Need help planning your 10-day trip to Thailand? You’ve come to the right place!
Thailand is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, and one of my personal favourites. When I first visited, I instantly fell in love.
It had been on my bucket list for ages, and when I finally visited Thailand, it didn’t disappoint.
I first went there while I was still working at my 9-5 corporate job, so I wasn’t able to go on a long backpacking stint as I would have liked and I was only there for 10 days.
Since my first trip to Thailand in October 2016, I’ve now been back four times on separate trips, that’s how much I love Thailand!
In this post I have outlined the exact 10-day Phuket itinerary of my first trip, so that, if like me you’re visiting on a relatively brief trip, you can still make the most of it. It’s centred all around Phuket.
Discover all the best things to do and places to visit if you’re planning to spend 10 days in Phuket.
- 1 Things to know about Thailand
- 2 Where to stay during your Phuket itinerary
- 3 Our 10-day Thailand & Phuket itinerary
- 3.1 Day 1: Arrive in Phuket
- 3.2 Day 2: Surfing in Kata Beach
- 3.3 Day 3: Day trip to James Bond Island & Phang Nga Bay
- 3.4 Day 4: Snorkelling trip to the Similan Islands
- 3.5 Day 5: Travel to Koh Lanta
- 3.6 Day 6: Snorkelling trip in Koh Lanta
- 3.7 Day 7: Travel to the Phi Phi Islands
- 3.8 Day 8: Scuba diving in the Phi Phi Islands
- 3.9 Day 9: Visit Maya Bay
- 3.10 Day 10: Back to Phuket & fly out
Things to know about Thailand
Before we jump straight into the day-by-day itinerary, I wanted to run you through some of the basic things you need to know about travelling to Thailand.
Ranging from information about currency, cuisine and the weather, I will give you a brief introduction to spending 10 days in Thailand.
The local currency in Thailand is the Thai baht, or THB.
You can easily find it in most exchange places in Europe or the US, alternatively you can withdraw cash when you arrive or exchange cash there. At the time of visit 1 GBP was approximately equivalent to 50 THB.
Bring on the noodles and curries! Thai cuisine is rich of noodle and rice based dishes.
There’s a stereotype about it being spicy, but coming from someone like me that can’t handle hot food, trust me when I saw you have nothing to worry about.
The food in Thailand is rich in flavour, if something is hot it is usually advertised as such so you can steer clear if you don’t like it. Some of the famous classics are Pad Thai noodles and coconut flavoured curries.
If you want to know more about Thai cuisine, why not learn about it through a cooking class while you’re in Thailand?
Weather & when to visit
People often get put off at the idea of visiting a tropical destination during the “wet season” but I argue that it can actually be better at times.
We went to Thailand at the end of October and start of November, which is theoretically the peak of the wet season, but even if it did occasionally rain it never disrupted our plans.
The average day during the wet season in a tropical destination is sunny for most of the day, with very heavy downpours for a couple hours in the afternoon or evening.
We also found that since it was wet season everything was considerably cheaper, travelling somewhere in low season can be a great way to save money if you don’t mind a little rain!
Where to stay during your Phuket itinerary
Thailand is one of those cheap backpacking heavens. You can find really nice accommodation for very cheap. A bed in a hostel dorm can cost as little at 3 GBP per night.
At the time when I visited I was travelling with my then boyfriend, so we were looking for something a bit fancier than a hostel dorm.
We changed accommodation three times, never spending more than 25 GBP each per night, and always stayed in nice resorts. One of them even had direct pool access from our room! We stayed in the following hotels.
If you’ve read my blog before you probably know that I strongly disliked my corporate job and used to escape at every opportunity I got (find out here how I went on 20 trips in 20 months while working 9-5).
One of the few perks of the job was that I travelled a lot for work (nowhere exciting unfortunately, just small towns within the UK) and managed to accumulate lots of hotel points.
I used a lot of those points at the Hilton Arcadia Resort & Spa in Karon Beach on this trip.
The hotel is obviously amazing, as you would expect of a Hilton, however if I had been paying for it myself and it wasn’t on points I doubt I would have stayed there.
