Hi there, this is a bit of a long post so please bear with me...I'm a 25 year old female and will be backpacking on my own for the first time in Thailand from the 20th November till 24th december. I have a rough idea of what I would like to do, but would like some advice on the itinerary as i'm not sure how to organise myself and whether i'm missing something out!
So.. I arrive in Bangkok where i'd like to spend 2 days to explore the city, on the 3rd day taking a train up to Phra Nakhon Ayutthaya, leavng in the evening (is there somewhere I can leave my backpack while I explore the national park and should I stay longer?) on the night train to Chang Mai to stay for about 10 days where I want to do a 3 day trek (do I book when I arrive?) and am also looking into taking a weeks massage course there. Then flying down to Cambodia to see the temples of Angkor for 3 days (is it possible to go there from Chang Mai?)....up to there I think I can manage but not sure how my pretty tight budget will cope with all the internal flights...the rest of my time (should have 2 weeks) i want to head down to the south of Thailand - Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, Koh Samui and then Ko phi phi, but i'm not sure how to do this and how long to stay on each island. To give you an idea, i love snorkelling, kayaking and any other sporting activities, but will also want a couple of days of lying around soaking up the sun squeezed in! I know i'll have to book accomodation pretty soon as i'll be there in the busiest period but have no idea where to start looking, so any advice would be appreciated (as i'm alone I need somewhere safe, but also clean and not too pricey). I also really want to go to the Erawan Waterfalls in Kanchanaburi, but have no idea how to fit this into my plans and how long I would need there (1 day and night?).
I would also be interested in advice on:
whether I should book the internal flights in advance (I guess it would definately be wise to book my flight back to Bangkok from Phuket on the 23rd dec as my flight leaves early on the 24th).
How to get from Cambodia down to Chumphon (which I think would be the best place to get to Koh Tao from) in the shortest (and not too expensive) amount of time?
Am I trying to see too many of the Islands? How do I get from Koh Samui to Koh Phi Phi?
any general advice or comments on the itinerary would be greatly appreciated.
#1 sopherie has been a member since 14/10/2007. Posts: 6
oh my, there's too much to see/do! also want to go to Phanom Rung Historical Parkin in Buriram. How can I fit that in?
i'd actually much prefer to bypass Phuket and visit the PhiPhi islands from Krabi...good idea?
#2 sopherie has been a member since 14/10/2007. Posts: 6
Hi im Ash, Im 26 and will be heading out there on the 17th of November, im also busy planning my trip and trying to work out the best way to do things.I have been to Thailand before but only really round the islands in the South. I will be following this post looking for any useful info. Hope you have a safe and fun trip, if i can help with anything drop me a line.
sopherie, 1 day for Erawan Waterfall is enough, if you start from Kanchanaburi. I done Kanchanaburi - Sri Nakarin Damb - Erawan - Kanchanaburi in one day on motorbike (~150 km).
So I suggest to plan at least 2 nights in Kanchanaburi. There is a plenty of cheap accommodations.
I can recommend Sugar Cane guest house.
i am in the north of thailand now. chang mai is a big city (second largest in thailand) and in my opinion does not give a relaxed feel. the surrounding area is beautiful, but you don't really see it from the city.
if you decide to stay in chang mai and want to do trekking, stay at the eagle house (lonely planet or rough guide can give you their info). they organize treks and two of my travel buddies just had great experience there.
we left chang mai after only one day and took a 4-hour minivan ride to pai. it is a funky little town nestled in a gorgeous mountain/river area. it was a little hippie town where artists congregated and seems to attract people who want to chill our and also be social. there are tons of inexpensive bungalow huts and great live music in little bars every night. the best part is that nobody is trying to pitch you tours, etc...
i took a great thai cooking course with tee (let's wok! cooking class), spent an afternoon with elephants, and am heading out for a 2 day trek tomorrow.
have also enjoyed several days of just hanging around. you can rent a scooter for US$3 a day. nice way to explore.
it is really easy to meet other travelers or locals here.
chang mai probably has better quality massage therapy schools, but shorter (3 day programs) are also available here.
tons and tons of tasty food options, as well as trekking, rafting, etc...
since pai is a little harder to reach than chang mai (no airport) you will not have as much package/mass tourism.
we also spent 2 days exploring the ruisn and wats of ayutthaya. renting a bicycle is the way to go. plenty of accomodation.
night train from ayutthaya (or bangkok) to chang mai is great. book your seat (which converts to bed) as early as you can because they do sell out. ask for lower bunk if possible (they are bigger and sell out quicker). bathrooms are fine and they sell food and beverages.
thailand is one of cheapest countries in world for flights. book here as long as you can be a little flexible with dates/times.
#5 margaretmonroe has been a member since 15/10/2007. Posts: 2
thanks for the info so far.
Ash, if you have any advice on the Islands I would greatly appreciate it - where did you stay, where was the best place, how long would you reccommend for each island?
Vlad, I was going to spend just a day there and visit the falls, but if the area is nice then i'll definitely stay a night.
