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Advice: 6 days Bangkok...and surrounds?

Posted by christay2009 on 22/8/2011 at 18:30

I am planning to go to Wat Suan Mok outside of Surat Thani (ish) for August 31. However, I arrive in Bangkok August 25 and I am not really sure if I should be looking to go somewhere else in this time frame. I do like cities and could probably stay for 5 days or so in Bangkok but can't help feel i might be missing out on going/seeing/doing something else. I was debating going down to Surat Thani a couple of days before and hanging out down there but I am not too sure... There is also Prachuap Khiri Khan that is on the way south and Chumphon ...

I am heading back to Bangkok and onwards to Chiang Mai after Wat Suan Mok as I have a flight on Sept 21.

Any advice appreciated, as always! :)

#1 christay2009 has been a member since 8/2/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 414
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Posted by exacto on 23/8/2011 at 06:54

Captain Kirk,

Are you going to do the 10-day meditation retreat at Suan Mok? I've never done it, but my practice wife did it about a decade ago and had a really good experience. I hope you will too.

In any case, I've always liked Kanchanaburi, and thought of it as a good getaway for a long weekend when I lived in Bangkok. There are plenty of outside, nature types of things to do, plus some great history with the allied cemeteries, museums, and the bridge itself. I also liked the vibe of the town the last time I was there, with lots of funky eateries and such setting up shop.

Alternatively, a slow drift down the coast sounds appealing as well. I've never been a bit fan of Surat Thani proper, but probably just because so many other awesome things are just a quick ferry boat trip away. Besides, if memory serves, the temple is actually north of Surat Thani by about 40 km or so.

But Cha-am or Hua Hin in addition to Chumphon and Prachuap would be a pleasant and unrushed way to get where you are going. You wouldn't have time to get bored and you'd get to experience lots of cool places most backpackers rush past.

The last time I was in Chumphon was those 10 years ago on the way to pick up the ex from her Suan Mok experience. They had a great night market with cheap and delicious plates of phat thai for sale at many different street carts. If you make it there, I'd love to hear if that is still the case.

Have a great time. Cheers.

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Posted by busylizzy on 23/8/2011 at 07:12

"I've never done it, but my practice wife did ..."

Hmmm... your practice wife. Dare I ask? ;-)

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Posted by busylizzy on 23/8/2011 at 07:17

Oops! Just re-read the post, and saw the reference to 'ex'. That explains it. I thought it was a funny typo...

I hated Surat Thani the first time I stayed there overnight (unplanned, late at night and with a very sick sister - so that might explain the disappointment). The second time I stayed while in transit to the islands a year or so later, the town actually grew on me and I found it a pleasant experience. I'm not sure that I would want to stay there for any extended period of time though.

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Posted by Tilapia on 23/8/2011 at 08:26

Hi Christay,

I've written a lot about the trip to Mahachai from Wong Wian Yai Station in Thonburi. That makes for an excellent day trip. If you want to go a bit further, you can continue the journey to Mae Khlong / Samut Songkhram and Amphawa and stretch the journey into a few days. Really fun and interesting trip. The train ride is highly memorable. Amphawa is a B20 songthaew trip from Mae Khlong / Samut Songkhram.

Like exacto, I also enjoy K-buri, and with almost a week I'd continue past K-buri and go to Sangkhlaburi. Great area! Worth a couple of days, for sure.

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Posted by exacto on 23/8/2011 at 08:40

Lizzy. See private message for details. (smile)

I knew Tilapia would spout off about that Mahachai and Amphawa stuff again. Something about great seafood and authentic Thai life or such. All kidding aside, it sounds like another really excellent option for you and I imagine there is no reason you couldn't just keep heading south from there to eventually reach the temple.

So many great choices. Now, if you only had a bicycle...

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Posted by guava_girl on 23/8/2011 at 09:26

You could go to one of the islands for a few days (Tao, Phangan or Samui). They are all not too far from the mainland. Khao Sok is a great place too, although I am not sure what it is like now as it is rainy season there.

#7 guava_girl has been a member since 21/10/2010. Posts: 252

Posted by busylizzy on 23/8/2011 at 09:28

Amphawa is one of my favourites too, although I arrived by car. Tilapia's train trip story has inspired me to try and get back this October if time permits - but this time, via the train. I do believe it would well be worth the visit.

Exacto - got the PM. Will respond a bit later.. Supposed to be working at the moment.... :-/ Oops - boss is coming. {Alt} {Tab}

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Posted by christay2009 on 23/8/2011 at 16:30

Wow - I wished I'd asked this question more than a day before I am due to fly!

