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3 Week Thailand Itinerary: Tips for Planning a Trip to Thailand

This 3 week Thailand itinerary is the only Thailand trip planner you need for an unforgettable vacation. If you plan a trip to Thailand, you’re probably overwhelmed figuring out the cost to travel to Thailand and what to see while backpacking Thailand. 3 weeks in Thailand is a short time to cover such an incredible country. But this Thailand itinerary will help you plan the perfect Thailand backpacking route!

Thailand Itinerary 3 Weeks

Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?

The Insurance companies I recommend are Hey Mondo and Safety Wing

Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single-trip cover, annual multi-trip cover, and long-term travel cover. Safety Wing is great value, with monthly coverage starting at $45.08. It’s super easy to use, and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.

Read my full travel insurance post here, where I go into detail about all companies. 

Days 1-2: Bangkok

Bangkok is crazy—the city can be overwhelming if it’s your first time backpacking in Thailand! I suggest kicking off your Thailand itinerary with one or two days in Bangkok, though you should return at the end of your trip to explore more.

I was too jet-lagged and culture-shocked to fully appreciate it on my first attempt at planning a trip to Thailand. I have a Bangkok Thailand trip planner you can read here and a detailed Bangkok itinerary here.

Where to Stay

The Yard: I cannot recommend this place enough! It is fantastic, and the people who run it are incredible—at the end of your stay, you will be sad to leave and eager to return. Pre-book your accommodations, as the last thing you’ll want to do once arriving in Thailand is search for somewhere to stay.

Adventures in Asia | 3 week Thailand Itinerary | Backpacking in Thailand Guide


After landing in Bangkok, we got a taxi, as we were too tired to attempt to navigate public transport. Getting a cab is easy—go up to the correct level, purchase a ticket, and head to the bay number. They will tell you the cost before traveling.

If you decide to stay at The Yard, take the sky train. There is one change, and it’s a 5-10 minute walk from the station.

Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours, and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress. 
Best Thailand ToursClick here to check out the top Thailand tours
Best Thailand Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in Thailand
Best Thailand Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in Thailand

3 weeks in Thailand – Day 3: Ayutthaya

You don’t need more than a day to explore the temples in Ayutthaya. I recommend traveling there around lunchtime. Give yourself several hours to rent a bike (about 100 THB), eat dinner, and take the night sleeper train to Chiang Mai.

If you aren’t planning on staying overnight in Ayutthaya, you must store your bags somewhere. There are three options:

  • Take your bag with you (no thanks)
  • Pay for a hotel in Ayutthaya to leave it there, take a nap, and shower before the night train
  • Pay a few THB to store it at the train station in Ayutthaya

We chose to store our backpacks at the train station in Ayutthaya and had no issues with baggage security, but ensure your belongings are locked up.

Planning a trip to Thailand and want the perfect Thailand backpacking route companion? I highly recommend investing in one (or all) of these books:


There are several options to travel from Bangkok to Ayutthaya:

  • Train
  • Bus
  • Taxi

We were hungover (cheers Koh San Road) and tired, so we got a taxi for 1000 THB, which we were happy to pay.

You can now book your transport in Thailand online (yay)! Read this post for more information about booking transportation in South East Asia.

Days 4-6: Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand

From Ayutthaya, head to Chiang Mai on a sleeper train—it’s cheap and quite the experience.

Fresh off the sleeper train, we dropped our bags at our hostel and explored the city on bikes. We then spent two days hiking mountains. There are many outdoor activity options in the Chiang Mai area, from hiking to whitewater rafting among elephants and everything in between!

I feel like Chiang Mai passed us by because we didn’t have much time to explore all the highlights people told us about. I didn’t have time to go to Pai, and I wasn’t blown away by any places we stayed. I suggest spending 4-6 days here without pre-booking accommodations so you can be spontaneous.

Ensure you book a cookery class in Chiang Mai, visit Pai, and shop at the market—I didn’t, and I still regret it!

Chiang Mai Thailand - 3 week Thailand Itinerary


From Bangkok, you can travel by day or night train or bus or fly from Bangkok to Chiang Mai with Air Asia or Thai Airways. The flights are very cheap, especially if you book in advance. Treat yourself to an upgrade and fly business class with Thai Airways!

Once arriving in Chiang Mai early in the morning, you’ll encounter a crowd of shouting tuk-tuk and taxi drivers. Check your bags at the train station and grab a map from the tourist info desk. Walk to the closest café for breakfast and plan your next move so the crowds die down. Once refreshed, head into town to find a nice place to stay and return for your bags.

Where to Stay

We stayed in two places—while they were okay, I don’t recommend either, as they were far from town with mediocre staff.

Need Transport in Thailand?

I’m a big fan of using when booking transportation in Thailand. I wrote a whole blog post about using them that you can read here. It makes the entire booking process so much easier, plus they have 24/7 support in case you need it!

Day 7: Phuket (or Krabi)

This was a transit day for us, as we quickly stopped by before heading out to the islands. However, there are many fun things to do in Phuket. We paid for a fancy hotel suite and lazed by the pool all day, recovering from our mountain trek and early morning flight. If you only have time for a Thailand 7 day itinerary, return to Bangkok and fly home. Otherwise, continue for the rest of this Thailand itinerary 3 weeks.

