3 Week Thailand Itinerary: BEST Backpacking Route (2024)

Find out the perfect 3 week Thailand itinerary to ensure you have the ultimate adventure from North to South. Let’s talk about the best route, things to do, transportation, accommodation, and more during your time in Thailand!

Thailand is a huge country with so much to offer. Think lush jungles, swaying palm tree-covered beaches, and bustling markets.

Though with so much to see and explore how do you know where to even start?! Well that’s where I come in.

I fell in love with Thailand as soon as I stepped foot off the plane. So much so that I have actually traveled through the country four times so far exploring some of the most popular towns, cities, and islands. This has allowed me to create the best 3 weeks in Thailand itinerary.

If you are looking at getting off the beaten track, then I will say it now; this is not the itinerary for you. This is assuming you are visiting Thailand for the first time and want to see some of the best places it has to offer. We will keep you on the well-trodden route. Though with a few extra spots thrown in to take your adventure to the next level.

Now, let’s get into this Thailand 3 week itinerary with all the information you need to know to have the ultimate adventure.

looking out to sea in koh lanta
the view looking out to sea at one of the many clifftop restaurants in koh lanta

🚗 How I Book Cheap Transport In Thailand: 12Go Asia

Map Of My 3 Week Thailand Itinerary

Whether you are looking for a 3 week Thailand itinerary for couples, and families, or perhaps you are a backpacker. This is a great first-time option for visitors to Thailand.

Quick View Of Our Thailand Itinerary 3 Weeks

Perhaps if you don’t have time to read this whole post on the Thailand itinerary 3 weeks, but just want a quick glimpse of a decent Thailand backpacking route this is a great option:

Chiang Mai > Ayutthaya > Bangkok > Koh Tao > Koh Phangan > Ao Nang > Koh Lanta > Koh Phi Phi > Phuket

Before we get into this 3 week Thailand backpacking itinerary, let me say this is a combination of all my trips. Also even though it is North to South you don’t need to do it this way.

You can change it up by flying into Phuket and working your way up, or even do what I have done before; crossing into Laos from the north, then going to Vietnam and Cambodia before heading back to Bangkok and continuing your travels South.

Day 1, 2 & 3: Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is the perfect introduction to your three weeks in Thailand itinerary.

Even though it is a city it is a much more relaxed vibe than somewhere like Bangkok. This will allow you to start your trip relaxed and ready to explore. Plus get over that jetlag!

I have actually written a 3 days in Chiang Mai itinerary which is worth the read if you want to go into quite a bit of detail about Chiang Mai. For now, let’s chat about some of the highlights this city has to offer and what you need to check out while here.

First up, let’s mention one of the most popular things to do in Chiang Mai, visiting an elephant park. Sure there are plenty of elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai.

However, what you want to make sure to do is visit an ethical one. This means no riding, no chains, no tricks, and ideally no bathing with the elephants.

I always tell everyone visiting Chiang Mai to make sure you are there for a Sunday. This is so you can visit the incredible Chiang Mai Sunday Night Market.

Over a kilometer long you can find here absolutely everything you could ever want. Think delicious food, local artists, clothing, and souvenirs galore!

Some of the other best things to do in Chiang Mai include:

elephants lined up at elephant nature park
the elephants lined up for food at one of the elephant nature park projects

Where To Stay In Chiang Mai

You have plenty of choices when it comes to where to stay in Chiang Mai.

I mainly choose to stay within the confines of the Old City. It is within walking distance of many beautiful temples, excellent shopping, and delicious restaurants.

There are also plenty of hostels available in Chiang Mai. I generally budget around $5.00 per night for a basic hostel dorm bed. You can see the latest prices on booking.com or check out my list of the best hostels in Chiang Mai.

On my most recent visit, I stayed at De Lanna Hotel. The location was fantastic and having a pool to enjoy during the afternoon heat was fantastic.

the common hostel

The Common Hostel

A modern and upscale hostel. From $13.00 per night including a fab breakfast.

Chiangmai Midpoint Activity Hostel

Chiangmai Midpoint Activity Hostel

A favorite with travelers. A hostel with all the amenities, from $6.00 per night.

de lanna hotel

De Lanna Hotel

Beautiful private rooms for $25.00 per night and in the heart of the city with a pool.

vieng mantra hotel

Vieng Mantra Hotel

A walk from the city attractions, starting from $18.00 per night with an amazing pool.


How To Get To Chiang Mai

The simplest and easiest way to begin your 3 week Thailand itinerary is Chiang Mai.

If you are traveling from your home country straight to Thailand one of your best options will likely be to catch a flight from Hong Kong, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore, and Malaysia.

