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How to Spend a Week in Thailand

How to Spend a Week in Thailand

Thailand has become an extremely popular tourist destination over recent years, and as a country it appeals to backpackers, party goers, luxury holiday makers, families with children, and those just looking for a little slice of paradise. It really does have everything from cities, to jungle to beaches! Thailand is a fairly sizeable country, so it's a good idea to plan in advance what you want to see in Thailand, and what you want out of your trip. Do you want a week of beaches and partying? Do you want jungle treks, waterfalls and hot springs? It's not impossible to squeeze a bit of everything into your itinerary if that's all the time you have there. But to make things a little easier, we at OneHowTo have split this into two sections, the north and the south and what each has to offer, so you can plan out how to spend a week in Thailand.

You may also be interested in: When is the Best Time to Travel to Thailand

The North of Thailand

So we'll make the assumption that you begin your week long visit to Thailand by flying into the capital city, Bangkok. You may not immediately fall in love with this city if you're a first time visitor, it's loud, it's busy, it's very much in your face and in all honesty, walking down Khao San Road can be a bit overwhelming. But there's a lot more to Bangkok that first meets the eyes, great food, beautiful temples and a weird but wonderful atmosphere, so if you decide to spend a night or two here, it's unlikely you'll regret it!

Chiang Mai

The next stop from Bangkok would have to be the city of Chiang Mai, accessible by an overnight bus. No, not another city I hear you say? Well if Bangkok exhausted you don't worry. Chiang Mai is different in many ways. This city still feels true to Thai culture, whilst being that little bit more modern. It has a wonderfully laid back atmosphere, and if you can spend a day or two here (you could spend much longer), then there's plenty to explore here too.

Around the outskirts of the city, there are waterfalls and hot springs that are definitely worth a visit, and you can also organize jungle treks in the various national parks that are situated around the cities walls. Chiang Mai also boasts excellent food and colorful, bustling markets. You might even find yourself not wanting to leave! It's possible to head straight back down south from here and squeeze in a bit of beach time in your week in Thailand, in Phuket or to the islands depending on your budget!


Another short bus journey up north, you will reach the little town of Pai, another place popular with tourists and worth considering during your week in Thailand. It's worth mentioning that Pai feels a little less like authentic Thailand but is still a charming place to visit. This town up in the hills, is the hub of all things hippy in the north of Thailand.

With it only being a street or two long the little town can feel overcrowded at times, but not enough to spoil the atmosphere. Pai has its own canyon which is fun, if slightly sketchy to walk around (careful if you've got bad balance), and there is also Tham Lod Cave, a scooter ride away that makes for a great day out - the landscapes on the way there are breathtaking. Pai also has a decent nightlife, with many bars offering live music, trance music and classic reggae depending on your tastes. A night in Pai is probably enough if you only have a week to spare, but many talk about getting trapped in Pai's laid back, comfortable little bubble so watch out!

Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai is another great place to visit if you still have any days left over in the week! Here the home of the White Temple - Wat Rong Khun, an incredible piece of architecture, and that's just on the outside. The decor inside is also incredibly impressive. If you have your own transport, about an hour from Chiang Rai is the Hall of Opium museum. Built by the Thai Royals to help spread awareness and educate those of the dangers of opium that throughout the history of the Golden Triangle has brought much suffering and addiction to its locals. It's an eye opening experience, with informative and interesting exhibitions and is definitely worth visiting if you have the time!

With the tourism industry booming in Thailand and the number of visitors increasing every year, make sure you do your bit to help protect the country whilst you're travelling! Take a look at how to reduce your carbon footprint when travelling for some tips!

The South of Thailand

Again, if you're beginning your week in Thailand by flying into Bangkok, you might choose to spend a couple of days there. Then it's down south to the islands. There are a number of different islands worth visiting in Thailand, but it's up to you to decide which ones you feel are best suited for your holiday!

Koh Samui

To get down to the islands, you can take a bus, and then a ferry which can take around 16 hours travel time, or you can book a flight from Bangkok to Koh Samui which, whilst it costs a little more, can be a great time saver if you're not in the country for long.

Obviously if you're flying then you'll visit Koh Samui first, which has fast become one of the most popular islands for tourists. It has a more western feel than some of the other islands, with a Central Festival shopping center recently having been built there, cinema and all. Don't let this put you off though! If you explore Koh Samui independently you can find some beautiful remote beaches, which on some days you will have entirely to yourself. You can also get yourself a nice little beach hut for very low prices, some even have air con, and the views from your front door will be spectacular!

Koh Phangan

Another island that most people will factor into a week trip to Thailand is Koh Phangan. Famous for its full moon parties - which if you're looking for nightlife, cheap drinks and a lively atmosphere you might want to consider - Koh Phangan is definitely the party island of Thailand. If the full moon party isn't really your scene, you can take a boat round to the quieter beaches where there are more low key - but equally great parties going on with a more alternative music scene too.

Koh Tao

If you're wanting to experience some snorkelling or scuba diving during your week in Thailand, head to Koh Tao where both of these activities are readily available and very reasonably priced! Tanot Bay is definitely worth a visit if you want to do some snorkeling, and is a great pace to spot all types of fish, squid and if you're lucky - sharks! The island of Koh Tao is not only great for water activities, it's also a beautiful island in its own right, and feels very much like true Thailand, having not been quite as westernized as some of the other popular tourist spots.

Koh Phi Phi

Last but not least, Koh Phi Phi, the island without roads, is very small and very busy but has beaches that really do resemble paradise. Of course if you're planning on visiting Koh Phi Phil you might be wanting to visit Maya Bay, the set from 'The Beach'. You can book taxi boats and private boats over to Maya Bay if you want to try and spot Leo frolicking through the palm trees. If not, you can take a kayak or taxi boat over to monkey beach, a tiny beach filled with, yep, you guessed it - monkeys, or take a walk up to the viewpoint at the top of the island (warning: many stairs), where the view is truly breathtaking.

However you choose to spend your week in Thailand, it's almost a guarantee that you won't be disappointed with your experience. And your week doesn't have to only be split between north and south. If you manage your time and travelling days well you can try and squeeze as much in as possible of both, but either way - make the most of it and happy travels!

Don't forget to organize your vaccinations before travelling to Thailand. Check out the vaccinations you need to take before travelling to Asia for more information!

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How to Spend a Week in Thailand