Margaret, thats great info and good tip on the scooter, hadnt thought of that as an option. Can you reccommend where you stayed in Ayutthaya?
Any more advice greatly welcomed!
#6 sopherie has been a member since 14/10/2007. Posts: 6
Here's some pointers to info already on the site that might help with your planning:
Getting from Cambodia to Bangkok (you'll need to read the story backwards)
Getting from Bangkok to the silly islands
Advice on trekking in Thailand
Other general recommendations -- I'd say shave a day off Chiang Mai and overnight at Ayutthaya -- Baan Lotus is an outstanding place to stay there.
Regarding ticketing, look into the Discovery Airpass offered by Bangkok Airways (www.bangkokair.com as it can be a very good deal for a mix of domestic and regional tickets and it can only be purchased outside the region.
For Erawan NP, I'd suggest after Cambodia and before the islands.
Hope that all helps!
#7 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,798
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Baan Lotus is the way to go in Ayutthaya but they book up quickly (they were full the first night I arrived). If you are only staying for one night, Jimmy's Place should also be fine. I did not see the rooms, but I ate their and they get high marks for budget rooms in guidebooks. They are really friendly and let you shower, leave bag, etc after checkout ...especially handy if you are leaving on a night train/bus and are sweaty from cycling around.
#8 margaretmonroe has been a member since 15/10/2007. Posts: 2
Hi All, thanks so much to everyone who has posted advice. This site is a gem!
I'd still love some advice on the best Islands to stay for the kind of activities i'm into (see first post) and the other islands that I should maybe visit for a day or so. Also really would like some advice on nice budget-ish places to stay (more than $15 a night is pushing it). I'm really not into the hype of the Full Moon Party or the neon strips of Phuket, but would still like somewhere where I can meet other backpackers and have a few beers in the evening but thats not too crowded and not too deserted either...is it possible?!
For those that will be heading to Thailand Nov/Dec there is a Facebook group for people who want to meet up - its called Travel Buddies Ahoy!!!!!
Thanks so much Reet, your Blog was great and really useful info! I so know i'm going to get ripped off by tuktuk drivers...
- would love to know how you organised your Bangkok guide (Tong/Charlie), the cost and whether you think its worth it.
- whether you think the hassle of going to Cambodia by bus is worth it since it didnt seem like you got to see much countryside? do you think its better to get a flight?
P.S; thanks Somtam for the info, really appreciated. so great that people are willing to share their knowledge and experiences.
#10 sopherie has been a member since 14/10/2007. Posts: 6
I've just been on your travelblog site and read about the Elephant Nature Park, i've been on their website but I can't work out how to book a trip there for the day. I can't even seem to find an address.
How did you go about this? elephants are my favourite animals in the world and would love to support this cause and go and visit them.
#11 rocketgirl has been a member since 1/10/2007. Posts: 22
Tong and Charlie were worth every cent, although its not real 'backpacker' budget. Our day with Tong out at the Fisherman Village cost about 2500 baht per couple. This cost included everything... boat at the Floating Markets, guide fee, day out on the Fishermans boat, seafood lunch, petrol for heading out of town etc... Its the one price for the tour and you can split it between however many people you have... the day tour in Bangkok only cost about 1000-1500 baht ( + transport, lunch etc) and was an awesome day too (that was basically the guide fee without car)... I would recommend Tong over Charlie... but you have to book her ahead as she is quite popular... her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org - if she is busy she can recommend another guide like Charlie or Nui or Jerry.
A backpacker option is the guide we used at the end of our trip - Nok - she is unlicensed which means she would not be able to guide you thru the Grand Palace but she is great to spend the day with a local.. and help you get around places, do shopping etc.. Her guide fee is 700 baht.
Tong has since become a good friend... once you spend a day with her she is a friend for life. I am heading back in Feb and cant wait to see her again!
Re Cambodia : we did get to see alot... we caught a private taxi from the border... a good guesthouse (not the one we stayed in) is Two Dragons - they can arrange a taxi to pick you up from the border... I would recommend doing it that way - DO NOT get the private buses from Bangkok... you will take twice as long and get ripped off! Just go to the Northern Bus Station (think it is called Morchit) and get one of the next buses out of there... This website will tell you everything you need to know : http://www.talesofasia.com/cambodia-overland.htm (the guy that owns Two Dragons guesthouse runs this website)
As for the tuk tuk drivers... they are a crack up.. very frustrating but most are fun! NEVER pay more than 200 baht but if you are paying that much make sure you are going a long distance!!! We found we could never get them under 100 baht but hey... to us thats $3-4 - and its such a fun way to get around... especially in Bangkok! Crazy times!
The Elephant Nature Park is paradise and the best place to be if you love elephants... why not look at volunteering there for a week? Here is the link for you to have a look at the options... In the main text you can click on the different options like Day Visit, Overnight, Volunteer etc : http://www.elephantnaturefoundation.org/go/involved
So if you click on the words Day Visit... it will take you here : http://www.elephantnaturefoundation.org/go/visit#day and at the bottom of the page it has a book button!
Such a great place.
Hope that has helped ....