So me and my girlfriend are flying into Bangkok Oct. 2nd. This is her first time and my second.
Obviously, I wish we had more time. Hell, the 1.5 months I spent in Thailand a few years ago felt grossly insufficient, but they were enough to get me hooked - and I'll take any hit of Thailand that life affords me, at this point.
My original thought was, head up north to Pai , which I have the fondest memories of (though I've heard it's gotten more "mainstream", which I assume means more party bros or something), then maybe hitting Isaan on our way to the Andaman Islands. The more we think about it though, the more it feels like that kind of trip will mostly leave us chasing our tails, out of breath and by no means chilling out max and relaxing all cool - which is the main reason we're going to begin with. So the idea I have now is to spend Oct. 2nd-6th(ish) in Pai, then head down towards Phayam/Chang, and spend the 8th-22nd island hopping, maybe head inland to Trang, maybe head up to Koh Phra Tong.
Is that still too ambitious? Should we forget about Pai (at least, until I have the time to properly travel Southeast Asia) and focus on the south? We want a bit of jungle, a bit of beach, a bit of island solitude - and yes, probably a bit of backpacker vibes in bars that serve shakes (here and there). That said, we're looking to stay away from the PARTY CENTRAL type places and the throngs of drunken dumbasses that seem to converge on them (which is why my jedi instincts lead me to veer west, rather than east).
Also, is the weather on the west coast really going to be all that miserable? On the one hand, I keep seeing people saying the best season for Andaman is mid-November; on the other hand, it was right about the same time I was in Thailand the last time, and while it definitely rained, I don't remember it being prohibitively stormy or anything. A mild nuisance at worst; a welcome break from the heat for the most part. Am I misremembering (very likely), or is everyone slightly hysterical about the perils of wet seasons?
For anyone who stuck through it and read that whole thing, thanks. For those of you who didn't, here's the slightly abridged version: we're looking to take an actual vacation - that is, never to run around like headless chickens trying to catch a flight, or feel like we haven't "accomplished enough today". We want to relax, hang out, meet cool people (local and otherwise) - on and in both islands and jungles. Any help with creating a rough outline for this (we're on a backpacker budget, so anywhere that doesn't have sub-500THB accommodations, or requires expensive flights, isn't for us) would be very much appreciated.
#1 FreeSombrero has been a member since 22/7/2013. Posts: 5
Pai was super touristy 6 years ago when I visited. More tourists than locals which was amusing. As for the rest, I couldn't read it all. You seem to be worrying about nothing.
#2 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
Good on ya for getting away for three weeks. Remember that although this is your second trip, it is your sweetie's first, so things that seem perfectly normal to you after your previous trip will still be new/exciting/puzzling to your girl.
Anyway, I think your instincts are right that Pai may not be the place you remember, and you always risk spoiling the memory by going back to a place like that. If you do decide to head up that way, and Pai disappoints, you could always move on to Soppong or even Mae Hong Son. But in my opinion, that loop is an awfully long way to go for just the few days you have planned.
As an alternative, you might consider Kanchanaburi instead and perhaps even continuing on to Sangkhlaburi. I think you'd get the outdoorsy and traveller's destinations that you are seeking, and they are much closer to Bangkok as well as put you in a better position to move on south.
I hope that helps. Have a great time. Cheers.
p.s. check out the animated thai weather map at http://www.travelfish.org/weather_fish.php for some basic info on rainfall and temps throughout Thailand during your visit.
I always like Pai if just for a reason to wind down. A while ago there was a place there out of Pai(Stone Huts?) which was pretty laid back and fun. When I last went there in 2008 I found the part I enjoyed most was taking the public bus from Chiang Mai. Apart from not going through the road of a thousand twists, I was able to view the countryside and make friends by handing out the fruit I had bought. I also purchased a trip down the Mekong to Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Tip : go to the market at Pai before you go to the boat. The food bought on the boat is expensive and there is not nuch of a choice(chips and coke). I take it you have been to markets, having been there before. The jumping off port for Koh Chang, Trat is a nice place to go to and has an interesting market where you can get a cheap and filling meal. Koh Chang has still not totally gone the way of the other Kohs, Samui and Samet.
At the end of your holiday you may want to drop off in a town in Laos just to see the difference between the two countries. For two South-East Asian countries bordering on each other there is a marked difference.
#4 mic59 has been a member since 30/7/2008. Posts: 107
So we talked this over last night (when whatever buzz compelled me to puke up all that wore down a little), and decided that we'd both enjoy dedicating ourselves to one part of Thailand (plus a few days in BKK), rather than try and capture a bit of everything. With that in mind, it's looking like we're going to be island hopping up or down the Andaman coast. Weather wise, would we be better off starting from Trang and heading towards Ranong, vice versa, or maybe it doesn't matter?
The only island I feel like I really have to see is the Andaman Koh Chang. Other than that, we're thinking of spending a night or two in Khao Sok, maybe a bit of time around Phang Nga, but nothing is set in stone. Any recommendations on what else to see, either on the coast, in any of the islands along it, or inland? We're as comfortable roughing it in a tent somewhere as we are in a luxury resort we can't afford, so really - recommend ANYTHING - especially if it's something we're not likely to find on the interwebs.
Thanks in advance (again), and thanks to everyone who already pitched in. This is a really cool community; makes me wish I'd spent more time researching last time around.
#5 FreeSombrero has been a member since 22/7/2013. Posts: 5
1 or 2 nights anywhere you can't see a lot and it means a lot of travelling. Trang town is cool and the islands there are nice. I would recommend staying 3-5 nights in places so you can relax and enjoy the area properly. I'd look at staying on Ko Muk then heading to Lanta or Krabi. Trang has an airport so flying there from Bangkok is the way to go.
#6 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148