If you’re planning a 10 day trip to Thailand, and you’re not sure how to plan your itinerary, I’ve got you covered.
Known as the Land of Smiles, Thailand is a top destination in South East Asia for a good reason. It has everything from amazingly beautiful tropical islands and stunning nature, vibey cities pulsating with energy and party scenes, to serene culture and temples. To top it all off, Thai cuisine is to die for. It was the last country that I visited during my solo backpacking trip around Asia, and I didn’t want to leave!
Thailand is a huge country, with SO MUCH to experience, that you’ll probably find it hard to decide what to do. In this blog post I’ll share my Thailand itinerary for 10 days so that you get the most out of your trip.
To get you started, have a look at this overview of my Thailand itinerary for 10 days:
Overview for my 10 day Thailand itinerary:
Day 1 – Arrive in Bangkok
Day 2 – Bangkok & overnight trip to Chiang Mai
Day 3 – Chiang Mai
Day 4 – Chiang Mai & overnight trip to Bangkok
Day 5 – Bangkok & overnight trip to the islands
Day 6 – Island
Day 7 – Island
Day 8 – Getting to Ao Nang, Krabi
Day 9 – Island tours
Day 10 – Island tours
Of course you can switch things up and stay in one place for longer and skip another that doesn’t interest you – it all depends on your preferences. My plan shows you how to experience different parts of the country within a limited time. I know that it includes a lot of traveling, but that’s how I like it!
Now let’s start with our detailed Thailand itinerary for 10 days
DAY 1: Arrive in Bangkok and explore
Most popular International airports of Thailand:
•Bangkok International Airport
•Phuket International Airport
•Koh Samui International Airport
•Chiang Mai International Airport
•Krabi International Airport
You’ll more than likely be exhausted as you land in Bangkok, which will make it even more of a culture shock! Exiting the airport and being hit by the heat and humidity is enough to take your breath away. Add to that the chaotic traffic, fast-paced energy, sights and smells and you’ll probably be suffering sensory overload. I find that people either love Bangkok or hate it. But give it a chance, as Bangkok is so much more than what you see at first glance. Go easy on your first day to give yourself a chance to acclimatize. Check in to your hotel, get settled and go and have a meal and drink nearby. Or if you have the energy, venture out and get started on the itinerary for Day 2.
WHERE TO STAY:
Honestly, I don’t like including lots of accommodation recommendations because where you decide to stay will depend largely on your budget, what kind of experience you’re looking for, and whether you’re travelling alone or not. A quick search on my favorite websites will give you all the information you need: Booking.com; Hostelworld.com; Airbnb.com. These are my go-to places for finding the best accommodations and they have reviews from other travelers for you to double check. In South East Asia, especially, you’ll be able to find so many affordable options from renting an Airbnb, to booking a single bed in a dormitory. Or if you want to go for more luxurious options, have a look at the skyscraper hotels that offer huge breakfasts, rooftop pools, overlook the hustle and bustle on the streets, and offer magnificent views of the Chao Phraya River and over the city. Your options are endless.
TRANSPORTATION: HOW TO TRAVEL AROUND BANGKOK
There are several ways that you can use to move around the city.
First is to rent a motorbike but I honestly can’t recommend it. Even though, it’s something that you will see other tourists do, it can be very dangerous. You’ll see how crazy the traffic is in Bangkok.
You can also use public buses. Tickets are very cheap and you’ll buy them from a person in the bus and the price will depend on the bus itself, which I’ve never seen before. If the bus is new and with an aircon the price will bit a little bit higher.
And probably the best option in my opinion is to use the Grab app. It’s like the Uber app but for South East Asia. You can order your ride through the app (motorbike being the cheapest option) and it’ll show you how much it will cost, so you don’t even need to bargain!
DAY 2: Exploring Bangkok: Temples, markets & overnight ride to Chiang Mai
Since your time will be limited and you need to pack so much into your 10-day Thailand itinerary, we won’t spend too much time in Bangkok.
TIP: Always try to get going as early as you can. That way you will have more daylight, and you’ll beat the heat, humidity and tourist drives who usually start their day at around 10-11 a.m.
Below is a list of THINGS TO DO IN BANGKOK in no particular order. Choose those that you find most interesting….
