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12-day Essential Thailand Tour

Welcome to Thailand- a land of rich history, incredible culture, friendly people, and some of the world’s best food. See the country’s iconic sites and experience deep-rooted traditions while exploring Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the lands in-between. Then travel south to Phuket for some seaside. All within the tour of essential of Thailand within 12 days.


Various activities on sites

  • Sightseeing the city of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket
  • Interacting with the elephant and learn more about its habitats
  • Countryside tour of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket and learn about some hidden parts of the country
  • Spending leisure time to relax and enjoy the sea – the sun – and the sand

Unforgettable moments

  • Admiring local people bartering at the floating market of Damnoen Saduak
  • Seeing the charming of Chiang Mai and its surrounding nature
  • Staying up close and playing with the elephant in Chiang Mai
  • Lying under the sun, enjoying the sea & sand of Phuket beaches

Nature exploration

  • The nature of the countryside in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket
  • The evergreen nature of northern Thailand
  • The refreshing sea of Phuket beaches

Culture experience

  • Learn about the vibrant culture of Bangkok, especially at night
  • The peasant culture of the people living in the countryside of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket


Detailed schedule

Day 1 - Welcome to Bangkok

Upon arrival at Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Sonasia’s guide & driver will pick you up and transfer directly to the hotel in the old quarter of Hanoi.
Same same, but different. This Thailish T-shirt philosophy sums up Bangkok, a city where the familiar and the exotic collide like the flavours on a plate of pàt tai.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY: Evening Glittering Bangkok with dinner
Begin this Bangkok evening tour just as the sun begins to set, around 18:00. Bangkok, a city known for its bustling streets and vibrant atmosphere, is a place that truly comes to life after dark. The sights, sounds and smells associated with the city’s iconic street life are amplified under the glow of its streetlights. Meanwhile, as the late afternoon light gives way to the glimmer of the early evening, the city’s ancient temples and palaces take on a whole new beauty.
Transportation will be provided to the Rattanakosin area of the old city, meandering along the past the floodlit Grand Palace and Wat Pho.
After a cool, relaxing cocktail at the boutique, riverside Riva Arun hotel, take a short walk to where an exquisite dinner awaits. Indulge in a delicious, Thai-style meal on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, with the majestic Wat Arun acting as the backdrop. Following dinner, take a stroll to the temple grounds of Wat Pho to soak up the beauty of its glittering chedi at night: an incredible photo opportunity.
Please note: The Reclining Buddha is not open at night.
Afterwards, drive to the final stop of the evening, the bustling Khao San Road area. A famous backpackers haunt, this eclectic region comes to life at night with various activities, night markets and entertainment venues to choose from. Enjoy a wander through the streets of Khao San to experience the unmistakable energy of this area.
Time:                  18:00 – 22:00
Departure:          Daily
Blackout dates for dinner on 31 Dec, 14 Feb, and Loy Krathong (Date 18: TBA) due to the hotel arranging only gala dinner.
Overnight in Bangkok.

  • Riva Arun has no elevator, so clients need to walk up the stairs to the rooftop, alternative sky bar can be used in case needed at Sala Rattanakosin.
  • Traffic can be bad during rush hour 17.00-20.00 hrs, so this tour is not recommended for clients staying at hotels in the Sukhumvit area
  • Reclining Buddha is not open at night.
  • The table will be pre-booked outside, but if raining, it will be assigned inside.
  • Children between 2 and 11 years at the time of travel will receive a 15% discount.
  • One glass of cocktail included at Riva Arun.
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Day 2 - Bangkok exploration

An early start will get you to Wat Pho in time to experience the monks early morning chanting ritual (chanting starts at 09.00 Hrs). After this uplifting and often private experience, visit the temple grounds and the famous 45-metre reclining Buddha. Continue to The Grand Palace, Thailand’s most important landmark, where you will be awed by the grandeur and majesty of the building and its throne halls. Then, of course, marvel at the mysterious Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddha image in Thailand. 
Delicious lunch is served at the delightful Never-Ending Summer, a Thai rustic restaurant, situated by Chao Phraya River. (Note: Lunch at Never Ending Summer is one choice of main dishes with drinking water.)
After lunch, board a long-tail boat sailing up the majestic Chao Phraya river before entering the Khlong that takes us away from the normal tourist trail. Inside the network of Khlongs guest will stop at Wat Khun Chan which is an interesting temple area rarely visited by tourists. Crossing a small footbridge leads into the old alleys where a cold coffee can be enjoyed before entering Wat Paknam or the white stupa with a hidden museum.
Back in the boat and continue on a beautiful part of the Khlong with a mix of old wooden houses and new modern mansions until reaching an orchid and fruit farm where guest will have time to walk around and see the many types of orchids on display.
Overnight in Bangkok.


