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Your Perfect Week in Thailand

Seeking an exotic escape but pushed for time? We asked Phuket local, Lee Cobaj to map out a seven-day itinerary that covers Thailand's best bits, from night markets to temple-studded hills, idyllic islands to hip beach clubs

See recent posts by Carl Unger

Day 1: Temples and Thai Food, Bangkok Bangkok is the kind of town where it’s best to hit the ground running, so check in, unpack and slip on some comfy shoes. Combine two of Bangkok’s main attractions, food and history, with a culinary walking tour of the 100-year-old Bangrak neighborhood. Fully sated, hit the shops. The Pratunam district is home to bustling street markets and immense malls, such as Platinum where you can pick up funky t-shirts for a few dollars. End the day with an elegant dinner at the Issaya Siamese Club, a beautiful old teak house with an ultra-mod Thai menu, and drinks at Maggie Choo’s, an old-Shanghai style, noodle-selling speakeasy in Silom.

RELATED: 9 Bangkok Hotels Worth the Baht

Day 2: Bangkok to Chiang Mai Internal flights in Thailand are cheap, safe and plentiful so take the one-hour hop north from Bangkok to the ancient Lanna land of Chiang Mai. You’ll be greeted by golden temple spires, swanky spas and bars, hip galleries and a sprawling night bazaar. Hire a taxi for a few hours and get your Zen on with a visit to the age-old temples Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chiang Man and Wat Suan Dok. Swing by the Riverside Restaurant by 7:15pm and secure a spot for dinner on one of their silk-clad converted rice barges. Bangkok and Thai Airways offer daily flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai for around $90 each way

Where to Stay in Bangkok

Day 3: Elephants and Night Markets, Chiang Mai Elephants, elephants, elephants. Spend the day hanging out with Chiang Mai’s most popular residents. The Thai Elephant Conservation Centre cares for more than 50 of the great beasts and allows visitors to interact with them in an ellie-friendly forest environment. Come sundown, Chiang Mai blazes into life, so seek out the Chang Klan Road Night Bazaar for a seemingly endless array of local art, handicrafts, clothing, silks and take-home trinkets. Tuck into Thai finger-food like spicy sausage along the way, or duck into Café Arte, a cool little café and ceramics shop.

Where to Stay in Chiang Mai

Day 4: Chiang Mai to Phuket Start the day the Chiang Mai way, with some early morning yoga and meditation. Check out the Yoga Tree, a friendly sanctuary set within the old city walls that offers everything from calming classes and stretch-yourself-to-the-limit yoga sessions. Fully recharged and raring to go, take the two-hour flight to the seductive southern island of Phuket. Make your way over to the neon-blue hued Catch Beach Club in fashionable Surin to watch the sun set while sipping on some potent Chalong Bay Rum cocktails. Bangkok Airways and Air Asia offer daily flights from Chiang Mai to Phuket for around $100 each way

Day 5: Island Hop Phuket’s natural attractions are simply stunning and it’s worth dedicating a full day to exploring the hundreds of hollowed-out islands – known as hongs – that decorate the surrounding Andaman Sea. Try the Hong by Starlight tour with John Gray Sea Canoe’s, which sweeps around Phang Nga bay taking in secluded beaches, secret cave systems and a late-night splash in bioluminescent waters.

RELATED: Island Hopping in Thailand: 7 Perfect Days in the Lesser-Known Kohs

Day 6: Hit the Beach It’s time to relax. Pull on a stylish sarong and bag a hot-pink cabana at Xana Beach Club. Lounging on the powder white sands of Bang Tao beach, with a 100-foot pool bar surrounded by palm trees, it’s the epitome of Phuket’s happening new beach scene. Take to the city after dark, for dinner at Rendez-Vous, a smart little restaurant housed in a historic Sino-Portuguese shophouse in the heart of the old town. Follow with drinks and a live band at the chic nightspot Sanaeha.

Where to Stay in Phuket

Day 7: Phuket to Bangkok Wake up and have a rub down. Inexpensive massage parlours staffed by flocks of freakishly strong Thai girls are everywhere in Phuket. And these places are fine for a quick foot massage or back rub. If you’re looking for a more holistic experience though, visit Thanyapura, a sophisticated sports training center which also offers everything from anti-stress massages to stem-cell facials and Muay Thai exercise classes to ensure you’ll be as loose as a ribbon for the flight back to Bangkok. Bangkok and Thai Airways offer daily flights from Phuket to Bangkok for around $100 each way

Women’s Outfit for a Perfect Week in Thailand

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