Having visited Thailand three times now, each time for different periods of times, I’ve been able to travel the country extensively and see different parts of it every time. It’s a country I love very much and can highly recommend to everyone. If it’s your first time planning a trip to Thailand, this ultimate Thailand two-week itinerary is perfect for you. It covers a little bit of everything – a good mix of cities, culture, history, nature and the beautiful Thai beaches. If you want to spend 2 weeks in Thailand and be sure to have an all-rounded and great experience, this is the 2-week itinerary for you.
Before you go, don’t forget to check out my Thailand packing list to make sure you have everything for your trip!
- 1 How to spend 2 weeks in Thailand
- 1.1 Day 1: Arrive in Bangkok
- 1.2 Day 2: Explore the temples in Bangkok
- 1.3 Day 3: Visit the floating and railway markets
- 1.4 Day 4: Fly to Chiang Mai
- 1.5 Day 5: Spend a day with elephants at Elephant Nature Park
- 1.6 Day 6: Travel to Chiang Rai & go temple hunting
- 1.7 Day 7: More temples & return to Chiang Mai
- 1.8 Day 8: Fly to Phuket & relax in Patong
- 1.9 Day 9: Island hopping in Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island
- 1.10 Day 10: Do a boat tour to Koh Yao Noi
- 1.11 Day 11: Travel to the Surin Islands
- 1.12 Day 12: Relax in the Surin Islands
- 1.13 Day 13: Back to Phuket
- 1.14 Day 14: Back to Bangkok & fly home
- 2 Preparing for 2 weeks in Thailand
How to spend 2 weeks in Thailand
Day 1: Arrive in Bangkok
Depending on your arrival time, you can start your 2 weeks in Thailand with a chill evening at the Chatuchak night market. This is one of the most iconic markets in Thailand – featured in various food shows and even in Asia’s Next Top Model. It’s a huge street market with loads of food and souvenirs stalls, and is characterised by the colourful stall tents that create a colourful patchwork when seen from above. It’s the perfect place to start your Thailand trip and start with tasting some amazing Thai street food. There is a mall right next to it which offers epic views over the market.
If you’re looking for something a bit fancier, you could also start your first evening in Thailand with one of the many rooftop bars in Bangkok. The most famous is Sky Bar, which you might recognise from the famous movie The Hangover. Drinks are expensive (I paid 30 GBP for a cocktail!) but the sunset view is stunning.
We spent our first few nights in Thailand at the SO Sofitel Bangkok. It was the perfect hotel to stay at for the start of our trip, very luxurious and with a rooftop pool that is the perfect place to chill after a long flight or to escape the Thai heat after a long day exploring Bangkok.
Day 2: Explore the temples in Bangkok
Buddhism is the most practiced religion in Thailand, as you will immediately see after a quick wander around Bangkok. Just in Bangkok there are over 400 temples! Visiting them all isn’t really feasible, so for your first full day in Bangkok prepare yourself for a full immersion of culture and history.
Start your day early by visiting the Royal Palace. It opens at 7AM, but you want to be there earlier in order to beat the crowds. The Royal Palace, also known as the Grand Palace, is a complex of buildings that has been the official residence of the King of Siam since the 1700s. It offers the best of Thai architecture, with prominent colors of cream, blue and gold. It’s quite a marvel to explore.
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I think if you combined all the tourists I saw during my month in Thailand and put them all in the Grand Palace, it still wouldn't come close to how many people were actually there 🙈 But you simply can't come to Bangkok and not visit this place. It's beautiful, it's sparkly, it's hot as hell and there are tour groups waving flags everywhere you turn…but it's gorgeous and did I mention sparkly 💫💫 . Be sure to check out @jetstaraustralia if you're thinking of planning your own Thailand adventures #jetstaraustralia #jqculturecrew #partner
After the Royal Palace you can go on to visit Wat Pho, which is only a short walk away. Wat Pho is famous for being home to one of the biggest reclining golden Buddha statues in the world. This huge golden Buddha is extremely iconic, and no Thailand itinerary would be complete without it. Walking around it really has a way to make you feel small. Wat Pho is a beautiful temple though so don’t stop at the big buddha statue, wander around the complex and discover some of the less touristy corners.
