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Thailand forum

1 Month Essential Thailand

Posted by Asianaut on 19/12/2013 at 23:36

Hello all,I am leaving in a few days for Thailand.Ill be there for a month.I have an open jawwed ticket .I am entering in Chiang MAi and exiting in BAngkok.I will arrive in Thailand on 26 December and travel for a month.
I have never never been to THailand before but I have been to neighbouring Vietnam and Cambodia very briefly.

I am a little indecided .I havent booked a thing.And I need to book some accom as I wont have the luxury of having budget accomodation at some of the places I will visit.My aim is cut out all the fluff of excess travelling by maby avoiding hard to reach, more expensive places.I know this will be hard to do during peak.To do this I will spend a little mroe time in fewer places(unless Im bored senseless).

My original plan was to Do Thailand and abit of Loas(8-9 days.) but then I think that travelling around too much during the month will strain the budget and make me feel rushed and now Im thinking of hitting up Thailand only.

I dont have the luxury of winging it when I get there,so I need abit of a plan to book some things ahead of time.

Not sure about NYE,but Fullmoon in Phan gan sounds popular.Im leaning towards another destination for NYE,as it may be too crazy for me.

My itiinerary

Land in Chiang Mai.Maby spend a night there,and go the next day or immediately go to Mae hong son.For a day trip or a few days. .(advice)
Do a day trip to see the White Temple in Chiang Rai(budget permitting)
Come back to chiang Mai,and do some rafting,go to elephant nature park and maby a scenic hike.(need suggestions of cheapest way to do this).
Hangout there for around 4 days.

Spend NYE in Chiang Mai or make a trip to the full moon party in Koh Phang gan(any other options).If I choose the latter could someone please suggest a good base as I may not be able to book ahead for the few days to stay on the island in Koh phan gan.
Will a base of Koh Toa be good?

Im not sure if I will do my open water certificate as yet.So Im thinking of spending a couple of days in Koh toa if I decide to do that.I dont know if that could serve as a base for the full moon party(Please advise).

Option 2

Skip the legendary Full moon party.Spend NYE in Chiang MAi.
Then hit up Isaan to get a taste of rural,pre modern Thai life.2-3 days(Is this worth it?or can I see this way of life in another area of Thailand)

Do a day trip in Lopburi to see some monkeys.Either that or/and Ayuthaya to see some ruins.I have been to the Ankor national park before,not sure how different these ruins are.

THen Im thinking of going to a national park.Can someone suggest a good one,from whence I can have a good base to visit it from.

Then I will go down south ,passing Bangkok(leaving her for last),on my way to an island or 2.
Koh Toa/Koh Phan Ghan/Ko CHang/Koh lanta/Ko Lipe (Which 2?)

I dont know if it will be worth the money to base myself in Koh Phi Phi or Phuket but I would like to maby do a day tour to check em out.

THen after about 8 days in the 2 island spots Ill make my way to Bangkok for a few days.Maby I could hit up a national Park from there?

My interests are Food,Culture,Nature,snorkeling,possibly OW padi course,sightseeing,maby trekking,rock climbing(budget permitting).Maby an island hopping tour too.

I really want to also take a few Muay THai classes somewhere good,please advise.
I don't really party but I may make an exception for NYE.

I plan on eating only local.Staying in dorms,or cheap single rooms.Travelling by public bus most of the time,avoiding tuk tuks like the plague.

I would prefer to spend my money on food and activities than on accomodation.
What budget am I looking at.Without the padi OW certification, Im thinking 1200$ doing budget style comfortably(that should be an oxymoron)
.With the Padi Im thinking of 1,500$ doing budget style comfortably.Exclude alcohol from the budget.

Please adjust the budget or any other part of my trip as you see fit.
Specifics will really help allot.

Thank you and Merry Christmas,and a happy New Year.

#1 Asianaut has been a member since 19/12/2013. Posts: 2

Posted by AprilJef on 20/12/2013 at 12:01


I'm by far not an expert but we spent a month in Thailand and Laos last January and there are a couple things i thought I'd point out with your plans. First off getting from Chaing Mai to Ko Phangan for the FMP is a long journey by bus or train (guessing at best an overnight and full day train ride and then ferry if the connections work out) , and with the time line you have personally I would think it would be a waste to spend the money to get down there for a party, easpecially since you are planning on heading down to the islands towards the end of your trip anyways.

If you're still thinking Laos I can attest that Luang Prabang to Vientaine via Vieng Vang (the route took albeit the opposite way) a great jouney into exploring Laos. You could go over from Chaing Mai into Laos and LP and then make your way down. We spent 9 days on that route and didn't feel rushed and were able to do a lot of the things you have on your list (caves, waterfalls, food, culture).

I'm not great with my geography of Thailand, but perhaps you could visit Issan on your way back to Bangkok from Vientaine? We took the overnight train the other way so didn't stop in any locations but it could be an option to look into.