Culture and sight-seeing:
•Wat Skaet or Golden Mountain Temple
It’s a beautiful shrine with gold chedi located on an 80-metre-tall man made hill that was built during the reign of King Rama III. You will have to climb up 300 steps to get to the top. That’s why I recommend going there first thing in the morning because it gets very hot and humid afterwards. I got there at 8 a.m. and on my way to the top I met maybe only 10 other people. It’s open daily form 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
•The Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha
It was built in 1782 and for 150 years was the home of the Thai King, the Royal court and the administrative seat of government. Only 2 of the throne halls are open to the public now. It is also a place where you can see small Emerald Buddha.
•Wat Pho or Wat Phra Chetuphon or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha
It’s the only place where you’ll be able to see 15 meters tall and 46 meters long reclining Buddha covered in gold leaf.
•Wat Arun Ratchawararam or Wat Arun
Also referred to as the Temple of Dawn. It’s another beautiful Buddhist Temple, that you can visit in Bangkok, located on the opposite side of the Grand Palace. You can catch a small shuttle ferry to get to the other side of the river.
•The Golden Buddha Temple or Wat Traimit
Temple where you can see a 5.5-tonne statue of a seated Buddha. It dates back to the 13th century and is nearly 5 metres in height.
- A trip down the Chao Praya River on a long-tailed boat to see a slice of traditional life
- Floating Markets – there are several floating markets around Bangkok that you can visit. The one pictured in all the postcards is the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. To visit this one, you need to make an early start as its 100km out of the city. Be warned that its become very touristy and that it’s best done as a day trip. Most people opt to do this through a tour operator, which saves a lot of hassle. Just 14km out of the city, Taling Chan Floating Market (also known as Khlong Lad Mayom), is a smaller market frequented by locals and offers a more authentic experience.
- Lumphini Park – great place to see the greener side of Bangkok
Markets and shopping:
•Chatuchak Weekend Market – largest market in Thailand with 15,000 stalls and 11,505 vendors, divided into 27 sections. Open only on Saturday and Sunday.
•CentralWorld, IconSiam, Platinum Fashion Mall or MBK – huge shopping malls
Views, people-watching, eating and drinking:
•King Power Mahanakhon – observation desk at 314 meters, 78 floors located in central business district.
•Lebua Tower – place where Hangover 2 was filmed
•Rooftop bars with breathtaking views – Sirocco, Sky Bar and Octave
•Khao San Road – a messy favorite among backpackers and others who come purely to observe the craziness. This busy street is filled with drinking (and drunk!) tourists, pubs, overpriced restaurants, market stalls selling cheap souvenirs and scorpions on sticks. Not everyone’s cup of tea and definitely not my thing!
•Themed cafes are all over – Unicorn Café, Husky Café, Owl Café, Hello Kitty, Little Zoo Café, Dog Café, Mermaid Café, Rabbit Café… the list is ENDLESS
•And last, but not least… Bangkok is filled with fantastic restaurants ranging from Thai, Japanese, Chinese and Italian and everything in-between!
As fascinating as the city is, we have to keep moving on in this THAILAND itinerary for 10 days…
Northern and Southern Thailand is in stark contrast to each other. Northern Thailand is characterized by more chilled vibes, green jungle, waterfalls and elephant sanctuaries, while Southern Thailand is where you’ll find the tropical beaches and islands with turquoise seas and white sandy beaches.
For those of you wanting to see everything as much as I do, I’d suggest going to Chiang Mai in the north first and then heading down to the islands. It’s a hectic schedule trying to pack everything into a 10 day trip to Thailand, but once you hit those beaches in the south, you’ll appreciate it in the end.
Getting to Chiang Mai
There are two main options to get to Chiang Mai from Bangkok, and again it will depend on your budget and on how comfortable you want your trip to be.
Of course the easiest and fastest option will be to catch a flight to Chiang Mai from Bangkok. The price for your flight will be around $30-50 depending on how much luggage you have.
Alternatively, you can catch an overnight bus or sleeper train. This is an adventure in itself, and has the advantage of saving on accommodation for the night.
Be sure to compare prices, as sometimes the bus or train can come in at the same price as a flight.
