This post was updated in April 2020.
Thailand is a popular tourist destination in Southeast Asia and rightfully so. The people are very friendly, the food is delicious, and it’s very affordable. Nature in Thailand is beautiful and varied, with mountains in the North and tropical islands in the South.
There are many historical sites, such as Ayutthaya, Sukhothai, and Kanchanaburi, and backpacking in Thailand is very easy. This itinerary will help you make the most of your 10 days in Thailand!
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10 days in Thailand
In this travel guide to Thailand you can find:
- Things to know before traveling to Thailand
- Best places to visit in Thailand: day by day itinerary
- Where to stay in Thailand
Important things to know when planning a trip to Thailand
While there isn’t necessarily a bad time for a Thailand holiday, the best time to visit Thailand is between November and April. These months offer warm but comfortable temperatures and a low chance of precipitation.
Note that Christmas can be very busy, so if you plan to travel to Thailand during this holiday period, book your accommodation on time!
The official currency in Thailand is the Thai baht. Here you can find the current exchange rates, at the time of writing €1 is approximately 35THB and $1 approximately 32THB.
That depends. There are 64 countries falling under the so-called Visa Exemption and Bilateral Agreement, including the U.S.A., most countries of the European Union and several countries in South America.
Under these regulations, you can stay in Thailand for up to 30 days as long as you can provide proof of an outbound ticket. You can find more detailed information on the Thai embassy website.
The easiest way to get around Bangkok is with the BTK, the sky train of Bangkok. However, you can’t get to all the places to visit in Bangkok with the BTK.
There is also an extensive bus network in Bangkok. When trying to make sense of the slightly complex bus system, this website is very helpful.
There are tuk-tuks and taxis as well, but I personally prefer traveling by bus. It’s how the locals travel (we were often the only foreigners on the bus) and it’s much cheaper too!
Last but certainly not least is to travel by boat. The most scenic way to get from A to B in Bangkok is by cruising the Chao Phraya River while admiring the ever-changing skyline. Read more about Bangkok boat transport here.
There are also several Chao Phraya boat tours, such as this popular and affordable dinner cruise offered by Klook.
How do I plan a 10 day trip to Thailand?
Thailand has so much to offer that you can’t possibly see everything in just 10 days. Choices have to be made and I’ve created two itineraries that are perfect for people who don’t want to rush around the country, but rather spend 2 or 3 days at each location.
Option 1: Bangkok and around
This itinerary includes Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Ayutthaya, and Koh Samet. The distances covered in this itinerary are relatively small, all the places included in this Thailand trip itinerary are located within half a day travel distance from Bangkok.
Option 2: Bangkok and North Thailand
When following this itinerary to Thailand you will spend several days in buzzing Bangkok, explore the beautiful temples in Chiang Mai, enjoy the relaxed town of Pai and cycle around the ancient ruins of Sukhothai.
This option does require a bit more travel and covers larger distances, however, you will get to explore very different Thailand highlights that will make for a very memorable trip.
Thailand itinerary 10 days option 1: Bangkok and around
10 day Thailand itinerary
- Day 1-3: Bangkok
- Day 4-5: Kanchanaburi
- Day 6-7: Ayutthaya
- Day 8-10: Koh Samet
Where to stay during your Thailand trip
|Bangkok||Ramada Plaza Menam Riverside||€66/$72||Agoda||Booking|
|Kanchanaburi||Owl Poshtel Kanchanaburi||€42/$46||Agoda||Booking|
|Koh Samet||Ao Prao Resort||€135/$148||Agoda||Booking|
Day 1-3: Bangkok
There is just something about Bangkok that makes it special. Maybe it’s the sizzling sound of street food being prepared, the organized chaos or the unmistakable smell of incense. Whatever it is, Bangkok is a great city to visit!
There is no better place to start your Thailand route than in Bangkok. After all, no trip to Thailand would be complete without Bangkok, the busy and bustling capital of Thailand.
Bangkok is an intriguing mix between old and new, between modern and tradition and between ‘West’ and ‘East’. I was surprised, though not in a particularly positive way, by the amount of Starbucks cafes and fast-food chains.
