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Thailand trip to Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai


I am trying to plan a trip to Thailand with my husband. This is our first trip to Asia. We were planning to go around Dec 11- Dec 28. the return flight can be extended a day or 2 more too but it gets into New years Even. We return home flight will be from Hong Kong where we plan to stay anywhere between 2-4 days and to LAX from there.

Can anyone tell me how they would allocate their time in Thailand and HK given we are there for about 18 days roughly.

I heard Bangkok is a big city type of life and I was not sure if we should allocate less days there.

Any input would be much appreciated :).

Originally I was thinking

Bangkok 3-4 days
Phuket 2-4 days (depending on whether we decide to visit any resorts)
Chiang Mai 4 days (Elephant Sanctuary visit during our time here)
Hong Kong 3-4 days

I was originally thinking of visiting Ko Phi Phi but I read on tripadvisor/ Nomadic Matt that it is too touristy and rundown so if anyone has any suggestions I would love that!


Posted by
2526 posts

Bangkok is massive, with much to see and do. MANY people. Public transit is good. Chiang Mai and the province is a wonderful part of Thailand and we spent about a week or so in the region on a very affordable private tour (send me a private message if you wish more information) Personally, I would allocate more time in/around Chiang Mai. The elephant sanctuary (ENP) should not be missed. Have not been to Phuket.

Posted by
3336 posts

I think your schedule is good for an overview of this fantastic country! You should try to spend at least 4 days in each place.
In Bangkok there is A LOT to see. Make sure to won't have time to see it all but you can see a lot! Consider taking a day trip up to Ayutthuya to see the ancient Khmer ruins...very well worth it.
Don't skimp on a good hotel in's a VERY gritty city and you will be glad to have a place to escape to at the end of the day. Really do your homework so you don't get scammed in Bangkok - there are masters of the scam in this city but if you know what to watch for you'll be fine. The basics...don't get into a cab if there is no meter, agree on price before getting into a tuk-tuk, friendly people are most likely trying to get you to come to their tailoring shop, if you know an attraction is open don't let anyone tell you it's not, don't ride public trains at night. You're welcome.
I would disagree about Ko Phi Phi...that reviewer on TripAdvisor just doesn't know where to stay! Don't stay in the main town where the ferry drops you off - it's been a mess ever since the tsunami. Grab a longtail boat and head to Long Beach...there are some amazing small hotels there. From there you can take a longtail out to some of the completely deserted islands out in the Andaman Sea and snorkel the offshore reefs. One of the most memorable days of my life was spent out in that area!
Phuket is fairly well-developed but still has beautiful beaches and beautiful temples. You can also venture up into the area of Phang Nga to see and kayak around the famous limestone islands. One of the best cave temples in Thailand is also there...Wat Suwan Khuha...not to be missed! Get there early before any tourist buses have a chance to arrive.
I have not spent time up in Chiang Mai (it's on my list!!) so will let others comment on that.

Posted by
57 posts

Just got back from Hong Kong. We were there 4 nights. It's a beautiful city but extremely crowded. that part got on our nerves after a day or so. We stayed at the Pullman Hotel. very nice, Uber came in handy for transpotation

Posted by
161 posts

Loving all the input!

Sara, did you visit anywhere else besides HK?

Would you have shortened your trip there?

My departure flight is from LAX TO HK so I figured 3 days would be ok (plus a little jet lag)

Posted by
161 posts

hi anita thanks for your reply!
Ayutthuya seems like a wonderful suggestion and your suggestions on Phuket.

Do you think Krabi/ Ko Phi Phi are worth a stop? Or is it too overrun by tourist and probably skippable?

Let me know if there are any resort places you recommend that would be amazing. I went to Santorini and really enjoyed a few days of bumming it in luxury. Hoping we can narrow doing somewhere like that in Bangkok/ Phuket that is worth the visit.

Posted by
99 posts

No need to shorten your time in HK. The Pullman Hotel is in an especially hectic area (Causeway Bay) that is not especially interesting, and staying there in hot, humid summer weather would only increase the stressful vibe. You'll be in HK during the nice, cool season. Areas you might consider include Tsim Sha Tsui (Salisbury YMCA) and Sheung Wan (Courtyard Marriott on Connaught Road). The Holiday Inn Soho in Sheung Wan is also recommended as a budget-friendly option.

Posted by
2 posts

I would spend much time as possible in the North of Thailand, it is so beautiful. We had about 2 full days 3 nights in Bangkok and that was plenty for us. One day we spent Ayutthaya and that was amazing, an absolute must. We hired a tuk tuk and he drove the four of us around to all the ruins and it was reasonably priced so definitely worth it (he knew exactly where he was going and made getting to the sites we wanted to see easy). And the second day in Bangkok we spent doing the main temples. For us that was plenty of time. we were more than ready to get out of the huge city. If you have enough time we rented a car in Chang Mai and drove the Mae Hong Son Loop and that was beautiful to drive through the countryside and see smaller towns. We spent an entire day in Pai at the end and although its very touristy it was a great small town and really fun to walk around. Went to Pai Canyon and that was really cool as well. There is also a National park just outside of Chiang Mai that has some really beautiful waterfalls and hikes. The Sunday Market in Chiang Mai is one of the most amazing Markets I have been to. It is so huge and easy to wonder through we had to check GPS to see where we were.and find our way back to where we started! The only Island we went to was Ko Pa Ngan and we did a day trip from there to the national park. We did just one island so we wouldn't waste time traveling

Posted by
445 posts

Thailand is amazing. Know how to eat with chop sticks!

Your itinerary sounds good. Bangkok can be hectic. To avoid the heat, I took tut tuks place to place to avoid the heat. Don't forget to drink gatorade to help. I have only traveled through Phuket, but i stayed on Koa Tao years ago and it was fantastic, I received my dive certification there during a week. I spent a night on Phi Phi and enjoyed it. You can find a place there to kick back. Chaing Mai is a welcome break from the big city of Bangkok. I loved Thailand.

HK is busy and packed. Be prepared for it. But it is nice to explore and visit the sites.

Posted by
5766 posts

Stop adding helpful advice to this thread for the OP. Their trip was back in December:

planning to go around Dec 11- Dec 28

Posted by
15053 posts

Since the thread's been revived, I am hopefully that Panda will come back and tell us how it was. And maybe why she ate her panda ☺

Posted by
161 posts


I had an adventurous trip in Asia!

We liked the food in Hong Kong. We also managed to squeeze in time to see Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam after HK. I think we loved Vietnam and chaing mai the most!

I actually hated phuket :( it was pretty dirty and expensive!

The first night in Chiang mai we were able to visit the Sunday night market which was Christmas day! Wow was it crowded! But I loved the souvenirs I got from there! We took home some handmade green tea cups/ tea pot/ mini elephant that an adorable husband and wife make for a living. the pottery is sitting in my living room :).

The elephant nature park was another highlight! But my favorite experience was the cooking class in Chiang mai. I loved my instructor !

Bangkok was wonderful when we visited the santaury of truth and the sriracha zoo (see baby tiger cubs and took photos). Unfortunately I got travelers diarrhea here and it was really hot and crowded at the temple exhibits. Traffic is horrible! I did enjoy their terminal inspired mall and I loved famous sticky rice near soi 38 that is the top place to get sticky rice. Loved it so much I went twice!

I would skip phuket and never go back!

I loved hoi an Vietnam but we did get stuck in the flood! We had to take a boat back and forth to our hotel and to visit the city not affected by the flood. Quite an adventure ! Loved the food there. It's an adorable village. I think Thailand is great for a cheap vacation. But even cheaper is vietnam and I found the experience more worthwhile :)!