Upon entering Thailand, most nationalities are granted a free 30 day visa on arrival. But what’s the best way to spend these 30 days? I fell in love with Thailand the first time I went in 2013, and went back for another fun-filled month this year. Here’s what I think the best itinerary to get the most out of Thailand is:

Bangkok – 2 nights

Thaintro - Bangkok

You’ll start your journey here, try not to be too put off – it’s very overwhelming and hard to navigate as a foreigner. The taxi drivers will always refuse to put their meters on and charge you extra for being a westerner, and the public transport can be confusing. If you’re solo you might wonder what the hell you’ve let yourself in for, but don’t worry the rest of Thailand is a lot better. Only stay a couple of days, there isn’t too much for you to do here. This is the hub of transport around Thailand and you can catch a ferry or bus to anywhere from here. Because of this, you’ll inevitably find yourself back here, whether you like it or not.

What to do

  • The Temple of the Emerald Buddha – really spectacular temple complex, it’s glittery and OTT and beautiful
  • Wat Pho – home to an alarmingly large reclining golden Buddha
  • The Floating Markets – there are a few to choose from throughout the city, enjoy the novelty of shopping from a boat. Something I never previously knew I wanted to do
  • Sky Bar – great views over Bangkok at night, ticket price includes a free cocktail

Where to Stay

  • Unitato Hostel – really nice and cheap hostel near to a Sky Train station
  • Siamaze Hostel – great hostel with free DIY breakfast where you can cook your own eggs and eat as much toast and fruit as you like. Also has regular BBQ parties and movie nights with free food
  • ETZzz Hostel – this was very clean and nice, good wifi, not so much of a sociable atmosphere though and quite far away from anything, but is near Lumphini Park

Koh Tao – 4 nights

Koh Tao

This little island is probably my favourite place in Thailand, it is a bit quieter than Koh Phangan, but it still has a lively pub crawl. It has beautiful beaches and is a great place to do some SCUBA diving.

What to do

  • SCUBA diving – do your PADI or SSI with one of the many dive shops here. If you don’t want to spend 4 days diving you can sign up for a DSD and try 2 dives
  • Koh Tao Pub Crawl – a famous pub crawl for any hardcore partiers out there. Alternatively, just follow it for free
  • Koh Nangyuan viewpoint – you’ll need to get a boat taxi here and then climb up an unholy amount of steps, but the view is worth it I promise

Where to stay

  • Spicy Tao – this hostel has a great atmosphere with a nice common area and organised events and nights out. Looking at the recent Hostel World reviews it would appear it has a bit of a water shortage problem.
  • Taco Shack – less of an atmosphere but much better facilities and great Mexican food

Koh Phangan – 5 nights

Don’t get too hung up about Full Moon, it is honestly just a lot of people drinking on a beach, and you’ll find that happening pretty much every night on the Thai islands. Half Moon is exactly the same thing as well. The run-up to Full Moon is better than the actual thing if you ask me – don’t miss the jungle party it’s in an awesome setting. Avoid the pool party like the plague, unless you love rowdy dickheads splashing you in the face constantly. After Full moon the whole island literally empties. There’s not much to do here besides party and laze on the beach, but what more do you need? Most hostels will require you to stay at least 5 nights.

What to do

  • Full Moon Party – you can check the dates for Full Moon here. It’s now 100 THB to get into Full Moon. You can probably sneak in without paying, but the money goes towards cleaning up the beach afterwards
  • Jungle Party – the night before Full Moon there’s a trippy rave in a jungle
  • Slip ‘N’ Fly – this is an all day party on the island. It’s not cheap but it’s certainly fun
  • Laze around on the beach – the best way to cure your hangover

Where to stay

  • Dancing Elephant – the island’s most popular party hostel. I haven’t stayed here but from what I’ve heard the beds are very close together and it’s a bit smelly. However it has a great atmosphere for anyone wanting to party
  • Sarana Bungalows – decent bungalows for quite cheap in Ban Thai, away from Haad Rin. If you’re on a tighter budget there’s also a dorm. It has a swimming pool and 2 adorable dogs and is right on the beach.

