Thanks mostly to the info here, I have a tentative itinerary. Some parts are firm, but some are not. Advice would be very appreciated. The trip begins on late p.m. 27 May in Bangkok.
6 nights (5.5 days) Bangkok. Fly to Phnohm Penh. PP 4 nights (4 days). Fly/bus to Siem Reap. 5 nights (4.5 days), Siem Reap. Fly to Ko Samui. 5 nights (? days) Ko Samui. Fly to Chiang Mai; 3 days. Travel to Sukhothai for full day there.
Remainder: 2 days/3 nights before return from Bangkok to US (at 23:00 from BKK).
The Bangkok will part will include Ayutthay as a full day day-trip.
The Phenom Penh will include Kompong Cham and/or Kompong Chhnang.
Ko Samui will include 3.5 days for Open Water Certification, mostly at Ko Tao (including one night on boat there to catch the early morning/late evening).
Comments? Suggestions? Warnings?
#1 srk052004 has been a member since 22/2/2009. Posts: 23
On the subject of your OW course, you may find it cheaper to do the whole course on Ko Tao and certainly the diving will be better. Also, you shouldn't fly until a min of 24 hours (ideally longer) after your last dive. so check you flight times vs your last dive.
Sukhothai is a much better place than Ayutthay; the ruins are more and better preserved. A full day would do it to see the main park, but there are other ruins further afield. (We spent several days there).
If you are at a lose end on the last few days around Bangkok try and fit in Kanchanburi (bridge on the river Kwai) it's less then two hours by bus and minibus' run from there directly to BKK airport so you don't need to return to the city. If you prefer the bar scene then Pattaya is also a short hop from Bangkok.
Wow, thanks, mikethediver! In fact, I allowed an extra day between the end of the OW course (which I'm still not financially committed to) and the departure precisely because of the issue you raised regarding diving & flying. There will be 1.25 days of land-based decompression. I was going to stay on Ko Tau originally, but then I got a ridiculously cheap deal on a top-rated guesthouse (Akwa Guesthouse Hotel) at Ko Samui. I would spend less on Samui than on Tao for far better accommodation, food, nightlife--with the trade-off that I would need to spend one night on a boat in the waters off Ko Tao itself and would need to join the company on the boat ride to and from Ko Tao for my qualifying dives. However, if I were going in peak season, everything would be different.
Your points regarding Sukhothai make me think that I should allocate it two days.
I really like the Kanchanburi/Pattaya idea. I do not know which of these would be more appropriate at the end of a stay, but both are better ideas than Bangkok for the night before my return to the US, and neither would have occurred to me in a million years (I had to forgo both because they were out of the way at the beginning of m trip).
If other travelfish gurus (you know who you are) have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!
#3 srk052004 has been a member since 22/2/2009. Posts: 23
I also support the thrust offered by Mike re: Sukhothai & Kanchanaburi .
The Sukhothai area includes options other than ruins (though that's the central reason people go tere), so 2 days may be better.
As for Kanchanaburi / Pattaya...
Pattaya is now largely a rund own seaside location, and unless you want girly bars and all that that image conjures up, I suggest you think in other directions.
For mine, Kanchanaburi is a most important site for westerners to understand one aspect of the brutality of war. But, the waterfalls are great. And, you can combine the trip there by visiting the early morning floating market (along the way).
If you go, please try and visit Hellfire Pass. It's really an eye-opener. Also, go read:
Thanks brucemoon. Much appreciated.
#5 srk052004 has been a member since 22/2/2009. Posts: 23
I wouldn't write Bangkok off too quickly. I go there often since I live in Thailand and the city has everything and then some.
#6 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957