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Thailand, Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan

30 Day Itinerary

Planning a 30 day trip to Thailand and looking for help with an Itinerary or of how to split time between North, South and BKK.

Want to go as far as Chiang Mai, is it worth going any further north? 

Down South want to go diving, island hoping and hopefully make a full moon party.

8 Answers

top answer by
CJ from Los Angeles

Wow, 30 days, I'm jealous!!!

I've had the chance to visit Thailand a number of times, but usually on two-week trips at the most (we Americans get shorter holidays unfortunately). Definitely MAXIMIZE your time in the south as much as possible.  Chiang Mai is definitely worth a visit to do the elephant camps, however I would not spend more than a couple days there as everything else in the town (the night market, etc) weren't anything special in the context of what the rest of Thailand has to offer.

I had a couple friends that went to  Pai and thought it was worth a trek, so you may want to look into that area as well.

As other posters have mentioned, the  Full Moon Party is a must do in the islands--but rather than booking on  Koh Phangan for a place to stay, look into staying on  Koh Samui and then taking the speed boat over the night of, which only runs about $60 or so RT. (prices vary depending on how early you book that week). There's travel agency shacks EVERYWHERE so no need to book in advance for boat transport, you can barter and look for the best prices around town.

My favorite place in Thailand was  Koh Phi Phi (where they filmed The Beach), and I would personally recommend staying there for at least 4-5 days if you're looking for an island to relax a little bit, and unwind. It has a good balance of beaches, nightlife and beautiful views/snorkeling.

With 30 days budgeted, you may want to consider hopping over to Angkor Wat for 3-4 days in  Cambodia, as it's a cheap flight and WELL worth the excursion. Most flights depart from  Bangkok so plan accordinly with your itinerary. 

Also, sidenote, if you're looking to buy a lot of trinkets, custom-tailored suits etc, you may want to plan to do  Bangkok last so you don't have to lug everything around the wholetime. Everything there is SUPER cheap so you may end up with the need for an extra suitcase on the way home!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Chiang Mai (city)
  2. Pai (city)
  3. Full Moon Party (attraction)
  4. Koh Samui (island)
  5. Angkor Wat (attraction)
  6. Cambodia (attraction)
  7. Bangkok (city)
  8. Koh Phi Phi (city)
  9. Koh Phangan (attraction)
9 thanks

answered by
Charles from Manhattan Beach

Can't speak for up north, but as far as the south goes...

Diving - the Andaman Sea has some of the best diving in the world.

Islands - obviously tons of em on both the Andaman and Gulf of Thailand sides. Check out  Koh Phi Phi if you're in/around Phuket.

Koh Samui is a good jump-off point for the Full Moon Party on  Koh Phangan. Definitely check the calendar for the time period that you'll be in the region, so you can plan to be in the area accordingly. Haad Rin beach (about 10 min from where the ferry boat docks) is where the FMP takes place, and there are many hotels there, which makes it pretty easy. I highly recommend that you get a hotel in Koh Phangan for the FMP, either just the one night (which can be tough to book) or for a few nights and relax on the island. There's a Best Western there that I've heard good things about was well as various non-chain options.

Hotels in Ko Samui - we stayed at the KC Resort and Overwater VIllas near Chaweng Beach, which I thought was very comfortable and a good value. It really depends on what kind of experience you want in Ko Samui...Chaweng is definitely the liveliest area with a lot of bars/restaurants (and hotels).

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Koh Samui (island)
  2. Haad Rin (attraction)
  3. Koh Phi Phi (city)
  4. Koh Phangan (attraction)
7 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Brad from Khanom

Hey, Shane. 

30 days is a proper "time investment" for a country with so much beauty and diversity. 

I suggest you split your time budget as follows:

3 days in Bangkok. Plenty of things to see in and around (try the   Maeklong Market or the Amphawa Floating Market). 

4 days going up to Chiang Mai. Take it slow. Visit Ayutthaya, Sukhothai and Kamphaeng Phet, three cities with amazing historical parks.