These airports offer direct flights to Chiang Mai. It is also super easy to get from Chiang Mai Airport to the city.

You could also be coming from Laos if you have been backpacking Southeast Asia already.

One of my favorite things is the slow boat from Luang Prabang to the Thai-Laos border town. From there is it pretty easy to get a minivan or a bus down to Chiang Mai on 12Go Asia.

the chiang mai sunday market is a must visit on your thailand backpacking itinerary
the chiang mai sunday market is a must visit on your thailand backpacking itinerary

Day 4 & 5: Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya is the perfect place for history buffs to get a glimpse of Thailand’s past on our 3 week Thailand tour.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site once was the second capital of the Siamese Kingdom having been founded in 1350. From the 14th to the 18th centuries it actually grew to one of the largest in the world.

Unfortunately, in 1767 Ayutthaya was attacked and destroyed by the Burmese. The city was burned to the ground and the locals who called it home had to flee.

Nowadays it is a sleepy town with temples seemingly around every corner. Visiting these temples is actually why the majority of travelers go to the city.

Some have been restored and others are untouched with the beauty of nature slowly taking over. This is one of the best landmarks in Thailand and draws in tourists daily.

3 weeks in thailand itinerary 13
checking out some of the incredible temples around ayutthaya
exploring ayutthaya during my 3 weeks in thailand itinerary
checking out some of the incredible temples around ayutthaya

Where To Stay In Ayutthaya On The 3 Weeks Thailand Itinerary

You will actually only need to stay one night in Ayutthaya. The main touristy area isn’t too large in itself being the main island which the rivers are situated around.

For an affordable private room have a look at Baan Are Gong Riverside Guesthouse where rooms start at just $14.00 and it’s in a great location.

Another option is Chommuang Guesthouse with rooms starting from $16.00 per night. These options are great if you have a friend or partner to share with.

For those traveling solo in Thailand or a more of a budget, a hostel is a great option. Also, they generally will run their own tours of the nearby temples, often at a much cheaper price than the travel agencies, and its a great way to make friends.

Room Story Hostel

Room Story Hostel

A friendly and affordable hostel in a great location. Private rooms start from $20.00 per night.

Early Bird Hostel Ayutthaya

Early Bird Hostel Ayutthaya

A great choice for solo travelers. Prices start from $8.00 per night including breakfast.

Ban Boonchu

Ban Boonchu

A lovely guesthouse perfect for travelers on a budget. Private rooms here start from $30.00 per night.

Chommuang Guest House

Chommuang Guest House

A super affordable option if you are backpacking Thailand on a budget. Private rooms start from $12.00 per night.


How To Get To Ayutthaya From Chiang Mai

The journey from Chiang Mai to Ayutthaya is a bit of a long one. This is where I recommend you take the sleeper train, though get off in Ayutthaya before it gets into Bangkok.

This is where you will be spending one of your nights in Ayutthaya, sleeping on the train!

It is a comfortable journey, much better than taking a bus and having to stop multiple times in the night for a “toilet break”. The journey is super popular with travelers and is a proper initiation to the backpacking Thailand route.

The journey in reserve from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is a lot more popular. Though tickets on the sleeper can sell out quite far in advance.

I recommend pre-booking online at 12.Go Asia. The journey itself takes AT LEAST 12 hours so bring some snacks and some sort of entertainment (phone reception can be quite spotty).

Day 6 & 7: Bangkok

Welcome to Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, and our next stop on the 3 week itinerary for Thailand.

This city is unlike anywhere you have visited so far and it’s likely you will love it or hate it. Either way, it is the main hub for travelers in Thailand, and most seem to spend a few days here exploring this crazy city.

One of the best things to do during your 2 days in Bangkok is to visit The Grand Palace, and yes it is worth the eye-watering $16.70 / 500 THB entry fee.

This also grants you access to both the Royal Palace and the famous Wat Phra Kaeo Temple housing the 14th Century Emerald Buddha. Don’t forget to cover up your legs and shoulders as with the rest of the temples in Thailand.

Nearby to Khao San Road, you can take a boat trip on the Chao Phraya River or visit Wat Arun. These are budget-friendly activities perfect for those backpacking Thailand on a budget.

Some of the other best things to do in Bangkok include:

walking down a busy khao san road during sunset in bangkok
walking down a busy khao san road during sunset in bangkok
cannabis stores seem to be popping up everywhere around thailand now it has been legalized
cannabis stores seem to be popping up everywhere around thailand now it has been legalized
watching the sunset in bangkok during 3 weeks in thailand
an incredible sunset in bangkok from one of the many sky bars

Where To Stay In Bangkok On The 3 Week Itinerary Thailand

Many different areas of Bangkok are popular with travelers. Though the main ones here are definitely Khao San Road, Silom, Siam, and Sukhumvit.

