Is 1 week in a new destination ever enough? I say no, but it’s worth going anyways! I recently visited Thailand, and knowing how much I would love it we made plans to see as much as possible in 1 week so we would know where we would want to go on our next trip there!
Now, ever since I have gotten back and been sharing photos, people seem amazed that we didn’t use a travel agent on this trip. We are in a super lucky age right now where travel is SO EASY! Yes, using a travel agent can take a lot of stress off your shoulders, but with a bit of research and gumption you can plan your very own overseas vacation! And I gotta say- I’m pretty proud of this one, it went off without a hitch!
So here is my 1 week itinerary for Thailand, with a couple of alternate ideas too! And be sure to check out my “Tips for Thailand” at the end of the article!
Day 1: Bangkok
Bangkok is a HUGE city, with plenty to do! Palaces, Wats, Markets, and more! Plus it’s super walkable, or you can take a Tuk Tuk! *Note- do be aware of the “Tuk Tuk” scam, I did a ton of research and still got wrapped up in it! Read about my experience on my Travel Journal HERE, but the basics of it are: they say an attraction is closed, they offer to book you a tuk tuk for a cheap price and take you to a bunch of places, and they end up taking you to the Thai Silk Factory, where you can get cheap suits and other souvenirs. Even after all my research we still ended up getting wrapped up into it! Luckily we ended up just telling the guy we were done and getting out of it!
One day in Bangkok is not near enough time to accomplish all of these, so I’d for sure plan your route and top priorities before you start the day! Although as Coby says “they call the song One Night in Bangkok because that’s all anyone can stand of it!”, and I gotta say I agree!
Top things to do in Bangkok:
- The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo Complex– this was my favorite thing to do in Bangkok! It was the first Wat we visited in Thailand and it was stellar! A for sure must-see is the Emerald Buddha, pay attention to his outfit! He has a different outfit for each season, and it is changed at the beginning of each season by the king himself. Entrance Fee: 500 baht ($16.33)
- Wat Pho– We didn’t get a chance to go here but we saw it from afar! It is one of the oldest temples in the capital. It is also a famous center for traditional medicine and contains the Institute of Massage! You can also check out the 150-ft long Reclining Buddha here.
- Wat Arun– Another beautiful temple! This is the one is a common wat you see on Instagram, and is called the Temple of Dawn!
- Wat Saket and the Golden Mount– This is one of the oldest temples in Bangkok. It’s 344 steps to the top of the Mount, and the view is spectacular! Up until the 1960s the Mount was one of the tallest structures in Bangkok, and it still dominates the view!
- Jim Thompson House– This is a preserved traditional Thai house in Bangkok, and the former home of Jim Thompson. He revived the art of traditional Thai silk weaving, following its demise during World War 2. He was a collector of art and antiques, and his home showcases these well.
- Chinatown– Explore the markets, shrines, and Yaowarat road!
- Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles– Visit the museum of textiles to learn about the amazing Queen Sirikit! The Queen was an important person in bringing Thai handicrafts to the markets and making them more widespread to stop the fake imports! Also learn how many of the beautiful textiles are made.
- Floating Market– This is a super popular activity in Bangkok, and we didn’t have time to experience it but we for sure will the next time we visit!
- Night Train to Chiang Mai– I highly recommend catching the night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai! It was tons of fun and has some super unique views!
Day 2: Chiang Mai
- Catch the sunrise at Wat Pha Lat by hiking the Monks Trail first thing in the morning! The trailhead is on Google Maps, the trail route is on AllTrails, and you can find a great blog post about it HERE!
- Doi Suthep– You can hike up here from Wat Pha Lat on the Monks Trail, but we highly recommend driving! Doi Suthep is a beautiful wat, well visited by many people. You can hike up to the top of the mountain on the stairs, or you can take an elevator up! Its 50 baht per person to take the elevator, but we recommend taking the elevator up and then walking the stairs down! On a clear day the view from here is said to be spectacular!
- Catch a food tour! We used the Northern Cuisine Chefs Tour and it was awesome! It was focused on Northern Thai food which is a bit different than most of the Thai food we are used to. It’s a long class and well worth the money! ($59usd per person)
- Stop by the Night Bazaar for fun, cheap gifts and cool finds! Scarves, t-shirts, towels, and more!
Day 3: Chiang Mai
- Old City exploring! There are so many cool things to do in the Old City, and you can easily spend a whole day there. Visit Wat Phra Sing, Wat Chedi Luang, and Wat Chiang Man for sure! Get your insta pics at the Tha Phae Gate, and eat some delicious food at the Warorot Market! Also be sure to check out the Lanna Folk Life Museum and the Historical Center to learn more about life in Northern Thailand.
