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How to Plan a Trip to China and Thailand

Written by Chris QuanUpdated Apr. 10, 2024

China and Thailand are two highly-representative Asian countries. China boasts a rich historical heritage and exudes the classical charm of traditional Eastern culture.

Thailand, one of the representatives of Southeast Asia, is known for its islands, temples, and delicious cuisine. The combination of these two countries allows you to experience the diversity of East Asia all in one journey.

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Which Country to Fly to First

Considering the convenience of international flights, starting your journey in Thailand or China would not make a big difference because there are many flight options for these two countries.

You could decide according to the most convenient flight times, ticket prices, and your travel dates.

For a better travel experience, we suggest starting from China and ending in Thailand as this winds down from cultural experiences in China to the tropical-island vibe and relaxation found in Thailand.

How to Travel Between China and Thailand

Flying is definitely the best and fastest way to travel between Thailand and China. A direct journey takes about 4 to 5 hours. Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand and Beijing and Shanghai in China are the most frequently used flight hubs.

Many airlines have flights between Thailand and China. If you would like a boutique and luxury flight service, Bangkok Airways is the best choice. For good value and service, Thai Airways, Hainan Airlines, and Air China are the top choices. For budget airline options, you could check out AirAsia and Spring Airlines flights.

Our private tour service would manage all of the transportation within Thailand and China and also your flight between China and Thailand, all according to your cost and service requirements.

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How to Choose Cities to Visit in Thailand and China


ThailandOur guests with elephants in Chiang Mai

For first-time visitors to Thailand, a classic route including Bangkok and Chiang Mai paired with an island visit remains the most popular choice.

For island getaways, Phuket stands out with its lively atmosphere and various choices of water sports, making it particularly appealing for families.

For couples seeking an anniversary or honeymoon celebration, Koh Samui offers a quieter, more romantic vibe, along with high-end resort experiences.

If you are looking for off-the-beaten-path destinations with unique experiences such as jungle hiking, floating houses, or treehouse stays, you might consider Khao Sok National Park or Kanchanaburi.

If you are a history enthusiast intrigued by Thailand's history and ancient ruins, you could consider Sukhothai and Ayutthaya.

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The Great WallOur guests have a birthday picnic on the Great Wall

Given China's vastness, exploring all its cities in a single trip can be challenging. However, certain gateway cities encapsulate the essence of China's culture and history, making them ideal for first-time visitors—Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an.

Beyond history and culture, China's breathtaking natural landscapes are worth exploring. Time permitting, consider visiting scenic cities like Zhangjiajie (renowned for towering peaks), Guilin (known for its relaxing countryside vibe and scenery), or Huangshan (famous for mountain views).

If you are seeking off-the-beaten-path destinations, you might consider Tibet (offering Tibetan culture and plateau scenery), the Silk Road (featuring deserts and ancient caves), and Yunnan (good for ancient towns and relaxed, unhurried atmosphere).

Our tours can be customized. We will help you to arrange your itinerary based on your interests, available time, and other requirements. If you have a bucket list, we can help you realize it and give you professional advice about what options are available. Just contact us.

How Many Days Are Needed?

For your first trip to China and Thailand, an itinerary of about 2 weeks is appropriate, spending 1 week in China and 1 week in Thailand.

This length of time allows for a relaxed travel pace and ensures a relatively rich experience, including experiences such as hiking on the Great Wall and a cooking class in Thailand.

It could include must-see cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai in China, and Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and some beach time in Thailand.

Both China and Thailand are well worth visiting in depth. If you have a longer vacation of 3 or 4 weeks, you could spend one or two more weeks exploring areas with more ethnic or local characteristics, such as Tibet in China or the rainforest parks in Thailand.

Itinerary Suggestions: 3 Options

We offer three itinerary options to help you consider what you would like to include in your tour: the classic 2-week plan, the extended 3-week option, and the shorter 10-day alternative.