The main worry I have is having enough time to get down to Suan Mok (Exacto, YES! you are correct ... and I hope so too :)) - I will need to arrive August 30, 5 days after I make it to Bangkok (not 6, my maths is bad obviously).

I guess this would lend itself to either doing some side trips from Bangkok like Amphawa OR slowly making my way down south, rather than going to Kanchanaburi (kind of the wrong direction?). I am drawn to Kanchanaburi though and it is a little bit annoying that I booked a flight from Chiang Mai (before I decided to go to Suan Mok) as I would probably stay South/Central without it. Do you think I would have time to go to Kanchanaburi then get down South? Would I have to go there after, say, 1 night in Bangkok to make it work? I am currently booked in for 2 nights in BKK (25 and 26).

I think I will try to either call or visit an agent of Lao Airlines to see if there is any way to change my flight from Chiang Mai to LP to Vientiane to LP and just cross by land. This would then mean I could slowly work my way down South to the retreat then, on my way back up, head to Kanchanaburi / Sangklaburi. Relaxed pace.

Any more thoughts much appreciated!

I will, of course, feedback on Suan Mok and the days before :)

#9 christay2009 has been a member since 8/2/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 414
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Posted by Tilapia on 23/8/2011 at 19:08

I wouldn't say that Kanchanaburi is that far out of the way. By bus, it's less than 2 hours west and a bit north from Bangkok, and you have to go west for a bit (to Nakhon Pathom) before heading south anyway if you're taking the train. I would say that you would be able to do both easily.

I'm going to write a song about the train trip to Mahachai and beyond ...

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Posted by christay2009 on 23/8/2011 at 21:15

Thanks for quick response ...so... perhaps this...

25 BKK
26 BKK
27 Leave BKK > Bus to Kanchanaburi
28 Kanchanaburi
29 Leave Kan at some point to get to Chaiya on...
30

Any idea how long it will take to take the train from Kanchanaburi, via Nakon Pathom down to Chaiya (north of Surat Thani)? 12 hours?

:)

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Posted by Tilapia on 23/8/2011 at 22:11

Look here ...

http://www.railway.co.th/home/srt/timetable/download/th/20110702-south-go.pdf

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Posted by SBE on 23/8/2011 at 23:20

Are you getting an overnight sleeper train down south? That would be the most time efficient way of getting to Surat Thani but I thought the sleepers only left from Hualumphong?

I still can't access Thai train timetables or the man in seat 61 so you'll have to check all this yourself I'm afraid ...there's a sleeper train leaving around 19.30 I think but there may be a later one too.

Anyway, happy travels! :-)

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Posted by christay2009 on 23/8/2011 at 23:32

mmmm...according to Tilapia's very handy link I could a train from Nakon Pathom at 20:57 (85) or 00.08 (39,41) which would stop at Chaiya at 6:23 or 7:37.

Not sure how to tell if sleeper though, or sleeper depend on time? This is presuming I could just get a train from Kanchanaburi to Nakon Pathom easy peazy then just hop on that one without having booked in advance. MMMMMM

Thanks again

#14 christay2009 has been a member since 8/2/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 414
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Posted by SBE on 23/8/2011 at 23:50

God I wish I could see them train links!! Have a look at the man in seat 61 site as well. I'm pretty sure he says whether or not a train is a sleeper.

It's always wise to book sleepers in advance, otherwise you might find the only seat available is a wooden one in 3rd class! Do it ASAP when you arrive in Bangkok if you're getting it from there. Some travel agents sell train tickets around KSR (for a small commission).

Otherwise you could go to the train station and buy the ticket yourself...there's a ticket booth where they speak English for foreigners. Ignore any helpful (not) English speaking touts who tell you the train is fully booked and direct upstairs to buy an overpriced bus ticket instead. If the train really is fully booked then you could always get a bus down south from the Southern bus terminal.... or that train from Kanchanaburi.

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Posted by Tilapia on 23/8/2011 at 23:54

Hi Christay,

It's likely that all of them have sleeper cars. No doubt at least one of those evening trains does. You'll find out when you go to book a berth. You can do that in K-buri at the station, but if I were you I'd take care of the train ticket soon after you arrive as the sleeper cars tend to fill-up.

Also, taking the train to K-buri is much nicer than taking a bus. Slower, but nicer.

Yes ... you can take the train from K-buri to NP without booking ahead.

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