I'm new to this forum but no to the site. :)
So my girlfriend and me are planning our second trip to SE Asia (first on was to Vietnam and we loved it :)). We already have tickets to Bangkok and back and we'll be there from 2nd to 23rd of April. I know that it's not the best time for Thai but originally we planned to go to Vietnam again and only later we changed our plans (since we have already been to Vietnam and never to Thai :)). And late we decided to include Malaysia (I think it can fit into 3-week trip :)).
So the very draft (even not draft, just some basic ideas) of itinerary we have so far:
1. Arrive to Bangkok, spend couple of days there
2. Travel by train to Malaysia, may be with couple of stops (which stops should we make)?
3. On the way to Malaysia stop for about 4 days on some island (I'm thinking of Ko Tao or Ko Kradan or Ko Jum)
4. In Malaysia spend couple of days in KL and possibly about 4 days on Perhentian Islands (or it's better to spend this time on some of Thai islands? I'm not sure...)
5. Fly from KL to Chang Mai and spend remaining 1 week (previous part of the trip should take about 2 weeks in my calculations, correct me if I'm wrong) there. Is 1 week enough for Chang Mai and surrounding?
Any comment,s advises, answers to questions are welcome! Thanks in advance!
1 week is more than enough for Chiang Mai, Most people love it and yes it is beautiful and has got some nice villages/ jungle trips outside of it but I never loved it so for me a week is way too much. probably got to figure that out while you're there and look for what you want to do.
Can't say anything about the first part of your trip as I've never been to Malaysia.
I'll be arriving in Bangkok as well on the 2nd of April in the evening (for the 6th, 7th, ... time, I don't know any more) I'll be spending a few days in BKK as well with a friend and some of the locals I met 3 years ago. If you need any advise, just post it here, there are a lot of people on this forum who know a lot about where to go and to stay.
svendj, thanks for the answer. Of course I meant not just Chiang Mai itself but surroundings as well. But if we'll figure out that 1 week is more than enough (like you say) than we can go back to Bangkok and spend couple of more days there. :)
For me, two weeks Thailand would be way too short. I've been there for 4 weeks last Feb, and going back for 6 more weeks end of Jan.
But at least you're not trying to do too much in that short time. I also like your way of travelling, by train to Malaysia. Going to an island would take too much travelingtime for my taste. Instead I would take the daytrain from BKK and get of at Krachuap Kiri Khan and enjoy beachlife, great seafood and Khao Sam Roi Yot NP. Then take the nighttrain a few days later to Malaysia.
We're going from BKK to the south by train and I'm looking for a few spots worth getting of the train. I found, besides PKK, Kaeng Krachan NP with the Pala-U falls, between Petchaburi and Hua Hin. Also Ban Krut looks good and at Chumphon seems to be a few nice beaches as well.
You could also skip Malaysia, visit Khao Sok NP for a few days and go to one of the Thai islands. From there you can fly to CM. But I don't know anything about Malaysia, so I can't tell if the Perhentian Islands and KL are worth the trip.
A week CM is great, I love the northern vibe and could easily spend a month there. There's so much to see and do. I can highly recommend renting a motorbike and go up Doi Suthep (and beyond the Wat to the summit). Or rent a car and do the Mae Hong Son Loop, can be done in 3 days but to really enjoy it take 5 days.
Have fun planning!
It is definately possible to take the train to Malaysia and stop at a few islands along the way. Koh Tao and Koh Kradan are both possible as there is a train station close enough to both. Koh Jum is not as there is no nearby train station so it would take a day to get to.
If you are going to Koh Tao and/or the Perhentians for diving then you should have a look at Khao Lak. This is where you go to dive at the famous Similans and Surin islands. A definate must for a diver.
As well, you will be in Thailand over the Thai New Year. This can be a great experience or a bad one, depending on whether or not you like getting wet. But it is basically a massive water fight. In Chang Mai it can last up to a week. In other parts either 1 to 3 days.
#5 guava_girl has been a member since 21/10/2010. Posts: 252
Thank you very much for all replies!
