A 2-Week Itinerary Across Thailand From South To North

Thailand is, in equal parts, a mix of outdoor adventure travel, exotic cultural experiences, relaxing beach retreats and modern megacities. Here, traditional Buddhism and modern capitalism rub shoulders with each other in an impossible harmony. Over the span of 2 weeks, this itinerary will bring you on a whirlwind trip around the country.

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Day 1 – Exploring the Andaman Sea from Phuket

Start from Phuket, the jewel of the Andaman Sea. Spend the day after you arrive to explore the main town of Phuket, or laze on the crowded beach at Patong. If you can hire a longtail boat for a few hours, you can also head out to explore quiet beaches and dramatic cliff faces.

In a few days time, you’ll be spending a night partying at Koh Phangan, so it’s best to get some rest now.

Patong beach at PhuketPatong beach at Phuket
Patong beach at Phuket

Day 2 – Head over to Koh Samui on the other side of Thailand

On the other side of the mainland, Koh Samui is a relatively large touristy island in the Gulf of Thailand. To get here from Phuket, Ferry Samui offers a bus & ferry service that picks you up from your hotel, and gets you all the way to the Nathon pier at Koh Samui. Despite the short distance on the map, the trip takes almost 5 hours by bus, followed by a 1.5 hour ferry ride. Fortunately midway through, the bus stops at a small canteen in the middle of nowhere for a lunch break.

You’ll reach Koh Samui in the late afternoon, just in time to check in and find somewhere to settle for dinner. Most tourists will find a place on the eastern side of the island, where most hotels, international restaurants and attractions are located. If you’re staying near the pier at the eastern side, a small but exciting night market caters to locals at affordable, backpacker-friendly prices.

If you’re on a tight budget, I recommend the Dream Cat-Cher hostel. Located along the beach at Nathon and facing the western horizon, chill out on a hammock and sip a coconut as you laze the day away. Check out the latest prices and more details.

Ferry Samui office to get to Koh Samui from Phuket
Ferry Samui office to get to Koh Samui from Phuket
Nathon Pier at Koh Samui
Nathon Pier at Koh Samui

Day 3 – Party all night on the Full Moon Party beach in Koh Phangan

Explore Koh Samui during the day

The next day, spend the morning and afternoon on a round-island road trip in Koh Samui with a rented scooter. It costs 200 Baht for a full day rental, plus 50 Baht for enough fuel to last the day. If you’re uneasy with two wheels, there’s plenty of taxi drivers to complete the trip easily.

The key sights on the island is conveniently located almost along the ring road. If you’re riding in a clockwise direction, look out for these sights and attractions in this order:

Big Buddha temple
Big Buddha temple
Hin Ta Hin Yai
Hin Ta Hin Yai

As evening approaches, return to the pier and board the last ferry to Koh Phangan. If you’ve timed this right, you’ll be here on the night of the full moon. After all, Koh Phangan is world-famous for one thing in particular…

Party hard at night during the full moon party at Haad Rin

Every full moon night, thousands of party goers throng the beach at Haad Rin to drink, dance, rave or chill late into the night. As the party heads towards early morning, you might see people in a drunken stupor, crying over lost wallets, making out with strangers and more.

If you’re used to travelling on a tight budget in Thailand, you’ll need to expect the worst here. As expected, transportation, food and drinks are overpriced, and there’s a 100 baht entrance for foreigners. For a more information on getting to the full moon party and what to do there, check out our detailed full moon party guide.

A great place to stay for a night is the Phangan Barsay hostel. There’s no minimum stay policy, and the hostel is clean and looks newly renovated. There’s also heated water in the showers (don’t take this for granted in Thailand!) and individual lockers and power outlets beside each bed. Latest prices and more details are listed here.

Getting to Koh Phangan by ferry
Getting to Koh Phangan by ferry
The full moon party at Haad Rin, Koh Phangan
The full moon party at Haad Rin, Koh Phangan

Day 4 – Fly to Chiang Mai and drive up to the mountainous border of Northern Thailand

Hopefully, you hadn’t partied too hard. An early morning ferry and bus ride will take you to the Surat Thani airport*. From here, take a domestic flight across Thailand and into the northern province of Chiang Mai.

