3 weeks in Thailand itinerary

The Best 3 Weeks in Thailand Itinerary

This 3 weeks in Thailand itinerary covers the best sights and experiences. It’s an ideal trip for first-time visitors who want to make the most of their time and enjoy the variety of activities and landscapes in this popular Southeast Asian destination. With 3 weeks in Thailand, you can travel the country from north to south and still find time to relax on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Beginning in bustling Bangkok, this exciting 3 week Thailand itinerary takes you to the sumptuous Grand Palace and the beautiful temples of the royal capital and then to the lush mountains and monasteries in the north.

From Chiang Mai, it’s a short flight to the tropical islands in the south of Thailand where gorgeous beaches and stunning limestone cliffs provide a breathtaking backdrop for a relaxing beach holiday amidst some of the most scenic coastal landscapes in the world.

Thailand is a great choice for a vacation whether you’re alone or travelling with family or friends. I love travelling solo in Thailand. It’s one of my favourite places to visit and I’ve enjoyed many holidays in this fascinating country. It’s easy to get around, budget-friendly, and safe for solo female travellers.

Gorgeous views over Koh Phi Phi from the viewpoint
3 weeks in Thailand: Gorgeous views over the Phi Phi islands from the viewpoint on Phi Phi Don

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Are 3 weeks in Thailand enough?

3 weeks in Thailand is enough time to explore the country and enjoy a wide variety of activities and scenery. Swimming, snorkelling and diving on idyllic tropical islands, hiking in the mountains of the north, visiting Buddhist temples and chatting with friendly monks, shopping at night markets, and enjoying the fabulous street food are just a few unforgettable experiences in this 3 week Thailand itinerary.

TIP: Take the stress out of your arrival in Bangkok and book an airport transfer to your hotel from Suvarnabhumi Airport or Don Mueang Airport.

When to go

The best time to visit Thailand is from November to February during winter when the weather is cooler, dryer, and less humid than at other times. Winter is the most popular time to visit and accommodation is usually more expensive at this time of the year, especially around the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Even in the coolest month, temperatures are warm in Thailand averaging from 26°C – 32°C (79°F – 90°F). But in the mountains in the north of the country, winter evenings can be cool.

TIP: Are you travelling between July and October? It’s the wet season in Thailand and Indonesia might be a better choice. Find out if Bali or Thailand is better for a holiday.

The worst time to visit is from May to October, during the wet season. The islands of the Andaman coast receive their highest rainfall at this time of the year.

And northern Thailand is best avoided from February to April. It’s the burning season and smoke from burning vegetation causes poor air quality and this can make breathing difficult .

Ao Nang or Railay Beach Long Tail Boats at Railay Beach Krabi
Traditional Long Tail Boats at stunning Railay Beach Krabi

How to get around

Getting around Thailand is easy and one of the joys of visiting is taking short trips in a 3-wheeled tuk-tuk or a traditional long tail boat.

Bangkok has a good public transport system that includes an above-ground railway, the Skytrain, and an underground MRT with buses, taxis and tuk-tuks on the roads and ferries on the rivers and canals. I loved catching the ferry to the main sights along the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok and can recommend the riverside as a great place to stay.

Taxis are plentiful and Grab operates throughout the country although the local taxi mafia makes it difficult for Grab drivers to operate in some places. Songtaews (local pickup trucks) operate like buses in rural areas. It’s safe and easy to use the local transport system in Thailand and a great way to meet the local people.

Boats moored on the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok with tall buildings behind
Boats moored on the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok

Hiring a scooter is a popular option for getting around, especially in the north of Thailand and on the islands in the south. But accidents happen so wear a helmet and other protective clothing if you’re riding a motorbike. And make sure you’re insured.

TIP: You’ll need an international driver’s licence and a motorcycle license to be legal to drive a motorbike in Thailand. And without them, you probably won’t be covered by your travel insurance if you have an accident.

For long-distance travel around Thailand, domestic flights are often the best choice. Flying is much faster and more convenient than taking overnight buses and sleeper trains and it’s an affordable way to get around the country.

TIP: Flights, buses and trains in Thailand can be booked online with 12Go Asia

Wat Arun, Bangkok, Thailand
Wat Arun, Bangkok, Thailand

3 Weeks in Thailand Itinerary

Day 1 – 3 Bangkok.

