We are planning a 12 day trip to Thailand in Aug. We have Bangkok (2 days) Samui (7 days) pencilled in but we can't decide where to spend the rest of the time? We went to Chiang Mai last year and loved it compared to the bright lights and touristy-ness of Samui but 3 days isn't enough to do the same again after travel, costs etc.....
Is there anywhere close to Bangkok or Samui you could recommend a couple of days stop over to give us a taste of the real Thailand or should we just scrub out this itinerary and start again?
#1 Mrskesitch has been a member since 6/3/2012. Posts: 1
If you want to experience the 'real' Thailand than skip Samui all together. Instead take a trip along the Gulf coast and explore the untouched, less travelled beaches along the mainland.
#2 guava_girl has been a member since 21/10/2010. Posts: 252
Maybe somewhere like Prachuap Khiri Khan for a low key slice of Thailand without too many tourists.
It's between Bangkok and Surat Thani/Chumpon so you could break your journey there. Otherwise it's about 5 hours on bus/train from Bangkok.
There's a thread here that contains some good info:
Amphawa is a fun and fascinating place if you are there over a weekend. Full of Thai tourists but very few westerners. There is an excellent floating market (local style) on the river in the evenings, and you can stay in guesthouses right on the river. Tilapia and I have posted several times about it on this forum so have a scout around...
Agree with guava girl, skip Samui altogether. I don't mind a few days relaxation on a tourist hot spot beach, but Samui was a step too far IMO.
If you like that area bump Samui and go to one of the other two islands - but choose your beach carefully;)
Bangkok is definitely the "real" Thailand - more than 10% of the population lives there. But you've already got that part in. I like Issan if you want to see rural Thailand. There are many places in Issan where there are no tourists. You could take a direct flight from Bangkok to Nakhon Phanom and from there wend your way north along the Mekong. That would be slow paced, rural Thailand for sure.
I would suggest you visit the Phuket Viewpoints. There are many viewpoints looking out over east and west Phuket affording sunrise as well as sunset views. Ok, so everyone goes to Promthep but it doesn't make it any less spectacular. There, you'll get fabulous views over the ocean stretching as far as Phi Phi Island on a good day. Check out Phuket's other viewpoints such as the 'Three Beaches' hilltop venue on the road between Nai Harn and Kata or sip a cocktail at the After Beach Bar (also on the same road) while the golden ball slips into the western horizon.
#8 vineetkoushik has been a member since 6/4/2012. Posts: 4
This thread is already a month old, but I'll jump in just in case the OP is still reading.
There are lots of good suggestions above. No matter if you go to Samui or choose something else, either Ayutthaya or Kanchanaburi are also good options for the end of your trip. Both are relatively close to Bangkok, assuming you are flying out of Bangkok at the end. Ayutthaya is good for culture and ancient temples with a pretty decent traveller area for cheap eats and sleeps. Kanchanaburi is also a popular destination for backpackers and locals alike, and is great for its WWII history and its outdoorsy attractions. Hope that helps. Regards.
'There are many places in Issan where there are no tourists'
Mainly because it's flat and boring.And for God's sake don't go in the dry season unless you want to be chocked by dust.I'd prefer October,November when the rice is about to be harvested.The land is green and lush and I'm sure Mac will recommend the amazing local cuisine of Gapi,Lab Nam Toc etc.
From Korat you can visit Pimai, also Panom Rung near Buriram and save yourself a lot of bother going to Angkor Wat since the Thais have preserved both well.Both well worth a visit.
Once upon a time Koh Samui was a little fishing and cocunut producing island with a once nightly boat to take you to the pristine beaches.Now I hear it's a hell hole.Surely there must be lots of lovely islands left to explore and leave Samui to the big hotel chains.
Same goes for Kanchannaburi, used to be a lovely trip from there to Nam Toc on a quiant train (does it still exist) but now all it is a long line of bars full of boring drunks.
