7 Perfect One-Week Itineraries for Thailand

7 Perfect One-Week Itineraries for Thailand

No clue where to start planning your Thailand itinerary? Start with these feasible itineraries combining the best destinations in the country!

When you think about Thailand, do you envision the golden temples and palaces of Bangkok? The playful monkeys and enormous elephants in the jungle? The pristine white beaches of Phuket and the Thai Islands? Thailand has all of this and more—though few of us have the time (or budget) to see everything. Narrow your search by determining which experiences you would like to have in Thailand, then book your flight and prepare for your adventure! To get started, check out one of these suggested one-week itineraries.

1. Thailand Overview

Day 1-2: Bangkok

Fly into Don Mueang International Airport or Bangkok International Suvarnabhumi Airport. For the first two days of your trip, explore this capital city known for its splendour. Visit Khao San Road, the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, Wat Arun, and numerous smaller temples spread across the city. For a more relaxing itinerary, consider getting a Thai massage at one of the numerous parlours. Before enjoying Bangkok’s notorious nightlife, climb to the top of the Golden Mount and watch the sunset over the city.

Day 3: Kanchanaburi

Using Bangkok as your home base, take a day trip to the western province of Kanchanaburi. See the infamous Bridge on the River Kwai—the subject of the movie by the same name—as well as the War Cemetery and the Jeath War Museum. For a more lighthearted day, you can instead visit Erawan National Park to see the waterfalls or stop by the nearby elephant camp. At the end of the day, return to Bangkok.

Day 4: Ayutthaya

On Day 4, take a trip to Ayutthaya province, which is home to the ancient capital of Siam. You can either spend the entire day admiring the temple ruins and learning about the history of Buddhism in Thailand, or you can spend half the day exploring the ruins and the other half touring the nearby Bang Pa-In Palace, summer home of the famous King Mongkut (from the famous musical The King and I) and King Chulalongkorn. In the evening, take an overnight train from Ayutthaya to Chiang Mai in the north of the country for the next part of the journey.

Day 5: Chiang Mai

A much smaller city than Bangkok, Chiang Mai still offers a plethora of activities for all types of travellers. Haggle in the night markets, visit the Buddhist temples, or take a day trip to the nearby elephant and tiger sanctuaries. Adventurers can also summit Doi Inthanon, the tallest mountain in Thailand. Consider going to the night safari at the local zoo before spending the night in Chiang Mai.

Day 6: Chiang Rai

Wake up early for your day trip to Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle. Chiang Rai is one of the northernmost cities in Thailand, and the Golden Triangle is the place where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet, separated only by the Mekong River. While at the Golden Triangle, take a boat ride down the river and pass by the marshland which once served as the centre of Southeast Asia’s opium trade. If time permits, stop by a local village to visit a hilltribe on your way back to Chiang Mai. Spend your final night in Chiang Mai.

Day 7: Chiang Mai

Pick up any final souvenirs from Chiang Mai and prepare for your flight home.

2. Bangkok and its surroundings

Ayutthaya

Day 1-2: Bangkok

Begin your journey in the capital city of Bangkok. Pick your accommodation in the vibrant backpackers’ district Khao San Road, and spend the first two days exploring the Grand Palace and ornate temples that Bangkok is famous for. You can also take a cruise along the Chao Phraya River or take a Thai cooking class if you want a more relaxing day.

Day 3-4: Kanchanaburi

On day 3, travel westward to Kanchanaburi. With two days to spend here, you can experience both the breathtaking nature and the heartbreaking history of this large province. Spend the first day learning about the history of World War II in Thailand by visiting the infamous Bridge on the River Kwai, the War Cemetery, and the Jeath War Museum. You can also take a ride on the “Death Railway,” the railroad commissioned by the Japanese imperial army and built almost entirely by forced labour. On the second day, visit Erawan National Park to see the waterfalls. You can also visit the Erawan Museum and its stunning gardens, or visit the local elephant camp. At the end of the day, travel eastward to Ayutthaya.

Day 5: Ayutthaya

The former capital city, Ayutthaya is known for its ancient Buddhist temples. The most famous sites in Ayutthaya include a Buddha’s head entwined in tree roots and a large reclining Buddha. You can also visit the nearby Summer Palace, Bang Pa-In, and admire the amalgamation of Thai, European, and Chinese architecture. In the evening, return to Bangkok for the night.

