Home Asia & Pacific Backpacking Thailand: 4 week itinerary

Backpacking Thailand: 4 week itinerary

Backpacking Thailand: 4 week itinerary

Thailand, known for its vibrant culture, stunning landscapes, and friendly locals, is a dream destination for backpackers. This 4-week itinerary will take you through the bustling city of Bangkok, the tranquil temples and lush jungles of the North, and the breathtaking turquoise waters and adventurous spots in the South. Get ready for an unforgettable journey through the Land of Smiles.

Bangkok: Between History and Modernity

Duration 3 Days: Explore the Heart of Bangkok

We recommend you give yourself at least a few days to discover this vibrant metropolis, its street food, its majestic temples and more.

Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew

Description: Start your adventure with a visit to the Grand Palace, the former royal residence, and Wat Phra Kaew, home to the Emerald Buddha.
Tip: These temples close around 3pm, so plan to visit them in the morning. Remember that you will need to cover your shoulders and legs to enter.

Wat Pho

Description: Nearby, visit Wat Pho, known for the massive Reclining Buddha (46m long) and traditional Thai massage school.
Tip: Enjoy a relaxing massage after your tour.

Khao San Road

Description: Head to Khao San Road, the backpacker hub. Enjoy street food, cheap drinks, and lively nightlife. Here you can taste grilled scorpions and spiders, shop for clothes and souvenirs, visit local tattoo artists and dozens of bars. A paradise for street parties, this district is to be avoided if you are looking for some peace and quiet or hate touristy spots.
Tip: Bargain at the night market for souvenirs.

Chatuchak Market

Description: Every weekend, take advantage of the 15,000 stalls to hunt for souvenirs, pick out an outfit for your adventures on the islands, and taste the delicious Thai cuisine.
Tip: Go early to avoid the crowds and heat.

The North: Temples and Jungle

Duration: 1 week

After your few days in frenetic Bangkok, jump on a train to Ayutthaya for an authentic experience on a smaller budget. If you’re looking for something more comfortable, you can travel by air conditioned minibus.

Royal City

You will need a day to explore the ruins of the ancient royal city, with its temples dating from the 15th century and the famous head of Buddha in the middle of the roots of a tree.

Afterwards, continue your journey to the beautiful old town of Sukhothai. You can rent a bike and set off to conquer dozens of temples and ruins in the ancestral park. Depending on the cities and eras, the temples all have different atmospheres and styles. Our favorites here are Wat Mahathat and the Elephant Temple.

Chiang Mai

Then spend a few days further north in beautiful Chiang Mai – The Rose of the North. Visit Doi Suthep National Park, with stunning waterfalls lost in the forest. Take in the breathtaking views of the rice paddies from the top of the Doi Inthanon temples or go on a jungle trek. You can also spend some time in the city with its lively streets, its atmosphere and its friendly inhabitants who are always ready to chat with you. Discover Chiang Mai’s Old City, with temples like Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phra Singh.

Visit the Night Bazaar for handicrafts, food, and entertainment.
Tip: Try local dishes like Khao Soi (curry noodle soup).

Other option: Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle

If you have time or as an alternative itinerary, you can discover Chiang Rai. Here is some of the activities to do there:

White Temple (Wat Rong Khun): Explore the White Temple, an unconventional and modern Buddhist temple.
Tip: Don’t miss the intricate details and artwork inside.

Blue Temple (Wat Rong Suea Ten) known for its vibrant blue color and golden accents.

Golden Triangle: Take a day trip to the Golden Triangle, where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet.
Tip: Visit the Hall of Opium to learn about the area’s history.

The South: Turquoise waters, snorkelling and adventures

Duration: 2 to 3 weeks

Travel to the south of Thailand by plane, from Chang Mai to Phuket or Sura Thani (with a stopover in Bangkok).

Patong & Koh Phi Phi

In Patong, the main town, expect to find a dirty beach, crowded streets and inflated prices. Jump quickly in a boat to explore the wild Koh Lanta. Far away from the crowds, kayak on the emerald water and don’t forget to explore the mangroves.

