Thailand is undeniably one of the most popular holiday destinations in Southeast Asia. It’s safe to say that it is the gateway to the region, welcoming tourists with its fine white-sand beaches. Thailand is also known for being an affordable vacation place compared to Europe acnd North America.
To spend 3 weeks in Thailand is not a problem. There are many places to see, from hiking mountains, diving for the corals, and, most importantly, tasting authentic Thai dishes. You can do all these in just 21 days in Thailand without rushing yourself.
I’ve been to Thailand at least 5x, all with different lengths of time. It’s one of those destinations where you could easily spend 24 hours and still be able to see lots of things. On the other hand, 3 weeks won’t make feel like you have too much time.
In this article, I will share the must-see places in Thailand and how many days to spend on each. You don’t have to follow this itinerary day-by-day, you can make your own travel itinerary that is more suitable for you.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO THAILAND
But before you pack your bags and book the flights, take a quick look at these things you should know about taking a vacation in Thailand. This will help you visualise and organise your trip better.
When is the best time to go to
Southeast Asia has long months of typhoon season. The best time to visit Thailand is during the cool and dry season between November and early April.
However, peak tourist season aligns with this period, especially around December and January. The rainy season, characterized by monsoon rains, spans from May to October, which should be considered whether you’re coming for the islands or hiking.
The shoulder season falls right before and after peak season, typically in late October to November and late April to early May, offering a balance between good weather and fewer tourists. The month of May is scorching hot, so keep that in mind.
During the busiest time, hotels get booked quickly, and prices are a little higher. The crowds are also much larger.
Are 3 weeks enough in Thailand
For 20 days, you could visit a lot of places in Thailand. Of course, the more time you have, the better. But with 3 weeks in Thailand, you can see the top attractions such as exploring Bangkok, hiking around Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai, and visiting the southern islands such as Koh Samui, Phuket, and Krabi.
If you combine taking the bus with a domestic flight, you could maximise your time. Rent a motorbike around the islands, which will give you the freedom to see many places in a short period of time.
If you feel like 3 weeks in Thailand is too much, you can also plan a 20-day trip between Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
What to pack
Aside from your best swimsuits and sunglasses, don’t forget to pack some good walking shoes or sandals. This 3 weeks in Thailand itinerary includes visiting Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, where you can do some fun hiking.
Thailand is also filled with temples and pagodas, which means you should carry lightweight and long trousers or shirts to cover your legs and shoulders (both sexes). A lightweight oversized scarf or sarong will do the job as well.
To help you pack smartly, download our free packing list for a 3-week trip, which you can find on our sidebar or scroll at the bottom if you are on mobile.
For over a decade, Thailand was known for riding elephants and tigers photo opportunities. Elephants were trained to be friendly around people, make the ride on their back “safe”, and perform circus-like shows. During this training, elephants get tied, beaten, and abused. While tigers were drugged so tourists could take a picture “safely”.
Today, although the government has distanced itself and condemned these businesses offering this kind of experience, there’s yet to be a law to prevent these businesses from existing.
There are now many “sanctuaries” for elephants claiming to be ethical and working towards rescuing and taking care of them. Instead of riding, tourists will get to feed and bathe the elephants. Although many of them do a lot of good, not all of them are entirely ethical.
Be cautious of places labelling themselves as elephant sanctuaries, tiger/kingdom sanctuaries, and dolphin shows/aquariums. I recommend you read reviews from different sites and YouTube channels to filter places out.
How to get around
You probably know that tuk-tuks are Thailand’s main transportation in cities and rural areas. You can take a domestic flight or a bus from one city to another. Plane tickets are pretty affordable, so to save you some time and travel hassle-free, it’s better to get on a plane if possible.
You can also use ride-hailing apps in metropolitan cities, such as Grab and inDriver. At the same time, you can rent a motorbike in small towns or islands to get around if you feel comfortable driving it. You must have your international driver’s license or IDP to drive in Thailand legally.
Thailand has quite a friendly visa policy. Visitors with passports from most of Europe, North America, Southeast Asia, East Asia, Oceania, and some Latin America, Gulf Countries, Africa, and South Asia can enter Thailand and enjoy a visa-free or visa on arrival for 14 to 90 days.
Average cost of 3 weeks in Thailand
Fortunately, Thailand has remained affordable, being a top destination in Southeast in the last three decades and continues to be so.
- Affordable/Backpacker: Expect to spend $700-$900. Accommodations in hostels, street food, and local transport make this a frugal choice.