Ayuthaya still retains its charm and you can still find little guesthouses by the river.Ther's a little ferry which crosses the river to take you in to town but like most Thai towns the charm of teak housing has been replaced with ugly brick and cement.
3 days is a bit short for a Isaan trip, although I am a big fan of the Isaan.
From BKK it would be easy to go to Chantaburi with a beautiful coastline and some history (the only part of Thailand that was occupied by the French). Visit Soi Dao waterfall.
Or make a trekking at Khao Yai National Park and visit the 7-sister waterfall at Muak Lek.
Or go to Sangkhlaburi and walk over Thailand longest wooden bridge and visit Burma via the 3-pagoda pass.
I love bangkok! It's easy to get away from heavily touristed areas.
On my last trip I stayed in an area near the thailand cultural centre train station. I stayed in a 4 room bed & breakfast. it was close to a huge local market and friendly locals.
These locals swept me into their community despite the non-English menus in their restaurants & businesses. Charades and a little bit of Thai went a long way! It was harder to get to tourist sites, but that's why I liked it.
I'm going back to Bangkok in August for another 2 weeks because I DO find it easy to find authentic experiences there.
This time I will try a different location.
#13 Naz73 has been a member since 6/4/2012. Posts: 5
Issan is the place to see Thailand and get away from the tourists. It is the prettiest (sp) right before they start the rice harvest and that will depend on the rain from April thru October. Got to agree will Madmac on this yet I hate to promote it too much because it's not touristy is one of the reasons I love it here.
#14 neosho has been a member since 13/8/2008. Posts: 386
Issan is on my list for that reason. I have good friends who are just updating their travel blog and they rave about it.
Google Cathy and Gary's travel pages and look at their Issan experiences.
#15 Naz73 has been a member since 6/4/2012. Posts: 5
Mac and others
I love Isan, best people in Thailand but I was trying to see it from a newbie travellers perspective.Like Neosho I love it just before the harvest.
It's definitely flat, you can't dispute that.Saying it rocks is a little OTT.
I just think it's probably the most difficult part of Thailand to get around and see sights if you have no Thai and a limited understanding of the culture.
Isan food is the best and that's why it's found all over Bangkok.
But I forget your a burger and fries man Mac :-)
"I love Isan, best people in Thailand but I was trying to see it from a newbie travellers perspective.Like Neosho I love it just before the harvest."
You know, if you're a city boy, it's tough to beat Khon kaen. That is a great city. It's got a lot going for it. The univeristy is huge and has added a ton of vibrance to the place.
I've heard there's a lot of expats in Khon Kaen. Is that true? I've only passed thru and went to the wife's nephew's graduation.
#19 neosho has been a member since 13/8/2008. Posts: 386
Haven't been to KK but heard from people who lived there it's got a big farang presence. I see that as a negative though for visiting as a tourist.
#20 longbeach has been a member since 28/3/2012. Posts: 307
Khon kaen has a lot of expats, but the city has a large population base so it can absorb them without them being very noticeable. Many also live outside the city. It's a perfect mix, because there are enough expats there to support foreign restaraunts - so there is an excellent German restaraunt there, and excellent Italian restaraunt run by a guy from Italy... An American steak house, etc. The university quarter is cramped and bustling and fun.
You're a contradiction which puzzles me.You advice people to mix with the 'indigenous'
population yet you hate the food in Isan and recommend German and Italian restaurants?
Do a lot of Isan, Lao speaking people hang out in these places? I don't think so.Their probably exclusively for tourists who have to eat 'home' food.
BTW The thread is a bit old but Ayutthaya gets my vote for a couple of free days if only for the pleasure of dining in one of the riverside restaurants.Sitting in the moonlight watching the barges slowly pass and eating AUTHENTIC Thai food.
It's not a contradiction at all. Don't confuse dining with socializing. Not the same thing.
