We spent two glorious weeks in Thailand in late October and early November. We’ve written a Thailand Travel Guide with more detailed info on our impressions and what we recommend experiencing. This skeleton itinerary below will help you understand how to get from point A to point B and summarizes what you can do if you plan a Bangkok to Chiang Mai Thailand trip.
- 3 days in Bangkok
- 1 day in Ayuttaya
- 1 day in Lopburi
- 1 day traveling to Sukhothai
- 1 day in Sukhothai
- 1 day traveling to Chiang Mai
- 4 days in Chiang Mai
Day 1: Bangkok – City Malls and Food Courts
- Ease into the city by checking out Bangkok’s mega malls. These malls are known for being huge complexes housing much more than shops (e.g. movie theaters, aquariums, etc…). They are also known for their food courts. We really liked the food island at MBK.
- We stayed at Lub D near Siam Square (budget accommodation, clean, communal bathrooms).
Day 2: Bangkok – Temple (Wat) Hopping
- Ride the commuter Khlong Saen Saep boat to the Panfa Leelard Pier, located close to the Golden Mount (if you’re staying around Siam Square). One-way ride: 15 THB.
- Visit the Golden Mount (Wat Saket)
- Eat lunch at Nang Loeng Market (easy walk from Wat Saket)
- Explore around Khao San Road and Rambuttri Road. We ate at Aesah Rosdee (178 Tani Rd, Bangkok).
- Head to Phra Arthit Pier and take the Chao Phraya Express Boat (orange flag) to Wat Arun.
- Explore Wat Arun. Entrance: 50 THB. (As of Oct. 2017, you can’t walk all the way to the top)
- Take a ferry across the river and walk to Wat Pho.
- Explore Wat Po (also spelled Wat Pho), marvel at the Reclining Buddha, and get a massage at the Wat Po Thai Traditional Medical and Massage School (located on the temple grounds).
- Get dinner at Thip Samai Restaurant on Maha Chai Road. They’re known for having the best pad thai in Bangkok. We walked to the restaurant, because we were so caught up in watching a memorial procession and the various flower markets on Chakphet Road. But, if your feet are sore, grab a taxi.
Day 3: Bangkok – Floating Market and China Town
- Visit Taling Chan Floating Market.
- Ride a longtail boat from the market to China Town.
- Explore China Town. Eat street food.
Day 4: Ayutthaya
- Getting here: From Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong train station, take the train to Ayutthaya. The ride is 1 hr 20 min.
- Head north to the ancient city of Ayutthaya to visit temple ruins. Ayutthaya is located on an island, but there are also a collection of sights to see off the island.
- Take a ferry across the river to the island.
- Rent a bike.
- Eat lunch at Bann Kun Pra, a riverside restaurant that specializes in seafood.
- Explore the various ruins. Entry typically costs 50 THB for foreigners.
- Eat dinner at the Bang Ian Night Market.
- Stay the night at Baan Are Gong, directly on the river and next to the ferry.
Day 5: Lopburi
- Getting here: From Ayuthaya, take the train to Lopburi.
- Explore Monkey city by visiting Phra Prang Sam Yot and other temple ruins.
- Stay the Night in Noom Guesthouse. They also serve delicious food and smoothies.
Day 6: Travel Day to Sukhothai
- It will take almost a full-day to get from Lopburi to Sukhothai, so we recommend leaving no-later than mid-morning. There is no direct train between the two cities. Here’s how you get to Sukhothai, step by step:
- Step #1: Take the train from Lopburi to Phitsanulok. A rapid train takes 4.5 hours.
- Step #2: Take a tuk tuk from the Phitsanulok railway station to the Phitsanulok minivan and bus terminal Don’t overthink this step, because there will be tuk tuks ready to take you and they know where you’re headed. We paid 60 THB for the ride.
- Step #3: Take a minivan/bus from Phitsanulok to Sukhothai. The ticket costs 50 THB per person.
- Step #5: Arrive in the Sukhothai Bus Terminal (closer to New Sukhothai).
