From idyllic beaches to lush jungle mountains, you’ll be spoiled for choice on any 10 day Thailand itinerary. That said, it’s the 3rd largest country in Southeast Asia, so this sort of time frame requires some savvy planning. If you only have 10 days in Thailand, this is the perfect guide to help you plan, prioritize, and maximize your precious time.
Ultimately, you will not be able to see everything in a 10 day Thailand itinerary. There are people who spend months backpacking the country and don’t see everything. However, having spent a month backpacking this awesome country myself, I have a decent idea of what you should fill your precious time with!
How much will 10 days in Thailand cost?
I am a budget traveler, first and foremost, but for a short 10 day Thailand itinerary I break one of my cardinal rules. Namely, I recommend you fly as much as possible. I know, I know. Train and bus travel in Southeast Asia are guaranteed adventures (and much cheaper). But, sometimes there’s just not enough time! Sometimes you gotta bite the bullet and board a plane. Luckily, plane travel within Thailand isn’t exorbitantly expensive by any means.
That said, Thailand is still an incredibly affordable country.
Most travel bloggers (including yours truly) seem to agree on a rough budget of $35-$45/day, depending on how many activities you want to do. This doesn’t include round trip flights to Thailand, but it should still account for within-Thailand flights if you stick to budget airlines. If you’re staying in luxury accommodations or plan on drinking your body weight every night, obviously budget accordingly.
If you see tours in this or any of my posts, know that I never recommend stuff I have not 1) done myself and loved or 2) researched intensively to find it has overwhelmingly excellent reviews. Only the cream of the crop for you guys!!
Annnnd as always, I recommend traveling in the off season/shoulder season. It lessens the burden of heavy tourism on popular spots, and makes the experience a lot more pleasant for you. Some things are even cheaper, like bartering in markets, to increase business during these times! Obviously a tropical island in the heart of monsoon season will suck, so, ya know, follow this tip within reason.
10 Day Thailand Itinerary Breakdown
You can do these in whatever order shakes out best for you, planning around flights. Also, if one of these locations sounds far and above more appealing than other, by all means swap your days around a bit to give you more time there!
In general, though, I recommend the following outline for a basic Thailand itinerary:
- Day 1-3: Chiang Mai
- Day 4-6: Bangkok
- Day 6-8: Krabi
- Day 9-10: Koh Lanta
(If you fly into one place or the order, or weather constraints are at play, you could start or end in any of these. I just organized it from North to South)
Day 1-3: Chiang Mai
The beautiful, mountainous jungle in Northern Thailand is a must-see for nature lovers. Furthermore, even though Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second largest city, it seriously doesn’t feel that way to me.
Part of what makes Chiang Mai special is its Old City. Ancient walls surround the, well, old city boundaries before Chiang Mai expanded to the rest of the surrounding area. The Old City area is super walkable, much more-so than say, Hanoi’s.
Since Chiang Mai is such a popular ex-pat destination, there’s a lot going on. I had some of my favorite Thai meals here, but also some of the best international foods (Italian, anyone?! I crave pizza weekly regardless of where I am, so it was much appreciated). There are artsy shops aplenty, from traveling and local artists alike.
Besides general wandering around Chiang Mai’s Old City, I recommend:
- The famous Chiang Mai Sunday Walking Street, where you’ll find street food agogo and beautiful trinkets. It will also be PACKED. Just take your time, relax, and barter your ass off. If you want suggestions about my favorite dishes, here’s my master post on Southeast Asian food!
- Temples such as Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Chiang Man, and Wat Phra Singh are all easily accessible from the Old City
- Walk up the many steps to the beautiful views at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep (or Doi Suthep, for short), located in the Old City
- Motorbike through Doi Inthanon National Park, stopping at the overlooks for a cold beer and insane jungle views!
- Visit an (ACTUAL) ethical elephant sanctuary, of which there are apparently now three around Chiang Mai
- Take a day trip, either guided or on your own, to the famous white temple, Wat Rong Khun
- Take a cooking class! For some reason Chiang Mai has become THE place to do this. My favorite site for booking affordable tours is Get Your Guide.
