Thailand in 1 week: suggested itinerary for those who are short of time

Are you planning to go to Thailand but you just only have 1 week? Not sure how to make the most of it? Do you want to see a little bit of everything: cities, towns, culture, temples, hiking, nature and, of course, going to the beach but you don´t know where to start?

For you who are short of time but still want to make the most of it, below you can find an itinerary around Thailand for 1 week:

Day 1-2: Bangkok

Spend the first couple of days exploring the busiest and most chaotic city of Thailand, Bangkok. Temples, tuk-tuks, shopping, scams, food, markets… discover all the things this city has to offer.

Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand
Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand

The most common scams in Bangkok, according to my experience, are:

  1. “This temple is closed”: don´t believe them, they are trying to bring you to another temple to get a commission. It happened to us when we were on our way to the Grand Palace. A guy approached us saying that the Grand Palace was closed due to a private ceremony. Don´t hesitate and go straight. If they see you hesitating, you are lost. We gave him a nice answer, saying that we wanted to see the surroundings at least and thank him for the information before continuing our walk. He was not very insistent though, perhaps he saw we didn´t hesitate.
  2. “No meter”: taxi drivers should switch on the meter however this is a very challenging task. We couldn´t find a single driver who agreed on switching the meter on. So, we negotiated but several times with several drivers until we found one whose price was not that bad.
  3. “There are no buses from this station to where you are going but if you go to this place instead…”: it happened to us when we were trying to find the bus stop for the local bus nº79 heading to the Southern bus terminal (Sai Tai Mai) to get our bus to Kanchanabury. A friendly man approached us and asked if he could help us. We told him that we were trying to find the bus stop to get to the Northern terminal to head to Kanchanabury. “There are no buses to Kanchanabury from the Southern terminal” he said. I looked at him and said “Yes, there are” so he asked “Have you been here before?” it was my first time but I replied “Yes, I have” and he whispered “Ok, so you know what you are doing”. We gratefully said thanks for him, he told us where the nº79 bus stop was and yes guys, there are buses to Kanchanabury from the Southern terminal.
  4. Trips to the floating market from Monday to Friday: the floating market is just open during weekends. It didn´t happen to us but when I was queuing to get the tickets for the Grand Palace the woman behind me told me that she was so disappointed because she paid for a trip to the floating market this morning, they brought her there and… there was nothing. It was a Tuesday… she paid a lot of money and they didn´t return her a single penny. It is a shame these things happen as they can ruin your day.

Day 3: Kanchanabury

Bridge over the river Kwai, Kanchanabury, Thailand
Bridge over the river Kwai, Kanchanabury, Thailand

Do you need a break and escape from the madness of Bangkok? If so, Kanchanabury is your place. Just relax, take it easy and go on a hike to Erawan Waterfalls, which will be your encounter with the mother nature. I dare you to hike the 7 levels waterfalls and take a swim. Ok ok, it isn´t a challenging hike but the challenge is how to avoid to be bitten by one of the fish whilst you are swimming in one of the natural pools.

If you are planning a visit to Kanchanabury, be aware that there is a public songthaew* that goes from Kanchanabury bus station to the Dead Railway and back that only costs 10THB per person. You can be dropped wherever it´s closer to your accommodation at any point of the route. We didn´t know that and the first time we paid 30THB per person from the bus station to our accommodation. We discovered that the next morning and it appeared that we took the songthaew with exactly the same driver who to we had paid the triple amount of money the day before… The challenge here is how to differentiate the public and the private songthaews… If you figure it out or already know, please share.

*A songthaew is a passenger vehicle in Thailand and Laos adapted from a pick-up or a larger truck and used as a share taxi or bus.

On another note, if you just only want to go to the Erawan Waterfalls without an overnight stay in Kanchanabury, there are day trips from Bangkok but, as I said, if you want to escape from the busy Bangkok, if you are looking for a relieve, I recommend you to stay overnight in Kanchanabury, it´s so peaceful.

Day 4: Ayutthaya

Buddha head in tree roots, Wat Mahathat, Ayutthaya, Thailand
Buddha head in tree roots, Wat Mahathat, Ayutthaya, Thailand

After Kanchanabury, head to Ayutthaya for a cultural immersion. Ayutthaya is the former capital of the Kingdom of Siam. Explore it Historical Park, recognised as UNESCO heritage, and you will be able to see how magnificent this city should have been. The ruins are so impressive, they will not leave you indifferent.

You can rent a bike to move around Ayutthaya or get a tuk-tuk or a taxi. It can be really hot around midday so it depends on your tolerance to the heat. Nevertheless you can also do it by foot.

Ayutthaya has been one of the highlights of our trip, perhaps because a couple of friends told me that it wasn´t worth the effort hence our expectations were low, I can´t tell for sure, but I really liked it so my family did. So I encourage you to visit Ayutthaya.

As well as for Erawan Waterfalls, you can also do a day trip to Ayutthaya from Bangkok but you are going to miss the night markets (there are two). I really love night markets, so what can I say, stay!

Day 5-7: Koh Chang

An elephant walking on the beach in the Elephant island, Koh Chang, Thailand
An elephant walking on the beach in the Elephant island, Koh Chang, Thailand

Do you need to relax? You can´t leave the country without visiting at least one of its islands, but if you don´t have enough time to head to the South, Koh Chang (known as the Elephant island due to its shape) is a good option if you are short of time. It´s a 6h trip by bus from Bangkok and, once there, you can also do a day trip to Koh Wai.

For information about what to do around the island, visit the following website https://iamkohchang.com/. The owner of this blog lives in Koh Chang and has a wide knowledge of the island, better than myself of course. You will find loads of useful information so please don´t hesitate to check it out if you are looking for inspiration: there is plenty to do in Koh Chang!

Yet thinking this is a long trip from Bangkok and you don´t have the time? An alternative would be to go to Koh Samet instead, as it is a 3h trip from Bangkok.

We took our time and this was our itinerary during our two weeks in Thailand but it is doable in one week. I would never had thought of doing this itinerary for two weeks around Thailand if I wouldn´t had travelled with my parents and my aunt but it was gentler for them and I wanted them to enjoy the experience.

Do you know how much we spent in Thailand during our two weeks trip? “How much does it cost” is one of the most common questions when travelling, if you are asking yourself this question then check this out Thailand: how much does it cost? where you will be able to find an overall summary of the expenses and also specific and what I think are useful examples.

Enjoy and see you around witties!

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Thailand in 1 week: for those who are short of time

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