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How To Do Thailand in 9 Days

TravelShannon GuerreroComment
Thailand: 9-Day Itinerary

Yes, flying from the United States to Thailand for just a week, or from anywhere across the world from wherever you are, sounds just plain crazy or tiring, and maybe not even worth it to you.  The thing is when you only have a certain number of vacation days, you kind of have to suck it up and take what you can get.  Seriously, having a full-time job is tough when all you want to do is see the world.

I had 9 days of work off, so I knew I had to be really strategic about where I was going to go in Thailand.  I knew I wouldn’t get enough time, at all, in each location, but if that was all the time I was going to get, I’d take it.  I was thinking of it as my crash course and introduction to Thailand.  One day I’ll go back and be able to enjoy the destinations more.

I wanted to see the three main areas - Bangkok, the north and the beaches.  I didn’t get to go to Phuket this time around, which by the way every person I talk to says to avoid Phuket, I wasn't too upset about it.  I, also, heard the beach in the far south, compared to the Gulf of Thailand, are very similar.  

Here is my 9-day itinerary:

DAY 1: Travel day.
DAY 2: Tavel Day.
DAY 3: Fly from Bangkok to Koh Samui.  Overnight in Koh Samui.
DAY 4: Take the ferry to Koh Tao.  Explore Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan.  Overnight in Koh Tao.
DAY 5: Ferry to Koh Samui.  Fly to Chiang Mai.  Explore Chiang Mai. Overnight in Chiang Mai.
DAY 6: Explore Chiang Rai and Karen Long Neck.  Overnight in Chiang Mai.
DAY 7: Explore Chiang Mai.  Overnight in Chiang Mai.
DAY 8: Fly to Bangkok.  Explore Bangkok.  Overnight in Bangkok.
DAY 9: Explore Bangkok in the morning.  Fly home.
 

Thailand: 9-Day Itinerary

If you only have a week, don’t be discouraged!  Use my itinerary as proof that you can see a lot in a short amount of time.  You will definitely sacrifice some sleep and maybe your health (I got a cold after!), but it can be done.  I really did my research beforehand, though.  I think the key is to pick the most important sites to you ahead of time, so that you can have some sort of plan.  

It was a whirlwind of a trip, but surprisingly, having 7 days in Thailand (accounting for travel), felt like a long time.  In total, I took 7 planes in 9 days.  Yes, that sounds absurd, but so worth it.  

Yours Truly // Shannon 

For tips on what to do in each location, check out my other Thailand posts:

Backpacking Thailand: What to Pack

TravelShannon GuerreroComment

Backpacking in Thailand, is definitely an experience.  In fact, it was my first experience with the backpacker lifestyle.  I quickly discovered what I actually needed and what I didn’t.  Trying to travel efficiently and with the least amount of weight is the goal.

In preparation for my trip, I was a little overwhelmed with what I should and shouldn’t bring.  After all, you have to carry your things around everywhere.  I thought I did pretty well - I wore literally everything once, maybe more and used most everything I brought along.

There were definitely some must-have items i found were lifesavers.  I actually felt like my packing and preparation kept me super prepared for all of my travel needs.

MUST PACK LIST

 

  1. Lock - This is a must have. You’re going to want to safely secure your items in the lockers at hostels. No one wants to come back to missing items. Take a light one, though - don’t get caught with extra weight.

  2. Foldable Day Pack - This came in super handy when i needed to carry around more items during the day that wouldn’t fit in my cross body bag. It folds down super small to pack easily in your backpack.

  3. Microfiber Towel - Especially when backpacking, you don’t want to lug around a large towel or worse be caught at your hostel using their “we’re not sure how clean these are” towels. This kind dries super fast and packs really small.

  4. Extra Cash - If you don’t want to worry about your credit/debit cards abroad, bring extra cash. It is way easier to quickly exchange to Thai Baht and a good number of places I went to didn’t accept cards.

  5. Downey Wrinkle Release -Guaranteed, you’re clothes will be wrinkled from being squished in your backpack. This stuff works miracles.

  6. Scarf/Sarong - Girls, if you don’t have one, pick one up when you get there. They are super cheap. I carried one around daily and it came in so handy for those times you need to cover up your knees or shoulders in the temples or even as a blanket in those overly-blasted ac areas.

  7. Packing Cubes - As an super organized person, packing a backpack with all of my things made me a little anxious. These cubes kept everything so organized, allowed me to consolidate and made it extremely easy to find what I was looking for. No more digging around blindly inside your backpack.

  8. Bug Spray - In Thailand, no one is immune. Bring bug spray with deet. You still may get bit but it’s way better than going without it.

