Hello im going to Thailand in January,im flying into Bangkok my question is should i go to chiang mai first then to the islands or vise versa!and what island to visit for diving thanks for your time,
#1 cococommando has been a member since 9/11/2013. Posts: 1
Three weeks in January sounds nice. Most folks choose to visit Chiang Mai first for the food and fun and excitement, then head south to the islands for chill out time before they fly back home. But you could do it either way and be fine. Most folks also recommend saving a bit of time at the end for any shopping you plan to do. That way you aren't carrying the stuff around with you the entire trip.
Koh Tao, in the gulf, is very popular for diving. But for more serious liveaboard-type stuff, trips to the Similans and other places off the west coast are a good way to go. That time of year, you should be able to dive just about anywhere, and Koh Chang and the islands in that area would work too. Just remember to give yourself enough time between your last dive and when you are scheduled to fly again. Have fun. Cheers.
Chiang Mai and then head to Koh Samui most do.
#3 theloner has been a member since 7/10/2013. Posts: 116
Why bother going to CM if you're into diving?
Chiang Mai is ordinary.
#4 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
The ancient former capital city of the artistic, graceful and powerful kingdom of Lanna with loads of awe-inspiring temples that date back many centuries, ancient brick fortress walls that still front ancient moats, a distinctive local food tradition with influences from Burma, China, Laos and beyond, several outstanding markets and worthwhile museums, and pristine mountains with glistening gold chedis, waterfalls, mist-shrouded hill tribe villages and some of the most spectacular flower gardens in Asia. Yeah, Chiang Mai is totally ordinary -- if you spend the whole time at Tesco Lotus.
I've only tried diving once, but Ko Tao, the Similans and Richillieu Rock / Ko Surin regularly appear on "world's top 10 dive sites" lists. Ang Thong National Park (reachable out of Samui / Pha Ngan in the Gulf) and, further south in the Andaman Sea, Ko Lipe might also be worth considering.
I spent 3 amazing weeks in Thailand and we visit
Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Ayutthaya, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Krabi and Phi Phi.
Watch our video if you want to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DsKzpqE6n8
Maybe that way of trip you will like
#6 daymon has been a member since 11/11/2013. Posts: 1
Cm temples r nothing special and its massively over touristed. Try phayao and the temples on the hill. Not a farang in sight and no crappy mkts selling plastic junk and fake rolexes. Cm looks more like a city in europe with tourists crawling everywhere.
#8 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
i'd be interested to hear if you make it to chiang mai or not and what your impression is. personally, i see chiang mai the same way DLuek sees it. i love being there, but perhaps exactly because the large number of visitors generates an amazing variety of restaurants and shops and other experiences that to me just screams holiday fun.
do you remember the names of the temples you mention in phayao? it sounds like they were something special and that there is more than one. what specifically did you like about them so much? was it architecture or atmosphere or views of the surrounding area or something else?
The temples are on the hills nearby. Good atmosphere and views and not crowded out with farangs like CM. Actually saw none.
#10 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
What's the difference b/t Patong and the centre of CM? Same no of tourists looking lost, same junk in the markets. The only differences r the massages r cheaper in CM, the food is a little different and there's a beach near the former.
Same same for Samui.
#12 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
No tourists looking lost? I don,t agree. Many are doing the LP spin with their books. Who am i ? Where am i? I want pizza. no i want Pad Thai.
#13 theloner has been a member since 7/10/2013. Posts: 116
i think that's an oversimplification. chiang mai is much more complex that either of you suggest. but you've made your point. you don't like it. most of the rest of us do. but rather than continue to emphasize the points where we don't agree, i'd be much more interested in hearing about where you do like and why, with some detail too please. leonard, you mentioned phayao. is there anything else there besides the lack of westerners that attracts you?
The lack of westerners is worth it alone. Lower prices on everything. Far fewer dodgy touts. and foreigners. Far fewer sex tourists showing off their prize. no massage or farang bars on every corner, far more pleasant Thais ,far fewer Thais that are sick of many foreigners misbehaving, far better food, the list goes on. Where? Anywhere but Chiang Mai, Rai used to be great but sadly is not far behind Mai now with the same problems.
#15 theloner has been a member since 7/10/2013. Posts: 116
Wat Analayo also covered here. It's worth visiting but a little tricky to visit without your own transport. I like Phayao town, the lakeside bars and restaurants are great, but the accommodation at the budget end of the stick is a bit of poor value in my opinion. Still, well worth a night or two if you're kicking around in that part of the country. I'd say it attracts about as many foreign tourists as Prachuap in the south, but a lot visit on tour buses with Phayao being some kind of lunch/afternoon stop on the way to and from somewhere else.
