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The 9 Best Road Trips in Thailand You Shouldn’t Miss!

The 9 Best Road Trips in Thailand You Shouldn’t Miss!

Thailand is oozing with so much scenic beauty and rich culture and more likely than not, you’ll find yourself running out of time when exploring it as a first-time traveler. 

The good thing is that a well-curated road trip itinerary should fix that. Not only will this give you the freedom to explore at your own pace, but you may also discover off-the-beaten paths most tourists don’t visit. 

First things first, though—here’s our list of the most in-demand road trip adventures that will surely fill your Thailand trip with golden memories. 

Bangkok to Chiang Mai – Best road trip for history buffs

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Distance: 1,429 km

Duration: 1 week (round trip)

Best Time to Go: November to February


Traveling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is an excellent idea for a road trip in Thailand. Between these major locations, there are plenty of ancient sites and temples to see along the way which will blow the mind of any history buff.

From Bangkok, you can stop by Ayutthaya Historical Park before following routes 1072 and 1117 to see the numerous temples along Kamphaeng Phet. Afterward, you can head straight to Chiang Mai where you can stay for a few days to explore its temples.

You can even stop to explore Doi Khun Tan National Park and see the Khun Tan Train Tunnel first. On your way back, switch to routes 1124 and 106 to visit Sukhothai and finish your week-long historical tour with a bang before returning to Bangkok.

Pro Tip:

On your return trip from Chiang Mai, you can drive through Lamphun to explore its ancient Mon temples and shrines as well. Lamphun’s Hariphunchai National Museum is a great place to start if you want to learn about its history.

Aside from that, you can use this chance to sample the town’s famous longan dishes.

Phuket to Satun – Best road trip for beach and island escapades

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Distance: 433 km

Duration: 4 to 5 days (one-way)

Best Time to Go: December to February


If hopping between beaches and islands is your idea of a great road trip in Thailand, consider traveling from Phuket to Satun. On your way, you’ll have access to numerous stunning beaches and islands along Phuket, Krabi, Trang, and Satun.

You’ll find ports with ferries going to paradise islands like Koh Yao Yai, Koh Lanta, Koh Libong, and Koh Lipe. These islands are inhabited, so expect to find beach resorts, hotels, and restaurants on-site.

It’s perfect if you like to spend a day before hopping to the next island on your list. On your last day, you can head to the secluded Koh Tarutao National Park off the coast of Satun to explore its hidden beaches, cascades, nature trails, and snorkeling spots.

Pro Tip:

The monsoon season from June to October isn’t ideal for beach and island-hopping activities in Thailand due to the strong waves and heavy rain it brings. You should avoid this road trip during this time.

Bangkok to Chiang Rai – Best road trip for nature lovers

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Distance: 878 km

Duration: 4 to 5 days (one-way)

Best Time to Go: January to February


A road trip from Bangkok to Chiang Rai is a must for nature lovers vacationing in Thailand. From the capital city, you can drive through the countryside starting at Chiang Mai where you can stay for a few days to explore its national parks and mountain roads.

The must-see attractions include Doi Inthanon National Park, Elephant Nature Park, and Doi Ang Khang. Doi Ang Khang, in particular, is the place to go in January and February when its gorgeous Himalayan cherry blossoms bloom.

From Chiang Mai, complete the trip to Chiang Rai via Route 118. This final 4-hour ride will take you through numerous villages, gardens, waterfalls, national parks, temples, lakes, and wildlife sanctuaries.

Pro Tip:

Before heading out from Bangkok, we recommend going to an ATM to withdraw some cash because most of the attractions and shops in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai don’t accept card payments.
You don’t want to miss out on anything during your road trip just because you’re short on cash.

Phuket to Pattani – Best road trip for offbeat adventures

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Distance: 580 km

Duration: 3 to 4 days (one-way)

Best Time to Go: November to February


Though traveling from Phuket guarantees access to stunning beaches, there’s plenty of room for surprises when you’re headed to Pattani. That makes it the ideal road trip in Thailand if you like offbeat adventures.

From Phuket, Krabi, and Trang’s familiar seaside locations, you’ll traverse the hilly countryside in Phatthalung, Pattani, and Songkhla. Going here gives you the best chance to experience the treasures of the rural south: its people, art, culture, and food.

That means you’ll have numerous opportunities to eat your way through floating markets, hike nature trails, and visit temples. You can end the day at Somdet Phra Sinagarin Pattani Park’s famous skywalk, a vantage point with superb sunset views.

Pro Tip:

Pattani is one of the southern provinces with a history of violence and attacks. Though none of the attacks were ever towards tourists, you must exercise caution when traveling this far south.

Mae Sa Valley via Samoeng Loop – Best road trip for beginners

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Distance: 100 km

Duration: 1 day (round trip)

Best Time to Go: December to February


This Thailand road trip through Chiang Mai’s Mae Sa Valley is great for first-time travelers. The mountain road in the famous Samoeng Loop is easy to traverse on a motorbike and you can explore all its attractions within the day.