Day 4 – 10  Chiang Mai / Chiang Rai

Day 11 – 13 Phuket/ Koh Phi Phi

Day 14  – 16 Koh Lanta

Days 17 – 20 Railay Beach / Aonang

Day 21 Fly home from Krabi  International Airport

Day 1 – 3  Bangkok

This 3 week itinerary in Thailand begins in the busy capital Bangkok. With 3 days in Bangkok, you can see the highlights of the city, the cultural sites, museums, and markets. There’ll also be time to experience Bangkok’s famous nightlife, street food, and shopping.

Finding fun things to do in Bangkok is easy. Choose from the following activities to fill a 3-day itinerary in Bangkok.

The Grand Palace, a highlight of this 3 day bangkok itinerary
The Grand Palace, Bangkok, Thailand

Top experiences

  • Visiting the sumptuous Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Phra Kaew
  • Nearby Wat Pho has a stunning reclining Buddha and you can also enjoy a traditional Thai massage at the temple.
  • Catch a ferry across the river to the impressive Wat Arun, Temple of the Dawn.
  • Don’t miss Jim Thompson’s House, a wonderful museum in Bangkok in a beautiful traditional teakwood house. The onsite shop sells beautiful quality silk clothing, gifts, and homewares.
  • The Chatuchak Weekend Market is Bangkok’s busiest and most famous market and should not be missed for souvenir shopping if you’re in Bangkok on a weekend.
  • Bangkok’s Chinatown offers an authentic Thai street food experience with an energetic vibe on Yaowarat Road after dark.
  • Head to Khaosan Road, the famous backpacker hub for a night out. Choose from many bars, restaurants and clubs or enjoy shopping for street food and souvenirs at the night market.
  • Wat Suthat Thepwararam is another lovely royal  temple to visit in the Old City of Bangkok
  • If time permits make your way to The Golden Mount (Wat Saket), a temple nearby with a stunning view across the city. It’s the perfect place to watch the sunset over Bangkok.
  • Join a Thai Cooking class and immerse yourself in Thai food and culture. Learn how to make Pad Thai or Green curry.
The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Bangkok

Museums & Galleries

  • Bangkok National Museum, once a royal residence, the museum houses a collection of National Treasures, antiques, and ancient artefacts.
  • The Bangkok Art & Culture Centre displays local Thai and international artworks.
  • MOCA Museum of Contemporary Art has a fine collection of Thia Art & sculpture


  • The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market & Maeklong train market day trip is a fun addition to this 3 day Bangkok itinerary. I booked this day tour because it takes around 2.5 hours to get to the Maeklong Market by train and it was a good way to see both markets in one day. The markets are both quite touristy but worth seeing and I enjoyed the day.
  • Visit the floating markets at Tailing Chan or Khlong Lat Mayom
  • The MBK Centre offers bargain shopping in a busy mall. The Emporium, Terminal 21, and Central World are also famous for bargain shopping in Bangkok.
  • Catch a river ferry to Asiatique for a relaxed meal by the Chao Phraya River and enjoy shopping at the night market.


  • Head to one of Bangkok’s legendary Rooftop Bars to watch the sunset over Bangkok at the SkyView 360°, The Octave, Red Square or the Legend Rooftop Bar.
Chatuchak Weekend Market Bangkok

Where to stay in Bangkok

Budget: The New Siam ll Guesthouse has everything you need in an excellent location near Khaosan Road, within walking distance of the Royal Palace and close to buses and river ferries. The rooms are small and a bit worn but if you’re on a budget it’s a solid choice.

Upper Mid-Range: The Royal River Hotel is a huge older hotel with a riverside location and fabulous water views. My room was a little outdated but comfortable and very spacious with a large balcony overlooking the river. The location is excellent with a ferry stop nearby and easy access to the city centre and the main sights. 

The Grand China Hotel Chinatown has a 360° bar & restaurant and gets fabulous reviews for its excellent location just a short walk from the Chao Phraya River.

Boutique Poo Yai Lee is a comfortable mid-range hotel near the Chatuchak weekend market that I can personally recommend.

Luxury: A popular five-star option in the city centre is the Hansar Bangkok Hotel. This hotel gets great reviews for its excellent location and service.

Day 4 – 7 Chiang Mai

Next, head north from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Take a domestic flight to save time or catch an overnight sleeper train, and spend 6 days enjoying the mountains temples and colourful hill tribes in the north of Thailand. Visit an elephant sanctuary, see cave temples and waterfalls, and hike in the Doi Inthanon National Park.