Then it’s on to the touristy but beautiful island of Koh Phi Phi. The island is pedestrianised and shopping enthusiasts will enjoy the small streets with their colourful stalls. In the evening, go to the North Bay Beach. It lights up like a Full Moon party with fire-eaters, music and a neon atmosphere. Also visit Maya Bay, made famous by the movie “The Beach.”

For nature lovers, at sunset, climb up to the view point which offers you a magnificent panorama of the island.

To discover the surrounding bays, we advise you to charter a long boat (around €30). Your guide will provide you with snorkelling equipment so you can explore the corals and see the multicoloured fish.


Railay is waiting for you. Accessible by boat, you can stay on site or in the neighbouring towns of Ao Nang or Krabi. Life is sweet in Railay, where hippies and backpackers meet in bars to the rhythm of reggae music.

Adventurers, take on the cliffs surrounding the bay for a climbing session. If you still have strength, take up the challenge of the hike that leads to the viewpoint. You will have to go through mud and jungle, but the adventure is unforgettable. Finally, enjoy a swim in the emerald waters on Railay‘s magnificent western beach, lined with coconut palms and cliffs that stand out against the turquoise sky. Rent a kayak for a few euro and explore the caves, or admire the sunset at sea.

Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Pha Ngan

Located in the Gulf of Thailand, these three islands have a lot to offer. Spend a few days on Koh Pha Ngan, an island so dear to the hearts of backpackers. Known for its famous Full Moon parties, the island has more to offer than endless partying. Book a yoga retreat in the north of the island: you will be welcomed in a guest house and take advantage of on-site classes to learn yoga or improve your skills. Rent a scooter to travel around this vast island. Don’t forget you need an international license to avoid a fine, and of course a helmet in case of accident.

You are now ready to discover Than Sadet National Park and its dozens of waterfalls. You will also enjoy a dip after climbing for a few hours! Book a day trip to snorkel in the magical waters of Koh Tao and then hike to the small islands of Koh Nang Yuan.

If you are there during the Full Moon or the Half Moon festival and like to party, do not miss these evenings. The Full Moon is free to access on Haad Rin beach but the Half Moon is ticketed.

Even outside these dates, there are plenty of places to party in the area. Our favourite, Eden Garden, is a bar accessed by boat. In this large wooden cabin perched above the turquoise water, sip a cocktail, look around you and enjoy your last moments in the Land of Smiles after an unforgettable trip.

Practical Information

Cost of Living

In general, prices are higher on the islands than in the north. A night in a hostel dorm costs less than €10, a private room in a guest house costs about €20 and hotel room with pool costs €35. For a meal you pay less than €5 with drink. But plan a budget for minibuses and speedboats.

How to get there?

You will probably arrive in Bangkok. From Australia, you can take a direct flight . From Europe you will most likely have a stopover.
Domestic Flights: Use budget airlines like AirAsia and Nok Air for quick travel between regions.

Visa and passport

Again, there is no visa required for stays of less than 30 days. Please note, however, that your passport must be valid for at least six months when entering the country. For stays of more than 30 days , a visa is compulsory. The request is made to the Thai Consulate abroad.


The vaccinations recommended when you visit the country are typhoid, hepatitis A and B.
It is also advisable to get vaccinated against rabies and undergo malaria treatment.
If you want to go to rural areas, especially during the monsoon season (June to October), you should be vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis.


To take full advantage, visit Thailand during the “cool” season from November to February with temperatures of 25 to 30 degrees. This will avoid the monsoon rains of summer and the 90% humidity of spring.


To drive in Thailand, you must have an international driving license.
Water Safety: Drink bottled or filtered water to avoid getting sick.
The importation of cigarettes is limited to 200 cigarettes per adult.

In conclusion

Backpacking through Thailand offers an incredible mix of cultural experiences, natural beauty, and adventure. This 4-week itinerary ensures you see the best of what Thailand has to offer, from the bustling streets of Bangkok to the serene beaches of the South. With careful planning and a spirit of adventure, your journey through Thailand will be unforgettable. Safe travels!

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