3 Week Thailand itinerary

3 Week Thailand Itinerary, A Budget Guide!

If you’ve been dreaming of an exotic, far-off destination with delicious food, culture and stunning beaches, look no further than Thailand! Whether planning a honeymoon or a last-minute getaway, this three-week itinerary will help make your vacation easy on the wallet. From sampling street food in Bangkok to lounging along southern beaches, we’ll guide you through the Land of Smiles at an unbeatable price. So grab your passport and prepare for an unforgettable adventure like never before!

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For many people, Thailand is seen as an exotic dream location. Magazines are filled with images showcasing the country’s endless opportunities to experience its beautiful hospitality, culture, and historic sights, although mostly from 5-star boutique resorts and spas. However, Thailand is also a very budget-friendly country, which can be enjoyed even with the smallest of budgets! This 3-week Thailand Itinerary will show you how to enjoy the best of Thailand without blowing the budget!

Most people who travel to Thailand do so by booking pre-organised package holidays or tours, which can be expensive. However, travelling independently is usually 60% cheaper. Many people believe organising an independent trip can be risky and complicated, but I’m here to persuade you otherwise. Over the years, I have spent over three months in Thailand and have learnt a few things about travelling around this fantastic country.

For ease of reference, I have noted most prices in British Pounds and smaller prices in Thai Baht (current exchange rate £1 – 43 Baht) Prices as of Dec 2022.

3-Week Thailand Itinerary: Budget

Flights To Thailand

For most people, international flights are the most significant expense of travelling to Thailand. However, by booking in advance and using a search engine such as Skyscanner, you can find some great deals. If booking 6 months in advance, you can usually find return prices from Europe with airlines such as Emirates or Etihad for around £550.

If travelling from other Asian countries, you can usually find cheap fares from Air Asia or Nok Air.

Most people arrive in Thailand via Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport. Once at the airport, there are several options for getting into the city.

Taxi – The public taxi stand is on level 1 (ground level). Receive a ticket from the taxi stand at gate 4 and then proceed to the taxi lane indicated on the ticket. Fares will be metered with extra costs for airport surcharge (50 Baht) and expressway fees. Average fares into the city cost around £15, although I have heard of some tourists being ripped off and charged around £50.

Rail Link – Bangkok Airport Rail Link is a commuter rail line connecting Suvarnabhumi Airport to Phaya Thai (BTS) station via Makkasan Station (MRT Phetchaburi). Fares cost between 15 and 45 Baht. Bear in mind that if staying in some parts of Bangkok, such as the Khao San Road, you will need to get a taxi or bus to your final destination.

Bus – Several public buses go to various parts of Bangkok. To get to the Khao San road, you can now take the new S1 Link bus from exit 7 for 60 Baht. The last time I went to Thailand, I took this bus and would highly recommend it. It is very comfortable and convenient.

Private transfer – Many companies offer private transfers; however, these may not be the best option if on a budget. Prices start from £30

A useful app for finding the best transport options around Asia is 12Go. I used this many times to book trains, buses, and ferries throughout Thailand and Cambodia during my travels.

Accommodation In Thailand

Thailand has a vast array of accommodation options ranging from hostels to 5-star resorts. 

For many budget travellers, hostels are the way to go, costing anything from £3 to £20 a night for a dorm room. However, if travelling as a couple, it may be more cost-effective to get a private room in a hotel. If you are apprehensive about staying in hostels, check out my guide to surviving hostels.

Hotels range from £10 to upwards of £200 a night for a private room. If you’re looking to stay within a tight budget, you can get great deals if you’re willing to forgo some luxury options and stay in 2 or 3-star properties instead of the popular resorts. For the best deals on accommodation costs, I recommend using Booking.com.

Food costs In Thailand

Thai food is one of the reasons I keep going back! It is amazingly tasty, available everywhere, and extremely cheap! 

Hardcore budget travellers can get by on a £5 a day food budget, but I wouldn’t recommend this option as you’ll be restricted to street food. Although tasty, it could quickly become tedious. My advice is to up your food budget to around £10 a day. This would mean enjoying the fabulous street food during the day and the chance to eat in a lovely restaurant in the evening.

