Categories > Guides and Tips

The Ultimate North to South Thailand Itinerary

The Ultimate North to South Thailand Itinerary

Going to three different areas in one go is a dream come true for travellers and you can do just that here in Thailand. You can go from Chiang Mai (North) and Bangkok (Central) before heading to Phuket (South) to experience everything this country has to offer!

It can be a bit overwhelming though, as there are so many sights to see, places to visit, hotels to check out, and restaurants to try out. No need to sweat though, as we have this ultimate travel guide to make your life a little bit easier!

Best Time to Go

Generally speaking, the best time for you to travel to and around Thailand is during the months of November to February. During this period, you’ll experience sunny and mostly dry weather in this tropical country.

The months of March to April are perfect if you want to visit the beaches here such as the ones located in Phuket but keep in mind that these months can also be quite hot in urban areas.

The rainy season in Thailand begins in May but heavy rainfall usually occurs from August to October. During these months, some of your scheduled tours may be affected by inclement weather so it’s best that you check weather forecasts before heading out.

Things to Know

Currency: Thai Baht

(Check the current exchange rate)

Language: Thai

Calling Code: +66


Travel Tips: 

  • Chiang Mai: You’ll probably do a lot of temple touring here so we highly recommend that you treat these “Wats” with respect. This means you need to wear appropriate clothing– no short shorts or sleeveless shirts for men and women.

Also, you need to keep your voice down when visiting temples. This is to avoid disrupting any religious ceremony currently being observed by the monks and Buddhists here during your tour.

  • Bangkok: One major shopping rule in Bangkok is if you’re in a store without any barcodes or price tags, it’s safe to barter or ask for a discount. The locals here are very sweet-mannered and you can always ask nicely for a discount

You should also shop like a local when in Bangkok as most locals will shop in malls during the day while they mostly shop in outdoor walking markets in the evenings.

  • Phuket: You’re probably going to swim on one of the beautiful beaches of Phuket once you get here but it’s best to do those water activities from December to March as the low season (June- August) can bring dangerous riptides. 

You should also be on the lookout for red flags out at sea and stay clear of them as these parts of the beach are considered dangerous. Swim only at designated safe portions as marked or guided by the lifeguard.

How to Get around Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and Phuket 

Tuk-tuk: Tuk-tuks are an icon here in Thailand and are perfect if you want to get around the area where you are currently located. They’re not meant for long-distance travel but they’re a great way to experience how it feels like to travel like a local.

Brush up on your bargaining skills though, as there are no standard fares for this three-wheeled vehicle. Instead, you have to skillfully set the price with your driver before hopping on. 

Taxi: Taking a taxi is a convenient and mostly inexpensive way to travel around the city you are in. It’s a different case though, if you want to travel outside the city or if you want to do some inter-city tours.

Also, keep in mind that Thailand is notorious for heavy traffic conditions so taking a taxi might not be the most ideal transport option during rush hour. In fact, some locals prefer to go by motorcycle taxi which we will discuss in the next bullet point.

Most taxi fares start off at 35 THB base and run around 5 THB per kilometre.

Motorcycle Taxi: If you don’t really care much about the changing weather in Thailand and you don’t have to carry around a lot of luggage, you can always take a motorcycle taxi. It can get you almost anywhere in the city but long-distance travel isn’t available.

It has the advantage of not getting you stuck in traffic that much so most locals prefer this to the standard 4-wheeled taxi. It’s also slightly cheaper at around 20 THB depending on the distance of your destination.

Songthaews: These are mini-trucks modified to accommodate passengers on either side of the vehicle. This can be a cheap option for you if you’re just travelling inter-city and if you’re not in a rush.

However, we recommend that you avoid this mode of transportation if you’re running late for a meeting as SongThaews can be quite slow. Inter-city distances are usually charged just 10 THB– a truly budget-friendly option if you ask us!

Bus: Buses are another cheap transport option if you want to get around Thailand and the different areas in the country. You can take the ordinary (non-air conditioned) ones for short-distance travel within the area.

There are also air-conditioned buses that can take you between cities and regions as they are designed more for long-distance travel. An ordinary bus will only charge a fare amounting to 7 THB– cheap pricing for budget-conscious travellers.

Train: Thailand’s rail system doesn’t cover the entire country yet but it does cover a lot of ground. If you take the Northern Line, you can travel directly to Chiang Mai while the Southern Line will bring you all the way to Malaysia.

The Eastern Railway Line can bring you to the border of Cambodia on one end and on the other end of the line, you can get you to the coasts of Pattaya. 

Plane: With 23 domestic airports and 6 international ones, Thailand has an extensive network of planes and flights for you to take during your tour of the country. 