For a more local experience of Bangkok, I recommend you stay in Silom, Siam, or Sukhumvit. They are more modern parts of the city, I stayed in Hotel Indigo Wireless Road and loved it.

Khao San Road is perfect for first-time travelers coming to Bangkok or those just looking to party. However, I do not recommend that ANYONE stay on the actual Khao San Road.

Instead, stay a street or two back, there are plenty of hostels around Khao San Road.

bed station


A super social hostel with a pool. The perfect place to stay for backpackers starting from $15.00 per night.

printing house hostel

The Printing House Poshtel

A favorite with travelers. A hostel with all the amenities, from $16.00 per night.

Sleep Withinn

Sleep Withinn

A great hotel among the action. Private rooms start from $26.00 per night.

jam hostel

Jam Hostel

Affordable and modern private rooms from $40.00 per night.


🚗 How I Book Cheap Transport In Thailand: 12Go Asia

How To Get To Bangkok From Ayutthaya

The best option to travel from Ayutthaya to Bangkok is by minivan or bus. The drive is easy and it is pretty short in distance ( expect it to take between an hour or two depending on traffic).

Alternatively, you can also continue on the train. It leaves every hour, though the journey takes about the same amount of time it would do in a minivan.

Unfortunately, the train station in Ayutthaya is not very conveniently located. You will need to take a tuk-tuk there which will cost you around 100 baht depending on your negotiating skills.

You can book your tickets for the train or a bus over on 12.Go Asia.

the midday rush at the bustling floating markets in bangkok, a must on the thailand backpacking route
the midday rush at the bustling floating markets in bangkok, a must on the thailand backpacking route

Day 8 & 9: Koh Tao

Time to hit up one of the best Thai Islands! Koh Tao is the perfect quiet island to relax on surrounded by incredible marine life.

There are plenty of things to do here which will really allow you to experience the beauty of this place. This includes amazing snorkeling, incredible diving, mind-blowing viewpoints, and palm tree-covered beaches.

I recently went back to Koh Tao to do my Advanced PADI certificate and it was awesome to do it somewhere with a real backpacker vibe. It can cost as little as $300.00 to become certified here, and the most popular diving schools are Big Blue Diving & Ban’s Diving School.

Make sure to book yourself a Koh Tao Snorkeling Tour while on the island. On it, you will visit the famous Koh Nang Yuan, Mango Bay, Hin Wong Bay, Aow Leuk, and Sharks Bay.

Some of the other best things to do in Koh Tao include:

  • Explore the incredible viewpoints
  • Watch a fireshow
  • Relax on the beaches
  • Get Padi or SSI Certified
getting a photo after hiking up to the viewpoint on koh nang yuan
getting a photo after hiking up to the viewpoint on koh nang yuan

Where To Stay In Koh Tao On Our Thailand 3 Week Itinerary

There are a few main areas of Koh Tao where you will find various accommodation options which are Sairee Beach, Chalok Baan Kao, and Mae Haad.

Personally, I recommend Sairee Beach as it’s the perfect hangout for travelers. There are some quaint bungalows here as well as a handful of hostels for backpackers on a budget.

On my more recent trip, I ended up staying at Wind Beach Resort in Sairee Beach which was fantastic. It was relatively affordable for a private room and you will have multiple pools, beach access, and a couple of onsite restaurants and cafes.

You can also find some excellent food places located in Sairee Beach in Koh Tao!

Savage Hostel Koh Tao

Savage Hostel Koh Tao

A more luxe hostel with a pool in a great location! Pod style dorms start from $16.00 per night.

Wonderland Jungle Hostel

Wonderland Jungle Hostel

The perfect glampacker hostel located in the jungle.Enjoy the social atmosphere from $18.00 per night.

Wind Beach Resort

Wind Beach Resort

My favorite resort in Koh Tao right on the beach in a great location. Prices start from $70.00 per night.

Sairee Sairee Guesthouse

Sairee Sairee Guesthouse

A more affordable option in Sairee Beach. Private rooms start from $50.00 per night.


How To Get To Koh Tao From Bangkok

Unfortunately getting to Koh Tao from Bangkok isn’t the easiest. This is because, no matter which type you choose, you will need to take multiple types of transport to get to the island.

It could be either a train and boat, plane and boat, or a bus and boat combination.