- Mid-Range: Budgeting $1,500-$2,500 will get you private rooms in boutique hotels, occasional dining in restaurants, and some guided activities or tours.
- Luxury: For upscale resorts, gourmet dining, private tours, and spa treatments, plan on $5,000-$9,000 or more.
These estimates include accommodation, food, transport, and activities but can vary based on personal preferences and activities chosen. Main flight to Thailand and travel insurance are excluded on these calculations.
You can also save up your energy and book a package tour instead, where the agent will handle all the arrangements on your behalf. The service includes accommodation, tours, food, guides, porters, and transportation.
There are tours for young people, such as those in their gap years (18-30s something), and there are also family-friendly tours.
There’s a 14-day tour and a 15-day tour covering Bangkok and Koh Tao. If you’re staying longer, then you can have the freedom to plan the final week of your trip. That means you can do the 7 days on your own if you’re feeling adventurous. There’s also a 12-day family-friendly tour if you’re travelling with children.
Other travel tips
Travel arrangements can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t go on trips that often. But it doesn’t have to be. Today, there are many services out there, but if you find sites that you trust and enjoy, offering a wide selection and flexible cancellation, that will be more ideal.
This is the reason there are travel sites that I love using. If you need help finding trusted sites for travel services, these are the tools and websites I always use:
PINNED MAP OF MUST-SEE PLACES IN THAILAND
Click the enlarge button on the top right corner. Credit: map data: Google
3 WEEKS IN THAILAND ITINERARY
This itinerary will take you to one of the world’s most famous cities – Bangkok, where you can warm up for your vacation. Then you will head to the north for some hiking, before you fly down to the south for some beach time and water activities.
Depending on what you like, you can also swap cities and islands. Just make sure to look up if the places you want to add have easy access via air, land, or sea. In this way, you won’t be spending too much time in transport terminals and airports.
- Day 1: Arrive in Bangkok. Arrange an airport transfer to your hotel from Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) or Don Mueang Airport (DMK).
- Day 2-5: Explore Bangkok’s top sites
- Day 6: Take a bus, train, or fly to Chaing Mai from Bangkok; travel time is 10 to 14 hours by land and a bit over an hour by air
- Day 7-8: Explore Chiang Mai
- Day 9: Go to Chiang Rai from Chiang Mai by bus or a minivan, 3-4 hours
- Day 10: Explore Chiang Rai
- Day 11: Take a flight from Chiang Rai to Phuket, you can also take the bus, but it’s more than a day’s journey, book an airport transfer from Phuket Airport to hotel
- Day 12-13: Enjoy Phuket’s beaches, waterfalls, and boat tours
- Day 14: Travel from Phuket to Krabi by bus, ferry, or minivan; travel time is 3 to 4 hours
- Day 15-16: Explore Krabi
- Day 17: Get to Koh Samui from Krabi by plane; flight is less than an hour
- Day 18-19: Do boat tours and party in Koh Samui and Koh Phangan
- Day 20: Take your flight out of Thailand
Bangkok for 4 days
Bangkok is known for many things, but one of those is how street food here is impressive. If you are worried about sanitation, these local dishes can also be found in restaurants. Thai food is well-liked everywhere in the world. So, don’t let this chance to try authentic Thai food slip away.
Bangkok also has a very vibrant party scene, and it’s definitely one of the must-do for a lot of visitors to Thailand. Below is a list of places to see and things to do in Bangkok.
What to do in Bangkok
- The Royal Grand Palace – check this tour that includes Wat Pho and Wat Arun
- Wat Arun
- Wat Phra Chetuphon (Wat Pho)
- Victory Monument
- Damnoen Saduak Market (floating market) – join a market and city package tour
- Democracy Monument
- Equestrian Statue of King Rama V
- Wat Benchamabophit Dusitwanaram
- Join an authentic Thai cooking class
- Jim Thompson House Museum
- White Orchid River Cruise – book a cruise
- Food tour – check what’s included
- Join the Bangkok Instagram tour
Day trips from Bangkok:
- Death Railway Museum – there’s a tour to ride the train
- City Pillar Shrine or San Lak Mueang
- Wat Thewa Sangkharam
- Kanchanaburi War Cemetery
- Ayutthaya Temples – check the tour price
Accommodations in Bangkok
- Affordable: Bed Station Hostel or The Spades Hostel
- Mid-range: Nuovo City Hotel or Citrus Suites Sukhumvit
- Luxury: Shanghai Mansion or Centre Point Sukhumvit
Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai/Pai for 6 days
After your adventure in Bangkok and its surrounding areas, it’s time to spend time with nature and get away from busy areas. Thailand’s northern part has five national parks you must hike during your 3-week vacation.