1. Classic 2-Week Itinerary for China and Thailand

If you want to cover the most essential cities in your Thailand and China trip, you could refer to this itinerary:

  • Days 1‒3: Beijing (landmark sightseeing, such as the Great Wall and the Forbidden City)
  • Days 4‒6: Shanghai (city walks to see the skyline, colonial architecture, and classical gardens, and some free time)
  • Days 7‒8: Bangkok (visit the Grand Palace and some Buddhist temples)
  • Days 9‒10: Chiang Mai (temples, a cooking class experience, and night markets)
  • Days 11‒13: Phuket (relaxing unscheduled beach time)
  • Day 14: Departure

2. In-Depth 3-Week China and Thailand Itinerary

This 3-week tour would have a more relaxed pace and give you more opportunities to explore Chinese history and culture as well as Thailand's forest parks.

  • Days 1‒4: Beijing
  • Days 5‒6: Xi'an
  • Days 7‒8: Shanghai
  • Days 9‒11: Bangkok
  • Days 12‒14: Chiang Mai
  • Days 15‒17: Khao Sok National Park (jungle hiking, kayaking, elephant camps...)
  • Day 18‒21: Koh Samui

3. Basic 10-Day China and Thailand Itinerary (Visa-Free)

If you don't have time for such a long vacation, you could refer to this itinerary. You do not need to apply for a Chinese tourist visa for this itinerary, as you could take advantage of Beijing's 144-hour visa-free transit policy.

  • Days 1‒4: Beijing
  • Days 5‒6: Bangkok
  • Days 7‒9: Phuket
  • Day 10: Departure
BeijingOur family guests learn to write Chinese characters in a hutong family.

Costs for a Trip to China and Thailand

We suggest allocating a daily budget of about 220–250 USD per person for a private tour. This budget allows you to maintain a balance between better experiences and sensible expenditures.

The price includes flights/trains within China and Thailand as well as transportation between China and Thailand, 4- or 5-star hotels, lunches, attractions, guides, and private transport.

You could get an approximate price reference from our 15-Day Thailand and China Tour.

The price difference between the low and high seasons isn't significantly large. What you should be aware of is that during some major holidays, such as Christmas, Thailand's Loy Krathong festival, and China's National Day, hotel prices could increase by 50% to 100%.

We recommend booking 3 months in advance to ensure that you have more options and opportunities for comparison.

When booking with us, you'll receive a 100% refund of any payments made to China Highlights if you cancel up to 3 weeks before departure (more details here⇒).

Best Times to Visit China and Thailand

Koh SamuiSummer in Koh Samui is less affected by the rainy season.

The best times to visit China and Thailand are October, November, and March when the two countries have less rain and ideal temperatures. The Yi Peng Festival in Thailand in November could be an event you want to include.

If you don't care too much about the cold wintry weather in China — it's around -5–10°C (23–50°F) in Beijing — then December, January, and February are also good times to travel, as Thailand has fantastic weather in these months.

September could also be an option when China is at its best weatherwise. Thailand would have afternoon showers, but the impact wouldn't be very big.

The summer vacation (June to August) coincides with the hot and rainy season in China and Thailand (Koh Samui and nearby islands will be sunny). Often this means heavy afternoon/evening showers, which have little impact on the touring experience. Sometimes, beach activities may be affected due to rough seas, but there are still many indoor activities available, such as visiting vibrant markets, taking cooking classes, etc.

Making the most of good weather with the high-quality experiences we provide, and mitigating the impact of bad weather through our arrangements, is what we routinely do to enhance your trip. Feel free to contact us for a customized trip.

Visa Requirements

Most European and American tourists don't need a visa to visit Thailand.

You do, however, need to apply for a tourist visa (L visa) to visit China. We recommend that you apply for the visa 1 or 2 months before the intended travel date. You could refer to the requirements for visa applications here.

When booking with us, we would provide the invitation letter that you would need for a tourist visa application.

Tour China and Thailand with Us

All of our tours can be adjusted or customized based on your requirements. Just contact us if you have a good idea about what you want to do or if you need some help to start planning.

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