First time in Thailand and need tips on the perfect 3 week Thailand itinerary? This post is for you! Thailand stirs in us the images of the gold-domed temples, the fast-paced city life as well as the very laid-back beachside life on the other hand.
Below is inspiration for planning a trip to Thailand covering a perfect 3 week Thailand itinerary. Tips on places to visit in Thailand, things to do, island hopping, adventure activities as well as relaxation. Also included are tips on the 3 weeks in Thailand costs for the trip, suggested cities in Thailand that need to be on your trip itinerary as well as where to stay in Bangkok, what activities to do in Bangkok, Phuket, Krabi and Koh Samui and more.
You can also use this to supplement a Thailand itinerary 4 weeks or as part of a southeast Asia itinerary like we did, visiting Cambodia, Malaysia and China. Bustling with tourists throughout the year, the country is famous for its abundance of green islands in azure blue waters. So for tips on how to see Thailand in 3 weeks, keep reading.
- 1 3 Week Thailand Itinerary At A Glance
- 2 Week 1: Bangkok & Chiang Mai
- 3 Week 2 – Phuket And Island Hopping
- 4 Week 3 – Krabi Islands and Koh Samui
- 5 Where To Stay In Thailand
- 6 What To Pack For A Trip To Thailand | 3 Weeks In Thailand – What To Pack
- 7 Planning A Trip To Thailand | 3 Weeks In Thailand Costs
- 8 Travel package to Thailand
- 9 Thai Trip Planning Q1. What’s a Good Itinerary For 1 Week or 2 Weeks in Thailand?
- 10 Thai Trip Planning Q2. When Is The Best Time To Visit Thailand?
- 11 Thai Trip Planning Q3. What Is The Best Itinerary For 5 Days In Thailand?
- 12 Thai Trip Planning Q4. What’s the best itinerary for Thailand with children?
- 13 Thai Trip Planning Q5. Whats The Best Itinerary For A Couple Visiting Thailand
3 Week Thailand Itinerary At A Glance
Not trip to Thailand is complete without doing a couple of days in Phuket or exploring the capital. There are so many reasons you will fall in love with Bangkok and all the beautiful islands this country has to offer. You can also plan your trip to Thailand with the following in mind, use this as a guide and add to the itinerary with other places not covered, or if you are planning a family trip to Thailand you can include other kid-friendly activities in Thailand along with the mentioned activities.
The trip to Thailand at a glance, the 3 week Thailand tour includes the following:
- Week1: Bangkok & Chiang Mai
- Day 1-3 Bangkok – Grand Palace, Dusit Palace, Markets & Chao Phraya River Sights
- Day 4-7 Chang Mai – Old City of Chiang Mai, Doi Suthep & Wat Chedi Luang
- Week 2: Phuket
- Day 1 Phuket Old Town & Beaches
- Day 2 Phang Nga Day Trip and Island Hopping Tour
- Day 3&4 Check out Bangla Road and Patong
- Day 5 Free Day
- Day 6 & 7 Chalong area – Big Buddha Statue
- Week 3: Krabi Island & Koh Samui
- Day 1& 2 Railay Beach and Pak Bia Islands
- Day 3 Khao Phra Bang Khram Natural Reserve and Klong Thom Hot Springs
- Day 4&5 Chaweng, night market, and Wat Plai Laem temple
- Day 6&7 Day Trip to islands of Koh Tao for beaches, diving and snorkeling
Week 1: Bangkok & Chiang Mai
Thailand is home to some of the most famous tourist spots in South Asia, beautiful places, cool cities and amazing islands, and this is a fact, from the likes of Koh Tao, Krabi, Koh Phangan, Koh Samui. But, let face it, no trip to Thailand is complete without seeing Bangkok. Let us start the 3 week trip in Thailand with the very happening Bangkok scene in the first week of your 3 week Thailand trip. Also, make sure you read up on things to know about Thailand before visiting.
No 3-week tour of Thailand is complete without checking out Bangkok. The first day of exploring Bangkok, you can start with a visit to the Grand Palace. The buildings and structures for diverse purposes and of differing styles, reflecting the changing architecture during the various reigns of the kings. Despite this, most of the buildings within adhere strictly to classical Thai architecture.
The Grand Palace is a must-visit spot on any 3 week trip to Thailand. It is located on the Na Phra Lan Road and is quite accessible. Visitors will be able to view the war memorabilia of Thailand and the ornamental decor and items in use by the royalty. In the same complex, you will be able to come across the gorgeous Wat Phra Kaew Temple or the Emerald Buddha temple.