I have a spoiled Palate from years of living in the US and Germany. In those places, I was exposed to a host of international cuisine. I love Indian food, German food, Italian food, Somali is my favorite. I eat a LOT of local, authentic (and authentic does not mean better or even good) food because where I live food options are minimal. But after years of eating the same kind of cuisine, I love to get something else. Actually, that occured after only two months here. But it's about dining, not about meeting people. I meet people playing chess, going to bars, dancing, hanging out, going to school. So no, no contradiction.
"Do a lot of Isan, Lao speaking people hang out in these places? I don't think so.Their probably exclusively for tourists who have to eat 'home' food."
We don't have a lot of tourists in Isan. They are much more for expats who live out here and for wealthy Thais with a taste for international cuisine (a number which is now rapidly growing - the Japanese restaraunts are full. And in Khon kaen there are at least ten of them. Almost soley Thai patronage).
So your not a big fan of Gapi.On the subject of Khon Kaen,(I forgot where it was just had to look at the map).I think there were a lot of ex-pats there if I recall.
I would recommend anyone who wants to do the true Isan experience to use the train.Surin,BuriramSisaket etc are less ex-pat and much more the 'real' Isan.Also there are lots of Khmer sites to visit from these destinations.Starting with Pimae from Korat.The only bad experience I had there was arriving late in Sisaket and having to doss down in the flop house next to the station.Woke up in the morning with 3 giant cockroaches keeping me company,I think the Thais call them Maleng moung.Now if there is one thing I have a phobia about it's these things.Threw my clothes in my pack and ran like hell without even taking a shower.
"So your not a big fan of Gapi.On the subject of Khon Kaen ,(I forgot where it was just had to look at the map).I think there were a lot of ex-pats there if I recall."
Yep. It's a big city and a big province, and with that goes a large expat community (unlike where I live). And it's that community that allows places like the German restaraunt to survive (although that restaraunt also serves Thai food in abundance).
I'm not a fan of Sisaket, where my father in law comes from. Like Yaso, it's kind of dumpy and unappealing. At least in my view. I prefer Roi Et, Mukdahan and NKP. Khon Kaen is what I call Bangkok light. It's a real city, but not an old one so not one of historical interest. But a thriving hub of Isan nonetheless. It's the "real" contemporary Isan for sure. Or perhaps like Bangkok is to Thailand, Khon Kaen is to Isan.
No I'm not a big fan of Sisaket either.I think there's a small expat community there who sit nightly at the food market opposite the train station but nothing else. Surin now that was fun, hiked up the road a mile or so along the railway track and came across a whole host of Karaoke joints.Surprised the girls by greeting them in Khmer as that's what they speak down there.
No, what I was getting at is if you get a map of Isan you'lll find lots of historic parks/sites and great countryside very near each of these towns and all it takes is a ticket on the train. Again that's a real authentic Isan experience if you travel 3rd class. Most of them have made the long trip up from Bangkok so the carriage looks like the aftermath of a serious party with bodies dossing all over the place,bottles and discarded food rolling around.But the best part are the food sellers who get on every stop, gai yang and Singha beer-great trip.
It's interesting that the Khmer ruins in Isan are not of much interest to tourist. I guess because they are less spectacular than elsewhere. An aquaintance of mine here named Asger has done a lot of interesting research on the subject. He'll talk your ear off if you let him.
As for me, I'm a people guy, not a thing guy, so when I travel around on my bike, what I enjoy is meeting new people. I'm not very interested in nature or scenery so that's not usually my driver concerning destinations.
'I guess because they are less spectacular than elsewhere'
Are you kidding!
A bus trip from Buriram is Phanom Rung, an amazing site (see link) and of course to mention it again there is Pimae just outside Korat.
Using the train you can stop off at leisure and see so much and if you're a people person who likes meeting Thais you can't get a more interesting bunch than those coming back home from Bangkok in 3rd class.
P.S. Do you know if things have cooled down in Preah Vihear temple because that is probably the most spectacular site outside of Angkor and again another side trip from the railway line? Has it re-opened?
I agree they are impressive, but they are not close to something like Angkor, and not of the convenient geograghy of other sites in Thailand. So not AS impressive - on the other hand, not nearly as crowded either. You would think they would attract more off the beaten path types - but truth be told, there really are not many off the beaten path types.
