WHERE
Itinerary map here

Itinerary:
Thailand from Top to Bottom

4 nights: Chiang Mai for exploring temples, culture, markets, and good eats.
3 nights: Pai for relaxing in the mountains and playing in nature.
3 nights: Ao Nang for beach bumming and partying.
4 nights: Railay for island hopping, rock climbing, and more beaches.



" This is the ultimate itinerary for those who can’t choose between north or south of Thailand. In only two weeks you will get a whirlwind ride through both gorgeous regions of this magnificent country. Are you ready? "


Some general information:

These are best destinations to get a bit of a taste for both the north and the south. I purposely didn’t cram too much in so you can actually enjoy yourself and not spend your holiday on a plane, train, or bus.

1

Chiang Mai

4 nights

Introduction:

Chiang Mai is a quintessential stopover if anyone wants a huge dose of culture and some of the best food you’ll have during your trip.

What to do:

There’s a lot to do here, it depends on you and what you want. Your days could be spent wandering around the hundreds (literally) of temples that are strewn about the city. The Old City is where you will find most of them, but a trip up to the nearby mountain holds on of the most revered temples. Doi Suthep sits majestically on a mountain adorned with gold and Buddha figures, and provides its visitors with spectacular views of the city. Ride around the mountains to find a village for few more viewpoints.

Wandering around the markets is an absolute must. Ask your guesthouse if there is a market happening for the night. The weekends bring more choices, but the Night Bazaar is open every night. Get your baht ready! There’s tons of cool stuff, and the food choices are out of this world. The weekend markets, in my opinion, brings more authentic handmade goods.

If you’re over Chiang Mai after two days, a possible day trip is to Chiang Rai could be a good choice. You can leave and be back in Chiang Mai by the time night falls. Chiang Rai is home to the famous Wat Rong Khun which is a magical all white temple that glistens in the sun. The day trip usually includes a visit to the Golden Triangle as well which is where Myanmar, Thailand and Laos are separated by the mighty Mekong River. Please book with a tour agency as you would be very hard pressed to do this in one day on your own.

Eat & drink:

Khao Soi! Don’t leave the north without eating this amazing curry dish. Curry, coconut milk, noodles, veggies or meat, in a spicy broth that’s garnished with pickled veggies, raw onion, and, my favorite, crunchy noodles! With all this texture and taste, it’s seriously a party in your mouth.

Next:

Next stop is Pai! You deserve a relaxing break. Before you do, it’s time to take the wild three-hour minibus ride there. Over 700 turns through mountain roads are in your future. Get the Dramamine ready if you get car sick. Head over to Arcade bus station in Chiang Mai and get on a minibus to Pai. It cost 150B and you will get dropped off at the bus stop which is conveniently located in the town center.

2

Pai

4 nights

Introduction:

That windy three hour ride is sure to drain any traveler, luckily you’re in Pai, where being lazy and chilling out is the name of the game. If you want to explore or play, there’s waterfalls, a canyon, a curious land split, heaps of nature, and plenty of time to hang out at a local bar with some live music.

What to do:

Let’s have an adventure! There are plenty of things to do, don’t feel bad if the vibes tell you to just chill.

TIP: Grab a “PEP.” This is a white paper brochure that can be found at most cafes and maybe even your guest house. This is a monthly brochure that goes around Pai for the visitors and long-term residences to know what’s going on around the town. It’s invaluable and also have two maps. Definitely get your hands on one of these, it’s free!

OK, so now that you have your PEP, go out there and do something! What’s on the list? Well, you could get wet at one of the waterfalls, like Mor Paeng, Pombok, or Mae Yen. Pai Canyon is certainly a must. You will carefully traverse the summit of a canyon to test your skills at handling heights and also take in the good views.

Mae Yen Temple should also be on your list. Catching the sunset here is a popular experience, be ready to climb lots of stairs! If you have a motorbike, you can avoid most of the steps.

The Chinese Village has some green tea to offer you, as well as some nice views of the city. Want to try your hand at a circus skill? The Pai Circus School is one of the most popular hostels in town and during high season they offer circus lessons. Poi, hoops, contact staff and other fun toys come out to play. They also have a pool, thankfully. It’s hot!

Fluid is the community pool in the area complete with bar and restaurant, so you can splash around all day and never leave. They have a very small gym here (don’t laugh when you see it), should you want to get a quick workout in.

The hot springs are amazing during high season because Pai cools down at night during this time, a nice dip in a natural hot spring is well deserved.

There’s plenty more, like I mentioned, this is a pretty chill town, don’t feel guilty curling up with a good book and a chai at Art in Chai, just enjoy the hammock life outside your hostel.

Eat & drink:

Earth Tone is a personal favorite, she has some serious fresh food and other health products. Art in Chai for a chai tea, and the night market for some quick and cheap food.

Next:

Hurry! Head back to Chiang Mai! You have a flight to catch. It’s time to beach bum.
A flight to Krabi is necessary, if you take the train or bus, you’re looking at wasting about two days in transit. Look up flights with AirAsia, they are usually the cheapest. From Krabi Airport, you can take a local shuttle bus for 50B or a taxi for around 600B to get to Ao Nang town.

3

Ao Nang

3 nights

Introduction:

I hope you had a nice quick flight over from Chiang Mai. It’s time to throw on a swimsuit and get those toes in the sand. Let’s end this fabulous holiday with some amazing memories by the beach.

What to do:

Ao Nang is the tourist hub for Krabi. It’s on the beach and the tourist amenities are plentiful. You can choose how you want to spend your day, it will likely involve lots of beers on the beach and getting a massage for less than $10.

If you’re in the mood to get away from the beach for just a bit, a trip to the Emerald Pool or Phanom Bencha National Park are certainly worth it. The national park has great hiking trails and a few waterfalls, Huay Toh being the nicest. Tiger Cave Temple will be a nice workout. It’s over 1,000 steps to the top, but when you see that view, you’ll forget that you’re melting. (Don’t expect a real tiger here!)

Ready to party? You’re at the right place. There is a complex of bars at Center Point and few others strewn around the area.

Next:

You won’t have to go too far, just hop over to the boat ticket booth right at the corner of the main “beach road” and at the main entrance to the beach. They have boats on the regular to your next amazing destination, Railay. For 100B and about 25 minutes of your time, you're going to end up on a idyllic slice of beach.

Conclusion

The north and south both offer so much more, but when you have about two weeks for your holiday, this is an ideal route to take. I hope you will enjoy your two-week stint in the incredible country of Thailand. If Bangkok is your stepping stone getting in and out of Thailand, spend a few days there too to experience the cosmopolitan side of this smiley country!