After this trip, you can go to Dusit Palace. The opulence of this white monument is just un-mistaken. The Dusit Palace was commissioned to be constructed by King Rama V after he returned from Europe. Hence, the architectural style of this white marble palace spells European artistry everywhere. The palace is open to the visitors from 9.30 am, and in order to get the tickets, you can consult the Grand Palace ticket office.
After these two grand palace visits, you can hop into one of the popular hangouts in the city center. For sunset, be ready to visit the Chao Phraya River coast and take in the breath-taking charm of the Wat Arun temple. The temple with all the lights up twinkles in the dusk skyline and reflects magically on the waters of Chao Phraya river. A river cruise ride with dining is one of the must-dos on your visit in the city.
The next day, you can begin on a more spiritual note with the visit to the Wat Arun temple early in the morning during sunrise. Thousands of tourists and devout folk’s throng the Temple of Dawn and watch the marvelous temple at its morning glory. The gilded spires and the 70-Meter high spire studded with stained glass decor add to the charm and beauty at any time of the day. It is necessary to dress modestly while visiting the temples.
Just on taking a boat from the Thien pier, you can reach another monument that will spell-bind you this trip to Bangkok. The Wat Pho temple is a majestic temple, which is famous for its 46-meter long Reclining Buddha. The temple is located on the Sanamchai Road, and it is sure to offer you serenity like no other.
Next, on the trip, you can visit the Safari World or Ocean World depending upon your preference. These two places are worth your time and every minute you spend there, will be a great stress-buster.
Bangkok comes alive at the night, and this is not something that you were not aware. Thai massage parlors on one side, the risqué nightclubs all give a new lease of life to those who come to Bangkok for the same. The Sukhumvit Road, the bars at Siam, Silom, and Thonburi are all going to bring out the party animal in you. There are rooftop bars hosting classic and absolutely stunning parties that you can never get tired of.
The last day can start with a trip to the Dreamland amusement park, or heading of the Old Town for some exploration on foot. The Old Town has European architecture all around and has stores and markets aplenty to shop from. If you feel that you have not had your fill of shopping, heading off to the Floating Market, or the bustling Chinatown is a great option.
Where To Stay In Bangkok
For tips on where to stay in Bangkok, I have a post on the best areas to stay in Bangkok with hotel recommendations. In addition, I also have tips on the best Airbnbs in Bangkok. If you are new to Airbnb you can also check out my tips on using Airbnb as well as how to get the Airbnb discount.
Day 3: Travel To Chiang Mai
For the next three days, you can spend in Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is a mountainous city located on the north of Thailand, and it will be a great diversity to discover here in terms of terrain. The city has a great historical and cultural heritage with art and architectural evidence in the form of temples and ruins from the 14th century still existing there.
The first-day trip to Chiang Mai can be a visit in the Doi Suthep area. This is a mountainous area covering dense forests and waterfalls, growing across the ranges of high mountains. Trekking through these forests with a guide and reaching the top for a stunning view is a great way to relax. Other than that, a visit to the temple of Doi Suthep to visit the jaw-dropping beautiful architecture of the temple is something that you can think about later.
This trip will take a long time and so if after that, you still have the energy for more exploration or spending time close to nature, a visit to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary can be on the list. The ticketing office is located on the Tha Phae Road, and the trip will involve a safari through the jungle where you can spot rescued or orphan elephants in the wild. There are various other such elephant camps as Patara, Mae Phing, and more to check out. For tips on traveling to Chiang Mai from Bangkok check out this the post by Backpackers Wanderlust.
Next day, you can visit the Old City of Chiang Mai. By now, you know the prevalence of Wats in and around Bangkok and in Chaing Mai, you will not find any difference. The number of Wats you will come across in the Old City is also high. There are intricately designed temples or Wats like the Wat Phra Singh, which is by far, the most celebrated one.
It then comes the Wat Chedi Luang that is one of the oldest Buddhist temples once even housing the famous Emerald Buddha. Besides that, there is the Wat Sri Suphan with its shimmery coat of silver paint that gleams in the morning sun and in evening lights. The night bazaar or market at Chiang Mai- Kat Rin Kham market, the Kalare Night Market, and others are great destinations for shopping for the local items. From mouth-watering local delicacies to more, these places will be worth the time.