'there really are not many off the beaten path types.'
Didn't someone say the majority are on the banana pancake trail.
But it's not just 'off the beaten track.'
I've sung the praises of Koh Kong (just across the border from Thailand and on a major overland route to Phnom Penh) but consistently I'm put down because I see Koh Kong as a much more attractive destination than Kampot (fashionable) whilst Koh Kong has a beautiful estuary.beaches forest tours, houseboats to stay on but the 'book' says Kampot and like sheep they follow. Koh Kong has everything Kampot has AND a beach which Kampot doesn't.
No, if I had a couple of days free like the OP I'd consider getting up to Korat and at least seeing Pimae.
Sayadian.....Preah Vihear opened soon after the last elections. As far as I know it still is but haven't kept up on the news so much this year. I haven't heard anything different anyway.
#32 neosho has been a member since 13/8/2008. Posts: 386
If it's open that's great news Neosho.
Now if someone wants to see a bit of Isan and get off the usual trail go there from the Thai side.
From Sisaket you have to get a bus to Kantharalak and then a SongTheow to a place I can't quite remember but it is very close to the border and there are motorbikes there who will take you to the ruins and wait for you.(The Songthaew driver will know the place to drop you) You have to pay to go through the National Park there which is a bit of a rip-off but the climb up through the Temple complex is well worth the effort with a marvellous view of the Cambodian countryside far below the main temple.
Be prepared to be out all day but it is a real adventure and a fun experience.
I've done it and it was pretty exhausting but I was in a part of Isan that literally never sees tourists and the people were so friendly.
Yep, I know the village feeling.eat, drink, lie in a hammock, eat, drink, lie in a hammock....Oh and then everybody crowds around the TV in the evening to watch some dreadful soap.Have they still got the traditional teak house or have they knocked it down to go 'modern' and build a breeze block monstrosity with air-con? First the water buffalos went, now the houses.Soon they'll even lay tarmac over the laterite.Progress is a double edged sword.It's sad to see the old Isan disappear but the people want progress, so travellers, get out and see it now before it disappears.
Where I'm at we still have people living in bamboo and grass roof houses outside the village. When new houses are built, it's usually the concrete block and concrete post kind and single story. The farmers had a good year last year so people in all the villages are upgrading their homes. Buffaloes and now cows are still plentiful. Concrete street inside the village but dirt roads outside. When you walk down the street, watch out for the droppings. Most every house has a TV now with antennae on bamboo poles. The wife said they only got electric about 10 years ago. Now they have running water to every home. I myself have satellite TV, hot shower, western toilet and an aircard in a dumpy house. LOL Oh, and I did buy the wife a washing machine. Nothing but the best for my woman. LOL
#36 neosho has been a member since 13/8/2008. Posts: 386
Our old house in the village got knocked down because my ex's father died and put a curse on it.So the thought of ghosts and the deterioration because no one would live in it made the decision for them.The new house is air-con concrete block.The water buffalos have gone in this village and replaced with those mini John Deare tractors.I believe they were transported and sold in Laos.When I first stayed 25 years ago there was nothing now there's electricity (free I might add) and even a tour bus goes through once a day.Old Age Pensions, free travel.Thailand is changing fast.That's why I recommended heading off from the railway, I found the area near the Cambodian border the nearest thing to the old Isan.
BTW Attap huts are still pretty much the norm in rural Cambodia.Thatched roof and woven bamboo walls.
"Have they still got the traditional teak house or have they knocked it down to go 'modern' and build a breeze block monstrosity with air-con?"
