With so many dazzling destinations and memorable experiences waiting to be enjoyed, Thailand is a fantastic choice for a two-week holiday. Relax on a beach in the South, explore the mountains and countryside in the North, and discover the different sides of Bangkok and Central Thailand. This is a holiday destination that really does have something for everyone. Whether you’re in search of winter sun or a family break during the school holidays, Thailand is a great choice. In fact, the biggest dilemma you may have is deciding where to go and what to see and do on your holiday. To help you plan your first trip to the Land of Smiles, we’ve put together some ideas and advice for a two-week itinerary for Thailand.
A classic introduction to Thailand: City, culture, nature and beach
If you’re visiting Thailand for the first time, the temptation may be to try and visit as many destinations as you can. We totally understand that, but for a first visit don’t try to cram too much in. You can still see and do a lot in two weeks and we suggest opting for a holiday that allows you time to relax and enjoy a taste of the diversity this amazing country has to offer. Taking in the North, South, and Central regions of the country, the itinerary below is what we consider to be a classic introduction to Thailand that allows you to experience cities, culture, nature and the beach.
- Bangkok: 2/3 days
- Chiang Mai: 4/5 days
- Beach or island in Southern Thailand (e.g. Khao Lak, Krabi, Phuket, Ko Samui): 7/8 days
Where to go first
Most visitors from the UK and Ireland will arrive in Thailand at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport and then head into the city to start their holiday. An alternative option is to transfer straight to Chiang Mai in North Thailand. From Suvarnabhumi airport there are frequent flights to Chiang Mai and the journey north only takes just over an hour.
The advantage of visiting Chiang Mai first is that it gives you more of a gentle introduction to Thailand which in turn enables you to appreciate the bustle of Bangkok later on in your holiday. After spending four or five days enjoying the charms and culture of Chiang Mai, you can fly directly to a number of beach locations in the South to relax for a week and then finish up your trip in Bangkok.
Bangkok is one of the most vibrant cities in Asia and not to be missed if you’re visiting Thailand for the first time. The Thai capital is a city of contrasts where old meets new. A city where you can feast on simple and tasty street food for lunch or wine and dine at a swanky rooftop restaurant in the evening. A city where you can travel in air-conditioned comfort on the modern metro and elevated Skytrain or take in the sights on a traditional longtail boat along the Chao Phraya River and Bangkok’s network of canals.
Stay in Bangkok’s historic Rattanakosin Island area to be close to many of the city’s major attractions including the Grand Palace, Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) and Wat Arun. Or choose a riverfront hotel to admire views of the Chao Phraya River. Take a day trip out to visit the ancient temples of Ayutthaya or the historic wartime sites at Kanchanaburi. If you’re spending a couple of days in the Thai capital, check out our suggestions below.
- Two days in Bangkok: What to see and do in 48 hours
- 6 of the best areas to stay in Bangkok
- 17 of the best food experiences in Bangkok
Chiang Mai is a wonderful introduction to the delights of Thailand. The pace of life in Chiang Mai is slower than Bangkok and although it’s a city, it’s compact and easier to navigate compared to the Thai capital. From Chiang Mai airport, it’s a convenient 10-15 minute journey into the Old Town or riverside areas and you don’t have to worry about a long trip in a taxi.
Chiang Mai is a city of culture with a proud history, a lively food scene and some fabulous hotels and guest houses. You don’t have to travel far from the city to reach the countryside or the mountains and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings. Whether you’re travelling solo, with your partner, or with your family, Chiang Mai is a welcoming destination where you’ll find plenty to see and do. Visit an ethical elephant centre, go on an unforgettable tuk-tuk adventure, and do all of your souvenir shopping at the excellent weekend Walking Street Markets.
Beaches in Southern Thailand
From Chiang Mai there are direct flights to a number of beach and island locations in Southern Thailand. Travel to Ko Samui on Thailand’s Gulf Coast or head to the opposite Andaman Coast for Krabi and Phuket. All of these destinations have a well-established tourist infrastructure with a wide range of accommodation to choose from and plenty to see and do away from the beach. This makes them a good choice for first-time visitors who want to spend time on a beautiful Thai beach.
As an alternative to Krabi or Phuket, travel to laid-back Khao Lak or the equally relaxed island of Ko Lanta. Take a boat cruise to admire the stunning seascape at Phang Nga Bay, and if you’re staying on Ko Samui don’t miss the opportunity to visit the gorgeous Ang Thong National Marine Park.
- How to choose your ideal Thai beach holiday
- Thailand’s beaches and islands
- Finding your favourite Thai beach
Find your ideal Thailand itinerary
The two-week itinerary above provides an excellent all-round introduction to Thailand. If you already have a good idea of what you want from your trip or are looking for some more travel inspiration, check out the links below.
Best time to visit Thailand
Thailand’s Andaman Coast and Gulf Coast are affected by different weather systems. The Gulf Coast (e.g. Ko Samui) is ideal for a beach holiday during the UK and Irish summer while the Andaman Coast (e.g. Krabi, Phuket) is perfect for some winter sunshine. For more details of what to expect from the weather, read this article about the best time to visit Thailand and check out the monthly guides below.
Top tips for first-time visitors to Thailand
Travel to Thailand with an open mind and you’ll have an amazing experience. To help you get the most out of your visit, check out our advice here for first-time visitors to Thailand and more information on the advice section of this site.
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Tourism Thailand (UK & Ireland)
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