If you have ever thought about taking a Thailand trip, or have wondered what a Thailand vacation would be like, this post is for you!
I recently went on a 10-day Thailand vacation with my husband, my sister, and my brother-in-law. For all of us, it was our first time visiting an Asian country. I had a few adventures in Thailand on my bucket list, and was excited about some new experiences! I will be sharing our 10-day itinerary, Thailand activities I recommend, a Thailand packing list, and some Thailand travel tips you should know before you go.
10-Day Thailand Tip Itinerary
When traveling from the U.S. to Thailand, you lose a day, so be sure to give yourself two days of travel time to get there. We arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand at 9:00pm then took about a 15 minute ride from the airport to the hotel (transfer available from hotel) and were off to bed. Day one starts with our first full day in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Thailand Day 1 – Chiang Mai
We woke up really early due to the time difference and began the day with breakfast at the Bodhi Serene Chiang Mai hotel where we were staying.
We took a Songthaew, which is like a pick-up truck converted into a taxi vehicle, about 1 hour West to the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a temple located on the Doi Suthep mountain. After climbing the 309 steps to reach the temple, we spent about an hour walking the grounds before heading back to Chiang Mai.
Next we rented bikes from our hotel and set off through the streets of Chiang Mai to see all the other temples around the Old Town square area. After a while, all the temples started to look the same. It was a great experience to see the temples, but a full day of temple-exploring is definitely enough time.
Thailand Day 2 – Chiang Mai
We spent the day at the Chai Lai Orchid elephant experience, about an hour drive outside Chiang Mai. It was an incredible experience and the staff there were really nice. It was important to me that we got to have some experience with elephants, but that we did it somewhere where they were treated well (as this is not the norm in Thailand). I really like the Chai Lai Orchid mission and elephant rescue goal.
We got to feed the elephants, learn about each one, ride bareback, and bathe the elephants. They also cooked us a delicious lunch and took us on a bamboo rafting ride down the river. It was definitely an experience I won’t forget and a check off my bucket list!
Once we got back to the hotel, we spent a little time at the hotel pool and ate dinner at the hotel before bed.
Thailand Day 3 – Chiang Mai to Koh Lanta
Our last day in Chiang Mai, we headed out to breakfast for a change from the hotel breakfast and walked down to the local market. This was an interesting sight to see and we tried some of the local candy, which I have to say was pretty gross.
We checked out of our hotel and back to the airport for our domestic flight from Chiang Mai to Krabi, Thailand. It was about a 2-hour flight plus a 2-hour van transfer from the Krabi airport to our hotel in Koh Lanta, Thailand, the Maya Koh Lanta Resort. Koh Lanta is an Island in Southern Thailand.
Once we arrived, we walked down the beach to a local restaurant called Phet and enjoyed the sunset while we ate.
Chiang Mai Recommendations:
Food: Dash! – Thai food, good vibe, good food
Chiang Mai Breakfast World – great atmosphere, delicious food, large menu
Hotel: Bodhi Serene Chiang Mai Hotel – great location in Old Town square Chiang Mai, great breakfast
Activity: Chai Lai Orchid – ethical elephant experience
Thailand Day 4 – Koh Lanta
Ate breakfast at the hotel and headed out for a day of snorkeling Koh Rok through Lanta Dream and Paradise. It was an hour and a half long-tail boat ride to Koh Rok island and we hit up two different snorkeling spots with beautiful reefs and lots of gorgeous fish to see…including Nemo! They cooked us a private lunch on the beach before heading back to Koh Lanta. I would highly recommend this company for a snorkeling tour! They were a lot of fun!
For dinner we tried a Greek restaurant, Greek Taverna, which was a good change from all the Thai food.
Thailand Day 5 – Koh Lanta
Today we rented motorbikes and set off South on the Island of Koh Lanta to the Koh Lanta National Park. Here we explored the lighthouse and saw tons of monkeys roaming the park looking to steal our food!
Before taking some time to explore the National Park, we hired a guide to take us to the Tiger Cave, which was really neat! After a hike through the jungle, we explored the cave.
Then we rode over to the Old Town area of Koh Lanta, had lunch and did some shopping. Koh Lanta was very different from Chiang Mai. While Chiang Mai is a big city with a lot of hustle and bustle, Koh Lanta is a low-key island community, definitely more our speed.
Riding the motorbikes through the streets of Koh Lanta was a fun experience. There seem to be no rules of the road and it’s pretty much a free-for-all. Proceed with caution.
Cooking class was next on the list at the Time for Lime Cooking School, a short walk down the beach from our hotel. We learned how to make 4 different Thai dishes, a really fun experience whether you like to cook or not.
