Friends and others often ask me where to go if they’re only going to be in Thailand a short time. My first response is usually, “Somewhere else!” because Thailand is such a beautiful country with so much to take in that only a long trip can really do it justice. But if you’re pressed for time, there are some ways to see a lot of the country by making sure you visit a few key spots. Just plan on coming back for longer next time, ok?
Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai
This is one of my favorite combinations of places to visit for people who are pressed for time in Thailand. Start your trip in Bangkok, where you’re likely to be arriving anyway. From there, be sure to lock in some time on the beach in Phuket (alternatively you can visit Ko Samui on the Gulf of Thailand). Both are easily reachable by airplane from Bangkok.
It may be hard to peel yourself away from the beach once you settle in, but to steep yourself in some of the rich cultural history, return by plane to Bangkok and then head north to Chiang Mai where you can visit numerous temples and learn quite a bit about the history and culture of the country. If time allows, be sure to take a Thai cooking class while you’re there. After you’re done, you can return to Bangkok to see the city for a short time before you must depart.