Thailand Itinerary for Two Weeks – First Timers Guide
Few years ago, caught between post-graduate studies and internships, I read a Thailand Itinerary on similar lines – “Young, broke and bit by the wanderlust bug: Thailand is the perfect place to start”. With time, work pressure and desire to fill the cauldron of life with financial stability, desire to backpack around Thailand gently faded into thin air and everything else stepped forward.
All of these empty thoughts that bore seeds in 2011 sprouted 8 years later – “A little older, not very broke and fueled by passion to travel”, started 2019 backpacking around Thailand for two weeks. All the stories of famous bloggers and travel influencers mostly start with – “I quit my job and bought a one-way ticket to Thailand”, this managed to brew an uncanny attraction towards the gorgeous country.
Thailand – Land of smiles, stunning monasteries, art nouveau corners, white-washed sand beaches, vast expanse of turquoise green Andaman Sea dotted with single standing rocks and quaint cafes to sample organic food to chaos of walking street and street food, the country is plethora of everything a budget backpacker needs. Thailand is for everyone – luxury travelers to broke backpackers, chalking out the right itinerary is what one needs.
Are you planning to travel to Thailand? This guide can definitely help you plan your trip, manage your budget and help in choosing places to visit. Based on my solo backpacking experience, I have put together The Comprehensive Two Week Itinerary for Thailand, majorly for first timers. Here is everything you need to know.
INFORMATION ABOUT FLIGHTS AND VISA
Generally, the flights from India to Thailand (especially Bangkok) are cheap and quite affordable if booked in advance (2 to 4 months prior). The cheapest flights connect Kolkata to Bangkok; I booked my flight for only Rs 4200/- four months in advance with Air Asia but had to pay extra Rs 1500/- for carrier luggage while web checking (In case you can manage travelling with only 7kg cabin luggage, no extra payment is required). The return tickets are more or less of the same range depending on which city you choose to board the flight from.
Indians get Visa-On-Arrival for 15 days and generally 2000 Baht in cash is the VOA fee. Thailand waived off the VOA fee for 2 months from Dec, 2018 to Jan, 2019 for 21 countries including India. I visited Thailand from 1st Jan to 15th Jan, 2019 and luckily the VOA fee was waived off. The VOA fee is accepted only in Thai Baht; make sure you have that money to get the visa stamped. Here are the documents required for VOA
- One photograph (4 x 6 mm)
- Return Flight Ticket
- Hotel Booking for First Night
- Proof of sufficient fund of 10,000 Baht for single person and 20,000 Baht for family (Did not ask me though but always better to keep it handy)
- Fill the Arrival and Departure card along with VOA form (Keep the Departure card safe till exit)
THAILAND ITINERARY FOR TWO WEEKS IN BUDGET
Day 1 – 2 (Arrive at either Suvarnabhumi or Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok and take a bus to city)
Bangkok is the capital of Thailand with airports connecting Thailand to rest of the world. Most of the flights land at either of the airports. The VOA process and formality takes places nearly 2 to 3 hours depending on the time of arrival. I reached Bangkok at Don Mueang Airport at around 6.00 am (Bangkok Timing) and completed the VOA formalities in 2 hours.
How to reach city from Airport – The first is of course the expensive option of hiring a taxi or cab to travel to your hotel. If you are on budget, take a bus from airport to your destination and then if required hire a Tuk Tuk. In Don Mueang Airport, the buses with A1 – A4 number takes you to different places with pick up right outside the airport. Generally, there are boards with bus numbers and route outside the airport to make it convenient for the travelers. I boarded bus number A4 leaving towards Khao San Road and Democratic Monument.
Places of Interest – Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Wat Ratchanatdaram, China Town (Yaowarat Rd), Democratic Monument, Giant Swing, Khao San Road
I spent two full days and one night in Bangkok. I spent my 2nd night on a train connecting Bangkok to Chiang Mai booked via 12Go online. The AC sleeper class is quite comfortable and spacious.
Day 3 – 5 (CHIANG MAI)
The 3rd day started after the cozy and comfortable overnight train journey to Chiang Mai. Northern Thailand is unexplored treasure trove tucked in the lap of nature, unlike the ostentatious detailing of the palaces. Chiang Mai sits as a gateway for Northern Thailand peppered with quaint cafes, fashionable alleys, jazz bars and gorgeous temples. One side completely tricks the existence of other with windy roads, windy mountains and boisterous evergreen jungles. Spend three days in Chiang Mai.
Places of Interest – Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chedi Luang, Monk’s Trail, Doi Suthep, Day Trip to Doi Inthanon National Park, Night Market
I recommend you stay at Nimmanhaemin Road as it is close to some of the best organic food cafes. If you stay in Old Chiang Mai Area, make sure you visit Café Green Days for some home-made sandwiches, salads and organic smoothies.
Day 6 – 8 (PAI)
Leave for Pai early morning. There are a number of buses and minivans that ply between Chiang Mai and Pai. You can book a seat in a minivan to Pai for 150 to 200 Baht from the booking counters. The easiest way to do is ask the hotel or hostel to book a seat, you will be picked by the van an hour or so before the departure time from your accommodation. Pai is a blissful countryside town dotted with coconut trees, gurgling rivers, virgin forests, serpentine roads and spiritual calling.
