We'll be in Thailand for the first time from mid-Jan. - mid Feb. about 25 days, meeting friends at the beginning in Bangkok and at the end in Chang Mai. I thought in between we'd see Angkor Wat and some of the islands. Would it make sense to hire a car and drive to Siem Reap from Bangkok to save time and $$$? More expensive than the bus obviously, but maybe less time and not as pricey as the airline.
Also, any thoughts on islands? I thought we'd go to the Phuket area or Sumai, but not both. Any recommendations would be appreciated. Thanks.
#1 julieannaboyd has been a member since 21/12/2011. Posts: 2
Considering that you want to visit both Siem Reap and Chiangmai, you may want to consider going to an island or two in the Trat Province (Koh Chang, Koh Wai, Koh Mak, Koh Kut) as they are on the way to (and from) Cambodia, and much closer Bangkok. Phuket and Samui are really far out of the way and will take a lot of time getting to and from unless you fly.
There are also some great island options in Cambodia (http://www.travelfish.org/feature/220). Much more affordable, less developed (if that's what you want), and less crowded than most of the islands in Southern Thailand.
Can't help you with the car idea, but I can see crossing into Cambodia being a bit of a hassle as far as paperwork and insurance issues go (admittedly, I have no direct experience with this ... hopefully someone else does). I also don't see it saving you much money compared to other forms of transport (train, bus, plane). Plus, when you're on that island (or those islands) swinging in your hammock, it's going to be costing you while it sits still going nowhere.
Forget it - honestly.
Firstly, you cannot take a rented car into Cambo.
Secondly this is your 1st visit to Thailand . Have you visited 3rd world countries before? You are most likely going to suffer culture shock. It will take a bit of getting used to.
By all means do rent a car and do some driving though try and avoid Bangkok, the traffic is horrendous and motorbikes will come at you from all directions. The city traffic drives in VERY close proximity.
If travelling at night (not recommended) watch out for unlit motorbikes, tractors, farm trucks, etc. on fast main roads, they might even be travelling towards you on your side of the road.
Driving in Cambo worse than Thailand and they drive on the right.
Easy to travel overland but use trains/buses/taxis.
Remember if entering Thailand by a land border without a visa you will only receive a 15 day visa waiver stamp, not 30 as when entering by air.
#3 JohnnieWalker has been a member since 20/12/2011. Posts: 19
Tilapia, thanks for your suggestions about the Cambodian Islands. They look wonderful!
And thank you both for your input on driving. We have traveled extensively and driven in third world countries (Latin America, Africa esp.) and it is scary dodging the motorbikes. It doesn't sound like we'd gain anything so we'll look at other options.
#4 julieannaboyd has been a member since 21/12/2011. Posts: 2