It’s not a secret that I love Thailand. It’s the first place I travelled alone, the first place realized how much fun backpacking could be, and the first place I thought of when I decided to teach English abroad for a year. Thailand is an amazing place for both first-time travelers and experienced backpackers. You could vary this itinerary around to suit your own needs, and length of time spent in Thailand, but here is my guide on how to get the most out of the country in a month. You could also vary this itinerary by going North first, and then heading down to the Southern islands.
Land In Bangkok
Once you touch down at the airport, you can head to Khao San Road, the backpackers mecca of Thailand. It’s crazy and hectic, and a perfect place to meet other backpackers if you are traveling alone.
You can pick up some of the funky clothes and jewelry from the street stalls, get your first Thai massage, or take a day trip to see the beautiful Wat Arun or The Grand Palace. Use this time in Bangkok to adjust your destination, try out some of the local food, and recover from jet lag. If you are there over the weekend, Chatuchak Market has some great finds.
About a 3 hour bus ride away lies Kanchanaburi. There is not much to do here except explore the beautiful Erawan National Park. See if you can make it up all 7 tiers, and then take a dip in the last waterfall!
From Kanchanaburi, the most expedient way to get to Krabi is to head back to Bangkok and either take the overnight train or to fly to the Krabi Town Airport. If you are a masochist (like myself) you can take the local bus to Prachuap Khiri Khan, which is the halfway point between the two. Spend the night there, then take the bus to Krabi the next day.
Krabi is so incredible- I wrote an entire post on things to do there, which you can check out here. I would definitely recommend visiting the Blue Pool, braving the hike up Tiger Temple, and taking a long-tail boat over to Railay Beach.
Koh Phi Phi
From Krabi, it’s a 2 hour ferry-boat ride to the island of Koh Phi Phi. I love Koh Phi Phi. It has such a crazy, youthful vibe and it is so fun to spend the night drinking and dancing on the beach under the stars. During the daytime, you can take a boat the infamous Maya Beach, where ‘The Beach’ was filmed, or just laze around in the sun with the other beach dwellers.
When nighttime finally arrives, things turn a bit wild on Koh Phi Phi, and people start bringing out the whisky buckets and neon paint. My advice would be to watch the beach fire shows, but don’t participate in the fire jump-ropes if you are not prepared to get burned.
Full Moon Party & Koh Phangan
Head over to Koh Phangan for the largest Full Moon Party in the world. You can take about a six-hour bus/ferry combo ride, or another option would be to fly from the Krabi Airport to nearby Koh Samui. From Koh Samui, it’s a short boat ride to Koh Phangan. Many people actually sleep on Koh Samui and take the boat over just for Full Moon Party,
The Full Moon Party is huge, wild and disorienting. It definitely wasn’t the most fun I have ever had because I felt a tad overwhelmed, but I am happy I got to check it off my bucket list. Most hostels and hotels have a minimum amount of days you can book during Full Moon Party times, and prices shoot up. There are also parties leading up to Full Moon the days before that are almost just as crazy. Pace yourself, if you can.
If you’re exhausted from partying and want to take a break, Koh Tao is a great place to relax. The snorkeling here is rated some of the best, and there are many dive schools.
From Koh Tao, go back to the mainland and fly from the Surat Thani airport to the beautiful city of Chiang Mai. I lived in Chiang Mai for one year, and obviously think months could be spent unraveling all of the cities wonders. However, if you have only a couple of days, I would make sure to tour the temples in Old City, check out a responsible elephant park like the Elephant Nature Park and hike up Doi Suthep. You can also check out my list of things to do in Chiang Mai here.
Take a winding bus up through the mountain paths and stop off at the lovely little town of Pai. The journey there is a bit intense- one girl barfed in the mini van next to me- but it’s worth it! This little hippie commune is laden with reggae bars, vegan cafes, and is surrounded by magnificent nature. There are some excellent yoga classes and cooking courses advertised.
If you haven’t driven a motorbike before, Pai is a great place to learn. Rent one for the day and visit the various waterfalls, the Pai Canyon, or the strawberry fields.
Chiang Rai isn’t too exciting, but the temples here are magnificent. The main sights here are the beautiful White Temple and Black House. You can read more about them here.
On your way back down to Bangkok, stop off at the former Thai capital. You can wander through the old ruins and climb magnificent temples.
If you want to spend longer then a month in Thailand, there are many more spots to see, and obviously this itinerary can be varied based on what interests you can how long you care to spend in each place.
What are your favorite places in Thailand? Comment below.