 

There were also items I brought along that turned out to be added weight.  These are the things you don’t need to bring:

  • Electrical Adapters: Literally everywhere I stayed and went had universal sockets, including the airplanes I traveled on.

  • Mini Surge Protector: I always carry a mini surge protector with me so that I only have to use one adapter and then I am able to charge all of my electronics at once. Not necessary and just added weight.

  • Jeans: Especially if you're going during the hot seasons, jeans are bulky and take up a ton of space.

  • Bulky jackets: Like jeans, you may not even end up needing to wear it.

  • Reusable Water Bottle: You’ll just end up purchasing water bottles, so this just takes up valuable space.

I’m so glad I was able to try out backpacking.  Not sure its the type of travel I prefer, but it was an amazing experience none-the-less. Maybe I’d take a rolling suitcase next time because a heavy backpack makes you way more exhausted, especially if you take unnecessary heavy items.

Yours Truly // Shannon

5 Day Trips from Chiang Mai

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5 Day Trips from Chiang Mai, Thailand - Shannon Did What?Five Day Trips from Chiang Mai, Thailand | Shannon Did What?

Northern Thailand is really a beautiful area.  I think I've said before - it definitely differs from the southern areas of Thailand.  The main hub in the north is Chiang Mai.  While there are ton of things to see and do in the Chiang Mai (see my post about what to do) area, there are also a bunch of awesome places just short distances from there that you could plan a day trip to visit.  I've compiled 5 of the best day trips below!

1. CHIANG RAI

One of the most iconic images that comes out of Thailand is that of the White Temple, located in Chiang Rai.  Called Wat Rong Khun, the White Temple got its name from the stunning white color with inlaid mirrored glass.  This was one of the sites I was most excited to see during my trip, but be warned if you arrive during prime visiting hours, you will be there with a very large crowd.  I did feel slightly like an animal in a zoo the way they were shuffling us through.  I would suggest visiting first thing before the crowds arrive because the White Temple really is beautiful and worth visiting but it would definitely have been more enjoyable with less tourists around.

Chiang Rai is located about 3 hours north of Chiang Mai.  I would suggest taking a tour to be able to visit this site.  We did this tour operated by Travel Hub.  However, it was a long exhausting day.

2. ELEPHANT NATURE PARK

I’m putting this as a day trip from Chiang Mai instead of a stop on my can’t miss list because I think it’s necessary to spend the entire day here, if you can!  But, this is definitely a can’t miss!  

It’s really important to be aware of the type of place you visit when considering an animal visit.  There are a ton of places that mistreat the animals they house.  Elephant Nature Park is one of the only reputable sanctuaries in Thailand when it comes to their treatment of their elephants.  I know there are a few other sanctuary’s but this one is one of the most well-known.

I go into much more detail about my visit to the Elephant Nature Park, here.  I was able to book the full day visit, versus the short day, allowing me to spend the entire day amongst the elephants.  We got to feed, walk and bathe with them!

3. KAREN LONG NECK VILLAGE

I think we’ve all seen the iconic and beautiful images of the Karen Long Neck women who wear stacks of gold, brass necklaces around their necks.  A visit to their village is amazing to see their vibrant culture in person.  While many have asked if visiting these villages is too touristy, I say it’s only as touristy as you make it.  If you shoot pictures of these women from a distance and not have the chance to interact with them, it could feel like an exhibit.

I would say the majority of women here were happy to be meeting us and selling us their beautiful goods.  I’m happy I was able to visit and meet so many of these women.  I go into more detail about my trip, here.

4. PAI

Every time I talk to friends about northern Thailand, the town of Pai comes up as a "must visit" town.  It's known for how gorgeous the land is and the calm and relaxing vibe there.  One of the best things I was told to do was to rent a scooter to not only get around easier but to also really experience the beautiful landscape.  Pai Canyon is a great spot to catch the sunrise or sunset.  I will definitely be making a day trip, if not staying longer, to Pai the next time that I am in northern Thailand.

5. GOLDEN TRIANGLE

The Golden Triangle, where Thailand, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) and Laos meet.  It is one of the furthest places that you can travel north in Thailand.  It is a bit of a drive, almost 5 hours away, going all the way north of Chiang Mai.  In the past, this area was actually one of the largest opium-producing areas.  Aside from that, though, its rare that you can view 3 countries in one sight.  The 3 countries are divided by the Ruak and Mekong rivers. You can take a boat ride around the river, and even spend some time in Laos.

Fun fact: Did you know Laos is pronounced with a silent 's'? It's like you're about to say loud without the 'd' sound.

Mini trips are always the best! I'm so glad I was able to see these places while I was in Thailand.  Just hoping to get to Pai one day!

Yours Truly // Shannon