Popular street food options include fried rice, noodle dishes, chicken sticks, and spring rolls. All are available for around £1 a dish. Don’t be scared of trying street food; it’s some of the tastiest food in Thailand and very safe to eat. Just make sure you buy food from vendors who look busy and that food hasn’t been left out for long periods. In all the time I spent in Thailand, I was never sick. If in doubt, stick to the veterinarian options.

Meals in a local Thai restaurant usually cost around £5, and Western-type dishes cost slightly more. Throughout Thailand, you will also find all the usual fast food chains, but with all the amazing Thai food around, I wouldn’t recommend visiting.

Drinking In Thailand

Thailand is well known for its drinking and party culture. However, if you are not a big drinker, you can still enjoy all the sights this beautiful country offers. For those who do like to have a drink, this is where your budget could quickly be eaten up. 

Typical prices:

  • Large bottled beer costs around 50 Baht in a 7-11 to around 100 Baht in a bar.
  • Spirits cost around 100 – 400 Baht depending on the brand.
  • Buckets made for sharing cost anything from 150 to 500 Baht again, depending on the brand used.

Just be aware when drinking in Thailand, especially when drinking buckets. These drinks have been known to include drugs as well as fake alcohol. Men should be especially aware when drinking in “girlie” bars as some of these girls have been known to drug and rob Western men. Always be careful with any drink, and don’t share with strangers.

3 Week Thailand Itinerary

This three-week itinerary will give you a variety of Thai experiences, including enthralling cities, stunning beaches, and fascinating culture. Explore great cultural hubs like Bangkok and Chiang Mai, then unwind on one of Thailand’s world-famous beaches.

Day 1 – Bangkok (3 Nights)

Check in to your hostel or hotel, and depending on how long you’ve been travelling, take a nap or go out and explore. I recommend staying in the Khao San Road area for first-timers and budget travellers.

My favourite hostel in Bangkok is Nap Park, located a block away from Khao San Road. From just £8 a night for a dorm bed, this hostel has everything you need. It has extremely clean and comfortable dorm rooms with excellent shower facilities. Friendly staff and a communal area are great for meeting other travellers.

If a private room is more your thing, I recommend staying in the Dang Derm Hotel, situated right on Khao San Road. This hotel is slap-bang in the middle of the action, so don’t expect it to be quiet. However, you can easily escape the craziness outside while chilling at the fabulous rooftop pool. A night in this hotel is around £30 for a twin room with air conditioning. Excellent value if sharing with a friend or partner!

Day 2 – Bangkok Temples

Today, I recommend visiting Bangkok’s most famous temples, the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, home of the reclining Buddha.

The Grand Palace is a series of buildings and temples that have been the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782. The king no longer lives here, but it’s still used for state ceremonies. Inside, you will be in awe of the beauty of the place and the intricate detailing within the architecture. Try and visit early in the morning to avoid the crowds.

The entrance is 500 baht.

Scam alert: If any tuk-tuk drivers tell you the palace is closed and offer you alternative trips, ignore them! The Palace is open every day.

Wat Pho, the reclining Buddha, also known as the Golden Buddha, is only a short walk from The Grand Palace and is famed for its giant reclining Buddha, which measures 46 meters long. Entrance is 100 Baht.

Next, head over the river to Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, probably one of Bangkok’s most photographed temples. It has an imposing spire over 70 meters high, beautifully decorated with tiny pieces of coloured glass and Chinese porcelain placed delicately into intricate patterns. To get there, take the boat from Pier 8 directly across from Wat Pho for only 3 Baht. Entrance is 100 Baht.

Please remember to dress appropriately when visiting religious sites throughout Thailand. Shoulders and Knees should always be covered.

After visiting the temples, head back to the Khao San Road for lunch and maybe a few beers! In the evening, check out some of the local nightlife or one of the many night markets.

The Khao San Road is the place for cheap drinks and lively nights, but if you fancy something a little more special, grab a taxi to one of the many Sky bars. My favourite is Octave at the Marriott. Be sure to arrive around 4:30 p.m., ready to enjoy the 2-for-1 cocktail offers and watch a beautiful sunset over Bangkok.

Day 3 – Bangkok Tours

Depending on your interests, I would use this day to either take a tour, go shopping, or just wander around the city, taking in all the sights.

I recommend a trip to Ayutthaya Historical Park just a few hours from Bangkok. This historic city is a UNESCO world heritage site, founded in 1350. This is a fascinating trip and a must-see for those interested in Thai history and culture. For more information about visiting Ayutthaya Historical Park, check out my guide.

