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Best islands April?

  • JamieBell

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2012
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 26

    Hey guys I am travelling with my girlfriend around the start of april. Our plan is to stay for 3 weeks and experience a mixture of relaxation, partying, snorkelling, romance and just experience things we have never before. We are both beginners at this so any advice would be much obliged. I have been fantasising about waking up in a shack by the beach, cocktails, wildlife etc etc so if anyone has any suggestions that would be great. I sort of drawn up a plan; flying to Phuket then perhaps hopping from island to island. Ko Phi Phi, Ko Lanta, Ko Lipe, Ko Adang??????? As I have never been before would this work? Or any better suggestions? I hope youse can help! Please bear in mind we are new to this. Btw, coming from Glasgow, Scotland.

    Cheers!

    #1 Posted: 3/3/2012 - 12:16

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  • captainbkk

    Joined Travelfish
    16th February, 2012
    Posts: 427

    definbe what is best-suhc a subjective term is open to misunderstandign. and oh yes-best and cheap mostly do not pare up. Where you come from hardly matters, but maybe it is to tell you are sooo penny/baht-wise?
    and now shell shock: ever heard/read about that most festive of thai festivals: SONGKRAN=their nw, Yr-around 14/4, the waterspashing thing. Expect all transpo to be fully booked up and many places aiming at Thai ditto. But then most 1st timers are too scary for things Thai anyway and prefer touristy things. Thats why airfares are so low around that time-noone wants to go who knows. However in the south it has less force as in the north-but the holidaying Thai also know that.
    From UK HKT is not a favoured fly-in post, as it has no direct flites-BKK does. Plus HKT is under much fire lately for its incessant crooks, cheats and anything that can deceive a tourist.. But most newbies do not even notion as they have no clue about prices and what is right.
    For the info you ask there is an old-fashioned and still very useful source; guidebook. Even an old one from the library-youre Scot after all?- will give most directions, but then expect prices to be out of date.

    #2 Posted: 3/3/2012 - 20:12

  • tyler

    Joined Travelfish
    7th December, 2010
    Location Canada
    Posts: 253
    Places visited:
    At least 71

    @jamiebell,
    Keep in mind that April is hot. The Andaman side of things - where you plan to go - will have great weather. He Thai holiday will make things busy. How busy? I am not sure as I usually head home at that time of year. There will be some info on this site regarding bookings and I'm sure you'll get some posts from others here as well that will be useful.
    You might have to prebook your rooms if you want beach side accommodation. Maybe book some time in Phuket, Koh Lanta, Koh Lipe...ect - wherever you decide. And your hotel can arrange ongoing transport for you.
    Your picking some great places to go for your first time! Enjoy!

    #3 Posted: 3/3/2012 - 20:41

  • DLuek

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
    19th June, 2008
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 928
    Total reviews: 14

    Hi,

    First, you should pretty much ignore the post by captainbkk. Not sure if (s)he's trying to scare you or what, but there's a definite condescending (not to mention rushed and drunk sounding) tone in that post, and the info provided is not really accurate.

    Yes, it will be Songkran in mid April. Will "all transport be fully booked up"? Absolutely not - if you want to fly during that time you'll definitely want to book fares early, but buses and trains run as normal and from my experience it hasn't been a problem to get tickets during Songkran. While it's definitely a busy time in places like Chiang Mai it is still possible to find rooms as a walk in, even in Chiang Mai (I know I've done it), but expect prices to be a little higher.

    I've never been to the islands during Songkran, but I'm fairly certain they aren't nearly as busy then as during the Christmas/New Years holidays. April is shoulder season in the islands - it's still a good time to go but it's past peak season and just before rainy season so generally it's more low key at that time. It's actually a great time to go. If you want to be safe for Songkran just get to a chosen island at least 3 days before the start of the festival and book accommodation throughout the holiday weekend.

