Looking for the best Thailand itinerary? You will find it here.
Southern Thailand is a stunning location with sparkling seas, a rich cultural past, and beautiful beaches set against a background of tropical jungle and craggy mountains. It’s the ideal place for beach bums, nature lovers, culture seekers, foodies and adventurers alike. Oh, and of course, it’s also full of options for those who want to party the night away.
We recently returned to Thailand after seven years and fell in love with it all over again. On that visit, we spent a lot of time exploring the north of Thailand, particularly Chiang Mai and the surrounding areas. So, this time, we decided to focus on the south. In total, we enjoyed three months in southern Thailand. This gave us plenty of time to explore and create some great Thailand itineraries.
From Bangkok’s bustling streets to the peaceful islands of the Andaman Sea, these Thailand itineraries will take you through the best of southern Thailand. You can relax on beautiful beaches, hike through lush jungles, visit stunning temples and swim in crystal-clear waters. If you’re looking to add in some adventure and nightlife, you can go snorkeling, kayaking and rock climbing by day, then party the night away on a walking street or at a beach bar.
Tip: It is worth noting that many locals do not speak English (or speak very limited English) in the non-touristy areas. So, if you want to make the most of your trip to Thailand, it is well worth learning Thai before you go, even just learning a few words and phrases can go a long way and it’s something you can do with ease and convenience online.
- Getting to Thailand
- Getting Around Thailand
- Pick Your Southern Thailand Itinerary
- 2 Week Itinerary in Thailand
- 3-Week Thailand Itinerary
- 1 Month in Thailand Itinerary
- Highlights of Your Thailand Itinerary
- Bangkok Highlights
- Phuket Highlights
- Koh Lanta Highlights
- Ao Nang, Krabi Highlights
- Khao Sok National Park Highlights
- Koh Phangan Highlights
- Koh Samui Highlights
- Koh Phi Phi Highlights
- Koh Tao
- Top Tips for an Epic Southern Thailand Itinerary
Getting to Thailand
We chose Bangkok as the arrival and departure point for these southern Thailand itineraries, as that is where most international visitors fly in and out. However, there are also international airports in Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui and Surat Thani that may work for you, depending on where you’re coming from.
Getting Around Thailand
We chose Air Asia for all domestic flights within Thailand and highly recommend them. Every one of our four flights with Air Asia was on time, and the staff at check-in and during the journey were friendly and efficient. The flights have no frills (you must purchase any food or drink), but the price was reasonable, the flights were short, and we had no need for “frills” because there were no delays.
Travel between islands on a Thailand itinerary is easy thanks to the frequent ferries and speedboats that can be booked online. We used Bookaway and 12Go for finding schedules and fares and ultimately for booking.
Once at your destination, the best way to get around is by scooter or motorcycle. These are easy to rent and quite inexpensive. However, you do need to have an international motorcycle driving license. You may be able to rent a scooter without one, but it’s risky as you won’t have proper insurance coverage.
The other option to get around is by taxi, bus, or songthaew. These options are all available on the mainland and larger islands like Phuket, but on the smaller islands, there will be less public transportation. Bookaway and 12Go are also good for booking buses.
For taxis download the Grab or Bolt apps (Thailand does not have Uber). Grab taxis are a bit more expensive, but they have greater availability and you pay through the app like Uber. Bolt is cheaper but is cash only, and we found them a bit less reliable.
Pick Your Southern Thailand Itinerary
We have created three southern Thailand itineraries for you to choose from based on the amount of time you have to spend. Below you will find our recommendations for a 2 week itinerary in Thailand, a 3-week Thailand itinerary and a 1 month in Thailand itinerary. Following these itineraries is an overview of the highlights of each destination as well as some top tips.
While some people are happy to cram in as much as possible, we always recommend going the route of “less is more.” In other words, you will usually have a better travel experience by moving a little slower, even if that means seeing fewer places. Therefore, if you have less than 2 weeks, we would suggest picking 1 or 2 spots as a home base and exploring from there.
2 Week Itinerary in Thailand
|10-13||Ao Nang, Krabi||3|
3-Week Thailand Itinerary
1 Month in Thailand Itinerary
|Days 4-6||Khao Sok||2|
|Days 10-13||Koh Phi Phi||3|
|Days 13-16||Koh Lanta||3|
|Days 16-19||Ao Nang/Krabi||3|
|Days 19-22||Koh Pangan||3|
|Days 22-26||Koh Samui||4|
|Days 26-29||Koh Tao||3|
Highlights of Your Thailand Itinerary
Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, is hectic, hot and a bit overwhelming. However, it is also one of the most exciting, interesting and awe-inspiring cities in the world. The juxtaposition of old and new and the beautiful blend and acceptance of diverse cultures make visitors feel welcome while offering a whole world of things to see and do.
