Southern Thailand recommendations
3rd January, 2012
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My husband and I are travelling to Thailand for a friend's wedding. We'll start in Bangkok, spend some time based in Chiang Mai, then head to Rayong and Ko Samet for the wedding. We have 5 days remaining after the wedding before we fly home and thought of travelling South. We would either like to base ourselves in one place for those days and take daytrips, or could possibly stay in one place for 2-3 nights and then move on to another place before heading back to Bangkok for our flight (trying to minimize time lost travelling). We would like to be in an area with national parks/activities/things to do and see. We don't want to spend our time partying (not our thing although it seems that a number of Southern locations feature that) and although a little beach time would be nice, we'll have had that on Ko Samet so are not looking to spend 5 days vegging out on a beach. Any recommendations for where to base ourselves and where to explore would be greatly appreciated!
#1 Posted: 3/1/2012 - 10:20
If you only have 5 days between the wedding and flying home, then I would not bother venturing too far south unless you plan to fly. You'll use at least 2 of those days getting down there and back again. Even if you're flying you can still use up a lot of time.
Not too far south of Bangkok is Prachuap Khiri Khan (about 4 or 5 hours). It's a fantastic (in my opinion, anyway) mid-sized Thai town on the coast that has a bit of an ex-pat scene (enough to make life easy), but that isn't overrun. Excellent seafood, inexpensive, and on the train line so that getting to and from Bangkok is a breeze. There are a few decent attractions there, and Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park is just a little north along the coast. You could rent a motorbike cruise up the coast to the park, check the place out, and be back before nightfall.
Kanchanaburi is also quite good for several-day stays, and it's only a couple of hours by train (or 1 1/2 hours by bus) to and from Bangkok. Super scenery and plenty to do on two feet, two wheels, or 4 wheels. Erawan National Park is nearby, and just hanging out by the river can gobble up a couple of days. A few hours beyond K-buri is Sangkhlaburi, which is a really nice, small town by the Burmese border that's surrounded by beautiful hills and that sits on a lovely resevoir. Well worth visiting except on weekends and Thai holidays.
I also like the area around Mahachai-Samut Songkhram-Amphawa. You can make a great trip to these places on the single-line railway that connects Thonburi-Mahachai-Samut Songkhram (or Mae Khlong). Amphawa has lots of gorgeous old riverhouses that have been converted into homestays that sit right on the canal. There are a couple of floating markets, but mostly they are nice places to wander around and take it all in. None of these places are more than a couple of hours from Bangkok, and they aren't much visited. Mahachai has some of the best seafood in the country along with Prachuap Khiri Khan. Taking the train from Thonburi to Mae Khlong is a real adventure, and a load of fun.
I'd also recommend Sukhothai and area ( Si Satchanalai and Sawankhalok), as well as Nong Khai and area (Sangkhom and Chiang Khan), but these places may be a bit too far out of the way, especially Nong Khai, which would probably require an overnight train from Bangkok, or a flight to Udon Thani. This area is excellent for Mekong River-side living, and Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai are great for ruined temples, bike riding, and walking.
One other place that I forgot about ... Khong Chiam. This place sits on the Mekong in an area near Ubon Ratchathani. It's quite isolated, peaceful, and beautiful. Nearby is Pha Taem National Park. But, again, this may be a bit too far out of the way. It's in the eastern part of the country near the Chong Mek border crossing.
#2 Posted: 3/1/2012 - 14:18
Satun is rather beautiful and a little out of the way. It's very peaceful down there, surrounded by lots of hills and whatnot. It's right on the border with Malaysia. Worth a look.
#3 Posted: 5/1/2012 - 03:17
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