Day 5, 6 7
The next-day trip across Chiang Mai can be through the local markets and other sights. A Saturday and Sunday Walking Market is a must visit, and if you love adventure trails, then visiting the local parks and going for nature trail experiences can be a great way to enjoy Chaing Mai like no other. While in Chiang Mai you are also only a 3 hour drive to Chiang Rai. There are plenty of things to do in Chiang Rai, its also said to be much more relaxed than both Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
Where To Stay In Chiang Mai
- Rachamankha Hotel a Member of Relais & Châteaux
- Phra Singh Village
- Na Nirand Romantic Boutique Resort
- Chala Number 6
Week 2 – Phuket And Island Hopping
Thailand has some of the best islands in the world and Phuket is up there among the best islands in Thailand and ones you have to visit. If you feel that you are charged up at Bangkok with the exploration and partying, then straight away leave for Phuket. It has many naturally beautiful spots and beaches that will take your mind of things. People visit Phuket primarily to relax and explore the many beaches and limestone rock formations on the beach and as Isles. There are plenty of experiences not to miss in Phuket. Also make sure you choose the islands wisely if you have a longer time in Thailand or if backpacking in Thailand. That way you can maximise the time you have and not spend it all travelling on ferries.
Try to grab a bowl of soup and noodles, or Khao Pad and Kai Yang Grilled Chicken two of the specialties here at Phuket before you begin your day and chill by many of the beaches surrounding Phuket Island.
Start with a day tour to Phang Nga Bay. There are day trips to the deep caves here at the bay that is sure to give you goose bumps with their thrill factor. The tour will include exploring the limestone caves that have stalactites and rock formation. James Bond Island is one such marvelous rock formation that gives a stunning view.
Day Three & Four
Chill on the beach or explore the markets of Phuket’s Old Town. In the evening you can go to spend the night and party like crazy on the Bangla Road, while watching one of the shows playing currently or else dance and relish the happiness there. The famous street of Soi Bangla remains closed for traffic from the evening onwards but that just won’t be a problem for those going here for the best Thai experience.
Day 5 Free Day
Enjoy the beacheas dotted around the island, have a massage or chill by the hotel pool.
Day 6 & 7
Head into the Chalong area where the Big Buddha Statue up to the Nakkerd Hills. The 45-meter high white Buddha idol up to the hill is great to view and on your descent from the Nakkerd Hills, you can stop by at the Karon Viewpoint. Here, you can get a fantastic view over the bay curving ahead until the Phang Nga Bay. You can further take a boat to the Ko-Phi or Phi-Phi Island. You can check out Maya Bay, which gained fame after Leonardo Di Caprio movie, The Beach. (Sadly now closed indefinitely)
You can go diving and snorkeling from the Anemone Reef or the Shark Point and explore the underwater life of Phi-Phi islands. Traveling to other islands like Viking Caves, Bamboo Island and even trying out everything from rock climbing to exploring caves, Phi Phi will not disappoint you.
From Phi-Phi island, there is boats and ferry services to the other equally destination that is Krabi Island.
Where To Stay In Phuket
For tips on where to stay in Phuket, I have a post on the best areas to stay in Phuket which includes tips on hotels for budget, mid-range and luxury budgets.
Week 3 – Krabi Islands and Koh Samui
As the penultimate leg of your Thai trip comes to a close, how about ending it on a memorable beach destination?
Krabi Islands is one of those parts around the world where you can still expect some serenity on the beach. The presence of more than one awesome beach is perhaps the reason for you to get that very necessary relaxation you have craved all your life.
Day 1 Krabi
Once you reach Krabi Islands, the first step is to book a boat that shall take you to Railay Beach. Though a little away from the city, it is definitely better at that way. The Railay Beach has lush green landscape, amazing hilltops, and uneven landscape and the beach waters in its cerulean tones to mesmerize you.
You can spend an entire day here and then go back to your resort in Krabi. Likewise, you can spend the rest of the evening exploring the Krabi Town. Usually, the tourists spend an entire day exploring Railay Beach, and it is not surprising.
The next day you can go to the Pak Bia Islands if you love white sandy beaches and more beach activities. The island is ideal for those willing to detox and relax or simply cannot have enough of the waters. You can even take a boat and go back to Krabi Island. If you have time in hand, you can even try going to the Thung Teao Forest Natural Park and take snaps of the beautiful Emerald Pool.
