So I think we've finally decided on where we are going to head to on our Thai holiday this year.
It's all become very simple as we only have a coulpe of weeks.
We fly into Bangkok around the 20th of September and leave from Bangkok around the 3rd October (very nice cheap flights with Air France if anyone is interested - £980 return from the UK for two people - UK to Paris - BKK, and really great flight times.
This is our 2nd time in Thailand (last time we also took in Malaysia and Cambodia also).
This is the plan, a day or so in Bangkok, head to Kanchanaburi for a couple of days and then back to Bangkok before flying Nok Air to either Phangan or Samui.
I'm kinda ignorant regarding Kanchanaburi so I need help here as I've never met anyone who has been. I'm wary of Samui (which is the girlfriends preferred option). We spent 10 days on Phangan a few years back and loved it, a ncie relaxing beach up the North East of the island.
My questions to the more experience Thai travellers are these:
Regarding Kanchanaburi, quite simply - is it worth the trip? I'm hoping for lots of historical interest when I am there. But at this time of year (wet season) can I expect much? Also, other than the history around the bridge and eailway what else could I expect from the place? Any must see?
Secondly, I'm really nto keen on Samui and woudl rather go to Phangan, but it's my girlfriends turn to call the shots. We're a young(ish) couple. I'm expecting Samui to be hell in paradise - holidaying families, lots of noise. Have I got this all wrong? Is there any particular area you guys could recommend. To be clear, we're by no means dead or dull, but I get enough partying at home and like to return from a holiday feeling refreshed but also like some action! Clear as mud hey! I hope this makes sense. One last thing, Travelfish claims the Samui weather is respectable during September, in your experience is that the case? the point in going there is for respite (relatively speaking) from the rain. It was either that or Bali, and the flights from BKK were coming in at £500 - too much. Nok Air fly to Surat Thani for £220 inc boat transfer to the islands. Anyone flown this route with Nok Air? Are they any good?
Sorry for all the questions, we've left everything to the last minute as usual. I have loads of giudes but to be honest I find the opinion of travellers on this site to be far superior to anything I read in a book :)
Thanks for reading.
Hi there I quite liked Kanchanburi when I was there a couple of years ago. Stayed in a place on the river with a view to the bridge, quite peaceful, got local transport down to the night market to eat. Plenty of good local food plenty of locals. The death railway was really quite sobering to go along.Great info centre where you can watch the history of the Japanese push towards Burma and the subsequent loss of about 100,000 lives. Erawan falls should be good after plenty of rainfall.
Re: Nok air have flown them once to Trang and they were fine for a budget carrier no problems at all. Be aware that they fly out of the Don Muang airport though. At least they did two years ago. Would fly them again.
At that time of year you might be better on the north east coast of Phangan have a look here at places to stay etc.
Kanchanaburi . Definitely worth the trip in my mind. If you are interested in history, then the museums and cemeteries and the bridge, etc. should be perfect for you. Add to that by taking the train up from Bangkok, departing from the Bangkok Noi Station in Thonburi, not far from the Khao San Road area - usually leaves twice per day.
As swag mentioned, there is also the outdoors kind of stuff and the river to enjoy.
The last time I was in Kanchanaburi there was a developing restaurant and bar scene that seemed to cater to an artsier crowd than I'd seen elsewhere. Great food. Interesting atmosphere. I particularly liked it because it was all about the local scene and life in modern, urban Thailand. I hope you like it too.
As for Samui, the island is much bigger than you'd think, and the different beaches have different personalities and appeal to different crowds. The beaches on the north end of the island aren't as good for sand or swimming as others, but they are quieter, usually cheaper, and definitely charming.
Personally, I'd likely stay on or near Lamai because of its central location, and use it as a base to explore the rest of the island. The southern end doesn't get all that much traffic and has some very interesting spots to visit. So, if you wind up staying on Samui instead of Phangan, I don't think you'll suffer as much as you fear. We spent 10 days on Samui the last time we visited and wouldn't have minded staying for another 10 if we had the time. Cheers.
Hi, thanks for both responses.
I think we are definatley going to head to Samui. From the descripstions I think we'll head to Choeng Mon beach which is in the North East and close enough to the bright lights if we need a blow out and peaceful enough for us to relax. If anyone has accomodation recommendations for that beach (or thoughts on it) then I'd be happy to hear them.
All that's left is to decide how long to spend in Kanchanaburi and how to get to the islands. I'm now considering taking an overnight train for a fraction of the cost - that way we can spend more on accomodation :) Does the overnight train have private cabins? There are two of us an I reckon my better half would be more comfortable if we had a cabin to ourselves.
Just on Ko Samui we've just started a major update for there as the stuff, especially the listings, is way out of date.
Hopefully have at least some of it onto the site by the time you get out here.
Concur with the others re Kanchanaburi - definitely wortha visit.
#5 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,798
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Kanchanaburi is definitely worth a visit. The history is so very interesting. There is a big choice of accommodation along the river and some great food to be had on the roadside.
With regard to things to see and do there are, as ever, a wide variety of activities on offer. The Erawan National Park isn't too far away and hiring motos and cycles isn't a problem either.
I might even go again on my way down south and I was only there in May :)
I hope you enjoy.
I went to Kanchanaburi in August and I loved it. I travelled Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam and it was probably my favourite place for the activities and the atmosphere. It was the first trip we did after arriving in Thailand and we didn't feel confident at that point to arrange it ourselves so we book a 2 day 1 night trip from Bangkok which cost 900baht each but had a few extras to pay for, but that included all food (actually the best food we had on our whole trip) transport there and back and around Kanchanaburi, an English speaking guide and accommodation overnight, although it was basic it was a floating raft house on the river which was beautiful.
Our trip included the war cemetry, Jeath war museum (extra 40baht entry) walk over and around the bridge over the river Kwai, train ride across the bridge and along death railway (extra 100 baht but SO worth it- amazing experience) then elephant riding, bamboo rafting then hotel and food. Then the following day we spent the day at Eriwan National Park climbing the mountain and swimming in the waterfalls, but the company was good and you had a choice about what you wanted to do that day (there's a tiger temple which was another options but the tigers are all on chains so we didn't fancy it). I would highly recommend this trip if you want to see as much as possible and don't have much time, or there's a 3 day 2 night trip, or of course you could do it yourself.
I went to Koh Tao and Koh Phangan and preferred Phangan, we just stayed in a resort and we were pretty much the only people on a huge stretch of beach, it was absolutely beautiful. People we spoke to who went to Koh Samui said they enjoyed it but it's more family orientated and a lot of couples (sadly we were single so didn't wanna depress ourselves haha).
You can get an overnight train to either Chumpon or Surathani to get the ferry to the islands and you can get a private room for 2 people if you travel in first class, I recommend sleeper trains as you save on a night's accommodation and you can sleep the whole journey. Try a website called Seat61 which has all of the train information and prices on. Enjoy!
#8 Nixxypie has been a member since 27/4/2011. Posts: 55