Personally, I booked my journey with Lomprayah on 12 Go Asia. It was a long overnight trip, though there was minimal planning needing to be done on our half and it is a reputable company so I knew we would be safe.

You can read about my full experience traveling to Koh Tao overland.

Alternatively, you can also fly to Koh Samui and take a ferry to Koh Tao. This is a much quicker, but more pricey option. Be aware you will need your flight to arrive around midday to catch the last ferry.

Day 10, 11 & 12: Koh Phangan

Koh Phangan is equal parts a quiet and chilled back island, as well as a place where swarms of tourists gather to get absolutely wasted and forget realities. However, just be aware that the latter part is only for certain periods of the month.

For the most part, Koh Phangan is an awesome island offering a piece of paradise with some of the best beaches in Thailand.

If you can definitely hire a motorbike and explore the island at your own pace. From waterfalls, viewpoints, and white sandy beaches, it is easy to spend weeks here!

Some of the other best things to do in Koh Phangan include:

  • Hire a motorbike and explore the island
  • Forget your worries at the Full Moon Party
  • Go diving at Sail Rock
  • Enjoy some fresh water by visiting the numerous waterfalls
palm tree beaches in koh phangan while 3 weeks in thailand itinerary
a couple of the numerous palm tree covered beaches in koh phangan
the beautiful shoreline surrounding bottle beach in koh phangan
the beautiful shoreline surrounding bottle beach in koh phangan

Where To Stay In Koh Phangan On The Thailand 3 Week Itinerary

When deciding where to stay in Koh Phangan you really need to figure out what kind of traveler you are.

This means whether you wish to stay on a quiet secluded beach or among the action of the Full Moon Party.

If you’re keen on a party Haad Rin is the place to be. Home to a few different hostels this beachside spot is a top hit with backpackers. Even when the full moon party is not on you can find fire shows and other parties going on.

The main town of Koh Phangan is Thong Sala where the ferry boats all arrive. You will have plenty of guesthouse options located here as well as some of the best restaurants on the island.

Baan Tai is where I have previously stayed in Koh Phangan. Most properties in Baan Tai are beachfront (including hostels). For the most part, it caters more to backpackers. There are also some awesome local restaurants nearby within walking distance.

Haad Salad is definitely where I will be staying on my next trip. The accommodation options here are more beach shack vibes so is a good low-cost option for a private room, plus the beach is gorgeous.

So Good Haad Rin Hostel

So Good Haad Rin Hostel

A great hostel among all the party action. Dorms here start from $15.00 per night.

Phangan Barsay Hostel

Phangan Barsay Hostel

A clean and comfortable hostel with a great vibe in Thong Sala where the ferries arrive. Dorms start from $25.00 per night.

Munchies Bungalows

Munchies Bungalows

Beautiful bamboo bungalows on the beach with a pool. Private rooms here start from $25.00 per night.

Tiki Beach Koh Phangan

Tiki Beach Koh Phangan

An excellent beach front location with plenty restaurants around. Dorms here start from $18.00 per night and private rooms from $45.00 per night.


How To Get To Koh Phangan From Koh Tao

It is super easy to travel between Koh Phangan and Koh Tao with regular ferries departing daily.

I use the Lomprayah ferry to travel between and they offer 3 different departure times per day. These are 7.00 am, 9.30 am and 3.00 pm.

The speed boat from Koh Phangan to Koh Tao will take about an hour. The cost of the ride is $16.00 / 600 THB and can be booked over at 12Go Asia.

This is a pretty good price and overall isn’t too much more expensive than taking a regular ferry.

Day 13 & 14: Ao Nang

I read in so many travel blogs to go to Krabi, but don’t, instead head to Ao Nang. Ao Nang is a beautiful beachside town located in Southern Thailand looking out over the Andaman Sea.

Here you will find a couple of gorgeous beaches, some chilled-out restaurants, and an assortment of accommodation options. It’s a lot more relaxed here than nearby in Krabi town which seems quite city-like.

There are plenty of things to do here and it’s a great spot to spend a couple of days.

This includes the nearby Khao Phanom National Park which has incredible waterfalls and nature sprawled across 50 square kilometers of untouched land.

You can also easily take a day trip to Railay Beach to check out one of the most perfect places in all of Thailand (definitely spend a night there if you can afford it).

Some of the other best things to do in Ao Nang include:

local thai longtail boats while arriving at railay beach
arriving on railay beach from a day trip from ao nang

Where To Stay In Ao Nang On The Thailand In 3 Weeks Itinerary

Being such a popular tourist area Ao Nang has plenty of accommodation options for all budgets.

A lot of the hostels here seem to start around $10.00 for a shared dorm room. However, I will say they are higher quality rooms with privacy curtains and personal reading lights.

