Our Two Weeks in Thailand and Vietnam itinerary lets you see the best of two of Southeast Asia’s most dynamic and rewarding destinations, all in just 14 days.
Sunset – Ko Lanta © rushen
- Days One to Three: Bangkok
- Days Four to Seven: Thai Beaches
- Days Eight and Nine: Ho Chi Minh City
- Days 10 and 11: Hoi An
- Days 12 to 14: Hanoi and Halong Bay
From the historical temples of Bangkok and beautiful beaches of Thai islands to bustling and busy Vietnam, we’ve included a range of different destinations to help you get the most from your two weeks in Southeast Asia.
Our itinerary begins in Bangkok, then includes several days on the Thai beach area of your choice before flying to Ho Chi Minh City and travelling north through Vietnam.
Each destination includes a link to our Quick Guides, which provide accommodation, dining and activity recommendations.
Days One to Three: Bangkok
Bangkok © mikebehnken
Our itinerary starts in Bangkok, where you’ll find some of Thailand’s most spectacular temples and historical sites. On your first day in Bangkok, you’ll get a chance to see the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun and other historical attractions in Bangkok’s Old City.
Bangkok Grand Palace © drflint
- The Grand Palace. This large complex of temples and royal residences houses Wat Phra Kaew, which is also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Open from 8:30am until 3:30pm with a 500 baht entry fee for non-citizens, it’s best to visit the Grand Palace as early as possible to avoid the large crowds that can show up later in the day.
- Wat Pho. Home to a 160 foot reclining Buddha statue, Wat Pho is best visited directly after the Grand Palace. Wat Pho is home to one of Thailand’s most famous traditional massage schools, making it a great place to stop for a break after morning sightseeing.
- Wat Arun. Located across the Chao Phraya River, Wat Arun (or the Temple of Dawn) is a 17th century structure located right beside the water. The temple is easy to access via the cross-river ferry, which stops at Tha Tien Pier.
- After a morning of palaces and temples, you can stop for lunch at Thip Samai Pad Thai, Bangkok’s most famous Pad Thai shop, or enjoy a high-end international lunch with a view of Wat Arun from Sala Rattanakosin Eatery And Bar.
- For a great Thai lunch with equally good views of Wat Arun, stop by The Deck, which is a short walk from Sala Rattanakosin.
Jim Thompson’s House © twang_dunga
On day two, you’ll get to see a more modern side of Bangkok in Siam and Ratchaprasong, the city’s main shopping districts. You’ll also get to see the historical house of Jim Thompson and the famous Erawan Shrine located in between Bangkok’s biggest malls and hotels.
- Shopping Malls. Bangkok has a great selection of shopping malls, most of which are located around Siam and Chit Lom BTS stations. Siam Paragon and Central World offer the largest selection of mid-range and high-end shops, while the MBK Centre is popular for cheap smartphones, tablets, cameras and other consumer electronics.
- There are also several high-end malls in the area. Central Embassy is a great place to shop for luxury fashion and home items, while Gaysorn is Bangkok’s premier high-end fashion mall.
- Jim Thompson House. Designed by silk industry entrepreneur Jim Thompson in the 1950s, this traditional Thai house is filled with antiques and rare items. The house is open to visitors, with guided tours of its living quarters and gardens available.
- Erawan Shrine. This small shrine to Brahma (or Phra Phrom, as the deity is known in Thai Buddhism) is located just across the street from Central World and is a popular place for locals to pray for good luck.
- Night Bike Tour. After a morning of shopping, one of the best ways to see another side of Bangkok is on a night bike tour. Grasshopper Adventures offers a night bike tour that travels through Old Bangkok and past temples, flower markets and quiet alleyways.
Your third day in Bangkok is a great chance to see a quieter side of the city that most tourists never experience. If you’re itching to get to the beach, you can also leave Bangkok a day early to enjoy some extra time on an island or at a coastal beach resort.
- Khlong Tours of Thonburi. Thonburi is the part of Bangkok located west of the Chao Phraya River — a quieter, more relaxed part of town than Bangkok’s city centre. The Small Teak Boat Canal Adventure offers a trip through the canals of Thonburi that offers a look at everyday life in the quieter side of Bangkok.