*Flights from Koh Samui are very expensive. Head over to Surat Thani for cheaper flights.

The Donsak pier of Koh Phangan
The Donsak pier of Koh Phangan

Rent a car and hit the road to Doi Angkhang

Just miles away from the mountainous Thai-Myanmar border, Doi Angkhang used to be filled with poppy plants and drug smuggling operations. In the 1960s and 70s, the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej came in with a plan to encourage fruit and tea planting, and improved the infrastructure in the area with a royal agricultural station. Today, this small mountain-top town is a quiet retreat that sees few foreigners, and is popular with locals for its cool temperature climate.

Getting to Doi Angkhang is no easy feat though, as your car needs to crawl up very steep inclines and sharp curves for almost half an hour. A small car at full throttle would inch forward at roughly 10 km/h on low gear. If your car has automatic transmission and doesn’t come with a ‘L’ marking on the gear stick, you might not want to chance it with the slopes.

Sightseeing at Doi Angkhang

From Doi Angkhang, visit a well-manicured tea plantation and strawberry terraces that look too pretty to be working farms. Further down the road, just 10 minutes by car, a fortified frontier outpost guards the Thai-Myanmar border. Unlike friendly border crossings elsewhere, trenches, pillboxes and barbed wire add to a tense atmosphere here.

Driving past sakura trees in mid-December
Driving past sakura trees in mid-December
The strawberry terraces are open to visitors for free
The strawberry terraces are open to visitors for free

Camp overnight at the Doi Angkhang campground

In the evening, you have a few accommodation options. If you can afford it, the Angkhang Nature Resort is the premier hotel in this small town. Smaller guesthouses and hotels are located near the Royal Gardens. Check out this list of hotels available for reservation online.

If you’re looking for a bit of adventure without going too hard on yourself, this is it. You don’t need to carry along a tent or sleeping bags, as the campground office rents these out at extremely affordable rates. For 400 Thai Baht, you get a 2-person tent, two sleeping pads, two mattresses and a large blanket.

The toilets at the campground are washed daily and are relatively clean. You can have a cold shower at the shower rooms inside, or pay for a hot shower at one of the restaurants that line the opposite side of the road from the campground.

From your tent, you get a panoramic 180° view of the valley below on a clear day. At night, trace the tiny mountain roads as faint streaks of light lead into the distance. Almost every occupied tent would have ordered a mookata dinner set up in front of the tent. You can order one at any restaurant across the road. At 600 Baht, this is an ideal (and delicious) replacement for a campfire, and is easily a highlight of your Thailand trip.

As you drift off to sleep, set your alarm at 6am. All the tents are aligned to face east, so wake up early and catch the sunrise right in front of you!

Campground at Doi Angkhang
Campground at Doi Angkhang
A misty morning at Doi Angkhang
A misty morning at Doi Angkhang

Day 5 – Wander around the tea terraces of Mae Salong

Carry on the drive to Mae Salong via Thaton, and visit the multistoried Wat Tha Ton (Phra Aram Luang) temple. From here, enjoy the scenic viewpoint of the Kok River, before continuing onwards to Mae Salong.

After a series of steep climbs and descents down narrow but well-maintained roads, you’ll reach the mountain-top town of Mae Salong. Immediately reminiscent of a remote Chinese village, Mae Salong is famous for its community of Chinese immigrants who descend from the ‘Lost Army’ of the Kuomintang.

This dates back to the days of the Chinese civil war, when the Kuomintang were chased out of China by the Communists. Seeing refuge first in Burma (Myanmar today) and then Thailand, they were eventually given asylum by the Thais in exchange for serving as frontier troops. The descendants today still converse in Chinese, paste Chinese couplets on their front doors, and serve Yunnanese cuisine in local restaurants.

Mae Salong is famous for tea plantations, and the most accessible one is the Tea 101 factory and plantation that lies just off the main arterial road leading out of town. Here, the sweet scent of freshly cut and dried tea leaves fill the air, and you can enjoy tea sampling under the professional guidance of the staff in the factory shop.