Koh Lanta – 3 nights

What to do

  • Chill out – Koh Lanta is a paradise with beautiful beaches, so read a book and soak up some
  • Snorkelling – explore under the sea on a snorkelling trip
  • Koh Rok Island –

Where to stay

Koh Phi Phi – 3 nights

What to do

  • Monkey Beach – you’ll likely be expecting cute little monkeys you can play with but what you’ll get is some cheeky little shits that are alarmingly clever. Don’t take food or items that aren’t firmly attached to you. And for the love of god don’t try and get your stuff back off them – rabies jabs are expensive
  • Maya Bay sunset cruise – go and see the iconic Maya Bay and get to stay there after all the other tourists have left. Then you’ll get to snorkel with the bioluminescent plankton, which is the trippiest thing you’ll ever do
  • Koh Phi Phi viewpoint – probably my favourite viewpoint. Make sure you take the route with stairs and not the trail. The trail is 1000x times harder – learn from my mistake/near death experience

Where to stay

  • Blanco Beach Bar – this is a party hostel, that means music until 3am, music all day, no sleep. But it is right on the beach and in the middle of the madness at night

Phuket – 2 nights

Phuket is a crazy party town known for being a little seedy and drawing in a big sex tourist crowd – but you can avoid all that (if you want to) and have a great time.

What to do

  • See a ping pong show – if you can stomach it, this is the place to see one of the infamous ping pong shows. I personally shudder at the very thought
  • Party – like most places in Thailand, Phuket is known for its wiiild parties

Where to stay

  • Kool Backpacker Hostel – right on the main strip so don’t expect too much sleep, but you’ll definitely have a good time

Krabi – 2 nights

What to do

  • Island hoping tours – there are a variety on offer, including trips to James Bond Island. (Make sure that you don’t book one operated through Mariam Tour and Travel – worst tour of my life)
  • Railay Beach – yet another stunning beach to chill out on

Where to stay

  • Pak Up Hostel – comfy beds, hot showers, free BBQ
  • Slumber Party Hostel – the party hostel to end all party hostels. I didn’t personally stay here but I’ve heard from many who have, and their stories are certainly interesting. Don’t stay if you want to sleep or you don’t like alcohol

Chiang Mai – 4 nights

Wat Lok Molee, Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai has tonnes of activities to do so you could easily spend a lot longer here. There are loads of elephant sanctuaries in the surrounding area that you can visit and spend the day washing and feeding elephants. If you love Thai temples then, boy, are you in for a treat because Chiang Mai has over 300.

What to do

  • Temple after temple after temple – Chiang Mai is full of them
  • Elephant Nature Park – DON’T ride any elephants, it’s cruel and unnecessary, go to this sanctuary instead and care for those that have been rescued from tourist attractions
  • Ziplining – if you dare, go on a day of ziplining with some lines as long as 1km
  • Cooking classes – learn how to cook authentic Thai food so you can impress your parents when you go back

Where to stay

  • Spicythai Backpackers – this is the first hostel I stayed at in Thailand back in 2013 where there was actually a sociable vibe and I loved it so much I came back this year. Everyone goes out together in the evenings and lazes around watching films the next day

Pai – 5 nights


Pai is a hippy paradise with a nightly market that has an exceptional array of food available. I ended up spending way longer here than I anticipated simply due to the atmosphere. You’ll need to rent a scooter to do all the activities in the surrounding areas, but these are cheap and easy to drive.

What to do

  • Pai canyon – this nothing like the Grand Canyon, it’s more like the OK Canyon, but it’s worth a little visit. Maybe don’t go walking along those thin parts with a sheer drop on each side.
  • Pai Strawberry Farm – this is so cute, they have loads of signs you can pose by and strawberry-related items to buy
  • Hot springs – relax and bathe in some natural hot springs
  • Waterfalls – there are loads around Pai, take your pick
  • Don’t Cry Bar – chilled-out reggae bar and a popular backpacker hang out

Where to stay

  • Spicypai Backpackers – this is another one in the chain of Spicy hostels and it’s got a great atmosphere as well, and a really cool common area you can chill in a hammock in.

From Pai, you can get the slow boat straight to Laos, head back to Chiang Mai to get the slow boat, or fly somewhere from Chiang Mai’s international airport.

Read my guide to Thailand

Find out how much you need to budget for Thailand

Read about my adventures in Thailand



  1. Jess 18/05/2017 / 9:00 pm

    Ahhhhhhhhmy god thank you so much. I’m planning a trip to Thailand in September and had no idea where to start so this is absolutely perfect! Lovely round up xxx

    • lilywright93@gmail.com 19/05/2017 / 5:50 am

      Glad I could help! You’re going to have the best time, Thailand is amazing xxx

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