About year a go I came to this forum to look for some some advise on our Thailand trip. Initially we were planning to visit Thailand AND Laos in only 17 days. Thanks to you guys we scrapped our rushed itinerary and went for a more relaxing one. We had a great time and are already planning a new SEA trip at the moment!
I'd like to share a summary of our trip, so I might help people to decide on which places (not) to go.
As I said we (my gf and I) had 17 days to spend on (our first) trip to SEA in july/august. I think we would classify as 'flash packers' as we mostly went for the mid range accommodations.
Upon arriving in Bangkok it was a bit of a shock to find out that most people weren't the fluent English speaker our guidebooks told us about. Luckily by showing the taxi driver the address of our hotel he was able to take us there. We stayed in Hotel Solo (Sukhumvit 2), which was quite pricey but very luxurious. (And great to relax after a 12+ hour flight). Also their breakfast is amazing and they offer a free (golf cart) ride to the nearest station.
We quickly find out, If you want to travel Bangkok, the sky train is the way to go. In my experience taxi's tend to overcharge tourists and aren't willing to put the meter on. Also most of the motorways are clogged up most of the time, which also can be a fun experience to be part of, but not if you're in a hurry. The sky train is fairly cheap to ride and the train network is easy to comprehend.
Highlights of Bangkok: Street food, a late night tuktuk drive, long tail boating tour through the canals (pricey, but fun!). Obviously we also paid a visit to the Wat Phra Kaew, which was nice but very crowded (and hot). We had most fun just strolling around the city. China Town is also worth paying a visit.
After three days in Bangkok we took the sleeper train to Chiang Mai , which was a great experience. We shared our cabin with two friendly Chinese. The funny old lady of the train staff tried to get me drunk on a bunch of Chang beers (in which I think she succeeded). Next day early in the morning (about 6 am) we were charged about 2300 THB for the dinner and the drinks, which probably was a scam (we were too sleepy to recognize). Afterwards we had a good laugh about it.
In Chiang Mai a (suspiciously looking) taxi took us to Na Inn. A great budget place to stay! The hostess was really friendly and very willingly helped us to book a few tours and arrange an early morning songthaew pickup to the airport (later in the week). The highlight of our holiday was the 3 day trekking we did with Pooh Eco trekking. We did a jungle trekking in the mountains (near the border of Myanmar). We had to wade rivers, climb muddy hills and in the evenings we stayed with the local tribes. We had brought a bottle of rum which we shared with the locals which resulted in a truly remarkable evening around the fireplace. Interesting food we ate: bamboo shoots, all kinds of hand picked leaves, snake soup and fried bamboo worms.
Other highlights of Chiang Mai: street food (again), the sunday market and the Tiger Kingdom. We're not sure if the latter really is a responsible tourist attraction. The experience of being in a cage with tigers was quite thrilling though! Obviously there also was an animal trainer with us (with a 10 inch bamboo pole, so we were perfectly safe).
At the end of the week we took a flight to Surat Thani (through Bangkok), from which we took the ferry to Koh Samui. We stayed at the Jungle Club, up in the mountains, which offered a spectacular sight over the island. It's a really relaxing and romantic place to stay, though it can get a bit cheesy when all the guests are couples.
After a few days we went to stay at Moon Huts, near the beach. A nice place to drink cocktails, read a book and enjoy the beach. Koh Samui was great to have a relaxing week at the end of our (still pretty stuffed) holiday, though I was a bit disappointed with the island overall. It's really just a 12 in a dozen beach destination with obnoxious tourist and high prices (compared to Bangkok). (Expecting to be roasted over this comment.) If we were to take this journey again, we'd probably swap Koh Samui for a less touristy island.
From Koh Samui airport we had a direct flight to Bangkok (which was expensive, but quick), were we stayed for our last two days.
All in all we truly had a wonderful time in Thailand. In a great part thanks to travel fish, so thank you guys!
Ps. about the weather: even though we were in Thailand during the rainy season the weather was great! We had a few strong showers, but overall we had a lot of sun.
#1 Dutch has been a member since 19/3/2012. Posts: 11
Samui has touristy expensive stuff but so does Bangkok. Samui has a different low season to Bangkok though due to different weather patterns and the prices you paid may have reflected that.
"about the weather: even though we were in Thailand during the rainy season the weather was great! We had a few strong showers, but overall we had a lot of sun"
That's what happens most of the time. People seen to have an unusual paranoia towards low season because of the label wet season. It's the best time to visit Thailand due to less tourists and lower prices.
Thanks for your report. Glad it went well.
"even though we were in Thailand during the rainy season the weather was great!"
July/August is sunny season for the lower gulf islands such as Ko Samui.
But I agree, "rainy season" is something too many tourists obsess about. Rain is not the end of the world. In the tropics it's an essential and mostly-welcome aspect of the environment. It cools the air, makes things grow, and often comes with impressive thunderstorms. And in the tropics it usually doesn't last all day. A far cry from the "rain" many foreigners associate with North American and European winters.