Top experiences

  • Chiang Mai Temples: Wat Pha Lat, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phan Tao, and Wat Phra Singh
  • Old City walking tour. Visit the most famous temples in Chiang Mai and learn about their fascinating history.
  • Visit an ethical elephant sanctuary, interact with rescued elephants and enjoy bamboo rafting in the jungle.
  • Talking to a monk at a Monk chat session is an enjoyable way to learn about Thai culture.
  • Shop for souvenirs at the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar and the Sunday Walking Street
  • Hike to waterfalls in Doi Inthanon National Park
  • Take a meditation retreat at a Buddhist temple Wat Suan Dok or Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
  • Enjoy a river cruise on the Mae Ping River
  • Spend a night or 2 in Pai, enjoy the new-age vibe, visit caves and temples, and enjoy the lovely mountain scenery. It’s a 3-hour hair-raising ride through the mountains in a minibus to get there.
2 young elephants waving their trunks
Elephants in Thailand (Photo by Anais Buan Unsplash)

Days 8 – 10 Chiang Rai

Spend a couple of days in Chiang Rai in the far north of Thailand. Enjoy the laidback atmosphere, visit some beautiful temples, shop at colourful markets, and hike in the countryside.

The minibus trip from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai takes 3 – 4.5 hours.

Flying from Chiang Rai to Phuket is the quickest and easiest way to travel from the north of Thailand to islands in the south of the country.  The overland journey can also be done by bus or train but the distance is 1353 kilometres and takes around 28 hours while the flight takes just over 2 hours.

Patong Beach Phuket Thailand
Patong Beach Phuket Thailand

Days 11 – 13 Phuket / Koh Phi Phi

Fly from Chiang Mai to Phuket and spend the next 9 days enjoying the stunning tropical islands and gorgeous beaches on the Andaman coast.

Phuket and Koh Phi Phi are 2 of Thailand’s most popular beach holiday spots but I recommend passing through relatively quickly. I’ve included these islands in this 3 week Thailand itinerary because they are so popular but I found them very built up and the local culture was hard to find. I probably wouldn’t go back to either. Find out if visiting Phuket or Phi Phi Island is for you or if Koh Lanta is better.

I suggest spending a couple of nights in Phuket enjoying the beaches and the vibrant nightlife and then moving on. Koh Phi Phi is also overtouristed and quite expensive to visit in the high season but the island also has some of the most beautiful scenery in the country and it’s just a short ferry trip from Phuket.

The Phi Phi Islands offer breathtaking natural surroundings, dramatic limestone cliffs and beautiful beaches. Unfortunately, tourism has taken its toll here but it’s worth spending a night or 2 on Phi Phi Don enjoying the gorgeous scenery, the beach party vibe, and a variety of beach and water activities such as swimming, snorkelling, and exploring the island.

But you don’t need to stay on Phi Phi to see the island. It’s possible to visit for a day and see many of the most popular sights like Maya Bay and the Phi Phi viewpoint.

  •  It’s easy to visit Phi Phi Island on a day trip from Koh Lanta, Phuket, Aonang, or Railay Beach.
  • It’s also possible to visit Koh Phi Phi by ferry on the way to Koh Lanta. Spend a few hours on Phi Phi Island and catch an onward ferry later in the day.  Buy a ferry ticket with an open passage to Koh Lanta and store your bags at the pier while you explore the island and climb to the viewpoint.
Stunning scenery at the viewpoint on Ko Phi Phi
Stunning scenery at the viewpoint on Koh Phi Phi

Days 14 – 16 Koh Lanta

Catch a ferry to lovely Koh Lanta and spend several days enjoying a more relaxed island break. Koh Lanta is a Muslim island and has a spread-out and uncrowded feel. The roads are quiet and well-made and good for exploring on a scooter. There are some great day trips to choose from or you can simply relax on the beach.

Kayak amongst the mangroves and sea caves, go island hopping and take a speedboat tour around the stunning nearby islands.

TIP: A highlight for me was the 4 islands boat trip from Koh Lanta. I had the best time visiting lonely island beaches and swimming through the incredible Emerald cave to a hidden beach behind the limestone cliffs.

Days 17 – 20 Krabi – Aonang & Railay Beach

From Koh Lanta jump on a ferry to Krabi and spend 4 days relaxing amongst some of Thailand’s most beautiful scenery. Relax on the beach, take a boat trip to the stunning Hong Islands, go snorkelling, diving, and rock climbing or explore the Khao Sok National Park.