If you are looking to splash out you certainly can in Ao Nang, though there are some good mid-priced rooms as well.

My favorite accommodation in Krabi and Ao Nang is Aonang Silver Orchid Hotel which is affordable, has a pool, and modern rooms. They offer rooms starting at $20.00 per night which is at the higher end of the scale, but if you are looking for comfort and hospitality this is the place.

I also recently stayed at Aonang Cliff View Resort which is a great affordable stay in beautiful bungalows. The location is absolutely incredible underneath the limestone cliffs and in the jungle with monkeys roaming around.

The only downside as they don’t have an onsite restaurant. However, it is about a 12-minute walk up to the main road with plenty of food options. Prices start from $27.00 per night, oh and it also has the most gorgeous pool!

K-Bunk Hostel

K-Bunk Hostel

A social hostel perfect for solo travelers. Dorm rooms here start from $9.00 per night.

Pop-In Aonang

Pop-In Aonang

A great choice for a clean hostel a 15 minute walk from the beach. Pod style dorms start from $9.00 per night.

Amorn Mansion

Amorn Mansion

An affordable guesthouse a short walk from the beach. Private rooms start from $30.00 per night.

Aonang Cliff View Resort

Aonang Cliff View Resort

My personal favorite with a great pool, comfy rooms and beautiful views. Private rooms start from $27.00 per night.


How To Travel To Ao Nang From Koh Phangan

Once again I used Lomprayah to travel to Ao Nang from Koh Phangan. This is mainly because I wanted a stress-free travel day where I would need to take various types of transport to get to my guesthouse.

It isn’t an overly long journey, taking just over 6 hours, but traveling from the East Coast to the West does take some time.

The boat took us across to Koh Samui to collect some more travelers before heading back to the mainland. Once at the wharf, there were numerous buses waiting there going to various destinations around the country.

Tickets are able to be purchased through 12.Go Asia, and this journey does book out, so I recommend purchasing your tickets in advance.

Day 15, 16 & 17: Koh Lanta

The perfect idyllic spot in Southern Thailand is no doubt the chilled-out Koh Lanta. It is nowhere near as touristy as the neighboring Koh Phi Phi or Phuket which we will check out later.

However, it is also not completely off the beaten track that first-time travelers would find things a bit daunting.

Even though it is a laid-back place, Koh Lanta has so many things to do here. Sure it won’t have the massive waterparks that you’ll find in Koh Phangan and the huge parties of Koh Phi Phi.

If you appreciate nature and want to check out some of the best Thailand has to offer, I highly recommend adding Koh Lanta to your Thailand itinerary.

This is the perfect place for nature lovers. Check out the incredible Mu Ko Lanta National Park and watch the sunset from on top of the viewpoint which sticks out from the ocean.

Venture into the darkness at Khao Mai Kaew Cave. The tour of the cave takes 2 and a half hours. Throughout this time you will find yourself squeezing between rocks and exploring caverns. The entry fee to the cave is $8.50 / 300 THB.

Some of the other best things to do in Koh Lanta include:

motorbiking on my 3 weeks in thailand itinerary
driving around koh lanta on a motorbike

Where To Stay In Koh Lanta On The 3 Week Itinerary Thailand

Koh Lanta is quite a large spread-out island. The majority of accommodations are located along the west coast where you can relax and watch the sunset from the beach.

Koh Lanta also has an incredible amount of nice fancy beachside resorts. Unfortunately, this wasn’t in my budget, and if you’re reading this backpacking guide it’s unlikely to be in yours.

Nevertheless, you can find 3 star resorts for just $20.00 per night. For such a small step up in price you get a lot more including a pool to relax in.

I stayed at Pitt Bungalows while in Koh Lanta, though they also take bookings about 6 weeks out. If you are a budget backpacker this place is perfect with bamboo bungalows starting from $11.00 per night including free motorbike hire.

The motorbike was a game changer allowing us to get around with ease!

Aha Lanta Cozy Hostel

Aha Lanta Cozy Hostel

A great hostel with plenty of common spaces to meet other travelers. Dorm room start from $11.00 per night.

Hub of Joys Hostel

Hub of Joys Hostel

An affordable hostel with a amazing free breakfast, as well as free coffee and tea all day. Dorms start from $6.00 per night.

Pitt Bungalow

Pitt Bungalow

Super affordable bamboo bungalows in the good locations. Private rooms start from $11.00 per night and include a free motorbike.

Mook Lanta Eco Resort

Mook Lanta Eco Resort

A lovely eco resort a short walk away from the beach. Private bungalows start from $22.00 per night.