Grand Palace is one of the most popular destinations and is usually a number one must-see place in Bangkok. Not surprisingly, it receives millions of tourists annually. To get the best of your visit and avoid crowds on spot we will allow your guide flexibility to visit the temple either early morning or late afternoon if possible, in your itinerary. If you by any means decide that there are too many people for your liking, the guide can bring you to an alternative temple in the area such as Wat Saket or Wat Suthat, this decision needs to be made before entering the Grand Palace. 

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Day 3 - Bangkok - countryside tour

After breakfast at the hotel, take just a short drive from the bustling streets of Bangkok, the high-rise urban landscape dissolves into a lush green rural idyll. This full-day trip to Samut Songkhram Province, only an hour outside the capital, allows guests to experience the traditional charms of the Thai countryside.
The day starts with a trip to a local railway station where a bustling country market has sprouted up along the tracks. When a train pulls in or out of the station, the vendors quickly clear their stalls, only to set them up again moments later when the train has passed! 
From here, the journey continues to famous touristic Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Although quite touristy today, the market remains the best example to showcase how a floating market originally was like decades ago.
A relaxing paddle boat ride through the labyrinth of canals offer the chance to see the old part of the floating market and local lifestyle along the canal side.
Off the boat, it is time to enjoy strolling around the colourful floating marketplace bustling with boats and vendors selling tropical fruits and other delights.
For visits falling on a Saturday or Sunday, the tour offers the option of an exploration choosing between visiting Damnoen Saduak or the smaller and less touristy floating market Tha Kha where a short paddle boat tour in the backwaters offering a visit to an old Thai house making coconut palm sugar. Lunch will be enjoyed at a local restaurant at the floating market.
The tour continues by a long-tail boat to a local Buddhist temple and the King Rama II Memorial Park, with its ornate collection of Thai-style pavilions. For visits falling on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, the end of the tour will be spiced up with an exploration of the weekend floating market at Amphawa.
Overnight at Bangkok.


Bangkok – Samut Songkhram (approx. 80 km): 1 hr Mae Klong Market – Tha Kha Floating Market (9.3 km): 21 min Tha Kha Floating Market – Amphawa District (9.3 km): 17 min

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Day 4 - Bangkok - Ayutthaya - Bangkok

Breakfast at the hotel. The day then begins with approximately one hour and a half drive from Bangkok to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed city of Ayutthaya, passing through verdant countryside and lush paddy fields. Having arrived in Ayutthaya, which dates back to the 14th Century, the morning is spent exploring the breathtaking temple-studded landscape visiting the highlighted temples of the city from Wat Yai Chaimongkol, Wat Mahathat (where the Buddha face is naturally emerged out of the tree), and strolling through a local market to get to Wat Phra Srisanphet. Proceed on a trip to the town's Muslim Quarter which offers the opportunity to sample an unusual local delicacy, candy floss roti.
After lunch at a local restaurant, the tour continues with a leisurely one hour long-tail boat ride down the Chao Phraya River. This boat trip commences at Wat Niwet Thammaprawat, one of the area's most distinctive Buddhist temples, featuring remarkable Gothic-style architecture and stained-glass windows. Then take the cable car across the river and go by golf car to visit Bang Pa-In Summer Palace, the majestic mansions of Thailand's Royal family. When visit is done at Bang Pa-In, you return to Bangkok by van, approximately one-hour drive.
Overnight in Bangkok.


Bangkok – Ayutthaya (83.3 km): 1.03 hr Ayutthaya Historical Park – Bang Pa-In Summer Palace (21.9 km): 28 min

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Day 5 - Bangkok - Chiang Mai

Transfer to airport with your guide (time to be confirmed the day before) for your flight to the northern capital of Thailand “Chiang Mai”.
Upon arrival in Chiang Mai, you will be met and greeted by our guide for your transfer to your hotel.
After checking in at the hotel, travel thirty minutes by vehicle north of Chiang Mai city to a long-tail boat dock, where you will take a leisurely stroll around the grounds with an herbal garden. Then board a long-tail boat and enjoy a 30-minute cruise along the rural Mae Ping River. Along the riverbanks, you will see traditional wooden houses and modern residences. Arrive at a boat landing and walk for about 10 minutes from the landing to Waroros fresh food market for a visit, experiencing the Northern Thai way of life. 
After the tour, transfer back to your hotel or to one of the restaurants for our own dinner.
Overnight in Chiang Mai.


