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Room in Bangkok and train to Chiang Mai

  • puravida

    Joined Travelfish
    25th January, 2009
    Posts: 4

    Hello!

    My first trip to Thailand will be in February, landing in Bangkok and then heading North to do a Thai yoga massage course with the sunshine network outside Chiang Mai .

    I am looking for a room in Bangkok for one night (to rest after the flight mostly!) and possibly explore for a day or so (but not too much as I am not much of a big city lover!) maybe visit Wat Pho before catching the train up to Chiang Mai. Are the night trains pretty safe for solo travellers?

    Really I wanted to know how to book a train ticket for the journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai (I am in the UK) as I have looked in to a few options (including some postings on here), but still not sure which is the best and cheapest way. A friend who has travelled in Thailand recommended I use Thaifocus.com but compared to the state railway of Thailand website the ticket prices seem to be twice as much plus additional fee for posting tickets somewhere (although not sure how recently railway website prices were updated). I checked out Traveller2000.com (found through seat61.com) which looked promising, but as I was trying to check ticket availability with their online form a virus warning appeared on my computer so I'm not sure if I should book using that? They would also deliver tickets free your accommodation in Bangkok which sounds great but also brings me on to my second question...

    Can anyone recommend a good (and fairly quiet) place to stay in Bangkok for one night, bearing in mind I might want to visit Wat Pho, possibly buy some sturdy sandals, a mobile phone (any tips on this also welcome - are they more expensive at the airport in Bangkok?) and need to be at the train station the following evening (can you store bags somewhere safely while you explore the city for the day?).

    I like the look of Shanti lodge but not sure how easy it is to make reservations and probably need reservation to have train ticket sent to. For peace of mind I would like to have my first night booked before I leave, and am looking for something clean and not too noisy (not bothered about aircon or tv) for up to maximum of 900baht. A friend recommended around Khao san road.

    Phew! I think that is enough for now, any suggestions would be much appreciated.

    Thank you!

    P.S. Horay for Travelfish - this website is really useful!

    #1 Posted: 26/1/2009 - 07:36

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  • Jon_Mak_Mak

    Click here to learn more about Jon_Mak_Mak
    Joined Travelfish
    21st February, 2007
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 464
    Total reviews: 5

    Hi,

    The over night train to Chiang Mai should be safe for a solo-traveller, but are you aware that if you get a second or third class sleeper ticket (not sure about third) you will be sharing with someone else? What I mean is, in first class you have a carriage and it sleeps 2 people (one above the other) and it’s quite private with a closed door. So, you might be sharing with a complete stranger but I think the train station try not to mix gender. If I was solo, I would probably go for second class where every one is in together, sort of.

    You could always book a double first class yourself thought if you wanted a private room. Also, I always get the ticket from the train station. But if you want to book I’m sure someone on here can give you the info.

    As for a room, there are 1000’s so it’s hard to recommend one place. You say you don’t need air-con but Bangkok is HOT! I would recommend air-con and for up to B900 you could get it anyway.

    I wouldn’t usually recommend Khao San Road area really because it’s a shit hole, but as you are only staying a very short time and want to be near Wat Po you might be able to put-up with the place for one night.

    You need to check out the hotel listings on travel fish really to get an idea of the hotels in Khao San. One thing I would say though, If you can get a hotel on Soi Rambuti it’s a bit better and still close to Wat Po and the Grand Palace.

    Look and the Sawadee chain of hotels. But do your research as some are better than other!

    #2 Posted: 26/1/2009 - 20:34

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Posts: 2303
    Total reviews: 47

    I agree with Jon_Mak_Mak that the overnight train should be safe for a solo traveller. Standard common sense rules apply on accepting food and drink from strangers, etc. Keep your valuables with you in your bunk of course, and secure your pack to the luggage rack. Some folks use a cable lock, but I've just used a stretch bungee cord to hold the pack in place.

    Also, in the past I was able to reserve a first class compartment for one person on the overnight sleeper trains by paying a single passenger sur charge. It was something like 1/2 the cost of a paying passenger.

    Since I really love taking the trains, and the decadent fun of the first class sleeper (which is still far less than just a regular seat on a train anywhere in north america), I thought it was well worth the money. But if I were on a stricter budget, I'd probably just get a second class sleeper, lower berth if possible, and just make the most of it. Cheers.