Places of Interest – Walking Street at Night, White Buddha Temple, Hot springs, Tham Lod Caves, Chinese Village (Santichon Village), Pai Canyon, Mor Pang Waterfall
I highly recommend staying at UP2U Guesthouse if you are on budget and looking for a hostel or cottage by river. The vibe of the place is super amazing.
Day 9 – CHIANG MAI
Grab some breakfast and leave for Chiang Mai. The journey is surreal but a lot of people are prone to road sickness. It takes around 4 hours to reach Chiang Mai, so plan accordingly. I stayed with my friend in Nimmanhaemin Road, must say – The place has amazing vibes. Right from tempting cafes to jazz bars to glitzy malls, it has it all.
Day 10 to 14 – PHUKET
By this time, I have seen the city, culture, stunning monasteries, jungles, winding roads and surreal landscape but not a beach. I reserved that last 4 days for some sand, sun and sea. It is recommended to take a flight from Chiang Mai to Phuket to save time, book in advance for cheaper flights. For a first timer like me, I choose Phuket as my base and explore around. You can choose you area of stay depending on preference. If you love art and quaint cafes, choose Old Phuket Town but it is little far from beaches. Patong beach is for party lovers and full of chaos. If you love the beach but not parties, stay either at Kata or Karon Beach.
I recommend staying at FIN Co-working Hostel at Kata Beach if you are a budget traveler and hate noise. They have pods and amazing vibe, stone throw from Kata walking street.
Places of Interest – Old Phuket Town, Kata Beach, Promethep Cape, Day Trip to Phi Phi Island, Day Trip to Phang Nga Bay, Rawai Beach
Day 15 – FLY OUT OF THAILAND
The Visa expires on Day 15 if you have VOA on Indian Passport. Take a flight back home or to your next destination.
TRANSPORTATION AROUND THAILAND
Thailand is a very pretty easy country to travel and if you know how to ride a bike, it becomes a breeze. Depending on the area you are travelling to, the options vary.
- In Bangkok, the connectivity of public transport is amazing and with a little bit of asking around, it is easy to find options to travel around. The public buses, sky trains and BTS (boat transit system). Apart from that there are Tuks Tuks, motorbike Taxis or simply call a Grab cab.
- It is easy to travel in Chiang Mai with Tuks Tuks and Red Taxis called Songthaws everywhere around. The red Songthaws are sort of shared vehicles that help one to commute from one place to another. Chiang Mai also has option of calling a Grab Cab via the app.
- Pai doesn’t usually have much of public transport and travelling without a scooter or bike might be difficult. There are buses that go from Pai to different places from Pai bus stop. Hitch-hiking is a great option to travel around Pai if you don’t know to ride a bike. Alternatively, even cycles can be hired.
- Phuket is slightly expensive and hiring a bike or scooty is recommended but for people like me, who doesn’t know to ride a bike, public buses can be used to commute from one place to another. The blue open buses operate from the Old Phuket Town to Kata Beach route and back but last bus leaves at 5.30pm from Old Town. There are normal public buses that hop from one beach to another. Next option is to hire a taxi but it is going to be expensive.
BUDGETING FOR TWO WEEKS IN THAILAND
One does not need a lot of money to backpack around Thailand and the country can be both cheap and expensive depending on how you travel. Let me give a breakdown of how much I roughly spent for 15 days
|Flights and Visa|
Visa – Generally, it is 2000Baht but luckily this time it was waived off.
Kolkata to Bangkok Flight – Rs 4,228 + Rs 1560 (for luggage beyond 7 kgs) Bangkok to Chiang Mai Train – AC Second class Sleeper for Rs 2, 600/- Chiang Mai to Pai in mini-van – Rs 400 – 500 (180 to 220 Baht) Pai to Chiang Mai in mini-van – Rs 410 (180 Baht) Chiang Mai to Phuket Flight – Rs 4597/-
3400 Baht (Rs 7600/-) was the total money spent on accommodation with breakfast complimentary everywhere except Phuket Hostel. I stayed in FIN Co-working Hostel in Phuket for 4 nights and paid 1700 Baht. There are cheaper hostels in Old Phuket City and Patong Beach.
|Entry fees for places|
I spent around 500 Baht(Rs 1,130) on the Entry fees of Monasteries and Temples
|Day trips |
I took four day trips One day trip to Doi Inthanon National Park with Travel hub Chiang Mai (It was a sponsored trip but generally cost 1600 Baht (Rs 3650)Day Trip in Pai costing 500 Baht (Rs 1,130)Day Trip to Phang Nga Bay and James Bond Island for Rs 3,109 booked via KlookDay Trip to Phi Phi Island for Rs 4,181 booked via Klook
|Food and Others|
Rest all the expenses are manageable depending on what and where you eat, how much you drink, how you travel around, shopping etc. Thailand is known for its amazing street food and organic cafes eat cheap on streets and manage to save money. I generally kept my food budget per day at around Rs 500 – 800/-.
|Not sure how much exactly I spent but I guess I spent nearly Rs 45,000 including flights, food, accommodation, shopping, food, exploring and everything else for 2 weeks. The budget can be further reduced if you eat cheap, don’t shop and explore limited places.|
Broke or not broke – Thailand is a country that definitely must be on your list. The landscape changes dramatically from virgin forests and misty hills to gorgeous turquoise green sea lined with palm fringed white sand beaches from North to South. The profound culture, gorgeous temples and monasteries, calm of the mountains, sun and sand of the beaches and people of the country – Once you visit Thailand, it remains with you until you go back again.