1 Month Backpacking in Thailand: The Ultimate Itinerary You Need

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So you want to go to Thailand and live the backpacking dream, but you’re not sure where to even start when it comes to planning your trip.

No problem, friend: here’s our 4 week itinerary encompassing both the North and South of this incredible country.

Well, technically it’s a 30 day travel visa on arrival but you knew that already. Enjoy.

Bangkok: 1 night

How to get there

Thanks to its two international airports, most trips to Thailand start and end with return flights to and from the nation’s capital.

What to do

Save the Bangkok experience for the end of your trip – you’ll be far better equipped to take on the many market stalls, street food, bars and clubs of Khao San Road when you’re not jet-lagged and in dire need of a bed that isn’t an airline seat. Instead, get a good night’s sleep and head North to begin your Thai adventure.

Ayutthaya: 1 night

How to get there

A 2.5 hour journey from Bangkok, that’ll only set you back around £2 to £6, depending on which bus you get. Easy. Cheap. Cool.

What to do

Visit the Ayutthaya Historical Park – a UNESCO heritage site on a island between three rivers. Rent a motorbike or bicycle and spend the day exploring the beautiful remains of the ancient city – palaces, Buddhist temples, monasteries and statues. After the sun goes down, embrace that backpacking life and grab a bite to eat at the street food night market.

Chiang Mai: 3 nights

How to get there

From Ayutthaya you can get an overnight sleeper train to Chiang Mai.

It takes roughly 12 hours and costs between £20 and £30 quid. For that price you get your own bunk and AC – which means it’s already nicer than your morning commute.

What to do

This is Northern Thailand’s most popular tourist destination for a reason – there’s heaps to do and see. Whether it’s taking a Thai cooking class (yes, you do get to eat it all at the end), exploring Old Town (don’t miss the Sunday night market for authentic souvies), or volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park for the day, your time in Chiang Mai will be anything but boring.

Pai: 2-3 nights

How to get there

Hop on one of the buses that run hourly from Chiang Mai’s Arcade Bus Station. The journey takes 3 hours and costs in the region of £4, but be warned: those who get travel sick may want to prepare themselves – the road is a windy one.

What to do

Oh where to start? Essentially Pai is the hippy town of dreams, and while it is possible to see a lot doing a day trip, ideally you’ll want 2 or 3 nights to really explore everything on offer.

Take a fermentation class and impress friends with homemade kombucha, visit the Pai hot springs and bathe in the sulfuric waters, revel in the stunning views from the dusty orange rim of Pai Canyon, or cool down by sliding down smooth rocks into the natural pool at Mo Paeng waterfall (NB: not possible in the dry season, when the pool gets too shallow for swimming).

As if that weren’t enough, the quaint town itself is filled with a mix of tourist-trap bars (bucket, anyone?), vegan cafes, and market stalls – the perfect spot to while away an evening.

Phuket: 2 nights

How to get there

It’s time to switch it up and head to the Southern region of Thailand – and that means travelling a whopping 950 miles. The easiest way is to fly direct to Phuket, so hop back on that bus and return to Chiang Mai to catch a flight. These can be fairly cheap if you book far enough in advance, but if you’re really sticking to a budget, you can also make the journey via bus – just be aware it’ll take around 24 hours. Yeesh.

What to do

Phuket is often seen simply as a gateway to the islands – but with over 30 beaches, it’s a great destination in its own right too. Visit the PaTong beach resort for a raucous night out on Bangla Road (think neon lights, rowdy bars, and crowded streets: see The Hangover 2 for reference).

For those who prefer a quieter life, the old town is abundant with excellent restaurants and quirky shops, while a day trip to the Similan Islands is an absolute MUST – you’ll feel like you’ve walked into a legit screensaver. Phang Nga Bay and the floating Muslim village of Koh Panyee are also highlights of the region.

Ko Phi-Phi: 3-4 nights

How to get there

A 90-minute ferry or 45-minute speedboat ride is all takes to get from Phuket to Ko Phi-Phi, which is actually two islands: the larger Phi-Phi Don is all about beach bars (ft. fire throwing shows), busy towns (7/11, anyone?), and hedonistic vibes. In contrast the smaller Phi-Phi Leh is undeveloped, with coral reefs, towering cliffs, and lush greenery. It’s hotel-free too – and can only be visited for the day.

What to do

Get. Beachy. Phi-Phi’s gorgeous white sands, vivid turquoise water and awesome rock formations make for a tropical paradise – perfect for lazy days sunbathing, snorkelling, and generally riding that relaxi-taxi all the way to stress-free town.

