I am leaving on Dec 17th and returning Jan 7th. My gf and I have been throughout Mexico, but never into Asia. (I am 20, she is 19, Canadian)
We are more interested in shopping in BK, and then heading south towards beaches, massages, relaxation, and great food. We enjoy the odd club, but are not big partiers.
I realise this is peak season, so I want to stay out of the biggest party and tourist areas. Staying in beach cottages (any I should book ahead?), a 20minute taxi or bus ride out of a larger town really appeals.
What cities would you suggest we so to from BK? Should we fly, or bus?
What about booking ahead, or because we are staying out of really busy spots can we get away with just looking for a cool spot once we are there?
Money is not a HUGE object for us ($80 each a day budget or so)
Now off to more research on these forums...
#1 scootorama has been a member since 24/8/2008. Posts: 3
An $80 a day budget will allow you to live like kings, but you sometimes find it better staying at the cheaper places, there are more travellers and more atmosphere. By cheaper I don't mean dives that cost THB100 a night($USD3) a night but ones where you will pay THB300-1000.
Pretty much all of the beaches are good but Ko Phi Phi is not a good one for relaxation due to the Full Moon parties, in fact any beach around Christmas is a bad idea if you want to sleep. You say that you're not big partygoers and the Full Moon parties can be a bit full on, and sometimes have illicit dealings going on.
Ko Chang is still one of the most relaxing islands, although a lot more people have discovered it now. There shouldn't be any problem with getting accommodation somewhere but if you find a particular place that appeals you may want to book. The town that is Ko Changs' launching pad, Trat, is a place to consider. You definitely would not want to pass up on the night market if you go there. In fact, markets in any part of Thailand can be one of the highlights of the trip.
About the staying in beach cottages, you could try either Cha-Am, Hua Hin or Ban Saphan Yai. These places also have a pretty good reputation for seafood. Try looking at the websites www.huahinafterdark.com and www.ban-thai.net for some accomodation options. Or just Google a few phrases such as "guesthouses in Cha-Am" and you'll come up with multiple choices. However you say you're searching this website which is the best option. I wouldn't limit yourself. Look at all the options, from backpacker to luxury. But check some of the dates last updated as somrimes the guesthouses have not been reviewed for some years. In general you would want to ignore negative feedback for the guesthouses unless there's a lot of it. In most cases I've found that the people who complain are generally expecting a THB300 a night guesthouse to be a five-star hotel.
You may want to check Nong Khai through this website as there a few festivals held there although three of the better ones will have been held in October and November. The website mutmee.com has a list of the festivals that will be held there. Nong Khai is in northeastern Thailand.
Hope you have a great holiday. Talk to as many of the local people as you can in short Thai phrases, even if they can't understand a word you say they will appreciate the effort and the smiles you get will improve your holiday. Eat at markets and food vendors as much as possible; if you go to the places where Thais are you will get real Thai food. Remember, however that Thai food has more chilis and other spices than the fare you get at Thai restaurants at home. Here's a tip, if you burn your mouth with curries don't drink beer or water, it just spreads it around. Keep a bit of steamed rice separate from the curry to cool your mouth.
#2 mic59 has been a member since 30/7/2008. Posts: 107
"I want to stay out of the biggest party and tourist areas. Staying in beach cottages (any I should book ahead?), a 20minute taxi or bus ride out of a larger town really appeals."
The last phrase cuts out a lot of laid back locations. Ones that fit yer specs:
- the quiet end of White Sand Beach on big Ko Chang eastern Gulf at White Sand Resort. This is just a io-15 minute walk down to the busy part of White Sand Beach which has a quite vibrant shopping area and beach scene.
- Tubtim Beach (aka Putsa/Pudsa) on Ko Samet, the first quiet (and real nice) beach down from the busier 3 at the top end of the island, the closest of which you can reach in abt 3 minutes. White Sand Beach, (another), with the most restaurants and bars and some touristy shopping is 10 minutes away and the small village outside the National Park gates 15-20. We are talking walking here. Maybe you could check the Samet page in the link on my sigline and see what you think.
Tubtim Bungalows on Putsa is one of TRAVELFISH'S favourites.
- the nice south west corner of Ko Tao. The pier town is 15-20minutes walk - lively Sairree Beach anothe 10 or so. I'm a fan of Viewpoint Bungalows in the SW.
- one of the laid back beaches in the north-west of Ko Phangan. The pier town is 15 minutes by songthaew taxi. I like Mae Had in the nw - Hat Sadet gets good posts too. Hat Yao is busier but nice and has some real good resorts.
- the Long Beach area of Ko Phi Phi. Busy Ton Sai village is a 10 minute longtail ride.
- the Long Beach area of Ko Lanta. Busy Ban Saladan is a 15 minute walk (++ if you are at the southern end of the beach).
Shortly after your arrival is peak-peak and to get a specific bungalow location I would book ahead. You can wing it, but you may have to do some searching and accept second or third best.
Forgot to mention, there are islands called Ko Mak and Ko Kut which are around Ko Chang and are a bit more peaceful. There is another Long Beach which is on Ko Chang. And I should have mentioned Hua Hin and Cha-Am are peaceful on weekdays only. On weekends they get invaded by Thais.
#4 mic59 has been a member since 30/7/2008. Posts: 107
I really, really appreciate the in depth responces!
Looks like I may be able to extend the trip to the 17th of january!!
what would you recomend for more out of the way places if being near a town doesnt matter?
If I have an entire month there, am I going to get bored of just the South, or is there going to be more than enough to do?
#5 scootorama has been a member since 24/8/2008. Posts: 3
"what would you recomend for more out of the way places if being near a town doesnt matter?"