If you have an extra day (or two), check out another cool, slightly less busting Northern city—Chiang Rai! Here’s a post of all the best things to do in Chiang Rai.
Getting to Chiang Mai
You can take an overnight train or bus from Bangkok, so if you’re the kind of person who sleeps well on these and you’re determined to take a train journey, go for it. My sleeper train ticket was about $30 USD.
Since there’s not much time on a 10 day Thailand itinerary, though, I still recommend flying! You can easily find a ticket on a budget airline for under $100 USD.
Where to Stay in Chiang Mai
You will not have trouble finding accommodation in Chiang Mai. I think it’s fun to stay within the Old City walls, so here are some of my favorite and some of the top rated hostels in that area:
- Hostel Lullaby: I love this hostel because it’s more artsy and cozy than party-hardy. Free breakfast, free WiFi, free bicycle. Dorms start at $15/night. The location is PERFECTION, a convenient walking distance to the temples in particular.
- Hostel by Bed: Free WiFi, breakfast included, free water. The common spaces are divine, in a garden area equipped with hammocks and bean bag chairs. The hostel has a sleek air to it. Dorms are $13 and 2-person privates for $36.
- Eden Walking Street Hostel: This cute, clean hostel is about as central as it gets in Chiang Mai. Free WiFi, free towels, no breakfast. Dorms start at $10/night.
Day 4-6: Bangkok
Bangkok is one of the most hectic and thrilling metropolises in Southeast Asia. Chances are, flights to be Thailand will be into/out of Bangkok.
Tbh, I could write an entire post about what to do with a few days in Bangkok (I have one about 4 days in Bangkok here). There’s… a lot. It’s overwhelming. That said, I’m not a big city person in general, so I didn’t feel the need to linger in Bangkok much longer than a couple days anyway!
A lot of of my favorite things in Bangkok fell into two categories: markets and temples.
I listed Bangkok’s temple and markets you should absolutely check out, plus a few random items, below:
- The Grand Palace, a huge home to past kings and now just a real snazzy regal complex which can take hours to explore!
- Wat Pho and the famous reclining gold Buddha
- Wat Arun is one of the most famous temples in Southeast Asia and 100% worth a visit
- Take a beginner’s Buddhist meditation class at Wat Mahathat
- Chatuchak Weekend Market is cool to see simply because of its EXTREMELY impressive size, open on Saturdays and Sundays (if you didn’t get that from the name)
- Nana Plaza is the largest sex complex (mall? Is it a mall? Like an outdoor strip mall?) (STRIP mall, indeed) (hehe) in the world. I’ll admit to walking through it… and immediately back out. My advice: go with a solid buzz on. This place is wild. Excellent for people watching.
- Visit Chinatown Bangkok, one of my favorite Chinatowns I’ve ever visited! I have an affinity to Chinatowns. I walked around this one for a WHILE. It’s expansive, the food is amazing… just try not to get lost! Here’s a post I wrote about spending Chinese New Year here!
The best way to get between these spots? Water! Yep, Bangkok has been called the Venice of the East because of its canals. It’s a form of public transportation. I found the waterways in and around Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River really easy (and fun) to navigate. It certainly helps tourists tend to frequent a few select stops (e.g. the Grand Palace stop), so those spots have nice maps in English.
Getting to Bangkok
Flights into Bangkok’s airport tend to be frequent and affordable. The cheapest way to get into the city is to take a local bus from the airport, but of course taxis (maybe $13 into the city center) are much easier. Many hostels will help you arrange your transportation!
Where to Stay in Bangkok
Bangkok is effing huge, fam. You might even want to consult a neighborhood guide, like this one by Nerd Nomads. I personally recommend staying in the Khao San area, because it’s closest to the main tourist sites and accommodation is cheap. Obviously avoid the main party hub of Khao San Road if you plan on sleeping, though staying in and around the area has always treated me well.
There’s a truly mind-boggling number of hostels in Bangkok, but the top-rated budget hostels (<$15/night, over 9/10 on hostel sites, and all around the Khao San area) are these:
- Jam Hostel Bangkok: Chill atmosphere in a nice location. The tours they organize around Bangkok have great reviews, as does their security. Dorm beds from $8.96, private rooms from $38.40. Breakfast included.
