Are you traveling to Thailand? It’s your first time and you want to visit the main destinations but also get off the beaten track for a while? Then this 25 days itinerary to Thailand is what you are looking for. We’ve created an itinerary in which you will not miss the must-see places but you will also get to visit some of the undiscovered Thailand.

Without a doubt, this is an alternative route through Thailand for you to do on your own. It is good both for backpackers and for those who want to travel with some comfort, since all the places on the itinerary offer accommodation in different categories.

It is guaranteed that you’ll get to know places that are very worthwhile and that the vast majority of travelers to Thailand do not get to set foot.


Type of trip: On your own by public transport

Undiscovered Thailand for First-Timers

  • Day 1. Chiang Mai – Arrival.
  • Day 2. Chiang Mai – City tour.
  • Day 3. Chiang Mai – 70 KM – Doi Inthanon.
  • Day 4. Doi Intahnon – 156 KM – Mae Sariang.
  • Day 5. Mae Sariang – 163 KM – Mae Hong Son.
  • Day 6. Mae Hong Son.
  • Day 7. Mae Hong Son – 106 KMโ€“ Pai.
  • Day 8. Explore Pai
  • Day 9. Pai – 130 KM – Chiang Mai.
  • Day 10. Chiang Mai – Bangkok.
  • Day 11-12. Get to know Bangkok
  • Day 13. Bangkok – 130 KM – Phetchaburi.
  • Day 14. Phetchaburi.
  • Day 15. Phetchaburi – 160 KM – Prachuap Khiri Khan.
  • Day 16. Prachuap Khiri Khan.
  • Day 17. Prachuap Khiri Khan – 190 KM – Chumphon.
  • Day 18. Chumphon.
  • Day 19. Chumphon – 360 KM – Krabi.
  • Day 20-21. Krabi.
  • Day 22. Krabi – Koh Jum.
  • Days 23-24. Koh Jum.
  • Day 25. Koh Jum – Krabi Airport – Return.


โ–ท Are you looking for a shorter itinerary? Have a look at this 15 days trip in Thailand

Details on the 25-day Thailand alternative route

Day 1: Chiang Mai – Arrival

What do I need to know upon arrival?

First of all, you must be sure that when you arrive in Thailand they will let you in, so first of all you can check our article on Thailand visa. After clearing immigration and picking up your luggage, you can exchange money at the airport so you have enough local currency (THB) to take a taxi or bus to your hotel. CNX Airport is only 4 km from Chiang Mai’s Old Town, so it is a very short journey.

Day 2: Visit Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai, the quiet capital of Northern Thailand, is a very beautiful city and an excellent base camp for excursions, whether visiting Doi Inthanon National Park, an Elephant Sanctuary, or going on a trek.

Spend at least a couple of days in town. Here we leave you an article with information on Chiang Mai.

Some of the most popular visits in Chiang Mai are:

โ–บ Wat Doi Suthep.

โ–บ Wat Phra Singh.

โ–บ Wat Chedi Luang.

โ–บ Night Market.

chiang mai thailand

How to get around during the Mae Hong Son Loop (days 3-9)?

For the next week of this alternative route through Thailand, we suggest you to do a version of the circular route known as Mae Hong Son Loop. The best way to do the loop is by renting a motorcycle in Chiang Mai, but this is a good option only if you are an experienced driver: keep in mind that it is a very mountainous area and, despite the fact that the roads are in fairly good condition, most of them are a succession of endless curves.

Do not take it lightly: many tourists, due to the relaxation of the holidays and the facilities for renting motorcycles in Thailand -they don’t even ask for a driving license -, dare renting motorcycles without having any or very little experience, and every year there are a lot of accidents.

If you are not an expert motorcyclist, this route can also be done by public bus. But, in order not to complicate your life, in this case perhaps it would be better to do Doi Inthanon NP as a day trip with an agency from Chiang Mai and then make only two stops during the loop.

In this way you will do: Chiang Mai – Mae Hong Son – Pai – Chiang Mai.

doi inthanon national park

Day 3: Chiang Mai – Doi Inthanon (70 km.)

Doi Inthanon is the most popular National Park in northern Thailand, the site of the highest peak in the country, as well as the huge Wachirathan waterfall and several beautiful nature trails that cut through the forest along streams.

Put Doi Inthanon on your itinerary! On an alternative trip to Thailand you cannot miss this visit.

Day 4: Doi Inthanon – Mae Sariang (156 km.)

