I am flying over from Australia with my Best friend mid november for 2 weeks. We fly into Phuket. I have never been overseas before and am a very adveturous person. I have done heaps of travel around Australia and am very good at "roughing" it out camping, but also enjoy luxury and beauty.
I am looking for tips on the following, please help if you can...
1. My basic plan is to fly into Phuket and out of Bangkok. But what to do on the way. I want to see some beatiful beaches first...
2. We plan to go to Koh Phangan for 4-5 days and do the whole full moon party- although we don't want our trip to be wasted on parties and nightlife. Has anyone stayed in Cookies Salad Resort?
3. from here I dunno what to do. I know I want to ride an elephant, live in a real thai village, go fishing and diving, go to a private island. Any tips?
4. I heard Krabi is good?
5. Also I heard we must goto Chiang Mai. So I thought we'd fly up to Bangkok and connect to Chaing Mai on a overnight train and then back to Bangkok to fly home. yeah?
6. I would love any local tips on beauty must sees. I can swap some amazing secret spots in Oz if you want.
#1 jadeox has been a member since 30/10/2007. Posts: 6
Here are 20 things to think about when visiting Thailand…
1. Bring a cell phone “unblocked” and buy a Thai SIM card for it on arrival, they’re cheap (apprx. 250 baht) and include some credit already on them - e.g. - International calls to UK are about 5 - 8baht per min…
2. Money - Bring ATM and/or credit cards. - check fees and tell your bank your are going abroad. - Take Travellers cheques only as back-up. Bring very little cash (Baht) – you tend to get a better rate of exchange here than any home country. Just enough to get you out of the airport.
3. Bring very few clothes – they are so cheap here and you’ll only bring stuff that is too warm anyway.
4. Very little luggage – this makes you more mobile if you need to be and less vulnerable to taxi touts and undesirable men….Before you go home you can buy any extra luggage (cheap) to take souvenirs etc.
5. Internet access is everywhere – even on the beach… you can get all your photos copied to CD - If you have a lap-top you can connect it (broadband) at most cafes.
6. Food - Thai food is very unlikely to give you food poisoning but can contain more chillies than you ever thought possible….Street food is usually safe (and delicious!), check for numbers of customers and general looks of the stall. Western (“farang”) food is much more likely to give you food poisoning – fridges are not part of Thai cooking lore yet…beware of Western Fast Food outlets and hotel buffets - food that has been out for over an hour or so. Thailand is not used to fridges/chill-serve etc.
7. Always carry a pack of tissues - they don’t supply free tissues in most loos!
8. Drink bottled water - not tap water. Even consider not brushing your teeth with tap water. Ice is usually safe in drinks and for anything else.
9. Use common safety sense – it is easy to relax too much here…when it comes to petty crime the rate is certainly lower than in places like the US/Europe etc…but every country has its share of con-men and psychopaths…..
10. Don’t be afraid to go to Pattaya – it is the sex capital of Thailand but they don’t jump out at single women and couples and it has good, cheap hotels, shopping and food. Not a bad place to start off for Koh Chang, Koh Samet or Cambodia.
11. Bring an international driving licence – although most national ones are accepted by motorbike and car hire companies and anyone else who wants to hire you something….you may not be insured without an IDL! In Thailand they drive on the left - cars are Right-hand-drive. However driving is really only for the experienced. Be especially careful on a motorbike - Samui has the highest accident rate in Thailand.
12. Public transport is cheap. Planes, Trains, Buses, Minibuses, Taxis, from town to town. If you’re in a minibus or taxi, tell the driver you’ll tip him if he keeps the speed below 90/100 kmph! National speed limit is 90kph (120 on motorways)
13. Around Bkk try to use meter taxis with the meter on...it’ll be cheaper than the tuk-tuks. Take a tuk-tuk once for the experience then use meter taxis. Don’t let the drivers take you out of your way...they’ll try to take you to some (relative’s) store where they get commission.
