I'm 34 and backpacking solo around Thailand(possibly including another neighbouring country too maybe) this November for 1 month and I'd very much appreciate some itinerary advice as this is my first trip to Thailand.
Not that I'm wanting to plan the trip in its entirety. Quite the opposite. I plan on winging it and enjoying the excitement of not necessarily knowing where I'm going let rule the trip.
That said, I guess I do have a very rough plan(or a general flow as I call it) of where I might like to take myself.
Arriving into Bangkok to start my trip I arrive on a Thursday night. Thinking of staying in Bangkok for a couple of days and flying up to Chiang Mai on the Sunday.
From here it is very much winging it. Perhaps heading up and over slowly to the border. I'd like to hop over into Laos on the boat(2 day trip I believe) and take in Luang Prabang /surrounding area for a couple of days before resuming my travels in Thailand.
(Flights from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang appear very expensive at present so the boat option is going to be the option for me I expect)
Would this side trip into Laos be a good idea or not given the trip duration? Or indeed the climate in November I.e is it significantly cooler or not really an issue other than the cooler nights?
Back in Thailand I am thinking of then taking the train(from Chiang Mai) and taking my time travelling down to southern Thailand hoping to stop along the way for a few nights here or there and then to take in an island or 2 before heading back to Bangkok for the final night(s) prior to heading home.
I appreciate I've not suggested possible stop off places along the route, I'd welcome some suggestions, but I'm just wondering in principal does this sound like a realistic flow of travel given the trip duration?
Is the Laos trip going to severely impact on the rest of my trip given its 2 days either direction plus time in Laos(guess I may have answered my own question there!!)? Maybe a side trip over to Cambodia from Bangkok on a cheap return flight, on the way back down from Chiang Mai is a good alternative. Maybe neither are a good idea, I'd love to know what your thoughts are. I certainly don't want to spend my time travelling on buses/planes/trains every other day of my trip. I'm more interested in meeting other travellers along the way and chilling out with a beer rather than ticking a load of geographical boxes in a rush on my own but of course I want to set some sort of loose structure to the trip too to make sure I see the country.
I would ideally like to do some volunteer work for a week( would consider anything if it genuinely helped the locals) but the search so far has produced a bunch of money grabbing corporate companies selling what sounds a great experience but I'm inclined to believe it is all fake and exploits the locals rather than helps them. My own personal opinion of course but at £500 to £1000 for a week.....get real!!!!!! I must admit it has put me off the whole volunteering scene as I would never want to stop a local from getting a job thanks to some nobody from the UK signing up to some voluntourism role. Perhaps the best option is to do nothing.
Anyway, I'd very much appreciate any itinerary suggestions, criticisms and any advice you can offer.
Thanks for reading and for taking the time to reply.
Winging it is a good idea but basic research can help you knock out a few places that dont fit your interests and make sure you don't miss the ones that do. Volunteering is often a scam and if you really want to help the locals be generous with tips and buy their products ie help the workers.
November is usually quite nice up north, with rainy season finished and comfortable temps. Northern Laos for about 7-10 days would be a good idea. From Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong then slow boat down to Luang Prabang. Better to exit from Vientiane than come back to Chiang Mai, avoid backtracking. Then maybe do a couple train rides (Nong Khai - Bangkok - Trang) to get south. Better chance of sun down the west coast in November, and often very rainy on the lower east coast. A month will be enough for Chiang Mai, northern Laos, a week of beach combing and some sight-seeing days in Bangkok. If you want to squeeze in a few days at Angkor Wat, etc. consider a return AirAsia flight Bangkok-Siem Reap.
Thanks for the replies. Some ideas to work on there.
In Bangkok, which areas would you recommend staying in?
Not interested in Red Light tourism and I'm not fussed about shopping malls either. I'm after good budget priced hostel or guest house digs hoping to spend no more an 1000baht per night.
Not much of a shopper myself but Bangkok heat can be harsh during the day so find myself going to a shopping mall (usually MBK) often. There's a good food court and cinemas there that show both Thai and foreign films. There's also very good street food galore outside MBK plus free Muay Thai fights every Wed night and they are real fights. Not top level but mid level and some good fights.
There's guesthouses near the Reno Hotel or that hotel itself is a good central location.