    As far as itinerary, Phi Phi > Lanta > Lipe > Adang sounds fine. And, doing this route is extremely easy. All you'll need to do is book a speedboat from Phuket to Phi Phi, which may be done at any of the bizzillion travel companies there. Then speedboats run directly from Phi Phi to Lanta, and Lanta to Lipe. Don't worry, you'll see signs everywhere for these boats - it really couldn't be easier. Adang is right next to Lipe and it's also extremely easy to get a longtail boat there from Lipe.

    I definitely wouldn't suggest getting an "old guide book from the library", but you should read all the info on travelfish for the destinations you're looking at. That info should answer most of your questions... For anything more specific come back and ask in the forum. Also, are you aware you can download free travel guides to most destinations from travelfish through the "member centre" next to your log in name? You can print those out and keep them with you as you go, which is really helpful for researching accommodation and transport info on the go.

    Finally, I'd suggest determining the hotels/resorts you're interested in staying at by researching the travelfish accommodation info first. While it's likely you'll just be able to show up and get a room, you might want to call or send an email to the places first and make a reservation. If you want to be extra safe you can reserve rooms through www.agoda.com or www.sawadee.com, but bear in mind that many of the better budget options are not available through those websites. For the places you're going there's no need to get the hotels to take care of your travel needs as they will charge more and it's so easy to book boat tickets on your own.

    So, don't worry!!! Millions of tourists do exactly what you're doing every year and most have little or no experience. Relatively speaking Thailand is not a difficult country to travel in, and in the islands everyone speaks English. On Lipe even half of the places to stay are managed by foreigners - the place doesn't even feel like Thailand - you'll meet just as many people from Sweden or Germany than Thailand, even though you're actually in Thailand! You have nothing to worry about - do your research and enjoy it.

    Peace

    DL

    #4 Posted: 3/3/2012 - 21:46

  • rawaet3w

    Joined Travelfish
    17th February, 2012
    Posts: 2

    thailand has so many islands you will have a wonderful time

    #5 Posted: 4/3/2012 - 03:25

  • JamieBell

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2012
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 26

    @DLuek

    Thanks very much for your detailed reply! As for captainbkk 'trying' to scare me, not to worry. I am a sailor so have I have been worldwide and to some of the dodgiest places you can think.

    You suggest to book flights early? I am actually down in Ghana working at the mo and due home around 4th April so my plans were to book last minute flights when i return home. The reason for this is because I do not want to book flights early and then find out I will be going home later than expected. So do you think last minute flights will be way more expensive?

    As for it being fairly low key and end of peak season, that is actually ideal for us. We are hoping to have a nice romantic and (at times) peacefull holiday. God we sound like an old couple but we are only 25 and 26 lol. Thanks for giving me a heads up on the free guides, I will definitely take advantage of that!

    As it is end of peak season do you think it will be fairly easy to get beach front accomodation? Also, do you know the averages prices? I dont really know where to start with the budgeting but I hear it is fairly cheap? So I have set an average budget of 3000baht per day. Is this too much or too little? I am hoping to have accomodation, food and drinks with this. Bare in mind we are not looking to go to fancy hotels, we want something rural, something we havent done before so shacks will be ideal.

    Also, do you have any suggestions for packing essentials? Is it fairly easy to rent motorcycles/scooters and canoes?

    I done a bit of research last night and the plan I have drawn up is this; Phuket-Phi Phi-Lanta-Lipe-Adang. We will be over for about 3 weeks so do you think this is viable or are we trying to squeeze to much in, in this period of time?

    Thanks again!
    All the best!

    #6 Posted: 4/3/2012 - 05:56

  • DLuek

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
    19th June, 2008
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 928
    Total reviews: 14

    Hi again,

    If you're talking about booking the flight to Thailand last minute I definitely would not suggest that. I'd look around now and find what's cheapest and book soon. If you wait until last minute for a long haul flight it could be very expensive. You'll most likely want to book in and out of Bangkok and then fly from there to Phuket . The BKK to HKT flight you could wait on but, again, seeing as April is just a couple months away the earlier the better. You'll want Air Asia for the HKT flight... I'd check it out now just to get an idea. If it's all booked you could look for flights to Krabi and bus from there to Phuket... Or actually you could easily skip Phuket altogether, fly in to Krabi and go from there to Ko Phi Phi. Or fly to Trang (Nok Air or Air Asia) and head south, start at Lipe and work your way north. That would actually make more sense because you could fly back from Phuket or Krabi.

