I am about to head out for my first time in Thailand, and I am reluctant in planning too much ahead, so I'd rather book my travels inside the country once I'm there - and we pow wow with the other travelers...
We only have 2 weeks, and we know that we want to spend a few days in Bangkok, travel up to Chiang Mai (maybe stopping in Sukhothai on the way?) and then finish with relax on the beach - we were thinking of Ko Tao... sounds tranquil and beautiful.
Anyone has any advice for the best transportation between these destinations? I thought it could be nice to travel by train to the north and then - are there flights from Chiang Mai to the islands?
Anyone has done this? - I am open to any advice!
thanks all - and happy travels!
#1 Mad has been a member since 1/8/2007. Posts: 6
It sounds like your timeframe and list of things you want to do is very similar to mine! For islands, though, I'm leaning toward Ko Samet, as it's only a few hours from Bangkok by bus, and it sounds like we'll have a better chance for good weather there when we're going (in late October). In my research on flights from Chiang Mai, it looks like you pretty much have to go through Bangkok to get to points south, at least on the budget carriers, though I could be wrong. One thing I was considering was taking a flight up to Chiang Mai and then the overnight train back to Bangkok...but the more I think about it, I wonder if we shouldn't just fly both ways. Two weeks seems like such a short time to take it all in!
Good luck planning!
#2 planetclare has been a member since 13/11/2006. Posts: 15
I have similar plan. But I think about Ko Lipeh instead of Koh Tao and plan to stay several days in Bangkok at the end of my trip. :)
If you have enough time I suggest to travel by train. You can start at BKK, stop for a while in Sukhotai, then continue to ChiangMai. After that return to Bangkok (by train too) and buy "complex ticket" to Koh Tao (train to Chumphon + boat from Chumphon to Koh Tao).
If you limited in time (i.e. have only 2 week) better use airplane between Bangkok and ChiangMai and skip Sukhotai. But overland traveling in Thailand is more interesting.
That's good advice by cybervlad there, but it's worth noting that there is not a train station at Sukhothai, rather you need to alight at Phitsanulok and take the bus from there to Sukhothai (takes about an hour).
Re flying from north to south, you'll almost invariably be passing through Bangkok, and I'd say doing at least one leg by train -- especially in October when the countryside is lush and green (think rice, rice and more rice) is worth doing. Flying while cheap and fast, is kinda boring and impersonal. If time allows, a train ride or two doesn't do any harm.
Ko Lipe (mentioned by cybervlad) is a great spot, but many of the resorts may still be closed in October.
Lastly, Ko Tao is pretty wet in October (and wetter still in November) making Ko Samet a smart choice.
thank you all for the good advice!
I just wanted to add that we are actually about to head out in less than a week - we land in BKK on August 14th!
any changes to your weather-related advice in this case?
#5 Mad has been a member since 1/8/2007. Posts: 6
If you're on a tight budget travel overnight by train, the sleepers are very cheap and fairly comfortable in 2nd class. 1st class is air-conditioned and like a bloody freezer.
If you're budget allows then flights would certainly allow you more time for relaxation on the beach (whichever one you choose). Koh Samet is pretty crappy really, so if you decide not to venture South because of the distances invloved try Koh Chang a little further East from Samet. More relaxing and less developed.
#7 Guernseystu has been a member since 10/7/2007. Posts: 108
How's the weather on Ko Chang in October? I was originally thinking of going there, then shifted my focus to Ko Samet b/c of the likelihood of better weather. In my book, a totally uninspiring yet sunny beach beats an awesome yet rainy one!
Also, if doing only one leg of the Bangkok-Chiang Mai route by overnight train, which direction has the best scenery during the daylight hours?
#8 planetclare has been a member since 13/11/2006. Posts: 15
I've traveled both ways. I prefer CM - BKK.
#9 marianwarren has been a member since 12/3/2006. Posts: 270
I'm doing a trip much like what you guys have been talking about. We were thinking of going to Koh Lanta at the end of our trip to relax. Anybody like/dislike that island? We'll be there Aug 18-22.
Thanks for any advice!
#10 brookekrannich has been a member since 4/8/2007. Posts: 1
which direction has the best scenery during the daylight hours?
Aren't they both exactly the same?
Koh Lanta is a wonderful place and I'm sure that you won't regret staying there. I remember it being very quiet and relatively undeveloped but sight-seeing really requires a rented scooter as everything is quite spread out. There are many ways of getting there, by boat from Krabi, Phuket, Phi Phi and by land and car ferry in Krabi.
#11 Guernseystu has been a member since 10/7/2007. Posts: 108