Day 3: Chiang Mai exploring
Chiang Mai, also known as the Rose of the North, is surrounded by gorgeous rain forests, green countryside, and waterfalls. The city has become a nomad hub of Thailand and is filled with ex-pats from all over the world who have chosen to make it their home, as you’ll witness from the number of them working away in the cute coffee shops all over the town. Although it’s grown into a modern city, the Old Town is still firmly steeped in Thai culture and is filled with loads of beautiful, serene temples, markets and cheap places to eat.
There is so much to do in Chiang Mai that I could create separate blog about it in itself. In order to keep this blog post not unbelievably long I will mention just the main things that you can do in the city.
- Explore the Old town with its great amount of temples
- Hike up to Doi Suthep, located 15 km out of the city. You’ll have to either climb 309 steps or get on the tram to get to the top. Explore beautiful temple and enjoy magnificent views of Chiang Mai from the top.
- Drink coffee or eat healthy meals in numerous amount of wonderful coffee shops. You can also check out Nimman Road as it has the highest amount of of places in one street.
- Cooking class – generally speaking you can do in almost every city in Thailand but I chose it to do it here as I had more time. You learn so much about the culture in the process. It’s a great experience to try something new, dive deeper, and a fantastic way to meet new people. And because I was traveling during off season it was only me and another beautiful couple during the class, which made it even better. So squeeze it into your 10 day Thailand itinerary when you have the chance. Highly recommended!
- Don’t forget to check out the biggest Sunday Weekend Market that happens here. It blew my mind. Several streets are closed to the traffic and every inch gets filled with people. It even was very hard to walk there. No matter if you want to buy something or not it’s simply a must-see. It takes place every Sunday from 4 p.m. until after midnight.
- Try Khao Soi. It’s also a noodle dish but it’s served mainly in Northern Thaliand, Myanmar and Laos. Be prepared it may be very spicy but it’s delicious.
- Grand Canyon. It looks like a very fun natural water park. I couldn’t go there because I hurt my back one day before that but if you feel tired and don’t want to explore in the sun, you should definitely check it out.
Day 4: Chiang Mai exploring and an overnight ride to Bangkok
For nature lovers, this day is perfect to check out the hikes and day trips to the elephant sanctuaries. The sanctuaries rehabilitate elephants and you can go and spend some time with them. Unfortunately, many places still offer elephant riding as a fun activity because of tourist demand. Please DO NOT RIDE THE ELEPHANTS. It’s such a cruel industry and should have been closed by now.
After your full day in Chiang Mai, its time to hit the road again and to head back into Bangkok, either by flight or taking an overnight train or bus. (As an alternative here, you could fly straight to the islands from Chiang Mai and bypass Bangkok completely. Check out the flight prices and see what best suits your needs.)
Day 5: Bangkok to the islands
On arrival back in Bangkok, you’ll have another day to explore and you may want to take this time to check out anything you may have missed in your first 2 days in the city.
Finally, it’s now time to hit the stunning islands in the Gulf of Thailand: Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan.
How to get to the islands from Bangkok:
You have two main options: either an overnight bus or train with a ferry (these can be bought as combination tickets), or a short flight.
I opted for the bus and ferry combination. The bus leaves around at around 9 p.m. and it will leave you right at the pier the next morning, where you will catch your ferry to Koh Samui. You’ll arrive on the island by mid-morning which leaves you with time to explore the island that day.
My ticket for the bus from Bangkok and a ferry to Koh Samui was $22 and I booked it online through 12Go.Asia. You’ll be able to purchase train tickets from them too and as they’re a highly regarded legitimate company, you’ll have peace of mind using them for all your travels across South East Asia.
TIP: Keep in mind that if you’re looking for the cheapest option, you’ll be able to find tickets in person from small ticket offices on the streets. Most of the time the rates will be lower and you’ll be on a less comfortable bus with locals. Buying your tickets online, though, will save you more time as you won’t have to walk and find the office.
The second option is to fly to Koh Samui. This ticket usually costs around $120-150. You may want to base yourself in Koh Samui or hop onto a ferry to another island.
The 3 islands are a bit different from each other, but they’re all absolutely stunning. To help you decide, here’s a glimpse of what they have to offer.
Koh Samui is the biggest, most developed and most touristy island.