Just across the river from Wat Pho is Wat Arun, another famous buddhist temple. It is actually the first temple in the list of six Buddhist temples in Thailand classified as the first class royal temples. It is also recognized by UNESCO in its Memory of the World Programme. The temple also houses a school of Thai medicine and is the birthplace of traditional Thai massage.
Day 3: Visit the floating and railway markets
On day three you will spend half of the day exploring the famous floating and railway markets. These are outside Bangkok and you can visit them on an organised tour for only 350 TBH per person. The tours set off around 8AM and will return just in time for a late lunch.
They are about a 1.5 to 2 hour drive outside of Bangkok. The order of which you will visit the markets will largely depend on what time you set off. They will time it so that you can see the train passing through at the railway market.
The railway market is cool, but odd. One moment you’re walking along the tracks looking at the various stalls, then all of a sudden you see people cover their products with blankets or taking them inside, and a moment later the train comes! You’ll find yourself standing quite tight on the edge of it, as the space between the train and houses that surround the tracks is really minimal.
The floating market is pretty close to it and is very different. It’s much more chaotic, with proper boat traffic jams along the river at peak times. There are a number of locals selling products from their boats or stall along the river, but there is quite a big market also surrounding it that you can explore on foot. We found the experience of bargaining in the river quite something, since everyone is on the move negotiations are much shorter and you’re more likely to get a good deal!
Our tour didn’t include a cruise on the typical wooden boats but you can arrange this for 50 THB per person once you arrive there. If you don’t want to pay for the extra just walking along the canals and in the market inland is very interesting too.
Once you return to Bangkok you have you have a variety of options for your afternoon. I would recommend relaxing at your hotel and chilling by the poolside, and then adventuring out to Khao San Road night market when the sun falls.
Khao San Road is one of the busiest streets in Bangkok, where you can find anything you’re looking for. The market has the same charm as any Thai market – chaotically beautiful. There are also tons of restaurants and bars where you can drink and party until the early hours of the morning.
Day 4: Fly to Chiang Mai
On the fourth day you’ll be travelling to Chiang Mai. There are multiple ways to get from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, including buses, trains, taxis and flying. While it’s not the cheapest, flying is obviously the quickest and if you only have 2 weeks in Thailand, I would highly recommend it. Make sure to get an early morning flight so that you have time in the afternoon to start exploring Chiang Mai.
One of the most popular activities to do in Chiang Mai is to attend a Thai cooking class. Most packages include pick you up from your accommodation and they will directly bring you to the cooking school or farm, where they will show you how to cook traditional Thai dishes like the Pad Thai, Tom Yum soup, Penang curry and mango sticky rice.
There are full-day or half-day cooking classes. The full-day experiences include also a visit to the local market where you are shown how to choose the right ingredients, or a tour of the farm where you pick them yourself. We landed in Chiang Mai around lunch so decided to do the half-day cooking class, and it was the perfect way to spend our first afternoon and evening in Chiang Mai.
During the cooking class you will be cooking alongside a local Thai chef, who will explain every step of the way what you need to do. At the end of the class, you get to eat the delicious dishes you made! Thai cuisine is very delicious and unique, as it has been influenced by both Indian and Chinese flavours. Some dishes are quite spicy, but there are a lot that have been adapted for Western palates and still super yummy. What better way to get acquainted with Thai cuisine but to cook it? We did our cooking class with Grandma’s Home Cooking School and can highly recommend it. The staff were friendly and professional, and the food amazing!
In Chiang Mai we stayed at Le Meridien, a great hotel to stay if you want to be pampered during your travels. The rooms are spacious and have beautiful views over Chiang Mai, with the mountains in the distance, and it has a great rooftop pool where you can relax and enjoy the sunset.