Your next day can begin with a trip to the dense forest of Khao Phra Bang Khram Natural Reserve adjacent to which there is the Klong Thom Hot Springs. Tourists can just take a dip in these naturally therapeutic waters that have come out of volcanic rocks. Just 46 km from Krabi is a quaint little island called the Mu Koh Hong where you can camp and indulge in water sports like snorkeling and even dining on some of the sumptuous seafood.
Where To Stay In Krabi
Day 4 Koh Samui
After spending four days in Krabi and taking in all the sights and sounds, you can surely make your way to yet another scintillating destination on your trip. That destination is the Koh Samui, and you have an option of taking a bus and ferry to go to this island from Krabi Islands. Likewise, a faster alternative is to go by air, which might take less than an hour but with a higher price tag.
There are so many cool things to do in Koh Samui, but for the first day you can go to Chaweng from where you can take a thirty-minute cab to Koh Samui’s Big Buddha temple. The temple is on a high altitude allowing you to get a bird’s eye view of the nearby places. You can then check out the Secret Buddha Garden where there are plenty of Buddha statues made of stone. Great spot to be in for a photographer!
Next stop can be the Wat Plai Laem temple that has an imposing statue of Guanyin, a goddess with eighteen arms. The massive size of this idol is something to take in with time and of course, the overall beauty of the temple’s environs will be awe-inspiring.
A visit to Koh Samui is incomplete without the day ending with shopping at the Chaweng Night Market from where you can shop for anything under the sky literally.
Next day, take a ferry to the party islands of Koh Tao where you can spend the daytime diving or swim through the crystal-clear waters around the island. Post sunset, the party begins and goes on till mornings and that is what makes the Koh Tao even more important. Another day trip can be to the Koh Phangan. You can go back to Koh Samui by ferry in as little as thirty minutes.
Not just islands and beaches, Koh Samui also has Na Muang Waterfalls and Ang Thong Marine Park for those who love nature at its pristine best.
As the trip concludes, you will surely have this feeling of wanting to visit the soulfully captivating country of Thailand again. This is what makes Thailand all the more special and great in every way. I have left enough room in the itinerary if you wanted to switch it up and add Khao Sok National Park, Koh Lanta, Koh Phangan or Surat Thani which is easily accessible from Koh Samui.
Where To Stay In Koh Samui
- AMAYA Resort
- Tropical Heavens Garden
- Serene Penthouse – Exclusive Luxury Penthouse
- Tropical Season Villa Resort
- El Cid Villa
Where To Stay In Thailand
As far as where to stay in Thailand during your 3 weeks Thailand itinerary really depends on your budget and preferred comfort levels. I shared where we stayed in Bangkok in addition to providing a guide on the best areas to stay in Bangkok. I did the same for Phuket where I shared a guide on areas to stay in Phuket but also shared tips on the best hotels in Phuket for all budgets.
We sampled a couple of places in Phuket at low, mid and luxury budgets which have all ben documented on the blog. By far my favourite website to book my hotels is Booking.Com as well as Hotels.Com which had some great January travel discounts. One of the reasons I love Booking.com is that you can book hotels in advance and still be able to cancel them if your plans change.
So you can book your hotels for Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi and Koh Samui in advance but should you should to add say Chiang Rai or another Thai city you can change your booking.com easily on their site but for travellers they also have a great mobile app that I find really handy to use on the move. For additional tips on where to stay in Chiang Mai, check out Treksplorer.
What To Pack For A Trip To Thailand | 3 Weeks In Thailand – What To Pack
So, what to take to Thailand for 3 weeks? Thailand is a pretty tropical country so even in the rain season, you will find that it clears quickly and before you know it, the weather is good enough to lounge on the beach. For tips on what to pack for Thailand, check out Wandering Quinn.
Planning A Trip To Thailand | 3 Weeks In Thailand Costs
So we are now on to how much money to take on the ultimate Thailand vacation. As I mentioned above when it comes to hotels it really depends on your preference on comfort. You will be glad to know that there are plenty of amazing places to stay from hostels to luxury hotels and villas that won’t break the bank. Food is also super cheap too as you have your pick from tasty street food to lux Michelin star restaurants.
Your flight will mainly be the most costly of expenses for the trip to Thailand. Hotels can be as cheap as £20 a night. For budget hotels in Phuket check out my review of Gold Diggers Resort and for mid range check out my post on Ikon hotel and for something more in the Luxury hotel market we also stayed at Renaissance Hotel in Phuket.