Day 6 -7: Pattaya

Early the next morning, take a flight from Bangkok to Pattaya. Over the next two days, check out the Big Buddha of Wat Phra Yai or admire the Sanctuary of Truth, a wooden monument dedicated to philosophy and art rather than materialism. You can also venture outside of the city to visit the Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Gardens, Buddha Mountain, and Pattaya Floating Market. At night, enjoy a cabaret show or go to the clubs. On the afternoon of Day 7, take a flight back to your home country.

3. Thailand’s Gulf Islands

Koh Samui

Day 1-2: Koh Samui

Want to avoid the big cities in favour of the beach? Fly into Koh Samui for a trip around the eastern Thai Islands. Spend the first two days relaxing on the beach, snorkelling, or taking a boat ride around the 42 islands of Ang Thong National Park. No strenuous activities here—just a tropical paradise.

Day 3-4: Koh Pha Ngan

On the morning of Day 3, take the high-speed ferry to nearby Koh Pha Ngan, which is famous for its Full Moon Party and vibrant nightlife. During the day, explore the island’s waterfalls and lagoons or go hiking. At night, try the different restaurants and bars, where you are sure to meet other travellers (or a scuba instructor who planned to vacation for a week and ended up staying for five years).

Day 5-6: Koh Tao

Koh Tao, or “Turtle Island,” is one of the best places in the world for scuba diving. Take the ferry from Koh Pha Ngan to Koh Tao and spend the next two days enjoying water activities such as swimming, snorkelling, or diving. Lucky divers might see a whale shark during their excursion. The nightlife in Koh Tao is a little tamer than Koh Pha Ngan, making this island a popular spot for young travellers, families, and honeymooners alike.

Day 7: Koh Samui

On the last day, take the ferry back to Koh Samui. Transfer to the airport for your trip home.

4. Northern Thailand

White Temple in Chiang Rai

Day 1 -2: Chiang Mai

Arrive in Chiang Mai on Day 1. Begin your journey by visiting the Buddhist temples, exploring the night markets, or climbing to the top of Doi Inthanon (taking a bus tour of the mountain is also an option—no judgments!). You can also visit the Mae Sa Waterfall, get a Thai massage, or take a cooking class.

Day 3-4: Chiang Rai

Travel to Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle. On your way north, stop by the White Temple, a modern art exhibit and cultural icon styled after a Buddhist temple. When you reach the Golden Triangle—the place where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet—take a short boat ride across the Mekong River to a Laotian market and gain another stamp in your passport. When you return to Thailand, learn about the infamous opium trade at the Hall of Opium Museum. On the second day, you can also visit Mae Sai, Thailand’s northernmost town, which shares a border with Myanmar. If time permits, visit the Tham Pla caves or climb the hill to Wat Phra That Doi Wao for a gorgeous panoramic view.

Day 5: Lampang

Travel further south to Lampang and visit traditional villages of Thailand’s hilltribes. Alternatively, you can marvel at the murals of Wat Phra That Lampang Luang, see the emerald Buddha at Wat Phra Kaew Don Tao, or observe the elephants at the National Elephant Institute, a conversation centre for Thailand’s most famous animal.

Day 6: Sukhothai

Early in the morning, set off for Sukhothai Historical Park, the capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom from the thirteenth century to the fifteenth century. Ruins of Buddhist temples and a royal palace comprise this UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is one of the most popular tourist destinations outside of Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Tour the site by bicycle, on foot, or by tram. Spend the night in Sukhothai.

Day 7: Chiang Mai

Return to Chiang Mai for your last day. Pick up any final souvenirs and fly home.

5. Northern Hill Tribes and Villages

Day 1-2: Bangkok

Arrive in Bangkok and spend the first day and a half exploring the palaces and temples. Absorb everything you can from this modern city, which will seem a world away from the hill tribes you will visit later in your trip. On the second night, board an overnight train to Chiang Mai.

Day 3: Chiang Mai

Make the most out of your day in Chiang Mai. Introverts and history enthusiasts will enjoy exploring the Buddhist temples, while social travellers will love talking to the merchants in the night markets, many of whom come from the northern hill tribes to sell the crafts their villages make. Stay overnight in Chiang Mai.