Decide whether Aonang or Railay Beach is better for you or divide your time between the 2 popular beach holiday destinations.

Railay Beach has some of Thailand’s most breathtaking scenery with gorgeous Phra Nang Beach just a short walk away. The beautiful beaches and towering limestone cliffs are only accessible by longtail boat. Even so, Railay Beach is quite built up and accommodation is expensive, especially at peak times.

Aonang, on the other hand, has a lovely beach but lacks the wow factor of Railay Beach. But there are more choices for accommodation, shopping and nightlife and the location is central for day tours and island boat trips.

TIP: It’s easy to visit Railay Beach on a day trip from Aonang but don’t miss Railay Beach and stunning Phra Nang Beach on a 3 week Thailand itinerary.

Day 21 Fly home

Stunning limestone cliffs at Phra Nang Beach Krabi Thailand
With 3 weeks in Thailand, don’t miss stunning Phra Nang Beach in Krabi

What to Pack for a 21 Day Thailand Itinerary

Thailand is hot and humid so you’ll want to pack lightweight cotton clothes for a 21 day Thailand itinerary. Jeans are too hot to wear in Thailand and hard to hand wash so leave them at home. Instead, pack:

  • Shorts
  • T-shirts
  • Long-sleeved cotton shirts & lightweight long pants for visiting temples, hiking, and riding a motorbike. Thai people dress conservatively, especially in more remote areas of the country.
  • A warm jacket for cool evenings in the north of the country.
  • Summer dresses or skirts
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses & sun hat
  • Swimmers
  • A Sarong for the beach. This can double as a towel, scarf, sheet or skirt for temple visits.
  • Sandals
  • Walking or hiking shoes & socks

3 weeks in Thailand Cost

Thailand is an affordable destination in Southeast Asia and accommodation options are plentiful. There are many choices for all budgets from hostels to luxury resorts.

As a mid-range traveller, I budgeted around US$45 a day for 3 weeks in Thailand. I stayed in 2 – 4 star hotels and averaged around US$35 for a comfortable room with air conditioning. I enjoyed eating at the many street stalls and ate delicious Thai food for as little as US$3 – 4 per meal and sometimes ate at restaurants and spent a bit more.

If you enjoy eating local food and take advantage of Happy Hour drinks, you can eat very cheaply in Thailand but If you prefer Western food you can expect to pay more for it.

Luxury resorts and accommodation abound and there’s a lot of choice if you’re looking for a high-end holiday in Thailand, especially in the tropical islands of the south. 

Budget travellers can live very cheaply in Thailand. Hostels and guesthouses can cost as little as US$7 per night. Eating local food, and catching buses and trains will also save you money if you’re on a budget. Tuk-tuks and taxis are also comparatively cheap but drivers often overcharge unwary tourists.

I liked using the Grab App while I was in Thailand. Grab cars are a reliable and affordable alternative to taxis and a good way to avoid the throng of tuk-tuk drivers hassling for business.

A Buddhas head entwined in the roots of a Bhodi Tree in Ayutthaya Thaialand
A Buddha head entwined in the roots of a Bhodi Tree in Ayutthaya Thailand

Visas for 3 weeks in Thailand

To spend 21 days in Thailand you probably won’t need to apply for a visa in advance. Travellers from many countries such as Australia, the USA, the UK, NZ, can apply on arrival for a 30-day visa-free stay in Thailand.

**Check with your local Thai embassy for the latest information on travelling to Thailand.

What to eat in Thailand

Thailand is well known for fresh, delicious, spicy food that is often prepared with hot chilli.

But if you don’t like spicy food there are lots of options such as fried rice, noodles, fresh fruit and vegetables, and stir-fried dishes with chicken, pork, or shrimp. And the more adventurous can even snack on fried insects and scorpions.

If you’re in Thailand for 3 weeks you’ll have many opportunities for eating at street stalls and markets. Eating outdoors is a way of life in Thailand and an experience not to be missed.  I enjoyed eating at street stalls but I’m not a fan of spicy food. These were my favourite dishes.

  • Chicken Pad Thai: a tasty fried rice noodle dish served with bean sprouts, chopped peanuts, and a slice of fresh lime.
  • Baked Pineapple Rice with chicken, cashews and fresh vegetables served inside a fresh pineapple.
  • Thai Chicken Satay skewers are delicious and freshly cooked at street stalls in Thailand.
  • A fresh Fruit Smoothie is the perfect way to cool down and rehydrate while sightseeing in the heat. Passionfruit, watermelon, dragon fruit, and mango are all delicious but my favourite is the coconut smoothie made from fresh coconut blended with crushed ice and condensed milk.

