Hey guys, hope everyone is happy today! Bear with me i'm in the typing mood and want to explain myself properly, he he!
I'm due to arrive into Thailand at the end of September, after a few days checking out Bangkok i have myself booked into a thaiboxing training camp for a month on Koh Pan Yang, which takes me to the end of October. At the end of November i have to be in Chaing Mai for a Thaiboxing competition that some of my club buddies from the U.K. are competing in, sadly not myself. I was thinking about spending the time inbetween finishing my training and the the competition in the Issan Region (approx a month), mainly to check out the region (cause i've heard only good things about it!) and because i have an interest in seeing, and photographing, temples. I'll probably start in Bangkok and do a sort of circle of the region i.e. Bangkok to Khorat to Buririam to Si Saket, via Mukdahan to Nong Khai and maybe going 'inwards' to Khon Kaen. I've read the travelfish trip planner which has given me this basic idea.
My questions: Has anyone attempted or done something similar? mainly by public transport as i read that it can be abit of a mare to get around if you don't have your own wheels, especially getting out to places like Phanom Rung and Preah Vihaer, i've read a couple of travelogues but they seem to be written by people with their own transport. Any tips or hints? Also any ideas on what would be the easest way to get from, say, Nong Khai to Chaing Mai? The best i can see is a long road journey via Khon Kaen and Phitsanulok? Any decent travelogues i may have missed?
Thanks in advance for any tips you can give. As a side note i'm not asking anyone to plan the trip for me or offer ideas on exact routes, just really after 'snippets' of info, and stories, i like to read!
Thanks guys, peace and love, Danny J
#1 DannyJ has been a member since 5/10/2005. Posts: 36
I've just been poking around on the site a bit and it looks like there is quite a bit on info for you right here on Travelfish. One of the recent features was on travelling in the northeast of Thailand, and there is a travel guide to Phnom Rung too. Take a look at those and see if that answers some of your questions.
I'm afraid that when I did this trip, I had a car, so I can't help out much with the logistics of getting around. But I would recommend starting off by visiting Phimai near Korat, then moving over to Phnom Rung, and finishing up with a pilgrimage to Khao Phrawihan (Phrea Vinear).
That itin has you moving towards the Lao border and the Mekong river. From there you can work your way north along the river through a few Thai towns and get yourself all the way over to Nong Khai.
What is your visa status by the way? Will you need to pop out of the Thailand to renew your visa?
Those old Khmer temples in northeast Thailand are fantastic, each and every one of them, but I still think that even combined they can't match up to what you'd find at Angkor. Have you considered heading over to Siem Reap at all?
As for getting from Nong Khai to Chiang Mai, Nok Air advertises an ATR-72 turboprop flight twice a week (Fridays and Sundays) from Udorn (about an hour south of Nong Khai) to Chiang Mai. That might be your best bet. Another option, if you wanted to check out Laos for a bit, would be to cross the Friendship Bridge into Vientiane and fly Lao Airlines from Vientiane to Chiang Mai. That flight goes via Luang Prabang, and you could maybe even stopover in Luang Prabang for a day or two to have a look. We are in Luang Prabang right now and rather enjoy it.
Anyway, have a great trip, and keep up with the training. Cheers.
Hey Exacto, i was wondering if you'd be answering this, he he!
Yeah i've had a look here on travelfish and read what you've mentioned, was hoping to just get a few more alternate reads!
The 3 sites you mention are the 3 main ones that i wanted to get to, i'll def be hitting (not literaly!) them. I was hoping to see a few 'minor undiscovered' ones on my wanders aswell. Its my warm up for Angkor, you think i'd go all the way through Issan to look at temples and not go to Angkor as well?!?! tut tut, he he!
My vague plan was to head into Laos after Chiang Mai at Chiang Khong/Huay Xai and work my way south through Loas and into Cambodia, coming at Angkor across country rather then from Bangkok, just to be different! Butthis is just rough at the mo, i'm sure it will change, as plans aslways do!
Visa??? I'll have a 60 day visa that i'm getting here in the u.k. which i'm hoping will cover me till i enter Loas, i've still to look at this properly and i'm not sure that it will, may need to exit and enter again or change plans slightly, another topic for another time!
Not to hot on the flying idea, i'm not scared of flying but won't be on a time limit and would rather go 'cross country' for the experience.
Thanks for your answer though mate, always good to hear from you. Glad your having fun, am jealous your there already! Peace and love, Danny J
#3 DannyJ has been a member since 5/10/2005. Posts: 36
It's not too difficult, to get to most of them. Very close to Phanom Rung is Nang Rong which has a youth hostel and is just a short ride to the site. There are others past Phanom Rung (eg Muang Tam) which are a little trickier to reach, but again from Nang Rong at worst you could hire a motorbike guy to take you there.