Your days and nights will be filled with stimulation for all the senses as you admire golden temples, visit bustling markets, cruise down the Chao Praya river, eat delicious street food or party all night on Khao San Road.
Here is a list of some of Bangkok’s highlights to help you plan your time. Don’t attempt to do it all on your first visit, or you’ll be too exhausted to enjoy the wonders of Bangkok. We suggest mapping out a section of the city to explore each day or take a city tour on your first day to get an overview of the massive metropolis and the top sights.
Temples in Bangkok
Wat Phra Kaew: Stunningly beautiful temple on the grounds of the Grand Palace and home to the famous Emerald Buddha.
Wat Pho: The largest and probably most visited temple in Thailand and home to the massive Reclining Buddha.
Wat Arun: Also known as the Temple of Dawn, this intricate structure has several towers and is covered with gorgeous ceramic tiles. The view at dusk from across the river is spectacular.
Wat Traimit: A small temple in Chinatown holding a massive 5.5-ton solid gold seated Buddha. The statue was covered in stucco, which concealed the gold until 1955.
Markets in Bangkok
Chatuchak Market: The largest market in Bangkok is only open during the day on Saturday and Sunday. Parts of the market are also open on Friday evenings.
Jodd Fairs Market: A new addition to Bangkok’s market scene. The site has a clean, modern look and is one of the best places to go for a wide array of delicious street food.
Srinakarin Train Night Market: There are no more markets on train tracks left in Bangkok. This one is named after the last train market, Talat Rot Fai, which it replaced. It’s the place to go for antiques and collectibles
Pak Khlong Talat Flower Market: This colorful market has been on this spot for 60 years and is the place to go for fresh flowers, flowers garlands and produce.
Bangkok by Night
Khao San Road: This is where you go to experience the famous Bangkok nightlife. The street is loud and colorful and filled with bars, restaurants and street food stands.
Nana Plaza: “The Worlds Largest Adult Playground” is not for the faint of heart or those offended by the city’s sex trade. But it is a fun place to have a drink and people-watch.
Rooftop Bars: Bangkok has many rooftop bars serving up craft cocktails with a view of this vibrant city that never sleeps. Wherever you’re staying, there’s sure to be a cool rooftop bar in the area.
Other Things to do in Bangkok
Chinatown: Crowded and colorful and packed with incredible food, Bangkok’s Chinatown is a must-see. Evenings are the best when all the neon lights up
Chao Phraya River: Sometimes called “Venice of the East” taking a boat ride on the river and canals is a great way to see the city from the water.
Thai Massage: Because Thai people value regular massages, there are parlors and spas on every street in Bangkok, and the prices are very reasonable.
Tuk-Tuk or Motorcycle Taxi: Traffic in Bangkok is intense and taking a ride or tour by tuk-tuk or motorcycle immerses you in the city’s top ways to get around.
King Power Mahanakhon Skywalk: This new Bangkok landmark brings you to the 78th floor for stunning panoramic views of the city and a glass skywalk for the brave.
Bangkok Tips: Purchase the Bangkok TAGTHAi Day Pass to save up to 70% on many of the top sights mentioned above.
Phuket is the largest island in Thailand and it offers a bit of everything that makes this country so special. The many beautiful beaches on Phuket’s coastline are the main draw, but there are also temples, viewpoints, cities and nightlife to explore.
Beaches: Phuket has over 30 beaches that range from busy and lively to quiet and secluded. Patong, Karon, Kata, Bang Tao, Surin and Kamala are among the best beaches in Phuket.
Big Buddha: The giant white Buddha sits on top of a hill and can be seen from all over the island. After climbing the steep stairs, you’re rewarded with a stunning view.
Old Town Phuket: The charming old town streets are lined with colorful Sino-Portuguese buildings that house an array of shops and restaurants.
Wat Chalong: The largest Buddhist temple in Phuket holds golden statues, paintings and illustrations all over the walls and ceilings.
Phuket FantaSea and Carnival Magic: These two nighttime cultural theme parks have fun for all ages with colorful shows, amusements and food. If you have kids, we highly recommend taking them to one or both of these spectacular shows! We don’t have kids but we went to Carnival Magic and were amazed by the parade and millions of lights.
Patong: Aside from the busy beach, the town of Patong is also known for shopping and nightlife. Bangla Road Walking Street is the place to go after dark for nightlife and people-watching.
Andamanda Water Park: This is one of the best water parks we’ve been to on our travels. It is 100,000 square meters of pools, slides and lazy rivers plus a beach with a wave pool, swim-up bars and a food village with international options.
Karon Viewpoint: This scenic spot displays panoramic views of the Bay of Kata, Kata Noi and Karon Beach.
