Just wondering if anyone has any good recommendations to add onto my trip.
I fly into Bangkok on Nov 14th and am planning on spending 5-6 days there just looking around and checking out the city since I have never been there.
Then I am thinking I will head down to Ranong and over to Koh Phayam for 4-5 days(maybe more depending on how much I like it).
My next plan is to get back to Bangkok and take the night train up to Chiang Mai and take a look around there for 3-4 days before I head over to Chiang Rai for 4 weeks of volunteering starting Dec 3rd.
So that means I have ~6 days or so to spend somewhere else. I am not a big partier or shopper and travelling on a bit of a budget so not sure that Phuket or Koh Samui really make sense.
Couple ideas I have been somewhat interested in are Khao Sok National Park, Krabi and Kanchanaburi but not sure which area would probably be best and am sure there are a bunch of other good places/ideas out there.
Thanks for any info.
Those are all good choices. If you go to Kanchanaburi, you could keep going on to Sangkhlaburi. Very nice area that's worth the extra little bit of effort to get there.
Sukhothai is also a good area that's easy on the wallet. Lots to see and do, and plenty of good sleeping options. It's also midway between Bangkok and Chiangmai.
You could also take the night train up to Nong Khai, stay there for a couple of nights, then go along the Mekong to Sangkhom for a couple of days and then make your way over and up to Chiangmai. Beautiful part of the country.
Your last idea is something I like to do my next Thailand trip. We did quite a bit of the north already, always by rented car, but never this part. What route do you suggest en what kind of transportation? Is it possible to do parts by boat, for example?
Thanks Tilapia, I was thinking about Sangkhlaburi as well and may very well do that. I was afraid it would eat up too much time travelling but I have enough days I could comfortably fit it in.
I had been looking at Sukothai but think I am going to pass on that since I already have a fair bit of temple/ruins planned in Bangkok and especially later in Cambodia. Hoping to find something else in Thailand that I won't see much of in my later travels(as discussed below).
Nong Khai is already one of my ideas for my second leg through Thailand. After I am finished volunteering I am going to spend a couple weeks or so travelling through Laos from Huay Xai to Vientiane. Then I am going to spend a few days travelling through the Isaan region down into Cambodia. Once through Cambodia will travel up the coast of Vietnam and finish my trip in Hanoi.
Any other ideas are appreciated. Please feel free to PM me hidden gems if you don't want them public ; ).
I would take less time in Bangkok at the beginning and try to squeeze Sukhothai in.. the national park out weighs anything you will see in Bangkok imo.. it is easy to do in a day.. We got the bus from bangkok to sukhothai stayed over night.. spent the morning looking around the national park and then got the 13:30 bus to Chaing mai which is now one of my favourite places to just chill and hang out.
Both Khao Sok and Kanchanaburi are excellent choices.
However the former is probably better in terms of access - just jump on one of the many Phuket buses at Ranong, bail out approx 2 hours later at Takua Pa and hop on the next passing Surathani bus - about one hour up the road is the bungalow area of Khao Sok just outside the main National Park area.
With around 6 days I'd try to take in a 2 day lake trip as well as staying in the near-National Park bungalow area. However if you can't afford an overnighter on the lake or even a daytrip there one option may be to squeeze in a few days on Phayam's near neighbour, little Ko Chang.
I had been considering spending a day or two on Little Ko Chang. Will depend on how things are on Ko Phayam. I am guessing the 2 are pretty similar.
Khao Sok does look quite interesting, looks like a neat place to go trekking and canoeing but as you mention I have noticed that most of the tours are quite expensive. Smileybungalow is the only place I have seen so far that seems to have some decent priced options. Are their other decent somewhat budget oriented tours or are most of them fairly pricey? Is it possible to do any of the stuff on your own or do you pretty much need to join some sort of tour?
I'm not too sure how price competitive the trips are out of the bungalow area, but I vaguely remember that my last visit saw prices on the ground a a fair bit less expensive than those I saw online. My experience is that there are a number of operators and that each will cover 3 or 4 different bungalow places - plus trip booking joints in the area. I've simply asked my bungalow their price for a particular trip - if I think it reasonable I go for it.
Thing is, when you are in the bungalow area, the easily followed paths within the National Park are sufficient to keep you occupied for 2 days without a guide (you get a map when you pay your entrance fee into the Park).
I reckon little Ko Chang is a fair bit different to Ko Phayam - much less touristy and more laid back, something like the classic backpacker islands of the past. Mind you, if you go to the far northern end of Ao Khao Kwai (Buffalo Bay) on Phayam, you can get the same kind of atmosphere.
Phyam isn't touristy/touristy like much of Phi Phi and Samui by the way.
There is no public boat transport on the Mekong in this area. Only bus and songthaew.
The area from Nong Khai to Chiang Khan (and even beyond Chiang Khan) is fantastic. It is a great part of the country to see on a motorbike or even bicycle.