Sayadian - traditional teak houses were for people with real money. To my knowledge there has never been one in this village. My wife grew up in a grass and bamboo hut. The roof leaked when it rained, it was cold in the winter and they had no blankets. The floor was dirt , they slept on mats and fought off ants. Before the crack of dawn my wife had to go to the well (starting at age five) and get water and haul it home. It was about 200 meters to the well and she had to make multiple trips. She owned one dress and two pairs of underwear and no shoes. Before she went to bed she washed the dress and underwear by hand and hung it to dry so it would be clean in the morning. She has a scar over her right eye where she fell on some broken glass digging through a garbage pit looking for something to eat. That was village life in Thailand in 1980. It sucked. No paved roads. No running water. No medical care. Lousy school. No electricity. There was nothing even vaguely romantic about it. The concrete blocks are mostly replacing either clapboard wooden houses or bamboo and thatch huts. Beautiful teak structures have always been expensive - and still are. They are an earlier form of Thai architecture to be sure - but only the well to do lived in them. They were not "traditional" in the sense that they were common.
I couldn't disagree more with you on this one.Your wife must come from a very poor, landless family.Most people have at least a few rai of land and wooden houses were the norm whether they be what you call clapboard or teak and there were plenty of traditional teak houses.My wife's was a beautiful example though in the Thai style the house was just one large room(with curtain dividers) set on stilts.I loved it but neglect meant it had to go.They have a lot of land so the increase in the price of rice has made them quite well off now but as you say things were not so rosey in the 80's that's why so many of the girls started wandering off to American bases (perhaps a bit earlier than the 80's) and then Bangkok.It's a lovely village with lots of trees for shade but I remember having to get a motorbike from the main road to the village.I think Cambodia is a bit like Thailand was then.You should cross the border to see the past.
I can recall most of Aranyapathet and Chang Khan being almost entirely small towns made of teak.
"I couldn't disagree more with you on this one.Your wife must come from a very poor, landless family."
Yep - they were poor and almost landless.
"Most people have at least a few rai of land and wooden houses were the norm whether they be what you call clapboard or teak and there were plenty of traditional teak houses."
Beautiful Teak houses, or Mai Dang, or any of the hard woods - and finished and built in the classic style were always expensive Sayadian. Just a simple wooden structure on stilts was, and is, by far the norm. Though that norm is being replaced by concrete now. It's cheaper. Teak is expensive wood and it doesn't grow in abundance everywhere.
There isn't much lovely about my wifes village (or most villages here). They are garbage strewn (trash everywhere), everything built half assed, they are noisy, dusty places and there's no work outside of agriculture - which is back breaking work for small reward. The only thing that makes them appealing is the people who live there and the cost of living.
Thai villages 30 years ago were god awful places with a high percentage of infant mortality, and bad everything. No services of any kind. That's why it was so appealing for so many girls to become prostitutes to get away from them. You know a place is better, when being a prostitute offers a better quality of life.
Sure, agreed on most points but the teak houses had stood there for generations.Now 25 years ago my wife's village was a very pleasant place as I stated(still is) with lots of shady trees and nearly everyone had an old teak house but they were all landowners not agricultural labourers.
You quoting the Thai word for wood brought a wry smile to my face remembering all those tonal exercises for the different meanings of 'mai'
As far as the prostitution goes I think it all started out when one or two of the girls hooked a G.I. and went Stateside. Suddenly your bases were unundated with girls; to be fair they were looking for husbands but took what they could get. Blame the Vietnam war.
I don't suppose you were around during the 'Blue Fox' era down near Silom.All those guys let loose after a gruelling tour!
Prostitution in asia cannot be blamed on the Vietnam war. The way that it seems to blatantly go on may have changed and that maybe can be attributed to the war and yes looking for the rich farang husband. Poverty is the root cause of modern prostitution here.
I can't seem to write long answers as my connection goes bad. :)
#42 neosho has been a member since 13/8/2008. Posts: 386
As has robbery, murder etc.
Maybe you weren't referring to my post in particular in which case apologies but trafficking IS a problem that needs to be fixed.
How did this post get froma few days in Thailand to the subject of prostitution?
This board is amazing at times. :-)
I don't know, conversations that drift are healthy conversations.