Day 4-6: Northern Hill Tribes

Depart Chiang Mai for the start of your trek through the northern Thai villages. Begin at the bustling marketplace of Mae Malai village. For the next two-and-a-half-days, hike through the unspoilt forests and rugged rural terrains of Bae Min Jok and Pa Khao Lam, experiencing the beauty and diversity of different hill tribes. Learn traditional arts like basket weaving and making bamboo rafts. Consider booking a homestay in different villages to learn more about each tribe’s unique culture, language, and identity. At the end of the sixth day, return to Chiang Mai.

Day 7: Chiang Mai

Pick up any final souvenirs from Chiang Mai and prepare for your flight home.

6. South Thailand

Khao Sok

Day 1: Bangkok

Fly into Bangkok on the first day and check out city highlights such as Wat Pho and the Grand Palace, or sample the street food on Khao San Road. In the evening, take an overnight train to Khao Sok National Park.

Day 2-3: Khao Sok

When you arrive at Khao Sok, you will be in the midst of one of the oldest jungles in the world. Stroll past the waterfalls, watch the mischievous monkeys play, or sign up for a safari with one of the park’s tour guides. You can also take a boat ride down Cheow Larn Lake and observe the animals that gather at the water’s edge. Spend your nights in a guesthouse in the jungle.

Day 4-5: Ao Nang Beach

In the morning, transfer from Khao Sok to Ao Nang Beach, right in the heart of Krabi. Dive, snorkel, swim, or relax—you need it after trekking through the jungle!

Day 6-7: Phuket

Finish your southern vacation on the island of Phuket, a haven for beach-goers and young travellers who enjoy the nightlife. At the end of Day 7, head to Phuket’s international airport and depart for your home country.

7. Sailing from Phuket

Day 1: Phuket

Prefer a seafaring voyage? Begin by flying into Phuket, the largest island in Thailand, and join up with a tour group that will take you around the western islands via cruise ship or catamaran. Spend the morning exploring Phuket or relaxing on the beach, and then spend the afternoon sailing toward the Northern Phuket Islands. Overnight on the ship or catamaran.

Day 2: Phang Nga Bay/Railay Beach

In the morning, arrive at Khao Phing Kan, also called “James Bond Island” because it was the location for The Man with the Golden Gun. After touring the island, arrive at Railay Beach, where you can go hiking, see the Shrine of the Sea Princess, or experience the active nightlife. Spend the night on the ship or catamaran.

Day 3: Railay Beach/Koh Haa

Set sail for the national park Koh Haa, where you can swim, dive, or snorkel in the lagoons. Kayaking and sunbathing are also options. Overnight on the ship or catamaran.

Day 4: Koh Phi Phi

Arrive in Koh Phi Phi, a small archipelago with six islands. Depending on which islands your trip decides to visit, you can climb to the top of the viewpoint for a breathtaking view of the Thai Islands, get up close and personal with the monkeys on Monkey Beach, or enjoy the fire shows and other cultural entertainment in the evening.

Day 5: Koh Racha Noi

Before setting off for Koh Racha Noi, pass by Maya Bay, the location for the Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Beach. When you arrive at Koh Racha Noi, relax on the beach or go diving in the deep waters.

Day 6: Ko Yao Yai

Your final stop before returning to Phuket, Koh Yao Yai is one of the lesser developed islands in Thailand and is renowned for its natural beauty. For your last full day, enjoy a final stroll on the beach or go for a swim in the turquoise water. If you plan to fly home the following day, avoid scuba diving—too many changes in atmospheric pressure in a short time period can be harmful to your health.

Day 7: Phuket

Return to Phuket. Prepare for your flight home or to your next destination.


Now that you’ve decided on your perfect Thailand itinerary, it’s time to start looking for amazing accommodation to complement your trip!

About Author

Janine Perri
Janine Perri

Janine Perri is a history enthusiast, Fulbright Scholar, and world traveller who loves exploring new places. Her travels have taken her to different countries in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Some of Janine’s favourite travel experiences include swimming with sharks, dancing to Gangnam Style at a PSY concert, and seeing the Queen of England during a castle tour.

CLICK TO SEE MORE ARTICLES BY Janine Perri

Comments


Related Posts