The airport in Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi Airport) is referred to as the central hub and can take you almost anywhere in the country. It offers international flights but you can also take the planes here to get to some of the most popular destinations in Thailand.

Your North to South Thailand Itinerary

Day 1 to Day 3: Chiang Mai

Day 1: For this Thailand tour, we recommend that you start in Chiang Mai, the Northernmost region for this itinerary. Fly into Chiang Mai and start your trip with a trip to Wat Umong, an ancient temple located at the base of Doi Suthep Mountain.

You can also explore the tunnels of this temple before walking up the pathway leading up the mountain into another famous temple in the area– Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. From this vantage point, you can get a great view of the city of Chiang Mai.

Day 2: The second day will see you travelling outside Chiang Mai City to ethically interact with some elephants at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. When we say ethically we mean no riding at the back of these majestic beasts!

You can then change into your swimming attire to splash around in the mud pool of this elephant camp together with your new elephant friends. Lastly, cap this day off with a traditional Thai lunch which will be served to you inside the camp itself.

Day 3: On your third day, you’re going to travel to the Thanon Thong Chai Range to enjoy everything that Doi Inthanon National Park has to offer. From here, you can stand at the highest point in Thailand and marvel at the views of the surrounding area.

Then, you can proceed to a local village where you can watch the locals go about their daily life while creating unique handmade crafts. 

Lastly, you can check out two waterfalls here (Wachirathan Waterfall and Pa Dok Siew Waterfall) and take in their beauty while feeling refreshed as the mist of these waterfalls lightly splashes on your skin.

Day 4 to 6: Bangkok

Day 4: From Chiang Mai, you can now travel to Bangkok to take in the sights of the more urban side of Thailand. This is the country’s capital so you should expect it to have more frenzy and bustle compared to other rural areas in the country.

Here in Bangkok, you can immediately immerse yourself in the street food culture by visiting Chinatown. You can then go shopping at one of the most prestigious malls here,  the Siam Paragon before you visit the popular Chatuchak Market for affordable finds.

Day 5: On your fifth day, explore Bangkok some more via its comprehensive public transport. You can explore the Chao Phraya River by hopping on a public boat and you can then get off to visit Wat Pho and the Grand Palace– two sites you shouldn’t miss!

Next, try out Thailand’s iconic tuk-tuk as you make your way to Soi Ban Batra to admire the craftsmanship of the families here expertly crafting alms bowls used by temples. 

Don’t forget to drop by the Museum of the Thai Silk King (Jim Thompson) as the cultural significance of this museum is enough to make it a must-visit when in Bangkok!

Day 6: For your sixth day, we recommend that you tour Bangkok’s local markets. You can proceed to the more rural parts of Bangkok to check out the Maeklong Railway Market where you can buy produce from vendors selling their goods along the tracks.

You can then take a taxi to the famous Damnoen Saduak Floating Market which is about 100 Kilometres from Bangkok.

It’s a bit far but it’s an experience you shouldn’t miss as it is a unique feeling paddling through the canals to buy goods from vendors on boats. You can purchase produce and exotic handcrafted items that you can then give your loved ones back home.

Day 7 to 9: Phuket and Phi Phi Islands

Day 7: Your next destination is the southernmost part of Thailand– Phuket! On your 7th day, explore this beautiful island dotted with luxury resorts, neon nightlife, and powdery beaches.

Next, you can visit Cape Panwa to check out its impressive aquarium. If you’re up to it, you can also do some zip-lining across the jungle by dropping by the Hanuman World Phuket before heading to Bangla Road for some night market shopping and drinking!

Day 8: This 8th day is going to be pretty exciting as you’ll visit and explore Phi Phi Islands. 

You can spend an entire day here just snorkelling and swimming in its clear blue waters or head out mid-day to check out other points of interest such as Maya Bay (where Leo Di Caprio shot the film “The Beach”), Viking Cave, and Pileh Lagoon.

If you still have some time left, you can also take a speedboat and head out to Phi Phi Don to visit the macaques of Monkey Beach. You can then end your trip by relaxing and chilling on the white sands and calm waters of Bamboo Island.

Day 9: Phuket isn’t just known for its beautiful beaches. You can also visit important cultural sites here to further enhance your knowledge of the local culture and the Island’s history.

Drop by Promthep Cape if you wish to get some of the best views surrounding the Island before visiting the largest temple in Phuket, Wat Chalong.  This temple holds great historical significance for the locals and is one temple you shouldn’t miss.

You can wrap up your tour in Phuket by visiting the Phuket Cashew Nut Factory. There are different types of cashews to try here and we recommend that you sample most (if not all of them) to have an unforgettable culinary experience in Phuket.