- Step #6: There will be songthaew(s) (modified truck with bench seating) ready to take you to your accommodation. You will need to negotiate the price before jumping in the back seat. We recommend contacting your host beforehand to see what the price should be. Our host informed us that we shouldn’t pay more than 150 THB to get from the bus terminal to the guesthouse (we were staying somewhere between the terminal and the Historical Park). The driver stated a price of 300 THB, before we negotiated the price down.
- We stayed at Baan Mae Yai. It’s not centrally located, but you can reach the historical park in 15-20 min with a bike. Our host gave us bikes for the day, free of charge. She was extremely welcoming and kind. She made us breakfast each morning and gave us snacks for the road.
Day 7: Sukhothai
- Rent a bike and explore the various ruins.
- The ruins are divided into three zones. The North (containing Wat si Chum, Wat Phra Phai Luang, and others), The West (containing Wat Saphan Hin and others), and the Center (Wat Mahathat, Wat Si Sawat, Wat Sa Si, Wat Tra Phang Ngoen). You will need to purchase a ticket for each zone that you want to visit. The price is 100 THB per zone.
Day 8: Travel Day to Chiang Mai
- Take a Wintour bus to Chiang Mai. The bus ticket costs 207 THB per person. It takes 5.5 hours to reach Chiang Mai. The bus make two very short stops for passengers to use the restroom and buy snacks.
- Arrive in Chiang Mai bus terminal.
- Take a metered cab to your accommodation.
- We stayed in an AirBnB close to the University in the Lang Nor neighborhood (we highly recommend that area). If you don’t have an AirBnB account, use this link to get a discount on your first booking.
Day 9: Chiang Mai
- Breakfast at BannKhum Cafe (if you’re staying in the Lang Mor neighborhood – behind Chiang Mai University)
- Grab a coffee at FIND COFFEE (257/22 Suthep Rd., T.Suthep, Chiang Mai, Thailand 50200)
- Visit Wat Suan Dok. If you’re hungry, or need a refreshing smoothie, go to Pun Pun Organic Vegetarian Restaurant, which is located on the temple grounds.
- Check out Wat Srisuphan (the Silver Temple). It’s gorgeous and unique. Unfortunately, women are not allowed to go inside the temple. We’re still trying to understand why.
- Explore the Old City.
Day 10: Chiang Mai
- Hike the Monk’s Trail to the jungle temple: Wat Pha Lat (also spelled Wat Palat). Continue the hike to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. You’ll find more info about this hike is on our Thailand Travel Guide.
Day 11: Chiang Mai
- Check out Wat Umong (the underground temple). There’s also a small lake near the temple that is full of turtles, fish, and pigeons.
- Get a Thai massage at an open-air massage pavilion (across the street from the temple entrance). A one hour full-body massage costs 140 THB. The exact GPS location is 18.783928, 98.953606.
- Eat lunch at a local Thai restaurant on Soi 4 (walking distance from the temple). Look for a sign that says “Signature Local Food.” GPS: 18.788849, 98.954903.
- Explore the Lang Mor (behind Chiang Mai University) Neighborhood.
- We really liked hanging out at Sode Cafe. It’s an open-air café with lots of plants and seating arrangements. There also several permanent food vendors/kitchens offering plates of pork shoulder, fried rice, and dumplings.
- Across the street, there’s a night market that mostly serves a student crowd. We ate here three times and loved everything we tried.
- In the neighborhood, there’s also a hidden gemthat serves a huge range of delicious vegan food, called Bee Vegan (1/19 Moo 8, Suthep, Chiang Mai, Thailand, 50200).
Day 12: Chiang Mai
- Join a Monk’s Chat. Several temples offer free chats with Monks as a way to encourage intercultural dialogue and to help Monks practice their English. When we sat down with several Monks (who were actually from Vietnam), they told us what motivated them to become monks. Some are motivated by getting an education, others by helping their deceased family and friends ascend to heaven.
- Attend a cooking class – this is something we’d like to do, when we come back to Chiang Mai.
Continue Reading about Southeast Asia:
- Thailand Travel Guide
- Bangkok Travel Guide
- First Time in Thailand: A collection of impressions
- Offbeat Island Hopping in the Andaman Sea
- Vietnam Travel Guide
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