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Questions about southern Thailand

  • ThorntreeEx-
    ile

    Joined Travelfish
    8th January, 2013
    Posts: 10

    Hi,

    I'm heading to Thailand in a week and had planned to jump my way along the south coast from Bangkok to Malaysia. I've got three weeks and am not really an island person, but I do like beach towns. I quite liek temples and just wandering around towns, prefer local style beaches than tourist ones. My rough plan was:

    Bangkok
    Phetburi
    Kengkrachan national park
    Hua Hin
    Prachuap Khiri Khan
    Bang Saphan (noi or yai)?
    Chumphon
    Meditation place near Surat Thani
    Nakhon Si Thamarat
    Pattani
    Narathiwat
    fly back to Bangkok and that's it folks.

    So my questions:

    1) Am I better to visit the national park from Phetburi or Hua Hin?
    2) How long would people recomend in Prachuap? I have heard it is very famous for its seafood, which I am happy to research!, but is there much else to see?
    3) Bang Saphan Noi or Bang Saphan Yai?
    4) How long would you recommend in Chumphon?
    5) There is a meditation temple somewhere near Surat Thani - does anyone have more info on it? How long is the course there?
    6) I'm aware of the security situation in the far south, but wonder has anyone travelled through there semi-recently (last 6 months) any tips (aside from "Don't go, you'll die!")

    Thanks

    #1 Posted: 8/1/2013 - 17:53

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  • fondo

    Joined Travelfish
    23rd June, 2006
    Posts: 161
    Total reviews: 19
    Places visited:
    At least 98

    My main suggestion is that some transport will make this journey much more fun. I always have a car but I've always got Lady Fondo along too.

    Just see how you go spending a few days in each. I like it all between PKK and Chumphon!

    http://www.bangsaphanguide.com
    http://www.bankrutinfo.com/

    Chumphon is vastly underrated as a destination IMHO. I don't know a lot about south of there but Khanom beach in Nakhon Si Thammarat is very nice in season.

    http://www.everythinginnakhon.info/

    #2 Posted: 8/1/2013 - 18:56

  • ericgsmith

    Joined Travelfish
    1st September, 2012
    Location New Zealand
    Posts: 23

    I ended up staying about 10 days in Prachuap Kiri Khan after initially planning an overnighter. Stayed at Maggies homestay - amazing place had a fantastic time there. Theres a nice hill to walk up that offers views of the bay. Pretty cool just to hang out a watch the squid boats at night.

    With only three weeks I'd say just make up your mind when you get there. If you're not into it, it's on the train line you can just hop on to your next destination.

    #3 Posted: 8/1/2013 - 21:33

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6335
    Total reviews: 10

    I'd steer clear of Pattani if I were you - the insurgency down there giving the idea of adventure travel a little more adventure than you might bargain for. If it were me I'd blow through the soutern four provinces pretty quick and hop over to Malaysia or if you don't plan to cross the border, simply stop before you get that far down. You would probably be OK, but the risk doesn't really seem worth it to me.

    #4 Posted: 9/1/2013 - 03:27

  • captainbkk

    Joined Travelfish
    16th February, 2012
    Posts: 426

    Thats a really imaginative postername. I just saw TT/LP has reopened, but for some branches only, NOt yet TH.
    @1. neither, but access to the main town nearby is easiest from Phetburi (half of the vans exBKK go there-Chom Porn or so. You then have to come back. I do not think there are any organised trips ex HHin to there, as ahrdly anyone goes there. To rally see that park you need own transport
    @5. Wat Suan MOke-should be easy enough to google for more info. AFAIK its 1ce a month on a date relating the full moon or so and is supposed to last the whole 29/30 days-but hardly anyone stays that long.
    @6-have 1 year ago, train HYai to border and this whole line was fenced off, all stations with airport-style luggage checks but not at all in Hyai!) and hardly anyone aboard, except a bunch of very bored-friendly Thai soldiers (I speak Thai). They pointed at some spots were bombs had exploded etc. There was also 1 station closed and now used for training of those soldiers.Then halfway suddenly the train was stormed by throngs of market goers, all muslim and eager to talk. Trains are free for Thai.
    However, these towns have really nothing of interest. Also: as has been said so many tiems, the many bombs are mainly aimed at Thai govt officials (incl alas teachers!)and not at western tourists, but its just a matter of being at the wrong spot at the wrong time-i would not risk it for jus being able to brag later: Ive been there! for your facebook.

    #5 Posted: 9/1/2013 - 06:37

  • ThorntreeEx-
    ile

    Joined Travelfish
    8th January, 2013
    Posts: 10

    Thanks for the replies guys. A couple of follow-ons.

    fondo do you rent a car in bangkok and drive it back or can you do some kind of pick up in one place and drop somewhere else? I had planned on doing most of this by trauin and hadn't thought of doing it with my own car. Any idea on a rough rental cost for a small sedan? (there are two of us)

    erig do you have any contact details for maggies? It doesn't appear to be on this site (some of their southern thai stuff seems quite old btw).

    madmac noted - thanks

    captainbkk - thorntreeexile was easier to type than holyhellimpissedatlonelyplanet :-) Wat Suan Mok - thankyou - I couldn't remember the name.Will Google. On far south my main interest is these hand painted boats they have in Pattani (there is a pic of one here on Travelfish). You've heard of train spotters? I'm the boat version! But advice noted and will keep an eye on the idiotbox. Understand the randomness of it.

    Thanks again

    #6 Posted: 9/1/2013 - 06:55

  • gregmccann1

    Joined Travelfish
    28th October, 2009
    Location Taiwan
    Posts: 161
    Total reviews: 5

    1. Phetburi is nice. Go there for a day or two before KKNP.

    Why not swap Narathiwat with Satun?