🚗 How I Book Cheap Transport In Thailand: 12Go Asia

How To Travel To Koh Lanta From Ao Nang

You will need to get back to Krabi where the boats depart to get to Koh Lanta. We actually booked our ferry through our accommodation which included the transfer.

It was an easy and affordable option that was relatively stress-free. Though we were forgotten about which meant a quick race across town and sprint to jump on the boat.

You can buy tickets from travel agencies, guesthouses, and even restaurants in Ao Nang or Krabi. If you would like to book in advance you can check out 12.Go Asia is a great choice.

Day 18, 19 & 20: Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi is a must for any 3 week Thailand itinerary. The island has become an institution with young travelers and is a highlight.

During the day check out some of the incredible beaches around the island and by night find yourself partying underneath the stars. Buckets are flowing and the music is pumping, this is the type of traveler Koh Phi caters to.

Make sure you visit the famous Koh Phi Phi Viewpoint. It is less of a secret slice of paradise and more like an influencer photo op, but this is the best way to take in the beauty of Koh Phi Phi.

Maya Bay has to be the second most popular thing to do here while on Koh Phi Phi. This place was made famous by the film The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Some of the other best things to do in Koh Phi Phi include:

checking out one of the amazing viewpoint in koh phi phi while 3 weeks thailand itinerary
checking out one of the amazing viewpoint in koh phi phi

Where To Stay In Koh Phi Phi While Spending Three Weeks In Thailand

Everything in Koh Phi Phi is relatively close together. There is the main town, where you arrive off the ferry, and then all the accommodation is spread throughout here as well as up the hills.

I stayed in literally the cheapest “resort” I could find. Knowing I wouldn’t be partaking in the drunken parties I decided I would book a place with an infinity pool with an amazing view.

It ended up costing us around $25.00 per night, which was split between the two of us it was a pretty good price at $12.50 per night.

In terms of accommodation in Koh Phi Phi, you can literally find everything here.

From 5-star resorts to those squished dorm room hostels and locally run guesthouses. However, what they all the in common is they will all be ridiculously overpriced.

Voyagers Hostel

Voyagers Hostel

A recently opened hostel with spacious air-conditioned dorm rooms. Starting room $16.00 per night.

Dee Dee Sea Front

Dee Dee Sea Front

A great option for solo travelers. Dorm with privacy curtains rooms start from $17.00 per night.

Phi Phi Maiyada Resort

Phi Phi Maiyada Resort

A beautiful resort for just $20.00 per night. They offer budget rooms for travelers which are also air-conditioned.

Saii Phi Phi Island Village

Saii Phi Phi Island Village

If you have a bit more money to spend why not check this out. From $100.00 per night for a 5 star resort.


How To Travel To Koh Phi Phi From Koh Lanta

It is super easy to travel from Koh Lanta to Koh Phi Phi. Plenty of ferries operate this route daily and it should only take you a couple of hours to make the journey.

Since Thailand is basically built around tourism it is super easy to travel around and make your way from A to B, essentially anywhere you are in the country.

You can purchase your tickets once you arrive, or online in advance. If you would like to book in advance you can check out 12.Go Asia.

I do recommend booking before arriving at your destinations because tickets can sell out if you leave them too late, especially in the high season of December, January, and February.

Day 21: Phuket

Now the reason I have chosen to finish this trip in Phuket is that it is the main travel hub to other destinations around Southeast Asia. You can easily catch a flight from the International Airport to Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and further afield.

Whether you are heading back home or continuing with your travels you will have plenty of options when departing from Phuket.

The only thing to really be aware of is that the airport is a considerable distance from the main town. Make sure you leave enough Thai Baht for a taxi to the airport!

Some of the other best things to do in Phuket include:

Where To Stay In Phuket For The Final Of Our 3 Weeks Thailand Itinerary

Phuket is a super spread out city and honestly, you will want to stay depending on what your plan to do there is.

If you are just following this itinerary and just staying 1 night then your best bet will be near the airport. This means you will be nice and close to your flight.

However, if you are planning to do a bit of exploration then you may instead prefer to stay in Phuket Town.

There are also some luxurious resorts here. They won’t be as cheap as you may find on the islands. Though they will have plenty of amenities and top-notch service.

The Z Nite Hostel

The Z Nite Hostel

One of the best hostels in Phuket with great staff, comfortable beds, and an awesome vibe. Dorms start from $11.00 per night.

Lub d Phuket Patong

Lub d Phuket Patong

Ther perfect glampacker hostel for those on a budget who enjoy a bit of luxe. Dorms here start from $25.00 per night.