Mae Sariang is a small town rarely visited due to its remote location, perfect for your alternative route through Thailand.

Mae Sariang village is a good place from which to do authentic trekking and visit tribal villages. Nearby are Mae Um Long Luang hot springs, highly recommended.

mae hong son buddha

Day 5: Mae Sariang – Mae Hong Son (163 km.)

Get ready for fun! Today’s route is a sample of what will be the general trend for the next days, until shortly before arriving back in Chiang Mai: a succession of curves, ascents, descents and changes of slope. Luckily, it is a little traveled route, and there are small villages along the way where you can stop to rest and have a drink.

MHS lake

Day 6: Mae Hong Son

In the border region with Myanmar, Mae Hong Son is a beautiful town surrounded by mountains and with some very interesting temples. A good destination from which to go hiking and practice adventure sports such as white water rafting.

Day 7: Mae Hong Son – Pai (106 km.)

And we return to the curves, one after the other! The mountainous area that you will cross on this day is full of villages of minority ethnic groups, and the landscape is really beautiful. The tour passes near Tham Lot, the most famous cave in northern Thailand, and I recommend you take the chance to visit it.

bridge in Pai

Day 8: Pai

Pai is a mountain town with a hippie and backpacker vibe.

Many come to Pai just looking to party, but the are offers many options for those who want to explore further. It is a destination -mainly- to do adventure sports, or excursions by motorcycle or bicycle; or simply to relax.

Pai night market

Day 9: Pai – Chiang Mai (130 km.)

And with the training of the previous days, you will already be well prepared to undertake the most famous section of the Mae Hong Son loop: nothing more and nothing less than 762 curves on a road that crosses the forest and passes by some viewpoints over breathtaking landscapes.

Upon arrival back to Chiang Mai, you will have completed the Mae Hong Son Loop, and you’ll have good reason to celebrate with a cold Thai beer!

Day 10: Chiang Mai – Bangkok

How to go from Chiang Mai to Bangkok?

You can do this journey by plane, bus or train, but for this alternative route in Thailand we recommend taking a sleeper train; which is a good experience and also allows you to save a hotel night.

For sleeper trains in Thailand it is always necessary to book beds at least a few days in advance, since otherwise it is very likely to find no seats available: the trip takes about 12 hours, and if you have to spend the night sitting in a chair instead of lying on a bed, you will curse your lack of foresight.

Bangkok’s train station, Hua Lamphong, is connected to the subway, so it will be easy to get to your hotel area by subway, or you can also take a taxi outside the station.

In addition, taking the night train will allow you to have most of this day to relax in Chiang Mai (although you will not have a hotel), or if you prefer, you can even shorten the route by one day and catch the train the day before at night, right at return from Pai.

night train thailand

Days 11-12: Visit Bangkok

The capital of Thailand is a surprising megalopolis where tradition and modernity mix. Do not be intimidated by its colossal dimensions: Bangkok is a safe city, its inhabitants are friendly and its public transport efficient. I recommend you visit its most outstanding temples, wander among its vibrant markets and enjoy its famous nightlife. Explore the city for a couple of days at least, and if possible more!

The places worth visiting in Bangkok are endless, but here I propose some less conventional options, according to the alternative spirit of this route:

โ–บ Amulet Market on Maharat Rd., North of Tha Chang Pier.

โ–บ Ban Nam Pheung floating market

โ–บ Phu Khao Thong Temple (Golden Mount)

โ–บ Sampeng Lane markets, in China Town neighborhood

If you want to know more about this fascinating city, you will find a lot of useful information in the section of our blog dedicated to Bangkok.

bangkok night

Day 13: Bangkok – Phetchaburi (130 km.)

How to go from Bangkok to Phetchaburi?

You can make this journey by minivan from Sai Tai Mai station (Southern Terminal), or from Victory Monument station. From both there are departures about every hour, which will take you to Phetchaburi for about 100 THB in a journey of approximately two hours.

There is also the option of taking a train from Hua Lamphong station, although the journey will take twice as long.

Day 14: Phetchaburi

Phetchaburi is a quiet traditional Thai town steeped in history, with very few tourists and plenty of things to do: like climbing the monkey-studded hill of Phra Nakhon Khiri, or visiting some of the temples and caves in the city and surroundig area.

Alternative trip to Thailand? Phetchaburi will not disappoint you!

Day 15: Phetchaburi – Prachuap Khiri Khan (160 km.)

How to go from Phetchaburi to Prachuap Khiri Khan?