Who would want to eat a burger when you can have delicious Thai food every day for just a couple of bath! Bangkok is a foodies paradise, offering something for everyone (from vegan restaurants to quirky places like the Unicorn Cafe and smoky BBQ street food).
Bangkok itinerary: day 1
Admire Wat Pho and the Reclining Buddha
A must visit on any Bangkok itinerary is Wat Pho, a large Buddhist temple complex which is most well-known for the famous Reclining Buddha statue, which is over 15 meters high and 46 meters long!
There is much more to see at Wat Pho, besides the Big Buddha, the entire complex is filled with beautiful statues and buildings. Allow at least two hours but preferably half a day to explore the complex.
The entrance fee for Wat Pho is 100 THB per person, this includes an information leaflet and a small bottle of water. Speaking of water, make sure to bring enough water with you when exploring Bangkok, particularly in the hottest months of the year (March – June).
Also bring a scarf or sarong, as you will need to cover your shoulders when entering the building that houses the Reclining Buddha.
Visit one or more of the shiny (airconditioned!) malls in Bangkok
In the afternoon, visit one of the many malls in Bangkok to do some shopping and to cool off. Be sure to carry a jacket as the airconditioning is sometimes set to uncomfortably low temperatures.
Popular malls are the MBK Center, Siam Center, Siam Paragon and my personal favorite Terminal 21.
Terminal 21 is a shopping mall where each floor is built in the theme of a famous city in the world. We visited Tokyo, Paris, London, Istanbul and San Francisco in just two hours;-).
There are cinema’s in several of these malls as well, so if you feel like catching a movie, you can. Movies are often shown in English with Thai subtitles but be sure to check with the cinema staff before purchasing a ticket.
Have a drink at the Red Sky Rooftop Bar
There are plenty of rooftop bars in Bangkok, in my opinion one of the best is the Red Sky Rooftop Bar. With comfortable chairs, a wide selection of drinks, relaxed music and a beautiful view over Bangkok this is an excellent place to watch the sunset.
Insider advice: arrive an hour before sunset to scoop up one of the good seats and stay until the last light has faded away and the city has been lit up by thousands of twinkling lights.
Bangkok itinerary: day 2
A lovely place to have breakfast is Saneh, a tiny riverside restaurant that I never would have found on my own. This place was recommended by a friend of mine, who lived in Bangkok for 4 months.
There are lots of great breakfast spots in Bangkok, you just have to know where to look.
The Grand Palace
Another popular Bangkok attraction you can’t miss is the Grand Palace, the official residence of the Kings of Siam (the historic name of Thailand) since 1782.
Part of the complex is still used by the Royal Family and there are several royal offices situated inside.
The complex consists of several buildings, the most famous one is Wat Phra Kaew, also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It’s considered the most sacred temple in Thailand, so please dress accordingly.
In fact, the dress code at the Grand Palace is quite strict. As a women, make sure to avoid tight-fitting stretch pants, short skirts (above the knee) or anything revealing. Your shoulders must be covered, so bring a scarf is you are wearing a top. Men should wear long pants and a t-shirt (tank tops aren’t allowed).
The entrance fee is 500TBH, you can purchase a skip-the-line ticket online. I recommend visiting early in the day (opening times are 8.30 am until 3.30 pm, every day of the week). Bring enough water as it can get scorching hot within the walls of the Grand Palace.
Bangkok is busy and can be overwhelming, especially if this is your first time visiting. But if you know where to look, there are some lovely peaceful and quiet places to be found as well.
One of these places is Lumpini Park, a great place for an afternoon stroll. You can also rent one of the paddleboats and slowly drift around the pond. Lumpini Park is also a great stop for families visiting Bangkok with kids.
Grab a bite at Khaosan road
For dinner, head to Khaosan road where you can find lot’s of street food, such as a delicious plate of Pad Thai prepared on a tiny street cart for a mere 35 TBH.
Bangkok itinerary: day 3
Visit the Jim Thompson House
A very interesting place to visit in Bangkok is the Jim Thompson House. Jim Thomson was an American businessman who fell in love with Thailand and played a crucial role in reviving the Thai silk industry.