- Chinatown. Bangkok’s Chinatown is bustling and busy, with a huge range of tiny shops selling everything from gold, silver and other precious metals to souvenirs and toys. It’s also a great place to enjoy authentic Thai and Chinese food. There are several street food markets around Chinatown, as well as restaurants like Hua Seng Hong and stands like Fikeaw Yao Wa-Rat serving cheap and tasty Chinese food.
Days Four to Seven: Thai Beaches
Thailand has a huge variety of different beaches, ranging from coastal towns close to Bangkok to remote, quiet and undeveloped islands. We’ve listed all of Thailand’s best beach areas below, letting you choose the best destination for your needs and tastes.
Each destination has a Quick Guide covering the best hotels, things to do, dining options and transportation tips.
Hua Hin, Thailand © aotaro
- Hua Hin is a relaxing, convenient beach resort located less than three hours from Bangkok by car, bus or minivan. While the beaches here aren’t spectacular, the city has a relaxed, friendly atmosphere and plenty of fun attractions that make it a good choice for families.
- Our Quick Guide to Hua Hin covers everything you’ll need to plan your trip to Hua Hin, with specific hotel, attraction and dining recommendations.
Pattaya © sinifong
- The easiest beach resort to access from Bangkok, Pattaya is less than two hours from Bangkok by taxi. Compared to other seaside towns in Thailand, the beaches around Pattaya aren’t very impressive and the somewhat sleazy nightlife means this isn’t a great destination for families.
- Still, if you’re travelling on your own and want a fun, cheap and convenient place to stay by the beach for a few days, Pattaya can be worth a visit. Our Quick Guide to Pattaya includes all of the best hotel, attraction and dining recommendations for Pattaya and its surroundings.
Koh Samet © daniela-h
- Koh Samet is the closest real island to Bangkok, accessible in about three hours by private taxi and speedboat. The beaches here are a huge step up from Pattaya and Hua Hin, with far fewer people and less development giving the island a laid back, relaxing vibe.
- Because Koh Samet is close to Bangkok, it can get crowded on the weekend. If you’re visiting on a Saturday or Sunday, it’s best to book your accommodation as early as possible to avoid missing out on hotels to weekend visitors from Bangkok.
- Like Hua Hin and Pattaya, we have a Quick Guide to Koh Samet that covers all of the island’s essentials, from the best resorts and hotels to restaurants and more.
Koh Chang, Thailand © glowform
- Koh Chang is another island that’s easy to reach from Bangkok by bus, although it’s quite a lot further away than Koh Samet at approximately five hours from Bangkok. If you’re looking for an island that offers a mix of convenience and unspoiled beaches, Koh Chang is a good option.
- Big, beautiful and relatively undeveloped compared to islands like Phuket and Koh Samui, Koh Chang is a great place to spend three to four days. Just make sure you’re aware of the weather before you book your trip, as Koh Chang gets particularly wet during the rainy season.
- Our Quick Guide to Koh Chang includes everything you need to know about the island, from the best hotels and restaurants to transportation options from Bangkok.
Phuket, Thailand © jeffgunn
- Thailand’s largest and most popular island, Phuket has everything from heavily developed resort areas to quiet, peaceful and amazingly beautiful beaches. It also has its own airport, letting you fly in directly from Bangkok and avoid a long bus or taxi trip.
- Phuket has a huge variety of different beaches and areas, ranging from nightlife hubs to quiet and largely undeveloped beachside towns. It’s also where you’ll find the best selection of luxury and mid-range resorts in Thailand.
- Like the other islands, we have a Quick Guide to Phuket that covers the island’s best beaches, things to do, places to stay and dining options.
Railay West Beach, Thailand © kkoshy
- Located east of Phuket, Krabi Province is home to some of Thailand’s best beaches and most impressive coastal scenery. Ao Nang is the main tourist destination in this part of the country, while Railay is famous for its limestone cliffs and laid back atmosphere.
- Krabi Province has its own airport, with direct flights from Bangkok departing often. If you’re looking for stunning beaches and don’t want to deal with a long ferry trip or bus ride, Krabi is tough to beat as a destination.
- We have several travel guides for Krabi Province. Our Quick Guide to Krabi Town covers the area’s main town and the area surrounding Krabi Airport, while our Ao Nang and Railay Beach guides cover Krabi’s two main tourist destinations.