Where to Stay in Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and Phuket

Nine Hotel Chiang Mai

Address: 9 Soi 6 Ratchamanka Rd Phrasing, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand 

Phone: +66979561425  

Pricing: $$

Book Now

This hotel should be on top of your list if you want to see everything there is to experience in Old City Chiang Mai. Located at the heart of the Old City, Nine Hotel Chiang Mai will give you walking-distance access to most attractions around the area.

You’ll also get spacious rooms and some of the comfiest beds you’ll ever sleep in here in Thailand. Plus, the hotel has a swimming pool with some lounge areas around it– ideal if you and your family just want to hang out after an entire day of going on tours.

We also recommend that you don’t skip breakfast here as their buffet spread is one of the most varied we’ve seen. The hotel offers local dishes and some standard Western fare (like pancakes and waffles) which we’re certain you and your family will like.

Aksara Heritage  

Address: 73/1 Rachadamnoen Rd, พระสิงห์ เมือง Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand  

Phone: +6653 279 224 

Pricing: $$

Book Now

The Aksara Heritage is the hotel for you if you want some peace and quiet during your stay here in Old City Chiang Mai. 

Located near some of the busiest streets in the city, the hotel is able to maintain its calm and peaceful atmosphere thanks to the surrounding greenery. If you’re a health buff making your way through Thailand, you’ll be glad to know that they have a fitness gym.

You can also just relax by the hotel’s swimming pool if you feel like you’ve done enough travelling for one day. Their breakfast is also something you should look forward to as the dishes are divine and the garden dining area offers a phenomenal view of the hotel!

Ambassador Hotel Bangkok

Address: 171 Soi Sukhumvit 11, Khlong Toei Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand  

Phone: +6622540444  

Pricing: $

Book Now

Once you get to Bangkok, you can check out the Ambassador Hotel located in one of the prime sections of the city, Sukhumvit.  It’s near a lot of establishments such as 7-11s, bars, and clubs which you can visit if you want to buy something or have a drink.

The hotel also has some fantastic amenities for you and your loved ones to enjoy such as a swimming pool and even a gym if you feel like working out after binge eating through the local cuisine of Bangkok.

Plus, the Ambassador Hotel can offer you good value for money considering its great location, fantastic amenities, and the spacious rooms you get for the amount you pay.

Somerset Sukhumvit Thonglor Bangkok

Address: No 115 Sukhumvit 55, Thong Lo Rd, Klongton Nua, Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand  

Phone: +6623657999

Pricing: $$

Book Now

Another hotel to consider once you reach Bangkok, Somerset Sukhumvit Thonglor Bangkok can offer you modern accommodations and peaceful surroundings right in the middle of the city. It’s also located near the BTS Train station making it quite convenient!

While it’s close to bars and clubs, you’ll still get a good night’s sleep here thanks to some amazing and well-maintained soundproofing for each room. Plus, each room can give you a spectacular view of Bangkok and Thong Lo Road at night.

Aside from room amenities (like a washer and dryer) and hotel facilities (such as a swimming pool),  we liked that the hotel also offered a free shuttle service to get you around the area, specifically going to the nearby BTS station– truly customer-focused!

Novotel Phuket Resort  

Address: 282 Phrabaramee Rd, Tambon Patong, Kathu District, Phuket 83150, Thailand 

Phone: +66 76 342 777  

Pricing: $$

Book Now

Keeping with the island vibe of Phuket, the Novotel Phuket Resort is a spectacular hotel for you to stay in if you want to just chill, relax and enjoy the beauty of the island. Here, you can get rooms beside the pool, in front of the beach, and with fantastic ocean views.

Before you start with your island hopping, wake up to some freshly prepared breakfast which offers a wide selection of Western and local dishes. You can enjoy this amazing breakfast while admiring the beauty that is Patong Beach.

If you don’t want to go down to the beach, then you just lounge around the resort’s swimming pool. You can then have some drinks at the poolside bar while admiring the beautifully landscaped gardens and tropical trees surrounding the resort.

Phuket Marriott Resort & Spa, Merlin Beach  

Address: 99 Muen-Ngern Road, Pa Tong, Kathu District, Phuket 83150, Thailand  

Phone: +66 76 335 300 

Pricing: $$$

Book Now

If you’re travelling with your family or with little kids, then we highly recommend Phuket Marriott Resort & Spa, Merlin Beach when travelling around the island. The hotel offers comfortable, modern, and spacious rooms perfect for your large group.

The hotel can also arrange to have you picked up from the airport. This is a godsend considering that hiring a taxi from the said location can significantly add to your expense while in Phuket.

Don’t forget to go for their breakfast buffet as it is one of the best in Phuket. The hotel is a bit on the pricey side, sure, but you get what you pay for– a fantastic hotel that can give you and your loved ones an unforgettable stay in Phuket.

