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Udon Thani - Ko Tao: route suggestions?

Posted by gratorn on 14/2/2011 at 14:07

I'm helping out some friends with some travel planning. We'll be in Udon, after which they want to go to Ko Tao for snorkelling.... not really the easiest combination given the routes available. Of course, they wish to go in the minimum number of hops possible, in the shortest time. And reasonable price of course..so chartering a helicopter isn't an option. :)

The best I can come up with is to fly Air Asia from Udon to Phuket Airport, go down to Phuket Town and catch the next tourist bus (with connections) to Ko Tao.
Otherwise fly Udon to BKK, BKK to Samui and boat.

Anyone have any better suggestions? Or should I just advise them to try somewhere easier to get to (like Phuket/Phang Na/Krabi). It'll be in June, so east coast could well be rainy then.

#1 gratorn has been a member since 28/10/2010. Posts: 7
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Posted by Captain_Bob on 14/2/2011 at 15:06

June is actually one of the better times to hit the lower gulf (east) coast islands. But flying all the way down to Phuket only to backtrack a long way to Ko Tao doesn't make sense. Air Asia Udon-Bangkok (8:55-10:00am) then Bangkok-Surat Thani (14:20-15:35) then grab the last ferry of the day would make more sense. Any non-flying means would take at least 2 days, probably with some transport connection delays (or an overnight) in Bangkok or Chumphon or Surat Thani.

#2 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,891


Posted by gratorn on 14/2/2011 at 15:17

Thanks Bob. I think I got distracted writing that last paragraph of mine and left it half finished, I meant to say the West coast would be rainy then so the East coast would be better. Anyway, I like your idea on flying to Surat, I think that would be the best option without taking too much time (I'll take into account the time to get from airport to pier).

I had thought about the long bus to Chumphon, but yes, it would probably take a bit much time.

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Posted by ayesha on 15/2/2011 at 15:21 TF writer

There is actually now an air service from BKK to Chumpon with a boat connection...

http://www.lomprayah.com/E/route_solar.htm

#4 ayesha has been a member since 12/6/2009. Location: Thailand. Posts: 74
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Posted by gratorn on 15/2/2011 at 16:19

Thanks for that. I didn't realise that Chumphon airport accepted passenger flights from Bangkok.

I think flying to Surat involves too many connections (and possible wait times) to get to Ko Tao from BKK. I'm going to suggest this flight to Chumphon (should the travel fall on a weekend), or the good old Lomprayah overnight bus service from BKK.

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Posted by Krabiman on 16/2/2011 at 06:36

flying to surat and getting the boat is easier than bus to chumphon

but if it was me i would travel down the mekong south and around to ko chang instead. much more interesting trip and chang and the other islands are great.

#6 Krabiman has been a member since 2/1/2011. Posts: 223

Posted by gratorn on 16/2/2011 at 10:46

Krabiman - Flying to Surat is easier? My friends have only visited Thailand once, so are no experts. I've assumed it would be harder than the bus given all the required link-ups and longer ferry ride (BKK to Surat, Surat airport - Surat pier, 4 hour ferry ride to Ko Tao ). Having them hop on an overnight bus from BKK to the Chumphon pier, and then having a boat waiting for them is very easy.

I've tried convincing them to spend more time in Isaan, but it is difficult. It doesn't have the reputation internationally. Personally I'd love to do what you suggest too, and spend time in Mukdahan, Ubon, Buriram and Trat. But it's difficult to convince people who aren't as familiar with Thailand (and haven't travelled extensively within Thailand already) to do this. They haven't been to Ko Tao before, they've heard it's great (which I agree with), and want to see for themselves. Plus, they'll be coming from an Australian winter, so i don't blame them for wanting to head to the beach.

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Posted by Captain_Bob on 16/2/2011 at 19:02

That Solar Air service to Chumphon 1h15m for 2700 baht is intriguing, as in they finally got someone to go pull all the weeds growing out of the mostly unused runway in the sticks way north of the city. Let's hope that routing actually (pun intended) gets off the ground.

If it was me I'd probably fly late afternoon to Bangkok then get the late "sprinter" train (aircon reclining seats) from Hualamphong to Chumphon arriving by 6am and morning Lomprayah hi-speed ferry to Ko Tao. Minimal messing around in Bangkok and train doubles as one nights accommodation plus no back-tracking via Surat. Udon to Tao inside 24hrs.

#8 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,891

Posted by Krabiman on 16/2/2011 at 19:04

Australia is full of beaches and tourists. TAO wont be anything special in that regard. Issan is vastly different and much more culturally rewarding if you want to see ruins, river towns and a different way of life and Issan food is different to everyday thai food foreigners have had.

Flying to Surat takes an hour. Much easier. Buses in Thailand are all very slow.

"I've tried convincing them to spend more time in Isaan, but it is difficult. It doesn't have the reputation internationally. Personally I'd love to do what you suggest too, and spend time in Mukdahan, Ubon, Buriram and Trat. But it's difficult to convince people who aren't as familiar with Thailand "

Well you do Issan and they dont want to tag along say adios and see them later. I wouldnt change my holiday for other people.

"The best I can come up with is to fly Air Asia from Udon to Phuket Airport"

Or you could just go to Phi Phi. It has great snorkelling. Tao seems a lot of hassle for nothing extra.

#9 Krabiman has been a member since 2/1/2011. Posts: 223


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