If you’re looking for more budget options, check out this guide to the best hostels in Phuket.
On my second trip to Thailand, when I didn’t have hotel points to splash around anymore, I stayed at The Crib Patong, a more affordable and lovely boutique hotel in the popular neighbourhood of Patong.
This is a much busier area of Phuket, very close to the famous Bangla Road, where all the clubs and bars are.
The other places we stayed at might not have been as fancy as a Hilton but were still very nice and affordable. This hotel was the one with the direct pool access. They also had a lovely breakfast buffet with views over the sea.
Most of the accommodation that we could find in Phi Phi was either hostels or apartments, so when we finally found this nice resort we were very happy with it.
The hotel is about a 10-minute walk away from the harbour and town centre, however this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it’s quieter and not too close to the big party locations (guess it depends if you’re looking for a party holiday or a quiet getaway)!
Our room also had a lovely view over Phi Phi Don and the harbour, with monkeys occasionally coming to say in our balcony!
On my second trip to Thailand I went back to the Phi Phi Islands and stayed in a different hotel; Papaya Phi Phi Resort. While it isn’t as fancy as the Cliff Beach Resort it was really lovely and the staff was super helpful.
It’s located a 10 minute walk from the harbour but in the opposite direction compared to Cliff Beach Resort, going towards the Phi Phi Viewpoint (which makes it perfect if you want to hike up there to see the view)!
It’s also closer to all the restaurants and bars. All the rooms have small balconies with a view where you will be served breakfast in the morning at your chosen time, just watch out for the monkeys!
Our 10-day Thailand & Phuket itinerary
We spent most of our 10 days primarily based in Phuket, which we used as base to go on day trips in the area. From there we also got a ferry and spent a couple nights first in Koh Lanta and the Phi Phi Islands.
This is one of the most touristy regions in Thailand, so if you’re an off the beaten track kind of traveller, this 10-day Phuket itinerary might not be for you.
It’s perfect if you’re about to go there on your first long international trip (as was the case for me), and you want to visit places that are both beautiful but also offer services and are easy to get around for tourists.
This Thailand itinerary is basically a Phuket itinerary. We decided to skip Bangkok, as we wanted to do primarily beach activities, but if you want a more complete Thailand itinerary, you can add three days in Bangkok to this trip!
Read on for the exact 10-day itinerary that I followed on my first trip to Thailand.
Day 1: Arrive in Phuket
The time has finally come for you trip to Thailand! Hope you’re excited, this is Day 1 and your flying into Phuket for 10 days exploring these Thai islands.
Depending on the time of arrival you can spend some time checking out the street markets, beaches and restaurants.
Phuket has an international airport (HKT) and you can easily arrange transfer from there to your hotel after you land.
Travel time varies depending on where in Phuket you are, from the airport to where we were staying Karon Beach it took approximately 1 hour, since we got a collective taxi and it did other stops on the way.
Day 2: Surfing in Kata Beach
If like me you’re a fan of water sports, Thailand has plenty to offer. Coming from London on the first full day we were quite jet lagged and decided to not do anything too adventurous, heading to a beach close to our hotel to surf.
We went to Kata Beach, which is advertised as one of the best surfing beaches in Phuket, while still being away from the main crowds.
We rented boards for a couple hours for the equivalent of 5 GBP. The fact that the beach was pretty empty was a great plus for a beginner surfer like me, I’m constantly terrified of crashing my board into other people!
Since this trip I have now been surfing in Bali, Costa Rica and have done two surf camps in the Canary Islands. In hindsight the waves weren’t incredible, but if you’re a newbie surfer, they’re good enough!
Day 3: Day trip to James Bond Island & Phang Nga Bay
James Bond Island is one of those destinations that has been made famous by Hollywood. James Bond Island is in Phang Nga Bay, just north of Phuket.
We went on a day trip from Karon Beach for approximately 500 THB each, including lunch and hotel transfers.
The tour set off early at 7AM and came back around 6PM. We had to drive for approximately 1 hour, before arriving at the harbor where we got on a boat that then took us cruising around Phang Nga Bay.