And yes, I agree that trafficking is a problem that needs to be fixed. But trafficking is not linked to prostitution. Two different things. People might be trafficked for the purposes of prostitution, or they might be trafficked (and many are) for the purpose of being domestic servants. But there is no crackdown on domestic housekeepers (though it's an interesting idea).
So yes, I do wonder about that. When the subject comes up, often it comes up within the context of a "problem", instead of being seen as normal, which it most assuredly is.
Sayadian...had to laugh. LOL
Now........On my way to the states I seen a farang woman dancing in Nana. I doubt she was trafficked. I say woman because she wasn't young enough to be classified as a girl. The problem with the word trafficking now to me is because everything is listed under that term. If a person hires someone to take them across a border illegally then that person is classified as trafficked and the person that takes them is the trafficker. Even though that specific transaction was of mutual consent. Bigger numbers mean bigger dollars. I not trying to take away from the real cases , just making a point. Just two or three months ago , CNN was all over the story of 600,000 babies dying of starvation within 6 weeks if aid wasn't sent to some country in africa. Now nothing. Maybe the NGO's got the money they needed and saved them all. Bigger numbers, bigger money. People being forced to do something is abhorrent , just be honest about it. Not meaning you Saydian.
#47 neosho has been a member since 13/8/2008. Posts: 386
I understand where you're coming from Neosho but if the girl (knowing what she's been hired for in the entertainment industry and in this case to China) is then virtually held prisoner by having her passport taken away and gets no pay.Wouldn't you say that was trafficking since I believe the definition includes this type of thing.I have met one girl who has escaped and her story was pretty harrowing but you might say she was rather naive I suppose to fall into the hands of gangsters and believe everything they told her.
"if the girl (knowing what she's been hired for in the entertainment industry and in this case to China) is then virtually held prisoner by having her passport taken away and gets no pay."
I would call that false imprisonment, not trafficking. If that happened and then she was subsequently transported to another destination against her will, I would call that trafficking. But really, trafficking is basically kidnapping and moving the victim to another location - usually another country, in order to procure a service.
The reason it has been linked to prositution is because the feminist movement wants prostitution to be systemically eliminated but are faced with the dilema that such a direct attack eliminates a womans right to make said choice - thus the feminists have managed to get themselves in bed with the right wing moralist which want to avoid. So they link the issue to trafficking and put them all in one inextricably linked basket. In other words, there's a hidden agenda.
'Human Trafficking is a crime against humanity. It involves an act of recruiting, transporting, transfering, harbouring or receiving a person through a use of force, coercion or other means, for the purpose of exploiting them.'
The above is taken from the U.N. site.It generalises things but I'd say she certainly comes under the:
'coercion or other means, for the purpose of exploiting them'. part.
So I would imagine the U.N. would recognise her as being trafficked
coercion or other means for the purpose of exploiting them.
prostitutes are therefore traffickers. LOL
I know it's a serious issue. I just have a problem sometimes with the deception of the people trying to do something about it. It doesn't just apply to human trafficking either.
#51 neosho has been a member since 13/8/2008. Posts: 386
'her' is someone I have met and believe, as her story has never varied on the numerous occasions we've talked as would a liar's. I have seen what an emotional wreck this exploitation does to a person. A combination of naivety and greed brought her to this position.She's never asked for sympathy but it's clear to me she has been mentally scarred for life.
Simple answer is because she was deceived and not paid hence she was trafficked according to the U.N. definition.
You moved the discussion onto prostitution and many girls in Asia are trafficked.e.g. Burmese from Burma to Thailand.They are trafficked for the purpose of prostitution.Therein lies the problem as regards prostitution and the one that needs to be 'fixed'.
I don't want to venture numbers here, but most certainly the vast majority of working girls here are not trafficked or otherwise working against their will. You've been here long enough, so I know you know that. The two are not linked. Kidnapping is a crime, nice and simple. I think each event should be kept in it's box, because linking them is done with ulterior motives in mind. Kidnapping and enslaving people is wrong - we agree on that. Prostitution, in my view, is not as long as it's voluntary by all participants.