Photo: Wat Mahathat, Sukhothai.

Two weeks in northern Thailand

You could spend six months in northern Thailand and not experience all it has to offer, but even with just two weeks you can still have a great experience.

Itinerary map


One of the advantages of the north is that there are so many places to go that it's pretty easy to get away from the tourist hot-spots and see something a little more off the beaten track.

The north of Thailand is particularly popular for its hilltribe trekking. Trekking can be organised from all the main tourist centres in the north. Be sure to read our advice on picking the right hilltribe trek for you.

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Pay attention to the weather! There's few things as miserable as two weeks awash in jungle floods. More climate information can be found here: Travelfish interactive weather map.

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Suggest trip length

The suggested minimum time for a trip like this is two weeks, though three to four weeks is far more comfortable.

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Sample plan

1) Bangkok -> Ayutthaya (historic centre, ruins)
2) Ayutthaya -> Lopburi (ruins, monkeys) 3) Lopburi -> Phitsanulok (flying vegetables, temples)
4) Phitsanulok -> Sukhothai (historic centre, ruins)
5) Sukhothai -> Chiang Mai (northern capital, temples, trekking)
6) Chiang Mai -> Chiang Dao (nature, trekking)
7) Chiang Dao -> Tha Ton -> Chiang Rai (trekking, temples)
8) Chiang Rai -> Lampang (temples, elephant centre)
9) Lampang -> Bangkok

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Save some time

One day: return flight from Chiang Mai to Bangkok
One day: if you leave Ayutthaya on the morning train, you can jump off at Lopburi, see the temples and monkeys then hop back on an afternoon train onto Phitsanulok
Two days: Skip Sukhothai and Phitsanulok
Three days: Skip Ayutthaya, Lopburi, Phitsanulok and Sukhothai

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Take a side trip

Two days: From Chiang Rai strike northwest to the unique town of Mae Salong.
Two days: From Chiang Rai head north to the riverside town of Chiang Saen and then onto Chiang Khong.
Three days: Backtrack from Chiang Dao to visit Soppong.

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Combine trip plans

If you want to work some island time into your holiday, the Thailand: Northern Explorer can easily be combined with Thailand: One week holiday for a bit of sun and sea at the beginning of end of your trip.

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Sample Trip Times (in hours)

To help you work out how you'll get around, we've listed the trip durations for the various forms of transport available. Note that with the exception of flight times, these are average trip times, so no hate mail if you take the slow train.

THAILAND: Northern explorer - two weeks in northern Thailand
Bangkok Ayutthaya - 1:30 1:45 -
Ayutthaya Lopburi - 1:30 1:30 -
Lopburi Phitsanulok - 3:00 2:30 -
Phitsanulok Sukhothai - 1:00 - -
Sukhothai Chiang Mai - 4:00 - -
Chiang Mai Chiang Dao - 1:00 - -
Chiang Dao Chiang Rai (via Tha Ton inc. boat) - 6:00 - -
Chiang Rai Lampang - 3:30 - -
Lampang Bangkok - 9:00 11:00 -
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More itineraries

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The region

This is where itinerary planning really becomes fun. Be sure to check up on our visa, border crossing and visa sections to make sure you're not trying to do the impossible. Also, remember you're planning a holiday -- not a military expedition.