Thailand Itinerary: 10 Days Of Food, Culture & Island Hopping

Thailand is often one of the first destinations to be added to any bucket list, and it’s not hard to see why. From the breathtaking natural scenery and cultural landmarks to the bustling nightlife and thrilling martial arts, it’s undoubtedly a worldwide favourite.

The best itinerary for Thailand naturally includes all the best experiences that this country has to offer. This includes visits to its tropical beaches and Buddhist temples and experiencing a traditional Thai cooking class.

Bonus activities include experiencing a Muay Thai boxing match and visiting an elephant sanctuary. And, while it may be a bit of a squeeze, this can all be done in a single day. But if this list doesn’t include quite enough to keep you satisfied, you could always check out some of the other top things to do in Thailand.

With so many more days to spare, you must be wondering what to see in Thailand in 10 days. In this 10-day  itinerary, we’ll cover where to go, what to eat, how to get there, and everything in-between.

Planning A Thailand Itinerary

Arranging an itinerary for a place as expansive as Thailand is no small feat! Luckily, with ten whole days to play around with, you’ll be able to squeeze in all of the must-see sights and spectacles from around the country.

Ten days are not nearly enough time as opposed to, let’s say, forever. But it’ll do.

This itinerary will take you through Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, Phi Phi Islands, Krabi, and, every beach lover’s favourite, Phuket. This way you’ll experience your fair share of inner-city life, beautiful beaches, culture trips and everything in-between.

Beach on Thailand

What To Pack For 10 Days In Thailand

For most travellers, packing may seem pretty straightforward. Some shirts and sundresses, electronics, fresh undies, a couple of pairs of shoes and you’re good to go, right? Wrong.

When it comes to filling up your suitcase for a vacation in the tropics, less is definitely more. You will be partaking in a wide variety of activities, but there’s no need for a new outfit for each of them. This is a safe space – and repeating outfits is okay! The keyword here is minimalism.

However, if you’re going minimal, it’s important to include the right things.

So what are the yays and nays when it comes to packing for Thailand? This list should help bring some clarity to what the most important bits and pieces for your suitcases are.

Beach Wear

Unless you have zero intentions of ever leaving your hotel room, you’re likely going to need lots of beach-friendly attire. From light shorts and sundresses to hats and sunglasses, bring in the cavalry.

Even if you don’t plan on spending all of your time at the beach, anything beach-friendly is likely to be comfortable in the humid weather.

Beach hat and glasses

Eco-Friendly Protective Sunscreen

Come rain or shine, protective sunscreen should always be on your packing list. But when going swimming in rivers, lakes, or the ocean, sunscreen has a tendency of washing off and leaving a chemical residue behind.

This common chemical is extremely harmful to natural ecosystems and marine life, especially coral reefs. Biodegradable sunscreens use non-toxic ingredients that lower the risk of causing environmental damage.

And, let’s be real, when in Thailand most visitors are probably going to be spending a good amount of their time in the water.

You should always be mindful of protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. And with eco-friendly sunscreen, you protect the health and well-being of the environment too.

Insect Repellant

When visiting any tropical destination, a good insect repellent is absolutely vital. You may be doing some shopping in the local markets, or having a nighttime picnic on the beach. But bear in mind that almost anywhere guarantees for you to be littered with mosquito bites when it’s time to go home.

Some natural ingredients that help to repel mosquitoes include citronella, clove, neem, peppermint, basil, lemongrass, and eucalyptus. But a pharmaceutical or drug-store insect repellant always works best.

First-Aid Kit

Basic medical supplies should be pretty easy to find, but it’s always a good idea to avoid running around at the last minute by keeping them on hand.

First aid kit

Your go-tos should include some ibuprofen for headaches, charcoal tablets in the rare case of mild food poisoning, and antihistamines for bug bites or allergies. The rest is completely up to you and your preferences.

Universal Adapter And Power Bank

Experienced travellers may be one step ahead, but a reminder for the newbies is to carry a universal power adapter and electronic power bank on you at all times.