    In terms of budget you could stay in relative luxury for 3K baht per day. If all you need are basic bamboo bungalows with fan only you could easily spend half that and be comfortable, including food/drinks and transport costs, so no worries there.

    For Phi Phi check out this feature and for Lipe this one.

    It's easy to rent motorbikes on Ko Lanta and Phuket. Make sure to take pictures of any damage before you take off after renting just to be safe. Phuket is known for scammers. Phi Phi and Lipe are small and you can just walk around.

    As for itinerary I think it sounds fine for 3 weeks, especially if you speedboat from island to island, which is a little more expensive but much faster and easier than going back to the mainland and busing it for each leg. The only thing that comes to mind for me is that you're visiting some of the more touristed islands. They're all definitely beautiful, and Adang is a national park so that's another story, but if you want something with more of an off the beaten track, "local" feel you might consider Ko Bulon Lae, which is on the same speedboat route. If you think adding that might be too many islands you might consider choosing Phi Phi or Lipe (personally I'd choose Lipe/Adang), or cutting out Phuket altogether (I would personally do that too unless you're looking to party down).

    Hope that helps

    #7 Posted: 4/3/2012 - 06:23

  • JamieBell

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2012
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 26

    @DLuek

    Thanks again! I have done some investigating on flights and to book a flight in the next few days to Krabi is around the same price as flights in 6 weeks time. Btw I have taken your advice and it will most definitely be Krabi. I hear Phuket has become very westernised with outlets such as kfc etc everywhere. Is this true? We were planning only using Phuket as a transit anyway. I dont think I will risk booking flights now because with my job anything can change which means I may not be guaranteed to make it for a booked flight. Btw I work 6weeks away and 6weeks at home so I need to fit the trip in, in this time frame. Also, I must make myself available 1 week before I am due to return to work. Hope this makes sense. The cheapest flight prices I am getting from Glasgow, Scotland to Krabi are around £690.

    Oh and as for Bulon Lae, I completely forgot to include that in my previous post. This will definitely be a stop off on our route! So as we will now be travelling to Krabi can you make a suggested route of the islands for the 3 weeks we will be there. You would be helping me out alot here pal.

    One other thing, do you have any advice on vaccinations? Are they a neccesity? I have all my vaccs because of my job but I would like to know for my girlfriend. A couple of ppl have suggested Hep A jag. What do you think?

    Once again thank you!

    Take it easy

    #8 Posted: 4/3/2012 - 07:48

  • DLuek

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
    19th June, 2008
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 928
    Total reviews: 14

    Jamie,

    You may be aware, but I'm guessing it's cheaper to book a ticket to Bangkok, and then another one to Krabi on Air Asia.

    KFC is everywhere all over Thailand but Phuket may well be the most westernised place in the country. If you want to experience a "real" authentic Thai city I'd suggest stopping for a night in Trang. Great night market there. I mean, in general the islands you're looking at are all pretty touristy, but there's a reason for that - they're really, really beautiful places to be. Bulon is an exception - not too touristy and still retains its own unique local charm. Lipe and Phi Phi are filled with resorts and tourists, but I'd still hit up at least one of them b/c they're both beautiful spots. Haven't been to Lanta yet - my impression is that it's on the touristy side but also has some local villages and a lot of jungle.

    For a route there are a lot of possibilities.

    Personally, I'd fly into Bangkok, spend a couple days there, then fly to Trang. Book a minibus/speedboat transfer to Ko Lipe while in Trang. That would take you straight to Lipe and you wouldn't need to spend time in Pakbara , which is the pier town to Lipe and is pretty much a shithole.

