Bangkok – Kanchannaburi – Ayutthaya – Chiang Mai – Chiang Rai
Thailand is a stunningly beautiful place to visit, and the people are friendly and welcoming. The country has something to offer for many different types of travellers; luxury, adventure, culture, spiritual, architecture, nature, food, history, parties, beaches, shopping, and more.
Here’s a sample 15-day itinerary for travel in Thailand. This is based on the Thai section of my longer 9-week southeast Asia trip that I took in 2017, which was informed by a prior trip to Thailand in 2002 and my usual pre-trip (obsession phase!) research that I enjoy to help me build an itinerary.
This sample itinerary is a middle of the road option in terms of expense; somewhere between budget backpacker hostels and high-end luxury. I’ve included notes on where we stayed and what we visited, and in a few places suggested adjustments to my own itinerary to note what I didn’t see but would like to add if I were to go back again.
- Flight from home: travel time from Montreal Canada was approximately 30 hours with layover in Frankfurt (thank goodness for the Aeroplan points booking which had us flying in lie-flat business class seats!).
- Day 1 Bangkok: First day in country to get oriented, recover from flight, pick up a local SIM (with data) for your phone to use maps, Grab/Uber, etc. If you are not too tired from the flight and want to take in a few small temples, consider it, but don’t take too much time on this because there are so many great temples you are going to see over the whole trip, and spending too much time in the small modern ones will feel like a waste of time (tuktuk drivers will want to take you to every one of them on practically every corner; resist if you can). After you unpack and rest, go for a tuktuk ride around, visit the night market, eat some street food, and grab your first massage of the trip (I recommend you take the opportunity for massage whenever possible). Recommended place to stay in Bangkok: Ibis Bangkok Riverside 27 Soi Chanraonnakhon, Banglamphulagn, Klongsarn Bangkok 10600 phone: +6625592828 .
- Day 2 Bangkok: River tourist boat hop-on-off (river taxi is also a super cheap way to get around the city); visit Grand Palace, Wat Arun, Wat Pra (reclining Buddha). Dinner out and about in Bangkok, there is no lack of options.
- Day 3 Bangkok: Floating market tour (this is ok, but can feel very touristy). If you are there on a weekend and like to shop, the Chatouchak weekend market is big and has lots of variety of stuff from junk to art (allow a few hours if you like shopping at markets; go early in the day; closes around 5pm). Try some street food for dinner.
- Day 4 Kanchanaburi: Checkout of Bangkok hotel and transfer to bus terminal. Bus to Kanchanaburi is 2.5 hours west of Bangkok. Check in and take some relaxing time wandering the city in Kanchanaburi. Recommended place to stay: Royal River Kwai Resort & Spa, 88 Moo 2 Kaeng Sien, Amphur Muang, Kanchanaburi 7100 phone +6634670621
- Day 5 Kanchanaburi: Indulge in a spa day, more Thai massage, relax and savour the beauty of the resort grounds.
- Day 6 Kanchanaburi: National park, waterfall, caves, hot spring, war museum, death railway bridge (I recommend the train tour), Hell’s Pass, Bridge Over River Kwai.
- Day 7 Ayutthaya: Check out of Kanchanaburi hotel and transfer to bus terminal. Bus to Ayutthaya is 2.5 hours east of Kanchanaburi. Ayutthaya Historical Park. Recommended place to stay: Jutharat Home, 2/12 Bang Ian Road Soi 1/Pha Thon Road Soi 2 .
- Day 8 Ayutthaya: Bicycling around Ayutthaya (Jutharat Home has bikes for guests and it’s a great way to get around the town). Take your time visiting the temples and ruins. There is tons of photographic inspiration here. Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, Wat Pra Mahathat, Wat Lokaya Sutha (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), Wat Yai Chai Mang Khon.
Note: If you have time, I would recommend taking a few days to also visit Sukhothai after Ayutthaya. I didn’t do this on my trip due to time constraints, but would like to do this if I visit Thailand again. The route from Ayutthaya can be done by train (about a 6 and half hour ride), which is very popular. Given the chance, if I could do it over again, I would skip or reduce Chaing Mai to add Sukhothai.
- Day 9 Chiang Mai: Train to from Ayutthaya to Bangkok Don Mueng airport, then flight to Chaing Mai. If your time is limited, I would recommend not too much time in Chiang Mai, or even skipping it in favour of Chiang Rai, which was less frantic and had more charm. Recommended place to stay near Chiang Mai: Marndadee Heritage River Village 9 Moo 1, T Kuamung, Saraphi, Chiang Mai, 50140 Thailand Tel: 66 (53) 103703, Fax: 66 (53) 103701. Marndadee is actually in Saraphi, not right in Chiang Mai, so it’s a bit away from the town. The hotel was beautiful and is on the river, so has more charm than those in the busy town of Chiang Mai.
- Day 10 Chiang Mai: Wandering, exploring, street food, Wat pra sing, weekend street market.
- Day 11 Chiang Mai: Hot springs, kantoke dinner show (dinner show was nice and the food was good).
- Day 12 Chiang Rai: Check out Chiang Mai and transfer to Chiang Rai (bus is about 3 and a half hours), night market, downtown. Recommended place to stay in Chiang Rai: NaNa Doo Homestay Guesthouse, 291/3 Moo 3, Rimkok, Chiang Rai 57100 Thailand.
- Day 13 Chiang Rai: Rent scooters to ride around; visit White Temple (Wat Rong Khun), Blue Temple, Black House (Baan Dam Museum). The White Temple, though modern, is a must-see and very unique. The Blue temple was also very nice and peaceful. The Black House had interesting art installations all around the property and Asian house architecture.
- Day 14 Chiang Rai: The Chinese Temple is very nice and a different style from others typically seen in Thailand; Singha park (the park can be skipped if you are short on time; it was just ok).
- Day 15 Check out and transfer onward. If you only have two weeks, then day 15 would be to transfer back to fly home out of Bangkok. Our own trip took us next to Laos by bus (stay tuned for a future post about that!).
This particular trip didn’t include any of the islands or beautiful beach locations, but if you have the time, I highly recommend taking the time to visit those as well.
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