Day 5: Spend a day with elephants at Elephant Nature Park
Chiang Mai is becoming one of the most popular spots in Thailand for ethical elephant encounters. Most travellers visiting Thailand will spend at least half a day at Elephant Nature Park, an ethical elephant sanctuary that serves as a rescue and rehabilitation centre for elephants, and even other animals such as dogs and cats.
Thanks to ENP locals involved in the elephant tourism industry are starting to realise that it is more profitable to run an ethical sanctuary than a riding camp, meaning there has been a big shift in recent years with an increase of ethical elephant sanctuaries.
While ENP is the more famous sanctuary with more elephants, if you want a more unique experience, I would recommend choosing one of the smaller sanctuaries affiliated with Elephant Nature Park. We chose to visit Elephant Green Hill, a sanctuary that is part of the “saddle off” project of ENP, where the animals are rescued from riding camps.
They had only three elephants, but me and my friends were the only three tourists there so we had a really incredible close encounter with the elephants. The experience costs 2,500 THB per person, which includes also your lunch and hotel pick up and drop off. You will spend the day taking care of the animals; you will feed them, bathe them and walk them in the forest.
If you want to meet elephants in Thailand, or anywhere in Asia, I highly recommend visiting a sanctuary like Elephant Nature Park and not a riding camp. Elephants are incredibly intelligent animals and they are not treated well in riding camps. During an ethical encounter like this you will be able to spend longer with them, and somewhat connect with them, not just ride them and contribute to their abuse. You should also make sure you do your research before visiting one, as not all camps are as ethical as they claim to be.
Day 6: Travel to Chiang Rai & go temple hunting
Day 6 is going to start with a long journey so make sure you rest well on the previous evening to be able to get up early in the morning and catch the morning bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai (or party all night and sleep on the bus, totally up to you)! The bus ride takes around 4 hours depending on if you get a faster or slower one.
You will arrive in Chiang Rai in time to settle down, relax a bit and then take a Grab to the Blue Temple. The Blue Temple, also known as the Wat Rong Suea Ten, is another Buddhist temple painted in a very vibrant blue.
The temple houses a large blue Buddha and various artifacts of the Buddhist religion. While it is an active temple and place of worship, it is more popular as a temple for tourists due to its unusual blue colour, which gives traditional Thai architecture a unique spin.
From the Blue Temple you can get a Grab to the White Temple, it will take around 20 minutes and cost 100 THB. Just be aware that it closes at 5PM! We didn’t realise that was the case and we timed it wrong, arriving there just as it was closing. This actually proved to be a blessing in disguise as we got to enjoy a beautiful sunset all by ourselves at the White Temple. Yes we couldn’t go in, but the sun was setting behind it and there was a stunning golden light everywhere.
The White Temple is another Buddhist temple, which as you can guess by the name, is fully white in colour. Motifs of dragons, half-dragon and half-human hybrids alluding to the gods are also largely used in the architecture of the White Temple.
Most people visit the temples in Chiang Rai on a day trip from Chiang Mai, but I personally find it quite intense to do so many hours of driving in one day. Instead, why not spend a night in Chiang Rai? After all in 14 days in Thailand you can easily fit it in, and it gives you the opportunity to visit the the night market in Chiang Rai. In Chiang Rai we stayed at Nak Nakara Hotel, a lovely boutique hotel with pool and spacious rooms
Day 7: More temples & return to Chiang Mai
I hope you haven’t had enough of temples just yet, because there are a couple more you should check out before leaving Chiang Rai! First stop on the agenda is Wat Huay Pla Kung, if you can get up early enough to visit at sunrise even better. It is closed at this time, so you won’t be able to go inside the temples but the outside of these temples is absolutely stunning at sunrise.
The Wat Huay Pla Kung is a group of three buildings, two temples and a huge, white statue also known as Chiang Rai’s big Buddha. It’s a statue offered to the Goddess of Mercy, and when paired with its huge white dragons built along the staircase it’s an absolutely magnificent sight to behold, especially at sunrise.