In the Jim Thompson House, you can learn more about his story and the impact he had on the silk industry. Even if you are not into silk the house is still a very worthwhile visit, it’s beautifully constructed and decorated with amazing art.
The entrance fee is 200 baht, opening hours are from 9 am to 6 pm (daily).
If you aren’t templed out yet, visit Wat Arun. Wat Arun is a very impressive and recognizable temple, due to its 70-meter high spire.
It was built in the typical Khmer style, similar to the style of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The spire is called ‘prang‘ and is decorated with thousands of pieces of mosaic, made from colorful porcelain.
The entrance fee is 100TBH and the dress code is similar to the Grand Palace.
Insider advice: the best views of Wat Arun are to be had from across the river. If you can, visit at sunset or at night when the temple is beautifully illuminated.
Where to stay in Bangkok
We’ve made several trip to Bangkok and stayed at very different accommodations because we had very different budgets for these trips.
I’ve included one budget option and one luxury option so you can choose whatever suits your travel style (and budget) best.
On a budget: Au Bon hostel
If you are backpacking around Thailand and want a cheap but comfortable place to sleep, I can recommend Au Bon hostel.
The hotel is only a 5-10 minute walk from Khaosan Road, the main backpacker area. The area around the hotel is nice and quiet and while our room was tiny, it was clean, had a comfortable bed and ensuite bathroom.
In the lobby there is free coffee and tea available as well as the most delicious homemade banana crisps, so yummy! I may have eaten an entire jar by myself…
Luxury: Ramada Plaza Menam Riverside
An excellent option when you have a bigger budget is the 5-star Ramada Plaza Menam Riverside. The hotel offers large rooms, a swimming pool, and a very extensive breakfast buffet.
There is a free shuttle boat (every 30 minutes) to Sathorn Pier where you can transfer to the Skytrain (BTS at Saphan Taksin). I very much enjoyed my stay here!
Day 4-5: Kanchanaburi
The bridge over the River Kwai
One of the most impressive places to visit in Thailand is Kanchanaburi (which can also be visited as a day trip from Bangkok). During WWII the Japanese occupied the area and forced thousands of people to work on the railway between Thailand and Burma (now Myanmar).
The railway is also called the Death Railway, more than 100.000 people lost their lives while working on this railroad in horrifying conditions…
Be sure to visit the Jeath War Museum, Death Railway Museum, and the Don Rak War Cemetery to learn more about the tragic history of this area.
While places like these are difficult to visit, I think it’s crucial to do so. Hopefully, one day we will learn from the mistakes we made in the past…
Erawan National Park
Kanchanaburi is a very green region and after exploring busy Bangkok, it’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy the beautiful nature.
At just an hour’s drive from Kanchanaburi, you can find the glorious mountains of Erawan National Park.
Besides the beautiful mountain views, there are also several pretty waterfalls in Erawan. You can climb all the way to the top level if you like (there are seven levels in total). My favorite levels were #4 and #5.
If you prefer, you can also book a customized tour (1-4 days) from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi. The tour includes transport and all the places in Kanchanaburi mentioned above (as well as a visit to Hellfire Pass).
Where to stay in Kanchanaburi: Owl Poshtel Kanchanaburi (medium budget)
Owl Poshtel Kanchanaburi is a newly built 3-star hotel, located in the center of Kanchanaburi and within easy walking distance from the main sights in Kanchanaburi.
Day 6-7: Ayutthaya
After you’ve taken a break from temple hopping in Bangkok during your time in Kanchanaburi, there are more beautiful temples to be found in Ayutthaya.
Ayutthaya was the second kingdom of Thailand, from 1350 to 1767. The numerous temples are in various states of decay, from barely more than a pile of rocks to still fully functional Wats with golden Buddha’s inside.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon
During the time of our visit to Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, many statues were wearing brightly colored robes that looked very new. I was told this was because Buddhist Lent had just begun and the robes are donated to the temples.