The trickiest one is Preah Vihaer from Si Saket -- if you're there on the weekend there should be regular transport heading out there, but on weekdays it can be more time-consuming. When I went (quite a few years ago) we got a bus to Kantharalak and then hired motorbike guys from there to the site.
There's other minor sites near Si Saket -- Samphaeng Yai and Noi for example, but unless you have a serious obsession with these places, you may want to skip them.
Also, don't forget Phimai -- just to the north of Khorat -- excellent site and a few good places to stay...
Our coverage of these sites on the website is still a bit patchy -- put it down to my laziness and the World Cup -- I'll try and get some more info on the site this weekend if I get the results I want tonight!
#4 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,770
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Before I forget, when I was in Nangrong to visit Phnom Rung I stayed at a place called Honey Inn. It has been several years now, so I can't even guarantee that the place is still operating. However, if it is, it might be worth a look as a place for you to stay. It was run by this really sweet older couple, both school teachers. The night I stayed there it was full, so they gave up their room and slept on the couch in the living room to make room for me. Anyway, it is (was?) located at 8/1 Soi Srikoon in Nangrong, behing Nongree School and only a few blocks from the bus station. Cheers.
I did a 5-6 week cycle trip around Isan last October-November. The places I can recommend are: Phimai, Dan Kwian pottery village, Ban Prasat Archeological Village (all near Khorat), Khao Prear Wihan, Mukdahan National Park, Nong Khai, Loei province. I also enjoyed a couple of days in Khao Yai National Park.
Since I had my bicycle I was able to get to most attracttions by myself. In Phimai I recommend staying at the Phimai Inn just out of town. An ordinary room with fan/aircon cost 350B and they have a swimming pool. They also rent out bicycles which is all you need to see the Phimai ruins, museum and banyan tree.
Ban Prasat is on the way to Phimai from Khorat. It is a couple of km off the main road (Highway 2). There were a few men lounging around here - they can probably take you by motorbike to the village. The village has an excellent wee museum and three archeological sites with four levels of burial going back up to 3000 years. Each level is about 500 years apart in time.
To get to Khao Prear Wihan you can get a bus to Kantaralak from Ubon Ratchathani (and likely other places as they have buses to all over leaving from Kantaralak). You can hire a motorcycle man to take you the rest of the way. Note that you need your passport. You also pay a National Park fee in Thailand and again in Cambodia, so it's not the cheapest ruin to get to. But certainly worth the effort. There are a couple of places in Kantaralak you can stay at - I stayed at the Kantaralak Palace Hotel (330B for a fan room). The room was big and clean. The tv is only in Thai.
I took the bus from Phimai to Khon Kaen and found it useful to get one of the hotel workers to write down what I wanted to do in Thai. This might be handy if you want to get on and off the bus in the middle of nowhere. Though it seems that in Thailand no place is the middle of nowhere!
Hope this helps.
I did a trip similar to the one you propose many years ago. It was great! At times it was fairly tough work, but certainly doable.
If you are really into temples, especially the Khmer temples, then Phimai is a must. It is the prototype for the main temples at Angkor and is therefore older, though much, much smaller. It is the first temple built along the old Angkor Road. Angkor may be more impressive, but that should not diminish the importance of this site. Most of the reconstruction was finished when I was there with the exception of part of the perimetre wall.
The town of Phimai is quite nice, as well. It is, more-or-less, built around the temple site and is a very relaxed and quiet place. Great for a night. There are a couple of nice guest houses around the corner from the temple.
This is a very interesting site that I came across some time ago. You may find it of interest ... http://www.phimai.ca/
From here you could go SE to the other temples, and then continue up the Mekong towards Nong Khai.
I also recommend traveling along highway 211 from Nong Khai to Sangkhom and then Chiang Khan. Excellent scenery, easy-going pace, not too many people, easy to hitch if you want. Buoy Bungalow is a great place to stop in for a couple of days with nice big bungalows on the riverbank. It's in Sangkhom, midway between Nong Khai and Chiang Khan. The only thing that breaks the peace are the stupid speed boats that roar up and down the Mekong now and then during the daylight hours.
Si Chiangmai is also worth stopping in if only to check out the spring roll wrapper production that goes on there.
Chiang Khan is a very interesting, mostly wooden town, also worth a night or two. From there you can go on to Loie and then on to Phitsanulok/Sukhothai, or make the very scenic trip up to Nan province. Ah ... so many possibilities ... you can't go wrong.
WOW! Haven't stopped by here for a wee while and look what happens! Thanks everyone for all the amazing info, how excited am i about doing this trip now!!! Peace and love, Danny J
#11 DannyJ has been a member since 5/10/2005. Posts: 36