Thanks for advice about Thai new year! I guess I should plan accordingly so we'll be in Thai and that dates (have to think about it :)). In this case it looks like it's better to finish our journey in KL (and fly from there to BKK to catch flight back home) instead of Chiang Mai (so we start in CM and travel south) or may be skip Malaysia at all. I'll think about few options and post there possible itineraries asking your opinions. :)
So I came with 2 possible itineraries (which include Malaysia). In both of them Thai NY is spent on Ko Tao (is it a good idea?). So here they are (all dates are in April):
2 - Flight to KL
2-4 - KL
Night train to Kuala Besut for Perhentian Isalnds
5-9 - Perhentian Isalnds
Bus to Penang
10-11 - Georgetown (Penang)
Night train to Chumpon for Ko Tao
12-15 - Ko Tao
16 - Night train to BKK, night train to Chiang Mai
17-20 - CM
Night train to Bangkok
21-23 - BKK
2 - Flight to Chiang Mai
2-6 - CM
7 - Night train to BKK, night train Trang for Ko Kradan
8-12 - Ko Kradan
12 evening train to Chumpon for Ko Tao
13-16 - Ko Tao
Night train to Butterworth
17-18 - Gerogetown
Night train to KL
21 - Flight to BKK
21-23 - BKK
What do you think? If we'll decide to cut off Malaysian part and spend all the time in Thai what can we do (check out couple of natioanl parks?) during this extra time (assuming that we want to visit Ko Tao and Ko Kradan in this case)? Thank you!
Kuala Lumpur is a boring bland city. Didn't like it at all and wouldnt go back. Havent been to Malay Islands but thailand has about 20 islands with accommodation so don't see the need to go to Malaysia which is slightly more expensive with less friendly people.
Easy to spend 3 weeks just in one part of Thailand. 2 weeks phuket-phi phi-krabi and 1 week kradan/muk.
Agree with Sven, dont like CM that much. Rather dull city in the day with only temples to visit. The night market is full of tacky rubbish. You need to hire a car and explore the north. Trekking is ok but is inferior to northern vietnam I am told.
If I was you i'd go bangkok-kanchanaburi then head south to the islands and beaches.
#9 Krabiman has been a member since 2/1/2011. Posts: 223
Thanks for your reply! :)
Places like Phuket Phi Phi and Krabi are out of our interest since they are very touristy, crowdy etc. And we don't need much of nightlife.
Going to Kanchanaburiand then to islands looks like nice idea!
One more question (I already asked it :)): is it good idea to spend Thai New Year at Ko Tao? Or there is no big difference where exactly to spend it if it will be on south?
"Places like Phuket Phi Phi and Krabi are out of our interest since they are very touristy, crowdy etc"
Not sure where you got that misinformation.
krabi is quiet outside dec/jan.
tao would be more touristy as it's very small island with loads of tourists doing diving courses.
Phuket has 4 or 5 beaches which are quiet also. Being a big island rather easy to escape the crowds as they mostly stay at only 3 beaches - patong, kata and karon.
The beaches north of Patong up to near the airport are all quiet. Less tourists than Tao.
songkran isnt big in the south.
#11 Krabiman has been a member since 2/1/2011. Posts: 223
Thanks again but I judge by number of people who are going to these islands so once again Phuket, Ko Phi Phi and Krabi are just too overdeveloped for us.
So I cut Malaysia and left only Thai. Now our itinerary looks like this:
2-3 - BKK
3 train to Kanchanaburi
3-5 - Kanchanaburi
6 train to Nakhon Pathom, night train to Trang or Hat Yai
7 - bus to Pak Bara for Ko Tarutao , Ko Lipe , Ko Adang
7-12 - Ko Tarutao, Ko Lipe, Ko Adang
12 - somehow get to Chumpon for Ko Tao
13-16 Ko Tao
16 - Night train to BKK, night train or flight to Chiang Mai
17-21 - CM
21- Night train to Bangkok
22-23 - BKK
Any critics? How it looks like comparing to first 2 options I posted?
And few questions:
1. Is it good idea to substitute Ko Kradan (or some other island close to Trang) with Ko Tarutao, Ko Lipe and Ko Adang.
2. Is 5 days (well 4.5) days enough for these 3 (or we should cut let's say Ko Lipe)
3. What is the fastest way to get from Ko Tarutao to Chumpon?