You should ask your Grab driver to wait for you, as you won’t find many available Grabs in the area early in the morning. We didn’t think of doing that and ended up having to hitchhike a ride back to Chiang Rai! We then decided to go back to the White Temple as soon as it opened so that we could actually see the inside of the temple too. As good as the sunset was on the previous day, we still wanted to see this beautiful temple up close! There is a 50 THB fee to enter the temple.
We then took the bus back to Chiang Mai in the afternoon, where we then spent the last evening in Chiang Mai wandering around the night market. If you want to avoid all these back and forth with Grabs between temples in Chiang Rai you can do a tour that for 30 GBP will take you to see them all.
Day 8: Fly to Phuket & relax in Patong
If you’re anything like me, by this stage you’re probably a little templed out and kind of fed up of street markets. Worry not, because for the last part of your two-week trip, it is finally time for some beach chilling! You can fly to Phuket directly from Chiang Mai, and from there drive one hour to Patong. Patong is the main tourist area in Phuket.
Relax by the beach after your flight and then try to visit the Big Buddha at sunset. I know I said no more temples but this is a bit of an exception, as it’s more of a viewpoint than temple. The Big Buddha of Phuket is high at the top of a hill and has stunning 360 views over the coastline of Phuket. Just make sure to set off with plenty of time to spare as the tuk-tuks can be quite slow and the traffic can be crazy. You don’t want to miss the sunset!
If you want to spend a lavish evening in Phuket, you can visit Bangla Road in Patong. It’s a pretty crazy street with tons of bars, restaurants and clubs and is the perfect spot to enjoy the nightlife in Thailand. In Phuket we stayed at The Crib Patong, a really cute boutique hotel that was close to the nightlife of Bangla Road, but just far enough that the noise wasn’t annoying when you wanted to sleep.
Day 9: Island hopping in Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island
The beach in Patong isn’t incredible, which is why Phuket is used by a lot of travellers as base for day trips to the surrounding islands. One of the most popular of these is Phang Nga Bay. The day trips from Phuket to Phang Nga Bay usually cost 500 THB per person and include pick up, drop off and lunch. Pick up will usually be around 7AM while the return is at 6PM approximately. It takes around 1 hour to drive to the harbour from where your boat will set off.
During the tour you will go kayaking into secret lagoons, snorkelling with fishes, relaxing at beautiful beaches and even visit the famous James Bond Island, which became a popular tourist attraction after featuring in the Hollywood movie Agent 007. On James Bond island you will find tourist shops and stalls where you can buy souvenirs and food if you get hungry.
Day 10: Do a boat tour to Koh Yao Noi
James Bond Island and Phang Nga Bay are very cool, but can also get quite busy. After a day trip there, I can imagine you now want to see something a little more unique. The islands of Koh Yao Noi are not as famous as the Phang Nga Bay yet. They are slowly becoming a popular island hopping destination but are still off the main tourist radar.
It is a bit more expensive than the James Bong Island trip, with tours costing around 1,000 THB per person, including the pick up and drop off, lunch and snacks throughout the day. Day 10 will be quite similar to day 9 in terms of schedule, with an early morning pick up, around 1 hour drive to the harbour and then a full day of island hopping. We did multiple stops for snorkelling and beach chilling, the spots weren’t as famous but the beaches were considerably less busy and we were very happy about it.
Day 11: Travel to the Surin Islands
The journey to the Surin Islands is long but it is well worth it. It is a four hour car ride to Khura Buri Port and one hour fast by boat. The car transfer depends on how well you negotiate (we paid 700 THB per person) and speedboat ticket costs around 1,700 THB per person.
The Surin Islands are a true beach paradise! With crystal clear turquoise blue waters, soft white sand beaches, and a rich marine life with lots of corals and fishes. They are still off the main tourist radar, and the lack of hotels or proper accommodation on the islands are proof of that. The only option to stay on the islands overnight is to either do a diving live aboard trip or camping on the beach.
Day 12: Relax in the Surin Islands
I recommend spending a good two nights here in the Surin Islands to really get an opportunity to disconnect, enjoy the beach and make it truly worth the long journey from Phuket. For these two days, you can go on snorkelling (it’s one of the best snorkelling and scuba diving spots in Thailand after all!) go on boat trips, hike around the island, visit the local Moken Village, scuba dive and just chill and relax by the beach.