Koh Phangan is a party island, well-known for the famous Full Moon Party. If this is not your scene, avoid it when the parties are held (you’ll find a calendar of parties online).
Koh Tao is famous for its scuba diving, has a more rustic feel, and is more laid-back. They offer diving courses and this is the place to find cheaper certificates.
After visiting all 3, Koh Tao comes out on top for me. It has a bit of everything: stunning beaches, beautiful nature and a bit of that party scene. But no matter where you choose to base yourself, visiting the other islands is as easy as hopping onto a ferry and you can be there in 1-2 hours.
Day 6 – Koh Tao
Koh Tao may be the smallest island, but it’s a true paradise and stole my heart the moment the minute I arrived.
In order to move around the island freely it’s better if you get yourself a scooter when you get there. That way you will be able to go anywhere you like and won’t rely on anyone.
List of things to do in Koh Tao:
•Chalok Baan Kao area to explore and enjoy the beach
•Freedom Beach and John-Suan Viewpoint – short and steep hike with stunning, breathtaking view of the island
•Deisha Viewpoint, Koh Tao Viewpoint, Mango Bay North Viewpoint
•Sairee beach – place to watch the sunsets
•Pub crawl – if you like to party, runs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday
You can’t come to Koh Tao and not visit Nang Yuan Island nearby. It’s just a short 10-minute ride away and you can either opt to book a snorkeling trip together with lots of other tourists, or catch a private boat there which will allow you to have as much time there as you need.
You’ll be able to view Nang Yuan from Koh Tao, but make the trip there to experience this idyllic island first-hand. The island itself is very small and in terms or exploring, there’s not much to see beyond the famous viewpoint. However, for snorkeling and relaxing on the beach you won’t find a better spot. As it’s a privately-owned island, you need to pay an access fee and the hours are controlled.
Day 7 – Koh Phangan
Koh Phangan is a stunning island between Koh Samui and Koh Tao. It has a lot of breathtaking view points that you can enjoy and great diving places if you don’t want to go to Koh Tao. Also it has a beautiful beach line which connects Koh Phangan to small Koh Ma at low tide.
If you opted to stay on Koh Phangan and lap up its party scene, you absolutely have to make the day trip around Angthong National Marine Park. The park covers 42 islands in a total area of 102 km², of which about 50 km² are land and the rest is water. The stunning views are picture perfect and this excursion was the highlight of my trip to the Gulf of Thailand. The tour cost was $35 but it was truly worth it!
Day 8 – Getting to Ao Nang, Krabi
The beautiful island of Krabi is our next stop on this 10-day itinerary of Thailand. Again, you can either catch a flight there or take a ferry and a bus. The ferry and bus combination takes about 5-6 hours but it goes by very quickly. In peak season, be sure to buy your ticket in advance from 12go.asia or if you’re travelling at a quiet time of year, you can pick one up at the pier. The ticket will cost you around $30.
Day 9 & Day 10 – Island tours
There is loads to do around Krabi and you can pick up tickets for any number of activities from one of the many tourist ticket booths on the main streets.
Most popular tours are:
- 4 Island Tour
- Railay Beach, where you can go rock climbing and hike to the viewpoint
- James Bond Island, Khao Phing Kan & Hong Island
- Phi Phi Island & Maya Baya – unfortunately it became a very popular party island – but it’s still a stunningly beautiful place and a must-visit. Maya Bay, featured in “The Beach” movie with Leonardo Dicaprio, is currently closed to visitors to protect it from the damages of mass tourism and no-one is sure when it will reopen. A truly amazing decision by the government!
Wherever you choose to stay, make sure to get out there. Those islands are absolutely stunning and the only downside is that you’ll be sharing it with so many other tourists – but I guess that comes with the territory!
If you feel like a break from the beaches, take a hike to the the Dragon Crest for breathtaking views or set out on the Tab Kak Hang Nak Nature Trail which is also very beautiful.
More things for your 10 day Thailand:
Thailand is a huge country with so much more to experience and this 10 day Thailand itinerary just scratches the surface of what the country has to offer. Have a look at these options… you may want to extend your trip, or start planning your next one!
•Pai – beautiful & peaceful city in Northern Thailand. You can easily get there from Chiang Mai.