When you are in Ayutthaya you must visit the famous Buddha head in the tree! Even though you probably have seen this picture many times, it will still be impressive to see this strange phenomenon in person. It’s a perfect blend of culture and nature!
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
This is the most famous complex in Ayutthaya and it’s easy to see why: the three tall stupas are a must-see!
Allow yourself plenty of time to walk around and try to imagine what life must have been like back in the days…
When visiting places like Ayutthaya, I always find it astonishing how people were able to build these impressive structures without any modern equipment.
Wat Phra Mongkhon Bophit
This is beautiful Wat Phra Mongkhon Bophit, a pretty sight against the green trees and white blue sky. This temple is still in use, be sure to be respectful when entering the temple (cover your shoulders, take off your shoes and keep your voice down).
If you prefer, you can join a 1-day tour from Bangkok to Ayutthaya. Click here for more information and the latest prices.
Where to stay in Ayutthaya: Classic Kameo (medium budget)
Classic Kameo is a very modern and beautiful hotel! It’s not very centrally located but I found it to be excellent value for money.
There is a fitness area, a large swimming pool and lovely rooms with a modern bathroom and a super comfortable bed. The breakfast buffet was extensive and the staff very welcoming.
Day 8-10: Koh Samet
In 2015, I visited Koh Tao in the South of Thailand and while I loved the scuba dive scene and our stay at the luxurious Tarna Align resort, I found the island way too touristy.
Koh Samet, on the other hand, was a pleasant surprise, it was much less crowded than Koh Tao and I really enjoyed the laid-back vibe.
Granted, there were fewer diving opportunities but snorkeling was fun. Plus, the amazing sunsets and views more than made up for it…
Relax on Koh Samet
You can explore the island on foot (be sure to bring plenty of water and wear lots of suncream), there isn’t much traffic and only a couple of roads.
Walking around the entire island is quite far though, you can also rent a scooter or songthaew to get around.
In the main town Hat Sai Kaew, there is some nice art and architecture like the Mermaid sculpture and the main pier. Another fun activity is to join a snorkeling tour.
Ao Prao Beach
Ao Prao Beach is located on the West side of Koh Samet and the place to be for the most beautiful sunsets. We were treated to spectacular skies every evening, it’s the perfect way to relax after your action-packed itinerary in Thailand.
Where to stay on Koh Samet: Ao Prao Resort (luxury hotel)
Ao Prao Resort is an amazing resort! It’s not cheap (€135/$148) but look at the view from the swimming pool! The rooms are beautifully decorated and I had an ocean view from my balcony.
The beds are very comfortable, bathrooms are clean and modern. The extensive breakfast is served in a beautiful dining area overlooking the ocean.
10-day itinerary of Thailand option 2: Bangkok and the North
10 days in Thailand itinerary
- Day 1-3: Bangkok
- Day 4-6: Chiang Mai
- Day 7-8: Pai
- Day 9-10: Sukhothai
Option 2: Bangkok and Northern Thailand 10 day itinerary
Thailand where to stay
|Bangkok||Ramada Plaza Menam Riverside||€66/$72||Agoda||Booking|
|Chiang Mai||The Park Hotel||€42/$46||Agoda||Booking|
|Pai||Pai Village Boutique Resort & Farm||€60/$65||Agoda||Booking|
|Sukhothai||Le Charme Hotel||€40/$44||Agoda||Booking|
Day 1-3: Bangkok
For days 1-3, follow the Bangkok itinerary detailed above. From Bangkok, take a 1h15min flight to Chiang Mai and start your exploration of Thailand’s beautiful and mountainous North.
Day 4-6: Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is the largest city in northern Thailand and known for its many temples. Located in a green and mountainous area, there are many things to see and do in and around Chiang Mai.
From temple-hopping to grabbing a drink at one of the trendy cafes to the exhilarating Flight of the Gibbon zipline experience, Chiang Mai is a great place to spend a couple of days.
Wat Phra Singh
One of the most beautiful temples in Thailand and a must-visit highlight on any Chiang Mai itinerary is the Wat Phra Singh complex.
Wat Phra Singh is the most important temple in Chiang Mai and many locals visit the temple daily. Singh means Lions and it’s the guardian lions at the entrance that earned the complex its name.