Selina Serenity Rawai Phuket

Selina Serenity Rawai Phuket

A very reputable chain brand providing great options for solo travelers and couples. Dorms start from $25.00 per night and private rooms start from $100.00 per night.

Atom Phuket Hotel

Atom Phuket Hotel

A clean and modern hotel with a great pool which is close to the airport. Private rooms here start from $40.00 per night.


How To Travel To Phuket From Koh Phi Phi

It is super easy to travel from Koh Phi Phi to Phuket. Numerous ferries operate between the two and it should only take you a couple of hours to make the journey.

As this is a super popular route I recommend booking tickets in advance over on 12.Go Asia. This way you can make sure you travel with a reliable and comfortable ferry service that puts safety first.

Extend Your 3 Weeks In Thailand Itinerary

Maybe you want to make the most out of your tourist Visa in Thailand and spend the entire 30 days here! Thailand is a great country and there is so much more you can do to turn this 3 weeks in Thailand Itinerary into a longer journey.

However, be aware you only really have an extra week available as you don’t want to overstay!

Slow Boat From Northern Thailand

The slow boat journey is one which I have done a few times now and I can say it is not as bad as many people online say it is!

If you are in Northern Thailand around Chiang Mai it is easy enough to get a minivan to Chiang Khong or Huay Xai at the border and do the journey yourself. You can also visit the White Temple in Chiang Rai which is a sight in itself.

It is a 2-day journey with an overnight stop in the small town of Pakbeng. The days are never as long as you are told and the car seats make for very comfortable seats.

Seriously the journey from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang on the slow boat is a true adventure and an excellent way to begin your adventures in Laos.

This would also allow you more time as you return to Thailand as your 30 days visa would restart, ultimately giving you more time to explore this incredible country!

the slow boat to luang prabang in laos
what the typical slow boat looks like when in laos


A few hours on a twisty van journey from Chiang Mai you will find the backpacker hang out of Pai. This is a super relaxed place set among nature.

I haven’t had the luck of visiting Pai yet, but I definitely will on my next visit to the North!

More Islands

There are so many islands other than those listed in this itinerary that you could add to your 3 weeks in Thailand if you have the time.

What I have recommended are the more popular spots. Though there are plenty of other lesser-known beautiful islands which you could check out.

Some top choices also include:

  • Koh Chang
  • Koh Samui
  • Koh Yao Yai
  • Koh Lipe

Koh Sok National Park

Lastly, you could check out Koh Sok National Park as an option to extend your 3 weeks in Thailand itinerary.

Located in nature this spot can often be a highlight for many travelers. The only reason I haven’t visited so far is that it is a far distance from other popular destinations making it quite the journey to access.

Entry Requirement For Thailand: Getting A Visa

Figuring out what your visa situation is when it comes to Thailand is decided by your passport country of origin.

There is a list of countries that can enter visa-free for 30 days. Some of these countries include Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and The United States. If this doesn’t include you, or perhaps you want to stay longer you can also get a Thailand Visa online.

You will be required to show proof of departure when arriving at the airport. This is because many people travel to Thailand for work and end up overstaying.

If you do not have proof of onward travel many travelers use such services as Onward Ticket. The company books a legitimate ticket in your name and cancels it after a certain period.

This provides you with an actual ticket for proof of onward travel. I have used them so many times and it’s just so easy! Remember you still need to leave the country within 30 days of arriving.

🚗 How I Book Cheap Transport In Thailand: 12Go Asia

Getting Around Thailand: Types Of Transport

Thailand is super easy to travel around on a budget and is a country set up for tourism. Here are some of the most common transport to get around:

Planes: If you are on a budget then you probably won’t be taking any flights within Thailand. However, if you can afford domestic flights connect Bangkok with the major hotspots in the country. This is also a great option to travel long distances if you are short on time.

Mini Van: Minivans are a popular way to travel in Thailand. The prices are only a little bit more expensive when compared to a bus. Though the journey will be a lot faster. The downside is they are always full which does not make for a comfortable journey. I book minivans through 12 Go Asia when in Thailand.

Bus: A slightly cheaper option than a minivan, the bus is a good choice for those who aren’t in a rush and are traveling Thailand on a budget. Most have comfortable seats and working air conditioning. I book buses through 12 Go Asia when in Thailand.

Train: Taking a train is a great way to travel around Thailand. Having a bed to sleep in overnight makes for a super comfortable journey. I had a great experience on the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. The train can take you as far north as Chiang Mai and as far south as Hat Yai. First class tickets can be hard to secure, but 12 Go Asia is still the best bet.

