22 January 2024

How To Spend Two Weeks in Thailand

2023 was the year I finally travelled to Thailand, the country that had been on my travel wishlist since 2000 but which I'd somehow never quite managed to visit. In this post, I am rounding up my overall experience: my itinerary and how it worked out, what I did, where I stayed, how I got around and my advice and practical tips.

For more detailed information about the destinations featured in this guide, check out my other Thailand blog posts: Bangkok city guideBangkok speciality coffee guideChiang Mai city guideChiang Mai speciality coffee guide and Ko Lanta travel guide.


I started planning my two-week Thailand itinerary soon after booking my international flights in May, about six months before my trip. I knew I wanted to spend a few days in Bangkok, a few days in Chiang Mai and at least some time on an island (or two) or on the coast. As I was travelling in late November and early December, the weather was likely to be better in the Andaman Sea than in the Gulf of Thailand, which ruled out Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan. And for once, I managed to limit myself to just three destinations in a two-week stay and decided to spend five nights on Ko Lanta, an island south of Krabi in the Andaman Sea. Here is my final itinerary:

Bangkok – 3 nights
Fly to Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai – 4 nights
Fly to Krabi, van transfer to Ko Lanta

Ko Lanta — 5 nights
Speedboat & van transfer to Krabi, fly to Bangkok

Bangkok — 1 night

I found that this gave a nice balance of cities, coffee and food tourism, nature time and beach time. Taking three internal flights and sticking to three destinations (minimising the faff associated with checking in and out of hotels and transfers) meant I could make the most of my time. And Ko Lanta proved to be a good choice for me: easily accessible from Krabi Airport, close to a number of other Andaman Islands for day trips and with good beaches and enough life and things to do without being a party island.

Meanwhile, I had four days in Chiang Mai, which was just about the right amount of time to explore the Old City and take a day trip to Elephant Nature Park. I'd considered taking a day trip to Chiang Rai or Pai, but both would have been very long and tiring days, so I decided to save these destinations for another time.


Days 1–3: Bangkok

I landed at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport at around 6:30 am on a Sunday morning. It took about 45 minutes to get through immigration (UK citizens, like many others, can usually enter Thailand without a visa) and collect my luggage. I ordered a GrabCar using the app and arrived at my hotel by 8 am (cost around 360 THB or £8.30). I stayed at the lovely Villa de Pranakorn in the Old Town, paying around £90 per night for a deluxe suite overlooking the courtyard pool. I couldn't check in until later so after a quick, refreshing dip in the pool, I headed straight out to the Grand Palace.

I had three full days in Bangkok (plus another at the end of my trip), which was enough time to do and see most of the things on my list. On the first day, I temple hopped (visiting the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Saket) and got my bearings by wandering along the River Chao Phraya and through the Pak Khlong Talat flower market. The next day, I headed to Sukhumvit for shopping and coffee-shop hopping, followed by a stroll through Benchakitti Forest Park. I then visited the beautiful Wat Arun before crossing the river by ferry to watch the sunset over the temple. On day three, I visited Jim Thompson House and the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre and took a fantastic street food walking tour in Chinatown.

Days 4–7: Chiang Mai

I booked a morning flight with Bangkok Airways (£40), which left Suvarnabhumi Airport at 9:40 am, arriving in Chiang Mai at 11 am. I took a Grab from my hotel to Suvarnabhumi (30 minutes and cost 500 THB (£11.50)). Chiang Mai Airport is small and my suitcase and I were in a Grab by 11:30 and at my hotel just outside the Old City 20 minutes later (190 THB, or £1.94), I stayed four nights at Hotel Ping Silhouette on the banks of the River Ping, 15 minutes' walk from the Old City. I paid about £60 per night and my small room was quiet, comfortable and attractively decorated in the Lanna style. The hotel's rooftop pool was a delight, especially after a hot day of sightseeing.