7 days in the North. 4 days in and around Chiang Mai, 3 days in Pai (sooo cool and hippy). Try go to the Mae Ngat Lake north of Chiang Mai and spend a night on a floating house. 

7 days on the East Coast in Ko Tao (diving, snorkeling) and Koh Phangan (amazing beaches and the FMP). Keep in mind that most accommodations demand a minimum reservation of three to five days around the FMP dates.

7 days on the West Coast. I'd suggest you skip the notorious Koh Phi Phi, as it is very crowded and expensive. Instead you may go to Ko Yao Yai (lovely island; a lot of other islets to see around), Koh Jum (extremely tranquil and genuine) or Ko Kradan (white sand, crystal clear water). You might also want to try the beautiful island of Koh Lipe, but it's been getting quite crowded recently.

I hope this helps.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Maeklong Market (attraction)
  2. Amphawa Floating Market (attraction)
  3. Chiang Mai (city)
  4. Sukhothai (city)
  5. Kamphaeng Phet (city)
  6. Mae Ngat Lake (attraction)
  7. Ko Tao (attraction)
  8. Koh Phangan (attraction)
  9. Ko Yao Yai (city)
  10. Ko Kradan (island)
  11. Koh Lipe (city)
  12. Ayutthaya (attraction)
5 thanks

answered by
Napat Palm

30 days sounds like you will really be able to immerse yourself in an authentic Thai experience. I will first answer the question about the north of Thailand. Chiang Mai of course is a must. I, however, think it might be worth going up as far as Chiang Rai, if you are interested in seeing the borders between Burma, Laos and Thailand at the Golden Triangle. You can also experience a lot of tribal cultures if you were to take detours and trek into mountainous tribal villages in those in Mae Hong Son 

As for the South, as long as you do not venture down to the 5 southernmost provinces you will not be caught in the militant border division conflict. Like all the responses above, I really would recommend Koh Phi Phi for diving and good coral reefs. The full moon will have to be on  Koh Phangan with a great stay on Koh Samui. Ko Samui itself also has a lot of clubs with more chill foreign beach like atmosphere similar to Kao San road in Bangkok. Also another great place for beautiful beach is  Krabi. The tsunami sadly has washed up and cleanse quite a portion of the seaside, so now the beach is really nice. I think there should be less tourist there as well. 

Just to add: Culturally speaking there are also differences in the cultures and way of life between different part of Thailand. I would classify them into 4 major regions: North, South, Central, and Northeast. The cuisine you find will also be different as well as the local dialects. Northern part is more related to mountaineers; there are still many tribes whose culture remained largely penetrated. You could see Kayan people with elongated neck etc. The South has more Islamic influence as it borders Malaysia. The Northeast, on the other hand, is more rural with lots of agriculture. As Thai culture is very much intertwined with rice, this region is probably still most in touch with the root. Many cities are also developing in that area especially near the border like  Udon Thani or the capital of the northeast  Khon Kaen

Anyway its going to be a great trip! Enjoy. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Chiang Mai (city)
  2. Chiang Rai (city)
  3. Mae Hong Son (city)
  4. Koh Samui (island)
  5. Krabi (city)
  6. Udon Thani (attraction)
  7. Khon Kaen (city)
  8. Koh Phi Phi (city)
  9. Koh Phangan (attraction)
5 thanks

answered first by
Tyson from Toronto

Yes and no... I went as far Chiang Mai and spent 4 days there; which is couple of the days I dedicated to the city itself by visiting most of its temples and night market. Plus one day I spent in a jungle doing the elephant camp, which is really a must-do when you go there. And last day I took a day trip to the Golden Triangle. They basically took us to White Temple in Chiang Rai area and Golden Triangle itself by the river where Burma, Thailand, Laos meets. We even crossed the river for an hour of shopping in Laos (no passport required)... Basically you can do most of the region north of Chiang Mai as day trips, either organized like I did or on your own if you want to. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Chiang Mai (city)
  2. Golden Triangle (attraction)
  3. White Temple (attraction)
  4. Chiang Rai (city)
4 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Kamil from Czech Republic

Hi Shane,

I just arrived from Thailand couple days ago. If you want to go North, than you should definitelly go to Kanchanaburi to see very well know the River Kwai Bridge and to visit awesome Erawan Waterfalls National Park which is arroung 70 km from Kanchanaburi.

