My girlfriend and I have just booked return flights to Bangkok from the UK for a total of 16 nights – arriving on Feb 22 2009.
We currently have no further plans, and after spending a couple of days looking at guidebooks, various sites online, and particularly this excellent website, I thought I’d post a message here asking for assistance in planning a rough itinerary.
Ideally, we are looking to spend a week doing the culture/trek/activity stuff somewhere in the north (or even better, Laos) and then somehow get back to an island(s) south of Bangkok for a week around beaches/water before getting back to Bangkok for 1 or 2 nights before flying back.
So, some random questions that it would be great to get some answers to:
1) Is the above (rough) plan do-able, or is a fortnight just not enough to fit in north Thailand OR some of Laos AND 5/6/7 days on the islands?
2) I’ve heard so many good things about Luang Prabang in Laos. Do you think it would be worth the extra cost to fly there straight from BKK and perhaps using that as a base to explore that part of the world for 4/5 days before somehow getting back south? Maybe boat to Vientiane and then train from Nong Khai back to BKK?
3) If we don’t have the time to get north/Laos in our itinerary, would Kanchanaburi and Sangkhlaburi be a decent alternative?
4) Because time is tight, would going to the islands just south-east of BKK still give us the authentic Thai island experience? I had my heart set on going further south (particularly Andaman side) but again, the length of the overall trip makes me think we should scale back our expectations a bit. I don’t want to spend day after day travelling long distances, but the beaches (or pictures of them!) was what drew us to book this trip in the first place.
Thanks in advance for your help!
#1 hjf456 has been a member since 22/11/2008. Posts: 5
16 nights is not really very long and,in my opinion,rather than trying to fit in so much travelling you're better off to spend the time in Northern Thailand, Laos or Bangkok,Kanchanburi and the Southern Islands.Kanchanburi,Sangklaburi are well worth looking at.Both provinces are very scenic.
Good points from thaiman there.
Two weeks will allow you ample time to do some stuff in northern Thailand followed by an island break in the south. Things get more complicated if you add Laos into the mix.
Sure you could fly in and out of Luang Prabang , I'd say you'd need to do that for at least three nights to be worth the effort -- that will cut down your available time in northern Thailand.
If you're thinking of flying, read this story on the Discovery Airpass -- using that you could fly a lot of the legs, for a not unreasonable price, and perhaps have enough time to see all.
With 16 nights, you could do something like:
3 Sukhothai (bus)
4 Chiang Mai (bus)
5 Chiang Mai
6-9 Somewhere else in the north -- Pai, Chiang Dao, Nan -- take your pick!
10-12 Luang Prabang (fly)
13-15 Some island (Samui will be easiest)
16 Bangkok - depart
As you see it's pretty tight! Also bear in mind, you're not going to get an "authentic Thai exp" on most Thai islands, but you'll easily get loads of quality beach time with cheap seafood and ice cold bevvies...
I know, not really answering your question, but if you prefer to travel slow, I'd save Laos for the next`trip -- it's worth a trip in its own right!
Thanks, both of you, for your advice.
somtam2000 - I think your comment about saving Laos for a future trip is sensible. At the end of the day, we want a relaxing two weeks - coming home feeling like we've had a decent holiday, rather than having been constantly on the go for a fortnight!
I still would like to fit in both north and south though - so will probably do something like:
arrive in BKK - fly/bus to Chang Mai and spend 4-5 days up there - fly to Krabi/Phuket via BKK and spend 5-6 days down on islands - fly back to BKK for final 2 nights.
One more question: my girlfriend suffers from a nut allergy and can't eat peanuts (among other nuts). Will this make eating a big problem for her? We've heard peanut oil is used extensively in Thai cooking.
#5 hjf456 has been a member since 22/11/2008. Posts: 5
If money isn't a major concern you could even fly from Chiang Mai to Pai. A crazy short flight but its a tiny airplane and airport in Pai. Very interesting and actually not very expensive (Nok air I believe)
We did it for the fun of flying in such a small airplane. Pai's airport is only 1 runway and VERY small building. It was certainly an experience.
If you want to relax and enjoy some scenery, I would suggest Pai.
It's too bad you can't fly direct from Chiang Mai to Phuket but Airasia is really cheap. We flew from Chiang Mai to Bangkok to Phuket. Just keep in mind that Airasia is a P2P carrier and wont transfer bags for you. Certainly a no frills airline but the savings were wonderful!
Funny you should say that - I've just been comparing the cost of Air Asia and Thai Air and it's much cheaper!
I presume you had a stopover in Bangkok of a few hours when going from CM to Phuket? Something I'd rather not have to do - but as you say, it doesn't seem possible to fly direct.
Did you go to Mae Hong Song? With only 4-5 nights between leaving CM and getting back there for a flight south, it seems maybe too much to visit Pai and MHS... Any advice welcome.
I was hoping to roughly follow this itinerary: http://www.travelfish.org/trip_planner/thailand-mountains-and-islands with a week north, and a week south - inc travel inbetween.
#7 hjf456 has been a member since 22/11/2008. Posts: 5
Nut allergy - yes be careful -- Thais use peanut oil frequently. There's a website with Thai translations of common phrases, suggest you grab that as it includes the phrase about being allergic to nuts (and is also a great use for non Thai speakers looking for food -- you can download it here.
Thanks v much for the link - will come in very handy
#9 hjf456 has been a member since 22/11/2008. Posts: 5