Your Ultimate 3-week Thailand Itinerary | The best places to visit

This is your Ultimate 3-week Thailand Itinerary including the best places to visit in Thailand

This 3-week Thailand itinerary promises an immersive journey through the best of Thailand. Of course, it includes the best places to visit in Thailand, from the vibrant city life of Bangkok to the tropical paradises of Koh Samui and Koh Tao. Furthermore, you can find the most beautiful nature in Khao Sok and the serene mountain escapes of Chiang Mai and Pai. Moreover, each destination offers a unique blend of cultural experiences and natural wonders combined with lovely food. Therefore, Thailand will leave you with a bag full of unforgettable adventures. Start packing your bags and get ready to explore the best places to visit in the Land of Smiles. 

How many days in Thailand?

Determining the ideal duration for your Thai adventure depends on your preferences, your time available and the level of relaxation you want to achieve. For an immersive journey, a 3-week Thailand itinerary offers a well-rounded exploration of Thailand’s diverse landscapes and cultural gems. This timeframe allows you to experience a mix of activities and destinations, such as the metropolis of Bangkok and the culture in Chiang Mai. Further combined with natural beauty in Pai and Khao Sok and unwind in Koh Samui and Koh Tao, while travelling at a relaxed pace.

If time is more limited, a 2-week itinerary can be tailored to focus on specific regions, such as exploring the cultural north and indulging in island retreats. In that case, I would advise combining one island with a quick visit to Bangkok and the North of Thailand. However, in my opinion, Khao Sok is the best place to visit in Thailand, which might be difficult to squeeze in.

On the other hand, for those with an extended vacation, a 4-week itinerary provides the opportunity to add more destinations to your travel route. In that case, you can visit the islands on both sides of Thailand (add for example Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta). Alternatively, you can add cultural destinations. Lastly, you can slow down and stay at the different beaches or in Pai for a longer period. 

Best Time to travel to Thailand

While Thailand’s high season and dry period typically span from November to February. This timeframe provides pleasant weather and ideal conditions for most regions, the best time to visit varies depending on the chosen destinations.

What I didn’t know before my visit to Thailand was that not all regions are best to visit between November and February. While the best time to visit Chiang Mai and Pai is between December and March, the southern islands like Koh Samui and Koh Tao are best to visit between January/February and April. If you plan to visit Khao Sok, the drier months from December to April are recommended. For the best overall experience, I would advise you to travel to Thailand between mid-December and March.

Just to let you know, the monsoon season, occurring from May to October, may bring heavy rains, particularly in the southern regions.

A 3-week Thailand Itinerary - Summary

Hike to Sui Nuan Beach 1 and 2 on Koh Tao

3-week Thailand Travel Route

– Travel Time – 

1. Bangkok (3 nights) 

2. Chiang Mai (3 nights)

3. Pai (4 nights) 

4. Khao Sok (3 nights) 

5. Koh Samui (3 nights)

6. Koh Tao (4 nights)

7. Bangkok (1 night) 

– Travel Time – 

Your day to day 3-week Thailand travel plan

|| Explore the capital of Thailand: Bangkok (3 nights)

During my last Thailand trip, I decided to skip Bangkok. However, you can’t miss out on Bangkok when you are a first-timer in Thailand. First of all, when in Bangkok you shouldn’t miss out on the famous temples Wat Pho and Wat Arun. Also, the Royal Palace is home to rich culture and abundant golden temples. Furthermore, a great way to explore Bangkok is with a biking tour by Ko van Kessel. Of course, if you want to experience backpacker madness in Thailand, you can’t miss out on the famous Koh San Road. Also, visit one of the famous rooftop bars to admire Bangkok from above. Lastly,  a floating market, such as Amphawa, is a great addition to your visit to Bangkok. 

Where to stay in Bangkok:
Noursabah Boutique Bed Bangkok (€45)
The Yard Bangkok Hostel (€12 for a dorm, €35 for a private room)
Hansa Bangkok House (€30)
CHERN Bangkok (€40)
Here Hostel Bangkok (€11 – €30)

Your ultimate 3-week Thailand Itinerary, Bangkok
Bangkok Thailand Route, 3-week Itinerary
Bangkok Thailand Route, 3-week Itinerary
Bangkok Thailand Route, 3-week Itinerary

|| Head to northern Thailand: Chiang Mai (3 nights)

From Bangkok, you can either fly to Chiang Mai or take a night train. If you are keen on taking the night train, make sure to book your tickets early on. Chiang Mai is the largest city in the North of Thailand and offers a great combination of nature and culture. Top things to do are for example to explore the Old Town or visit one of the night markets or the Night Bazaar. Also, you should enjoy a cup of coffee or a cocktail in the popular Nimman neighbourhood. Next to that, you can’t miss out on the famous temples within Chiang Mai, such as Doi Suthep, Wat Pra Sing and Wat Chedi Luang. However, my personal favourite was Wat Pha Lat, which can be reached by hiking the famous Monk’s trail. 

Also, there are spectacular day trips available from Chiang Mai, such as a visit to the Sticky Waterfalls, Doi Inthanon or Chiang RaiLastly, Chiang Mai is the perfect location to indulge in the local culture. For example, enjoy local food such as Khao Soi, relaxing with a Thai Massage and trying a Muay Thai Class.

To learn all about Chiang Mai, don’t forget to check out my complete Chiang Mai Travel Guide.

