Not everyone has months to spend bumming around Thailand like us! We appreciate that many people are limit to vacation time from work so, what would we suggest if you’re planning a short trip to Thailand? With two weeks you can actually accomplish quite a lot in the Land of Smiles. It’s well set up for tourism, easy to get around and can be as cheap or lush as you like.
Where to Go
With two weeks, I would recommend choosing Bangkok and one or two other destinations depending on what kind of trip you’re looking for. If you’re coming off a major international flight, you’ll be flying in and out of Bangkok. Luckily, Bangkok is the perfect city for a couple of days at the start and end of your journey. Take a day or two at the start of your journey to recover from jet lag, get adjusted to the culture and see the sites then at the end of your trip spend a couple days shopping and getting massages before your flight home.
If you’re after a culture and nature then Chiang Mai is the place for you. It’s a much smaller city than Bangkok but is a great base if you want to explore the Northern region of Thailand. There are lots of unique things to do in Chiang Mai – trekking, rafting trips, homestays, elephant rides, cooking classes… you name it and you can do it in Chiang Mai. Here’s a complete one week itinerary for Chiang Mai.
Thailand has some of the best beaches around so it’s highly likely you’ll want to park yourself on one of the islands or beaches and relax for the best part of a week. This is a holiday after all!
Head to Phuket if you want to stay on a larger island with a range of accommodation from cheap guesthouses to luxury resorts. Phuket has lots of different beaches to suit everyone from families to partygoers. From Phuket you can pop over to Koh Phi Phi – the island made famous in the movie The Beach.
Krabi is a great spot for families. Ao Nang is small, clean and family-friendly (i.e. not a brothel in sight!). Ton Sai beach is popular with the backpacker and rock climbing set. The area around Krabi is beautifully dotted with limestone karst formations which makes if dramatic and highly photogenic.
Koh Samui is another of Thailand’s extremely popular islands. Package tourists flock here and for good reason. The beaches are stunning – particularly Chaweng Beach which, while overdeveloped with resorts, has some of the whitest sand and clearest blue water you’ll find in Thailand. If you’ve got toddlers in tow this is a great beach as the water is shallow and calm.
Backpackers love Koh Phangan. A short ferry ride from Koh Samui but a completely different vibe. If you want lounge on the beach in the day and hang with 20-somethings at beach bars of full moon parties at night then this is your spot. You’ll still be able to find cheap fan bungalows on the beach if you go to the right part of the island.
Another fantastic little island to visit in Thailand is Koh Lipe. This laid back little island is easy to get around on foot and has fantastic beaches. Check out the Nomadic Boy’s gay guide to Koh Lipe for lots of reasons why it’s a great island in Thailand to visit!
If you’re on a short trip, you’ll probably want to stick with flying as overland travel can require a big time commitment and an overnight bus or train. Air Asia is a great budget airline serving a huge variety of destinations across Thailand. The fares are cheap and the service good. Just remember, you’ll be flying from Don Muang airport (DMK) in Bangkok not Suvarnabhumi airport (BKK) so don’t try and make any connections with your international flights. You can get to Koh Samui with Air Asia if you follow the instructions in this post.
When to Go
There’s no avoiding it, Bangkok is hot all year around. Chiang Mai is cooler over November to February but heats up a lot as is best avoided in April & May. The best weather for Phuket, Koh Phi Phi and Krabi (on the Andaman Coast) can be had from November to April. Koh Samui and Koh Phangan (on the Gulf Coast) are at their best from May until October.
If you need any more in depth info on travel to Thailand:
- Everything You Need to Know About Getting a Visa for Thailand
- Top Ten Things To Do In Bangkok With Kids
- Three Things I Love About Bangkok
- Cocktail Hour in a Bangkok Sky Bar
- Exploring Kanchanaburi’s Wartime Past
- Exploring Southern Thailand’s Mainland
- Getting Our #$%* Back Together on Koh Phangan
- Living the Expat Life on Koh Samui
Thanks for the list. Perfect timing as I am trying to decide on a location for next years family holiday.
Been wanting to travel Thailand since last year. I will visit the country early of 2014. Thanks for the info and travel tips.
As much as I like Bangkok, I think if I only had a short time in Thailand I’d want to just hit the beach! It would be important to go to a beach that still had good food and am ample supply of massages and sticky rice mango!