Adventurous? Yes. Ideal for backpacking? Yes. Beach time? Yes. Historic sites? Yes. Street food? Oh yes! Relaxed and slow-paced? No. If you're planning to visit Thailand for the first time but don't have more than two weeks available for traveling, this itinerary will be maybe an inspiration to make the best of Thailand in a short period of time.
Take it as an inspiration that it's doable although really fast-paced. Choose what suits you best (more beaches or historic sites or national parks) and plan according to your traveling skills and experiences. In case of any questions, contact us here or leave us a message on Instagram. :)
We set up our escape trip 'Thaiscape' for March which is still quite a peak season in Thailand that means crazy hot during the day, the same at night especially in Bangkok, but more pleasant on the north of the country.
Our Thaiscape itinerary in a nutshell:
DAY 1 Bangkok - meet the city, have a drink at rooftop bar
DAY 2 Bangkok - full day city exploring
DAY 3 Bangkok - then flight to Chiang Mai in the afternoon
DAY 4 Chiang Mai - arrival, night city exploring
DAY 5 Chiang Mai - city exploring
DAY 6 Chiang Mai - Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
DAY 7 morning flight Chiang Mai - Phuket, transfer to Rassada Pier - ferry to Ko Phi Phi
DAY 8 ferry Ko Phi Phi - Ko Lanta - beach time
DAY 9 Ko Lanta - 4 islands tour
DAY 10 morning ferry Ko Lanta - Krabi - longtail boat to Railay Beach; longtail to Ao Nang
DAY 11 Krabi - Bangkok
DAY 12 Bangkok
13 hours in Dubai
We started our trip in Bangkok to meet Thailand and get to know this crazy "same same, but different" country, amazing locals and incredibly tasty food. So what to expect, see and do in Bangkok in a short period of time?
WHAT TO SEE IN BANGKOK
You need quite a lot of time to fully explore Bangkok which means months, many months. But if you want to see the most famous (yup, touristic) spots and places to get familiar with the city, here are the most recommended places to go and see:
Wat Pho & Reclining Buddha
The Royal Palace
Take a ride on Chao Praya River
The Golden Mountain
MBK Shopping Centre
Khao San Road
Yaowarat Road & Chinatown
Have a drink at one of many rooftop bars (we recommend Octave Rooftop Lounge & Bar)
Visit one of many floating markets
And do you know what we found? Fanta, fanta in a bag! :D If you watched the Hangover 2, you know what we're talking about here.
From Bangkok we took a flight to Chiang Mai where we stayed 3 nights in a nice hotel Chiang Mai Gate Hotel with a pool surrounded by lush tropical greens giving it a great forest atmosphere, particularly when the darkness fell. The hotel is located 5-min to the centre (walking distance) with amazing food night market, old walls of the South Gate.
The best thing you can notice when walking and exploring the streets of Chiang Mai is what else than temples, beautiful temples strewed throughout the whole city.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN CHIANG MAI
Saturday Night Market
Wat Phantao - wooden temple
Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Phra Singh
Three Kings Monument
Tha Phae Gate
Wat Chiang Man
Nong Buak Public Park
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary - half-day trip, day trip or 2-day trip from Chiang Mai
Other recommended places to visit:
Doi Suthep - sunrise or sunset must be beautiful from here!
Doi Ithanon - requires more hours of your time to get here. Ask for a day trip or return transporation.
Golden Triangle Tour
Not taking all the precious time for granted and early in the morning, we're moving to the south, flying to Phuket to catch the ferry to Ko Phi Phi Islands.
24 HOURS in KO PHI PHI
First of all, if you want to get to Ko Phi Phi Don (main island) from the Phuket International Airport, you need to get a bus going to Phuket town, change for a minibus and get to the Rassada Pier. We bought tickets for a ferry in advance on www.phuketferry.com which was cheaper than buying them right at the port.
The ferry ride to Tonsai Pier (Ko Phi Phi Don) took approx. 2 hours. Before you enter the island, you must pay the entrance fee.
Fee paid so we headed to the hostel Phi Phi In right in the center of Tonsai. Since the Tonsai town is pretty small, you can walk to one or the other side of the island and hang out on the beach. But be prepared for crowds and many many many tourists. We knew that so that's why we decided to stay on the island just 24 hours including a late afternoon trip to Maya Bay.
We recommend eating in the centre of Tonsai village instead of eating at the restaurants on the beach that are much more expensive. Definitely try cheap and tasty coconut doughnuts!
SUNSET TRIP TO MAYA BAY
We booked a trip to Maya Bay "Maya Bay Plankton & Sunset Tour" in the afternoon leaving from Ko Phi Phi Don around 2 pm. The tour was absolutely great and packed with incredible views, stunning rock & cliff formations, landscape, and amazing atmosphere. We were sailing around the Viking Cave, went snorkelling and swimming in the crystal clear blue waters of the Andaman Sea and kayaking in the Pileh Lagoon almost alone.