After a long day of driving and sightseeing, spend the night at Mae Salong and enjoy the serenity of a peaceful village. The Shin Sane Guest House is located just beside the morning market, and is close to a 7-Eleven and several restaurants. This is one of the more established guesthouses in the town, and facilities are generally well-maintained and clean. Check out the latest prices and more details.

Check out the extensive Tea101 plantation
Check out the extensive Tea101 plantation
Sampling tea at the factory shop
Sampling tea at the factory shop

Day 6 – See where three countries meet at the Golden Triangle

The next day, wake up at 8am to catch a glimpse of the morning market. It’s small and very local, but it’s interesting to observe the people socialising and going about their daily routine. After this market closes, everyone returns to their homes and farms, and the village returns to a peaceful calm.

The morning market at Mae Salong
The morning market at Mae Salong
Savour a typical Chinese breakfast of soya bean milk and fried dough fritters - all for 20 Baht!
Savour a typical Chinese breakfast of soya bean milk and fried dough fritters – all for 20 Baht!

The Choui Fong Plantation

From Mae Salong, head towards the Choui Fong tea plantation. An hour’s drive away, this plantation was obviously built for agriculture and tourism. In the carparks, small minivans jostle for space with cars and songthaews. In the fancy teahouse cafe, well-dressed Thais and foreign tourists dig into their expensive green tea cakes and lattes. If you’re feeling the heat of the midday sun, give yourself a treat and get a green tea soft serve ice cream. It’s thick, creamy and absolutely heavenly, while you explore the rows of neatly trimmed tea bushes.

After grabbing lunch and dessert at Choui Fong, it’s time to visit the infamous Golden Triangle. After a 1 hour drive through the scenic countryside, you’ll start seeing the mighty Mekong on your right hand side. Follow it upstream and you’ll reach a small town filled with tour buses, souvenir shops and people milling around.

The Choui Fong Tea Plantation is an Instagrammer's paradise
The Choui Fong Tea Plantation is an Instagrammer’s paradise
Having desert at the Choui Fong cafe
Having desert at the Choui Fong cafe. These will set you back 340 Baht.

The Golden Triangle

Head to the Golden Triangle Park, easily identified by a big golden Buddha statue perched along the waterfront. This is where Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet, as the small Ruak river meets the Mekong. Once a lawless place where poppy plantations grew and drug smugglers ruled with impunity, the Golden Triangle is decidedly tamer now. Touts sell boat tours that shuttle tourists on a short trip to see Myanmar from afar, and then to a market in Laos for a spot of shopping before heading back to Thailand.

If you came here to see the drug trade first hand, you’re out of luck. Led by a royal initiative to reform the agricultural industry, farms now grow fruits and vegetables instead of poppy. You can still learn about the history of the drug trade at the excellent Hall of Opium. The entrance fee is a tad steep at 200 Baht, though. Alas if you’re looking for adventure and intrigue, you’ll be slightly disappointed that the Golden Triangle has lost some of its edgy sheen already.

The Golden Triangle where Laos, Myanmar and Thailand meet
The Golden Triangle where Laos, Myanmar and Thailand meet
A golden Buddha statue sits near the Golden Triangle waterfront park
A golden Buddha statue sits near the Golden Triangle waterfront park

Chiang Rai and the White Temple

If you still have time, hurry over to Chiang Rai and catch the White Temple before it closes at 5pm. One of Thailand’s most beautiful and unique temples, you can spend an hour just examining every little detail in the intricate artwork by artist Chalermchai Kositpipat.

Spend the rest of the night at the Chiang Rai night market, which opens late till 11pm. In the nearby food village, you can dine on cheap local eats while being entertained by local performers on a central stage. Just follow the sound of music from the night market – you won’t miss it!

Accommodation in Chiang Rai

There are plenty of hostels and guesthouses near the night market in Chiang Rai. If you’re looking for an affordable and clean place with excellent service, I highly recommend Baan Jaru. The owner goes out of the way to provide advice on what to see around town, help with travel logistics and make sure your stay is comfortable. Check out the latest prices and find out more about the guesthouse.