- Vivit Hostel Bangkok: Great security in a historic building with comfy beds. Dorm beds from $13.28, private rooms from $37.09. Breakfast included.
- Bed Station Khaosan:Has a pool (“the best pool in Khao San,” according to their site), pool table, gym, bar, and restaurant! Hosts a ton of activities, like walking tours, pool days, and bar crawls. Highest rated for location. Dorm beds from $11.52. Breakfast not included.
Day 6-8: Krabi
There are a million and a half reasons to love Krabi. FIRST OF ALL, the beaches are bonkers. I mean, way prettier than some beaches I’ve seen on actual tropical islands. Also, there’s an insane amount of stuff to do for outdoorsy people. Namely, jungle hiking and rock climbing!
It’s going to be impossible to take full advantage of the whole Krabi area over just a couple days. So, you can either choose one place to spend both nights as a home base. Or, you can pick two and spend a night in each.
Krabi Town vs Railay Peninsula
Krabi Town is a hoot. The Krabi night market has some of the best food like, ever. It’s cheaper than night markets in bigger tourist areas. You should also pay a visit to Wat Kaew Korawaram, a pretty temple within walking distance of the market. The Khao Khanab Nam Caves are a cool nearby trip!
You’ll want to visit Railay for the beaches. There’s Railay West, Ao Phra Nang, Ton Sai… all among the prettiest in Thailand. Also, the vibe of Railay is just really cool and if you like laid back, outdoorsy backpacker scenes you’ll fit right in. Tonsai beach is famous for seaside rock climbing, which I can’t even properly explain what a rush it is. There are outings for all skill levels! Even on the “beginner” trips, though, you climb super freakin’ high and then LEAP into the water below.
It’s a work out and a nightmare, all in one!
(Just kidding, it’s the best adrenaline rush)
No matter where you stay, there are two non-beach related things you gotta do in this area. The first of which is the Khao Ngon Nak Viewpoint. It’s about a half hour motorbike ride from Krabi Town or Railay, at the Hat Noppharat Thara National Park. It’s about a 2 hour hike, ending with one of the best views in Southeast Asia.
The second is the Tiger Cave Temple, a beautiful mountaintop temple with views of the surrounding jungle. This one is closer to Krabi Town, just North of it actually. You can get there by motorbike, taxi, or tour!
Getting to Krabi
Fly. There are budget flights from all over Thailand/Southeast Asia.
Where to stay in Krabi Town
There is no shortage of baller budget accommodations in Krabi Town. The following have excellent reviews and are in what I consider the best locations in Krabi Town:
- Krabi Pitta House: The Krabi Pitta House has awesome reviews and is in an undeniably awesome location. Depending on the room, breakfast may be included. Try to get a room with a balcony overlooking the town! Rooms start at $27 for 2 person rooms.
- Sleep Easy Krabi Guest House: The Sleep Easy Guest House is a lovely little family-run, budget-friendly option if you want to be in heart of Krabi Town. It’s walkable from every main Krabi Town attraction, like the night market! Dorms start at $12. Breakfast not included.
- Pak-Up Hostel: Another awesome budget option in the area, apparently known for comfy beds by Southeast Asia hostel standards. Breakfast is not included, but there is a bar. Dorms start at $9!
Where to stay in Railay
So, because of Railay’s status as not-totally-taken-over-by-tourists, there’s not as much accommodation to choose from. That’s a fair trade-off, in my book. Here are some top-rated faves, from budget options to moderately priced beachside resorts:
- Paasook Resort: Close to Tonsai just North of Railey West, Paasook Resort is a nice budget-friendly option. It has that slightly rugged, no-frills chilled out beach bungalow feel to it. There are a couple different room options, with budget full bed rooms just $15/night. Breakfast not included.
- Chill Out Bar & Bungalow: Another budget option near Railay Beach, Chill Out Bar & Bungalow could not be in a more beautiful location. With jungle and limestone karsts on one end, and crystal clear turquoise water on the other, what more could you ask for? There is a bar on site, but breakfast not included. Dorms start at $10 and bungalows at $29.