    Once on Lipe you could spend a couple nights there, then either day trip to Ko Adang or spend one (or more) nights in the national park accommodation. Personally I preferred to just do it as a day trip. Tip - on Lipe I'd recommend Lipe Beach Resort, Gypsy Bungalows, or Castaway Resort if you're willing to spend a little more.

    Then from Lipe book a speedboat to Bulon Lae... Costs 600B as I recall but I could be wrong. Takes about an hour and a half. Tip - on Bulon I like Marina Resort, it's kind of rustic and is on a hillside a short walk from the beach but the rooms are very tasteful and romantic, although in a kind of roughing it style. On the beach Bulone Resort is a fine choice... That's the first resort you'll see when the boat drops you off, walk a short distance behind it and you'll see Marina on the hill.

    After 2-3 nights on Bulon book the speedboat on to Ko Lanta. Whereas the other islands have tons of travel shops where it's easy to book boat tickets Bulon doesn't have that. The best thing is to find the lady at Bulone Resort and book through her.
    So the speedboat runs from Bulon to Lanta. This is a long trip - maybe 3-4 hours, and it costs around 1000B. Alternately you could take the longtail back to Pakbara from Bulon and book a minibus transfer from there to Lanta. This would take longer and would be more of a pain but would save a little money and allow you to see the mainland countryside.

    Speedboat from Lanta to Phi Phi is easy enough, and then take the boat from Phi Phi to Krabi to catch a flight back to Bangkok and onwards to home.

    Like I said, many ways you could do this, that's just how I would do it.

    Have fun!

    D

    #9 Posted: 4/3/2012 - 09:28

  • DLuek

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
    19th June, 2008
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 928
    Total reviews: 14

    Oh yeah - vaccinations...

    I've been to Thailand 4 times, have traveled all over the country and am currently living here for the past 5 months. I've also been to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, and I've never gotten any vaccinations. Certainly if you want to be safe they're a good idea but I've yet to have a problem.

    That said, it's advisable to get at least hep A/B. :)

    #10 Posted: 4/3/2012 - 09:31

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  • DLuek

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
    19th June, 2008
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 928
    Total reviews: 14

    Oh yeah - vaccinations...

    I've been to Thailand 4 times, have traveled all over the country and am currently living here for the past 5 months. I've also been to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, and I've never gotten any vaccinations. Certainly if you want to be safe they're a good idea but I've yet to have a problem.

    That said, it's advisable to get at least hep A/B. :)

    #11 Posted: 4/3/2012 - 09:31

  • JamieBell

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2012
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 26

    Hey D

    Ive decided to take your advice and fly to Bangkok, spend a couple days there then fly down either Krabi or Trang and so on. So do you personally recommend booking accomodation beforehand or do you think, as it is end of peak season, we should be fine just turning up? I would prefer not to book before as we may enjoy a certain place we are at and want to stay longer.
    So what are the prices like for beer, food etc? I apoligise for piling question after question but that should be me finished lol. You have helped me out significantly, cheers mate!

    #12 Posted: 4/3/2012 - 12:04

  • DLuek

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
    19th June, 2008
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 928
    Total reviews: 14

    No worries... I usually don't book anything in advance but I do research and pick out a couple places that I wouldn't mind staying at before I arrive so I'm not completely in the dark when I get there.

    Occasionally I book something for one night after a long flight, especially in a bigger city, because wandering around some city with backpack in tow and searching for a guesthouse can be a pain, and it's just easier to know exactly where I'm going in that case.

    For a small island I wouldn't book in advance unless it were peak season... I might for Songkran just to be safe. But if I do book in advance anywhere I almost always book just one night so I can look for a new hotel the next morning if the place I booked wasn't what I expected.

    As for prices, it's less than US $1 for a small beer (honestly I haven't drank for years so I'm not exactly sure anymore but it's cheap). Food is cheap in general - you can get fried rice and the like for just about US $1 if you go to a local style restaurant in Bangkok, but in the islands expect to spend around US $10-15 for a nice meal for two at a decent restaurant.