The beautiful White Temple of Chiang Rai
The beautiful White Temple of Chiang Rai
Plastered hands reach out to visitors from both sides of the pathway into the White Temple
Plastered hands reach out to visitors from both sides of the pathway into the White Temple

Day 7 & 8 – Embark on an overnight trek to visit the hill tribes near the northern border

From Chiang Rai, book a 2D1N trek to the hill tribes from one of the many tour agencies around. Coconuts Tours is a reliable operator, although most tours work with similar itineraries.

(Read more about a similar trek in Hsipaw, Myanmar)

Day 1: Overnight trek to the Lisu tribe village

10am: Pick up from your hotel.

11am: Take a longtail boat ride down the Kok River to an elephant camp (optional elephant ride at an additional cost).

12pm: Reach a small town for lunch.

12pm to 4pm: Trek along jungle trails to reach a hill tribe village. The guide will decide on the destination village and trail based on your fitness level.

4pm to 7pm: Enjoy a welcome tea and a cold shower in the hut of your host family.

7pm to 10pm: Simple home-cooked dinner with the host family and guide, and you’ll probably want to rest early afterwards.

An elephant camp along the Kok River
An elephant camp along the Kok River
Trekking through the jungle
Trekking through the jungle
After hours of hiking, we come to a remote Lisu village deep in the hills of Northern Thailand
After hours of hiking, we come to a remote Lisu village deep in the hills of Northern Thailand

Day 2: Trek to a waterfall and return to Chiang Rai

9am: Wake up to the crows of the village’s roosters, and dig into a filling breakfast of local porridge or bread and jam.

10am to 1pm: Head down to the Chinese village at the foot of the hill. Along the way, you’ll pass by a tea plantation, rice fields and other hill tribe villages.

1pm: Using just bamboo, your guide will fashion a cooking vessel, eating utensils like chopsticks and cups, and start a fire to cook lunch in the jungle.

2pm to 4pm: Hike on to a waterfall for an optional swim (warning: the water gets cold especially in the winter season!), and then past another village to end with a jeep ride back to Chiang Rai.

The second day's trek starts off easier
The second day’s trek starts off easier as we enter another village
No metal pots required. Instead, bamboo is used to hold and cook green curry.
No metal pots required. Instead, bamboo is used to hold and cook green curry.

One highlight of this trek is to appreciate the ingenious craftsmanship of the guide, as he chops, slices, grinds and hammers freshly cut bamboo into useful items like cups, chopsticks and rings. If he finds a section of bamboo filled with water, you can do like Bear Grylls and have a sip right from the bamboo stem too!

The temperature drops drastically at night though, so be prepared with a jacket. The hut where you’ll be sleeping in is very basic, as you lie under a mosquito net and on an elevated platform, with a thin mattress for cushioning. You have a blanket for warmth, although it’s not going to be the clean and fluffy ones that you might be accustomed to in hotels.

Also, expect very basic bathroom facilities. The shower is a tub of river water with a small bucket to shovel water onto yourself. If you’re not ready to rough it out, this trek might just break your spirits down. Come mentally prepared.

As you return to Chiang Rai after the trek, get a ride on the pickup to the bus station. There’s no time to lose, as you have to get on the last bus to Chiang Mai at 5.30pm on the same day.

The bus station at Chiang Rai
The bus station at Chiang Rai

Day 9 – Take on winding mountain roads as you cross over to the backpacker haven of Pai

Wake up bright and early to catch an early bus to Pai. This mountain town is a 3 hour drive west of Chiang Mai, and makes up part of the infamous Mae Hong Son Loop, a dizzying series of relentlessly winding turns up and down steep mountain roads.

Once a sleepy village inhabited by farmers, this place has grown into a tourist town where every other commercial establishment is a hostel, bar, restaurant or motorbike rental shop. A place on most backpackers’ itinerary, Pai has scenic roads and some interesting sights to visit just outside town. You’ll need a motorbike* to get around easily, or hire a driver for at least a few hours.

*The police force in Pai are especially motivated to look for traffic infractions by tourists. Usually, not wearing helmet or not having a license is enough to warrant an on-the-spot fine… if you know what I mean.