    #3 Posted: 26/1/2009 - 23:12

  • daawgon

    Joined Travelfish
    17th April, 2007
    Posts: 887
    Total reviews: 2

    I've booked the Bangkok-Chiangmai train for 3,400THB first class, return from Charlie Connection Travel in Bangkok (tatsani@travelconnecxion.com) - they come highly recommended, and cheaper than many others.

    In Bangkok, I'm staying at the Baan Dinso Boutique Hostel for 850THB - booked on atsiam.com

    In Chiang Mai, I'm staying at the Tri Gong Residence for 700THB - booked at trigong.com

    #4 Posted: 27/1/2009 - 01:29

  • Tilapia

    Click here to learn more about Tilapia
    Joined Travelfish
    21st April, 2006
    Location Canada
    Posts: 1411
    Total reviews: 15
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    At least 71

    Hi Daawgon,

    B3400 is a lot for a return trip to CM. That's a B500 service charge on a B2,900 ticket (assuming that you got a first class, a/c, lower berth.)

    I'm not knocking this ... just saying that for their services they must charge a hefty fee. I hope you got a shoulder massage while booking your ticket.

    Puravida ... unless you really love sweltering, oppressive heat, I would take the advice given above and grab a room with a/c. It will really help when you're trying to sleep. It also means that your windows will be closed and your room quieter. Good in case you have jet-lag.

    As mentioned, Soi Rambuttri has lots of decent places to stay. It's a scene, but it's not a bad one and certainly hasn't yet reached the heights/depths that Khao San Road has. It's close to the river and water taxi, and you can walk to Wat Pho, Wat Phra Kaew, and most of the other major sites in the area from there. There are also some small alleyways in the area with small, quiet guest houses that are usually quite inexpensive. And, if you cross Klong Banglamphoo (Banglamphoo Canal) you will come into an area called Samsen which has a LOT of guest houses, which is still close to the river, and which is still walking distance from all of the sites. I hope that your friend meant the area "around" Khao San Road, and not on Khao San Road.

    As for the train, the cheapest way to get your ticket is to take the bus to the station and get it yourself. Otherwise, you could book through a travel agent for a fee, especially if you plan to take an overnight train.

    Taxi to the train station should cost you around B75.

    Any guest house will allow you to leave your stuff there after checkout in case you want to go looking around. Some will even let you take a shower and whatnot before heading out.

    #5 Posted: 27/1/2009 - 02:43

  • chicho83

    Joined Travelfish
    30th December, 2008
    Posts: 23

    Hi puravida,
    Ive just done some of the same things your trying to do, i booked my train tickets through traveller2000, there reply to my email was extremely fast and very efficient, it was an easy process and i now have my tickets waiting for me in my hotel when i arrive in bangkok. i would recommend traveller 2000 so far.
    as for a hotel, i would recommend the four sons house on thanon phra athit in banglamphu. Its in walking distance to khao san rd ( 5 minutes) . Its along the main river just near where you can get the boat for some exploring. you can reach wat pho by boat or you could even walk if you feel adventurous. The four sons is cheap and clean and simple. This is the link for this site http://www.travelfish.org/accommodation_profile/thailand/bangkok_and_surrounds/bangkok/khao_san_road/all/3216
    hope this is of use

    #6 Posted: 27/1/2009 - 05:10

  • chicho83

    Joined Travelfish
    30th December, 2008
    Posts: 23

    also second class sleep on the overnight train is perfectly safe , so dont worry.

    #7 Posted: 27/1/2009 - 05:11

  • chicho83

    Joined Travelfish
    30th December, 2008
    Posts: 23

    also :P it cost me 3100 baht for first class for two people (not each). So not that bad really, send em an email if you want info and they reply within a day.