This includes the Mae Sa Elephant Camp, Mae Sa Noi Waterfall, Natural Science Museum, Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden, and Mon Jam Village. The village, in particular, is a must-see for its colorful flower terraces, Thai coffee, and local restaurants.

From here, you can continue your trip via the Samoeng Loop. This will take you through the scenic Samoeng Viewpoint, Royal Rose Garden, and Tha Chang Hill before returning you to the city center in Chiang Mai to complete the loop.

Pro Tip:

For this one-day road trip, ensuring you have enough food is crucial so it’s best to prepare a packed lunch beforehand. Otherwise, you can get takeout food at Mon Jam Village at the end of the trip.
You can also shop for food at the Siri-Wattana Market in Chiang Mai at the start of the road trip.

Mae Hong Son Loop – Best road trip for “bikepackers”

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Distance: 598 km

Duration: 4 days (round trip)

Best Time to Go: November to April 


If you’re a light traveler, the Mae Hong Son Loop is the best road trip in Thailand for you. That’s why it’s ideal for backpackers who like traveling in a rental motorbike, also known as “bikepackers.”

Your journey here will start at Route 108 from Mae Hong Son which leads to the Provincial Chamber of Commerce. This place is known to award certificates to drivers who can ride through the loop’s over 1860 curves and turns.

The loop will take you through the local villages in Pai, Doi Inthanon National Park, Op Luang National Park, and Mae Sariang. Pai and Mae Sariang are ideal for meeting the locals during your trip while the national parks are excellent for dedicated campers.

Pro Tip:

This road trip will take you to foggy mountain roads and chilly park summits, so it’s important to carry sweaters and jackets in case it gets too cold. The cold temperature is particularly troublesome when you’re riding a motorbike.

Hua Hin to Surat Thani – Best road trip for seaside lovers

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Distance: 796 km

Duration: 4 to 5 days (one-way)

Best Time to Go: December to February


Pattaya City, Hua Hin, and Surat Thani aren’t Phuket or Krabi, but their beaches and seaside attractions are nothing to scoff at. In fact, traveling between these locations is the best way to experience the best beaches along the Gulf of Thailand.

For starters, Pattaya City is a bustling beach city with numerous shopping centers and nightclubs. From here, you can hit the road to Hua Hin while passing through Bangkok and several coastal areas which should take approximately 7 hours.

Starting at Hua Hin, you can take it slow while hopping between different beaches, resorts, and national parks until you reach Surat Thani. On the last leg of your trip, you can explore the beautiful islands in Surat Thani like Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan.

Pro Tip:

Unlike Phuket, traveling to the islands in Surat Thani isn’t as dangerous during the monsoon season, so you can go on this road trip from June to October. However, it still receives plenty of rainfall which can affect your beach activities.

Isan Loop – Best road trip for temple-hopping and foodie adventures

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Distance: 880 km

Duration: 1week (round trip)

Best Time to Go: January to May


This loop from Nakhon Ratchasima to Ubon Ratchathani and back is your best chance to explore the wonders of Isan. Ideally, you start the trip at Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat) since it’s the gateway to the region’s other provinces and closest to Bangkok.

From Korat, you can ride to the temple ruins at Phanom Rung Historical Park and slowly make your way to Ubon Ratchathani. Spend a few days here since there are plenty of restaurants, temples, historical sites, cascades, and parks worth checking out.

Continue your road trip to Yasothon where you can visit temples, shop at local markets, or watch the annual fireworks festival in May. Finally, you can end the journey with a historical tour of Prasat Puay Noi and Phimai Historical Park before you return to Korat.

Pro Tip:

Isan is famous for its food so you can’t go on a road trip without sampling the local dishes. The must-try food here includes som tum, larb, om, koi, Isan sausage, khao gee, mok, jaew, pla som, and gaeng nor mai bai yanang.

We recommend researching the best restaurants in Isan beforehand so you know which must-visit places to add to your itinerary.

Chiang Mai-Lamphun-Pai Loop – Best road trip for cultured travelers

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Distance: 539 km

Duration: 4 to 5 days

Best Time to Go: November


This road trip in Thailand is perfect for travelers who like to experience the rich culture and nature in Chiang Mai. You’ll start from the city center and drive to Pai, a bohemian town with unique restaurants and attractions like the Long Neck Karen Village.

Spend a day here or continue to Namtok Mae Surin National Park where you can set up camp along a reservoir amid a lush and foggy hill forest. You’ll pass by Mo Fang Waterfall and Tham Pla – Namtok Pha Suea National Park which are also a must-visit.

The trip will conclude at Doi Mae U Kho’s stunning Thung Bua Tong Field. This mountainside flower field is packed with vibrant sunflowers that bloom every November, so expect to see mixed crowds of locals and tourists visiting during this time.

Pro Tip:

If you’re an avid shutterbug, be sure to bring a camera when visiting Thung Bua Tong Field in the winter months. Butterflies are highly attracted to this place during this season. 

Otherwise, you might need to bring bug spray if you don’t like seeing numerous insects nearby. After all, butterflies aren’t the only critters attracted to flowers.

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