The ideas for this 3 weeks Thailand itinerary come from my very first trip as a solo traveler. I didn’t know at the time how empowering traveling solo could be. If you got here, chances are your plans of traveling Thailand are already set, however, if you are still hesitant, go check this article about all the good reasons you have to travel Thailand first. Once you have booked your ticket, you’re in! Here are the places I visited. I loved some destinations better than others, and I fell in a couple of “tourist traps” that I’d try to avoid on my next trip to Thailand.
Stop 1: BANGKOK
When I landed in Bangkok, I knew I wanted to take a train to the South, so I booked a hostel very close to the train station. I only wanted to acclimatize for a couple of nights before heading further, as I thought there could be nothing for me in another big city. The extremely hot weather of February made me refrain from exploring the city by foot. After looking at the photos of the floating market displayed at the hostel’s desk, I surrendered to my curiosity. But the reality was disappointing! I had to get up very early and take a long drive through the city in order for the organizers to pick up ten more backpackers and be squeezed into a minivan with a way too freezy aircon. When we reached the market, it was already past 8 AM, and apparently the best stuff was already gone. I did enjoy visiting the reclining Buddha, instead, and I was delighted to take photos of the Thai people while they were praying and making offerings. If you’d like to explore Bangkok independently, take advantage of this $10 in Bangkok guide.
The visit to the Buddhist ruins in Ayutthaya was also wonderful, but very tiring. The archeological site is vast: you definitely need to rent a motorcycle to get the best out of your visit.
More about Bangkok
Now you can finally have Thai food every day for a few weeks! While in town, make sure to get dinner at the best food market in Bangkok. If you have a few days to spend in the capital of Thailand, check out this 3 days Bangkok itinerary with budget tips and ideas.
STOP 2 OF MY 3 WEEKS THAILAND ITINERARY: KOH PHANGAN
After spending 3 days in Bangkok, I hopped on the night train to Surat Thani from where I could get a bus and a ferry to Koh Phangan Island. I had chosen to see Phangan Island because a friend who had been working in Bangkok for months had recommended it (together with Koh Samui, which is not far from Phangan). I knew that every month the island hosts a huge beach party called the Full Moon Party, and even though I am not such a party animal (quite the contrary, in fact), I am fond of nights spent on a beach looking at the sky, and I thought Koh Pang´an looked promising. I was right. I only stayed on the island a few days, but it totally conquered me and I can’t wait to visit again: it’s definitely one of the places that will always stay in my heart.
TIPS FOR VISITING KOH PHANGAN
After you get there by ferry, slip past the locals who meet you at the pier and try to take you to some resort they know, find your way to the market and rent a motorbike. My favorite spot on Koh Phangan is the northern beach facing the tiny inhabited island of Koh Ma, which you can reach by foot when it´s low tide. This is a very relaxed slice of paradise, where you can unwind from the long trip. Have a look at this article to know more about the beaches in Koh Phangan. Take your time to explore: the island offers stunning views of the jungle and the sea, and you never tire of taking photos of the locals during their daily routines. I caught sight of an elephant roaming free at the edge of the jungle! Of course, all of this is the bright side of the Ko Pang´an coin.
VISITING KOH PHANGAN DURING THE FULL MOON PARTY WEEK
If you visit during the days of the Full Moon Party, you’ll easily become the target of greedy locals. It’s very easy to get lost with the motorbike on the island and run out of gasoline. It happened to me the day before the Full Moon Party. One of the guys driving the big jeepneys to take tourists around found me walking and offered to help. In the end, he asked way more money for a ride to the gasoline station and back than I had expected! If you visit during the “hottest” days of the month, it will also be more difficult to find a place to stay. Keep this in mind and book in advance.
3 WEEKS THAILAND ITINERARY STOP 3: PHUKET
After Koh Phangan, I took a bus from Surat Thani to Phuket. Phuket is one of the most visited destination in Thailand. I had booked a room in a hurry, and it was a total disaster! My room was above a nightclub bar and I wasn’t able to get a good rest during the entire time I stayed there. I wanted to move as quick as possible to the next stop of my trip to Thailand, but the beach in Phuket is huge and the sunsets are stunning. I can’t forget my surprise while watching the sea becoming pink/blue, a real treat for the heart.
While in Phuket, I saw an ad about boat trips to the Similan Island Marine National Park. It looked interesting, and I decided to do a day trip there. The Similan Islands are the most beautiful place I’ve visited in Thailand. Everything was perfect during that day trip: the beaches, the water, the untouched nature, the food: just amazing! If you consider diving in Thailand, read this post about a dive trip to the Similan Island.
STOP 4: KOH LIPE
After the trip to the Similans, I decided to go visit a couple of friends who had just moved from China to the small Thai island Koh Lipe and were about to build a hut resort there. Koh Lipe has a welcoming and friendly atmosphere there which greatly exceeded my expectations. It was quite easy and natural to meet fellow travelers, exchange stories and enjoy the beauty of the island together. The island has three main beaches not far from one another and a “walking street” with shops, small restaurants, pharmacies and massage centers where you can find everything you need before going back to chill along the seaside. Koh Lipe is a good compromise between the relaxed, laid back island life and a place with many opportunities to meet other people and make new friends. I loved to stay at Sunrise Beach. If you travel with kids, Sanom Beach is a better place to stay. Time flew by on Koh Lipe. I had planned to stay one week, but I ended up spending more than two weeks there. There’s no way you I can make travel plans and stick to them… Hope you’ll make good use of this 3 weeks Thailand itinerary!
I’ve gathered more ideas about traveling off the beaten track places Thailand, have a peek and see if there’s anything for you!