You can do this journey by minivan. It takes about 3 hours with hourly departures during the day until mid-afternoon. Or you can go by train, a journey of about 4 hours.

Be sure to ask for the exact departure point of your minivan or bus, as there are many different stops.

Day 16: Visit of Prachuap Khiri Khan

Prachuap Khiri Khan is a small traditional Thai town by the sea, which sees very little tourism.

If you choose this city on your alternative trip to Thailand, you will enjoy a bay near beautiful beaches with views of spectacular karst mountains.

Day 17: Prachuap Khiri Khan – Chumphon (190 km.)

How to go from Prachuap Khiri Khan to Chumphon?

You can do this journey by minivan or by train, both options are good.

Again, ask the exact departure point of your vehicle, since there are different stops, although, in principle, the minivans leave from the corner of Thetsaban Bamrung and Phitak Chat streets.

Day 18: Visit of Chumphon

Chumphon is a quiet coastal town with a ferry service that links the mainland with the islands of the Gulf of Thailand.

In any case, it is a good stop to split the journey and, above all, to visit the beautiful beach of Hat Thung Wua Laen. Here we leave you more information on Chumpon and its beaches.


Day 19: Chumphon – Krabi (360 km.)

The Ao Nang area of Krabi is an ideal base camp for exploring the beaches and islands of the Andaman Sea, as it is a quiet place that offers all kinds of tourist services.

Next to Krabi is Railay, a sea area between cliffs where there is one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Thailand: Phra Nang Beach. Touristy, sure, but you don’t want to miss it!

How to get from Chumphon to Krabi?

On your alternative route in Thailand, you should know that this stretch must be done by bus, and it is the heaviest of the entire route: about 7 hours of travel.

Remember asking the exact place where the bus departs from to avoid any possible mistake.

Days 20-21: Krabi and its surroundings

The truth is that Krabi is far from being alternative, but the region is so beautiful that we recommend spending a couple of days to explore it. After all, doing an alternative travel in Thailand (or anywhere else) is more a matter of how you travel than which places you visit.

Krabi’s location is one of its great strengths, excellent to explore this region of the Andaman Sea, its beaches and islands.

Railay, with one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Thailand, is only 15 minutes away by boat, and from Krabi you can take boat trips to the many islands in the region.

Some of the most popular day trips from Krabi are:

โ–บ Trip to Railay.

โ–บ Trip to the Phi Phi islands

โ–บ Kayaking in Ao Thalane marshes.

alternative trip to thailand

Day 22: Krabi – Koh Jum

For this alternative route in Thailand, I suggest Koh Jum, an island near Krabi and just north of Koh Lanta, since it is one of the few islands that so far has managed to escape tourism development to a great extent.

Actually, you have a lot of beach alternatives in this same region, so you can always consult the different options on our blog and choose the island that seems most attractive to you.

How to get from Krabi to Koh Jum?

The best option is to take one of the ferries that connect Krabi with the island of Koh Lanta, just make sure in advance that it also stops in Koh Jum, since not all of them do.


Days 23-24: Beach relaxation in Koh Jum

Koh Jum is a small island, and all accommodations are located on its western coast, along a 12 km rather wild beach. The northern part of the island is dominated by the jungle mountain of Koh Phu, with an altitude of 400 meters. The fact of not having tourist agencies or many activities to do is precisely the charm of Koh Jum: a place with minimal tourist infrastructures, beautiful and authentic in which to relax and enjoy the sea and contemplation …Just ideal for this alternative route!

Day 25: Koh Jum – Krabi Airport – Return

How to get from Koh Jum to Krabi Airport?

Just undo the path that brought you here. You’ll have to take a ferry to the Krabi pier, and once there take a taxi to the airport.

The next time you meet someone who tells you that Thailand is a very touristy country, you will know from your own experience that, although it is true that Thailand is one of the most visited Asian countries, it is still possible to enjoy a really beautiful route finding very few tourists in most of its stops: it is simply a matter of good planning and research… and not going to the same places that everyone else goes! An alternative trip through Thailand is always possible.

๐Ÿ๏ธ Do you want to visit some other islands or beaches? Have a look at our list of the 25 best beaces in Thailand to get some inspiration!

Jordi Pla

Jordi Pla

Author of โ€˜Laos, a cultural guideโ€™, a very complete Spanish book about the culture, history and society of Laos. Jordi, from Barcelona, traveled to the region for the first time in the 1990s, and since then has worked as a blogger, tour leader and travel designer for Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

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