I had almost four full days in Chiang Mai, which was enough time to explore at a more relaxed pace. On the first day, I visited some of the Old City's most famous temples and other sights. The next morning, I ticked off some of the speciality coffee shops and street food spots on my list before spending a wonderful afternoon at Elephant Nature Park. On day three, I took a Thai cooking class with Small House and on my last day, I followed the Monk's Trail up a mountain to visit two temples. I had plenty of time to visit the Night Bazaar and other night markets, shops and eateries. I really loved my time in Chiang Mai and was glad I didn't have to rush too much.

I took an Air Asia flight (£80 with checked luggage, meal and seat selection), which left Chiang Mai at 8 am and arrived in Krabi at 10 am. This meant an early start from my hotel but I found a Grab quickly and the traffic-free journey took only 10 minutes. I wrote a more detailed summary of the Krabi Airport to Ko Lanta transfer options in my Ko Lanta blog, but on this occasion I didn't really mind massively overpaying (around £50) for a private van transfer to my hotel to minimise faff.

Although I only stayed on one Thai island, I wanted to experience two different resorts and beaches. I spent two nights at Long Beach Chalet on, er, Long Beach. My garden chalet cost about £50 per night including breakfast and was a five-minute walk from the beach. The hotel had good facilities, including two swimming pools, and is located on a nice stretch of beach. It was very good value for money, I felt. 

I then transferred to Pimalai Resort & Spa on Kantiang Bay in the southern end of Ko Lanta for three nights. My room cost about £220 per night, which is very expensive by Thai standards, but my room and the whole resort were beautiful with excellent facilities and wonderful service. If you're looking for somewhere special to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or just 'cause, I would highly recommend Pimalai.

I had more than five days in Ko Lanta and spent my time on the beach, in the pool, exploring the Mu Ko Lanta National Park, visiting some of the villages and Lanta Old Town and taking exceptional snorkelling day trips to Ko Phi Phi (including Maya Bay, filming location of The Beach), Ko Rok and Ko Haa. When it was time to return to Krabi Airport, Pimalai arranged a complimentary transfer by speedboat and van, which was incredibly glamorous.

Day 14: Bangkok

I flew back from Krabi to Bangkok with Bangkok Airways (£40) arriving at Suvarnabhumi Airport at 7 pm. I'd booked an earlier flight, arriving at 4 pm, but it was cancelled, which meant more time on Ko Lanta but a long wait to get a Grab at Suvarnabhumi and an even longer journey into the city. I didn't get to my hotel, the Banyan Tree, until nearly 9 pm. On the plus side, I was upgraded to a huge room on the 55th floor (I paid about £110) but I only stayed long enough to change out of my beach dress before heading up to the Moon Bar on the 60th floor rooftop for cocktails with an amazing view.

I had a full day in Bangkok before flying home, so after a sunrise swim, I checked out of the hotel and headed back to the Old Town where I spent hours queueing to — fail to — eat at Jay Fai's renowned eatery. I'll have to go back to Bangkok to sample the Michelin-starred crab omelette. After that failure, I did a spot of final shopping in Sukhumvit before getting a fantastic massage at Makkha. This was the perfect way to relax and cool down before an epic tasting menu at Saawaan

I still had a few hours to kill so I visited a few night markets before returning to my hotel to take a Grab to the airport (£10, 45 minutes). I arrived around 11 pm, three hours before my flight, but Suvarnabhumi was really busy and it took almost an hour to get through security and passport control. Luckily, I had enough time to take a shower and charge my devices in the Miracle Lounge before it was time to board my flight to Doha.


As I have British Airways Silver status, I prefer to fly with the One World Alliance. BA doesn't fly direct to Bangkok so I booked return flights with Qatar Airways from Heathrow to Bangkok with a layover in Doha. My flights cost about £900, plus the extra £200 I paid to upgrade the return (BA-operated) leg from Doha to Heathrow to World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy). Depressingly, when I booked an identical itinerary (without the upgrade) on very similar dates in 2020, the cost was under £500! The Premium Economy upgrade was worth it for the extra comfort and space and thanks to my BA Silver status, I was able to use Qatar lounges at Heathrow, Doha and Bangkok Airports, taking advantage of food and drink, comfy seating and showers! The breakfast in the Doha Gold Lounge was particularly good.