Koh Samui © 125144759@N03
- Another popular destination, Koh Samui is home to some of the best beaches in the Gulf of Thailand and a great selection of resorts to suit every budget. It also has an airport, meaning you can fly in directly from Bangkok and avoid having to deal with buses and ferries.
- Like Phuket, Koh Samui offers a range of experiences. There are heavily developed beaches with resorts, bars and nightclubs to choose from, as well as a variety of quiet beaches that are perfect for families and couples seeking peace and tranquility.
- Our Quick Guide to Koh Samui covers all of the island’s best areas, things to do, hotels and dining recommendations, as well as transportation options from Bangkok.
Koh Phangan, Hadrin west © tomasbarrios
- Famous as Thailand’s party island, Koh Phangan offers a mix of world famous parties and laid back beaches. Unlike Koh Samui, there’s no airport here (although one is currently being built), meaning you’ll need to take the ferry from Koh Samui or Surat Thani to reach the island.
- Compared to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan has a more laid back feel. Aside from the area around Haad Rin, which is where you’ll find most of the island’s parties, it’s a chilled out destination with plenty of areas of interest for families and couples.
- Our Quick Guide to Koh Phangan lists all of Koh Phangan’s best beaches, hotels and dining options, as well as how to get to the island from Surat Thani and Koh Samui.
Northern tip of Sairee Beach © jaydubproductions
- Thailand’s diving capital, Koh Tao is a tiny island located north of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan that’s gained fame as one of the world’s cheapest places to learn to dive. It’s also home to a few great beaches, making it worth a visit for non-divers seeking a fun place to spend several days.
- Koh Tao is a lot smaller than Samui and Phangan, with most of the island’s areas of interest a short walk from each other. It’s also become something of a backpacker hotspot over the last few years, with a great selection of beachside bars offering cheap drinks and fun parties.
- Our Quick Guide to Koh Tao covers all of the island’s highlights, from beaches and areas of interest to hotels, restaurants and transportation to and from the island.
Beach on island Ko Lanta © 132646954@N02
- Just over an hour from Krabi Airport, Koh Lanta is a quiet island that offers a more relaxed and peaceful experience than most destinations in Southern Thailand. The island is visited by a tiny fraction as many people as Phuket, making it great for anyone seeking peace and tranquility.
- Koh Lanta offers direct access to some of Thailand’s best diving and snorkelling sites, making it a great option for diving enthusiasts. It’s also home to some of Thailand’s best beaches, making it worth adding to your “to visit” list if you just to relax, swim and work on your suntan.
- We have a Quick Guide to Koh Lanta that lists all of the island’s best beaches, things to do, hotels and places to eat, as well as information on how to get to Koh Lanta from nearby areas like Phuket and Krabi.
Sunrise on Koh Yao Noi © argenberg
- Located in the middle of Phang Nga Bay, Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai offer some of the best sea views in Thailand. They’re also easy to access from Phuket and completely unspoiled by the mass development that’s affected some of Thailand’s other beach areas.
- If you’re looking for a quiet, relaxing and peaceful place to spend some time with your partner or family, Koh Yao is worth considering. Koh Yao Noi, the smaller of the two islands, is where you’ll find most of the area’s resorts and things to do.
- Our Quick Guide to Koh Yao covers the best accommodation options, things to do and dining recommendations on both islands.
Koh Jum © borshop
- Another small and largely undeveloped island, Koh Jum is a peaceful destination that’s located between Ao Nang and Koh Lanta. If you want to experience Thailand as it was 25 or 30 years ago before mass tourism took hold, you’ll love Koh Jum’s quiet beaches and bungalow resorts.
- Our Quick Guide to Koh Jum covers everything you need to know about the island, from its best luxury resorts and budget bungalows to restaurants, things to do and how to get to Koh Jum from Krabi Airport.
Days Eight and Nine: Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City © jean-marc_astesana
Our Vietnam itinerary starts in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s largest city and business hub. Ho Chi Minh City is split into several major districts, with almost all of the main areas of interest, places to stay and dining options concentrated in District 1.
For more information on Ho Chi Minh City, check out our Quick Guide to Saigon, which lists all of the best hotels, restaurants, things to do and areas of interest in Ho Chi Minh City.
- Ben Thanh Market. Built in 1912 during Vietnam’s period as part of French Indochina, this central market is a good place to shop for clothes and souvenirs. It’s worth haggling here, as most of the vendors will drop their prices by 20-40% if you ask.