Exploring a foreign country, especially one where the locals speak a completely different language, can be intimidating. The last thing you want is to be stranded somewhere with a flat battery and no means of communicating or finding your way back to your hotel.

Electric sockets in Thailand are type A, B, C, F and O with a standard voltage of 220 V. The standard frequency is 50 Hz.

Waterproof Backpack

So you’ve got your power bank, travel adapter, and electronics on your person in case of emergency. But those things are absolutely useless should they suffer from any water damage. And, when in Thailand, you’re bound to spend a fair amount of your time around water.

A waterproof backpack ensures that all of your electronic equipment is safe and protected from water damage. This is not to be confused with water-resistant backpacks that only keep your belongings dry in the case of drizzle or mild downpour.

Your waterproof backpack should have high-quality fabric, such as sailcloth, and coated zippers that prevent water from seeping into them. A regular backpack could work fine most of the time, but it’s hardly worth the risk.

Bags and electronics

Modest Clothing

Everybody is entitled to their own sense of fashion and choice of clothing. However, when travelling abroad, it’s crucial to be aware of the local culture and customs that may influence what you choose to wear.

When visiting holy sites, a basic rule is for all people, regardless of gender, is to cover their knees and shoulders at the very least. Ideally, you would need to cover your ankles too. A simple scarf, sarong or pashmina thrown over the shoulders or made into a makeshift skirt works well and is easy to carry around.

Temple visitors will need to remove their shoes prior to entering as a sign of respect. So while there are no rules or regulations regarding what you should put on your feet, comfortable shoes are recommended.

Flip Flops

Did someone say comfortable shoes?

Of course, the idea of ‘comfortable’ is entirely subjective. Sneakers, trainers, and hiking shoes work great for long walks and visits into earthy areas, but having to constantly tie and undo laces are not ideal.

Flip flops on the sand

A good pair of flip flops is generally your best bet. They allow your feet to breathe, are comfortable to wear, easy to carry around, and are easy to slip on and off. Besides, did you even experience a tropical getaway if you don’t have the flip-flop tan to prove it?

Best Thailand Itinerary For First-Time Visitors

Exploring a new country off the beaten path is a great experience. But if it’s your first time visiting, it doesn’t make much sense to skip out on all of the attractions that make this destination extra special.

Anyone who’s visited Thailand before is likely well-versed on what all the best sights and activities are. But first-time visitors may need some guidance on crafting the best Thailand itineraries for the duration of their stay.

Especially one that includes all of the most popular, bucket-list destinations in just ten days.

Day One And Two – Arrival In Bangkok

Known for its loud and buzzing hustle and bustle, this vibrant city is usually the first stop in any visit to Thailand. And a stopover here is almost obligatory, especially since it hosts one of two international airports.

Two days is just enough to get a taste of this colourful destination. Here, it’s customary to experience the unforgettable nightlife scene in Sukhumvit and sampling the unusual street food. Amongst many others, of course.

Bangkok aerial view

Day One

The bustling streets and chaotic traffic may not be an immediate favourite for some, but Bangkok’s unmatched energy is heaven for social thrill-seekers with an open mind.

If you’d prefer a more mellow introduction to the City of Angels, hop into a riverboat and spend your first day exploring the historic district of Rattanakosin. It’s home to great eateries and some of the most impressive and well-known temples and cultural landmarks, including the Wat Pho Buddhist temple and the Grand Palace.

Here you’ll also find the Bangkok National Museum, the Amulet Market, and Saranrom Park. The Wat Pho Thai Massage School is also located in the area and offers inexpensive Thai massages starting from around 420 baht – or thirteen US dollars – per hour.

There are a number of Thai restaurants, cafes and coffee shops dotted across the area offering both international and local dishes. It’s the perfect start to your 10 day Thailand tour.

With the heat and humidity in full swing, the best way to get around the city is on direct routes in air-conditioned carriages with zero traffic. And that’s exactly what travellers can expect from the sky train. This means less time haggling taxis and more time for shopping and temple-hopping.