14. Medical - Check out a few “jabs & medications” – don’t bother with the malaria ones – too heavy! You can get tetanus or rabies here if you’re bitten by a dog - it’s cheap. Most medicines (including antibiotics) can be bought over the counter without prescription and are cheap. A pharmacist will give you what he considers right for your symptoms but you can just as easily see a doctor at a local clinic for a couple of hundred baht. They usually speak a little English.
15. Check up on Thai manners and customs – this will earn you more respect from the locals. - Keep up some dress sense – how you dress in Thailand is quite important. Don’t go topless without checking out if it’s acceptable where you are – usually it’s frowned upon. You’ll notice that Thai women (even sex workers) are very modest in public –they usually swim fully clothed.
16. Check out table manners – Thais tend to eat from communal dishes in the centre of the table – don’t pour everything onto your own plate!
17. Don’t knock the royal family – even in jest.
18. Body language - Don’t point your feet at people – the body is seen as hierarchical and the feet are the lowest part and should not be waved about (this is like a “fingers up” sign. Before entering someone’s home you must take off your shoes; this also applies to some shops and businesses. - Never take a shoe off and wave it at someone – this could lead to violence.
On the other hand it is impolite to touch people on the head.
19. It’s not necessary to “Wai” people - the Thai greeting - as you’ll probably get it wrong. If they Wai you, you might try a wai back.
20. Remember, this is the Land of Smiles and you will find everything goes much better when you have a smile on your face - whatever the situation….
#2 khunwilko has been a member since 27/1/2007. Posts: 560
Other than the Southern Islands and Bangkok itself, places worth going are like Ayuthaya (north of Bangkok), Sukhothai (mid-northern Thailand), Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Soon, & Mae Salong (these three are in northern Thailand), just to name a few. There are enough places in Thailand to keep you for months, but given that you have only two weeks, you'll have to plan your itinerary very tightly, and not waste too much time on the road.
#3 chopin has been a member since 28/4/2007. Posts: 154
Pai is a very nice place to visit.. as it Lopburi if you are into monkeys everywhere, living side by side with humans. Krabi is very nice, definitely take the boat out to Railey.. stay on east Railey and check out the little beach. Ko Phi Phi is also great, the bungalows at Ao Toh Ko are a great find.
Keep in mind that it's rainy season on Ko Phangan so you will likely get lots of rain. with that in mind, i was just at the full moon party there and although it rained a lot, we had a blast!
#4 ruxandra has been a member since 6/4/2006. Posts: 9
I was just going to ask a similar question, brillinat info khunwilko :) just reading through it all now :)
#5 sagred has been a member since 31/10/2007. Posts: 4
Thanks everyone. Very helpful stuff. So from Novewmber14 til early dec, is it still rainy season? If so is there better areas to go to?
#6 jadeox has been a member since 30/10/2007. Posts: 6
Ive pre-booked a flight from Surat Tani to Bangkok to save some time. Maybe I should do the same to get to Chaing Mai becausse of my short time frame?
#7 jadeox has been a member since 30/10/2007. Posts: 6
I think that depends on whether you plan to go any other places between Bkk and Chiang Mai. The last time, what I did was I travelled from Chiang Mai to Sukhothai (a lovely ancient empire ruin) by bus for about 5 hours, spent two nights there, and took a bus from there to Bkk for about 6 hours. But if you don't plan to go anywhere in between and want to get to the north straight away, a flight would save you lots of time.
As for the weather, this period is probably the best to travel to Bkk up till northern Thailand as rain is low and temperature is moderate. You can refer to the Thailand section of this site and check the weather charts.
Do blog your trip and let us share your fun!
#8 chopin has been a member since 28/4/2007. Posts: 154
I think with only two weeks you are going to be pressed for time. Book some cheap flight to Chiang Mai with Air Asia... they have some good prices at the moment....
Havent heard of the Ko Phangan resort you are asking about .. have you looked through the reviews here on Travelfish? We stayed at Milky Bay Resort last time which was great... this coming trip we are going to the other side of the island and staying at Star Huts... both worth looking into... I think Salad Beach is pretty remote (I could be wrong!) but you would be best staying on Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach... that way you still get some chilled nightlife and relaxation...