Where to Eat in Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and Phuket

Goodsouls Kitchen

Address: 52 Sinharat Rd Lane 3, Tambon Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand  

Phone: +66 88 819 9669  

Pricing: $$


Going Vegan is a big commitment and it shows how much you value the environment and (of course) your health. The good news is that you can have quality vegan meals here in Old City Chiang Mai, thanks to Goodsouls Kitchen Vegan Restaurant.

They serve vegan dishes with more of an Italian twist and these include pasta, wraps, salads, and potato wedges. Don’t forget to end your meal here with some sweet treats like their chocolate brownies and blueberry cheesecake slices.

You can also go traditional here and order some of their Thai cuisine. We especially liked Thai stir-fried veggies and their Masaman paired with brown rice as these tasted really authentic– you should go for these if you want some local dishes!

The Vorra Bistro 

Address: 184/1 Ratchamanka Rd, Tambon Phra Sing, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand   

Phone: +66 53 278 780  

Pricing: $$


Italian cuisine lovers, rejoice– The Vorra Bistro is here to give you a one-of-a-kind experience when it comes to enjoying your classic Italian favourites. They have different kinds of pasta you can choose from along with some heavenly desserts you can try out.

We highly recommend that you check out their pasta pesto with scallops and their vegan mushroom risotto. They taste fresh and you certainly won’t forget their flavourful and strong Italian herbs and spices! 

Their desserts are something you shouldn’t miss as well as the sweets offered by the Vorra Bistro are remarkably delicious with just the right amount of sweetness. Go for their fruit sabayon and chocolate lava cake– we promise you, you won’t regret it!

Bangkok Heightz

Address: 39th Floor, 413 Sukhumvit Road, Khlong Toei Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand    

Phone: +66 2 686 7000 

Pricing: $$


Bangkok Heightz is the perfect restaurant to see Bangkok from the top. It’s located in one of the city’s tallest buildings, the Continent Compass Building, which means you can see the entire city in all its majesty and beauty!

We liked that this restaurant serves non-alcoholic drinks and vegan menu options. However, we highly recommend that you try out the spring rolls here as they are crunchy and flavoured just right– a perfect snack item while hanging out with friends!

Signature Bangkok   

Address: MGallery Hotel Collection, 11th floor, Vie Hotel Bangkok, 117/39-40 Phaya Thai Rd, Bangkok `, Bangkok 10400, Thailand   

Phone: +66 2 309 3939 

Pricing: $$$


Signature Bangkok is an upscale restaurant that we recommend you try out if you have the funds to spare and if you’re into those courses and set meals.  The restaurant has a semi-casual vibe but the elegant and sumptuous meal here is anything but!

We strongly suggest that you try their 8-course French dinner that offers a natural and organic twist to their menu. There are salads and meat dishes plated to perfection before being served to you with staff providing additional information about each dish.

A truly remarkable (and informative) dining experience right in the heart of Bangkok!

Thai Brasserie Phuket 

Address: Central Phuket Floresta, 3rd floor, No. 304, 199 Central Phuket Floresta Tambol Vichit, Amphur, 83, Chang Wat, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket 83000, Thailand     

Phone: +66 76 624 808  

Pricing: $


The Thai Brasserie Phuket serves some delicious set meals with a laid-back casual dining vibe that you and your family will surely enjoy. They offer local dishes which you can usually order with some sides.

For us, the perfect meal was the braised pork set meal served with rice and steamed vegetables on the side. However, we noticed that a lot of the customers ordered beef strips with noodles and fried chicken fillet and we suggest you try these out as well!

The biggest draw for us though, is how affordable these set meals are. You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy a decent meal here in Phuket.

Dibuk Restaurant 

Address: 69 Dibuk Rd, Tambon Talat Nuea, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket 83000, Thailand     

Phone: +66 76 214 138  

Pricing: $$$

For something a little more upscale in Phuket, check out what Dibuk Restaurant has to offer. It has a traditional feel to it and it doesn’t look very fancy but once you try out their food, you’ll know why this restaurant is a favourite among locals and tourists.

You can order Western dishes here such as spaghetti and milkshakes but we recommend that you try out their fresh seafood menu items. You’ll surely fall in love with their shrimp broth cooked with some delicious green vegetables and their papaya salad.

It may be a bit pricier than other restaurants here but it’s good value for money for the ambiance and the fantastic food you can get from this establishment. Bon Appetit!

Apps to Download for Your North to South Thailand Tour

Grab: Ride-hailing, food, grocery, and delivery services

iOS | Android

Klook: Book tours, attractions, tickets, restaurants, hotels, and other activities

iOS | Android

Google Translate: Translate various languages

iOS | Android

Related topics