Glittering temples, sandy beaches, bustling cities, ancient kingdoms, delicious cuisine, and wild nightlife. What’s not to love about Thailand? It’s one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world, and for good reason. It’s also very easy to visit and stay for a while. People from over 50 countries can visit Thailand for a month without a visa. If you have the time and money, we highly recommend using every single one of those 30 days. One month in Thailand isn’t enough, but it’s a start. We love Thailand so much, we’ve taken three month-long trips there. It’s one of our favorite places, and we’re sure it’ll top your list as well. Here’s our advice on how to spend an awesome month in Thailand.
The North (13 days)
Chiang Mai (3 days)
Depending on where you’re coming from, you may have to overnight in Bangkok at the start of your trip. Save the big city for later and just crash for the night if you must, and make your way straight to Chiang Mai. Known as the “Northern Capital,” it’s the 2nd largest city in Thailand and a fascinating place to visit. With a few days there, you can do a bit of temple hopping – including visiting the hilltop Doi Sutthep – hit a few museums, explore night markets, and dig in to some delicious Thai food. For more, check out “10 Things to Do in Chiang Mai.”
Adventures in the North (10 days)
While there’s nothing wrong with Chiang Mai, there’s so much to do outside of the city that you’ll want to dedicate most of your time in the north to adventures. Rent a motorbike and ride the 1,864 curves of the Mae Hong Son Loop. Go jungle trekking, where you’ll sleep in villages and dive into waterfalls. Take flight in the jungle on a zipline course. Hang out in the chilled out hippie town of Pai, where you can hike in a canyon and soak in hot springs. Visit an elephant camp and learn how to be a mahout. Take a day trip to visit the stunning White Temple and Black House in Chiang Rai. You won’t be able to do that all in ten days, so it’s best to just pick a few.
Check out some highlights of Northern Thailand in Part One of our video series:
Capitals – Ancient and Modern (5 days)
Ancient Kingdoms (2 days)
Those interested in the history and culture of Thailand will want to include a visit to at least one of the country’s ancient kingdoms. Spend a day or two exploring the ruins at Sukhothai or Ayutthaya, both of which are easily visited by train or bus. Both are well worth at least a full day and also have some tourist infrastructure in place so you can spend a pleasant night there before moving on.
Bangkok (3 days)
Don’t be intimidated by the big city. There’s actually a lot to love about Bangkok. With awe-inspiring temples, bustling markets, world-class museums, and some epic nightlife, there’s enough to keep you busy for a lifetime. You won’t be able to do it all, but you can get a nice feel for the city with 3 days in Bangkok. Visit Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), hit the Chatuchak weekend market, party on Khao San Road, eat the best pad Thai ever, and so much more. While we weren’t huge fans of Bangkok at first, it’s become our favorite Asian city after several repeat visits. Give this crazy place a chance and you’ll love it, too!
Tour Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, and Bangkok in Part Two of the video:
The South (12 days)
After all that action, you’ll want to dedicate the last third of your trip to having a real vacation. The south of Thailand is full of choices for sun and sand, so pick two islands/beach towns and wind down your trip in style. You could learn how to scuba dive on Ko Tao, rage the Full Moon Party on Ko Pha Ngan, relax on Ko Phi Phi, or go rock climbing in Ton Sai. Based on our experiences, we can highly recommend all of them.
Other options include Ko Samui, Phuket, and Ko Lanta. We haven’t been to any but have heard good things and are eyeing a visit to a few on our next trip to Thailand. In order to not tire yourself out, your best bet is to just pick two places and spend 5-6 days in each. After all, you deserve some R&R after that epic trip you’ve had so far!
Hit the beach, scuba dive, and party hard in Part Three of the video:
*National Parks (2 days)
If you’re like me and think that lounging on a beach for 12 days is boring, you can opt to add a stop at one of Thailand’s many national parks for a couple of days. You can take a detour from Bangkok to visit Khao Yai, stop at Khao Sok on your way between the coasts, or have a real Robinson Crusoe adventure at Ko Tarutao. Cycle, hike, kayak, and more in these stunning parks.
See what this adventure looks like on an interactive map to get a better idea of the places that we’ve covered. Obviously, you won’t be able to hit every single one in a month. Pick a few adventures in the north, choose one of the two ancient kingdoms, and focus on 2-3 beach destinations only. It’s a busy, action-packed month, but it’s definitely doable and it’ll be the trip of a lifetime.
While one month may seem like a long time to spend traveling in one country, you’ll still be left wanting more after 30 days in Thailand. There’s a whole lot more to see and do here, ensuring you could keep coming back for life. Of course, you could just hop over to a neighboring country like Cambodia or Laos for a bit and come right back!