You are probably best skipping Krabi due to the amount of time you have... you will want a minimum of 3 days in Chiang Mai and a minimum 2-3 in Bangkok...
For some ideas on things to do in Phuket, Ko Phangan, Bangkok and Chiang Mai have a look through my travel blogs... www.travelblog.org/bloggers/reet
If you're adventurous I recommend biking through Ayuttheya and Sukkhothai- the ruins there are gorgeous! I went a few months ago. .. they are small cities located between Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
In Bangkok- you should take a taxi ferry to the temples, or just to see the sights along the river.
Chiang Mai is the spa capital of the world- about three spas for every block- take advantage!!
If you are into trekking, miles in the jungles, it will be well worth it if you go to Mae Hong Son (close to Chiang Mai)- they have private guides, elephant rides, and visits to hill tribes..
#10 katalin has been a member since 2/11/2007. Posts: 1
Travelfish has a really good weather map for Thailand........http://www.travelfish.org/weather_fish.php
#11 khunwilko has been a member since 27/1/2007. Posts: 560
If possible, I'd suggest try to schedule so that you are in Chiang Mai during Sunday evening so that you could be at the Sunday Night Market (6 PM - 11 PM). Much have been written about the famous Night Bazaar that opens daily, but we found that it is too commercialized and prices are not that cheap and you have to bargain very hard. In contrast, we found that the Sunday Night Market (opens near the city police head quaters) is teh real gem, as the goods are more interesting, the sellers are much more polite, prices are lower, and the atmosphere much nicer. It's funny that no guide books has mentioned anything about it, perhaps all the authors were not there on Sundays? :-)
#12 chopin has been a member since 28/4/2007. Posts: 154
Yes Ive heard of the Sunday night market, and that its more for Thai locals, although all are welcome. But they all leave work early so as to go as a family. Oh my god, I'm so excited. Thankyou all so much for your advice. I really appreciate it! Ive spent hours on the internet looking up as much info as I can, and I've read lonley planet, but there is nothing like advice from you guys.
#13 jadeox has been a member since 30/10/2007. Posts: 6
Oh yeah, also:
Do you think it's not worth going to Koh Phagnan at this time of year cos of the rain. Im not really into trance. I liked the sound of the Island though.
I think I would rather celebrate Loy Krathong. Any tips on where to celebrate this festival?
#14 jadeox has been a member since 30/10/2007. Posts: 6
I'm off to Thailand for 4 weeks next Thurs and needed a wee bit of advice. I arrive in the morning of 16th Nov in bangkok and would like to spend a few days there, head to Chang Mai and down to the islands. I really want to get to the full moon party in Ko Pha Ngan on the 24th. Originally I was gonna head straight to the isalnds first, but ideally would like to finish my trip down there.
My question is really, would I have time to head north first and see Chang Mai and then head down in time for the party? I'm on a tight budget so not getting flights - doing everything on trains, buses and boats. Any advice would be really appreciated as it's hard to figure out how long it takes to get around this massive country!
Cheers guys! x
#15 andreatravel has been a member since 6/11/2007. Posts: 4
Why dont you leave the night after you arrive for Chiang Mai (night of the 17th) doing the overnight train... then spend 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd in Chiang Mai.
Flights are just as cheap as the train bus etc.... have a look at Air Asia.... you could fly back to Bangkok on the 22nd in the afternoon and then overnight train it to Surat Thani arriving in Ko Phangan the day before the FMP... then just spend some extra time in Bangkok at the end.... You will want a minimum of 4-5 days in Chiang Mai... it is great!
I just had a look at Air Asia website. You can still get flights for around 1500 baht - and a train is anywhere fro m750 - 1300 baht... I would factor in the additional expense as two trains will be more than enough!
Thanks very much for your reply EmjayReet. Good to know I can fit it in, and thanks for checking on the flights! Brilliant help! Cheers!
#17 andreatravel has been a member since 6/11/2007. Posts: 4