Throughout the year, pilgrims visit Wat Phra Singh to honor the image of Phra Singh, which translates into Lion Buddha.
Another type of statue found in many temples in Asia are fearsome-looking Naga, also known as Water Dragons, like the ones pictured above.
Located on the flank of one of the tallest mountains in Thailand is the majestic Wat Phra That Doi Suthep complex. The temple can be reached by climbing up 306 steps on a staircase flanked by naga.
The entrance fee is 30 baht ($1) and the temple can be visited from 6.30 am until 6.30 pm. The best time to visit Wat Doi Suthep is in the morning when there are fewer crowds and the temperature is more comfortable.
Doi Suthep temple is a sacred site for the Thai, so please behave and dress respectfully.
From the temple, you can enjoy amazing views over Chiang Mai and the surrounding area.
It’s easy to visit this temple on your own, you can take a songthaew from Chiang Mai or rent a motorbike. Alternatively, you can join a half or full-day tour including transport and a guide.
If you are into mountainbiking, consider going on this epic mountain bike tour in Doi Suthep Pui National Park. There are three different routes to choose from, suitable for different levels of experience.
The tours are led by experienced guides so you’ll be in excellent hands during this awesome outdoor adventure.
The Flight of the Gibbon
Another great activity in Chiang Mai is the Flight of the Gibbon. The Flight of the Gibbon takes you on a ziplining circuit of 30 platforms and 18 zip lines, the longest zip line is over 800 meters!
Don’t worry if you have never ziplined before, the English speaking guides will carefully explain everything, make sure all safety protocols are being followed and help you the entire time.
They will make sure you are safely connected to the ziplines and also tell you about the forest, the trees and the different species living in this area of Thailand.
Flying through the green canopy and dense jungle is absolutely exhilarating and while it’s not a cheap activity, I personally found it worth every bath.
Take a cooking class
Thai cuisine is rich and varied and includes many delicious dishes. During your trip around Thailand, you can sample lots of them, but how about learning to cook Thai food yourself?
In Chiang Mai, there are several excellent cooking schools offering classes where you’ll gain insight into the secrets behind the unique Thai flavors and tastes. It’s all about creating the perfect balance between spicy and sweet, something you will learn a lot about during a Thai cooking class.
Your class will start with a visit to the local market or farm, where you will gather the necessary ingredients. Back at the cooking school, you will learn to cook three dishes during a half-day class. When you opt for a full day course you will learn how to make five different Thai dishes.
Whether Pad Thai, Tom Kha Kai, Tom Yum soup or a Thai curry is your favorite dish, you can choose which recipe(s) you want to learn.
There is no better way to relive your Thailand trip than by cooking an authentic curry once you’re back home and enjoy those wonderful smells and flavors that makes the Thai cuisine so delicious and unique.
Where to stay in Chiang Mai: The Park Hotel
There is a swimming pool on the roof and they offer a free shuttle service to the night market (every hour). The staff is friendly and there is an excellent breakfast buffet included.
The Park Hotel is suitable for families as well as two kids under 10 years can stay without any additional charges.
Day 7-8: Pai
Jon from Jon Is Travelling: Pai is one of the most popular tourist towns in northern Thailand, most people traveling around the north will make it there eventually and it’s the perfect spot to stop for a few days and relax.
A big reason for its popularity is that Pai is a great place to eat, drink, shop, get massages and generally take some time away from ‘the road’.
Pai is around three hours north of Chiang Mai, the best way to travel between the two is by minivan. You can easily book a transfer in Chiang Mai, at one of the many tour operators in town.
Pai itself is fairly small, however, there are many restaurants serving food from all around the world. Pai is also a popular spot to do yoga and other wellness activities.
The countryside surrounding Pai is begging to be explored, and lots of people choose to do this on a motorcycle. Be careful though, many tourists have gotten (seriously) injured and some have even died on the roads around Pai.
The roads are steep and winding, to say the least, and I’d be avoiding it unless you’re experienced on a motorcycle and have a proper motorcycle license and insurance.
