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If you’re ready to head to Thailand for beaches, sunny days, parties, islands, snorkeling and all of the other incredible island activities, explore this 3-week southern Thailand itinerary to help you plan your trip. Featuring popular destinations, like Koh Phi Phi and Koh Phangan, as well as more quiet islands, like Koh Lanta, you can experience the best of what the south of Thailand has to offer.

If you’ve been planning a three-week backpacking trip through the south of Thailand, but aren’t sure where to go or how long to spend in each place, this is the itinerary for you!

With lots of island hopping, exploring cool destinations, visiting vibrant cities (hello, Bangkok!), and visiting little-known Thai islands that’ll blow you away, this 3-week south Thailand itinerary ticks all of the boxes.

Check it out below and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me!

Psst, before you embark on your trip, don’t miss out on reading my 4-part guide on everything you need to know before visiting Southeast Asia!

Three-Week Thailand Island Hopping Itinerary

A few notes before we jump into this 3-week south Thailand itinerary! These will help you better understand my guide and how to plan the best trip possible.

Note 1: In this itinerary, you’ll find that I say “X nights” instead of say “X days” because I think this makes it easier in understanding how long I recommend you should actually be in a destination. Sometimes, I find that using the term “days” can be confusing, as it doesn’t really stipulate when you should depart said destination.

Note 2: You’ll find that every itinerary starts and ends in Bangkok, as this is the most common city to fly in and out of in Thailand. However, if you’re flying in and out of a different destination, such as Krabi or Koh Samui, adjust the itinerary as needed!

Note 3: This Thailand island-hopping itinerary is flexible! Don’t think you have to visit each and every destination on the list. Mix and match based on your personal preference.

Note 4: With the note above on flexibility, I recommend keeping your schedule open! When I’m backpacking Thailand, I like to book only one or two nights in advance, just in case I really like a place and want to stay an extra day or two, or I totally dislike somewhere and want to leave early. You should do the same!

With that said… let’s get into it!

Featuring an amazing selection of some of the best islands in Thailand, this itinerary is for all my sun-soaking, island life-lovers, beach-bumming backpackers.

You’ll find the following destinations on this 3-week south Thailand itinerary:

  • Bangkok (1 night)
  • Krabi/Ao Nang (3 nights)
  • Railay Beach (2 nights)
  • Koh Phi Phi (2 nights)
  • Koh Lanta (3 nights)
  • Krabi (1 night)
  • Koh Tao (3 nights)
  • Koh Phangan (3 nights)
  • Koh Samui (2 nights)
  • Bangkok (1 night)

Bangkok (1 night)

This island-hopping Thailand itinerary starts off in the crazy city of Bangkok! Depending on how tired you are from your journey getting here, you may want to just book a chill hostel or hotel to relax in.

If you do have some energy to explore, here’s some things to do.

Things to do in Bangkok:

  • Explore the Grand Palace
  • Visit Wat Pho and Wat Arun (be sure to wear the right clothing!)
  • Go on a free walking tour (there are many that occur throughout the day)
  • Party on Khao San Road
  • Experience a different side of the city on a river cruise
  • Spend time at the floating markets
  • Go shopping at popular shopping malls like Terminal 21 (Asok), MBK Center and Platinum
  • Visit Jim Thompson’s House
  • Relax and read a book (or scroll through TikTok!) in Lumphini Park
  • See a cabaret show
  • Feed your foodie side on a Bangkok food tour

Where to stay in Bangkok:

Bangkok → Krabi

After spending a night in Bangkok, it’s time to make your way down to the area of Krabi and Ao Nang! As a sustainable traveler, I always recommend traveling via bus or train to minimize your environmental footprint.

From Bangkok, there are countless buses that go down to the south of Thailand — you won’t be short on bus transportation options. I recommend booking your Bangkok to Krabi transportation via 12go Asia.

This journey takes around 13 to 15 hours and can be done overnight, meaning you’ll save $$$ on accommodation!