Phuket tip: Get great discounts with the Phuket TAGTHAi Pass
Click here to see how we spent 3-days in Phuket
Koh Lanta Highlights
Koh Lanta, in Krabi province, is the quietest island on our Southern Thailand itinerary and we love it for exactly that reason. The lack of massive resorts, shopping malls and dusk till dawn nightlife combined with the abundance of quiet beaches, family-run restaurants and casual beach and reggae bars make it our favorite place for a relaxed getaway.
Beaches: It’s easy to find a quiet place on an idyllic beach in Koh Lanta. Some favorites are Klong Nin, Long Beach (Pra-Ae) Klong Khong and Relax Bay.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving: Koh Lanta is an ideal base for snorkeling and scuba diving excursions.
Island Hopping: The most popular day trip from Koh Lanta is the 4-Island Boat Tour, which includes a stop at the Emerald Cave.
Koh Lanta Old Town: A small seaside town where Thai-Chinese families live in old wooden houses.
Sunsets: Koh Lanta may be the best place in Thailand to view a stunning sunset. We stayed near Long Beach for 7 nights and saw an incredible light and color show every night.
Ao Nang, Krabi Highlights
Krabi Province is our favorite region on a southern Thailand itinerary as it includes some of the most spectacular coastal scenery and islands. The lively beach town of Ao Nang is a perfect base to explore and enjoy all that Krabi has to offer as it’s a departure point for boats heading out for day trips and excursions.
Island and Beach Hopping
Railay Beach: This is where you’ll find stunningly beautiful beaches backed by the iconic limestone karsts and cliffs popular with rock climbers. Although it is not an island, you can only get there by boat. Longtail boats depart from Ao Nang all day and have you there in 15 minutes.
Koh Hong: This lovely island is in the Than Bok Khorani National Park, so it offers unspoiled protected beaches and coves, plus a perfect turquoise lagoon.
Bars and Restaurants: You won’t find the wild nightlife of Bangkok and Patong here but Ao Nang has a wide array of eating and drinking establishments, often with live music.
Krabi Town: Less touristy than Ao Nang, Krabi Town is surrounded by mangrove forests and swamps and has a more authentic feel with simple cafes and shops. It also has a good weekend night market.
Tiger Cave Temple: Sitting at the top of 1,247 steps, this temple displays a golden Buddha and gorgeous views. It is a famous meditation center for monks from all over Thailand.
Khao Sok National Park Highlights
A visit to Khao Sok National Park is an absolute must for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers on any Thailand itinerary. The protected area covers 280 square miles and contains rainforests filled with wildlife, miles of hiking trails, a gorgeous lake, incredible rock formations and an array of caves and waterfalls.
Kayaking: Lake Cheow Lan is perfect for kayaking or canoeing and it’s a great way to enjoy the peaceful beauty of the park.
Longtail Boat Tours: The lake is huge and the best way to experience its vastness and incredible beauty is on a traditional longtail boat with a guide who knows the best spots.
Wildlife Spotting: Khao Sok National Park is also a wildlife reserve where you may see tapirs, deer, buffalo, monkeys, toucans, hornbills, elephants and wild boar.
Glamping: Staying in one of the floating bungalows is the best way to fully experience the natural beauty of Khao Sok National Park. We stayed at 500 Rai Floating Resort and it was amazing. It is now among our top experiences in all our travels and we highly recommend booking a couple of nights there.
Jungle Trekking: The many hiking trails around Khao Sok will lead you to amazing viewpoints, beautiful waterfalls and limestone caves. It is best to go with a guide, as the forest can be dense and trails are not always clearly marked.
Koh Phangan Highlights
You may only think of Koh Phangan as a party island but there are so many other reasons to visit this little slice of paradise. Here you’ll find pristine beaches, cascading waterfalls, hiking trails, adventure and water activities and yes, wild parties.
Full Moon Parties: Haad Rin on Koh Phangan has long been known for its all-night full moon parties. But now there are also half-moon and black-moon parties, so your chances are good of being able to attend one.
Trekking: There are plenty of trails on the island, especially near the eastern coastline. One of the best hikes for views is Khao Ra, the tallest point on the island. Another top trek is the trail to Bottle Beach.
Koh Nang Yuan Island: A trip to this lovely island is a must when visiting Koh Phangan. You’ll find great snorkeling and indescribable viewpoints.
Thong Sala Night Market: This market is open every evening and is overflowing with stalls serving up delicious food, lovely crafts and souvenirs.
Koh Samui Highlights
As the second largest island in Thailand (behind Phuket) there is plenty to do on Koh Samui. Of course, there are gorgeous beaches but there are also cute towns, temples, markets, shopping and a National Park.
Beaches: Koh Samui has plenty of beautiful beaches. Chaweng Beach is the biggest but also the busiest. Lamai Beach is just slightly smaller than Chaweng but much quieter. Bohput Beach is a great location near Fisherman’s Village. Silver Beach is small but well worth visiting.
