Thailand

3 Weeks in Thailand

Two Potential Travel Itineraries for Thailand Travels

Desire to travel? The wanderlust is getting stronger every day? Are you looking for the sun and the sea? Wonderful beaches, beautiful places, new cultures, and all this at affordable prices? This is perfect because I have the ultimate answer for you in one word to ease these longings: Thailand! In this blog, I will let you know how we spend our 3 weeks in Thailand.

Especially for people who are still inexperienced in traveling Southeast Asia, Thailand is the perfect country for newcomers. Thailand is perfectly developed, easy to travel, the people are friendly and the food is more than delicious. Thailand offers just about everything, very touristy islands that leave no wish open, more remote places that are not crowded by tourists, and with some tips and tricks, you can also find heavily traveled islands, relatively empty. One only has to know when and how.

Every beginning is hard. A completely foreign country and so many options and so many open questions. What airport should you arrive? Which time of the year is the best? How long should you stay? I can happily answer these questions from my perspective. I have been to Thailand twice as I couldn’t get enough after the first time. Of course, Thailand has so many islands and other places to offer, you could easily go there every year for weeks and repeat that every year until you retire (and further).

What airport should you arrive? Of course, this highly depends on your preference. Thailand has six international airports namely: Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), Don Mueang International Airport (DMK), Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX), Phuket International Airport (HKT), Hat Yai International Airport (HDY) and Mae Fah Luang-Chiang Rai International Airport (CEI). Choosing one of them depends on prices, preference, and your starting point. I will now go out on a limb and say that Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport is the most frequently chosen airport. On the one hand, it is the biggest airport in Thailand, on the other hand, Bangkok is very worth seeing and a good introduction to Thailand. 

What’s the best time to visit Thailand? The best time to travel to Northern Thailand is from November to February. During this time temperatures reach a maximum of 33 degrees Celsius. For Europeans, the heat of up to 40 degrees Celsius in the months March to May is often too extreme. The rainy season is from June to October in northern Thailand. The best time to travel in southern Thailand is November to March, although the weather can vary on the different islands.

How much time should be invested in traveling Thailand? Well, I would say as much as possible! But if you don’t happen to be a digital nomad and you can work from wherever you want to, I would suggest 3 weeks is a great time span to get a good impression of the country. 

Which places should you go to? Again this depends on your preference, and in the end, you cannot do wrong. However, I will give you 2 travel itineraries, that we chose, including days of stay, and how we managed the domestic travel, and explain, why we would choose it again or which parts I personally could have skipped. 

Itinerary 1

We started our 3 weeks trip to Thailand in Munich, Germany, just before new years eve, as we wanted to experience the festivity in a metropolis and therefore totally different setting compared to our home. Choosing the airline Emirates has been a great choice: great food options (book beforehand on the website), free drinks (who would say no to a lovely G&T to celebrate the start of a journey), modern airplanes and extremely friendly staff.

Bangkok 

Stay: 4 days (For first-time visitors, if you have been there already, 2- 3 days would also do) 

Arriving at Bangkok international Airport Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), I would recommend using the App “Grab” to drive to your booked accommodation, which is way much easier and cheaper than using a random taxi. What are the must-do-activities in Bangkok? Of course, Bangkok is one of the cities where you could spend weeks and weeks, and never get bored, but there are a view places I would highly recommend going and some activities, which are not worth seeing in my opinion, if you are short in time. 

Visiting the Grand Palace and Wat Pho – reclining Buddha should be on top of your priority list, the spirit and the place itself is more than incredible. For a little more culture add the Wat Arun temple to your list. Strolling around the Flower Market is a great way to spend a few hours, watching locals doing their work. 

Bangkok is full of little street food vendors and street food markets. The most popular might be Talad Rodfai Rarchada, which is the train food market, but its location changed so there are no trains in the surrounding area. Asiatique Riverfront is not as big as the previously mentioned market, however, the location next to river is gorgeous and a huge ferris wheel is located right next to it. I could list hundreds more, but the best thing you can do is just go outside and you’ll pretty much stumble across a food market soon. 

You might want to experience Bangkok’s nightlife, then do not miss out on Nana Plaza, Soi Cowboy, and Khaosan Road. Even if you are not really interested in red-light districts, I would advise you not to skip on these places. Cheap bars, ladyboys, pure entertainment, and anything crazy you can imagine. Some more things to add to your list: the huge mall Central world, going for a walk in Lumpini Park and enjoying a drink in one of the countless rooftop bars. Don´t be shocked, most of them are extremely pricey, even for western standards. 30+ Euros for one cocktail is pretty common, also definitely at least go once for a Tuk Tuk ride. 