Day Two

After a warm and relaxing start to the trip, it’s time to take it up a notch by venturing into the more eclectic corners of the city.

Visiting a floating market is one of the must-do activities to check off on your Thailand travel itinerary. As it does tend to get busy, an early morning visit makes for a great breakfast run, especially if it means avoiding the bulk of the crowd.

Spend the rest of the day joining the hordes of backpackers shopping in Khao San Road or browsing through luxury wares at Siam Paragon.

When the sun sets on your second day in Bangkok, dine on some of the many culinary delights on offer in Chinatown. It’s not necessarily local cuisine, but Chinatown is unsurprisingly one of the best places to grab a delicious meal.

From dim sum to coconut ice-cream, the many sips, snacks and samples are sure to cater to any palate. Then grab a few drinks with a spectacular view at the Sky Bar before heading for a wild night out in one of the many party streets in town.

Day Three And Four – Chiang Mai

Like many other parts of Thailand, Chiang Mai offers a great mix of attractions for nature lovers, culture vultures, foodies, budget travellers, and adrenaline junkies. This makes it the perfect amalgamation of all that Thailand has to offer.

A favourite especially amongst travel bloggers, Chiang Mai is the third-largest city in Thailand and is surrounded by lush jungles, natural waterfalls, and a gorgeous mountain range. After being submerged in the buzzing city life, this city serves as the perfect getaway into nature.

Take advantage of the natural wonders of this incredible city by hiking through the wilderness, spending time at an elephant sanctuary, and climbing up sticky waterfalls.

Day One

Located just over an hour from the Chiang Mai Old City north on Route 1001 is the first stop of the day.

Affectionately dubbed the “sticky waterfalls”, it gets its name from the limestone rocks and mineral deposits with a hardened sponge-like texture.  One would expect any rock formation around waterfalls to be incredibly slippery and too dangerous to climb, but that’s not the case with Bua Tong Waterfalls.

The tiered waterfall is surprisingly easy to climb – even with bare feet. And a nearby spring with vibrant blue water makes for a great cooling-down after all the excitement.

Next, take a 50-minute drive from Bua Tong Waterfalls to the Elephant Nature Park. Chiang Mai is home to the best and most reputable elephant sanctuaries in Thailand, and this happens to be one of them.

Thai elephants

This sanctuary and rescue and rehabilitation centre is one of the most popular as it provides proper care for the elephants by regulating interactions with tourists. Many companies market themselves as ‘ethical’ but it’s important to do your own research beforehand.

Spend the rest of your day taking in the views or grabbing a meal before boarding a shuttle, taxi, plane or train to the little city of Sukhothai. With plenty on the itinerary, you’re going to want to start your day in the early morning to make the most of your day.

Day Five – Sukhothai

The modern-day Thai culture, language, arts, and architecture can be traced back to the Sukhothai Kingdom. This city is perfect for cultural enthusiasts wanting to take a glimpse into ancient Thai history.

Begin your day at Sukhothai Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that occupies the former royal capital of Siam. With over thirty temples, around two hundred ruins, and five zones, the central zone is the most popular and easily accessible starting point.

Some of the park’s highlights include

  • The 13th century Wat Mahathat temple
  • The pre-Sukhothai era Wat Si Sawai temple
  • The Ramkhamhaeng National Museum, home to over 2000 ancient artefacts.

Sukhothai Historic park

A self-guided bicycle tour is a great option for those wanting to cover more ground in less time. Plus, after all the tasty Thai street food, it’s probably a good idea to squeeze in an extra workout.

Speaking of food, restaurants and cafes in the Sukhothai Park area cater almost exclusively to tourists, making tourism a crucial aspect of the economy.

When the sun sets, you can also find a night market beside the river that sells food pretty cheaply. So it’s easy to make a day out of your visit.

Day Six And Seven- Phuket

Say goodbye to Sukhothai, and hello to the final half of your tour in legendary Phuket. So far we’ve covered inner-city nightlife, ancient temples, and elephant sanctuaries, but no trip to Thailand is complete without the beach.