Day 13: Back to Phuket
After 2 nights in paradise, it’s time to head back to Phuket. The exact return time from the Surin Islands to mainland Thailand will depend on the tides. You will usually set off around 1PM with the long tail boat from the camping area to the speedboat drop off point.
The actual speedboat usually comes around 3PM but check with your local guides to be sure, so that you can get some time to relax on the beach beforehand. It’s going to be a long car journey back to Phuket and I recommend sleeping at Sirinat National Park. It’s closer to the airport and offers a nice beach with beautiful sunset views.
Day 14: Back to Bangkok & fly home
Chill at the beaches of Phuket in the morning and then fly from Phuket to Bangkok later on in the day. Depending on how much layover time you have before your international flight, you can go out and explore more street food markets in Bangkok, visit the famous mall Paragon (also the seventh largest in Asia) or enjoy by the riverbanks in Bangkok.
Preparing for 2 weeks in Thailand
Having covered my suggested Thailand 2-week itinerary, I want to share with you some useful information before you start planning this epic trip! Below I tried to answer some of the most common questions travellers have about visiting Thailand that I hope you will find useful.
The currency in Thailand is the Thai Baht (THB). When I visited 1 USD was equal to around 30 THB. Food is extremely cheap, and tuk-tuk rides are usually 150 THB for a short distance. When travelling farther than usual, make sure to negotiate properly first with the drivers before committing to the ride.
I love Thai cuisine. I find it’s the perfect cuisine to introduce Western travellers to food in South East Asia, as it’s super tasty but has quite a lot of dishes where the flavours aren’t too strong or spicy. Thai features a lot offruits native to the area, such as papayas and mangos. Some iconic and must try dishes are the green papaya salad, pad thai, pancit, tom yum soup and mussaman curry.
Best times to visit Thailand
Thailand is a tropical country, and is quite hot and humid especially in the summer. You can visit Thailand all year round but the best time to do so is during the cool and dry season, from November to April, when there are less rains but there is a colder weather (for Thai standards, meaning it’s still the perfect winter escape for Europeans)! Also one thing to note is that different parts of the island are affected by different monsoons, so there are some islands that are best to visit in summer and others in winter.
How to get around Thailand
Getting around Thailand is pretty easy. Thailand has a very developed tourism industry, meaning it’s usually fairly easy to get anywhere and to arrange transports on site. Your preferred mode of transport will usually change depending on how far you have to travel. Buses in Thailand can be very efficient. There are also ferries and minivans, depending on the place that you are travelling to. For short distances tuk-tuks are the most popular mode of transport.
Essentials to pack for 2 weeks in Thailand
For a full breakdown of what you should pack for Thailand, check out my Thailand packing list. Here I just wanted to include a couple essentials that I definitely don’t want you to forget!
- Fast drying towel – whether it’s to use at the beach, in a hostel that doesn’t provide them, after bathing with the elephants, these always come in handy! Quick to dry and they don’t take up much space.
- Waterproof jacket – if you visit in rainy season!
- Dry bag – To keep your valuables safe and dry during the rainy season or on boat trips
- Water bottle – lots of hotels and restaurants have water refills, save yourself some cash and save the environment some plastic by having your own reusable water bottle
- Adapter – depending on where you come from you might need one of these to charge your electronics. I like to always carry an international one with me to be sure I can get my stuff charged
- Power bank – if you’re out and about all day you don’t want your phone to die on you just as you’re about to snap a great photo!
Thailand is a wonderful destination that is the perfect mix of beach life, city, nature, history and temples that showcase the beautiful Buddhist heritage of the country. This is the ultimate way to make the most of your 14-day trip to Thailand. Don’t have 2 weeks to travel around Thailand? Check out my Thailand 10-day itinerary instead! Have you been to Thailand before? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments below! I Hope you find this Thailand 2-week itinerary useful in planning your trip there!
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