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Help Narrowing Down a 4 week Itinerary -- Thailand Only?

  • causticbee

    Joined Travelfish
    28th June, 2013
    Posts: 2

    Hi everyone! My wife and I (both 30 years old) are flying round-trip to Bangkok in November, and we have a grand total or 28 nights to spend in the area. We are really struggling trying to narrow down an outline of what we may want to see during that time. Initially we considered spending the whole trip in Thailand alone, but lately we have also considered spending some time in Laos and/or Cambodia as well. The only thing that is certain is that we'd like to be in Chiang Mai around Loy Krathong. I also imagine we'll probably spend about a week on a beach at the end of the trip. Here is sort of a vague outline of what we have been considering this week:

    Bangkok (3 nights)
    Night train to Chiang Mai
    Chiang Mai (5 nights)
    fly to Luang Prabang (4-5 nights)
    fly to Phnomh Penh (2-3 nights)
    bus to Siem Reap (4 nights)
    fly to Krabi - Beaches (7 nights)
    Bangkok (1 night)

    Does this seem like trying to see too much? Would we be better off eliminating a place or two and lingering longer? Would spending the whole trip in Thailand be the way to go? I also would love to go to Vientiane if we are in Laos, but I'm trying not to spend the whole trip travelling. Any advice or help would be great. We are interested in all kinds of travel -- love saying different cultures, visiting temples/historical sites, having adventures, seeing nature, eating new food and generally exploring. We are both 30, so partying is not a big priority, though having drinks with other travellers is always welcome.

    Thanks in advance!

    #1 Posted: 28/6/2013 - 10:02

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    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6953
    Total reviews: 10

    There are a couple of differing schools of thought on the best approach to this problem - which is basically a time problem. For every place you go, you lose time in transit. Bangkok to Chiang Mai will cost you one evening in Bangkok and if you sleep poorly on the train (quite common for many people) a portion of a day in Chiang Mai to recover. Flying helps mitigate this, but there is still the time getting to the airport, checking in, immigration on arrival (for Luang Prabang for example) getting to your hotel and checking in... when you're done - half a day is shot. So just keep that in mind. Your pace here is not real hectic, so no worries there.

    I'm a little surprised you short changed Bangkok. Arguably the most important city in SEA with a lot to see and a lot to do, if you haven't been before, it's worth some time unless you don't like cities. It is a hectic place, but an interesting one.

    I generally advise people not to attach timelines to their itineraries. That way if they like a place, they can just stay longer and if they don't, move on earlier than planned. You get to what you get to. But given how much you are flying and the long distances between the places you are going to, purchasing tickets in advance will likely save you some real money. So if that is in fact a fact then it makes sense in your context.

    Good luck and have a great trip.

    #2 Posted: 28/6/2013 - 11:56

  • Travellinco-

    Joined Travelfish
    8th July, 2013
    Posts: 5

    I think that sounds like a really good itinerary for some highlights of SEA.

    We spent 3 nights in Bangkok and we thought that was plenty, but we were less than impressed with it. Its definitely interesting and you'll get a massive culture shock and sweat like crazy, but we felt it was too chaotic for our liking. Everyone has different appetites though.

    Cambodia is awesome and we've just spent a week there - 4 nights SR and 3 nights PP. Personally we felt we were all templed out after spending two full days exploring them. (even though they are absolutely incredible). We also felt that after we visited the killing fields & genocide museum in PP, we spent one night too many there, despite it being a great city.

    Basically you're itinerary seems more than doable and actually really well planned, but if you want more time relaxing on the beach then you could probably save 2 nights by spending 3 nights in SR and 2 nights in PP.



    #3 Posted: 8/7/2013 - 08:58

  • LeonardCohe-

    Joined Travelfish
    24th July, 2012
    Posts: 2148
    Total reviews: 11

    Easy to spend a month in Thailand and only see a fraction of the country.

    Some of my favs

    Best food - Prachuap
    Best snorkelling/water trips - Koh Chang, Krabi and Trang
    Best city - Bangkok. Temples, river trips, food, nightlife, massages, shopping, big city buzz.
    Best river towns - Khong Chiam, Sai Yok, Kanchanaburi.

    #4 Posted: 8/7/2013 - 09:57

  • somtam2000

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    Joined Travelfish
    21st January, 2004
    Location Indonesia
    Posts: 7371
    Total reviews: 24
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    At least 113

    With 28 days and a desire to see Chiang Mai and the Thai islands, I'd choose Laos OR Cambodia -- just to keep the travelling down a bit.

    Laos would fit better into the Thailand portion of your trip, but you've set aside quite a few days for Cambodia, so perhaps that is where your true interest lies.

    If you do opt for Cambodia, you may want to consider the Cambodian islands rather than Krabi. You can read more about them here -- should be lovely in November and would further cut down time lost getting from A to B.

    #5 Posted: 8/7/2013 - 19:09

  • Blackartemis

    Joined Travelfish
    16th July, 2011
    Posts: 36

    Hey, I would say skip the night train and go with Nakonchai air Bus service. 860Baht for a almost fully reclining leather seat and personal dvd screen (though all in Thai) you can hook up a video out cable to them though. It's also about 6hours less travel time.

    I would do the following. However this is based upon never being to Phnomh Penh

    Bangkok (2 nights) See Wat Arun, the Royal Palace, and the floating market and get out. But I hate Bangkok, my girlfriend lives there and we try to meet in Chiang Mai because there is so much more to do.