Plan on staying in hostels while traveling Thailand for 3 weeks? Check out my blog on must-have hostel essentials to make your stay as comfortable as possible!

Krabi/Ao Nang (3 nights)

A popular destination for tourists, Krabi and Ao Nang are filled with a myriad of souvenir shops, restaurants, tattoo shops, bouncing clubs, tour operators, and other great things to keep you occupied.

Things to do in Krabi and Ao Nang:

  • Spend the day on the sea and hop around to different islands (I recommend this 7-island sunset with snorkeling + BBQ!)
  • Visit the notorious Emerald Pool (check out this tour if you don’t want to rent a scooter to get there)
  • Go rock climbing at Railay Beach
  • Explore Krabi Town and its vibrant night market
  • Get a relaxing Thai massage in Krabi Town or Ao Nang
  • Visit the Phi Phi Islands on a day trip tour
  • Ascend the 1256 stairs to Wat Tham Sua (Tiger Cave Temple)
  • Take a dip in the hot springs at Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve
  • Marvel at the beautiful sea life on a snorkeling or scuba diving tour
  • Go on a day trip to the famous Maya Bay
  • Hike to Khao Ngon Nak Viewpoint for an insane view of the limestone karst mountains
  • Immerse yourself in wildlife and go jungle trekking

Where to Stay in Krabi/Ao Nang:

Krabi/Ao Nang → Railay Beach

Getting from Krabi to Railay Beach is easy, with many shuttle boats operated by local tour providers and private boat owners. The journey is only around 30 minutes and takes you past gorgeous limestone karst rocks jutting out from the sea and surrounding landscape. You’ll love it!

Railay Beach (2 nights)

Railay Beach has become a major hotspot for backpackers seeking outdoor adventures. From rock climbing and snorkeling to island hopping, jungle trekking, and more, Railay Beach features a broad spectrum of exciting activities.

And even if you’re not into those types of things, you can fill you day sitting on the beach, soaking up the sun, and admiring the insanely beautiful views!

Top things to do in Railay Beach:

  • Get your tan on at the beach (Railay Beach, Phra Nang Beach and Tonsai Beach)
  • Go on an island-hopping boat tour
  • Have a go at rock climbing
  • Explore some caves — Phra Nang Princess Cave and Railay Bat Cave are popular!
  • Hike to Railay’s “hidden” lagoon
  • Go snorkeling (I recommend bringing your own snorkel mask to Thailand)
  • Rent a kayak and explore the nearby islands and limestone karst rocks (like Ko Rang!)
  • Experience Railay’s vibrant walking street
  • Admire the many stalagmite and stalactite formations

Where to Stay in Railay Beach:

Railay Beach → Koh Phi Phi

Getting from Railay Beach to Koh Phi Phi is often a breeze! You’ll take a short boat ride from Railay Beach back to Krabi and then a ferry or speedboat from Krabi to Koh Phi Phi. Depending on when you get your boat from Railay to Krabi, this journey should only take a few hours.

As always, I recommend booking with 12Go Asia or asking your hostel to book your transportation.

Koh Phi Phi (2 nights)

Koh Phi Phi is one of those classic destinations that you’ll find on many Thailand itineraries!

With gorgeous turquoise waters, a beautiful island landscape, stunning views of limestone karst rocks rutting from the sea, an exciting nightlife, and exceptional boat trips that take you around to nearby popular attractions (like Maya Bay!), Koh Phi Phi often tops the Thailand bucket list for many backpacker and travelers.

Personally, this island holds a special place in my heart, as I met my husband on this island when we were both backpacking southeast!