Sights around Pai

Once you’re ready to explore the area, check out:

  • The Memorial bridge: a touristy bridge that tries to associate itself to the famous WWII era Bridge Over The River Kwai in Kanchanaburi. Alas, it really isn’t a WWII bridge but a pretty modern one, but tourists still come here anyway.
  • Pai Canyon: in the same light, Pai Canyon wants to be compared with the Grand Canyon, or perhaps Bryce Canyon in the United States. It’s nothing like the two, but is still worth a look anyway. It’s pretty, but don’t expect an earth-splitting chasm.
  • Wat Phra That Mae Yen (Big Buddha on the hill): Come here for amazing views of Pai from up above. You’ll need to conquer a pretty long flight of stairs to the top, but it’s worth the climb! For best result, come in the evening and watch the sun set behind the distant mountains.

By day, the Pai Walking Street is a narrow gridlocked street, flanked on both sides by touristy cafes and shops. At night, the entire area across several streets are closed to traffic, and street vendors set up their stalls as a night market slowly takes form. After a long day of sightseeing, find some cheap eats there or grab a bite at one of the many western-style cafes. Tomorrow, you’ll be leaving the creature comforts of urban life behind again.

Accommodation

While Pai is filled with hostels catering to every type of traveller with a range of budgets, I recommend Juno hostel for a cheap stay in a decent place. There’s a free snack bar, laundry facilities and individual lockers inside each room. More importantly, it’s just a 5 minute walk to the town centre of Pai. Check out the latest prices and more details.

Scrambling over steep canyon walls at Pai Canyon
Scrambling over steep canyon walls at Pai Canyon
The Memorial Bridge at Pai
The Memorial Bridge at Pai
Sunset over Pai, from the Big Buddha temple
Sunset over Pai, from the Big Buddha temple

Day 10 & 11 – Brave the rapids from Pai to Mae Hong Son on an overnight rafting expedition

The River Pai lies just outside the town that bears the same name. From there, an overnight white-water rafting expedition will take you to Mae Hong Son, another popular town on many backpackers’ itinerary.

Mae Hong Son, of course, is famous for its winding roads. By taking on the journey by river, you’ll be missing out on this journey now – but rest assured, you’ll still have to face the 1,864 turns on the return journey by land.

For today, you’ll meet your rafting guide from Thai Rafting, a well-regarded tour operator run by Guy, a amiable Frenchman. After the equipping and luggage logistics are sorted, you’ll take a 1 hour drive out of town and along the river, stopping at a small village for to load up on snacks and beer if required.

Next, the pickup will stop at a nondescript location by the river, and the guide and his colleague will start pumping air into an impressive inflatable raft. 10 minutes later, you’ll be on the raft and in the river, ready to take on heart-pounding rapids over the next 6-8 hours. The following day, it’ll be more of the same, plus a pit stop at a hot spring, which resembles more like a mud bath than a luxurious body-soaking experience. But after enduring cold river water for much of the day, you’ll be glad to just wallow in ankle-deep hot water. If you’re looking for a thrilling experience, the best time to take on the waves is between August to September. With the rainy season bringing more water in, expect several Grade 4 rapids as you course down the river.

At the end of the first day, you’ll reach a jungle camp by 5pm, just in time to grab a shower. Again using a scoop and a tub of murky river water, comfort is not really the highest priority here. Instead, appreciate the peace and seclusion of this remote camp, where there is no electricity, water and cellphone reception. The nearest town is either a 4-hour climb through thick jungle, or a full day’s rafting down to Mae Salong. Virtually cut off from the rest of civilization, you’ll now know how it really feels like to be all alone in the world.

By late afternoon on the second day of the trip, you’ll reach the town of Mae Salong. While some travellers may stay for a day to enjoy the scenery and the laidback lifestyle, you’re pretty stretched for time during this trip. Instead, make a beeline to the bus station and take the last bus back to Chiang Mai at 5pm (Prempracha Transport).

The only ride for the next 2 days
The only ride for the next 2 days
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Our guide, Mr Chai, is a master of the rapids here.

Day 12 – Ride out to a Giant Treehouse just outside Chiang Mai

With one day to explore Chiang Mai, there’s no time to waste. If you’re confident to take on busy city roads, rent a motorbike and ride out for the day. Otherwise, you’ll need to rent a songthaew for a few hours, or just stick to exploring the city centre.