- Reunification Palace. Previously the Presidential Palace of South Vietnam, this 1960s building was converted into a museum showcasing a variety of important spaces used by the former Vietnamese leadership.
- War Remnants Museum. This museum of the Vietnam War features captured planes, tanks, helicopters, artillery and other equipment. There are also several detailed photo exhibits inside the museum documenting the Vietnamese and international experiences during the war.
- Saigon Skydeck. Located inside the futuristic Bitexco Financial Tower, this viewing area offers great views of central Ho Chi Minh City and the Saigon River.
- Cu Chi Tunnels. This incredible network of tunnels was used as a secret base by the Viet Cong during the war, particularly for the 1968 Tet Offensive. Today, the tunnels are open to the public and make a great half-day trip from Saigon.
Days 10 to 11: Hoi An
Riverside view, Hoi An, Vietnam © paulmannix
Located in Central Vietnam, Hoi An is a beautiful small city that was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. The city’s gorgeous colonial architecture, quiet atmosphere and great beaches make it one of the best places in Vietnam to spend two to three days.
Our Quick Guide to Hoi An includes a full list of hotels, things to do, dining options and travel information for Hoi An. We’ve also listed some of the city’s highlights below.
- Hoi An Old Town. Hoi An’s historic old town contains more than 800 historic buildings, ranging from shophouses to beautiful pagodas. The Japanese Covered Bridge and Precious Heritage Museum are two of the Old Town’s must-see sights.
- Beaches. There are two beaches in Hoi An, both of which are fairly uncrowded and easy to access. An Bang Beach is the most popular of the two, while Cua Dai Beach is usually less crowded.
- Tailored Clothing. Hoi An is famous for its tailors, many of whom can put together high quality clothes in just a few days. While two days isn’t quite enough to get a suit, you’ll be able to order shirts, tops and other items from some of the city’s tailor shops.
Some of Hoi An’s more popular tailors include Bebe ClothShop, Kimmy Custom Tailor and Yalo Couture, which all score well in reviews from travellers and expats.
Days 12 to 14: Hanoi and Halong Bay
Halong Bay © princeroy
Our two-week itinerary ends in Hanoi and includes a quick trip to Halong Bay, letting you see Vietnam’s most impressive coastal area up close. We’ve also included a variety of things to do in Hanoi, ranging from the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum to the beautiful Temple of Literature.
Our Quick Guide to Hanoi includes a full list of things to do, places to stay and restaurants in Vietnam’s capital, as well as information on how to get into Hanoi from elsewhere in Vietnam.
- Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Open since the mid-1970s, the Ho Chi MInh Mausoleum is the resting place of Vietnam’s revolutionary leader. The building contains Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed body, making it an interesting and somewhat morbid place to visit.
- One Pillar Pagoda. Located close to the mausoleum, the One Pillar Pagoda is a historic temple that’s an icon of Vietnamese history. The temple was built in 1049 at the request of Emperor Lý Thái Tông and rebuilt after suffering damage in the First Indochina War.
- Hoan Kiem Lake. Located close to the Old Quarter, this beautiful lake contains a small island with Ngoc Son Temple, also known as the Temple of the Jade Mountain. One of Hanoi’s most popular scenic areas and sightseeing spots.
- Hanoi Old Quarter. Famous for its small, crowded alleyways and colonial shophouses, the Old Quarter of Hanoi is an exciting place to shop for souvenirs or enjoy a meal in any of the area’s small restaurants and cafés.
- Temple of Literature. One of Hanoi’s most impressive historical areas, the Temple of Literature & National University was built in 1070 in honor of Confucius, scholars and sages of Vietnam. The temple is one of Hanoi’s top historical tourist attractions.
- Famous for its stunning limestone karsts, Halong Bay is one of Vietnam’s best known natural attractions. The bay is located approximately three hours from Hanoi and is best visited on a day trip or overnight tour.
- The best option for visiting Halong Bay depends on your flight schedule. If you leave early in the morning or at midday, a day trip is the best option. If your flight is late at night or you can extend your trip to 15 days, you’ll get the best experience by seeing Halong Bay on an overnight cruise.
- Our Quick Guide to Halong Bay includes more information about the best cruises and tours to Halong Bay, including specific tour operators and things to see and do around the area.