- Doi Inthanon National Park- We didn’t get a chance to do this yet but it looks amazing! It’s the highest mountain in Thailand, and takes about a full day to explore. It’s popular with hikers and bird watchers!
- Catch a cooking class! Cooking classes are so much fun, and we highly recommend doing one everywhere you go! It’s a great way to make new friends and learn more about the culture! We took a class through Lanna Smile, and we had a ton of fun! Plus it’s super easy to book through AirBnb! ($33usd/person)
- Day trip to Chiang Rai or driving the Golden Triangle route! We highly recommend booking a private driver for the day, it is a bit more expensive but so worth it if you are not used to driving in Thailand. The drivers can be a bit hectic, but renting a motorcycle and driving it would be so fun! Just be very careful!
Day 4: Elephant Day!
We highly recommend doing A LOT of research if you’re wanting to go visit the elephants that Thailand is so famous for. National Geographic recently did a great article on Animal Tourism around the world, and it’s a great read! There are a lot of “elephant sanctuaries” in Thailand, and it’s best to read reviews and see which ones line up with your morals. Unfortunately I did not read the reviews on the one we went to until it was too late, and it did not exactly line up with our morals as it advertised.
A place we know for sure has good reviews and lines up with most western morals is the Elephant Nature Park. They offer a ton of programs and interact wit the elephants in a healthy way. There are also a ton of sanctuaries that don’t directly interact with the elephants at all, which most people consider the most ethical type of wildlife tourism.
Day 5: Krabi
We flew out to Krabi specifially to hike the Tiger Cave Temple, but there are tons of things to do there too! Thailand is super easy to travel though, and airfare is pretty cheap! So you could alternate for a day in Phuket, fly out to the Islands for the rest of your week, head back to Bangkok to explore Sukhothai or Ayutthaya, etc! The rest of the week is really open and free for you to choose, but we recommend somewhere relaxing!
Day 6: Khao Sok National Park
This is where we chose to spend the last few days of our vacation! We knew we wanted a relaxing end to our trip, so we headed out to Our Jungle House! We did the Full Day Tour to the Lake which was the perfect mix of adventure and relaxing for us! Highly recommend it!
Day 7: Bangkok
Time to head back to Bangkok to catch your flight back! You can take the evening flight out around midnight, which means you can have most of the day in Bangkok if you take the early flight from wherever you end up! Catch up on some of the things you missed, or have a relaxing massage! You can also head to the BKK and check out the food scene at Suvarnabhumi! They have a whole pamphlet showing the restaurants, where they’re located, and their 3 best dishes! Totally awesome. You can also check out their 5th Ave quality shopping, and visit Tiffany’s, Cartier, Jim Thompson, Louis Vuitton, etc! Can you say Duty Free?!
Other Place to Visit in Thailand
- Ayutthaya– this city was founded around 1350 by Ramathibodi I, who came here to escape an outbreak of smallpox. It’s easy to get to from Bangkok via train, car, motorcycle, bus, etc. Once you get there, hop on a bike and get exploring!
- Sukhothai Historical Park– This is a UNESCO World Heritage sight. It has around 28 square miles, and you can rent a bike to see it all!
- Chiang Rai– This place is most famous for Wat Phumin, or the White Temple. There’s also many other beautiful Wats and rich history!
- Chanthaburi– This place is well known for its abundance of gemstones! Many gems are now over mined in the area, but still found occasionally found by farmers when plowing. Over 70% of the worlds rubies have come from Thailand!
- Ko Samui– A lot of the people that we met during our trip were headed here! It’s super popular with tourists from all over the world, and beautiful! Beaches, snorkeling, and relaxing!
- Phuket– Another highly recommended place! It’s Thailand’s largest island and richest province! It’s a largely upscale destination, with luxury hotels, water sports, diving, and restaurants!
- Phangnga Bay- currently massive erosion is a huge issue here, so large tourist boats are banned. But there is still a lot to do in the area, such as caves, a national park, and James Bond Island!
- Ko Phi Phi- another beautiful island, home to a national park! They’re famous for breathtaking cliffs and coral beds!
- Ko Lanta- this is a group of 52 islands, 15 of which belong to the Ko Lanta National Marine Park! Another place famous for diving, snorkeling, and beaches!
Tips for Thailand
- Buy a sarong/scarf! It’s handy to put in your day pack to cover up your knees or shoulders when visiting Wats.
- Good walking shoes– even if you take tuk tuks everywhere you’ll still be walking quite a bit!
- Drink plenty of water– Thailand is very hot and you don’t want to be dehydrated! I also took some electrolyte powder to help with the dehydration!
- Eat the food!– Food is the best part of Thailand! Just be sure your food is fully cooked.