One interesting place to visit is located an hour and a half away by bike. The Giant Chiang Mai is a cafe built on top of a huge tree, and requires a 30 minute climb up winding gravel roads to reach. It’s worth the effort though, as you get a panoramic view of the valley below. It’s also something to boast about as you post your #lookatmyawesomecafe photos on Instagram.

Head back in the evening and grab an early dinner, as you’ll need to catch the overnight bus to Bangkok. There’s plenty of operators serving this route, so find the one that fits your schedule at 12go. Generally, these buses are pretty comfortable, but prepare a thick jacket as the air conditioning gets cranked up in the middle of the night. You have been warned.

The cafe on a tree, at the Giant Chiang Mai
The cafe on a tree, at the Giant Chiang Mai

Day 13 & 14 – Drive from Bangkok to Khao Yai to visit a slice of Europe amid the rolling hills of the Thai countryside

After a frigid overnight ride, the bus will drive into Mo Chit. This is one of Bangkok’s major bus stations, and is just a short walk away from the famous Chatuchak market. The BTS metro station is a 20 minute walk away, but many public buses can get you there for 2 Baht. Afterwards, take the BTS train and connect to the airport express. You’ll be collecting a rental car from the Suvarnabhumi airport, so expect the trip to take slightly over an hour.

From Bangkok, drive 2 hours out of Bangkok to reach Khao Yai. With the development of numerous themed resorts in recent years, this place sees busloads of tourists everyday. Alas, you need to be a hotel guest to explore the respective hotels, so pick wisely – the better ones (Thames Valley, Toscana, Sala, Kensington English Garden etc) will cost above 5,000 Baht per night. Also, do make a trip to the PB Valley vineyard and sample locally made wines. Entry is free, but there are scheduled guided tours that you can join for 320 Baht for adults or 250 Baht for kids.

Grapes grow well on the hilly soils of the PB Valley
Grapes grow well on the hilly soils of the PB Valley vineyard
Enjoy a slice la dolce vita in the Tuscan-themed hotel
Enjoy a slice la dolce vita in the Tuscan-themed hotel, Toscana

If fancy European-themed hotels don’t interest you, drive up into the Khao Yai National Park instead. The entrance fees is a tad expensive at 400 Baht for adults and 200 Baht for children. But some claim it’s one of Thailand’s most beautiful nature reserves, so go for it!

At night, you can dine at a nice restaurant in one of the many hotels. If you’re on a budget, drive down to Pak Chong and visit the small night market along the main road. The food’s cheaper than Bangkok, and the variety doesn’t disappoint.

If you’re travelling in December or January, there’s one last surprise in store! Make a detour and head towards Saraburi. During this season, the sunflowers fields are filled with bright and cheerful blooms that scream for attention. Most fields are maintained by farmers who ask for 10 Baht per person to enter. It’s a small price, and well worth the entry fee.

The sunflower fields of Saraburi
The sunflower fields of Saraburi
If you're in time, catch the sunset over the sunflower fields
If you’re in time, catch the sunset over fields of flowers

Accommodation

If you’re looking for an interesting place to stay for the night, try glamping – or luxury camping. The Lala Mukla Tented Resort Khao Yai is located near the major tourist attractions, and getting there by car is pretty easy. It’s also not as exorbitantly priced compared to the nearby resorts, although you do need to use shared (but spotless) shower and toilet facilities. Check out the latest prices and more details.

Lala Mukla Tented Resort Khao Yai
A glamping experience at the Lala Mukla Tented Resort Khao Yai

Day 15 & 16 – Get lost in the glitz and grime of Bangkok

At last, your trip is at its end. You have 2 days in Bangkok to explore a city that deserves a week at the very least. It’s the ideal setting for an end to this trip, and has something for everyone – from museums to late night shopping, and from relaxing massages to world-class nightlife (or otherwise, if you know what I mean).

If you’re new to the city and want to do something outside of the usual Bangkok itinerary, here are some possible ideas.

Tailor a suit

Many visitors go for a tailor-made suit or other clothes in Bangkok. Tailors offer decent quality work at affordable rates, and are located at almost every other corner in the city. Rates and workmanship will vary wildly depending on whether you make an effort to bargain or not, but a suit may be made for US$150.

