Located in South East Asia, Thailand is a country packed with hidden gems. From wonderful authentic regions filled with green landscapes and temples more beautiful than the others to the white sandy paradise islands, Thailand is the paradise on Earth. In this blog post, I share with you the perfect itinerary for your 10 days in Thailand that includes a daily schedule of recommended activities with all my tips.
The route will focus on the Central and Northern parts of the country, with notably the most popular temples in Thailand and a visit to an ethical elephant sanctuary. After reading this guide, you will have all the information you need to plan your trip to Thailand accordingly and enjoy these wonderful regions to the fullest!
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How to get to Thailand?
Located in South East Asia and bordering four countries (namely Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Malaysia), Thailand is conveniently accessible either by plane, bus, boat, or car.
The main city of the Central region of Thailand is Bangkok, the capital. Bangkok is therefore the ideal first stop for your 10 days in Thailand as it has two international airports.
There is an airport in Chiang Mai (CNX) and another one in Chiang Rai (CEI). Therefore, you can easily reach the region by taking a 1-hour flight from Bangkok. Many flights are available per day and cost between 20 and 50 USD per passenger (without checked luggage), depending on the airlines. AirAsia tends to be the cheapest airline company for such short-flight trips.
In addition, you can also reach Chiang Mai by train or bus and Chiang Rai by bus only (no train). From Bangkok, it will take you about 13 hours to reach Chiang Rai by bus, respectively about 10 hours to reach Chiang Mai by bus or 12 hours by train.
As per my own experience, I can say that the sleeper trains are comfortable with beds or seating (you choose the option you want), and even air-conditioned depending on the class seat you select. If you take the train during the day, the seats are large enough to have legroom for tall people. Moreover, you will even have 3 meals included in your ticket (morning, lunch and afternoon snacks), unlike the night train that does not offer any meal. However, many food vendors board the train during the various stops along the way. Therefore, you will have food and drink if needed. As far as luggage space is concerned, you will always have room to put them on the overhead racks for both day and night trains. I strongly recommend booking your seats in advance (2 to 3 days prior) to secure a sleeping couch.
In order to book your bus or train tickets, I strongly advise you to use 12Go Asia reservation site. This website is super easy to use and will give you all the information you need to find the best route.
If you come from a neighboring country, especially Laos, it will be very simple to cross the border by bus for example, and head to Chiang Rai.
When to visit Thailand?
Thailand is a huge and vast country, divided into three different regions, mainly the Central, Northern, and Southern parts, with also different climates. As a result, the dry season doesn’t occur at the same time throughout the country.
However, Central and Northern Thailand are two regions that can be visited (almost) all year round. Of course, each season has its advantages and disadvantages. In fact, Unlike the Southern part of Thailand (which corresponds mainly to all the Thai islands), the monsoon period is less catastrophic and still allows you to visit.
However, although accommodation prices are more affordable during the rainy season (May to October), I still invite you to avoid this time of the year and rather go discover Thailand during the winter instead. In other words, the ideal time to visit Central and Northern Thailand is from November to February.
“Also keep in mind that starting from February until March, the farmers located in the Northern part of Thailand start burning their fields to prepare their land, making the air atmosphere difficult, especially in Chiang Mai. They call it the burning season.”
How long to stay in Thailand?
As you can imagine, Central and Northern Thailand have many things to offer, from the biggest cities in Thailand to the most remote villages inside the mountains. Therefore, I would advise you not to rush your journey and stay for at least 10 days in Thailand (the more the better, of course!). In this way, you will get a good first glance at these stunning regions. Just keep in mind that the distances between the different points of interest are long and you may lose a day of travel.
“You can find below a complete 1itinerary for your 10 days in Thailand. However, you can shorten it to 7 days if needed. Stay less time in Bangkok and Chiang Rai.”
Where to go in Central and NortHern Thailand?
Synonymous with green and lush landscapes, amazing wildlife, and stunning temples, Central and Northern Thailand have a lot to offer. From the capital of Thailand (Bangkok) to small towns surrounded by mountains, it is suitable for anyone looking for authenticity and adventure through nature.
Moreover, the destinations shared in the itinerary below are, in my opinion, ideal for your first 10 days in Thailand. In other words, the route will focus on:
- Chiang Rai
- Chiang Mai
How to move around Thailand?
The best way to get around Chiang Rai (other than by a scooter) is by public bus, TukTuk, or taxi. Indeed, there are public buses that take you to the most iconic places in Chiang Rai, such as the White Temple and the Blue Temple (see below for more detail).
Chiang Mai is a great city to explore on foot. In addition, there are shared taxis (red trucks) that will take you all over the city for only 30 baths per person. They are pretty much everywhere in the city, so it is very easy to grab one, just raise your hand and wait 30 seconds.
If you want to explore more of the surroundings of Chiang Mai, I would suggest renting a motorcycle (be aware that the roads are mountain roads) or, even better, a rental car. You can find the best prices here and book your car in one click!
Even though you can visit the old town on foot, I would recommend renting a bike. In fact, in many places in Ayutthaya town, there are no sidewalks, forcing you to walk on large and busy roads. On the contrary, there are some bicycle paths, especially in the old town
“If you want to travel by taxi, I recommend downloading the Grab application. This will allow you to book a ride at a fixed price and pay directly by credit card.”
