I am hoping you can help. We have 3 and a bit weeks to spend in Thailand, landing in Bangkok on Christmas Day. We stay in Bangkok for 3 nights, the fly to Chiang Mai for 4 nights before flying to Krabi ... From there we are not sure what is next.
We are in our mid thirties, want to enjoy authentic Thailand and chill out. Having done lost of reading it would seem that we need to be careful where we head to once we go South to avoid the mass tourist trail .... so any help or guidance would be much appreciated. What islands are off the beaten track and worth stopping for a coupe of days ... should we head south to the Trang or north to Phuket? Should we bother with Krabi as we can change our flights to start our Southern adventure somewhere else .....
Any insight gladly welcome!
#1 amylou_d has been a member since 11/8/2014. Posts: 2
I just did a very similar itinerary last Christmas. Just over two weeks and did Bangkok, Chiang Mai , and Krabi. Side trip from Chiang Mai up to Pai for whitewater rafting down the Pai river. I'm from San Diego USA and my family is big on outdoor activities and dislikes over-commercialized tour activities.
Krabi was great for access to rock climbing in Railay and renting scooters for exploring (despite the risk of dying in an awful collision). Beaches there were just okay when compared to southern California or Hawaii, which are my main points of reference. I spent time on Koh Phi Phi and felt it was a waste of the time it took to get there - so much artificial/commercial building for tourism and so little authentic Thai experience left. It may have been different had I not gone the tourist route, but still too touristy in my opinion.
If I had another week I would have spent more time in Pai while in the north and getting to Phuket for night life.
Hope that helps - let me know if I can provide any more info!
#2 cliffsch has been a member since 18/8/2014. Posts: 1
Krabi is a fine choice, and you could arrive and decide you'd like to spend the rest of your time there. Hopefully you'll have that flexibility build into your itinerary once you arrive in Krabi so that if you like it you can stay, and when you are ready to move on you can go. Trang is another good choice and one of the southern places that doesn't seem to get many tourists. I liked the town itself, and there are a few islands just off the coast worth exploring. Andaman Sea side typically gets better weather than time of year than the Gulf too.
If you are looking for that authentic Thailand, as cliff mentions you might choose to stay up north for a few more days than just the 4 you've scheduled for Chiang Mai. You could work your way back to Bangkok overland for the flight to Krabi and stop off in Sukhothai or Kamphaeng Phet or Phitsanulok or Kanchanaburi or Ayutthaya - depending on what you like to do. Have fun. Cheers.
Though beautiful, the Krabi area (including Ao Nang and Railay) is quite touristy... I felt that Railay had been somewhat ruined by all of the development. I might spend a few days exploring around Krabi (Wat Tham Suea is worth a trip if you don't mind a hike up the mountain for an incredible view), but I'd probably head to a low-key island nearby to relax -- Ko Jum is my favorite. Ko Lanta is also nearby and, while touristy overall, it's a big island with lots to do and some incredible beaches -- I'd gravitate towards the southern part of the island and also be sure to hit the Old town and the mangroves at Thung Yee Pheng on the east coast. Further south in Trang and Satun provinces I like Ko Muk, Ko Kradan, Ko Sukorn and Ko Bulon Lae as good smaller offbeat islands. I also like Ko Lipe -- it's touristy but very beautiful and you can take day trips (or extended trips) to the surrounding national park islands of Ko Adang, Ko Rawi and Ko Tarutao. Note that most of these islands can be reached directly by minibus and/or speedboat (with a transfer) from Krabi town. If you decide to skip Krabi and hit the southern islands, you'll probably be better off flying into Trang. If you don't mind more of an effort, Ko Surin is an absolutely spectacular national park island further north from Krabi... You could potentially hit Khao Sok National Park on the way. Bear in mind that you'll be there during peak season and will probably want to have reservations sorted out for any of these islands during that time.
Also I like all of exacto's suggestions if you want to spend more time up north.