    #8 Posted: 27/1/2009 - 05:15

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Posts: 2303
    Total reviews: 47

    i thought daawgon said that he booked a first class, return ticket. doesn't that mean round trip, as in there and then back again?

    when we were overseas we booked our train tickets in advance through Charlie Connection Travel as well. they charged us a flat fee of 100B, which didn't seem so much when compared to taxi fare to and from the station.

    when i lived in bangkok, i liked to go to the train station in person too to select my seats and get the best price available. plus, it was fun - even more so once the subway was open. but the train tickets sell out well in advance now for most overnight sleeper routes. so, unless i'll be in country for a few weeks before i plan to take the train, it seems like a good trade off these days to pay the fee for a travel agent to get the dates and seats i want.

    we elect to pick up our tickets at the travel agency, which is much cheaper than having them mailed to us overseas. regards.

    #9 Posted: 27/1/2009 - 05:40

  • Tilapia

    Click here to learn more about Tilapia
    Joined Travelfish
    21st April, 2006
    Location Canada
    Posts: 1411
    Total reviews: 15
    Places visited:
    At least 71

    Yep ... one-way first class, a/c, lower berth, according to the State Railway of Thailand site, gives a price of B1453. Roundtrip would be B2906. Unless the price has changed on the site, that's one heck of a service charge. Almost worth a 2nd. class, no a/c, sleeper berth.

    #10 Posted: 27/1/2009 - 06:54

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  • travelrock

    Joined Travelfish
    19th April, 2008
    Posts: 209
    Total reviews: 18

    "I've booked the Bangkok-Chiangmai train for 3,400THB first class, return from Charlie Connection Travel in Bangkok (tatsani@travelconnecxion.com) - they come highly recommended, and cheaper than many others."

    What a ripoff. You can fly for 1000 baht each way.

    #11 Posted: 27/1/2009 - 07:04

  • travelrock

    Joined Travelfish
    19th April, 2008
    Posts: 209
    Total reviews: 18

    New Siam II GH is ok and near wat pho, grand palace, national musuem. Has a small pool, ok rooms but very small bathrooms. Ok for 1 night though.

    Don't bother with the slow expensive train and get an air asia ticket.

    #12 Posted: 27/1/2009 - 07:09

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Posts: 2303
    Total reviews: 47

    hey tilapia. ouch. that does sound like a steep service charge. as i said, they only charged me the 100B service fee. i wonder if they have increased their service charge, or if there was an additional delivery charge, of if the fare or some other sur charge has increased.

    for puravida, i suppose the train isn't for everyone, but i'd still recommend taking the train at least one way between bangkok and chiang mai. it's a fun adventure, which is exactly why most of us travel anyway, and a great way to see the countryside. i particularly like taking the train up to chiang mai from bangkok, because the departure times are later in the evening, allowing for a full day in bangkok (or a day trip in ayutthaya), and a relatively early arrival in chiang mai the next day. plus, in that direction, you are awake in the morning to view the pretty northern thai countryside for the last few hours before arriving in chiang mai.

    then fly back to bangkok or onwards to MHS or LP, etc. cheers.

    #13 Posted: 27/1/2009 - 09:46

  • thaiyaikit

    Joined Travelfish
    20th September, 2008
    Posts: 32

    When travelling on the overnight sleeper to/from Bangkok, I have always put my passport, cash and wallet into the pillow case and then slept soundly! I also use two bicycle wheel combination locks to secure my luggage to one of the poles between the seats in the carriage. The locks come in handy in guesthouses as a means of locking wardrobe doors together or as an alternative/addition to the padlock on the door the room. I know a combination lock is relatively easy to unlock (start at 001, then 002 etc. and eventually the lock will open) but having two means it takes longer to crack different codes and seems to act as a deterrent for opportunist thieves may turn to an easier target.

    On a different note, but related to security, I always make copies of my passport, travel insurance and airtickets. Should any of the originals be lost or stolen, it is a lot easier to sort things out if you have copies.

    Carry a wet flannel in a sealed plastic bag in your luggage. Very easy to have a strip wash in the loo and freshen up before you arrive! And take some tissue paper with you on the train - there is never any left in the toilets when you need it most!!

    Have fun in Chiang Mai - my favourite destination!