Activities I personally cannot recommend: 

  • the Floating Market: extremely touristy and nothing really worth seeing or buying at those markets 
  • Boat Tour at Chao Phraya River: you can hardly see any of the advertised attractions and you cannot leave the boat for the whole trip 

Krabi/ Ao Nang

Stay: 4 days 

How to get there: Flight from Bangkok to Krabi Airport, Taxi drive to Ao Nang 


Ao Nang is the most popular and lively holiday resort in the region of Krabi. Krabi itself does not really have the incredible Thai beaches that are advertised everywhere, however you can book day trips to one or more of the dreamy islands, which are really close by. We went for the 3 island tour which was really great and booked one snorkeling tour. I would not recommend booking any of these tours beforehand, as they are cheaper at the tourist booth on site.

I can totally recommend our stay at “Blae Hostel” in the Muslim area of Ao Nang, which offers lovely little bungalows, including a private bathroom, air conditioning, and a terrace with a hammock. A small little community pool is also included.

 

Phuket 

Stay: 3 days 

How to get there: Van from Ao Nang to Phuket 

I’ll start right away: I could have easily done without Phuket. It is described as THE destination by many tour operators, but I cannot confirm that. The public beaches (Rawai Beach etc.) in Phuket are not comparable to many other places in Thailand. Small, often dirty, and totally overcrowded. I would rather recommend Phuket for a package tour in a resort. In my opinion, resort beaches are the only beautiful beaches there. The only way to escape this is to rent a private boat and visit the nearby islands ( e.g. Ban Ko Lon) on your own. Just go around and ask people how much they would take for a private boat tour if I remember correctly we paid around 40 Euros for around 8 hours private boat tour.  

Koh Lanta 

Stay: 7 days

How to get there: Ferry 

Here we go! Koh Lanta is probably in place 1 or 2 of my preferred islands in Thailand. The perfect mix of tranquility, secluded beaches, small restaurants, but also touristic areas with bars and nightlife on the beach. Rent yourself a motorbike for only 4 to 5 Euros per day, and feel the freedom and visit one (or all) of the beautiful beaches on Koh Lanta. Klong Dao beach is up in the north of the island, and more of a tourist spot, however, it is beautiful and does not leave any wishes open (Bars, restaurants, water sports, etc.).  We stayed in a cute little resort called “Sunset Beach Resort” directly at the beach: basic rooms with private bathroom and air conditioning and little terraces in front.

Driving down more south you will pass Long Beach, Relax Bay, Khlong Kong Beach, and Khlong Nin Beach. The more south you go the less touristy it is. After you reach another beach, the Bamboo Beach, which is still relatively idyllic and picturesque, you will reach the southernmost point. You will find yourself in the national park of Koh Lanta, where you have to pay a small fee to maintain the park. But this should be absolutely worth it to you because you have arrived in paradise. Oh and watch out for the monkeys. 

Ko Muk/ Trang

Stay: 3 days

How to get there: Ferry 

Ko Muk is probably still an insider tip among travelers. Very small, secluded, hardly any tourists and wonderful beaches. You will not find much nightlife or a large choice of restaurants here, however, you can relax at one of the wonderful beaches. Unfortunately, environmental protection has not really arrived on the island yet, because the locals throw their garbage everywhere, which can ruin the view in some of the places. Ko Muk is more or less walkable and there is a reasonable choice of restaurants, but do not expect luxury here. Stand up paddling and kayaking is also possible on this island to visit the beautiful caves.

Caution: on the island, there are no cash dispensers and at least when we were there, there was only one shop where you can withdraw money directly from the credit card.

Additionally, we participated in a Thai cooking class, where traditional food like Pad Thai, spring rolls, and baked banana was cooked together with us. It was crazily cheap and delicious.

Bangkok 

Stay: 0-1 day (If the layover is needed)

How to get there: Ferry to Trang mainland, Van to the airport, flight to Bangkok 

Flying into Bangkok with a domestic flight, you will arrive at the Don Mueang Airport (DMK). If you want to reach your international flight back home, you need to go to Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK). You can either use a Grab, a taxi, or just take the free shuttle bus, that is driving on a regular basis between the two airports. Wish you a pleasant and safe journey!

Itinerary 2

Bangkok 

Stay: 4 days (For first-time visitors, if you have been there already, 2- 3 days would also do)

Chiang Mai 

Stay: 5 days

How to get there: Flight from Don Mueang International Airport (DMK) to Chiang Mai International Airport, Grab or Taxi to your accommodation

When we were in Thailand for the second time, we decided to explore the north as well. Northern Thailand cannot be compared with southern Thailand. No sea and no beach, but another incredible landscape with mountains and forests.  Chiang Mai holds some incredible adventures and unforgettable moments.

Elephant trekking and hiking are very popular in the north of the country. However, it is important to make sure that the right place is chosen. Find out beforehand which provider you choose, as animal rights are not the top priority in many places in Thailand. Make sure that elephant riding is not offered and that it is a sanctuary where the animals are well treated. A good example of this is the Elephant Nature Park, where exploited elephants are offered a beautiful life and species-appropriate keeping. 

