3 weeks in Thailand itinerary for your first trip (+ insider tips)

So, you’re thinking about spending 3 weeks in Thailand? What a great idea!

I’ve visited Thailand 5 times for periods of up to 3 months, and I’ve been lucky enough to visit many different cities, islands, and areas. 

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Thailand has it all – tropical beaches, lush jungles, a fantastic capital, and some seriously tasty food.

In this post, I’ll give you the rundown on the ultimate 3-week itinerary that has all the highlights. You’ll find out where to go, what to see, and how to make the most of every moment.

Let’s get your trip planned!

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3 weeks in Thailand Itinerary

When is the best time to visit Thailand?

The best time to visit Thailand is during the cool and dry season between November and early April when temperatures are between 80°F to 89°F (27°C to 32°C).

However, the rainy season varies; the east coast (Koh Tao, Samui, and Phanang) experiences heavy rainfall from September to December, while the west coast (Phuket and Krabi) sees monsoons between April and October.

Avoid these months if you prefer less rain.

MonthTemp (°F/°C)Rainfall East (inches)Rainfall West (inches)
November80-89 / 27-32ModerateLow
December80-89 / 27-32HighLow
January80-89 / 27-32ModerateLow
February80-89 / 27-32LowLow
March80-89 / 27-32LowModerate
April80-89 / 27-32LowHigh

Read next: What to pack for Thailand

How to get around

In big cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai, tuk-tuks are the go-to rides. They’re everywhere.

But if you’re going from city to city, you should catch a flight. They’re not too pricey and you’ll skip the long bus hours.

You can also take the sleeper trains, which are quite comfy. I don’t recommend taking the buses because they’re uncomfortable and you’ll spend 12+ hours driving.

If you’re in a small town or island hopping, you should rent a motorbike to explore. That’s what we always do. Just be sure to have your international license with you.

Tuk tuk - 3 weeks in Thailand Itinerary

🇹🇭 3 weeks in Thailand Itinerary

Week 1: Bangkok and around

Kick off your adventure in Thailand’s bustling capital, Bangkok, before exploring the historical Ayutthaya and the captivating province of Kanchanaburi.

Days 1-3: Bangkok

After you have arrived in Bangkok, get settled at your hotel and have some of that amazing Thai food!

Next, it’s time to check out the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, but remember, it’s going to be crowded, so plan accordingly.

Scoop up some local trinkets at Chatuchak Weekend Market—it’s massive, with over 15,000 stalls, so wear comfy shoes.

At night, Khao San Road is where it’s at for food and fun.

Read next: 23 non-touristy things to do in Bangkok

Bangkok, Thailand

Day 4: Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya was once the capital of Siam.

It was founded around 1350, and by the 1700s, it was one of the world’s largest and most cosmopolitan urban areas and a center of global diplomacy and commerce.

Ayutthaya is an easy day trip from Bangkok! It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the must-see spots there is the Wat Mahathat, which is a Buddha head entwined in tree roots.

Book here – Ayutthaya: Small Group Tour

Ayutthaya, Thailand

Days 5-7: Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi is a beautiful area with some heavy history with the Death Railway and Bridge on the River Kwai—important to see, but it’s a bit grim.

Afterward, you can lighten the mood at Erawan National Park with a dip in the seven-tiered waterfall. It’s a stunner and great for a swim.

Kanchanaburi is also home to the Tiger Temple, a controversial place where you used to be able to walk with tigers, and it’s not far from Hellfire Pass, a memorial to the POWs who suffered there during WWII.

Book here – Boat trip River Kwai and Erawan Falls From Bangkok

Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Week 2: Northern Thailand

For your second week, head up north to Thailand’s heartland, where culture and calm landscapes are the main draw.

You’ll visit Chiang Mai with its deep history, unwind in the easygoing vibe of Pai, and discover the one-of-a-kind spots in Chiang Rai.