If you like spicy food, you could try a red or green curry, a spicy green papaya salad (Som Tum), or spicy shrimp soup (Tom Yum Goon).

Delicious pineapple fried rice with a coconut and a beach sunset in Koh Lanta solo travelling to Thailand
Delicious pineapple fried rice with a coconut and a beach sunset in Koh Lanta

Travel Tips for 3 weeks in Thailand

  • Domestic flights are cheap in Thailand. With just 3 weeks in Thailand, you can save time by Booking a flight rather than an overnight bus or sleeper train for long-distance trips.
  • Booking a day trip or a multi-day tour is a great way to see the sights and meet other people.
  • Choose a hotel with air conditioning and a pool wherever possible to cool down after a day of sightseeing. The weather is hot all year round in Thailand.
  • Get out and about early to avoid the heat. Relax indoors for a few hours in the hottest part of the day and go out again for sunset and an evening meal.
  • Buy a local SIM card for internet access during your 3 weeks in Thailand. Many hotels and cafes offer free Wi-Fi but it can be slow, insecure, and unreliable.
  • ATMs and money exchange booths are easy to find but scams are common so watch out for hidden cameras and keep your PIN safe.
  • Cash is easy to exchange in Thailand with lower fees than ATM withdrawals. US$, Euros, British Pounds or AUD$ are easy to change.
  • Take an international driver’s license if you want to drive a car or motorbike when you’re in Thailand for 3 weeks.
  • Wear a helmet when you’re on a motorbike and be very careful on the roads. The traffic in Thailand can be a bit crazy.
  • Grab motorbikes in Thailand don’t always provide a helmet for passengers and I decided it wasn’t worth the risk and used Grab cars instead.
  • Don’t drink or brush your teeth in the tap water! Eat at restaurants that cater to tourists and be wary of ice cubes and fresh salads that may not have been washed in filtered water.
  • Drugs are illegal in Thailand and there are severe penalties for drug offenses including the death sentence for drug trafficking. Marijuana is legal and you’ll see many shops and stalls selling cannabis products for medicinal and recreational use.
  • Travel insurance is essential for all overseas travel and is best arranged before you leave home so that you are covered should something unforeseen happen on your 3 week Thailand itinerary.
  • Check that your travel insurance covers you if you ride a motorbike or scooter. Read the policy fine print so that you don’t get caught out if you have an accident.
Is Ayutthaya worth visiting?
Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya Thailand


Is three weeks in Thailand too long?

No, three weeks in Thailand is not too long but there’s so much to see and do that you’ll only scratch the surface. With 3 weeks in Thailand, you can see the stunning Grand Palace and enjoy the markets, street food, and nightlife in Bangkok, visit the temples and hike in the mountains in Chiang Mai, and relax on the idyllic tropical beaches in the south.  

How many days is ideal to spend in Thailand?

3 – 4 weeks is an ideal amount of time to spend in Thailand for a varied and unhurried holiday that includes the main sights in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and the beautiful tropical islands in the south of the country. With 4 weeks you can also spend some time in central Thailand.

What should I be careful of in Thailand?

The most common things to be careful of in Thailand are scams and petty theft. Watch out for taxi and tuk-tuk drivers hassling and overcharging tourists, take care of your belongings, keep your valuables out of sight, and don’t drink too much or wander around alone at night.

Is food and drink cheap in Thailand?

Yes, food and drink are cheap in Thailand. If you eat at local restaurants and street food stalls you can live very cheaply. It costs more to eat Western food at restaurants that cater to tourists. How much you spend on food in Thailand depends on your budget, tastes, and preferences. There are lots of choices for eating out in Thailand.

You might also enjoy

Koh Lanta or Koh Phi Phi: Which Island is Better?

Is Ayutthaya Worth Visiting in Thailand?

Is Phuket or Phi Phi Island better? Where to stay in Thailand

Ao Nang or Railay Beach – Which is Better for a Holiday in Thailand

A Guide to Successful Solo Travelling to Thailand

How to Spend 3 Days in Bangkok

Why You’ll Love Old Sukhothai in Thailand

Is Thailand or Bali Better for a Holiday

3 days in Ubud Itinerary for Fun & Relaxation

A Guide for Successful Solo Traveling to Bali

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