Boat: If you want to head to the islands in Thailand, which you likely are then you will need to take some sort of boat. Generally, you will have the choice of a cheaper but slower ferry or a faster but more expensive speedboat. Again you can book these through 12 Go Asia.

Overnight Train From Bangkok To Chiang Mai... 13 Hour Journey!
typical seating arrangement on the sleeper train to chiang mai with the seats folding down into a bed
typical seating arrangement on the sleeper train to chiang mai with the seats folding down into a bed

How Much Does It Cost: What Is A Suitable Budget

The cost of traveling Thailand can vary depending on your travel style and preferences.

The average daily budget for backpackers is between $20.00 to 40.00 per day. Basically, you will be staying in hostels or fan-cooled bungalows.

Mid-range accommodations and restaurants allow travelers to treat themselves a bit more without spending a fortune, and there are lots of affordable activities to enjoy in Thailand as well.

Apart from your travel style, the season in Thailand and whether you are in the North or South of the country can also affect your budget.

Typically it is cheaper to travel in the shoulder or low season, rather than the high season which occurs in December, January, and February.

The North is also well known for being a lot cheaper than the South. This is especially so when it comes to the island as everything needs to be shipped in.

Only Have 2 Weeks In Thailand?

Perhaps you are trying to make the most of your annual leave from work so just stay for 2 weeks in Thailand. In which a suitable itinerary would be:

  • Chiang Mai (3 days)
  • Bangkok (2 days)
  • Ao Nang (3 days)
  • Koh Lanta (3 days)
  • Koh Phi Phi (2 days)
  • Phuket (1 day)

Looking For A 1 Week Thailand Itinerary?

If you are a bit more limited in how long to spend in Thailand and only have one week a good option would be:

  • Chiang Mai (3 days)
  • Bangkok (2 days)
  • Ao Nang (2 days)

FAQs About The Thailand Backpacking Route 3 Weeks

Is 3 weeks long enough for Thailand?

Sure, Thailand is huge, but spending 3 weeks in Thailand will give you a great opportunity to see some of the highlights of the country. If you have the time spending 4 weeks in Thailand is another great option to make the most out of your 30 day visa.

How much does it cost to spend 3 weeks in Thailand?

Honestly, the cost to travel Thailand depends on your travel style. For example, I have backpacked Thailand for $23.00 per day staying in hostels and doing free activities, but I have also visited solo spending $70.00 per day staying in nice resorts and diving multiple times each day.

What is the best time to visit Thailand?

The best time to visit Thailand is during the dry season which typically occurs between November and March. During this time, the weather is relatively pleasant, with cooler temperatures and lower humidity. This is also considered the peak tourist season in Thailand where you will find accommodation prices are higher.

How many days in Thailand is enough?

Honestly spend as much time as you can in Thailand. This is an epic country with so much to offer. However, remember most tourists are limited to a period of 30 days at a time.

What month is the cheapest in Thailand?

Generally, the cheapest month to travel Thailand will be in the low or shoulder season. This is typically between May to October where you can expect to see plenty of travel deals to entice travelers to visit. However you should also be aware that this is the rainy season, so the weather in parts of the country may not be the best.

Do I need a visa for Thailand?

The visa requirements for Thailand depend on your nationality, the purpose of your visit, and the duration of your stay. Most countries get a 30 day visa on arrival when arriving in Thailand.

Wrap Up: The Ultimate Thailand Backpacking Itinerary

This three week itinerary in Thailand offers an incredible opportunity to explore the diverse landscapes, rich culture, and vibrant cities of this incredible country.

From the bustling streets of Bangkok to the serene beaches of Krabi and the ancient temples of Chiang Mai, there is something for every traveler to discover.

By following this suggested itinerary, you can experience the best that Thailand has to offer, including its mouthwatering cuisine, friendly locals, and unforgettable experiences.

So pack your bags and embark on a memorable journey through this land of smiles – an experience that will undoubtedly leave you craving more.

Any Questions? Let me know in the comments!


Find out the perfect 3 week Thailand itinerary to ensure you have the ultimate adventure from North to South. Let’s talk about the best route, things to do, transportation, accommodation, and more during your time in Thailand!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. So, if you click on it and purchase something, I get a small percentage at no extra cost to you. As always all opinions are my own and your support is much appreciated.

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1 thoughts on “3 Week Thailand Itinerary: BEST Backpacking Route (2024)

  1. Avatar for Oona
    Oona says:

    Great itinerary. Thanks for the tips! I’ve been to Thailand several times, and all of these places are amazing. I haven’t visited Elephant Nature Park or other elephant sanctuaries yet. So it’s on my list. :)

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