Things to do in Koh Phi Phi:

  • Embark on a boat trip to nearby attractions (this one is popular – it goes to the infamous Maya Bay! Or check out this one, which is a private tour!)
  • Hike to one of the Koh Phi Phi viewpoints for sunset (or sunrise to avoid the crowds!)
  • Go snorkeling (try Shark Point, where you can snorkel right off the beach!)
  • Experience Koh Phi Phi’s wild nightlife
  • Watch a fire show on the beach
  • Adrenaline junkie? Go cliff jumping off the gorgeous limestone cliffs!
  • Visit Monkey Beach (a popular spot to stop on many boat trips)

Where to stay on Koh Phi Phi:

Koh Phi Phi → Koh Lanta

Getting from Koh Phi Phi to Koh Lanta is a breeze! It’s just a one hour ferry ride and no changes. You can either book this in advance through 12Go Asia (helpful if it’s busy season!) or book it through your hostel or hotel the day before your departure date.

Itching to visit an elephant sanctuary while in Thailand? Make sure you read my guide on why MOST elephant “sanctuaries” are not ethical.

Koh Lanta (3 nights)

Koh Lanta is one of those islands that’s becoming more and more popular as travelers stray from the “typical” Thailand destinations and discover more off the beaten track gems!

With fewer crowds, cool cafes, mangrove forests, national parks, beautiful beaches, and more than a few hammocks perfect for relaxing in, you’ll no doubt fall in love with Koh Lanta.

Things to do on Koh Lanta:

  • Simply find a great beach (there are SO many!) and relax in the sun
  • Experience the magical 4-island boat tour
  • Rent a scooter and explore the island
  • Check out Mu Koh Lanta National Park (beautiful coral reefs!)
  • Explore the vibrant Thung Yee Pheng Mangrove Forest
  • Walk around Koh Lanta Old Town
  • Go scuba diving or snorkeling
  • Give back at the Lanta Animal Welfare Centre
  • Hike to Khlong Chak Waterfall
  • Explore one of the many beach bars
  • Practice self-care and book a massage or facial at a spa

Where to stay on Koh Lanta:

Koh Lanta → Krabi OR Koh Tao

Another easy peasy journey on your three-week Thailand trip, getting from Koh Lanta to Krabi Town is just a 3 hour van ride. You can also take a ferry from Koh Lanta to Ao Nang if you want to go via water.

This 3-week Thailand island itinerary has a one night stopover in Krabi to break up the long journey between Koh Lanta and Koh Tao.

However, if you’re short on time or want to just get the transportation over with in one day, you can book your transportation to Koh Tao from Koh Lanta in one go. (Just be warned — it’ll be a LONG journey depending on what type of transportation you book!)

Personally, I would take the 6:00 AM morning van from Koh Lanta to Krabi Town, which arrives at its destination around 8:30/9:00 AM. Then, I’d book the late morning transfer option from Krabi to Koh Tao, which is a van + speedboat combo and takes around 6-7 hours.

The other (and more affordable) option is to take a van and then jump on an overnight ferry to Koh Tao. While this is cheaper, it can often be far more uncomfortable (though you do save money on accommodation for one night).

Koh Tao (3 nights)

Ahhh… Koh Tao, by far one of my favorite Thailand islands!

Though it may be small, Koh Tao offers a plethora of great things to do, a phenomenal nightlife, exceptional hostels, wonderful cafes and restaurants and just an overall amazing island vibe.

I have no doubt that after you spend three nights here on your 3-week Thailand trip, you’ll love Koh Tao just as much as I do!

Things to do on Koh Tao:

  • Relax on the beaches and soak up the sun
  • Rent a scooter and explore the island
  • Get PADI certified (Koh Tao is one of the best and cheapest places in the world to get your scuba certification!)
  • Go on a snorkeling tour across Koh Tao’s many vibrant bays and nearby islands
  • Watch the sunset from a beach or rooftop bar
  • Hike to one of Koh Tao’s viewpoints (John Suwan Viewpoint and Fraggle Rock are great!)
  • Party it up on an exciting pub crawl
  • Take a Muay Thai class

Where to stay on Koh Tao:

Koh Tao → Koh Phangan

Getting ready for some smooth sailing and an easy journey from Koh Tao to Koh Phangan. Whether you take the slower ferry or faster speedboat, this trip shouldn’t take any longer than two hours (unless there’s a delay… which is common in Thailand.)