•Chiang Rai – with its very beautiful White and Blue Temples
•Sukhothai Historical Park or Phanom Rung Historical Park
•Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
•Khao Sok National Park, which Christian from Lost le Blanc always recommends. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTaZwGUPR7o
•Phuket – if you want to spend more time visiting the islands, just flight directly to Phuket and skip Bangkok and Northern Thailand all together.
•Ao Phang-nga National Park
Things that you should know… beyond your 10 day Thailand itinerary:
WHICH SIM CARD TO GET FOR THAILAND:
You have a lot of options when it comes to choosing which sim card to use and it will depend on how long you’re going to be in Thailand and how much data you want to use. In general, all pre-paid sim cards will be more expensive at the airport, so you’ll be better off buying it from a store when you get to the city. Another option popular with some travelers is to buy a Pre-paid SIM Card online (https://www.simoptions.com/prepaid-sim-card-thailand/) (personally I’ve never done it).
The one that I found the best was DTAC for 30 days, 5 GB for 320 baht. I just bought it from the DTAC store in one of the shopping malls in Bangkok.
PEOPLE & LANGUAGE IN THAILAND:
Thai people are amazing and always willing to help you. Every person that I came into contact with was kind and friendly. You also won’t have trouble finding someone who speaks English, as it’s become a very popular tourist destination already.
There are two things that I’d like to mention here. ATMs will charge you 200 baht for each withdrawal, so it’s better if you have a card that will refund ATM fees. Bring a card that doesn’t charge you international fees. And exchange rates in Bangkok are the best, as I found it a little bit harder in Chiang Mai.
HOW TO TRAVEL ACROSS THAILAND:
You won’t have trouble traveling across Thailand and you’ll find lots of options to suit your budget. Cheap domestic flights, buses and trains run frequently. Taxis can be found at every corner too, but insist that they use the meter. The best option to get around in the cities in Thailand is by using the Grab app as it’s completely hassle-free. If you’re good at bargaining you can use tuk tuks, but be sure to negotiate and agree on the price first.
FOOD IN THAILAND:
Must try food in Thailand
Thai food is famous all over the world and for good reason. It’s unique, packed with flavor, full of different spices and just simply delicious. So ignore the advice given by so many online, and go to the night markets and local cafes and eat as much as you can! EAT THE STREET FOOD! It may be a foreign concept to you, but don’t be afraid because it’s simply the best. Of course, go to where you see the locals eating, so that you know that the food is fresh and good. And don’t even bother to ask for non-spicy food because everything in Thailand is spicy.
For me, everything on the list below is a must-try (except for Larb because I don’t eat meat). So go ahead and enjoy!
•Pad Thai – world-famous stir-fried rice noodles
•Tom Yum Soup – world-famous spicy and sour soup with seafood
•Som Tum – spicy green papaya salad
•Kai Med Ma Muang – chicken with cashew nuts
•Larb – salad with minced pork
•Khao Soi – noodle dish, which is popular in Northern part of Thailand
•Mango sticky rice – the best dessert ever, rice with mango and sweet coconut sauce but you HAVE TO try it, to see for yourself
•Yum Woonsen – sour based salad, made from glass noodles.
•Massaman Curry – king of Thai curry and another must-try
BUDGET FOR THAILAND:
Your budget for Thailand can range from doing it on the cheap or going for more expensive options. If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll find lots of hostels in every city and the local food on the streets is very cheap. We’re talking around $1-2 per meal. You’ll also find higher-end hotels and resorts, and of course fancier restaurants and bars if you want to splurge.
And always BARGAIN. It’s expected in most places in South East Asia (although some will display a sign saying SET PRICE). So take your time, walk around and ask for prices several times in different shops and at different stalls so that you don’t overpay.
WHAT TO PACK:
Weather will be very hot and humid so pack only light-weight clothes. Also, don’t forget to bring something to cover your knees and shoulders when visiting temples.
Sunscreen (eco-friendly) – as it can be very expensive here and you’ll need a lot of it.
Waterproof case for your phone and camera as you will spend lots of time at the beach or in the water. And of course you want to capture those priceless moments!
Read Next: Ultimate Travel Guide to Vietnam