Things to know before visiting Thailand
- Don’t shake hands or kiss to say hello. In Thailand, they greet you by doing the Wai, a slight bow with palms pressed together in a prayer-like fashion
- Most of the people in the North region of Thailand are Buddhist unlike the people on some of the Southern islands who are Muslim
- Cash is king. In other words, credit and debit cards are not accepted everywhere
- You will always be charged 220 baths when you withdraw money from the ATM no matter which bank you use
- Wear appropriate clothes when visiting temples. That is to say, you must cover your shoulders and knees (women and men)
- You have to remove your shoes each time you enter a temple
- Thai people are the kindest and will always help you
- Depending on the region, the locals are able to speak English (some better than others). In a big city such as Bangkok, almost everyone speaks some English
- Book your train/bus tickets in advance (1 or 2 days prior) via this booking reservation website (English version)
- Although the obligation to wear masks has been removed in Thailand, they all continue to wear them whether on the street (mainly for pollution) or indoors
- Buy a SIM in order to have Internet everywhere and will allow you to book a Grab taxi on your way back to your hotel
- Food is super cheap in Northern Thailand compared to the Southern islands
The perfect itinerary for 10 days in thailand
I am delighted to share with you a complete itinerary for your 10 days in Thailand that describes a detailed day by day program.
With its two International airports (BKK and DMK), Bangkok is the perfect gateway to Thailand for all international travelers. More than just the capital of Thailand or a simple layover, Bangkok is a town rich in culture and well worth a visit. That is why you will start your journey with 3 days of exploring this city that offers modernity and authenticity.
Here are my recommendations for your stay in Bangkok:
Arrive in Bangkok, settle down, and go strolling around to soak up the atmosphere of the city.
Take advantage of your first whole day in Bangkok to visit two of the most beautiful temples in the city:
- Wat Pho
- Wat Arun
- The Grand palace and Wat Phra Kaew
- Golden Mount
- Golden buddha
Transfer from Bangkok to Chiang Rai in the evening
- Bangkok downtown to Bangkok Airport by public transportation with Airport Rail Line (45 bath)
- 1-hour flight from Bangkok (BKK) to Chiang Rai (CEI). The last flight is at 7:50 pm. Costs between 540 to 1600 bath
- Chiang Rai Airport (CEI) to Chiang Rai city center by taxi (160 baths) with the Grab app
OPTION 2 (by night bus):
- If you want to go by bus, go to the New Mochit Terminal. It takes about 13 hours to get to Chiang Rai. Last bus about 8:00 pm. Costs between 650 to 900 baths. Book your seats with 12Go Asia.
Day 4 and day 5
Chiang Mai is without a doubt the highlight of your trip to Northern Thailand. Located in the middle of the mountains, this authentic little town has so much to offer from the best restaurants and cafés to the most beautiful temples.
Here is my recommendation for your stay in Chiang Mai:
- My favorite hotel with the best location and room prices in Chiang Mai
Transfer from chiang rai to chiang mai in the early morning
- Take the Greenbus Line from Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 1 to Chiang Mai Bus Terminal. It lasts approximately 4 hours and costs 305 baths per person for a legroom seat. The first bus is at 7:30 am. You can either book your seats at the Greenbus Line ticket office or via the 12Go Asia reservation website.
- From Chiang Mai Bus Terminal to the center, grab a shared taxi (red truck). It costs 30 baths per person and they can drop you wherever you want inside the old city
- Wat Phra Singh
Free toilets and food stalls.
- Wat Srisuphan
Better known as the silver temple, this temple is impressive by its architecture all in silver. In addition, notes that only men are allowed to enter the temple.
- Wat Chiang Man
Wat Chiang Man is the oldest temple in Chiang Mai. Surrounded by lush forest, this Buddhist temple is so beautiful and is a wonderful place to sit on one of the benches at the entrance and relax.
- Wat Suan Dok
Also known as Wat Buppharam, it is famous for its many mausoleums housing the remains of past royal families.
As you probably know, elephants have always had a special and important place in Asian culture. Domesticated, mistreated for tourism, and so on, elephants have unfortunately not had a very good life in Thailand.
- Visit an ethical elephant sanctuary
- Doi Suthep National Park (Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep)
How to get there?
The best way to get there is by motorbike. It will take you a little bit more than 30 minutes to get there since it is only 15 km away from the city center. Just be aware that the road is a mountain road with many curves. Therefore, I would not recommend this route to any motorcycle beginners. The other option is to go to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep by taxi (red truck). It costs 600 baths in total for 2 people. The driver will wait for you (no time limitation) and then bring you back to town.
Transfer from chiang mai to ayutthaya by train in the morning
- Chiang Mai city center to Chiang Mai Railway station by share taxi (red truck). 30 baths per person
- Chiang Mai Railway station to Ayutthaya Railway station by Express train (10 hours). Note that there is only one express train by day. It costs 616 baths per person and leaves Chiang Mai at 8:50 am. Book your seats with 12Go Asia.
- Ayutthaya Railway station to your hotel by TukTuk (100 bath)
My recommendation for your stay in Ayutthaya:
- The cutest guesthouse in Ayutthaya with big rooms and a great location
Arrive in Ayutthaya in the evening around 7:00 pm, settle down and go eat locat food at Ayutthaya Night Market.
- Ayutthaya Historical Park
How to get there?
You can reach Ayutthaya Historical Park by foot from Siri Guesthouse or any hotel located in the center. However, I advise you to rent a bike to explore Ayutthaya Historical Park to reach the different temples.
TRANSFER FROM AYUTTHAYA TO BANGKOK BY MINI van
- Ayutthaya Bus terminal to Bangkok International Airport (DMK) to catch your late flight. The minivan leaves Ayutthaya every hour and costs 70 baths per person. If you have big luggage, they will probably ask you to pay for an additional seat (always depending on the driver). Book your seats with 12Go Asia.
I sincerely hope I have inspired you to add the North part of Thailand to your bucket list. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out! I would love to share more with you.
Anyway, don’t forget to check out all my posts related to Thailand to get more inspiration for your next trip to Thailand! Finally, in case you want to immerse yourself in this incredible country through videos, find me on my YouTube channel.
Sending you lots of love,