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2 weeks: Bangkok and Northern Thailand

  • hfergu

    Joined Travelfish
    21st March, 2010
    Location Canada
    Posts: 26

    - first night at the airport guesthouse, then travel downtown
    - a few days exploring in Bangkok
    - an overnight trip from Bangkok to Kanchanburi and back to Bangkok (by train from Thonburi station costs 100B, 3 hours): river raft guesthouse, caves, waterfalls
    - train north from Bangkok to Ayutthaya (by train from Hua Lampong station costs 20B for third class, 90 minute trip): one day, bike around
    - a day or just a few hours stopover in Lopburi (via train): temples and OVERRUN with monkeys, enough time to see the city between the morning and evening trains
    - Phitsanulok overnight (via train): more temples and national parks
    - if time, a day or two in Sukhothai from Phitsanulok (1 hour bus ride from Phitsanulok, 54B): historical capital, bike the UNESCO World Heritage Site/national park
    - Chiang Mai from Phitsanulok (by train): cycle the city, a day of hill-tribe trekking here or in Chiang Rai
    - bus to Chiang Rai (3 hours, 100 - 260B): a day-trip to the Golden Trinagle, night market
    - Chiang Khong --> border crossing into Laos (2 day boat trip down the Mekong to Luang Prabang)

    #1 Posted: 21/3/2010 - 05:05

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  • hfergu

    Joined Travelfish
    21st March, 2010
    Location Canada
    Posts: 26

    Is this itinerary doable?

    #2 Posted: 21/3/2010 - 05:06

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location United States
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    h,

    your itinerary is doable, but you are spending quite a bit of time travelling during your 14 days in thailand. it might be more fun to drop a few stops in your itinerary so that you can slow down and enjoy the places you do visit more. i also think that your plans on how many activities you'll be able to do each day (for example caves and waterfalls on a quick overnight trip to kanchanaburi or temples and national parks on a one-nighter in phitsanulok) might be a bit optimistic.

    in any case, i have a few specific suggestions on your plans that i hope are useful. first, unless you have a special desire to ride the train both to and from kanchanaburi, there is no need to return to bangkok from kanchanaburi. instead, you can catch the bus directly from kanchanaburi to ayutthaya - either a special tourist van that goes directly, or the regularly scheduled public bus with a stopover/change in suphanburi.

    your itinerary also seems to use the train quite a bit to get from place to place, when some of the legs of your trip might go better by bus. for example, from ayutthaya to lop buri i'd definitely take the train, since it will drop you off right downtown and within easy walking distance of all the fun stuff to do in lop buri. train is good from lop buri to phitsanulok too, but the overnight train will arrive in phitsanulok really really early, so check the schedule before you book. after that though, i think you'll be better off taking the bus from sukhothai up to chiang mai instead of going all the way back to phitsanulok for the train. there are definitely buses that pass through sukhothai on their way to chiang mai.

    i also wanted to ask what you specifically wanted to do in phitsanulok. i very much enjoyed my stay there this past december, but i had eight weeks to spend in thailand, not just two. if there isn't anything specific that you wanted to see in phitsanulok, it looks like the easiest place within your itinerary to save a day. personally i'd skip chiang rai and the golden trinagle too, but that's a personal choice and others might not agree. if you do skip phitsanulok, you might also consider taking the bus from lop buri directly to sukhothai instead of the train via phitsanulok. hope that helps. cheers.

    #3 Posted: 21/3/2010 - 09:22

  • hfergu

    Joined Travelfish
    21st March, 2010
    Location Canada
    Posts: 26

    Thanks so much for your reply. The info you've provided is great.
    I have a few more questions if you have time :)

    Most of the things I've listed as activities were just options so that I could look into them further. I don't want to plan things out exactly, day by day. And I do want to have flexibility.
    I'm torn because 2 weeks isn't very long.. I want to see as many places as possible while also enjoying them and going at a leisurely pace.

    Maybe it would be worth it to take a bit of extra time in Kanchanaburi, then bus to Ayutthaya. At least 2 days in each destination would be ideal.

    How would you suggest getting from Sukhothai to Chiang Mai ? I assume their is a bus, which would make more sense than back-tracking to take the train.

    Just out of curiousity, why would you skip Chiang Rai /Golden Triangle? I read in a few places that the Golden Triangle is a bit of a tourist trap and is not as interesting as it often seems.

    If I decided to skip Chiang Rai, is there a bus that goes directly from Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong that doesn't stop in Chiang Rai? If not, I may as well spend a night in Chiang Rai even if I don't visit the Golden Triangle.

    #4 Posted: 21/3/2010 - 10:12

  • Captain_Bob

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    Joined Travelfish
    27th May, 2006
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 1583

    There are buses from Sukhothai to Chiang Mai about every hour starting at 7am, takes about 5 hours, costs about 240 baht. The Green Bus Co. runs a daily 830am aircon bus direct from Chiang Mai Arcade station to Chiang Khong , takes 6.5 hrs. Otherwise there are aircon minivans running from guesthouses in the city up to Chiang Khong at 10am and Noon every day. Costs 400 baht and usually drops off at the new Namkong guesthouse in Chiang Khong (since they operate the vans). It's usually part of a slowboat package deal (1700 baht) but you can take the van seperately. Advantage being you can pre-book it and it picks you up at your door instead of dealing with the bus station 5km out of town.

    #5 Posted: 21/3/2010 - 14:48

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location United States
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    Total reviews: 47
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    h,

    i'd skip the golden triangle mostly because you've only got those two weeks to spend, and even with more time you'd still have to make tough choices on what to see and what to miss. i haven't been to the golden triangle for about a decade now, but even then the place was losing its charm and becoming a tourist trap with endless rows of junk for sale impinging on the former fantastic views. but i'd also skip it because you'll have plenty of time to enjoy those fantastic views on your boat trip down the mekong instead, so time and effort wise, there is no reason to make a special trip to get something you'll be able to enjoy elsewhere.

    then again, we've all got our own interests, and like i said, i've already been. if the GT is someplace you've always wanted to visit, then follow your heart. take care.

    #6 Posted: 21/3/2010 - 21:35

  • hfergu

    Joined Travelfish
    21st March, 2010
    Location Canada
    Posts: 26

    Thank you both for your tips. This has been unbelievably helpful. I'm developing similar itineraries for Laos (1-1.5 weeks), Vietnam (2.5-3 weeks) and Cambodia (2 weeks), so I'll likely post them in the other forums. I'm hoping to get such helpful results there :)

    I really don't want to stress out about timelines and itineraries. I'm traveling with my boyfriend and he has an illness that has the potential to get worse in the heat and with exhaustion. Travel like this can be tiring (I've been to Uganda twice and it is takes a while to get into the flow). So I want to keep this relaxed, but also not miss out on interesting things.

    So, for now, I've taken Phitsanulok and Chiang Rai out - to give more time (at least 2 nights) in all of the other destinations.

    Many thanks :)

    #7 Posted: 21/3/2010 - 21:59

  • jemmy

    Joined Travelfish
    16th March, 2010
    Posts: 4

    i wonder to lnow which is more reasonable to get to bangkok from songkla,,by train or by bus??how much the fare to reach there ?? i plan to go there before songkran festival on 15 april 2010???

    #8 Posted: 21/3/2010 - 22:22

  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
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    seems like a short stop in Chiang Mai - most people tack on a day to their stay there just to relax, even if they've already planned 2/3 days.

    #9 Posted: 22/3/2010 - 07:29

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