    #14 Posted: 27/1/2009 - 19:57

  • thaiyaikit

    Joined Travelfish
    20th September, 2008
    Posts: 32

    When travelling on the overnight sleeper to/from Bangkok, I have always put my passport, cash and wallet into the pillow case and then slept soundly! I also use two bicycle wheel combination locks to secure my luggage to one of the poles between the seats in the carriage. The locks come in handy in guesthouses as a means of locking wardrobe doors together or as an alternative/addition to the padlock on the door the room. I know a combination lock is relatively easy to unlock (start at 001, then 002 etc. and eventually the lock will open) but having two means it takes longer to crack different codes and seems to act as a deterrent for opportunist thieves may turn to an easier target.

    On a different note, but related to security, I always make copies of my passport, travel insurance and airtickets. Should any of the originals be lost or stolen, it is a lot easier to sort things out if you have copies.

    Carry a wet flannel in a sealed plastic bag in your luggage. Very easy to have a strip wash in the loo and freshen up before you arrive! And take some tissue paper with you on the train - there is never any left in the toilets when you need it most!!

    Have fun in Chiang Mai - my favourite destination!

    #15 Posted: 27/1/2009 - 19:59

  • puravida

    Joined Travelfish
    25th January, 2009
    Posts: 4

    Hi,
    Thanks everyone for your comments, it's so useful to hear from people who have actually been there and done it!

    Good to know that the train is ok, I thought it probably was and thanks to exacto and thaiyaikit for the bag security tips as that was one of my main concerns about what to do with my backpack while I sleep (short of cuddling up to it!), so I will dig out my bike lock to take with me.

    Yep Jon_Mak_Mak I do know the carriages are shared, and as I can't afford to double book 1st class I think I will go for 2nd as I'm with you on thinking that it is probably somehow better to share with lots of strangers rather than one! I'll go for the lower bunk as I've heard it's a bit more private. And chico83 now I know somebody else has successfully booked through Traveller2000 I will go with them as their prices seem to be in-keeping with the state railway ones at 881THB for an AC 2nd class sleeper one way.

    Exacto - I agree with you in that I definately want to get the train at least once for the experience, but travelrock thanks for the tip about flying with asiaair, I might fly back down as I will only have just over a week to explore after my course, which I will probably spend in the North, so flying will save me a day - brilliant! (although not so brilliant for the environment!).

    As for the room in Bangkok, thanks Jon_Mak_Mak and Tilapia for the tips about aircon and soi Rambuttri, I wouldn't have known otherwise and probably would have melted if I hadn't already been overwhelmed by the hecticness of Khao San Road !! I think my friend did mean 'near' Khao San Road as it is so tourist-orientated it would just make my first stay a bit easier maybe! Anyway I've booked an AC double with Lamphu House for 610THB, as they are near enough to KSR, have consistently good feedback on here, and have been really helpful in the booking process so far!

    Now just to book a night in Chiang Mai , where I will stay for a couple of nights before my course starts. I doubt I'll be booking a tour in this time so would prefer a guesthouse that won't hasstle me about this. I did like the look of Julie's as it seems like a good place to meet other travellers with lots of communal areas etc, and their website makes the rooms 'seem' nice, but after reading the terrible feedback on here I'm looking elsewhere as I don't want to suddenly be chucked out, and would prefer a functioning shower!

    So can anyone suggest somewhere in Chiang Mai that has ok staff, good for meeting people (although I'd prefer my own room!), and is for up to 350THB per night? I'm thinking maybe YourhouseGH, Libra, JonnadanGH, SK House, Darets, Supreme House....etc etc (so many to choose from!).

    Thanks again for all your help!

    #16 Posted: 31/1/2009 - 20:02

  • Jon_Mak_Mak

    Click here to learn more about Jon_Mak_Mak
    Joined Travelfish
    21st February, 2007
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 464
    Total reviews: 5

    Hi, Glad the tips have helped! :)

    As for Chiand Mai, 350 Bhat is quite low I think and I have never paid that for a room so I couldn't really comment on that. One place I have stayed before was called Galare Guest House. That was pretty good and they done their own tours with an english (or american) guide but it might be more like 800 Bhat a night?

    Anyway, check the listings on Travelfish in the Chaing Mai section.

    #17 Posted: 31/1/2009 - 20:22

  • puravida

    Joined Travelfish
    25th January, 2009
    Posts: 4

    Hi Mak Mak!
    Trouble is I don't think I'm really a flashpacker like yourself (read thread elsewhere where I think you mentioned you were a bit of one!), although not really sure as my budget for 4 weeks in Thailand is about £650 which was 30500THB last week and 33800THB this week!