If you’re looking for a pleasant home base away from the crowds of tourists, check out our list of villas in Phuket.

Big Buddha, Phuket FantaSea, and Karon Viewpoint are some of the most well-known destinations that tourists flock to see in Phuket. And when the sun sets, the Simon Cabaret Show and the famed Bangla Road make for some interesting nocturnal activities.

Many seasoned visitors to Thailand often make Phuket their one and only stop. That should give a pretty good idea of just how much there is to do and see here. Regardless of which activities you decide to include during your short stay, there is sure to be something to suit every budget, age, and palate.

However, on your second day in Phuket, the best thing to do is simply nothing at all. A quick stop at one of the markets is all you need before heading straight for the coast. There’s an envious selection of beautiful beaches on which to lay around snapping photographs and sipping coconuts.

Some of the best beaches in Phuket include:

  • Freedom Beach
  • Kata Beach
  • Patong Beach
  • Surin Beach, or ‘Millionaire’s Row’
  • Kata Noi Beach
  • Nai Harn Beach

The location also makes it perfect for a day trip to Ao Phang Nga Marine National Park. With cliffs, caves and numerous limestone tower karst islands, it’s a quick getaway into nature from the bustling beaches of Phuket.

Day Eight And Nine – Phi Phi Islands

For this next stop, you want to get up bright and early and make your way to Rassada Pier in Phuket Town. Here, you’ll catch a speedboat or ferry to Phi Phi Island. This doesn’t take longer than two hours, leaving you plenty of daylight time to do some exploring.

During the day, snorkelling, diving and kayaking tours are some of the many options available on the island and surrounds. Some less adventurous options include island-hopping cruises, shark-watching, and exploring some of the islands’ sea caves.

Hiring a long-tailed boat for a private tour is another great way to explore the neighbouring islands, minus the crowds. Some may even consider it to be the best way to see Thailand.

Phi Phi island

At night, the island comes alive with buzzing bars and pool parties. Tonsai Bay is known to be festive, lively, and a lot of fun. Although the music generally stops at 2 am, bars don’t close until they’ve said goodbye to the last of their customers. It usually doesn’t get too crazy, so it’s the perfect amount of fun after a long day of sightseeing.

Day Ten – Krabi

After an exciting few days of adventures and exploration, Krabi is the perfect place to relax and recover. While this city is often overlooked in favour of the bigger, bustling cities, you can find mouth-watering cuisine, excellent accommodation options, and relatively quiet beaches.

As the name suggests, the Crystal Pools, also known as the Emerald Pools, are crystal-clear spring water pools that are great for swimming. A couple of kilometers away are the hot springs, another great place to relax and wind down.

Krabi is a majority Muslim province, so visitors are encouraged to wear loose and modest clothing as a sign of respect, even when swimming. Skimpy speedos and bikinis may draw some funny looks and the odd giggle your way. So it’s important to be culturally aware and dress appropriately if you’d prefer to avoid this.

To wrap up your final day, dining by candlelight in a limestone cave is the cherry on top of a fantastic 10 day Thailand itinerary. While it’s definitely a more luxurious experience, it’s undoubtedly worth every penny.

The vibrant night markets make for an impressive budget-friendly alternative. Spending your last few hours amongst the locals with authentic freshly-prepared Thai cuisine is never a bad idea. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that it’s lighter on the pocket too.

Wrapping Up Your 10 Day Trip To Thailand

The beauty of the Land of Smiles has a way of capturing the hearts of every traveller. Considering all there is to experience in this south-east Asian wonderland, it’s easy to see why Thailand is the most visited city in the world.

It’s true, ten days in Thailand is not nearly enough to develop a deeply wholehearted appreciation for all that Thailand has to offer. But it’s a good introduction to the natural and cultural landscapes that people take such pleasure in navigating.

After all, the bustling cities, tantalizing cuisine, iconic limestone cliffs, and serene beaches are more than enough to draw millions of visitors from across the globe time and time again.

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