Day 4, 5 & 6 – Kanchanaburi (2 Nights)

Kanchanaburi is a few hours’ drive from Bangkok and a beautiful part of Thailand to explore. Spend a few days exploring the countryside or visiting some historic sights. To get to Kanchanaburi, you can get a minibus from many of the bus stations around Bangkok for around 200 Baht. You can also arrange transport from any tourist agent at your hotel or around the area, but expect to pay an extra 50 Baht if you use an agent.

One hotel I recommend in Kanchanaburi is the Sky Resort Kanchanaburi. For around £20 a night, you get lovely, clean, air-conditioned rooms and access to a refreshing swimming pool. Across the road, the hotel also owns a restaurant serving excellent Thai food with beautiful views across the River Kwai. 

Kanchanaburi is famous for ‘The Bridge over the River Kwai’ and ‘Hell Fire Pass’, as well as other monuments and museums dedicated to those who lost their lives during WW2. Other things to do include: 

  • Exploring the beautiful Erawan National Park
  • Taking a train ride along the ‘Death Railway’
  • Taking a boat ride along the River Kwai
  • Exploring many of the museums

On the evening of day 6, catch the overnight bus to Chiang Mai. If you have never taken an overnight bus before, you may be pleasantly surprised. These buses offer comfortable, almost fully reclining seats, a blanket, pillow, water, and a snack for around £15. For tickets, you need to visit the bus station in Kanchanaburi in person. I recommend buying them the day before.

Day 7, 8, 9 & 10 – Chiang Mai (3 Nights)

Surrounded by beautiful mountains and a relaxed vibe, Chiang Mai is everything Bangkok isn’t! Chiang Mai was once the capital of Thailand, which explains the sheer amount of temples and ruins dotted around the city. The old part is surrounded by its historic city walls and is known for its cafes, restaurants and sightseeing options.

I would recommend that you find accommodation within the walled city. However, these will be more expensive. I stayed inside the walls close to the main walking street in the Pai Residence Chiang Mai Gate. The rooms were small but adequate, with a small pool to cool off in. However, our air conditioning was broken for the duration of our stay, which meant uncomfortable nights. For only £20 a night, I wasn’t too aggrieved.

Things to do in Chiang Mai include:

  • Check out the fabulous markets. If possible, stay in the city over the weekend to visit the Sunday walking street market.
  • Check out the Chiang Mai Art and Cultural Center dedicated to preserving (and educating people about) the history and culture of Chiang Mai. 
  • If you want a Thai massage, I recommend visiting the Women’s Massage Center, which is run by ex-offenders. This centre trains ex-prisoners in Thai massage to help them gain work experience and reintegrate into society.
  • Explore the temples. Take a bicycle tour or go on foot and get lost in the city’s side streets. No matter which way you turn, you will find a temple!
  • Take a cookery class. Chiang Mai is famous for its Thai cuisine, and what better way to learn about it than by taking a cooking class?
  • Grab a coffee in one of the many coffee shops around the city, and you will be spoiled by choice!
  • You can explore the area further by taking a local tour. Viator offers value-for-money tours to many popular options in and around Chiang Mai.

Day 10 – 20 – Thailand Islands (10 Nights)

Once your time in Chiang Mai has come to an end, you have a few choices. You can either take a cheap flight to Krabi (around £40) and explore Thailand’s West coast or take a more expensive flight to Koh Samui (around £120) and explore Thailand’s East coast. You can take the train or the bus, but the journey will likely be long and tedious. To check out the different options, use 12GO.

With ten days to spare before returning to Bangkok for the flight home, I recommend sticking to 2 separate islands within the same area. Whatever island you choose, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to relax on beautiful beaches, hike, snorkel, go to fabulous restaurants, and enjoy excellent nightlife.

Here’s my round-up of islands to discover:

Thailand’s East coast

Koh Samui

One of Thailand’s more touristy islands, Koh Samui, has beautiful white sandy beaches, temples, cafes, restaurants, and great nightlife. 

However, as the island is more geared towards the luxury crowd, accommodation can be more expensive than on some of the other islands. Even so, you can still find plenty of budget options. My favourite is Cheeky Monkeys, where you can have a private double room, fabulous rooftop pool, and restaurant, all for only £30 a night.

