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Ultimate 3 Weeks Itinerary Thailand

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Creating a 3-week itinerary for Thailand is not an easy task. This country is so rich in places to see and discover that 3 weeks can never be enough. Yet, we put together an itinerary that will both cover the islands in the south, a bit of the culture far up north and a great taste of Thai cuisine and city life in Bangkok at the end. There are many options of where to start and end the trip to Thailand but we believe the best way is to start from the south and work your way up. The easiest and by far cheapest airport destination (apart from Bangkok) here is located on the island of Phuket.

In terms of deciding which island to choose is up to what you want to see. Here it is best to have a look at our previous post on which island is the best in Thailand? Based on this you might want to rearrange your itinerary but we do believe it’s best to follow our proposed route so that you get a little taste of everything.

Day 1 – 2 Phuket

phuket beach
Phuket life

Phuket is the largest island in Thailand and home to the country’s most visited tourist hub. This makes it also a less attractive destination for the well-traveled explorer who is seeking for the ‘real’ Thailand. Yet, it is also a great place to start your Thailand adventure as there are multiple international airlines which offer cheap flights to Phuket International Airport. We actually started our trip here and it was a great way to move from south to north.

Phuket has lots to offer from Temples, Beaches, Water activities and nightlife – Phuket has it all. The island offers various tours and connections to literally everywhere in the country. The proximity to other great islands is also a big plus for Phuket and makes it a perfect hub for traveling onwards to other destinations.

The island is huge and you can easily spend several weeks exploring every corner of it. However, if you have a limited time in Thailand we would suggest to spend no more than 3 days here as there are loads of other and more beautiful places to discover around the country.

Where to Stay in Phuket

We decided to stay in at Kata Beach, located on the western coast of the island. Not as crowded as some other places, we had a nice time here before moving on. A recommended place to stay: Kata Orient House – a comfy, medium-sized facility with a nice swimming pool located just a 5-minute walk away from the beach. Prices are reasonable and we felt quite comfortable here – read our entire Kata Orient House review here.

Day 3 – 4 Phi Phi Island

the beach phi phi island
Crowded May Bay Beach

Phi Phi Islands is a group of islands in the Strait of Malacca consisting of the major island of Phi Phi Don and a smaller island of Phi Phi Leh. Both islands can be reached by various ferry services from the mainland as well as from other surrounding islands. Arriving on Phi Phi Don you will get overwhelmed by the amount of boats and people. The island attracts loads of young and party-hungry crowds searching for ‘making friends’ and partying at the beach till the early morning – if this is something you are looking for then this is the place for you! Its neighboring island, Phi Phi Leh, is home to the world-famous beach of the same-named movie ‘The Beach’. The place is amazingly beautiful but, like you can see on the picture above, packed with tourists. Find our complete review on Things to do on Phi Phi Island and discover what else this place has to offer.

Phi Phi Islands are a tropical paradise but the high influx of tourism has spoiled it. You can find some nice spots around the islands but we suggest not to spend more than 2 days here.

Where to Stay on Phi Phi Island

We found a nice budget location located on the hills of the island, a bit further away from the crowds located at the beaches. Our recommended pace to stay: Kitty Guesthouse. It’s a clean place with friendly owners and decent prices – a simple guesthouse that was just enough for us for our 2-day stay. Find our complete Kitty Guesthouse review here.

Day 5 – 7 Koh Lipe

Koh Lipe Thailand Beach
Source: geekyexplorer

Koh Lipe is a small island located close to the Malaysian border in the southern province of Satun. The island can be reached from all major islands by ferry or by air to the closest airport of Hat Yai. Compared to the other classic islands of Thailand it is located a bit more remote, making it a great destination for people who feel like escaping the mass tourist crowds.

Unfortunately, we did not have the chance to visit the island ourselves but heard lots of great stories from fellow travelers who have explored it. The island offers lots of accommodations for every pocket and has a multitude of beautiful beaches to chill and relax. We heard so many good things about Ko Lipe that we suggest a stay of minimum 3 days here.