Where to Stay

We stayed at The Village Resort and Spa in Karon Beach, which cost 14,000 THB for the two of us for one night (expensive in Thailand). However, it was worth it, and it was the only time we splashed out on accommodations the entire trip. It had a pool bar, a breakfast buffet, and the biggest bed I have ever seen!

Adventures in Asia | 3 week Thailand Itinerary | Backpacking in Thailand Guide


We flew from Chiang Mai to Phuket with Air Asia—I don’t recommend an early morning flight. We struggled to find a taxi to pick us up at 4:30 a.m. for our 6:00 a.m. flight! Instead, pay extra to fly in the afternoon.

You should also book your flight before you get to Thailand because the earlier you book, the cheaper it will be. You must fix the date you leave, but this will save you an entire day of travel on a train or bus. My flight was about £30.

Top Tip: If you need transfers between airports and boats, pre-book a car online or via a travel agent to save a few hundred tbt.

If you aren’t interested in seeing Phuket, fly to Krabi instead.

Days 8–10: Koh Yao Noi

I highly recommend visiting one (or both) of the Koh Yao Islands. We spent three nights at a fantastic yoga retreat, but you could also stay at a local resort. Hire a bike or scooter to explore and take a boat trip during your days there.

Where to Stay

Island Yoga: The cost includes accommodations, breakfast (my favorite in Thailand), morning Thai Chi, and two daily yoga classes a day. The rest of your time there is free to explore and hang out with fellow travelers. I wish we could have stayed longer!



From Phuket, you must go to Bang Rong Pier and board a long or speed boat to the Koh Yao Islands.

Days 11-14: Ko Jum and Koh Lanta

I spent two days on Ko Jum, but if I returned, I would spend one day on Jum and three on Koh Lanta. Hire scooters, explore the islands, visit the best beaches in Thailand, and dine on fantastic food. You can also take many boat trips to other Thai destinations.

Koh Lanta Thailand

Where to Stay

I stayed at Jungle Hill Beach Bungalow, a good basic option with a nice place to eat and stunning views. The beach there was rocky, but we walked down the road to a nearby beach. Ko Jum is small, so there aren’t many places to stay.


The only way to get to Ko Jum from Koh Yao Noi is via Krabi unless you want to hire a private boat, which is expensive. I traveled from Koh Yao Noi to Krabi by taking a taxi to the pier for the 11 a.m. boat to Koh Jum and Koh Lanta. Keep your wits about you—our driver tried to drive us to Koh Lanta!

Purchase a return ticket if you plan on going to Koh Lanta from Jum. If you don’t have your ticket, it costs double to buy it on the boat (I found this out the hard way). There is only one daily boat, so don’t be late!

Days 15-16: Krabi Town

I don’t recommend spending more than two days in Krabi if you take day trips from Jum or Lanta. We stayed somewhere central and enjoyed eating at the night markets, but we spent most of our days at Phi Phi or the Islands. If time allows, visit Railay Beach—I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. I didn’t fully explore Krabi, which I regret because there are many things to do in Krabi. Do research in advance and consider extending your stay.

Where to Stay

In Krabi Town, we stayed at Baifern Mansion—while it’s pretty basic, the WiFi was good, and the staff helped book tours and transportation, significantly reducing our stress. We were also able to check in early and check out late. If you prefer to arrange transport yourself, I recommend


To return to Krabi, you must take a ferry and grab a taxi or a transfer from the pier into town. Book your onward travel to Koh Samui ASAP as coaches fill up. There is also a night ferry (which we wanted to take but was sold out), or you can fly. The coach was fine, and it only took a few hours.

Book with Lomprayah, and if you have already reserved your accommodations, pay extra for a transfer upon arrival.

Koh Samui Thailand 3 week guide

Days 17-19: Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao

The perfect Thailand itinerary for these islands depends on what you want to do. Koh Samui and Koh Phangan are ideal for partying—spend a night in Koh Samui in Fisherman’s Village for relaxation. Travel to Koh Phangan early the following day, stay 1-2 nights and spend 1-2 nights in Koh Tao.

Check out this great list of the ten best things to do on Koh Samui.

Where to Stay: Koh Samui

On Koh Samui, I recommend staying in Fisherman’s Village. They have a walking street every Friday, there are many restaurants, and the beach is small but nice and clean.

Where to Stay: Koh Phangan

Pre-book somewhere to stay in Koh Phangan, or know what area you want to visit before arriving. If I returned, I would stay near the northwest or northeast beaches.

Where to Stay: Koh Tao

We didn’t make it to Koh Tao, which I regretted, but there wasn’t enough time. Next time I plan a trip to Thailand, I will skip Koh Samui and Koh Phangan to head straight there.


There are many daily ferries run by different operators. You can book through one of the local travel agents, who can also organize your transfers from where you are staying to the pier. Traveling around the islands is easiest on a scooter—if you don’t fancy that, hire a car (preferably a 4-wheel drive as some roads are rough).

