Hi everyone, first post here.
Myself and the wife are off to Thailand at the end of February for just short of three weeks and here is how we have planned an itinery so far :
Bangkok - 2 nights
train to Kanchanaburi
Kanchanaburi - 2 nights
train to Bangkok, fly to Trat, then ferry
Ko Chang - 2 - 3 nights
ferry to Trat, fly to Bangkok then fly to Chiang Mai OR overnight train
Chiang Mai - 2 nights
fly Chiang Mai to Kuala Lumpar, fly Kuala Lumpar to Langkawi
Langkawi - 2 nights
ferry to Ko Lipe
Ko Lipe - 1 night
ferry to Ko Lanta
Ko Lanta - 2 nights
ferry to Krabi
Krabi - 3 nights
fly to Bangkok for one last night before heading home...
We want to balance out the culture, see some islands but don't want anything too touristy but not too remote either.
We also feel that the top end of the country is very much you have to go out and back before you can get anywhere else so a lot of time is spent travelling.
We don't like the idea of doing bus/coach travel unless its the easiest way and it has to be of a decent enough standard. I don't mind what we pay on transport but we won't be ripped off either.
We would like to have visited Vietnam and gone to Ho Chi Minh city and maybe had just a night there and also visited Khao Yai park maybe staying in a nearby town for the night.
1. Is it worth the trek to Langkawi?
2. Is it worth seeing Koh Lipe and Koh Lanta as well as then staying in Krabi where we will be doing a trip out to Ko Phi Phi.
3. Is there anywhere we really missing off our list that is a must see?
4. Do you think some of these places are worth staying longer? For example Chiang Mai we would like to go out into the wilderness for a day, go elephant trekking etc. Also going doing a cookery course would be nice too.
5. Is there any easier way to Langkawi then via 2 flights.
6. Are we missing any vital short cuts?
#1 kriskeogh has been a member since 16/11/2011. Posts: 34
I'd reduce it down by cutting out a few places and spending a bit more quality time in ones you do go to. Eg - why the expense of flying all the way to Chiang Mai for just 2 days? And yes,, skip the Langkawi portion and add it in to Chiang Mai.
Each time you move around, you nearly lose a day for travelling, checking in/out of hotels, etc, etc.
I agree with busylizzy that you're trying to do too much in such a short time. as well as checking into hotels think about the time it will take waiting in the aiports before flights and coming through customs, travelling to and from the airports etc so you'll actually be losing a lot of time there.
I recommend Chiang Mai for 3-4 full days. The wildlife trek will take one full day, as can a cooking cause if you want to do one for a full day. Then you need some time to look around the night bazaar and markets, maybe the caberet show, thai boxing match etc so leave time for more.
Also schedule in time for delays, because running on such a tight schedule means you don't have a lot of spare time. I went to Kanchanaburi for an overnight trip, it took 2 hours to get there in a minibus but over 5 hours to get back, for no reason in particular.
Ps. It's not worth travelling all of the way to Vietnam for just 1 night, even in terms of paying for flights, visas, travelling time etc. Vietnam needs at least a week just to see HCMC and the outskirts!
#3 Nixxypie has been a member since 27/4/2011. Posts: 55
You don't need to fly all the way to KL to get to Langkawi. There are boats from the pier in Satun. I think you should go to Langkawi and skip either Lipe or Lanta. However, it is quite a far journey. Your best bet may be to fly to Trang or Hat Yai from Chang Mai (via BKK) and from there to the pier to get to Langkawi or Lipe.
I personally would skip Koh Chang and head straight from Kanchanaburi to Chang Mai. Then head south from there.
#4 guava_girl has been a member since 21/10/2010. Posts: 252
I would skip Langkawi, and only one night in Koh Lipe, not worth the trouble. I would suggest Penang/Georgetown instead of KL, just because of distance. Or as other people suggested stay a little longer in the other places you're visiting.
Too many places and not enough time! Where are you flying from? You need to consider jet lag if you are flying a long distance. My first couple of days are a bit of a blur coming from Canada.
Save Viet Nam for another time.
Penang - I feel - is much more interesting than KL but I don't think it's worth the travel with the amount of time you have.
Personally I would limit it to Bangkok, Kanchanaburi , Chaing Mai and either Lanta or Lipe or both. You say you have short of three weeks - so 20 days - minus roughly 6/7 days for travel on this itinerary. Keeping in mind that your first day and your last day are spent in or getting to and from an airport. That leaves roughly 2 weeks - Bangkok (2), Kanchanaburi (2), Chaing Mai (4), Lipe/Lanta (4). You have a little wiggle room if you like a place and choose to stay longer.