Big Buddha Temple: There are many temples and shrines on the island but the most visited is Wat Phra Yai, home to the Big Buddha. The huge golden statue can even be seen from the air as you fly over Koh Samui.
Fisherman’s Village: Though no longer a true fisherman’s village you will find great seafood, cute shops and a fun night market on Fridays.
Hin Ta and Hin Yai: These unique rock formations are said to look like male and female genitalia and are named Ta (Grandpa) and Yai (Grandma). Legend says an old couple dies at sea and turned into rocks.
Chaweng Ladyboy Show: Going to a Ladyboy cabaret show is a popular thing to do all over Thailand and Chaweng Beach has a great one.
Koh Phi Phi Highlights
Koh Phi Phi is a six-island archipelago, with Phi Phi Don being the only one that is inhabited. Despite its small size of about 10 square kilometers, there are plenty of restaurants, bars and accommodations. Most people go to Koh Phi Phi Don for the beaches and parties.
Tonsai Village: This is the place to go for shopping. There are a few streets and alleyways of shops as well as a decent-sized market.
Island Hopping: Hop on a longtail boat and explore the nearby islands of Koh Phi Phi Leh, Mosquito Island and Bamboo Island
Party Scene: From daytime pool parties to all-night dancing at beach clubs and rock bars there is something for every type of partier.
Koh Phi Phi Viewpoint: Start from Loh Dalum Beach and hike up to the three viewpoints with stunning vistas of the island and beyond.
Beaches: There are several beaches to enjoy on this tiny island. The most well-known is Tonsai Bay, where the longtail boats arrive. Not far from there is the nicer Loh Dalum Beach with a long stretch of white sand. Long Beach is a good option for a quieter experience.
Maya Beach: This is the famous site of the movie “The Beach” and it is located on Koh Phi Phi Leh and accessible by longtail boat from Phi Phi Don.
This is one of the top spots in Thailand for scuba diving, so if you’re a diver, you may want to spend more time here. If diving is not your thing Koh Tao is a great place to relax on the beach or enjoy watersports.
Beaches: Once again, there are plenty of beautiful beaches to enjoy on Koh Tao. Sairee Beach is the largest and most lively, with great beach bars and good hostels nearby. Sai Nuan and Freedom Beach are good quieter choices. Tanote Beach has fabulous snorkeling and cliff jumping.
Scuba Diving: Not only is Koh Tao the place to go for scuba diving, but it’s also one of the best places in the world to get your open water certification. In other words, Koh Tao is great for both experienced and beginner divers.
Viewpoints: Hiking to spectacular viewpoints is another highlight of Koh Tao. John-Suwan Viewpoint and Mango Viewpoint are all well worth the hike. Love Koh Tao Viewpoint is accessible by scooter if you don’t want to hike. Note: Many of the viewpoints have a small entrance fee.
Top Tips for an Epic Southern Thailand Itinerary
- Take advantage of great savings by using a TAGTHAi Pass in Bangkok or Phuket. We used the 3-day pass in Phuket and the 1-day in Bangkok and found them both to be well worthwhile.
- Some legs of these Thailand itineraries are best done by flying and we highly recommend Air Asia. We took 4 flights with Air Asia and every one was on time and the staff was consistently fabulous (not an easy thing to say these days).
- Although tickets for the ferries and buses can be purchased last minute, we do not advise doing that, especially in high season. We always booked in advance using Bookaway or 12Go.
- When looking for accommodation in Asia we always use Agoda. We have experimented with using different booking sites but for Asia, Agoda consistently had the best selection and the best prices.
- Any of our suggested itineraries can be easily modified to suit your needs:
- If you don’t enjoy big cities, you can skip the extra days in Bangkok (although we really recommend at least a couple of days in this incredible city).
- If you’d rather not hop around as much consider using Phuket and Ao Nang as bases for doing day trips to other islands. There are lots of tours departing from both of these spots that will get you back to your base every night.
- You can quite easily reverse or mix up the order of destinations on these Thailand itineraries.
- Southern Thailand is a year-round destination. However, the most comfortable weather is November-February (understandably, this is also the busiest and most expensive time). If you go outside of this peak season you may need to adjust your itinerary as the islands do have a different wet and dry season depending on which coast.
If you use any of these Thailand itineraries we’d love to hear your thoughts!
Born in England, Sarah developed her wanderlust at a young age as she traveled around Europe with her parents. As a young adult she spent every penny she could on experiences as opposed to possessions. Eventually she found a way to earn a living doing what she loved: traveling, writing and capturing images of the wondrous world we live in. When not on the go Sarah enjoys time in her “sometimes home” of Vancouver.