Days 20-21: Return to Bangkok

When you return to Bangkok at the end of this 3 week Thailand itinerary, you may feel completely different about it—I did! We stayed at The Yard, and I didn’t want to leave. I only had an overnight stay, which I regretted. In hindsight, I wish I had taken several days there to explore with the new understanding and outlook I had gained over my weeks backpacking Thailand.

Bangkok Thailand ' my 3 week Thailand guide

Bangkok Food

I have a complete blog post for this: How to Eat in Thailand for Under £5 a Day!


To return to Bangkok from the islands, you must take a ferry and a bus, a ferry and a train, or a ferry and night bus/train. We chose the ferry and bus, as they fit best with our schedule. This is easy to book online or through an agent, and the cost should be the same regardless.

Thailand Itinerary to Plan Trip to Thailand: Final Thoughts

I hope this 3 week Thailand Itinerary encourages you to try backpacking in Thailand. Three weeks isn’t enough time—three months would have been great! If you’re concerned about the cost to travel to Thailand, a 3-week Thailand backpacking adventure is perfect. I wish I had more time to visit Thailand’s southern islands. Snorkeling in Koh Kraden is at the top of my list next time I plan a trip to Thailand.

If you enjoyed this Thailand itinerary 3 weeks, save it in your Stipple Thailand trip planner. You’ll find destinations, things to do, and accommodations in one place without juggling multiple apps.

Top Tip: Thailand has introduced the eVisa on Arrival system to make the application process smoother for a better entry experience.

3 Week Thailand Itinerary

2-Week Thailand Itinerary Recommendations

  • If you want to party, head straight from Bangkok to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao.
  • If you want a more cultural experience, spend more time in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and other northern places.
  • If you want beautiful beaches and relaxation, stick to the southern islands.

Wherever you go, I’m 100% confident you will fall in love with Thailand like I did. If you need a Thailand 7 day itinerary or 2-week Thailand itinerary, cut out some destinations.

Quick Tip: View my full Thailand packing guide here including a downloadable checklist. And check out my Thailand Essentials shopping list here.

Thailand Travel Guide Planning

🧳 Any recommendations on what I should pack for Thailand?

Yes! I have created a whole packing guide to Thailand which you can read here and you can also check out my packing list for Thailand on Amazon here.

👩‍⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?

I recommend using Heymondo for a great value policy. The app also offers you 24/7 Dr Chat. For Digital Nomads check out SafetyWing digital nomad insurance. I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here

✈️ Any flight recommendations?

WayAWay offers you cheap flights with cashback. You can use this code CLAIRE22 to get 10% off. Otherwise Skyscanner or Expedia are my go to flight searching platforms.

🚗 Where can I book rental cars or private transportation?

I strongly recommend using 12Go or Bookaway. There are many transport options available such as train, bus, and ferry.

I would strongly advice against driving a car in Thailand but you can easily rent a scooter locally.

🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in Thailand?

First and foremost check out all of the amazing Thailand tours Where Sidewalks End has. They are a small local company and they have some really special experiences.

For everything else I recommend either Viator or GetYour Guide

📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?

I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.

With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using either Airhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.

🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?

The 3 best platforms that I normally use are, and Expedia. They offer great deals and multiple options. I always check all three to be sure of the best deals. However, Agoda is highly recommended in Thailand and it has the most selection.

🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?

I do have a complete list of the best packing and luggage products that I recommend, you can check the list here. I’m currently traveling with this suitcase and this backpack. 

Are you heading to Vietnam next? Read this article about backpacking Vietnam. If you’re going to Cambodia, here are 10 awesome places to visit. You’re welcome!

Are you planning a trip to Thailand? Then take a read of my 3 week Thailand Itinerary. This backpacking guide will help you make the most of your time backpacking Thailand. #backpackingthailand #thailand #thailandtravelguide #ThailandItinerary


Sunday 5th of April 2020

Hey Claire,

Looking at travelling Thailand next year, wondering about how much money i will need once out there for 3 weeks? i know everyone spending is different but just trying to look at estimates? How much did you spend once you where out there? Thanks,

C x


Tuesday 5th of February 2019

When did you travel Thailand, thinking of travelling with my boyfriend in July / August for 3 weeks and was wondering if there was any tips you would be able to give. Heard that sticking to the eat coast is the best however read that i shouldn't take a boat in monsoon weather?

Claire Summers

Friday 8th of February 2019

Hey Emily, I actually went in December so I'm afraid I can't be much use in answering your questions. So sorry!


Monday 23rd of July 2018

I plan to spend 3-4 weeks in Thailand in January so this guide has come in very helpful! Especially the last part focussing on the islands as I had no idea where to start, and what islands to pick. It's a rather overwhelming decision when there are just so many beautiful islands to consider! Great post :)

Claire Summers

Tuesday 24th of July 2018

Yey! I'm so glad. So it's not official yet but I may be in Thailand in January so might see you there haha!

Anna Makridi

Thursday 12th of July 2018

Fantastic post! I loved it! Good job!

Claire Summers

Thursday 12th of July 2018

Thank you :-)


Sunday 9th of July 2017

Thanks for this.