Where to stay on Koh Lipe

Based on what we have heard from other we can recommend: The Hut Resort. You have clean, comfortable and decently-priced Bungalows in a great setting. Check our the prices and book your stay with The Hut Resort here.

Day 8 – 11 Koh Lanta

itinerary thailand
Stunning Koh Lanta sunset

Koh Lanta is one of our favorite islands in all of Thailand. It is a great tropical getaway from the mass-crowds and a place full of tranquility, amazing beaches and stunning sunsets. Koh Lanta is easily accessible by ferry from Krabi, Phi Phi or Phuket. There is also a bridge under construction leading to the main island so transportation should get even easier now.

The island is great to explore – find out about the best things to discover on Koh Lanta here. There is basically one main road leading from the north to the south. The further down you go the less visited it is, leading you to beautiful, hidden beaches and nature reserves. There are world-class diving spots and stunning beaches to visit around. Koh Lanta is a very beautiful island and we would highly suggest to spend at least 4 days here.

Where to stay on Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta has a wide range of accommodations settled all across the island. We suggest to move your way past the places located around the pier of Saladan and go further down south. Our recommended place to stay: Khum Laanta Resort. It’s a nice guesthouse offering various types of accommodation located not far away from the beach. It also has a nice swimming pool and motorbike rentals. Find our complete Khum Laanta Resort review here.

Day 12 – 15 Choice of Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan or Koh Tao

view koh nangyuan
Koh Nang Yuan

Continuing up your journey you will have to drop by the famous islands of the southern Gulf – Koh Tao, Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan. Each island offers something different so it’s not really a matter of which one is better but rather depends on what you are looking for. They lie relatively close to each other so you can also do some island hopping. But let me describe them briefly so you can decide which one you would prefer to stay on.

The largest island of these three is Koh Samui. The island has a well-developed infrastructure and is more tailored to the ‘comfortable’ tourist. You will find a fair amount of nightlife as well as great beaches here. There are a lot of 4-5 star accommodations along with hospitals, supermarkets and even an airport. Definitely, the best choice if you want a classic, tourist beach destinations with all its comforts.

The second largest island is Koh Pha Ngan. The most famous event here are the full-moon parties which occur every month. Thousands of visitors make their way to the island and commence to all-night partying along the Haad Rin beach. Apart from this, the island also offers some great, fine & white sand beaches and other activities such as diving, snorkeling, kite-boarding and other sorts of water activities.

The smallest island of the group is called Koh Tao. It is considered to be the best place in Thailand to go diving – offering dozens of diving sites and scuba schools. In the recent years, the development has exploded and you will fill a great variety of accommodations and activities on the island. From here you can also visit one of Thailand’s most photographed island – Koh Nang Yuan. We actually put together a list of things to do on Koh Tao Island.

Whether you want to spend your time island-hopping or staying put in one place – we would recommend to spend at least 4 days in this area of Thailand. You can easily move between the island as there are many ferries offering trips between them on a regular basis. There are numerous options in terms of accommodation on every island. In case you are looking for a more secluded but nice place to stay on Koh Tao we can suggest to stay at the Montalay Eco Cottage.

Day 16 – 18 Chiang Mai

chiang mai wat phra that doi suthep
Beautiful Wat Pra That Doi Suthep

Moving on from the islands of the south to the more cultural destinations in the north we suggest to fly directly from the island of Koh Samui to Chiang Mai. You could also take a ferry to Chumphon and take a bus ride via Bangkok but this would definitely take more time.

As Thailand’s northern capital, Chiang Mai is the country’s second most visited city and a very popular destination for tourists. With various different temples and wats, incredible street food and local markets, this city really has a lot to offer. We put together a list of things to do in Chiang Mai so you can have a look at the highlights of this cultural city. We suggest to spend at least 2-3 days here because it truly is a great place to stay, especially after all the beach-bumming in the south!

Where to stay in Chiang Mai

As in other famous Thai destinations, Chiang Mai also has a wide assortment of accommodations across all budgets. You can either choose to stay in the more busy inner part of the town (Old City) or in the more relaxed outside part. The distances are not that far so you can easily take a bike or even walk around town. We opted to stay at Welcome More – a small, very clean and friendly hotel located just a 10-minute walk away from the main areas of town.

