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How to Plan Your First Trip to Thailand — 7 Easy Steps

By CindyUpdated Apr. 19, 2024

Thailand, the land of smiles, No. 1 for travel in Southeast Asia, is rich in culture and history, and filled with golden temples, radiant beaches, cuisine that is adored around the world, and friendly smiling people.

If you're looking for a way to rekindle your spark or to enjoy quality time with your kids, it's time to book a trip to the best vacation spots for couples or families in Thailand.

Don't know where to start? Read on for your handy guide to planning a trip to Thailand.

1. Choose Where to Go

Thailand can be divided into three main regions for travelers:

  • Northern Thailand for nature, elephants, and local villages;
  • the Central Plains for Bangkok and city getaways, and
  • Southern Thailand for great beaches.

With our knowledge of Thailand and feedback from our customers, we suggest you visit Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and one or two southern beaches for your first trip, extending it to Chiang Rai and/or a national park if you have the time.

best places to visit for thailand trip

1) Bangkok — A Blend of Modernity and Tradition

the grand palace in Bangkok the Grand Palace in Bangkok

Bangkok is Thailand's capital and top gateway city. It is a city that offers a unique blend of modernity and tradition, making it a perfect destination for a family or couple's trip.

For those interested in learning more about Thailand's splendid architecture and temples, the Grand Palace, Wat Arun, and Wat Pho are must-see attractions.

Whether traveling as a family or a couple, a foodie tour to discover the sophisticated flavors of Bangkok's old district in Chinatown among other local cuisine will create a deliciously memorable experience.

Your trip would not be complete without a cruise along Bangkok's ancient canals and a visit to a floating market, which would give you an insight into a bygone way of life.

For a special experience and some private time, you could spend a night in a floating house at Kanchanaburi.

Get more ideas on planning a family trip to Thailand.

Discover real reviews of Highlights Travel Family's best-rated service across trusted platforms.

2) Chiang Mai — Have a Close Encounter with Elephants

Chiang Mai, known as the 'Rose of the North', is a wonderful destination for a family or couple's trip, offering culture, history, relaxation, and excitement as well.

You could start your trip with a visit to the famous Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple, which offers breathtaking views of the city and its surroundings. Then explore the Old City and its many street markets, such as the Night Bazaar.

Seeing elephants usually tops the list of things to do in Chiang Mai, whether with kids or your partner. Our half-day elephant tour allows you to feed the elephants, walk with them, and play with them in the mud of a bathing pool.

If you visit in November, don't miss Chiang Mai's Yi Peng Lantern Festival, which is a romantic event that many couples dream of.

3) The Thai Islands: Phuket or Samui?

Your Thailand trip would not be complete without visiting at least one or two of its beautiful islands. The only question is which island should you choose from so many islands on both the west and east coasts of Thailand.

Phuket, along with Krabi and Koh Phi Phi, on the Andaman Sea (west coast) is loved by families for its various exciting activities and family-friendly hotel options.

While Ko Samui, along with Ko Pha-Ngan and Ko Tao, on the east coast is very popular with couples, due to their being home to luxury resorts and a quieter vibe.

If you are traveling in your summer vacation, Ko Samui is recommended for its sunny and dry weather, while Phuket is in its rainy season.

Can't make a decision yet? Suggested read: Phuket vs Koh Samui.

4) A National Park: Enjoy Jungle Hikes and Encounter Wildlife

Kao Yai National Park Kao Yai National Park

To enrich your stay in Thailand, you should consider including a national park in your trip, such as Kao Yai or Khao Sok.

Located north of Phuket, Khao Sok National Park is home to some of the planet's oldest rainforests, with guided activities including jungle hikes and boat tours on scenic Cheow Lan Lake. Spending a night in a "tree house" (treetop lodge) could be an experience full of lifetime memories for your kids. For couples, there's the special and romantic experience of staying in a luxury tent surrounded by rainforest.

North of Bangkok, Khao Yai National Park makes an amazing day out. 

If you're planning a trip to Southeast Asia, get some inspiration from our article: 2-Week Southeast Asia Itineraries for Couples, Families, and More.

2. Decide How Many Days to Stay

a classic Thailand itinerary a classic Thailand itinerary

We suggest you take at least a week for your first trip to see a spectrum of the highlights in the top three cities.

If you are lucky enough to have more time to tour Thailand, say 3, 4, or even 8 weeks then you have a lot more options! See our page the Ultimate Thailand Travel Itinerary Guide From 5 Days to 1 Month for more inspiration.

For 2–3 weeks, you can consider visiting Thailand with one or two other countries. Vietnam and Cambodia are 2 of the most popular choices. See the sample itineraries for inspiration:

Or you can check the sample itineraries of Thailand for 21 days >>>

You might want to contact a travel specialist to have your requirements, including the length of your holiday, designed into a fulfilling tour uniquely planned for you.

Extended reading: How Long to Spend in Southeast Asia (for First Timers)

3. Consider When to Travel to Thailand

best time to visit thailand

In general, the best time to visit most of Thailand is during the dry season between November and March, when the temperatures are pleasant and there is very little rainfall.