    I like Nakhon Si Thammarat a lot. Be sure to check out Ban Khiriwong Village in the foothills of Khao Luang NP. Wonderful place and some really interesting polycropping (mixed orchard) plantations in those foothills plus some beautiful waterfalls. The national park is worth a trek too.

    Please post a trip report upon your return. I'd be interested to see how things turn out.

    #7 Posted: 9/1/2013 - 07:22

  • antoniamitc-
    hell

    Click here to learn more about antoniamitchell
    Joined Travelfish
    13th May, 2012
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 244
    Total reviews: 3
    Places visited:
    At least 39

    Hi Exile,

    Sounds like a great trip.

    Haven't been to most of those places, so I'll just comment on Prachuap. I spent a few days there 2 years ago and really liked it as a place to chill.
    Things to do:
    - climb up the hill to see the old wat (and fend off the monkeys);
    - walk along the seafront, past the (fairly) undeveloped North beach, all the way out to the fishing village;
    - cycle through the air force base to the main beach (when I visited I was one of only 3 westerners, the rest of the people were local);

    It's a fairly low-key destination, which is part of it's charm.

    I stayed at a tiny place on the seafront called Chabakaew Guesthouse, but their website seems to have disappeared so I guess they've closed. Anyway, there are quite a few small hotels in town and along the seafront, so you should be able to something suitable on arrival.

    Have fun (very jealous!),
    Antonia

    #8 Posted: 9/1/2013 - 14:58

  • fondo

    Joined Travelfish
    23rd June, 2006
    Posts: 161
    Total reviews: 19
    Places visited:
    At least 98

    TTE, when I've been down there I've rented a car in Hua Hin. You can relocate a Budget car anywhere if you take it for 7 days or longer. I've found I can usually get a pickup for about 1,000 Bt a day. Online booking works well with Budget, but there are plenty of others in Hua Hin.

    Play around on the Budget website above to discover your options.

    #9 Posted: 9/1/2013 - 18:50

  • fondo

    Joined Travelfish
    23rd June, 2006
    Posts: 161
    Total reviews: 19
    Places visited:
    At least 98

    Also, http://maggiesprachuap.webs.com/

    Looks nice from the road. I always stay at the Hadthong these days, pretty standard Thai hotel - superb views over the bay.

    #10 Posted: 9/1/2013 - 19:09

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  • ThorntreeEx-
    ile

    Joined Travelfish
    8th January, 2013
    Posts: 10

    Antonia, Greg & fondo thanks.

    Greg the boats are apparently unique to Pattani. They're hand painted and no two are the same. You can see a photograph of one here. Will look into the park.

    thankyou

    #11 Posted: 10/1/2013 - 00:11

  • DLuek

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
    19th June, 2008
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 926
    Total reviews: 14

    Yes, Wat Suan Mokkh (www.suanmokkh.org) - 10 day retreats every month. There's also a good place for meditation on Ko Pha Ngan: Wat Khao Tam (www.watkowtahm.org).

    I was going to make the same suggestion as #7, Satun sounds like it would be right up your alley. Another few southern Thai towns I enjoyed are Phang Nga, Ranong and Takua Pa (including the old town and Baan Nham Kem). Khao Sok National Park is also well worth a few days.

    But I've never been to Prachuap, Phetburi or Nakhon Si Thammarat so it sounds like you're on the right track anyway. ;)

    #12 Posted: 10/1/2013 - 04:40

  • ThorntreeEx-
    ile

    Joined Travelfish
    8th January, 2013
    Posts: 10

    A quick update that may be useful as I'm midway in my trip.

    Most important. For my time I have way too much.

    Bangkok took me four days to leave. I'd originally planned to stay just one. Damn you Travelfish! :-) on your blog there are many entries about a traditional area near Bangkok called Amphawa. I could live there. It was lovely and no foreigners but a lot of Thai tourists which seems funny.

    I then got a train to Phetburi which I liked. It has some temples and was good for one night in some chinese hotel. No tourists but a lot of dogs. Dogs everywhere. Because of the time in Bangkok I decided I didn't have time to stay at the national park so after one night I got a bus to Hua Hin.

    This was a mistake I really didn't likt it at all and it was much more touristic than I expected and I was quite annoyed to lose a day here. I left the next day bus again to Prachuap Khiri Khan (impossibe to spell even harder to say!). The seafood here was very good and cheap and there are some nice beaches with no tourists at all. I recommend it. Now to Chumphon and there are many backpackers in the morning and the night but during the day none. I think I prefer Prachuap.

    I have liked the train more than the bus but the times of the trains not always convenient if you want to go in the day, but the ride from Bangkok was very nice.

    More when I finish Thankyou again.

    #13 Posted: 23/1/2013 - 20:01

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6335
    Total reviews: 10

    Man, it sounds like you have a real aversion to tourists. You should have come out to where I live - we don't have any.

    #14 Posted: 23/1/2013 - 20:35

  • ericgsmith

    Joined Travelfish
    1st September, 2012
    Location New Zealand
    Posts: 23

    Glad you liked Prachuap. Out of interest where did you end up staying there?

    #15 Posted: 23/1/2013 - 21:21

  • ThorntreeEx-
    ile

    Joined Travelfish
    8th January, 2013
    Posts: 10

    Hi Madmac,

    Not an aversion really, I just find towns with too many tourist services droll. Eric I stayed at the Yutichai near the train station. Not memorable in anyway but was cheap.

    Thanks guys

    #16 Posted: 31/1/2013 - 16:57

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