With two trips to Thailand now under my belt, I can confidently say that it’s one of the best destinations for a trip to Asia.
Thailand has everything from touristy destinations with picture perfect beaches, to hidden gems in the mountains that almost nobody knows about. It’s truly a country where you can choose your own adventure.
This fast-paced itinerary includes all the highlights of Thailand – the cities, the mountains, and the islands. It will give you many opportunities to taste amazing Thai food, see beautiful natural scenery, and experience Thai culture.
If you’re planning a vacay to this stunningly photogenic country, here’s my suggestions on how to spend 10 days in Thailand!
Days 1-3: Bangkok
Bangkok is a must for anyone planning a backpacking trip to Southeast Asia. It’s usually easiest to make Bangkok the first stop on your itinerary as the airport receives the majority of international flights that arrive in Thailand.
This crazy city is an absolute whirlwind – there are cars and scooters packed into the narrow streets, floating markets, and Tuk Tuks that will take you around to see the sights (though many of the drivers will take you to shops where they get commissions from shop owners if you buy things!).
The temples here are particularly amazing. Wat Saket (The Temple of the Golden Mount) is not as well-known as some of the others in Bangkok, but I think it was my favourite – the picturesque gardens, the rows of golden bells, and stairs leading up this man-made hill with views over Bangkok were all totally gorgeous.
Wat Benchamabophit (The Marble Temple) is one of the quieter off the beaten path sights in Bangkok, so you can avoid the crowds at this one! The temple is totally stunning with its brilliant white facade and you’re bound to get some great pics with nearly no-one else in them.
Days 4-6: Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is an absolute gem. Located up in the mountains towards the north of the country, the city has become popular with expats, so you can expect to see a mix of international cultures here. It’s also known for having nearby elephant sanctuaries, cheap but drool-worthy street food, and a high concentration of buddhist temples.
When I visited Chiang Mai, I was full of curiosity about the many monks that inhabited this mountain city. You can sometimes spot them throughout the various city temples, but they also appear on the main street at sunrise. Dressed in orange robes and carrying empty bowls and canvas bags, the monks walk along the street collecting gifts of fresh vegetables, water bottles, and other food items from the local Thai people. We later learnt that this process of giving to the monks was meant to bring about good luck.
Days 7-10: Koh Samui
You will definitely want to spend an extra few days on this gorgeous island in southern Thailand, as it’s just so relaxing! Most people go to Koh Samui to do nothing by the beach. The island has some totally gorgeous sand-covered coastline, and let’s face it – the favourable exchange rate makes it pretty appealing to splurge on a fancy resort.
There are actually plenty of other attractions and things to do on Koh Samui if you get bored of chilling by the pool. A day trip to Ang Thong Marine Park to snorkel around beautiful islands is a must, as is spending a few hours at Wat Plai Laem temple to see the giant religious statues. I’d also recommend a visit to the impressive Big Buddha, and the Grandma/Grandpa rocks (which are amusingly shaped to represent parts of the male and female anatomy!).
If you’ve got more than 10 days in Thailand, here are some more amazing places that you can visit!
If you have the opportunity to stay in Thailand longer or are planning to extend your Asia vacation, I’d recommend a few extra days in each of these locations:
The coastline from Bangkok to the Cambodian border is pretty damn special. Not only is it spectacularly beautiful, it’s also got tons of local Thai culture. If you want to see a part of the country that is different to the normal tourist hot spots, try spending a few days in eastern Thailand travelling through the provinces of Rayong, Chanthaburi, and Trat.
There are plenty of amazing experiences to have in this unique part of the country, including wandering through a magical mangrove forest, eating at a restaurant surrounded by wild hawks, sampling tropical fruits at a fruit farm, and visiting rural communities to learn about the local way of life.
Koh Phi Phi
This island off the coast of southern Thailand is truly 100% gorgeous! It’s where you’ll find these classic long-tail boats lined up all along the soft white sand beach.
The island is super popular with tourists, but you should also be aware that this idyllic destination has suffered from overtourism in recent years, and as a result, the Thai government has decided to close off the beach at Maya Bay (made famous for being the filming location of the movie ‘The Beach’ with Leo DiCaprio) for a few months of each year, giving the ecosystem time to recover from the countless boats and people that pass through.
I think this is an important lesson that we should all be aware of the effects that our travels have on the environment, and make some positive changes to travel more sustainably. These beautiful places must be protected for future generations of travellers to enjoy!
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