Chiang Mai Airport – Chiang Mai Town (4.7 km): 10 min

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Day 6 - Chiang Mai - Elephant discovery camp

After breakfast at the hotel, head towards Elephant Discovery Camp, passing the most beautiful route of Chiang Mai with fantastic local road and panoramic views.
Upon arrival, meet an elephant mahout, be introduced to the elephants, and learn about their story and daily lifestyle. Interact and play with the elephants under mahouts’ supervision and form a bond with them. Enjoy a walk alongside them and watch them play in the mud pond. Learn to communicate with them and prepare nutritional food and desserts for them using various natural ingredients. Have fun bathing the elephants in a big pond. Lunch is served at the camp.
(Note: The elephant activity is join-in.)
In the late afternoon, return back to Chiang Mai.
Overnight in Chiang Mai.


Chiang Mai City – Chiang Dao (70.9 km): 1.04 hr

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Day 7 - Chiang Mai exploration

Depart your hotel at 06.00 am (Note: Take away breakfast from the hotel) and arrive at the foot hill of Doi Suthep mountain, in time to buy offerings and join the locals during the daily alms giving ceremony. This is a serene Buddhist procession where dozens of monks walk barefoot through the street collecting food and everyday items. Continue up the mountain to Wat Doi Suthep and climb the 309 steps of the Golden Naga staircase to reach its golden pagodas. After a visit to Doi Suthep, continue to discover one of the best-kept secret temples of Chiang Mai, Wat Palad, known as the Temple below the Temple. This temple is a significant element of the Chiang Mai area’s history with its temple grounds aged beyond 650 years old. 
Next, proceed to Wat Umong, built in the 14th century, a heavily forested temple covered by moss and small plants offering a unique yet charming sense of natural decay. After a walk through its mysterious tunnels you reach the Viharn of the temple to experience your own private blessing ceremony.  After that, enjoy this lovely day with a delicious bowl of Khao Soy. This famous Northern Thai dish is a combination of coconut cream, crispy noodles and plenty of spice that is sure to delight!
In the afternoon, continue to visit the Three Kings Monument, followed by Chiang Mai City Arts and Culture Center, located in an old building of elegant architectural design built in 1927. Standing on the location of a former royal hall, the building was used as the central administrative office of Phayap administrative unit of Siam, and later as the Provincial Hall of Chiang Mai. (Note: Chiang Mai City Arts and Culture Center is closed on Mondays and during Songkran festival. Open from Tuesdays – Sundays: 08:30 – 17:00)
Overnight in Chiang Mai.


Chiang Mai City – Wat Phra That Doi Suthep (17.2 km): 39 min Wat Phra That Doi Suthep – Wat Umong (14.9 km): 33 min

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Day 8 - Chiang Mai - Mae Kampong

Depart for Mae Kampong village in the Mae On district and drive through the picturesque countryside of Chiang Mai. En route a stop is made at a local market to select ingredients for your lunch. Continue to Mae Kampong village where you are met upon arrival by villagers before beginning a stroll through the community forest, passing tea and coffee fields. Return to the village in time to watch lunch being prepared by your host family to see how Thai food is prepared in the countryside.
After lunch, relax with Thai traditional massage and take a walk around the village to see the processing of fermented tea leaves, and various products which are handmade in the village. In the late afternoon, drive back through the mountains to Chiang Mai.


Chiang Mai City – Mae On District (31.8 km): 44 min

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Day 9 - Chiang Mai - Phuket

Free at leisure in Chiang Mai city until the guide picks you up from the hotel and transfer to the airport for your flight to Phuket. Upon arrival, meet up with the guide and transfer to your hotel.
Free afternoon at leisure to relax on the beach.
Overnight in Phuket.

  • Phuket Airport – Phuket Town (32.5 km): 30 min
  • Check out Phuket travel guide
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Day 10 - Phuket exploration

Breakfast at the hotel.
Today’s tour will begin at 08:30. Get to see a different side of Phuket with this insightful excursion to the city’s lesser-known corners.
Start with a visit to a rubber plantation, one of the main industries in Phuket, along the roadside. Our guide will explain how the rubber sap is collected from the trees and is processed. 
After that, continue further away from the shore to Tong Sai National Park, a lush expanse of jungle teeming with wildlife. 
Meet with a volunteer from the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project (GRP) and learn about the center’s activities to protect the native gibbon population and their natural habitations. 
Take a stroll around and see some of the many gibbons being nursed back to health at the center. 
Refuel with a cup of local Phuket coffee and some snacks before continuing the excursion.
Take a closer look at Phuket’s past with a visit to the small, but informative Kathu Mining Museum. Get a glimpse of the former glory of Phuket, its people, its economy, and its history while learning about the island’s mining industry.
Then stop at a cashew nut factory, another major industry in Phuket. See the process of extracting the nut from the fruit, gaining a better appreciation for why these are some of the most expensive nuts on earth! 
The half-day Phuket tour concludes with a visit to Wat Prathong, one of the oldest temples in Phuket. Gain a deeper insight into Buddhism while watching local devotees praying at this sacred monument.
Free afternoon at leisure to relax on the beach.
Overnight in Phuket.