    Night train to Chiang Mai, I say take the bus or look into Air Asia, Nok Air, or Bangkok Air for 1 way flights for $35-75 depending on specials

    Chiang Mai (8 nights) But also check out Chiang Dao and maybe even a 1 night stay up in Chiang Rai or a 2 day run down to Sukhothai.

    fly to Luang Prabang (4-5 nights) Never been, but I would agree it's worth a visit.

    bus to Siem Reap (4 nights) 3 days in Agkor to see it all at a non rushed pace

    fly to Krabi - Beaches (7 nights) Krabi is great, Koh Lanta is another option

    Bangkok (1 night) Find your favorite Thai dish, stuff your face full and buy those last little gifts!

    #6 Posted: 17/7/2013 - 22:06


    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6953
    Total reviews: 10

    "But I hate Bangkok, my girlfriend lives there and we try to meet in Chiang Mai because there is so much more to do."

    I have to ask, what can you do in Chiang Mai that you can't do in Bangkok?

    #7 Posted: 17/7/2013 - 23:20

  • Blackartemis

    Joined Travelfish
    16th July, 2011
    Posts: 36

    Honestly Should have written that a bit better:

    But my arguments for Chiang Mai over Bangkok

    Pros of Bangkok:
    One of if not the best jumping point for all of SE Asia
    Royal palace
    Dinner on the canal
    Good night life
    Wat Arun
    BTS, MRT, and the Buses
    Great to pick up anything you forgot or lost in your travels
    Great for meeting others

    Hot muggy city that is not really that much different than any other city
    I wouldn't recommend tourists to rent their own transport
    Traffic is horrid
    If anything is off the MRT/BTS line it's a PITA
    JJ Market
    After you visit the few big sites, see a mall or 17, it all blends together.

    Chiang Mai
    Costs a bit cheaper, in the recent years it's been getting more expensive
    Much more in the way of treks and nature excursions.
    Tons of handicrafts, local made products, local exhibitions, etc within the city limits
    Easy to get around anywhere
    Temples galore
    Walking street is basically a nicer JJ market, as it's 80% the same
    Easy to meet people, and I feel easier to meet locals
    Huge booming art scene
    I feel the night life is more varied here
    Jumping point for the north and treks as previously mentioned
    You can get on a rental and ride around the city or out to the mountains
    Cooler weather

    Getting up here either costs money or time
    No MRT/BTS and the traffic has begun to suck, in 3-5 years expect it to be as bad as BKK in some bottle necks
    Not as easy to jump to the rest of SEA
    No beaches if you care about that

    I just feel that I have more options ranging from temples, treks, night life, art and music scene (That is easy to access for tourists).
    I can go to a crafting village in the AM, go swimming at a quarry or floating on houseboats in the afternoon, get dinner and have a fair selection of tourist friendly night life activities to choose from. Either markets like the Night bazaar, or walking streets as there are multiple. Or See a Muay Thai match,(Bkk is better for this) or hit bars ranging from jazz, pop, techno, reggae, or rock. All of these within 15 kilometers or so of each other.
    I am very biased, but the vast majority of tourists I meet feel that Chiang Mai has more to offer a tourist than Bangkok.

    And please, I don't want to come off as "I'm right, you're wrong" I am sure you know a side of BKK that I don't :)

    #8 Posted: 18/7/2013 - 03:37


    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6953
    Total reviews: 10

    I think the core of said preference revolves around whether or not you prefer cities to Rural lifestyle. For example, I have zero interest in trekking. Mountains are nice to have around, but I don't go out of my way to be among them. I'm not much of a beach guy either. In fact, I'm not interested in nature. So in that sense Chiang Mai doesn't have the same hold - altough I still want to go. I'm the same with hill tribes. That kind of thing is not interesting to me. I like people, but I want to get to know them. Not do a stroll through a village, maybe a meal and I'm gone. And I'm much more interested in contemporary mainstream culture than something that is remote or anachronistic. Just me.

    #9 Posted: 18/7/2013 - 05:00

  • LeonardCohe-

    Joined Travelfish
    24th July, 2012
    Posts: 2148
    Total reviews: 11

    How is JJ market a con? You don't have to visit it. There are heaps more attractions in Bangkok like Suan Pakkard, Vinmanmek Mansion, Siam Niramit, National Museum, major muay thai stadiumds.

    BKK also has far more nightlife than CM.

    Day and overnight trips to Ayuthaya and Kanchanaburi.

    A trek out of CM is the sort of thing you do once and that's it.

    The only advantages CM has is it's cheaper and less traffic.

    #10 Posted: 18/7/2013 - 10:14

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  • Blackartemis

    Joined Travelfish
    16th July, 2011
    Posts: 36

    Leo: JJ shouldn't have been a con, I added later and didn't check that too well.

    Mad: Yeah, I am going to agree with you on the idea of preferences. I took a huge pay cut to live in CM over Bangkok, worth it everyday, to me.

    Causticbee: I hope my derailment of your topic atleast gave you more ideas of things to do and see in both Chiang Mai and Bangkok.

    #11 Posted: 18/7/2013 - 20:18


    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6953
    Total reviews: 10

    Black - Yep, we're all different. Nothing wrong with that.

    #12 Posted: 21/7/2013 - 22:30

  • LeonardCohe-

    Joined Travelfish
    24th July, 2012
    Posts: 2148
    Total reviews: 11

    Living and holidaying are 2 different things. A lot of the beach areas in Thailand are great to visit but I wouldn't want to live there.

    The initial poster has allocated 5 nights CM and 3 in BKK. I don't think they would need anymore in CM and less than 3 in BKK you can barely see much at all.

    #13 Posted: 22/7/2013 - 08:45

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