Thailand Day 6 – Koh Lanta to Railay Beach
Today we had to say goodbye to Koh Lanta. I was really sad because I really liked it here…the small Island vibe was really great, with beautiful non-touristy beach views.
The transfer from Koh Lanta was a little roundabout…we started on a taxi, to a speed boat off the island, to a van, and then to a long-tail boat to Railay Beach. Railay Beach is a peninsula surrounded by mountain cliffs which prevent any bridges. In order to get to the beach you must travel by boat.
Once we arrived in Railay Beach and checked into the Railay Village Resort, we set off on the Krabi sunset cruise where we did some more snorkeling, paddleboarding, cruisin’, and of course sunset watching.
Koh Lanta Recommendations:
Food: Time for Lime – fun cooking class with fresh ingredients
Hotel: Maya Koh Lanta Resort – great location right on the beach with a nice pool, clean rooms, and close to great food
Activity – Lanta Dream and Paradise Koh Rok snorkeing tour – great staff, beautiful private snorkeling tour away from crowds
Thailand Day 7 – Railay Beach
Another day of adventure! We left Railay Beach on a long-tail boat to the Ao Nam Pier where we were picked up for our Sea Kayaking Tour to Ao Thalene. It was a fun morning of kayaking through a canyon, followed by a yummy lunch.
Once we returned from kayaking, we were pretty tired and sunburned. An afternoon relaxing around the resort with an amazing Thai massage, dinner, our first Thai pancake, and a beautiful sunset was a great way to end the day!
Thailand Day 8 – Railay Beach
Today we got to rock climb, one of my most favorite activities! We booked a morning with Krabi Rock Climbing who supplied us with the equipment, set up the top-ropes, and helped belay us all morning. It was a lot of fun and tiring! The rock climbing was right on Railay Beach, very convenient to our hotel.
When all our muscles were tired, we refueled with lunch and a dip in the resort pool. Then we set off on the lagoon trek (you don’t need a guide), which led to a viewpoint of the Railay Beach peninsula and a lagoon. It started pouring rain when we were up on the mountain and we successfully made the slippery climb down the cliff with assistance from a muddy rope.
Thailand Day 9 – Railay Beach
We didn’t have anything on our trip itinerary for this day, but when we got to Railay Beach we heard about Hollow Mountain Extreme Adventure Park and booked it! Only about 10 minutes from the Ao Nam Pier is a cave where Simon and his team have set up an adventure course including a zipline and the Emperor Swing where you freefall 30 meters (that’s 98 feet) off a platform and swing through the cave entrance.
It was definitely one of the scariest things I’ve done, but so much fun! If you like adventure, I highly recommend it! Hollow Mountain has only been open for about a year and there are plans to expand the adventure course even more!
Once we got back from the extreme adventure, another afternoon at the pool and another Thai massage was just what was needed. Our last night in Railay Beach was bittersweet.
Railay Beach Recommendations:
Food: Thai pancakes – There are stands everywhere around the beach and they’re all delicious!
Hotel: Railay Village Resort – request a pool view room
Activity: Krabi Rock Climbing – very convenient if you’re staying on Railay Beach
Thailand Day 10 – Phuket
We left Railay Beach in the morning and took a 2-hour van ride to Phuket. We didn’t plan much time in Phuket because we had heard that it was very touristy. I think it was the right decision. When we arrived we were met by our tour guide for the day, Jo. She took us around to some of the different viewpoints and landmarks on the Phuket Landmark Tour. It was all the time we felt we needed in Phuket.
Our flight home left late that night and just like that our Thailand trip was over. It was definitely a memorable one, with lots of temples, beach activities, and beautiful views.
- Bring a lot of your own sunscreen – Thai people actually put whitener (bleach) in their sunscreen because they value fair skin.
- Skip Bangkok and Phuket for some of the smaller villages and Island towns.
- Pack as little as possible because you will be moving your luggage on and off boats, across sand, and down moving docks. We all brought carry-on size backpacks and it was the best decision. We saw many others with large rolling suitcases that were struggling. Use my packing list below to help guide you.
Thailand Packing List
- If you plan to rock climb, bring your own shoes…the shoes they provide are very basic and extremely uncomfortable.
- 2 bathing suits
- Comfortable, loose clothing – plan to have your laundry done at the resorts – it’s cheap!
- Longer pants or skirt for temples – they require modest dress for entrance.
- A lot of Thai Baht currency – very few places take credit cards
- Comfortable sandals
- Closed toed shoes for things like the adventure park and lagoon trek
- Waterproof camera
- Sunscreen (see tips above)
- Don’t overpack!