You can reach Chiang Mai via a direct flight from Bangkok. Alternatively, you can also take a 9-hour bus ride. Apart from hiking, there are many places to see in Chiang Mai and tours that you can get on. If you love yoga and meditation, this is also the spot you want to be. We also have a list of 3-week yoga retreats you can do worldwide.
Since you have a week in Chiang Mai, you can also head to Chiang Rai or Pai, which is about a 2 to 3-hour drive. In those locations are more hiking trails and adventures waiting for you.
What to do in Chiang Mai
- Wat Rong Khun (White Temple, located near Chiang Rai) – visit all the temples in a full-day guided tour, pick up from Chaing Mai
- Wat Phrathat Doi Kham
- Hmong Village and Doi Suthep – book a half-day trip
- Grand Canyon
- Ginger Farm
- Doi Inthanon National Park – check the tour price
- Wiang Kum Kam
- Mae Sa Waterfall
- Doi Pui National Park hike – get on a 6-hour trek
- Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden
- Chiang Dao Cave, Den Sali Temple, and Bautong Sticky Waterfall – book a tour
- Huay Tung Tao Reservoir
- Tha Phae Gate
- Wat Chiang Man
- Srilanna National Park
- Book a lunch food-tasting tour or Authentic Thai cooking class
What to do in Pai
- Kho Kuu So Bamboo Bridge
- Yun Lai Viewpoint
- Pai Canyon
- Santichon Village
- Doi Kiew Lom Viewpoint And Rest Stop
- Sai Ngam Hot Spring
- Nam Lod Cave
What to do in Chiang Rai
- Wat Rong Khun (White Temple) and Golden Triangle – join a guided tour
- Garden Of Reeds
- Singha Park Chiang Rai
- Pong Phrabat Hot Springs
- Baan Dam Museum
- Long Neck Village
- Huay Mark Liam Hot Spring
Accommodations in Chiang Mai
- Affordable: i-smile or The Newnormal House
- Mid-range: El Barrio Lanna or De Chai Colonial Hotel & Spa
- Luxury: Viangluang Resort or The Empress Premier
Phuket and Krabi for 6 days
Even though hiking the mountains of Thailand gives such inner peace and complete serenity, you probably can’t wait to see Thailand’s famous beaches and see why they are very sought-after. 3 weeks in Thailand must include these two famous and stunning beach destinations.
You can take a direct flight to Phuket from the north of Thailand, which is about two hours. Phuket is an island in the south of Thailand, just hours from the border with Malaysia.
It’s well-loved for its very clear blue waters, lots of spots for diving and snorkelling, and many, many areas for water activities or simply beach bumming.
Krabi is not very far from Phuket. You can get there by land, which is about a 3-hour drive or a 3.5-hour ferry ride. Krabi is another spot for great water adventures, such as diving, snorkelling, and exploring mangroves and caves.
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Things to see in Phuket
- Freedom Beach
- Kata Noi Beach
- Phi Phi Islands – get on a boat tour
- Kamala Beach
- Kathu Waterfall
- Maya Beach – you can combine this with the Phi Phi Islands tour
- Hanuman World
- James Bond Island – enjoy a luxury sunset cruise
- Saphan Hin
- Similan Islands – the best snorkelling spot
- Khao Rang Viewpoint
- Kao Khad Views Tower
- Monkey Cave – where you can do white rafting and zipline
- Khao Sok
- Khai Nai Island
- Join a food-tasting tour or Thai cooking class
Accommodations in Phuket
- Affordable: Phuket Sunny Hostel or Baan Baan Hostel
- Mid-range: The Arbern Hotel or The Memory at On On Hotel
- Luxury: The Village Coconut Island Beach Resort or The Westin Siray Bay Resort and Spa
What to do in Krabi
- Phi Phi Islands – pick up from Krabi
- Railay Beach – try rock climbing
- Shell Cemetery
- Island hopping – visit the 7 Islands on a sunset tour with barbeque and snorkelling
- Monkey Trail in Ao Nang
- Emerald Pool – check tour price for Tiger Temple, hot spring and crystal pool
- Ao Nang Beach
- Ao Thalane – book a kayaking tour
- Klong Root (Clear Water Canal)
- Dragon Crest (Khuan Sai) – mountain hike, ATV, and kayaking
- Hat Nappharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park
- Blue Lagoon – where you do some kayaking and ATV ride
Accommodations in Krabi
- Affordable: Pak-Up Hostel or Krabi P.N Boutique House
- Mid-range: The Seens Hotel or Sita Krabi Hotel
- Luxury: The Pavilions Anana Krabi or Krabi SeaBass Hotel
Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan for 4 days
Your last stop is Koh Samui, another island off the coast of Thailand. You can get there by taking a direct flight or a 7-hour bus ride. Although Koh Samui is an island, the places you can explore are not only about off the coast. You can do many things inland, such as waterfall hopping and hiking.