- Tonsai Bay Resort: Worth it if you can swing it, this one is an awesome choice for climbers who want to be near Tonsai Beach. There are private villas with balconies, a diving center, and beachfront restaurant and bar. The price ($48 for a double room, which split two ways is a steal for this luxury) includes a delicious breakfast.
- Railay Hilltop: Frankly the only place I’d stay on Railey Beach East, Railay Hilltop has STUN-NING views of the surrounding area. Seriously, it’s ridiculous. There’s also a pool, which I’m a sucker for despite rarely swimming in them… and WHY WOULD YOU when you’re a stone’s throw from world-class beaches?! It has a restaurant and bar, and breakfast is included with the price ($41) of a room.
Day 9-10: Koh Lanta
It would be a low key CRIME to visit Thailand and not spend the night on one of its world-famous, stupidly gorgeous islands. I recommend Koh Lanta since it’s 1) great and 2) convenient to get to from Krabi. If you don’t mind splashing out (har har, island pun) on flights, though, you could pick a different island quite easily.
Why Koh Lanta vs. other islands?
Besides its convenient location within this specific itinerary, there are a lot of reasons. Of all the “main” Thai islands, it’s probably the least tourist-y. Other islands have had to shut down beaches because they were overrun with tourists, but not Koh Lanta.
Koh Lanta has a decidedly chill vibe. There are plenty of laid back beach bars, but without the wild parties. You can also find actual peace and quiet on some of its most beautiful beaches!
I normally don’t like motorbikes, but on the islands I make an exception. Traffic just moves a lot slower, even on the more popular ones. Koh Lanta, with its low key status and lower visitation, is a total breeze. Motorbike is hands down the best way to explore the island.
With only two-ish days here, I would pretty much just lounge around on the beach, take in the sunrises and sunsets, and relax. If you are looking for some more active ventures, Koh Lanta shan’t disappoint! There’s a National Park on the island (look out for the monkeys—they’re assholes). The Old Town is adorable and you should absolutely walk around for a bit. Also, Koh Lanta has some excellent local food. I found other islands to have a painful amount of Western food, but Koh Lanta has spectacular local fare.
Also, just getting on your motorbike and hitting up the various beaches on the island is an excellent day plan. My faves are (in order) Kantiang Beach, Long Beach, and Relax Beach.
Getting to Koh Lanta
You can take the ferry from Krabi most months (always check to see if it’ll be running when you go). Otherwise, the island is just popular enough that AirAsia offers some affordable flights from Bangkok, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur. Win-win!
Where to Stay
There are a lot of options on Koh Lanta. For a good mix of pretty scenery and access to shops and food, you should stay along Long Beach. If you like to party hard, check out the hostels along Klong Khong beach (though the beach itself isn’t as nice). My favorite Long Beach hostels, which admittedly are all quite similar, are as follows:
- Non La Mer Hostel: Free simple breakfast, free WiFi, fun bar, environmentally friendly, $10 dorms
- Hub of Joys: Free simple breakfast, free WiFi, awesome staff, $9 dorms
- The Metallic Hostel: Free WiFi, quiet vibe, $7 dorms/$27 privates
- Best Stay Hostel at Lanta: Free breakfast, free WiFi, welcome drink, pretty classy hostel, $9 dorms
10 Day Thailand Itinerary: Final Thoughts
It’s hard to decide how to spend 10 days in a country as awesome as Thailand.
To be honest, you could spend 10 days (or wayyyy more) in any ONE of the places on this itinerary!
As with any itinerary I make, as I’ll say over and over like a broken-ass record, you can and should customize it to your own passions. Do you hate feeling rushed? Consider cutting the least interesting-sounding place from your itinerary, giving yourself more relaxed time in the other three. Do you despise big cities? Shoot, cut a day from Bangkok and slap it somewhere else!
Southeast Asia is all about adventure. I’ve arrived in places I was sure I’d spend weeks, only to scoot out after a day. I’ve spent weeks in spots I planned on just crashing for one night. Planning is important when you’re on a time crunch, but allow for adventure!
Let me know what you think!
If you followed this 10 day Thailand itinerary, please let me know your thoughts! If you have a similar-but-different itinerary you followed and loved, also tell me what ya think! Basically, tell me what you think always and forever, kbye.
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