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Day 11 - Phuket - Leisure day

Day free at leisure to relax on the beach or you may wish to book optional excursions with Sonasia Holiday

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY: Phuket Old Town E-Bike Tour.
Today’s tour will begin at either 08:30 or 13:00. Explore the old town on this electric bike tour of Phuket. These battery-powered bicycles are the perfect way to cruise around the city’s streets and small laneways.
Learn about the island’s past while exploring different architectural styles. See former Chinese schools that are repurposed into museums and restaurants as well as Chinese shrines. Pedal to Sino-Portuguese buildings that stand in testimony to the influence of the migrants who came to Phuket during the tin mining days of the 19th century. See the home of the island’s former governor, a majestic building that echoes of its glorious past.
Take a closer look at the past with a visit to Thavorn Museum. Located in the hotel of the same name, this museum boasts an impressive collection of old calculators, typewriters, tin toys and more. Seeing these relics gives a better sense of what life was like on Phuket in earlier times.
The electric-bike exploration culminates with a visit to a downtown fruit market. Explore the array of exotic tropical fruits on sale and sample some of the fresh seasonal items before transferring back to the hotel.
Overnight at Phuket.


Optional tour:
Time:                  08.30 – 11.30 / 13.00 – 16.00
Departure:          Daily
Max. 4 persons
When booked please provide height of each client as this information is essential to secure the right bike size for the trip.

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Day 12 - Phuket - Departure

Our guide will meet up with you at the hotel and transfer you to the airport for your departure flight to your onward destination. 

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We believe you have the right to arm yourselves with as much information as possible before making any decision.

Check below our detailed tips & guide for every places to visit in Thailand, recommendation regarding the inclusion in each theme you prefer, and what you can do based on the time frame you have.

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Chiang Mai
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Luxury Holiday
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Unique experience combined with top-notch services

Wellness & Leisure
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Easy excursion combined with week-long beach break

Honeymoon Vacation
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Easy excursions combined with unique experience making the long-lasting romantic memories

Family Vacation
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The combination of fun and educational activities

Trek & Hike
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Explore the least visited destinations and unknown experience on foot

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Reveal off-the-beatentrack routes, least explored destinations, and unknown tribe groups

Cycling & Biking
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Explore every corners of the destination on two wheels

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The combination of some must-see experience and the cruise tour along the mighty rivers

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Taking a cruise on the fascinating Mekong River offers a unique and memorable travel experience. The Mekong River, one of the longest rivers in Asia, flows through several countries, including China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Each destination along the river offers its own distinct cultural, historical, and natural attractions. In this article, we will go over what you can expect when cruising the Mekong River. 


International travelers to Thailand will no longer be required to show proof of vaccination or ATK test results from October 1st, 2022 onward.

In a new move to attract travelers during peak season, Thailand is doing away with the requirement of needing vaccination certificates or Covid-19 negative results in the case of unvaccinated passengers. Additionally, those infected with Covid-19, but have mild symptoms don’t need to isolate from next month. The same applies to those who test positive but display no symptoms.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced these changes on Thursday after the National Communicable Diseases Committee (NCDC) had a meeting on Wednesday.

Instead of isolating those who have contracted the disease would be required to wear a mask, socially distance themselves from others and wash their hands frequently for the first five days. They also need to stay away from those who are immunocompromised and vulnerable.

Dr. Sophon Iamsirithaworn, deputy director-general of the Department of Disease Control, informed that since the present Covid-19 mutation doesn’t cause serious symptoms in most people, disease control measures can be relaxed.

National Security Council secretary-general Supoj Malaniyom added that the new measures are being put in place to help improve the economic conditions of the country.

“The primary aim will be to ensure the economy is back on track so people could earn their livelihoods once more,” he said.


How long to spend in Thailand may seem like a ridiculous question to address, but if you have plenty of time and aren’t sure how much to dedicate, this blog will definitely help you out. 

How long can you stay in Thailand? 

Well, as long as you like! From 10 days to a month, there are various ways you can travel across Thailand and uncover its secrets. Advising an ideal trip length for Thailand is a bit of a complex challenge, as it depends on several factors such as the places you wish to visit, the activities you plan to join, or if you want to combine Thailand with its neighbor countries. 

Stay tuned! We are going to sort all these things out including the step-by-step guide to create the best itinerary in Thailand.

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