We came to Maya Bay in the afternoon around 6 pm when the crowds were going back to Ko Phi Phi. We stayed there for a sunset which was truly magical. After the sunset, we sailed to the other side of the island, ate super tasty food that prepared the Thai women on board and later then we jumped off the boat into the dark black water to see bioluminescent plankton. Well, it took courage to take a swim at night!
Maya Bay is open for tourists (however, possibly with no access to the beach) but still closed for boats so you'd better check for alternative trips below.
PLACES TO VISIT & TO-DO ALTERNATIVES IN KO PHI PHI
If you're looking for trip alternatives within and around the island, there are plenty to choose from:
Loh Dalum Bay
Hike to Phi Phi Viewpoint
Visit Bamboo Island & Mosquito Island
Chill at Monkey Beach
Learn & Cook traditional Thai Food
Phak Nam Bay
Again, be aware of the crowds since the Ko Phi Phi islands still belong among the most visited places in Thailand. The islands are beautiful but to be true, a little bit overrated as it’s too commercialised.
After busy days full of exploring, we wanted to chill out and relax a little bit to recharge the battery. Picking Ko Lanta as an ideal destination was a great decision! Ko Lanta is truly amazing and its laidback atmosphere and the relaxing vibe is all over the island although tourists have already found its beauty so we guess the island will become more and more touristy. Wish we could be wrong!
So we arrived at the Saladan Pier in Ko Lanta in the afternoon and the vibes were seriously there! We took a tuk-tuk to our hotel which was located right on the beach (another best decision!) and were just chillin’.
But it wouldn’t be that good if we didn’t make a little day trip, right? So the same day we walked to the main road and found a travel agency where we asked for an island-hopping trip the next day. We booked a nice day trip around the islands.
4 Islands Tour
The "4 Islands Tour" covered the following islands:
Ko Mook and the Emerald Cave where you have to swim approx. 80 m through the cave in the dark (having your own waterproof light is quite a good idea) to come to a small beach surrounded by high limestone cliffs, tropical lush greens, and the smell of marihuana. For real.
Ko Chueak & Ko Ma - few nice spots for snorkelling.
Ko Ngai - time for lunch (very tasty curry) and few hours spent on the beach swimming and sunbathing.
After 3 days (2 nights) spent in Ko Lanta we moved to Saladan Pier to take a ferry to Krabi town that took 2 hours. We arrived at the main port, took a taxi to another small port we took a longtail boat to Railay Beach.
RAILAY BEACH & KRABI
Railay is absolutely stunning! The first looks will take you to a magical and quite unreal space. High limestone cliffs, numerous caves, karsts covered with lush greens and animal sounds coming from a dense tropical forest. We walked from Railay East to the Princess Cave and famous Ao Phra Nang Beach where we spent a couple of hours. Grab some fresh coconuts and super fresh and tasty Thai curry from the long-tail boats on the beach.
FYI, you can walk from Railay East to Ao Phra Nang and to Railay West, however, it’s impossible to walk from Ao Phra Nang to Railay West.
We walked back towards the Railay East, turned to the left throughout the tiny streets and came right to the beach (Railay West). There is a long and beautiful beach so you might spend more time here than on Ao Phra Nang that is more crowded.
To get to Ao Nang we took a long-tail boat in the late afternoon and sailing with the high tide and wind, that was quite a ride!
We finally get off at the Ao Nang beach, checked-in at the Balcony Party hostel, took a shower, said hi to our little gecko roommate and went for a drink on the hostel’s rooftop with a panorama view of the whole beach and sea. The hostel is great but actually pretty busy and loud.
Ao Nang is a very busy and touristy town with a huge choice of restaurants, bars and shops. It’s packed with travellers all over the world and be sure you won’t be bored here.
The next morning we took a bus to Krabi airport and flew back to Bangkok. In case you’re traveling in the afternoon to the airport, go one or two hours in advance because the traffic in Krabi may be pretty heavy as we heard from the locals. We were lucky to have a flight at 9 am.
We arrived to Bangkok and spent one night and day here exploring the neighborhoods of Chinatown, Chao Praya river and Samphanthawong area. For the last night in Thailand, we found a great deal through Agoda - Hotel Royal Bangkok Chinatown with a room on 10th floor, rooftop pool and bar with a view of the breathtaking Bangkok skyline and Chao Praya river. How else to end the amazing backpacking trip?
So are you ready to go backpacking Thailand or even more countries of incredible South East Asia for longer? Let us know!
Meanwhile, you can watch a few videos from our Thaiscape trip.
If you are thinking more about taking a trip somewhere to Europe, something romantic, maybe a perfect city break, think about Rome!