According to our experience, if your travel dates are totally flexible, the ideal times are late October and early April, when the weather is still good and the crowds are fewer.

Christmas and New Year holidays are the busiest times. Hotels in popular cities/islands such as Bangkok and Phuket, and flights between popular destinations such as Chiang Mai - Phuket are likely to be sold out in advance. Be sure to plan ahead and make reservations at least 6 months in advance for better deals. Let us know your interests and requirements, and we'll take care of everything.

If you travel between August and September for the Phuket area or between October and December for the Koh Samui area, be prepared for showers. Fewer crowds and cheaper prices are its benefits. You can get more detailed tips on Best Times to Travel to Thailand.

Vietnam and Cambodia have similar climates to Thailand's. You may want to visit these three destinations in one trip. Check How to Plan a 3-Week Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam Tour

4. Consider Your Budget for a Thailand Trip

thailand tuk tuk

In general, Thailand is surprisingly affordable, and therefore it is particularly popular to visit. Airfares for your international flights are the largest upfront cost. On arrival in Thailand, your costs will vary greatly depending on the kind of traveler you want to be.

Thailand is a country that covers all budgets! From economy-class hotels to top-class resorts, street food to gourmet dinners for hundreds, and free beaches to expensive tours, Thailand has it all!

A private tour is an affordable luxury in Thailand! Private service is value for money there. Here are the prices for a private tour based on a group of 2 people during the peak season, for your reference:

  • On a medium budget, touring Thailand typically costs around US$150–200 per day per person (including 4-star hotels, airfares within Thailand, attractions, guides, and transfers).
  • For a higher budget of US$200–250 per day per person, more comfort can be enjoyed (including 5-star hotels, airfares within Thailand, attractions, guides, and transfers).
  • For a family trip (2 adults plus 2–3 children) for 2 weeks in Thailand or in Southeast Asia, it normally costs US$10,000–15,000 per family excluding international flights from/to America or Europe.

Learn more about how much money you need when visiting Thailand. Check out some private Thailand tours and private Southeast tours to get a general idea of the cost.

5. Consider Traveling Independently or Taking a Guided Tour

While Thailand is easy enough to travel to independently for backpackers, it is at the same time very time-consuming (if not troublesome) to choose the most suitable hotels and arrange all the best activities for you, while seeking value for money and great service.

A private guided tour is a great way to maximize your time, eliminating any frustrating time spent on planning and traveling and ensuring a smoother, stress-free, and more enjoyable journey.

Work with our travel consultant to create an itinerary that fits your schedule and focuses on the places and experiences that matter most to you. Our consultants can not only help you sift through thousands of hotel and restaurant options to find the right one for you, whether it's for couples or families but also quickly provide alternative solutions in case of any changes.

Contact us to enjoy a quality service.

Discover real reviews of Highlights Travel Family's best-rated service across trusted platforms.

6. Check Out Thailand's Visa Policy

Nationals of many countries are exempt from needing a tourist visa to enter the Kingdom of Thailand, including the United States, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Most travelers can stay in Thailand without a visa for 30 days. We have more information on Thailand visas and visa requirements for other Asian countries.

7. Getting to and Around Thailand

Getting to Thailand

Flying from North America to Thailand usually involves a connecting flight. Popular transfer cities include Seoul (South Korea), Tokyo (Japan), Hong Kong, Taipei, and Dubai (United Arab Emirates).

Direct flights operate between Bangkok and the main cities in Europe and Oceania.

We are confident that our private tours are the most convenient option for your trip to Thailand. We can make an itinerary according to your flight times and arrange trouble-free private transport.

Connecting to Other SE Asian Countries

Bangkok is the top gateway city for travel to Southeast Asian countries. From there you will find frequent flights to other major cities in Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos. This makes Thailand not only a popular destination stop but also a gateway to its neighboring SE Asian countries.

Booking a private tour with us, we will arrange your transportation within Southeast Asia. Our travel consultant will search the flight schedules, arrange the best connections, and book the air tickets.

You're in Good Hands with Asia Highlights

go with asiahighlights

At Asia Highlights, we have created over 10,000+ big trips for insightful travelers, mostly for families and couples. We truly understand that every single big trip planned for our clients is not just for good holiday memories but also for joyful celebrations of life's milestones.

Read comments from our clients on TrustPilot, for example:

Daniel Ponce:

  • "Everything went better that we'd expected! Our guides were local people who knew about the city, the people, and how to solve problems. They were really punctual and had the best attitude!

Rosangela Campos:

  • "Traveling with Asia Highlights is a guaranteed wonderful experience in Asia! I highly recommend them!"

Get a wonderful Thailand vacation by sending us a message. Or check out our sample itineraries for inspiration:

Further Reading

Why Asia Highlights (10,000+ reviews & 98.8% 5-star rating)

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Get Inspired with Some Popular Itineraries

At Asia Highlights, we create your kind of journey — your dates, your destinations, at your pace. You can have any trip tailor made for your travel.

More Travel Ideas and Inspiration

Start planning your tailor-made tour with 1-1 help from our travel advisors. Create My Trip
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