Hi to all,
My friend and I will be traveling to/through Thailand in July for 3 weeks (July 21st through August 11th). We would like to backpack (train/ferries) from Chiang Mai to Singapore spending a few days at the prime spots on the way. We were debating on whether to start in Chiang Mai or Bangkok (due to the amount of time we have- 21 days) and we decided we just CAN't miss out on the opportunity to spend some time in Northern Thailand.
We know that it is little time but our "brainstorm" so far is to spend 2 or 3 days in Chiang Mai and then travel by train straight to Bangkok. From Bangkok we will travel to a few of the islands and head to Singapore making a few stops along the way.
I want to ask for some insight on the plans we have so far and any suggestions on our trip would be greatly appreciated. As in stops to make, places to see, and things we MUST do. Neither of us have been to Thailand and we want to get as much in but we are aware we are playing with such a short time.
#1 kelcatalina has been a member since 4/4/2012. Posts: 3
If you come to Chiang Mai I would get out of the city for at least a day or more. CM is a great place (I live in the middle of the old city zone) and offers a lot in the way of temples, food, markets, etc. but getting out to the hills and trekking (for example) is a classic part of the northern experience. So maybe a day or two in the city and a day or two out in the hills/villages then yes overnight train to Bangkok.
Then a week getting down through southern Thailand, maybe get a train to Surat Thani and get a ferry to Ko Phangan (or bus to Chumphon and ferry to Ko Tao). The east coast islands tend to be sunnier during July/August, but maybe stop off at Krabi and nearby Railay Beach or Ko Phi Phi to check out some of the stunning limestone scenery. Cross to Malaysia at the Sadao (by road) or Pedang Besar (by train) border.
In Malaysia places worth looking at Penang, Cameron Highlands, KL, Melaka, maybe Tioman Island if you can squeeze it in at the end. 21 days will go quickly. Have fun and don't try to do too much.
I second Captain_Bob's advice to be selective, rather than trying to fit in everything. If you try and cram 7 or 8 places into 21 days, you'll feel like you spent more time on trains/buses than you did in your destinations. So realistically, I'd suggest picking 5 places, 6 maximum (including Chiang Mai and Singapore).
I personally thought Bangkok and KL were less interesting than a lot of other destinations, simply because they're big cities - I have skyscraper office blocks, coffee shop chains, and shopping malls at home - so unless you're a major lover of cities, I wouldn't do both.
Penang is probably my favourite place in Malaysia, and is a real foodie destination.