On South I would suggest to see Lamai Beach and Chaweng Beach on Koh Samui island. I heard also that Ko Tao is beautiful for diving from many people but unfortunatelly wasn't there.

I would sugget to go arround destinations like Phuket or Krabi but if you will be there go to near beaches by the boats and visit island like for example Koh Poda which is near to Krabi, small but really nice.

Enjoy the Land of a thousands smiles and your trip,


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Kanchanaburi (attraction)
  2. River Kwai Bridge (attraction)
  3. Erawan Waterfalls National Park (attraction)
  4. Lamai Beach (attraction)
  5. Chaweng Beach (attraction)
  6. Koh Samui (island)
  7. Ko Tao (attraction)
  8. Phuket (city)
  9. Krabi (city)
  10. Koh Poda (city)
3 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Debbie from San Francisco

30 days in Thailand?  I'm jealous!  One of my favorite places to be :)

While I've never been up north to  Chiang Mai, what I can say about it is that I tried really hard to go there the last time I was in Thailand and that it's on my bucket list, for hopefully soon because I hear it's beautiful up there.

Down south in  Bangkok, I personally think the city is pretty cool, but that 2-3 days is enough to get a feel for the city, especially if you're only in the country for 30 days.  It's a city.  My two favorite things in BKK were probably  Health Land Spa for high end, yet amazing and amazingly cheap massages (I'm talking $15 including tip for a two hour Thai massage), and I really enjoyed the view from the rooftop bar/restaurant of the  lebua at State Tower, where the movie Hangover II was filmed.  The sunset there is insane and high recommended.  Other than that, I say let BKK be your launch pad to other surrounding places.

I don't know if you're traveling with any Thai friends or anyone who's familiar enough to drive in the area, otherwise you can book a car and driver, or join a tour and go to places around Bangkok.   Ayutthaya up north is full of temple ruins.  Very fascinating stuff.  Close by is  Lopburi, which is a city full of free roaming monkeys.  It's pretty cool and fun.  

From BKK, if you drive south to the west side, you can hit up  Cha-Am, plus many other beaches along the coast.  If you drive south to the east side you can hit up  Pattaya -- and the same -- you can stop off at many other beaches along the way.  I just listed the two most popular ones.

To get to the Full Moon Party from BKK, I suggest flying to  Surat Thani.  I booked really cheap flights on AirAsia for about $150 round trip.  They're like the RyanAir of Asia, but nicer.  So fly to Surat Thani, then take a ferry over to  Koh Samui.  You can choose to spend some time there, or you could transfer over to a ferry to  Koh Phangan where the Full Moon Party actually happens at Haad Rin.  Just a warning: it's like college spring break there.  I wish I had a hotel recommendation to give you, but if you don't mind staying in dank quarters with reptilian roommates with a traditional, um, Thai bathroom, I did stay at  Dew Shore Bungalows.  The room itself was horrible, but it redeemed itself by practically having the most beautiful white sand HUGE private beach to myself.  It also had an awesome little food stand next to it.  It wouldn't be my first choice, but I wouldn't be opposed to staying there again.

Have fun and let me know if you want any other suggestions! :)

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Chiang Mai (city)
  2. Bangkok (city)
  3. Health Land Spa (attraction)
  4. lebua at State Tower (hotel)
  5. Lopburi (city)
  6. Cha-Am (city)
  7. Pattaya (city)
  8. Surat Thani (city)
  9. Koh Samui (island)
  10. Haad Rin (attraction)
  11. Dew Shore Bungalows (attraction)
  12. Koh Phangan (attraction)
  13. Ayutthaya (attraction)
3 thanks

answered by
Arthur from Singapore


Hi, I did try this tours and have to say that they are pretty good at what they offer.  

Our favorite was but island hoping are great too. They are specialist in private tour, this is why they are more expensive. But worth it. 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Krabi (city)

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