Days 8-10: Chiang Mai

Once you’ve checked into your hotel in Chiang Mai, dive straight into the Old City. Afterward, make sure to visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep—it’s a hike up a mountain, but worth it.

At night, the Night Bazaar is where everyone goes to shop and eat. Chiang Mai is more laid-back than Bangkok, so take a breath and enjoy it.

It’s also a hotspot for digital nomads, thanks to its cheap living costs and fast internet, so if you’re looking to post about your travels, you’ll be well-connected.

Days 11-12: Pai

Next up is Pai, one of my favorite places in Thailand.

It’s a small town but big on relaxation. The best things to do in Pai is to soak in the Pai Hot Springs and walk through Pai Canyon for amazing views.

Pai has a laid-back atmosphere and it’s a hit with backpackers. Plus, it’s in a valley with the Pai River running through it, so the scenery’s top-notch.

Pai, Thailand

Days 13-14: Chiang Rai

Wrap things up in Chiang Rai. The main draw here is the White Temple—it’s like something out of a fantasy movie.

The Golden Triangle is where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet, and it’s got a ton of history, especially with the opium trade. Then there’s the Black House Museum, which is like the White Temple’s goth cousin.

Chiang Rai is also known for its tea plantations, so grab a cup of local brew while you’re there.

White temple, 3 weeks in Thailand Itinerary

Week 3: Southern Thailand

The final week of your journey takes you to white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters of Southern Thailand’s West coast.

Days 15-18: Koh Lanta

Take a flight from Chiang Rai to Phuket. It’ll take you a little over 2 hours on a direct flight (there are daily flights).

Once you’re in Phuket, take the ferry to Koh Lanta.

Koh Lanta is where you go to chill out big time. We spent our honeymoon there, and it’s quiet, with beaches that aren’t packed elbow-to-elbow.

Make sure to visit Mu Ko Lanta National Park to see some wildlife, and check out the old town with houses on stilts and shops selling stuff you won’t find in a mall.

Evenings are for kicking back at a beach bar and listening to the waves. Koh Lanta is also a diver’s paradise; the Andaman Sea has some of the best diving spots with clear waters and rich marine life.

Read next: 12 best beaches in Koh Lanta that are waiting for you

Koh Lanta - beach

Days 18-20: Krabi

Next, Krabi is your go-to for postcard-perfect cliffs and sea. If you’re up for it, rock climbing here is killer.

Or just hop around the islands.

Base yourself in Ao Nang—it’s touristy, but convenient. Don’t skip the Tiger Cave Temple; it’s a tough climb with 1,237 steps, but the view is insane.

Krabi is also a launchpad for reaching Railay Beach, accessible only by boat and famous for its stunning rock formations and activities like kayaking and snorkeling.

Book here – 4 Island Sunset Snorkeling Cruise + bioluminescent Night Snorkel

Thai islands, Krabi, 3 weeks in Thailand Itinerary

Day 21: Return to Bangkok

Your final day takes you back to Bangkok.

Before you head home, maybe grab some last-minute gifts at a local market or the MBK center – my favorite shopping center in Thailand. Bangkok’s markets are legendary—you can find pretty much anything.

Read next: 24 authentic souvenirs of Thailand to bring home

FAQ – 3 weeks in Thailand Itinerary

Are 3 weeks in Thailand too long?

No, not at all! 3 weeks in Thailand the perfect amount of time to see different parts of the country without rushing.

Can I stay in Thailand for 3 weeks?

Yes, you can stay in Thailand for 3 weeks, easily. I’ve spent months here and never get tired of this country.

Tourist visas typically allow a 30-day stay.

How many days is ideal to spend in Thailand?

Ideal days to spend in Thailand? Depends on what you want to do, but 2-3 weeks is solid for a decent trip.

How many weeks should I stay in Thailand?

Stay in Thailand for 2 to 3 weeks if you can. It gives you enough time to explore several regions and relax a bit too.

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