On this island, I highly recommend booking a luxury resort. Not only do you deserve to be lazy at the end of your trip, but also because it has the best 5-star resorts in Thailand. It also has the best spots for sunset and sunrise.
There’s another island next to it – Koh Pha Ngan, which you can reach by boat tour or a ferry (if you wish to change islands). On your last day, make sure to arrange your airport transfer.
What to do in Koh Samui
- Mu Ko Ang Thong National Marine Park – book a sunset cruise
- Tan Rua Waterfall
- Lat Wanon Waterfall
- Khun Si Waterfall
- Na Mueang Waterfall
- Namtok Tar Nim & Magic Garden
- Lamai Beach & Viewpoint
- Grandfather and Grandmother Rocks (Hin Ta Hin Yai) – go on a wild 4WD Jungle Safari trip
- Lipa Noi Beach
- Laem Yai
- Maenam Beach
- Fisherman’s Village
- Big Buddha
- Lad Koh View Point
What to do in Koh Pha Ngan
- Namtok Than Sadet National Park
- Salad Beach
- Chaloklum Beach
- Mae Haad Beach
- Namtok Wang Sai
- Malibu Beach
- Haad Khom
- Bottle Beach and Viewpoint
- Thong Nai Pan Beach
- Haad Sadet Beach
- Haad Wai Nam
- Haad Rin
Accommodations in Koh Samui
- Affordable: Us Samui or P & T Hostel
- Mid-range: The Hive Hotel or Long N Joy Samui
- Luxury: Banana Fan Sea Resort or Samui Resotel
THAI DISHES TO TRY DURING YOUR VISIT
To wrap up this 3 weeks in Thailand itinerary, you should know what food you must eat. It’s common knowledge how great Thai cuisine is. You probably have your favourite Thai restaurant back home, but nothing beats the authentic and more affordable version:
- Pad Thai: Stir-fried rice noodles with shrimp, tofu, or chicken, peanuts, scrambled egg, and bean sprouts.
- Tom Yum Goong: Spicy shrimp soup with mushrooms, tomatoes, and a distinct sour flavour.
- Green Curry (Kaeng Khiao Wan): Creamy coconut milk-based curry with chicken, beef, or tofu and Thai eggplant.
- Som Tam: Spicy green papaya salad with tomatoes, green beans, and peanuts.
- Massaman Curry: A rich, slightly sweet curry often made with beef or chicken and potatoes.
- Khao Pad: Thai fried rice, often with chicken, shrimp, or crab.
- Pad Krapow Moo Saap: Stir-fried pork with Thai holy basil and chilli.
- Tom Kha Gai: Chicken in coconut soup with galangal, lemongrass, and mushrooms.
- Mango Sticky Rice (Khao Niew Mamuang): Glutinous rice with sweet ripe mango and coconut milk.
- Fried Bananas: Banana slices deep-fried in a sweet batter.
- Thapthim Krop: Water chestnuts in syrup, served with crushed ice and coconut milk.
- Khanom Buang: Thai crispy pancakes with sweet or savory toppings.
- Thai Iced Tea (Cha Yen): Sweetened iced tea with creamy condensed milk.
- Singha or Chang Beer: Popular local Thai beers.
- Lemongrass Juice: Refreshing drink made from boiled lemongrass, sweetened and served cold.
SUMMARY OF 3 WEEKS IN THAILAND ITINERARY
It’s so easy to spend 3 weeks in Thailand. You can visit and do so much, from hiking and city exploration to island hopping. Towards that end, you can even do nothing for 2 to 3 days and instead go for massages and read your book.
I hope you found this itinerary for 3 weeks in Thailand helpful in your upcoming vacation. Remember to make the most out of your holiday because you deserve it.