I found James Bond Island in itself not particularly exciting. The surroundings are beautiful and it’s characterized by a unique limestone landmark, by the island itself is overly commercialized.
The walkable surface of the island is already small in itself, and it has been taken over by stalls that sell souvenirs for tourists. The highlight of the trip for me was cruising amongst the stunning limestone islands.
The water is bright emerald and the surrounding landscape is unique. We even went kayaking in hidden lagoons, where the kayaks from our boat were the only ones around.
At one point we even squeezed through a tiny cave, and had to deflate our kayak to be able to fit! We then had to rush back before the tide went up and locked us in the lagoon.
You can do lots of day trips from Phuket, check out this Phuket day trips guide for more travel inspiration.
Book your James Bond Island & Phang Nga Bay tour here, or check out prices & availability in the calendar below!
Day 4: Snorkelling trip to the Similan Islands
The fifth day is going to be an epic one but get ready for lots of travelling. We did a day trip to the Similan Islands, a group of islands off the coast of Southern Thailand.
We went there on a day trip from Karon Beach for approximately 800 THB each, this included hotel pickup at 5AM and lunch during the island hopping tour.
The journey from Karon Beach to Pakarang Beach, where you will then get the boat to the Similan Islands, takes approximately 90 minutes in good traffic. From there it is then a 70-minute speedboat journey to the Similan Islands.
The long journey is well worth the trip. The Similan Islands have some of the clearest and most turquoise water I have ever seen, and we even had the opportunity to snorkel with turtles!
We visited 3 different islands and you will have the opportunity to go swimming and snorkeling at all of them if you wish to.
Our journey back to the hotel was especially long due to bad weather, the speedboat had to go slower due to the waves and the traffic in Phuket was awful. We didn’t get back till after midnight.
I still think the trip was worth it, however if you wanted to take your time visiting the islands and not have such a long day they also offer overnight trips to the Similan Islands.
Book your day trip to the Similan Islands here, or check out prices & availability in the calendar below!
Day 5: Travel to Koh Lanta
On the fifth day we decided to venture out of Phuket and move out of our cozy Hilton room. We got a ferry to Koh Lanta, which takes approximately 3 hours with a stopover in Koh Phi Phi Don.
If you’re visiting in high season you should be able to get a direct ferry from Phuket to Koh Lanta, since we were there in low season we had to change ferry in Koh Phi Phi Don.
The process however is pretty pain-free as they give you tags for your bags and yourself and they arrange the whole swap for you. We got a ferry around lunchtime that got us to Koh Lanta mid-afternoon.
After checking in to our hotel we got their free shuttle bus into town to check out the shops and book an excursion for the following day.
Day 6: Snorkelling trip in Koh Lanta
In Koh Lanta we did a snorkeling trip to beaches and islands in the area on a long tail boat. There are lots of beautiful beaches in Koh Lanta and we were keen to explore as much of them as possible.
Koh Lanta is slightly less touristy than Phuket which we loved, the beaches we visited on our island hopping tour were empty and the fish we saw while snorkelling weren’t scared of us.
We even did a few stops at islands with huge limestone cliffs and caves we could explore. It was a great day, until we then had to sail through a tropical storm in a small wooden long tail boat to get back to the harbour.
Despite fearing for my life once or twice in the process we managed to get back all in one piece. If you want more suggestions of things to do in Koh Lanta, check out this list of top 20 activities to do in Koh Lanta.
Book your long tail boat tour in Koh Fanta here, or check out prices & availability in the calendar below!
Day 7: Travel to the Phi Phi Islands
After our semi traumatic experience sailing through a tropical storm we spent the morning of day 7 relaxing on poolside, since we had direct pool access from our room this was pretty convenient.
We then got a ferry to Koh Phi Phi Don around lunch time. The ferry took a bit longer than on the way there due to bad weather and we didn’t get to Koh Phi Phi Don till late afternoon.
We spent the rest of our day in Koh Phi Phi Don exploring the markets and central streets and we made it up to the famous view point in time for sunset.
This island was my favourite part of our Thailand trip, the island is entirely pedestrian and there was such a chill island vibe I didn’t want to leave.