    Maybe you could advise me...bearing in mind 12 days of this time is already accounted for on a TYM course which will include accommodation / meals and will be paid for separately. So really my money has to last me about 2 weeks (minus what I might spend in the village shop on water etc), including everything (e.g. transport, food, accommodation, and presents!!). Places I am thinking of heading after the course are Pai, maybe Chiang Rai, and Chiang Dao and I might do one trek for a few days in this time.

    Thanks again!

    #18 Posted: 31/1/2009 - 22:52

  • Jon_Mak_Mak

    Click here to learn more about Jon_Mak_Mak
    Joined Travelfish
    21st February, 2007
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 464
    Total reviews: 5

    Hi, I cant really comment on Pai as I haven't been there but Chang Dao and Chiang Rai I can.

    If your going to be staying in Chiang Mai anyway I think there is little to see in Chiang Rai and not much point in going unless you really wanted to for some reason.

    Chiang Dao is great tho, really beautifull place and there is chang dao caves that can be visited.

    As for £650 for 2 weeks, You could live off. Personally I like to 'ave it' when im in Thailand as much as poss so I spend alot on beers, whiskey etc... :)

    If your living within your means tho you should be ok,

    #19 Posted: 1/2/2009 - 00:25

  • chicho83

    Joined Travelfish
    30th December, 2008
    Posts: 23

    Glad to be of help
    If your booking with traveller2000 , its best if you use a visa verified card, therefore you wont have to fax(or email) any photo copies of your card or anything like that, only a copy of your passport.
    Also we are going to thailand in february too and booked a room staying at the lamphu house on 27th, dunno if your gonna be around at the same time? Not stayed in that hotel before but still loads of tourists in that area and within minute of khoa san, so should be good for ya.
    Emjoy!

    #20 Posted: 1/2/2009 - 04:46

  • travelrock

    Joined Travelfish
    19th April, 2008
    Posts: 209
    Total reviews: 18

    Chiang Dao is a really small place. The cave there is ok but not great.

    Pai is a backpacker hangout. Nothing much in town except for some hot spring baths at 1 or 2 resorts. The biggest thing in the area is the tham lot caves 1 hour north near the small village of soppong.

    I would recommend you visit tham lot ahead of chiang dao cave.

    #21 Posted: 2/2/2009 - 07:10

  • brucemoon

    Click here to learn more about brucemoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    puravida

    I liked Pai . Yes, it has long been a backpacker hangout. But, that's part of the joy of the place - you'll never know when you'll be entertained by really great muso's who just sometimes like to 'rock'.

    I liked the scenery around the area.

    But, most of all, I liked the elephant experience. Pai has long had an operator (Thom's) that took patrons & elephant into the river for a wash down / fun / etc. There are now competitors that do the 'experience' more cheaply and with more time in the river with the elephant.

    From what I read, only Laos has a similar elephant 'experience'.

    I'm with J_M_M regarding Chiang Rai. After Chiang Mai you'll feel disappointed.

    I'd say I'm even more emphatic than J_M_M on Chiang Dao - if you stay at Chiang Dao Nest. It is a delightful, relaxing, and engaging experience. When I was there, only Chiang Dao Nest #2 was doing the cooking, and the food was sublime (Thai with a hint of western). The only negative is access. If you can overcome the access issue, then do go.


    cheers

    #22 Posted: 4/2/2009 - 15:03

  • redcap

    Joined Travelfish
    25th March, 2011
    Posts: 1

    Puravida,

    Sorry for posting here, but I would like to have a feed back from puravida and I cant private msg him.
    How was the sunshine network course? did you like it? any advices?
    write here so other people can see it also.
    thank you!
    Luis

    #23 Posted: 25/3/2011 - 01:08

  • rigmah

    Joined Travelfish
    18th March, 2011
    Posts: 2

    Hi Puravida. I tried booking Lamphu house per yours and other reccomendations here.

    Unfortunately it was booked. Are there any other guest areas in the same area that you would reccomend? (slightly off KSR)

    #24 Posted: 29/3/2011 - 07:56

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