We opted for the islands of Ko Chang and Ko Kut closer to the boarder of Cambodia for our end of trip beach relaxing, so I can't comment on your islands, but it is nice to relax and be more of a tourist at the end of the trip. If you're travelling solo it's nice to be at the more busier beaches (IMO) as there's more people to talk to and places to shop and eat. But if you're more of an introvert a secluded beach is nice too.

I'm not the most budget traveller, but I think $1200 will be a little tight with all the travelling you will be doing. Laos is cheaper for sure, and of course hostels over hotels (my husband and I are in our 30's-40's so we hotelled it) will help, but if you really want to get out and do a lot of stuff and ergo spend money, less moving around will save you in the long run.

Good luck and have fun!! Don't sweat the small stuff and you'll have a blast!

#2 AprilJef has been a member since 8/7/2012. Posts: 13

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Posted by exacto on 20/12/2013 at 12:28

Based on what you've written, I'd skip the FMP. It is quite far from Chiang Mai to the islands, and the cost in both time and money to get there doesn't fit your proposed budget or preferred style. Plus, travelling in Thailand around the New Year's holiday is crowded and more dangerous than normal.

Keep in mind that travel times and distances are more than you'd think. It isn't a quick trip from Chiang Mai to Ayutthaya , for example, but rather an all day or an overnight journey.

You might consider just exploring the northern Thai area as you've said, and then head down towards Bangkok for your return flight, with stops in places like Sukhothai, Kamphaeng Phet, and Ayutthaya and maybe even Kanchanaburi along the way. If you had extra time you could head towards the eastern seaboard provinces for islands like Chang or even Samet.

Another option would be to head towards Laos after exploring Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son, and move from Luang Prabang down to Vientiane and then back into Thailand at Nong Khai. From there you could head straight to Bangkok with stops in Khon Kaen and Khorat, or even better follow the Mekong River downstream all the way to Mukdahan or beyond. There are lots of small and medium-sized cities to explore before heading back to Bangers for your return flight.

I'd be interested to head what you decide to do and how it turns out. Have fun and Happy New Year. Cheers.

#3 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,759
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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 20/12/2013 at 20:15

Legendary FMP? More like criminal.

#4 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
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Posted by Asianaut on 21/12/2013 at 04:49

I just replied to each person individually but Travelfish did not post it.Thank you guys allot,this helps allot.

What I am leaning towards is just doing Chiang Mai.maby a day trip or 2.Maby skip Mae hong Son.Maby skip Isan,and after about a week in Chiang Mai,hit up the Khao Yai national park for abit.Not sure about the park,if its expensive to Diy.THere is accom at the national park but getting from place to place will probably cost abit.So I am not sure if the pay of 12 dollars is worth it for a day if I dont sleep over.

After the National park maby Ill hit up a low key island or 2 for mainly snorkelling and exploring,soaking it in,budget style offcourse.

Then hit up Bangkok for a few days before I depart home.

Ideally at least/around 4 days in each location,except probably the National Park.
1 week or more Chiang Mai.

Im pretty stressed that Im leaving it all so late,so your cheat sheets on these questions help allot.

Am I doing the most beautiful islands of Thailand a disservice if I miss them,I am talking about Phi Phi,Koh Lipe,Koh Samui etc?

Or is it cheap to take quick day tours to these places from the more low key islands?

@Exacto-When you say Loas is cheaper,do you mean compared to Chiang Mai,or the southern part of Thailand?
also,does Loas allow you to travel without booking ahead?Cost to get to Loas and 30$ visa is making me think twice about going there now,and doing it on its own one day for maby 2 weeks,but I am still undecided.

@Apriljeff-What I am hearing from you ,and why I formed the above itinerary says that I dont really have time and cash to hit up the islands comfortably?

I will take your advice and not hit up the Full moon party.Ill probably stay up in Chiang Mai.
@ Leonard-What would you suggest as a good Nye spot,I know theres lots.

#5 Asianaut has been a member since 19/12/2013. Posts: 2

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 21/12/2013 at 06:11

Bangkok NYE.

Thai beaches r heaps better than Chiang Mai. CM is just a smaller less interesting version of Bangkok.

#6 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
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Posted by exacto on 22/12/2013 at 12:02

Hi naut,

It was actually AprilJef that said Laos is cheaper, not me. In my experience, Laos is actually a bit more expensive for the same level of accommodation and food than you'd find on the other side of the river in Thailand. But it is less expensive than say Bangkok or the Thai islands.

My concern for you would be how are you going to get to the Thai islands at that time of year safely and comfortably. Since you arrive in Chiang Mai on December 26th, I'd just stay up in northern Thailand somewhere for New Year's and wait to move until the travel rush has ended. It doesn't have to be Chiang Mai, but personally I like it there and think you'll have no trouble finding something fun and interesting to do.

No matter which direction you go, there isn't really a need to book accommodation or transport ahead of time, except for maybe during the New Year's holiday travel period. Other than that, you should be able to just wander around and go wherever your heart desires. You'll also pick up lots of current information and opinions from other travelers while you are on the road, and that will help you decide too. Don't panic. Have fun.

Hope that helps. Regards.

#7 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,759
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