Where to stay in Chiang Mai:
Samantan Hotel at Nimman (€32)
Hostel One Art and Gallery (€42)
Chada Mantra Hotel (€35)
Le Canal Boutique House (€30)
Somwang Boutique Hotel (€40)

Monk's Trail to Wat Pha Lat in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Doi Suthep, The largest temple in Chiang Mai, Travel Guide
Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, Chiang Mai Travel Guide
Temples in Chiang Mai Old Town, Thailand Travel Guide, 3-week Thailand Itinerary

|| Laid back vibes and Lush nature in Pai (4 nights)

Pai was one of my favourite places in Thailand, and I know for a fact I’m not alone in that opinion. This beautiful laid-back town in the north of Thailand offers a wide range of activities, a set of great restaurants and bars. Due to the great vibe, I recommend staying in Pai for 4 nights, so you have enough time for a set of day trips. When heading from Chiang Mai to Pai, you can either rent a motorbike and drive yourself or take a shared van (3-hour drive).

Firstly, you can’t miss out on a visit to the Bamboo Bridge, Santichon Village and the Yun Lai Viewpoint. Furthermore, the White Buddha near Pai is an easy attraction to visit. Next to that, you must watch the sunset at the Pai Canyon and/or Two Huts during your stay. Lastly, there are some great activities to further explore Pai’s beautiful nature, such as a visit to the Nam Lod Cave or the Mae Yen Waterfall. 

Moreover, you have to visit Pai’s night market, head for a lovely brunch at Bom Bowls or OM Garden and step your foot into the nightlife at for example Jazz House or Music.Bros Bar.

For a complete overview of the best things to do in Pai, check out my Pai Travel Guide here.

The best places to stay in Pai:
The Countryside Resort (€15)
Country Hut (€15)
Pai Village Boutique Resort (€75)
Society House Luxury Hostel (€10) 

Sunset Pai Canyon, North Thailand
Pai Bamboo Bridge, North of Thailand, Travel Guide
Pai Walking Street, Food Market in Pai
Yun Lai Viewpoint, views over Pai and Northern Thailand

|| My favourite place in Thailand: Khao Sok (3 nights)

After Pai, you’ll have to travel a bit longer to get to your next destination. However, it’s more than worth it! From Pai, head back to Chiang Mai and take a flight to Surat Thani. From the airport, it is a 1.5-hour drive to Khao Sok village. Upon your arrival in Khao Sok, book the overnight lake tour starting the next day. In my opinion, this overnight lake tour in Khao Sok was the most beautiful and impressive experience during my time in Thailand. 

Check out my Khao Sok Travel Guide to learn all about the overnight lake tour and the best restaurants in Khao Sok.

The best places to stay in Khao Sok:
Tree Tops River Huts (€30)
Khao Sok Palmview Resort (€17)
Mulalee Khao Sok Resort (€70)
Tanoshi Glamping (€90)
Coco Hostel (€8)

Khao Sok Lake, Overnight Bungalows, 3-week Thailand Itinerary
Khao Sok Overnight Lake Tour
Sunrise in Khao Sok during the lake tour
Khao Sok Travel Guide, The Best Things to Do

|| Relax on the islands: koh Samui (3 nights)

After Khao Sok, it is time to head to the beautiful Thai islands to end your 3-week Thailand Itinerary with some well-deserved beach time. I choose to travel to the islands in the east of the country, where you can combine Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. Alternatively, you can choose to visit the western islands such as Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta including a visit to Krabi. 

However, I liked the mix of the eastern islands better and this also matched my Muay Thai adventure as there are plenty of Muay Thai schools on Koh Samui. When in Koh Samui, you can visit some lovely temples such as Wat Pai Laem, visit the beautiful beaches on the island and visit the Overlap Stone and Na Muang Waterfall.

For an overview of the best things to do in Koh Samui, including the best bars and restaurants, check out my Koh Samui Travel Guide. 

Best places to stay in Koh Samui:
The Rock Samui (€80)
Mantra Samui Resort (€80)
Lipa Lodge Beach Resort (€60)
The Nest Samui (€40)
New Hut Bungalow (€15).

Wat Plai Laem, The best things to do on Koh Samui, 3-week Thailand Itinerary
Chengmon Beach, the best beaches in Koh Samui
Big Buddha, Wat Phra Yai in Koh Samui, the best things to do
Big Buddha, Wat Phra Yai in Koh Samui, the best things to do, 3-week Thailand Itinerary

|| Escape to paradise: Koh Tao (4 nights)

Your final destination during your 3-week Thailand Itinerary is Koh Tao, a smaller idyllic island, perfect for diving. You can reach Koh Tao by boat (1,5 hours) from Koh Samui. When in Koh Tao, you can’t miss out on a short visit to Koh Nang Yuan to visit the viewpoint. Also, there are plenty of hidden and local beaches on Koh Tao, that you’ll pass when hiking the coastline. Lastly, you can’t miss out on visiting John Suwan Viewpoint. 

Furthermore, when staying near Sairee Beach there are plenty of remarkable food options, such as Cactus Cafe, 995 Roasted Duck and The Factory Cafe. 

Everything you need to know about your visit to Koh Tao, including the best things to do as well as the best restaurants, can be found in my Koh Tao travel guide. 

The best places to stay in Koh Tao:
Ava Resort (€60 for 2 persons)
Aiya Resort (€35 for 2 persons)
Savage Hostel (€15 for 1 person)
Koh Tao Heritage (€30 for 2 persons)
Dearly Koh Tao Hostel (€15 for 1 person)
The Fisherman’s Village (€175 for 4 persons)

Jansom Bay, Hiking Koh Tao
Cactus Cafe, Best places for Brunch, Breakfast and Lunch on Koh Tao
Hike to Sui Nuan Beach 1 and 2 on Koh Tao
John Suwan Viewpoint, Best things to do in Koh Tao

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