I also booked three internal flights, two with Bangkok Airways (both around £40) and one with Air Asia (£80, but including a checked bag, food and priority seat selection) several months in advance. The latter was between Chiang Mai and Krabi, a route with fewer flights hence the higher price. Two of the three flights ended up getting rescheduled although not catastrophically. All three flights landed on time and were perfectly pleasant.

I mainly used Grab to get to and from the airports. There was almost always availability and I prefer to know the fare in advance, pay through the app and not have to haggle. I used Grab a couple of times within Bangkok and Chiang Mai too, although it wasn't available in Ko Lanta (I mainly took tours or walked while there, but you can easily get a tuk tuk to travel around). In Bangkok, I made use of the excellent and cheap public transport system, travelling by ferry, Sky Train, MRT (metro) and bus!


Thailand is a big country with a lot of climatic variations in different regions. That being said, if you're travelling to a few different places around the country, December to February is generally the best time to go. It's winter then, so the weather is usually cooler ('only' around 30C) and drier. This does also mean it's busier and more expensive, of course. If you're planning to visit the Gulf islands, January/February is often better as it means the monsoon has (usually) subsided. The Andaman islands are a better bet for late November and December. 

March to May is the hot season and the heat can get very oppressive, while June to October is the rainy season. 'Rainy season' doesn't mean that it will rain all day or every day — sporadic downpours are more common — and nor does the dry season mean you won't see rain, especially in our climate-change-impacted world.

Finally, in Chiang Mai and northern Thailand, the 'burning' season begins in late January or February. Forest and agricultural fires mean that there's a lot of smoke and haze, affecting visibility and air quality. If you have your heart set on a visit to Chiang Mai, try to avoid these months.


If you're looking for Thailand packing tips, check out my recommendations of tried-and-tested products for travel.


Thailand uses multiple plug socket types. All the hotels I stayed in had sockets that could be used with either Type A (USA) or Type C (European) plugs, at least, but it's worth bringing a universal adapter with USB ports.


The language of Thailand is Thai, which has its own script, although most street signs include an English translation. Many people, especially those working in hospitality or tourism, speak some English but try to learn a few key phrases. Most crucially, kob kuhn ka [kobb koon kaah] means 'thank you', sawasdee ka [the second 's' seems silent: sah-wah-dee kaah] means 'hello' and aroi [arroy] means 'delicious'.


The Thai currency is the Thai baht (THB) and at the time of writing, the exchange rate is about 44 THB to the British pound or about 35 THB to the US dollar. Cash is king throughout Thailand and although I used my credit card about 60% of the time in Bangkok, cash was essential for most public transport, street food and smaller shops and eateries. In Chiang Mai, I couldn't pay by credit card very often and on Ko Lanta, credit cards were accepted almost nowhere apart from at my resorts — there's often a 10% surcharge applied too. There is a 220 THB (£5) charge for each ATM withdrawal in Thailand. It can be hard to know how many of the more expensive purchases (excursions, spa treatments, etc) you'll make, but it's best to err on the side of caution and either get your baht before you travel or withdraw larger amounts at a time.

Wifi & mobile data

I bought a 15-day unlimited data, calls and texts eSIM package through Airalo for  $19.95 (£15.80). You can get much cheaper physical sims in Thailand, but my phone is eSIM only and the convenience of setting this up in advance and hitting the ground running when I landed was well worth it. I was connected to the dtac network and coverage was great throughout Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the islands. No more constant hunting for the next free wifi network! Want to give Airalo a try for your next trip? Sign up using my referral code — REBECC3024 — and we both get $3 credit.

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