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Thailand forum

Ideas for 1 month in Isaan and North Thailand?

Posted by Kmcgregor1 on 30/1/2017 at 05:41

Hi there

I will be in Thailand from the end of March (arrival either 30/31st into Bangkok) for 1 month and would like to visit some areas in Isaan and head north to Chiang Mai (my friends will be there 11th-18th April so i would like to see them on one of those dates.

I was wondering what the best route would be for exploring Isaan over 12/14 days whilst heading up to Chiang Mai? I'm interested in temples, nature, walking, maybe couple of days in a city.

Once in North Thailand I'd like to visit Pai and from there I will talk to other travellers about what other areas to see. From North Thailand I want to head over to Laos overland.

I don't plan to spend time in Bangkok I've been 4 times with 1 trip being for 2 weeks. I'm already travelling and will be heading to Thailand from KL.

Any help would be awesome :)


#1 Kmcgregor1 has been a member since 30/1/2017. Posts: 12

Posted by flijten on 30/1/2017 at 06:22

From Chiang Kong (where you most likely will be crossing into Laos) I rented a motorbike and drove to Phayao. While the town itself isn't filled to the brim with stuff to do it was a real nice drive there and back again. Just a couple of days of easy going and avoiding the masses for a change worked out pretty good for us.

#2 flijten has been a member since 19/12/2016. Location: Netherlands. Posts: 80

Posted by Tilapia on 30/1/2017 at 11:45

Hi Kayleigh,

A really great part of Issan is the stretch of the Mekong River from Nong Khai over to Chiang Khan . If you have about 10 days to use this would be a very nice area to spend that time in. You could take the night train from Bangkok to Nong Khai, spend a few days there, then move west to Sangkhom, and then to Chiang Khan. The only public transport is by bus unless you hire a taxi or scooter. Or a car.

From Chiang Khan you go about an hour south to Loei and spend a day or two there, or just get onto a bus to Phitsanulok and then Sukhothai (if you've never been to Sukhothai before, or if you'd like to go again). From either Phitsanulok or Sukhothai it is a breeze to get to Chiang Mai.

There are no big cities in this itinerary. Just Nong Khai, a mid-sized Thai town with a riverside location, beautiful scenery, great ambiance, small towns and villages, and peace and quiet.

#3 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,524

Posted by Kmcgregor1 on 30/1/2017 at 18:58

Thank you so much for the recommendations, I will definitely check these out :)

Tilapia - I've not been to Sukhothai before, how long would you advise for this area?

#4 Kmcgregor1 has been a member since 30/1/2017. Posts: 12

Posted by DLuek on 30/1/2017 at 22:51 TF writer

Someone asked a very similar question last week so I'm just copying my reply from that thread and pasting it here:

With three weeks you could definitely do a nice swing through Isaan. Start in Southern Isaan, on the way to Ubon there are several options for a pit stop such as Khao Yai National Park; Nakhon Ratchasima (perhaps with a side trip up to Phimai); Phanom Rung; or Surin. I'd maybe pick one of those. Then from Ubon I'd go up the Mekong, maybe stop at Mukdahan then That Phanom and/or Nakhon Phanom. From there you cut back west towards Nong Khai / Udon Thani / Khon Kaen / Loei -- could hit little river towns in this area like Chiang Khan and Sangkhom. From that area it's easy enough to pop over to Phitsanulok and catch a bus up to Chiang Mai. If you have extra time you could hit Sukhothai from Phitsanulok and/or stop at Lampang or Lamphun on the way up to Chiang Mai.

I've just laid out some of the options if you want to see Isaan; not suggesting you hit all of those places but research them and put a plan together based on what you read. The alternative would be to go straight north from Bangkok, stopping at places like Ayutthaya, Lopburi, Kamphaeng Phet and Sukhothai, perhaps with a side trip west to Kanchanaburi or the Mae Sot area along the way.

#5 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,346

Posted by Tilapia on 31/1/2017 at 09:02

How long you spend in Sukhothai depends on how much you are interested in Thai history, architecture, temples, and such. I think that one day is enough to explore Sukhothai Historical Park. There are some beautiful Buddha images that are well-worth seeing. I would at least give the place two nights, with one full day to see the area. Remember, it's going to be screaming hot then so some time in the morning followed by some time later in the day when the temperature cools off and the light is better for photography.

A little north of Sukhothai is Si Satchanalai, which is arguably the finest area of temple ruins in the country. If you're really into temples do not miss this place. You can do it as a day trip from Sukhothai, or you can make it a stop on the way to Chiang Mai. This place can be seen in a few hours if you have a bicycle. There are good, paved paths going through the entire area, and many areas are nice and shady.

Also, as far as temples go, there are some beautiful and interesting ones in Nong Khai , as well as along the Mekong between Nong Khai and Chiang Khan.

Two more things ... if you do end up going to Sukhothai you should definitely visit Wat Yai before leaving Phitsanulok. For anyone interested in Thai temples and Buddha images, it is a must-see (https://www.renown-travel.com/temples/wat-phra-si-rattana-mahathat.html) ... and finally, Wat Suthat in Bangkok, about a 15 minute walk from Khao San Road, should not be missed, particularly in the evening when worshippers (and presently, mourners) are there chanting well into the night. It houses a Buddha image that was cast in Sukhothai about 800 years ago which is over 25' high. The temple itself is spectacular, but the Buddha image is sublime (https://www.renown-travel.com/temples/wat-suthat.html).

#6 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,524

Posted by Kmcgregor1 on 12/2/2017 at 22:35

Thank you Tilapia for such a detailed reply, I really appreciate it :)

#7 Kmcgregor1 has been a member since 30/1/2017. Posts: 12

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