Dine like a local at the Tawandang German Brewery

A place where local Thais let down their hair, this restaurant and beer garden brews their beers on-site in huge metal vessels. The food’s good too, and do make reservations if you’re coming with a big group. You should know that the place gets really crowded during dinner time, and especially on Fridays and weekends.

Catch a 4D movie at Siam Paragon

If you’re looking for the latest in cutting edge entertainment, Paragon Cineplex at Siam Paragon could easily trump any of the cinemas back home. The newest cinema hall boasts of a 4D experience, which is essentially a non-stop simulator ride through the entire movie. Couple that with 3D glasses and the occasional blast of cool air into your face, and you’ll really feel like you’re in the movie.

Prices range between 500 to 600 Baht, depending on the location. In some countries, that’s the same price just to watch the same film on a crappy seat in an ageing cinema!

Watch a cabaret show

Transgenders are an accepted part of Thai society, and many have ordinary jobs and lead ordinary lives like other Thais. In the entertainment industry however, ladyboys have a less-than-flattering reputation as raunchy performers and sex workers.

The Calypso cabaret show is a palatable version of this image, as ladyboys go up to sing, dance and act on stage. Generally, it’s family-friendly entertainment and a offers decent income for the performers. The performers know you’ve come to gawk at them, so its natural to stare or feel uncomfortable around them. Just don’t be a jackass and make rude comments or gestures – that’s just mean!

Dine on street food everywhere in Bangkok
Dine on street food everywhere in Bangkok
Walk the busy streets
Walk the busy streets of the city centre
End the day with a craft beer at Tawandang
End the day with a craft beer at Tawandang

Accommodation

There are far too many options to consider when staying in Bangkok, catering to all types of travellers and budget. As transportation in Bangkok can be a huge hassle, my main criteria for choosing a place to stay is:

  • Near the subway or BTS station. Don’t rely on the roads to get you anywhere fast.
  • Near the city centre, as the main tourist attractions are located there.
  • Affordably priced. The market is so competitive, so you don’t need to shell out a lot to stay in a nice place.

Check out Booking.com for the latest prices on available rooms in Bangkok.

Additional notes

On this 16-day trip, you’ll need to plan out the logistics carefully as you’re going to be doing a lot of different activities. From trekking to driving a rental car, it pays to be prepared. On a tight budget, you don’t fork out for extra stuff at inflated prices when you’re desperate.

What to bring

Part of the itinerary will take on some amount of adventure and rugged travel. As such, keep your mosquito repellent handy and your backpacks light. Here’s a short list of things to make the trip more comfortable.

For trekking

  • Light jacket (temperatures can drop to 10°c at night between December to February)
  • Torch light or head lamp
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Sunblock
  • Portable charger for your camera phone
  • 1 liter water bottle
  • Waterproof casing for any electronics

On the road

  • A good book (Geek In Thailand is a recommended read)
  • An inflatable neck pillow
  • Eye mask and ear plugs if you’re a light sleeper
  • Pre-downloaded GPS app or maps

At the beach

  • Swimwear (bring a spare, if possible)
  • Towel
  • Sunglasses

Others

  • Copies of your passport and driver license (to rent a motorbike)
  • Small daypack to carry just the essentials

Driving tips

This itinerary requires you to rent a car at two places during the trip. Some online reviewers have previously warned that car rental companies may charge you for new dents or cracks. During the initial handover, check the car thoroughly and make sure you record every defect with your camera. Even better, time stamp the photos so you can use it when contesting a defect.

While most Thai drivers do want to get home safely, some motorists do drive like maniacs. At the very least, get some insurance for your rental car, whether it’s from signing up with a travel-related credit card or through your travel insurance. Even better, pay for an third-party zero-excess car rental insurance.

The end of a whirlwind trip

This itinerary is undoubtedly packed with many activities and sightseeing locations, all in a short span of time. Nevertheless, this trip will take you memorable places, many of which are off the regular mass tourism trail. Thailand is a beautiful country with lots of friendly people, so come in with an open mind and fire up that spirit of adventure!

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