Chiang Mai is a far bigger destination than just the Tha Phae Gate/old city area that seems to be being referred to above. Nimmanhaemin and out Doi Suthep way very Thai as is well north along the Ping River. Writing off Chiang Mai on the basis of Tha Phae is like writing off Phuket on the basis of Patong or Bangkok on KSR. Big places - room for all.
While I am certainly an advocate of getting off the beaten path... you have to acknowledge (well you don't have to, but you would be foolish not to) that foreign influence brings diversity to monoethnic cultures. I don't go to Bangkok often, but when I do I make sure I get to eat food not available out here in the sticks, and I go dancing and meet all my dance friends there... I like large, cosmopolitan cities whether that is in the US, Europe or Asia. So I wouldn't take the off the beaten path thing too far. It makes sense, in my view, for tourists who are interested in Thai culture to do that for the reasons you have cited. But I wouldn't take the arguement too far or be too absolutist in it.
#17 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Big cities can absorb diff cultures without losing the local culture. Phuket, samui and cm have been flooded and taken over. Its like the thais r the foreigners
#18 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
I agree Leonard, but those are blips on the radar screen. Thailand is a large country and there are plenty of places with minimal foreign presence / influence.
#19 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
I dunno Leonard - I'm not going to try and overload Burma's internet network to back this up, but I'd think the number of Thai domestic tourists to all three of the above would far outnumber foreigners -- certainly for Chiang Mai and Phuket - Samui maybe closer.
Happy to be proved wrong but someone with the bandwidth will need to do it. TAT site has good domestic stats buried somewhere.
that's interesting somtam, and kind of what my own less-than-scientific observations would conclude too. i remember back in the early 1990's when places like chiang mai and phuket (at least the tourist areas) were largely just western tourists. the only thais hanging out there were the nice folks who were working. my thai friends back then didn't travel much even within their own county. but over the years that has changed, and on my last trips to kanchanaburi, ayutthaya, sukhothai, trat and koh maak, etc., the balance had shifted and there were more thais in the tourist areas than non-thais, including other asians.
obviously in cities like chiang mai and phuket, there are more thais than non-thais, simply because there aren't more tourists than full-time residents. that isn't to say that the westerners aren't a notable presence, however. but even for those who prefer not to be surrounded by westerners, it shouldn't be overwhelming, particularly if you take a little care about where you hang out.
now, if people are really looking to be in a tourist fun type place without many if any western tourists, then try phitsanulok for the big temple and the riverside restaurants, or lampang for the restaurants and night music scene and horse carriage rides. hardly a westerner in sight!
Phuket attracts very few thai tourists and those going to cm short term r visiting relos more so than actual tourists. Count the thais on tours very few!
#22 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
Make sure to visit at least one national park. If you're down in Surathani, then Khao Sok is a great choice. If you go up to CM and then bus it back down to Bangkok, you could stop off in Mae Sarieng for an off-the-beaten path destination, and you could also visit Salween National Park across from Mae Sarieng. From Bangkok you could visit Kaeng Krachan NP (KKNP) and spend a night or two in Phetchaburi, a very pleasant small city (town) near KKNP. I really like Thailand's smaller towns and cities -lots of original local flavor. Nakhon Si Thammarat is another worth visiting (and you've got Ban Khiriwong and Khao Luang NP down there).
"phuket, there are more thais than non-thais, simply because there aren't more tourists than full-time residents"
Phuket gets 4-5 million tourists a year and most Thais living there are away from the beaches so the farangs in Patong would outnumber the Thais. Same in Chaweng on Samui.
#24 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
Lamai and Chaweng have become a freak show better than any reality tv show. Numerous videos on U- tube you can watch as foreigners and Thais do battle. The best one is at the Burger King some Germans i guess could not control themselves. The McDonald's down the street is controlled by Israel. Garbage everywhere while they block the doors so no one can easily enter or leave. They must get good training back home. I need to make a video of their hamburger fortress.
#25 theloner has been a member since 7/10/2013. Posts: 116
I know plenty of Thais who haven't been to Phuket, Samui, KPN or Tao and have no interest in going. They all hear it's expensive and if they want beach time they can go to Samet or Chang. Samet itself has been ruined by too many Thais this time. Small islands don't cope well with too many people.
#26 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148