From my experience in Asia less is more. Chill out, relax and enjoy!
There is a great elephant sanctuary near Chaing Mai that you might consider. No safaris - just elephants being elephants...I forget the name right now so I'll post later for you.
Thanks everyone. The reason I included Ko Chang is that a couple of people I work with have been and really enjoyed it but i'm not sure if its a destination too far, by that I mean I have to go there and get back where as the other island destinations I can work from south to north ending up in Krabi finally.
I'd like to venture out of Thailand hence the Ho Chi Minh option, would that be viable in place of Ko Chang. We like the idea of utilising air asia and have considered 2 weeks or so in Thailand but maybe including a few days in Bali or Macau or Hong Kong or Singapore.
A few more q's then...
1. Ko Lipe or Ko Lanta? What is the good and bad points of both.
2. We like the look of Langkawi but is it worth it.
3. Is there anywhere that we have missed on our itinery?
4. Is it worth after Chang Mai heading south using the overnight train, we looked at stopping off at Hua Hin for a day then heading south again overnight.
5. How do we get from a southbound train from Bangkok to say Ko Lanta/Ko Lipe to then return north via the Andaman islands?
Finally I must add that we are travelling light, at Bangkok we we will be leaving behind any cases/luxuries and living out of a rucksack for a week. So at airports we won't be waiting around for baggage carousels, what we have is what we carry. One of our key requirements at a hotel is laundry facilities so that on arrival at a destination we can wash/dry whatever has been previously worn as we don't want to carry much more than 4 days worth of clothing and a few basic toilitries.
#8 kriskeogh has been a member since 16/11/2011. Posts: 34
Hate to beat a dead horse, but yeah too much, too little time. You'll end up wishing you had spent more time in each place, and feeling that you didn't really get to know any particular place further than the surface tourist facilities. I agree with Tyler's itinerary 100%. Langkawi is a bit touristy, and you can get that in Thailand so why bother going to Malay for it.
I liked Koh Lanta a lot, but Koh Lipe is comparable. Lanta is more developed as of now, but that's unavoidable given its many times larger and more populated than Lipe. I guess it comes down to what's more convenient for your travel plans. Either way, you can't go wrong there. It sounds like time is short, so better to skip Hua Hin and fly straight from Chiang Mai to Trang or Krabi , either or. I've never flown into Trang, but from Krabi town Lanta's only 2 hours, give or take. The notion of an overnight train ride is always sexier than it is in reality, and that's most clearly apparent as you have your toes in the sand after an hour flight instead of on a bumpy train for over half a day.
You won't run out of things to do, and no matter how much you do, you're going to hear about a million other things you'll want to do so there's no need to "do it all" in one shot, it's impossible. I've been here going on 2 years and I haven't even seen all the things I want to see in my province, let alone the whole of SEAsia. Pick a few places to get to know and explore. Your hotel will undoubtedly funnel you into "the" tours in the area that everyone does and you won't get a real feel for the culture. That's just my opinion, and seems to be the opinion of others, but if you're set on sprinting through, I'm sure we'd all be happy to oblige you with any assistance we can muster. Good luck on your trip, and RELAX! Isn't that why you're on vacation?
#9 whardy has been a member since 14/11/2011. Posts: 66
Just to bring this to a close we have pretty much closed off the first two weeks now with your help and adopted the less is more attitude :
Bangkok 2 nights
Kanchanaburi 2 nights
Ko Chang 4 nights
Chiang Mai 4 nights
Krabi 5 nights
Bangkok 2 nights
HOWEVER.... i'm not loving the idea of Krabi and Ao Nang in particular so we thought instead of staying in Krabi to fly down to Trang instead and stay on one of the islands down there. There will be a seperate thread on this.
#10 kriskeogh has been a member since 16/11/2011. Posts: 34
Thumbs up, looks a lot better. From Krabi, it's easy to hop to Koh Lanta(less than 2 hours) if you're not feeling it. Ao Nang is a bit slow, maybe you'd like Tonsai or Railay better? From Trang, there are several islands very close including Koh Libong, Koh Hai, and Koh Muk. All are every more slow paced than most Thai islands, so take that into consideration.
#11 whardy has been a member since 14/11/2011. Posts: 66