Koh Phangan 

Koh Phangan is famous for its full moon parties. However, there is more to this island than partying. Around the island, there are plenty of hiking opportunities, beautiful waterfalls, and stunning beaches to relax. If partying is your thing, make sure you are around for the ‘Full Moon Party’. These parties are held on Haad Rin Beach and are known to attract between 5,000 and 30,000 people, depending on the season. 

There are plenty of low-cost budget accommodation options. If you want a cheap bungalow on a beautiful beach, check out Sarana Bungalows.

Koh Tao 

This island has to be one of my favourites in Thailand! Famous for its snorkelling and scuba diving, it is also a beach lovers’ paradise. 

For budget stays, you won’t find a better hotel than the Montalay Beach Resort. This hotel sits directly on one of Koh Tao’s most beautiful beaches, offering some of the best snorkelling right from the beach! 

The only downside is that the location is away from the main town, which means you are limited in places to eat, etc. However, the hotel can arrange taxis as well as free pick-up and drop-off from the pier. The secluded location also meant hardly any tourists, meaning the beach was almost empty, the perfect place to chill out and relax!

Thailand’s West coast


Krabi is the gateway to Ao Nang and Railay Beach. The area is famous for its natural beauty, with spectacular mountains, rainforests, and over 150 islands along its coast. 

Many people stay in Ao Nang and visit the nearby islands on a day trip. Access to the islands is straightforward with plenty of vendors available to take you across in traditional Thai long-tail boats. Boats. From Ao Nang to Railay Beach, it costs 60 baht and takes about 15 minutes.

There are plenty of budget options around Ao Nang. I recommend Chic n Chill Bed and Breakfast. Not only does it provide spacious, clean rooms, but it also gives you access to the 4-star hotel across the road, including breakfast and use of the fabulous pool, all for £22 a night.

Koh Phi Phi

This island is known for its party atmosphere and accessibility to the famous ‘Maya Bay’ featured in The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. I was initially going to give this island a miss, thinking it would be too touristy for my liking, but in the end, I decided to check it out. 

Accommodation in Koh Phi Phi is known to be a lot more expensive than in the rest of Thailand, and standards are far shorter. With this in mind, we increased our budget and checked in to the lovely Panmanee House. This hotel had no pool but offered lovely, clean, air-conditioned rooms in a central location for £40 a night. It was well worth the extra, considering some of the stories we heard about other cheaper establishments on the island.

Although Koh Phi Phi is extremely busy with tourists, I found it a fabulous island. Accommodation is more expensive, but the cafes and restaurants were just as cheap as in the rest of Thailand. Boat trips around the island and to Maya Bay were also surprisingly affordable. 

We took a long-tail boat trip around the island, stopping at various snorkelling stops and spending a few hours on Maya Bay. On the trip back, we were even offered the chance to see the glow-in-the-dark plankton, which was amazing, all at only 400 Baht (£9.30)

Koh Phi Phi is also known for its nightlife. Although I don’t consider myself a party animal, it didn’t take long for me to be pulled under the Phi Phi spell. Before I knew it, I was drinking buckets of cheap vodka, watching fire shows on the beach, and even waking up with a new tattoo! Be warned: the nightlife can be wild!

Koh Lanta

If you need to recover from the party island of Koh Phi Phi, then Koh Lanta is the perfect destination to relax and enjoy the beautiful white sandy beaches. 

We stayed at Lanta Sunny House in a lovely little bungalow just a 2-minute walk from the beach. There was also a very inviting pool to enjoy, all for only £15 a night. There is not a lot going on in Koh Lanta, but it’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy some of the best sunsets in Thailand!

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, my 3-week Thailand Itinerary. Of course, there are many other places to explore in Thailand. However, I believe this itinerary is best for first-time visitors, as it offers a good mixture of things to experience in this beautiful country. After one trip, you will be back in the ‘Land of Smiles’ again and again!

Thanks so much for stopping by; I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read and make it to the end! I have lots of exciting new content in the next few weeks, so make sure you pop back to catch up! 

Remember to follow our social media accounts for more travel inspiration and updates. 

Happy travels!

3 Week Thailand itinerary, a budget guide!
3 Week Thailand itinerary, a budget guide!

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