During the later part of 2018, I visited Thailand for 3 weeks as part of a SEA trip. Here’s what I got up to during my 3 week Thailand itinerary.
Returning to Thailand
I can’t remember exactly the last time I visited Thailand. Maybe it was 2005. It could have been a few years earlier. It’s a country I’ve always thought about returning to though, and late 2018 I got my chance.
With plans to spend 5 months in Asia with my girlfriend during the European winter, including Thailand was a no brainer. In fact, we realised we would probably end up visiting Thailand more than once during our 5 month trip around Asia.
As such, we weren’t in any desperate need to include every ‘must see’ destination in Thailand during our first 3 week Thailand itinerary. Instead, we aimed to spend 5 days or more at 3 or 4 key places rather than rush around trying to cram everything in.The result is that this travel blog post isn’t intended to be a definitive guide to 3 weeks in Thailand. Instead, it’s based purely on how we got around, places we stayed, and what we did in Thailand. Where possible, I’ve linked out to ‘deeper dive’ travel guides to places in Thailand we visited.
Planning a 3 week Thailand Itinerary
One of the purposes of our 5 month trip around Asia, was to combine a work and travel lifestyle a little more. This had a bearing on our trip planning, and one of the logical conclusions of this was to spend a little longer in each place than perhaps regular travellers might otherwise do.
Finally, Thailand is one of those countries which regular travellers seem to end up passing through on more than one occasion. What we couldn’t see this time, we could always see at some point in the future.
The conclusion: We wanted a travel itinerary for Thailand that was nice and chilled.
Our Thailand itinerary for 3 weeks
After a little bit of planning, our 3 week Thailand itinerary turned out as follows:
- Phuket (3 nights)
- Koh Lanta (5 nights)
- Koh Jum (5 nights)
- Krabi (1 night)
- Bangkok (10 nights)
Now, I’m pretty sure that most people will look at this Thailand itinerary and wonder what the hell we wanted to spend 10 days in Bangkok for!
To be honest, I’m in partial agreement!! However, it served a purpose for us, and as a result perhaps we saw a little more of the city and appreciated it for what it is more.
Knowing what I know now, I would personally choose to spend far more time in Koh Jum, just a few days in Bangkok, and would probably have skipped Phuket altogether.
Three Weeks in Thailand
Time to take a look at what we got up to during our 3 weeks in Thailand! Here I'll take you through the places we visited, more or less what we did, and where we stayed.
Phuket in Thailand
Our entry point into Thailand was Phuket, thanks to an unbelievably cheap flight from Singapore with Scoot. I've been pretty impressed with this low cost carrier, especially as we got a flight from Athens to Singapore for less than 170 Euro!
The plan was to spend a couple of nights in the old town of Phuket before heading out to the islands. Unfortunately, the Mrs was under the weather during our time here, so we missed out on day trips in Phuket.
In the end, I just did some work for a few days, which in a way was some relief. I wasn't impressed at all with the Old Town of Phuket, so suggest you spend as little time there as possible!
Boat from Phuket to Koh Lanta
The one blessing about staying in Phuket Old Town, was that it was very easy to get the boat out to Koh Lanta without an insanely early start to the day!
We'd heard about Koh Lanta from a friend, who had been visiting in off season a few months earlier. Although she'd been rained on every other day, she seemed to really like it, as it was fairly laid back unlike the Phi Phi Islands!
Why we skipped the Phi Phi islands
Although we'd been planning to visit the Phi Phi islands on a day trip from Phuket, we eventually decided to skip it altogether. The reason for this is that there was way too much emphasis on the party scene. We were more interested in being chilled and slowing things down a little.
Ironically, the boat from Phuket to Koh Lanta took us via Phi Phi where we swapped boats. The view on the way in was very nice, but I think we made the right decision. There were sightseers everywhere!
Koh Lanta Island
We spent 5 days on Koh Lanta island, which is a pretty low key place. There's less of the party vibe, and more of a relaxed feel. Picture plenty of sandy beaches, beach bars and restaurants, and warm waters.
I really enjoyed our stay on Koh Lanta. We checked out plenty of beaches, indulged in tasty Thai food and got to see a sunset or three. Unless you are planning to combine work and travel, I think that 5 days is about the right time to spend on Koh Lanta.
Check out my detailed Koh Lanta Guide for things to see and do when there!
Here's my guide on Where to stay in Koh Lanta.
Koh Jum Island
If Koh Lanta is laid back, Koh Jum is positively sleepy! This seemed to me a far more genuine island to visit. Sure, tourism is a key factor of life on the island, but it's not in your face the way it can be in some places.
There's no hassle, you can rent bikes and mopeds cheaply to get around, there's great food, and a nice selection of beaches. Koh Jum is an island where everyone seems to know one another and get along.
During our stay, we met a couple from Germany. They come out every year to spend 3 months on the island, and I can see why. It's perfect for getting away from everything!
Koh Jum may not have the digital nomad tag that other places in Thailand have, but I know I'd prefer to work from here for a month or two than from Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai's problem – it doesn't have a beach!
Check out my travel guide to the island – Koh Jum Travel Guide.
Krabi in Thailand
Moving on from Koh Jum, we caught a local boat to Krabi where we stayed the night. Reflecting on it, we could probably have stayed for a night or two more.
Krabi was a bit of a pleasant surprise – at least from the brief amount of time we spent there. Perhaps in my head it was going to be a little like the Old Town of Phuket, but thankfully, it was nothing like it at all.
It was certainly worth staying the night there, before we caught an internal flight to Bangkok.
Flying from Krabi to Bangkok
During our trip through Asia, we decided to fly where possible as opposed to taking overnight buses. Although the flights always worked out to be slightly more expensive than taking buses, we tended to arrive in better shape and more awake! When entering new countries, it also solved our ‘ticket out' requirements.
If I was in ‘super budget traveller' mode, I would almost definitely take overnight buses. As it was, we travelled in ‘value for money mode'!
Flying from Krabi to Bangkok, we took Thai Airways, one of perhaps half a dozen different airlines we used during the trip. A pretty good flight, good company.
10 Days in Bangkok
And then it was on to Bangkok. For 10 days.
Yes, I know what you're thinking. It's a long time!
If we were there purely for sightseeing in Bangkok, I would totally agree with you. In my opinion, 4 or 5 days would be the most time you should spend there, although you could probably do the essential Bangkok highlights in 2 days.
Our 10 days, however, also included some work days and a planning day for the next destination which would be Myanmar.
Things to see in Bangkok, Thailand
Despite having 10 days in Bangkok, we probably didn't see everything that you tend to find on most people's Bangkok itineraries. For example, we didn't visit one floating market, nor the famous Maeklong Market (although this is technically a day trip from Bangkok).
Instead we saw plenty of temples, art galleries, and markets like the one in the video below.
Khlong Toei Market Bangkok Thailand – Genuine Bangkok Market
Bangkok has changed a lot since I last visited. There's less tuk tuks, a little more traffic, less street food, and many many shopping malls!
I recently created a guide you might be interested in – How to spend 2 days in Bangkok.
And that, my friends, is pretty much our first three weeks in Thailand. Please feel free to share this post via the pin below.