    #13 Posted: 5/3/2012 - 03:35

  • time2fly

    Joined Travelfish
    18th January, 2012
    Location Canada
    Posts: 112

    Jamie, when do you arrive? I will be there around the 3rd (Bangkok) and the 6th(islands) first time here also but my GF has been before!!

    #14 Posted: 5/3/2012 - 18:21

  • JamieBell

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2012
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 26

    @time2fly

    Hey hows you!? I am due home from work around the 4th so I am hoping to be heading over round about the 8th, a day or 2 in Bangkok then down to the islands. Which islands you planning on going to? Think our plan is Lipe, Bulon Lae, Phi Phi and perhaps Phi Phi. Dont know what order yet lol.

    Where are coming from btw?

    Take it easy!

    Jamie

    #15 Posted: 6/3/2012 - 02:33

  • JamieBell

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2012
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 26

    @time2fly

    Hey hows you!? I am due home from work around the 4th so I am hoping to be heading over round about the 8th, a day or 2 in Bangkok then down to the islands. Which islands you planning on going to? Think our plan is Lipe, Bulon Lae, Phi Phi and perhaps Phi Phi. Dont know what order yet lol.

    Where are coming from btw?

    Take it easy!

    Jamie

    #16 Posted: 6/3/2012 - 02:33

  • JamieBell

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2012
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 26

    that was supposed to read 'perhaps Lanta' not Phi Phi again.

    #17 Posted: 6/3/2012 - 02:34

  • time2fly

    Joined Travelfish
    18th January, 2012
    Location Canada
    Posts: 112

    Hey Jamie, I will be in Bangkok until the 4th followed by PP, Koh Samui, Koh Tao and a few days in Cambodia... I am coming from Canada until the the 25th.

    #18 Posted: 6/3/2012 - 20:23

  • JamieBell

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2012
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 26

    @time2fly

    Hey! Unfortunately I do not think our paths will cross as we will be heading to the southern islands. We are going to fly from Bangkok down to either Krabi or Trang and then on to Lipe, Lanta, Phi Phi and Bulon Lae.

    #19 Posted: 7/3/2012 - 06:32

  • SBE

    Click here to learn more about SBE
    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Global Village
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    At least 2

    Hi Jamie,

    Songkran officially starts on the 12th this year. If you're flying out of Glasgow on the 8th that means you'll probably be landing in BKK on the 9th. Then, if you spend a couple of days in Bangkok, you'll be leaving town on the 11th, at the same time as several million other people and quite a few of those will be heading to the beaches too.

    Sooo...book your flights from Bangkok to the south ASAP. Flights will be full and there won't be any last minute discounts.

    If you want to go somewhere relatively peaceful then Phi Phi probably isn't a great choice as a first stop; it's likely to be mobbed there during Songkran. Best to head for Trang and one of the less well known islands instead (eg Ko Bulon Lae or Ko Sukkorn perhaps) and visit Phi Phi later on.

    If it were me I'd be inclined to book accommodation for April 12th-15th whichever island you chose, particularly if you want a beach front bungalow. Prices tend to get hiked up during Songkran but once it's over you'll get low season rates and will be able to wing it.

    #20 Posted: 7/3/2012 - 20:50

  • time2fly

    Joined Travelfish
    18th January, 2012
    Location Canada
    Posts: 112

    no worry Jaime... I will be in PP at some point during the trip, not sure when!!

    #21 Posted: 7/3/2012 - 22:10

  • JamieBell

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2012
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 26

    @SBE

    Yeah I had Songkran on my mind, was trying to work out my best options. I think instead of spending a couple of days in Bangkok when I arrive, I will just do it before I fly home. Probs spend the night after flight then fly down to Trang and hopefully get decent accomodation before the celebrations.

    As I plan to go to Lipe, Lanta, Phi Phi, Bulon Lae and perhaps a Trang island which would you say is the best route so that it is relatively short boat trips between? Cheers.

    @time2fly

    Sound mate. Well give me a shout when you know you will be in Phi Phi!

    #22 Posted: 8/3/2012 - 02:31

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