Day 19 – 21 Bangkok

itinerary thailand

Leaving Thailand without seeing the capital city of Bangkok is not possible as it is an integral part of the entire Thai experience. You can easily reach Bangkok from Chiang Mai and every other part of the country, either by bus or flight. Perhaps not so charming at first sight, this city is truly fascinating and harbors a wide range of sites and experiences to keep you busy for months. Bangkok has an excellent array of accommodations, choices of cuisine, various temples and wats and a huge range of shopping malls. You can move around town with the sky train which can bring you to many of the famous landmarks of the city as well as the airport. Bangkok is a huge city with loads of places to see and always offers something for everyone.

Where to stay in Bangkok

The city hosts an insane amount of accommodations for all budgets and it really depends on what you are looking for. During our stopovers in the city we stayed in various places. We found the Paragon One Residence to be situated in a good area to discover the city as it lies not far away from the famous Khao San Road and close to many Wats.


We hope that this 3 weeks itinerary Thailand offers you a decent overview of the places that we consider worth visiting when spending 3 weeks in this beautiful country. Obviously, there are many more places to stay and discover apart from the one we have mentioned here but we do believe that this route will leave you satisfied. Have a look at more of our stories about Thailand and get inspired by other spots.

Itinerary Overview

Day 1 – 2 Phuket

Day 3 – 4 Phi Phi Island

Day 5 – 7 Koh Lipe

Day 8 – 11 Koh Lanta

Day 12 – 15 Choice of Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan or Koh Tao

Day 16 – 18 Chiang Mai

Day 19 – 21 Bangkok

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Hi, my name is Julian and I am the co-author, photographer and blogger of apenoni. I am happy to share the experiences of our travels with you and hope you enjoy reading our posts.

10 Responses

  1. Bob
    | Reply

    I had the opportunity to visit Thailand a few years back. I never made it to Chang Mai but man you gotta love those beaches. I really need to get back one day. Thailand is a beautiful place with tons of history and culture. Those island pics are beautiful, I could spend the whole time just island hopping.

    • Julian
      | Reply

      Thanks Bob, truly a great country with so much to see. Island hopping is definitely a great idea as there are just so many beautiful ones!

  2. Adriana
    | Reply

    I’ve yet to visit Thailand but I know where to go to if I need an itinerary! I’m super lazy about creating one, so thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Julian
      | Reply

      Thank you, Adriana!Great I could help you out. Its hard to plan these trips but we just wanted to give some advice for people who have never been, as an inspiration! Hope it worked 🙂

  3. Susan
    | Reply

    I haven’t gotten to Thailand yet. For that matter I have not been to Asia except the part of Turkey that is Asia not Europe. For this reason it ranks on my go to places. Thailand especially, perhaps because there is a fair amount of tourism. It seems a little less intimidating than some other places. I like what you said about Bangkok perhaps not being so charming at first. I felt that way about Istanbul but came to love it. Some places have that effect.

    • Julian
      | Reply

      You should visit Thailand, its a great intro to Southeast Asia and quite well developed in terms of tourism. Bangkok frightens some people but we absolutely loved the organized chaos and great food!

  4. Hendrik
    | Reply

    Great post Julian! 3 weeks is actually a good time or lets say minimum to discover most important places in Thailand. I am glad to see that you also visited Koh Lanta, which is one of my favourite places in Thailand. So nice, thanks for bringing back the memories, happy new year 🙂

    • Julian
      | Reply

      Thanks, Henrik! We loved Koh Lanta, definitely one of our highlights in Thailand. 3 weeks is a nice time but still far away from being able to see everything.

  5. LC of Birdgehls
    | Reply

    I also haven’t been to Thailand (or, anywhere in SE Asia… whoops). Assuming I do eventually make it there, I’d rather like to go to Koh Lanta. And of course, check out Bangkok. Great itinerary!

    • Julian
      | Reply

      Yes, Koh Lanta is a great island and amazing place to stay. Bangkok is a totally different experience but also great. Hope you will go one day, Southeast Asia in general offers lots of interesting destinations.

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