Wow, there are a bunch down south - starting from closest to Bangkok - little Ko Chang Andaman side, Ko Phayam, Ko Yao Noi, Ko Jum, Ko Ngai, Ko Muk, Ko Kradan, Ko Libong, Ko Sukorn, Ko Bulon Lae.
In the eastern Gulf are some nice ones too - Ko Whai, Ko Mak and Ko Kut.
I realise such a long list doesn't help much - as SBE says, read all you can to help decide.
Seems like I have some reading to do. Most of what I have found on this site does not tell me how to get to some of these out of the way places.
I also realise that the further I get away from ko phi phi and other super popular spots, the harder it is going to be to book rooms and transportation in advance.
Basically, once I find out where I want to go, how do I found out how to get there, and where I can stay that is nice, and not fully booked due to high season?
Thank you once again.
#8 scootorama has been a member since 24/8/2008. Posts: 3
I haven't looked recently but I think TF gives contact information that you can use for booking purposes.
You are going at absolute peak season... many places will be full or fully booked especially if there aren't many accommodation options....eg on Ko Kradan where there are only two resorts (plus an NP place I think?... it wasn't being used when I was there last year but maybe in peak season it is open)
Be aware that a phone/email booking does not mean you are booked unless (perhaps) you have sent a deposit... bums on seats, Thais prefer to give a room to someone who's actually standing there asking for a room rather than someone who might or might not turn up.
Transport anywhere is a doddle in Thailand. Look at a map. Decide where you are going and get on a bus or train to the nearest town to the port. There will no doubt be connecting transport to the ferry available if you are coming from BKK. Everything is set up for tourists to make it easy.
You won't get bored in a month. You'll probably find that it's not enough time to check out all the spots you want to visit.
Most of the places that have been mentioned aren't exactly "out of the way" places. They are all established destinations with regular transportation to and from. For example, the islands Ko Mak, Ko Kut, Ko Chang and Ko Wai are all serviced from a place called Laem Ngop, on the coast near the town of Trat. Ko Lanta, Ko Jum, and Ko Phi Phi are serviced from Krabi. You will not have any trouble at all getting around.
Mic59's suggestion of Nong Khai is a good one. It might be in the exact opposite direction of where you are considering going, but it is definitely a place where you won't have to worry about places being booked up, and there are excellent little towns all along the Mekong in both directions. Nice folks, great food, relaxed, relatively unvisited.
Also, there are hundreds of places where you'll be able to stay on the islands and most of them cannot be booked in advance via the internet, so I would not be too concerned about making reservations. Also, your itinerary will probably change once you get there.
Of the islands tezza mentions, the only one we don't cover is Ko Phayam and the little Chang Is nearby. All the others can be accessed via the islands page mentioned by SBE.
As far as booking a room is concerned, it depends on how flexible you are in what you want, and how willing you are to bend your itinerary accordingly. For example, showing up on Ko Phi Phi on New Years eve expecting to get a decent bungalow without a reservation is probably not a hot idea -- but, if you;re willing to sleep on the beach, then it's not a problem -- or if you're happy to get there a week before, sleep in a dump the first night then find something better and sit it out till New Years, then you'll also be fine. (just using PP as an example).
Islands with overcrowding problems in peak silly season, include Ko Phi Phi , Ko Lipe and parts of Ko Pha Ngan -- pretty much anywhere else, as long as you're a bit flexible, you should be ok.
There's a story on the site re need for reservatiosn -- you can read it here and there's another one here.
Also note our coverage on the islands out from Trang is quite out of date -- we've a researcher going there in late October, so it'll be ready in time for your trip ;-)
#11 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,756
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Its my 1st time going to Thailand an with my boyfriend, We are flying to Bangkok and then interested in going south around the islands, We have one month an would also like to be at Koh Phangan for the Full Moon party....We had around €100 a day!
What would be the best islands to go to??
#12 Danni1 has been a member since 26/8/2008. Posts: 1
100 euros a day is massive (wish I had that much, my budget is more like 10-15 euros/day). You do realize it will probably be pissing down on Ko Phangan in December I presume? When you've done with the FMP get to the other coast, the Andaman side, or make your way to Ko Chang and/or the smaller islands near there.
Use the travelfish link in my previous post to decide where sounds like a good place for your particular tastes.
For peak season, two great spots that do not get overcrowded are Ko Laoliang (in the Trang province) and Ko Yao noi (between krabi and phuket).
Laoliang is the BEST combo of a pristine and tranquil island THAT ALSO HAS GREAT activities. don't need to worry about the; "do we choose somewhere quiet but maybe a bit boring, or PP/Railay with great things to do but very crowded.
Ko Yao is the BEST combo of culture, activities and great setting
#14 aonangmike has been a member since 10/9/2008. Posts: 8
It seems a long way to come just to spend time relaxing on the beaches. Have you considered travelling North to Chiangmai, Chiangrai and the Golden Triangle? You would see a lot more of Thai culture and get closer to the Thai people rather than sunning yourself on a beach with Brits to the right of you, Aussies to the left, Americans at your feet (where they should be!) and Germans standing over you claiming you are on their bit of sand which they reserved at 6.00 am that morning!!
Just a thought.
#15 thaiyaikit has been a member since 20/9/2008. Posts: 32
"An $80 a day budget will allow you to live like kings"
What kings live off such a pittance?
That's a pretty modest budget
A lot of tourists would spend $100 or more a day
"Chiangmai, Chiangrai and the Golden Triangle? You would see a lot more of Thai culture and get closer to the Thai people "
You''l find thai tourist culture in those places. If you want to escape the tourists dont go to those places. Chaing Mai gets the 2nd most no of tourists after bangkok.
If you want to experience Thailand away from the tourists, most of Issan would do and it's an interesting place.
#16 travelrock has been a member since 19/4/2008. Posts: 209