Phi-Phi Leh is also home to the infamous Maya Bay the beach in The Beach, starring young Leonardo DiCaprio in all his glory. However, it was closed in 2017 in an effort to protect corals and natural ecosystems from damage caused by the endless stream of daily visitors. It re-opened to tourists in November 2018, but is still closed to boats – so check the current status before you make any plans to reenact Leo’s journey (minus the scary parts).

Ko Lanta: 2 nights

How to get there

Ferries between Ko Phi-Phi and Koh Lanta take 1 hour, and cost £10, approx.

What to do

After some potentially wild nights on Phi Phi, Ko Lanta will feel like a haven, with its long, quiet beaches, relaxing reggae bars (grab a bean bag chair for a front seat to spectacular sunsets), and almost empty roads – perfect for exploring by scooter. Head to Koh Lanta’s National Park (there’s a small entry fee, but it’s worth it) to hike trails, do some monkey spotting, and visit two idyllic beaches.

Krabi: 1 night

How to get there

Another short ferry ride (between 1-3 hours) will take you back to the mainland, and deposit you in the hectic heart of Krabi, backpacker central. Ao Nang, the main beach town in the area, is renowned for bar crawls, clubs, and that fresher’s week feel, so stay for one night of fun and then move on, heading across to the East Coast.

What to do

Party, honey. Alternatively, take it easy and enjoy a dip in the shockingly clear waters of Thung Teo Forest National Park’s Emerald Pool, after working up a sweat exploring forest trails and waterfalls. Oh, and while you’re on the ‘natural pool’ flex, the mineral-infused Klong Thom Hot Springs are an hour’s drive from central Krabi.

Ko Samui: 3 nights

How to get there

A bus and a high-speed ferry combine to whizz you across the width of southern Thailand and across the water in just 5 hours (cost: £16-ish).

What to do

Yoga, meditation, massages, beach parties, water activities… Samui has it all. Book a day trip to Ang Thong marine park to snorkel in reserves teaming with colourful creatures, take a sunrise Stand-Up Paddle Board tour to get some headspace, or witness Thailand’s national sport of Muay Thai boxing up close.

If you have the capacity to splash out, visit Sixth Senses Dining on the Rocks restaurant. Situated on the tip of the headland, the open deck provides panoramic views of the sea, stars, and nothing else. Dreamy. The Instagram-famous Woo Bar is also essential for anyone looking after their ‘gram grid, especially at sunset.

Ko Phangan: 3 nights

How to get there

On a 30 minute ferry, natch.

What to do

Home of the legendary and largest Full Moon Party, try and time your stay here with the – you guessed it – full moon. Running from 8pm to 7am, it’s a chance to literally party the night away. Don’t worry – there’s designated snoozing areas on the sand for those who can’t quite make it all the way through. Other Koh Phangan highlights? Check out the Thong Sala night market for tasty and cheap eats, relax in the Herbal Sauna Baan Tai, founded by monks of the Wat Pho temple, and of course, grab some more sand, sun and sea action on the many beaches.

Koh Tao: 4 nights

How to get there

Another ferry (yep). This one is between 1-2 hours, and you’ll need a whole £11 to pay for it.

What to do

It may be much smaller than its neighbours Samui and Phangan, but Koh Tao is still packed with charisma and charm. A lot of people head here for the scuba diving – there’s a number of PADI courses for anyone looking to get certified, and the dive sites are some of the best in Thailand. Other than that, it’s largely about kicking back in a hammock on the beach, hanging out at bars on the sand, and basically living the dream.

Bangkok: 2 nights

How to get there

You can boat and bus it for around 10 hours, or book a cheap flight. It’ll take you 5 hours to get to Surat Thani Airport, but the flight itself is only an hour, and can cost less than £50 if you book far enough in advance.

What to do

After week’s of beaching, it’s time to embrace city life again – and Bangkok offers everything you’d expect from a vibrant, thronging urban hub… and more. Check out the markets, bars and street food on Khao San Road, and try and time your stay for a weekend so that you can visit the sprawling Chatuchak Weekend Market. It’s the largest in Thailand, and perfect for stocking up on cheap buys before you head home.

Hire a Tuk-Tuk by the hour to see as many sights as possible: the giant gold Reclining Buddha, the intricately incredible Grand palace, and the other-worldly Wat Arun Temple are just a few possibilities. Oh, and why not end your trip on a (literal) high: at the Sky bar – sipping cocktails with the vista of Bangkok spread out below you is the perfect way to toast goodbye to such an amazing country.

Source:: MTV — News