Furthermore, there are countless hiking tours that one can easily do without a guide through the tropical forests and visit the “Wats” temples which are located there. The jungles and especially Doi Inthanon National Park are a trekker’s paradise. 

Another great experience is visiting a “long-neck community” (Padung village) just outside of Chiang Mai. At first, I was reluctant whether we should do this activity because I wasn’t sure if this would be an exploitation of a minority community. On the internet, there are controversial opinions, but I can only report from my experience and that was good – long-neck women doing their daily work and hardly any tourists. I can definitely recommend visiting one of those villages, the people are very friendly, and the money you spend as an entrance fee is given directly to the locals. You can also buy beautiful woven scarves, handmade jewelry, and decoration to support the community. I wasn’t sure if it is appropriate to take a picture but one of the lovely ladies invited me to take a picture together with her and overall I would say it was a great experience. But always remember to treat them with all your respect. 

I would also recommend visiting one of the lovely local markets, where the biggest ones take place on Sundays or night bazaar at Chang Klang Road. 

Surat Thani (Layover)

Stay: 0-1 day (if you have the chance to leave the same day, do it)

How to get there: Flight from Chiang Mai Airport to Surat Thani Airport, Taxi or grab to the ferry pier

I would recommend using Surat Thani only as a transfer point on your travels, if you have the chance, I would leave the same day with the ferry. As we have been to Surat Thani exactly when the tropical Storm Pabuk happened, and no ferries were leaving for the islands, we were forced to stay overnight and were able to get a little impression of the city. In my opinion, there is not much to do around the city and the beach we visited is far from anything we have seen elsewhere in Thailand. 

Koh Phangan (Ko Pha Ngan)

Stay: 7 days

How to get there: Ferry 

The ferry takes about two and a half hours and goes directly from Tapee Pier to Thong Sala Pier on Koh Phangan. As it departs directly from Surat Thani, you don’t have to worry about any other transfers. The common procedure when taking a ferry in Thailand is, that you buy your ticket either directly at the pier or beforehand at a tourist booth and you and your luggage will get a sticker which is your official ticket. Check twice if you and your luggage are going in the same direction, as our luggage almost traveled somewhere else. Bye-bye rucksack, have a nice holiday.  

Coming back to Koh Phangan, it is very popular among party tourists, which we are for sure not. However, it is still among our favorite islands in Thailand. I would recommend choosing a time, where no full-moon, half-moon or whatever-moon parties take place, and then you are good to go. Of course, it also played into our cards that many tourists left due to the storm, thus we had the island practically for ourselves.

We chose a little resort (Aesthetic Resort) up in the north-east of the island, pretty much secluded from all tourist spots at Thong Nai Pan Yai Beach (be aware that the Tuk Tuk up there is comparing pretty expensive as it is quite far away)  This area has everything you need, motorbikes for rent, to visit all the other gorgeous beaches on Koh Phangan, a lovely village around with very nice food spots and a seven-eleven supermarket close by. I personally would always go again. 

Koh Tao Island

Stay: 4 days

How to get there: Ferry

Several times a day a ferry goes from Koh Phangan to Ko Tao, depending on your choice, the journey takes between 2 and 4 hours. To begin with, Koh Tao is not among my favorite islands but it is definitely worth a visit. It is really really small and does not offer the same quality beaches like Koh Phangan in my opinion. It does have some nice bays, a nice city center, and wonderful diving spots though.

On Koh Tao, we did our first ever dive, including an introductory course, diving in the pool, and two dives in the actual sea. I was absolutely blown away. The silence, the depth, and a new wonderful experience I will never forget. So we decided to do the open water certificate next time we have the chance. Unfortunately, time was too short, because there are certain times before and after the diving regarding flying, so we were not able to do the 4-day certificate course. 

Chumphon (Layover) 

Stay: 0-1 day (if you have the chance to leave the same day, do it)

How to get there: Ferry 

The ferry ride from Koh Tao island to Chumphon takes around 3 hours, which will hopefully be just a transit point for you. Chumphon and Surat Thani have in my eyes in common, that there is absolutely nothing to do, if you think otherwise, it is also fine, just my opinion.

There is a taxi van going from the ferry station directly to the airport, which I would recommend taking, as there is no other option except extremely expensive taxis to get away from this pier. (We learned it the hard way) We decided beforehand for a layover, as we were not sure, if we have enough time between the ferry and the flight, and everything was a bit unsure because of Pabuk. However, if we happen to go there again, we would definitely go straight to the airport. 

Bangkok 

Stay: 0-1 day (If the layover is needed)

Again I would recommend taking the free airport shuttle from DMK to BKK Airport if you have enough time. Have a safe and pleasant journey.

If you have any other questions about a specific city or island, hotel, or activity, or need more insider tips or recommendations on anything else, please leave a comment down below. I am always happy to chat and answer any question if I can and share some more experiences with you! Other experiences and opinions are also always welcome!

In some of our articles, we may earn a small commission when readers purchase products through our links. Of course there are no extra costs for you.

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