Book your transportation from Koh Tao to Koh Phangan with 12Go Asia or through your accommodation (or a travel agency office on Koh Tao).

Koh Phangan (3 nights)

Koh Phangan is a popular island located between the islands of Koh Tao and Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand. With a reputation for an awesome nightlife and wild bars, it’s by far the biggest party island in Thailand. (Um, hello, did someone say the Full Moon Party?)

However, there are other things to do here, too, if parties aren’t your thing! From beach hopping and hiking to snorkeling, scuba diving, wellness activities, and more, you can find some great activity to fill your time while on Koh Phangan.

Things to do on Koh Phangan:

  • Beach hop like a pro (Haad Rin, Mae Haad Beach, Bottle Beach, and Haad Khom are great!)
  • Go on a snorkeling trip
  • Experience the Full Moon Party or Half Moon Party
  • Explore the many waterfalls on Koh Phangan (Phaeng Waterfall is a top one!)
  • Elevate your wellness — try a yoga, meditation, or breathwork class
  • Go off-roading on an ATV jungle adventure tour
  • Hike to one of Koh Phangan’s many viewpoints
  • Rent a kayak and explore the island’s coast by water
  • Take a Thai cooking class
  • Go on a day trip to Ang Thong National Marine Park
  • Watch a Muay Thai fight (or take a class to learn how to fight yourself!)
  • Explore the island’s many temples — Kuan Yin Temple, Wat Pho, and Wat Phu Kao Noi
  • Check out Koh Phangan’s night markets (Thong Sala Night Market, or Panthip Market, is a good one)

Where to stay on Koh Phangan:

Koh Phangan → Koh Samui

At just a 30 minutes speedboat away, Koh Samui is easy to get to from Koh Phangan. Click here to book your transportation through 12Go Asia or by asking your accommodations.

I recommend getting the earliest ferry or speedboat from Koh Phangan to Koh Samui so you have more time on this fun island!

Koh Samui (2 nights)

As the third largest Island in Thailand, there are plenty of things to do on Koh Samui! Whether you want to rent a scooter and explore the island, visit some temples, eat your way across the island, or simply hang out on the beach all day, you won’t get bored here.

Things to do on Koh Samui:

  • Rent a scooter for the day and explore to your heart’s content (it’s a big island, so be prepared!)
  • Check out some of Koh Samui’s waterfalls
  • Explore the many cute and amazing cafes and restaurants on Koh Samui
  • Hang out on one of the many beaches
  • Soak up the culture at some of the island’s temples (here’s a great Koh Samui tour if you don’t feel comfortable on a scooter!)
  • Go on a fun hike (Koh Samui is quite mountainous!)
  • Walk around Fisherman’s Village, a super cute place with shops, restaurants and markets
  • Take a Thai cooking class
  • Go on a day trip to “Pig Island” (yes, there are real, adorable pigs!)

Where to stay on Koh Samui:

Koh Samui → Bangkok

The end of your 3-week Thailand island itinerary has come to an end! You most likely need to head back to Bangkok for your departing flight, which you can get to one of two ways:

While a flight is definitely faster, the ferry + bus combination is far more affordable (and more sustainable!).

Book your ferry + bus ticket with 12Go Asia (or your accommodation). If you choose a flight, I recommend booking that with Skyscanner (always has the cheapest flights in my experience!).

Bangkok (1 night)

If you need to stay in Bangkok the night before your departing flight (or wherever you’re heading next), take a peek at my list of where to stay in Bangkok here.

With that said, this 3-week southern Thailand itinerary comes to an end! After weeks of beaches, blue waters, islands, culture, and delicious Thai food, you should leave this amazing country with many phenomenal memories.

Are you in the midst of planning a three-week trip to Thailand? Have any questions? Ask them in the comment section below! I’m here to help.

Sophie xx

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