many people do just that – ‘jump-on’ (or off!) to somewhere else!

Hire a motorbike for around 300 Thai Baht/day and explore the surrounding countryside, deserted beaches, waterfalls, caves and the beach resort of Thung Wua Laen.

A word on motorbikes: Although they should be driven with caution in Thailand. In my opinion, motorbikes really are one of the best ways to get off the beaten track and away from the tourist trail! in Southeast Asia! Away from the cities, Thailand’s roads (particularly back roads) are decent tarmac and can be very quiet, depending on what region you choose to explore. (We had a great time exploring the area around Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park recently.) If you’re a bit nervous about hitting the road, read our 10 Tips For Hiring a Motorbike in Thailand – For Beginners.

DAY 10-13: Khanom

Head further down south (2-3 hours) to the friendly coastal town of Khanom, with its rubber plantations, quiet empty beaches, jungles, waterfalls and mangrove forests. Visit a natural fish spa, go kayaking in the mangroves or take a boat trip for the chance of spotting pink dolphins!

There are lots of places to explore for the off the beaten track adventurer here… And you never know, many of the expats that live in Khanom arrived just like you did, for a few days to relax and sample the delights of the town – and they never left!

Khanom, Thailand.
Khanom, Thailand.

DAY 14: Back to Bangkok

Fly from the nearby airport of Surat Thani back to Bangkok.

Want to fit in more destinations to your itinerary? Check out our destination guides to Thailand here!

More Thailand Tips to suit your Personality!

Thailand for Yogis / Spiritual Seekers

Koh Phangan is your tropical island home my yogi friends! All along the West coast of the island, you’ll find cheap yoga retreats, meditation teacher training courses and yoga teacher training courses. Read more about yoga in Southeast Asia here.

Other destinations in Thailand with a yoga scene include Chiang Mai and to a lesser extent, Pai. On the more upmarket islands of Phuket and Koh Samui, you will find yoga retreats, but these will be much more expensive and trust us, the rowdy nightlife won’t sit well with your chakras! (I know ‘cos I’m a yogini myself!)

Pure Flow Yoga Thailand
Yoga retreats abound in Koh Phangan, Thailand.

Thailand for Divers

If you’re a beginner diver, head over to Koh Tao to get certified with a 3-day PADI Open Water Course and then you’re all set up to experience Thailand’s more prestigious dive sites! First of all head over to Koh Lanta to visit the amazing Koh Haa (which translates simply as ‘five islands’). We dived here recently with Scuba Fish.

After that, consider visiting Khao Lak and the Similan and Surin Islands, just 100km from Phuket. These nine islands are considered the most diverse and best place to dive in Thailand. You can arrange liveaboards here to take you out for a few days diving, exploring all that the national marine park has to offer. Read more about the best dive spots in Southeast Asia here.

An awesome encounter with a whale shark at Sail Rock, Koh Tao. 

Thailand for Fitness Fanatics

More and more people are heading to Thailand to take advantage of the value for money ‘fitness holidays’ on offer. From Muay Thai Training Camps to Fitness Boot Camps, there are many options for those wanting to use their holiday to get in shape!

You’ll find Muay Thai training camps in Chiang Mai, Pai, Krabi and Bangkok, or in some of the less touristy parts of Thailand, such as this one in Phetchabun. Fitness Boot Camps such as this one in Koh Samui offer a fun, sociable atmosphere within which to train and make friends at the same time.

Muay Thai Training in Pai, Thailand
Get super fit with a Muay Thai Training Course!

Thailand for Party Animals

Koh Phangan is, of course, world famous for the Full Moon Party but if your trip doesn’t coincide with the man in the moon, then don’t worry, there’s the Half Moon Festival, the Black Moon, the Waterfall Party and more… Check out dates here. If you’re looking to attend the Full Moon or Half Moon Party but you don’t want to do it alone, you can do so in a group tour, where you’ll visit other parts of Thailand first and then your trip will culminate with the biggest party of your life!

Bar_shots-Shiralea-Backpackers Hostel, Koh Phangan
Backpackers preparing for the Full Moon Party with some shots at Shiralea Backpackers Hostel, Koh Phangan.

For debauched backpacker partying head to Koh Phi Phi to drink buckets and dance the night away on what’s become one of the biggest party hubs on the Southeast Asian backpacker trail. (Just don’t attempt to drunkenly jump the fire rope guys, it’s not worth it!) Phuket and Koh Samui have more of a stag do, hen party vibe going on. And Pattaya, well you’ll have to read about that here in our 13 Worst Places to visit in Southeast Asia! (Surprisingly there are places worse than this awful city.)

Chiang Mai hasn’t got much of a nightlife scene to speak of. For the most sophisticated nightlife scene, Bangkok is your best bet, with rooftop cocktail bars, international DJ sets and huge nightclubs. If you don’t want to party alone in the city, check out these bar crawls with Bangkok Night Life Tours.

Thailand for Motorbikers

Northern Thailand is your wilderness! With good quality (curvy!) roads and mountainous landscapes, this is the best place to hire a motorbike for some awesome adventures and epic views! The countryside around Chiang Mai is a good start (with many national parks where you can camp overnight). From here, you can ride to Chiang Dao, Pai and Phayao, which is a particularly lovely town.

For a great circular ride, don’t miss the Mae Hong Son Loop! Also, the countryside around Nan Province is remote and unexplored with beautiful national parks, wildlife, indigenous communities and empty roads that are made for exploring on two wheels!

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