To estimate your hotel expenses I would recommend using the above Thailand itinerary and then costing the hotel nights in each city for the type of hotel you prefer. Once you do that I would then suggest you cost at least one whole day tour in each city. So for Phuket, we enjoyed 2 island hopping day trips which saw us exploring Phang Nga Bay as well as James Bond Island the various activities included in that.
Most of these tours will range from £30 and up depending on activities included. Again I have included a couple of tours for inspiration but also check out Viator Tours for more. You can easily budget for £100o for your trip after your flight. If you stay in reasonably priced accommodation, factor in tours, transport and food and you could do that on a budget. For a more mid-range budget to lux you are looking at £2-3k+.
Travel package to Thailand
If you are one of those that prefers everything to be arranged and know the budget of the trip then maybe consider looking at 3-week travel package to Thailand. Contiki tours do amazing package trips to Thailand as well as multi-country package tours to Asia. The guarantee plenty of fun as you take to your Thailand 3 weeks backpacking trip. Also, GAdventures and Exodus Travels do amazing package tours to Thailand and Asia.
Getting Around In Thailand
So, if you are one of those thinking “is 3 weeks in Thailand enough“, hope the above gives you an idea of just how much exploring you can do in as well as an inkling to how much money to take to Thailand for 3 weeks. The other element I wanted to include is that of getting around between the islands and the cities.
We flew from Bangkok to Phuket and then used ferries between islands. Flights you can easily book with Expedia or directly with Air Asia. Our sites between cities were not more than £50 return so if you are buying one way expect even less but also look out for additional luggage charges so pack wisely.
Thai Trip Planning Q1. What’s a Good Itinerary For 1 Week or 2 Weeks in Thailand?
If you only have one week in Thailand I would strongly suggest doing 3 days in Bangkok, 2 days exploring and 1-day floating marking. Then one of the islands for beaches temples and relaxing. Phuket I would say needs a minimum or at least 3-4 days in Phuket because you are going to use up one of those days for day trip to Koh Phi Phi islands. If you have 2 weeks then I recommend adding Chiang Rai, Krabi or Koh Samui. Again, having lots of exploring time and then islands for relaxation and island hopping.
Thai Trip Planning Q2. When Is The Best Time To Visit Thailand?
Ideally, any time is great as the weather in Thailand is tropical and tends to be warm all year round but I don’t like traveling during the rainy season especially if your main trip is all about beaches. I would see the best times to visit Thailand is around December, November, and January.
Thai Trip Planning Q3. What Is The Best Itinerary For 5 Days In Thailand?
My advice here is similar to the question on what to do in Thailand for one week. Do maybe 2 days in Bangkok, one full day or even 2 full days of exploring. If you do one day in Bangkok and then a day trip to the floating market. Then book your flights in advance for Phuket, Koh Samui or any other destination of your choice in Thailand. Make sure you also book your tours in Bangkok or tours in Phuket in advance. Also, make sure you book your flights out of Bangkok to Phuket in Advance so everything is set for your trip to Thailand. One of the cheapest airlines with plenty of flights in Thailand and heading to Cambodia, Vietnam and surrounding countries is Air Asia. You can book flights in advance via Expedia just like we did. Tickets tend to be in the region of £50 for a return.
Thai Trip Planning Q4. What’s the best itinerary for Thailand with children?
Many of the cities in Thailand cater to family holidays. There are hotels for both budget and luxury that cater to those wanting to travel to Thailand with Children. While it was just myself and my boyfriend for this trip many of the places we visited can be explored with children. Many of the tours we did in Phuket had children on them. If you are able to you can also have your own private family longboat for you and your family. They are not expensive and it means that you can do your Thailand itinerary with some parts that include children’s activities. There is the Trick Eye Museum and Upside Down House in Phuket which is a hit with children. Many of the island hopping tours are also just as great and suitable for kids too.
Thai Trip Planning Q5. Whats The Best Itinerary For A Couple Visiting Thailand
As I mentioned above it was myself and my boyfriend on this trip so I guess that counts as couples visiting Thailand. My advice for couples when you plan your trip to Thailand or if you are planning on spending time in Phuket, pick places that allow you to have plenty of privacy. Like an apartment, or a villa. I shared in a post on our private villa in Phuket, or you can also pick from the many amazing hotels that come with private beaches vs public beaches. I have also shared a post on the best areas to stay in Phuket to help you narrow things down. Another thing that some couple might consider in their island hopping for their trip to Thailand is renting their own long boat tour.
There you have it, a perfect 3 week Thailand itinerary. Is there any other place you would have included?
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