I am due to visit Thailand arriving into Bangkok on New Year's eve in the morning with 2 other people (both guys and 1 girl).
We are very stuck on out itinery! We have 16 days and I think we've decided we probably won't make it to the North.
We were looking at an organised trip to River Kwai and death railway for a week or so, and then nip down to 1 or 2 islands.
Which islands are best to visit and fairly easy to get to? I think we'd like someone a bit off the beaten track but still with some life / a couple of bars in the evening etc.
Does this sound like a decent itinery to get the most out of the time?
Also, does anyone have any ideas of what Bangkok would be like on New Years Eve?
#1 Nerel3000 has been a member since 19/10/2009. Posts: 6
Bangkok is great for New Years -- lots of parties -- very very hectic and stacks of fireworks.
For islands -- perhaps one of the islands off Trang? There is a story here with some pointers: http://www.travelfish.org/feature/135
Otherwise a more general round-up on Thailand's islands is here: http://www.travelfish.org/feature/43
Hope that helps
Main problem with "islands easy to get to" from Kanchanaburi is that they are not particularly "off the beaten track."
I'm thinking of Ko Samet, Ko Tao and Ko Phangan. Of course they all have BEACH AREAS off the beaten track, particularly Phangan. But even these areas could be a bit busy first half of January.
Closest island off the beaten track "with some life / a couple of bars in the evening etc." is LITTLE Ko Chang ANDAMAN SIDE, near Ranong. And since you mention maybe a second island - neighbouring Ko Phayam fits the bill, although recent reports say it has been busy at peak peak lately. Wasn't END of January 2008.
Next closest for off the beaten track with some life etc is Ko Jum - down the south end near Joy and New Bungalows. Then you could head for one of the quieter beaches on Lanta.
Jum/Lanta would be the go if you can afford to fly from Bangkok after Kanchanuburi (I think there is only one flight a week into Ranong).
Somtam's suggested Trang islands would also be a goer flying into Trang. You could also consider saving a night's accommodation and minimising lost beach time by catching one of the two sleeper trains Bangkok to Trang. I'd be thinking Kos Muk and Ngai closest meet your asks.
Or fly into Trat on Bangkok Air and go to one of the more laid back areas on BIG KO CHANG like Cliff Cottages at Bang Bao (bop it out on the pier which has some nice restaurants/bars at night) or the New Tree House at Lonely Beach (later has ONE bar - the resort, but the atmosphere when I called by suggested the guests could make their own fun quite well here).
If you wanted a second island you could jump on a ferry or speedboat at Bang Bao and head for Whai or Muk. Muk is the livelier, Whai is the nicer IMHO.
By bus to the piers for Chang and neighbours is around 5-6 hours from Bankok, BTW.
Lots of people not expert at the detail of Thai inter-region transport, myself included, find it easier to go back thru Bangkok from Kanchanuburi to simplify the task of reaching their next destination, even if heading south.
"Jum/Lanta would be the go if you can afford to fly from Bangkok after Kanchanuburi (I think there is only one flight a week into Ranong )."
Jum/Lanta would be the go if you can afford to fly INTO NEARBY KRABI from Bangkok after Kanchanuburi (I think there is only one flight a week into Ranong TO MAKE GETTING TO LITTLE CHANG/PHAYAM EASIER).