Hi, just a quick question really
Myself and my girlfriend are starting off our travels around SE Asia in January and were wandering if we would be missing out on any gems, when we travel north from Bangkok to Chiang Mai? Due to budget we are thinking about getting the sleeper train, but just want to make sure we aren't missing out on some great places!
We are very out going young travellers on a shoestring budget, so any advice or tips would be much appreciated.
#1 12willkirk has been a member since 6/12/2012. Posts: 3
the sleeper train is a good adventure as well as a good choice for budget travel. it won't be the best night's sleep ever, but it should be interesting.
to answer your question, yes, there are some worthwhile stops between bangkok and chiang mai, but for a first trip to thailand and given that we all have limited time and resources for travel, you won't be seriously cheating yourself by skipping them.
if you want to take a look, the most popular of the options would be sukhothai, which is a fascinating place in terms of history and ruins and a pretty fun backpacker hangout too. but if you want to capture some of that type of stuff, you could always make a daytrip stopover in ayutthaya to explore its ruins and museums and then still catch that same sleeper train from ayutthaya onwards to chiang mai later in the evening. ayutthaya is just a bit north of bangkok proper. regards.
Travel by Train it's good experience, but you might need 5 days as least it would be good to have time for sightseeing around there.
I would suggest visit Sukhothai same too, If you like ancient city , history sites Sukhothai it worth visiting.
You can take train from Bangkok or Chiang Mai to Phitsanulok and then take bus from there about 1 hour to Sukhothai.
#3 RiniRabbit has been a member since 31/7/2012. Posts: 78
I agree with the others, although I'm skipping CM & Sukhothai this time (been already) I'm adding Chiang Rai, Nan and most likely Lampang & Phitsanulok when I head north, if I should skip one of these, please let me know I love the night train.
i'd normally say sukhothai is more interesting than phitsanulok, particularly for a first-time visitor, but it depends on what you want to do too. sukhothai is definitely more of a culture/history destination and is very backpacker friendly, but the new town didn't seem to have much else local going on. phitsanulok, on the other hand, is more of a destination for thais and other asians visiting the big buddhist temple there. on my last visit, p-lok had several good river restaurants serving delicious fish and a happening beer bar scene along the riverbank. it was definitely good for an overnight.
same with lampang. it is a big thai tourist destination and because of that has lots of restaurants and music spots where you might be the only westerner there. on my last visit there was also a pretty good weekend market. it is good for a night or two, particularly for folks who have already visited the more typical places like chiang mai. cheers.
My last trip from Bangkok to Chiang Mai I stopped over at Ayutthaya for 2 nights. But as previously stated you can take morning train up, hire a tuk tuk for the day and then get the overnight train. My next trip (next year) I intend to take an early morning train up to Lopburi (small town with monkeys everywhere so can just walk around) for the day and then take the overnight train to Chiang Mai. Plenty of info on Ayutthaya and Lopburi on the internet.
that day trip stopover idea works just as well for lop buri as it does for ayutthaya. the train station in lop buri is right down town, and an easy walk to the roundabout where the largest groups of monkeys hang out. it is also a relatively short walk to a few of the worthwhile ruins and the museum, which is also good but a bit pricey.
on my last visit, there was a decent night market between the train station and the roundabout where we got excellent phat thai and other dishes from friendly people for not much money, and there was a backpacker-friendly guesthouse and bar starting to put down roots only two blocks or so from the train station. but that was nearly three years ago now, so things may be different.
i actually lived in lop buri for two months back in 1985. i wasn't a big fan of the monkeys then and i didn't like them much more on this last visit. be sure to take care around them, as they get teased so much they can be very foul tempered. have fun.