There are lots of great things to do in the Phi Phi Islands, so make sure to stay there at least a few nights. Many travellers only visit Phi Phi on a day trip, but they don’t know how much they’re missing out on!
Day 8: Scuba diving in the Phi Phi Islands
Scuba diving is a very popular tourist activity all over Thailand. The rich marine flora and fauna combined to the clear water makes it one of the perfect destinations to do so.
In the Phi Phi Islands especially there are loads of diving schools and lots of excellent diving spots around the islands.
I had never scuba dived before, but my now ex-boyfriend was a very keen scuba diver and talked me into trying it.
Considering it was my first time ever going scuba diving I was pretty terrified, but I had a great experience nonetheless.
There are loads of diving schools all over Koh Phi Phi Don, who all offer similar tours at the same price.
All the diving schools are regulated by PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, meaning that there is a set price at all the shops, no room for haggling, just pick the diving shop with the nicest instructors / fanciest boat / closest to your hotel etc.
We did two dives at two different sites in Koh Phi Phi Lei, both with stunning coral reefs and plenty of fish. We even found Nemo!
Day 9: Visit Maya Bay
Have you seen the awesome travel movie “The Beach” with Leonardo di Caprio? Maya Bay is that beach. Just a short sail away from Koh Phi Phi Don is Koh Phi Phi Lei, the island on which Maya Bay is located.
On Koh Phi Phi Don there are loads of longtail boats in the harbor that offer tours to Maya Bay and other cool locations in the islands.
You can book either a half-day or a full-day tour, depending on how long you want to spend in the Maya Bay beach. Prices vary depending on how well you can haggle.
Click here to book your private longtail boat tour to Maya from Phi Phi Don, or check out prices & availability in the calendar below!
We got a long tail boat just for our selves (I was a bit dubious after the storm in Koh Lanta but the weather was looking better this time) and were really lucky in that when we got to Maya Bay, the beach was completely empty!
The sky was very overcast which is what might have put other tourists off, but we had a great time chilling there.
After Maya Bay the took us to a small lagoon on the other side of the island, which I enjoyed even more, since the water was calmer and you could snorkel properly.
Last stop before heading back to the harbor of Koh Phi Phi Don was the famous Monkey Beach! If you want more advice for things to do in the Phi Phi islands, check out this Koh Phi Phi guide.
2023 Update: Maya Bay was closed for years due to over tourism. They were giving time to the beach to recover from the damage caused to its ecosystem.
It has recently opened up again, but you’re not allowed to swim in Maya Bay, only stand in knee-deep water at most.
That said, the Phi Phi Islands remain one of my favourite places in Thailand, on my second trip I went back there even without being able to visit Maya Bay.
These are beautiful off the beaten track islands, very different from Phi Phi, but with a similar crystal clear sea and rich marine life.
Day 10: Back to Phuket & fly out
The end of the trip has sadly come. You might want to change the order of the last few days depending on the time of your flight.
We were flying out late at night so decided to spend longer in the Phi Phi Islands and take our time getting back to Phuket.
We spent the morning getting massages on the beach (1 hour massage for the equivalent of 3 GBP, how can you say no?!) and then got the ferry back early in the afternoon.
Since we still had some time once we arrived in Phuket we went to a beach close to the airport, and waited for the sunset before having a last Pad Thai at a beach restaurant.
From there we went straight to the airport and changed into winter clothes in preparation for our flight back to London.
If you want to visit more islands in Thailand, make sure to check out this beginners guide on island hopping in Thailand.
Final thoughts on my Phuket itinerary
I had a really great time in Thailand, even if I was only there for 10 days, and would love to one day go back for longer. Have you been to Thailand before? How would you spend 10 days there? Let me know in the comments below!
This Phuket itinerary is the exact 10-day itinerary I followed on my first Thailand trip, I hope you find it useful in planning your own Thailand trip!
The second and third times I went to Thailand I went beyond just Phuket. If you have a few extra days to explore Thailand, check out my Thailand 2-week itinerary.
This itinerary goes beyond just beautiful beaches, and takes you also to explore Bangkok, it gets up close to elephants and takes you to see some of the most beautiful temples in Thailand in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Ayutthaya.