Alternatively, you can join a tour (there are many on offer in town) that will take you to the main viewpoints, caves, waterfalls, and temples around Pai if you want to avoid navigating the roads yourself.
There are many things to do in Pai, both in the town and in the surrounding area. Below you can find my personal top 3:
- The Night Market: at night, several of Pai’s streets are converted into a large night market selling all sorts of food, souvenirs, and clothes.
- Pai Canyon: Pai Canyon is a popular place to watch the sunrise and a beautiful piece of nature. Take care though, the cliffs are steep and it’s not worth risking your life to get a pretty picture!
- Tham Lod Cave: this easily accessible cave is definitely worth visiting. You’ll be taken through the cave by a local guide and get to admire impressive stalactite formations (some are over 20 meters tall!) as well as make a short boat ride around the cave.
If you prefer, you can also book a 1-4 day private tour from Chiang Mai to Pai, including many of Pai’s highlights as well as transport and accommodation (for multiday tours). Read more information here.
Where to stay in Pai: Pai Village Boutique Resort & Farm
This lovely boutique hotel in Pai features cute and comfortable wooden cabins with modern ensuite bathrooms located in a lovely garden. Enjoy a cup of tea on your private balcony while listening to the tropical birds or enjoy a Thai massage at The Mamalon Massage.
Located in Pai center, the location is excellent and the staff is friendly. Altogether a nice place to stay during your trip to Pai.
Day 9-10: Sukhothai
Sukhothai Historic Park
The ruins of Sukhothai are the only remains of the ancient Kingdom of Sukhothai which was founded in the 13th century.
Sukhothai means ‘Dawn of Happiness‘ and for several decades this place was indeed a happy place, the first kingdom of Siam (Thailand). Sukhothai is a UNESCO Heritage site and there are hundreds of old Buddha statues, crumbling buildings, and dilapidated stupas.
Highlights are Wat Phra Pai Luang, Wat Mahathat and Wat Sri Sawai, though there are many more worthwhile ruins to explore.
You can easily spend at least half a day in Sukhothai Historical Park, though a full day would be better as it will give you more time to explore the sights without rushing around the park.
There are three different sections for which you have to buy a separate ticket, each costing 100THB (so 300THB if you want to visit all three sections).
Furthermore, I recommend renting a bicycle to explore Sukhothai because the sites are quite spread out. Bike rental shops can be found across the entrance, renting a bike usually costs around 30-40THB. Note that you’ll have to pay a 10THB entrance fee for the bike as well.
How to travel from Chiang Mai to Sukhothai
The distance between Chiang Mai and Sukhothai is 310 kilometers and traveling between the two cities takes about 7-8 hours. My recommendation is to take the 8.50 am train from Chiang Mai to Phitsanulok.
This special express train makes for a comfortable journey with beautiful views along the way. A second class ticket costs 470TBH, when departing with the 8.50 am train from Chiang Mai, you will arrive in Pitsanulok at 2.34 pm.
From Phitsanulok train station, you can either take a minivan directly to Sukhothai or a tuk-tuk/songthaew to Phitsanulok bus station where you can hop on a bus to Sukhothai (about one hour, tickets are around 45TBH).
The destination of both the minivans, as well as the bus, is the ‘new’ city, not the Historical Park. The distance between Sukhothai’s new city and the Sukhothai Historical Park is around 13 kilometers, you can take a tuk-tuk or songthaew to travel between the two.
Where to stay in Sukhothai: Le Charme Hotel
I stayed at Le Charme Hotel, a nicely set up accommodation with small bungalows arranged around lovely ponds. There is a swimming pool and a nice outdoor breakfast area.
The hotel is very close to the entrance of Sukhothai Park, making it a convenient place to stay for those looking to start their sightseeing tour of Sukhothai early in the morning.
10 days Thailand itinerary: in conclusion
Thailand is a wonderful country with plenty to offer for all types of travelers, from single (female) travelers to couples or families planning a trip to Thailand.
I hope this post will help you build your itinerary for Thailand! Feel free to ask any questions you may have by leaving a comment or send me an email!
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