My husband and I want to travel around Thailand, starting from around the 20th od December till the 4th of January. I know that's the peakiest of seasons to pick but we can't get 2 weeks together at any other time. I've been reading up a great deal on the country but am now confused with all the options I have come across.
I would like to get advice on planning an itinerary keeping the following things in mind.
1. We would like to see history, lots of nature, nice beaches (uncrowded),catch local culture (esp rural), eat lots of good local food, maybe some adventure sports (like rock climbing or kayaking though we're both beginners), see and buy nice Thai crafts(particularly textiles and celadon), and do some partying/drinking/clubbing etc.
2. We like to get a local flavour as much as possible wherever we go and also like to experience local transport options.
3. We'd be travelling on a budget of about 1000-1500 Baht a day and are hoping to stay at budget hotels/guest houses. We're not picky about accommodation as long as it's clean and safe. Good location counts.
4. We like to go off the beaten path, and go places that give us photo-ops and are preferably uncrowded. We're not always on the lookout for the trendiest places, but something with atmosphere and charm.
5. We don't want to spend New Year's/Christmas in noisy Bangkok. We'd like something more memorable.
So far, the options I have added to my list are Bangkok (about 4 days), Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Khao Yai National Park, Krabi with Rai Leh, Ayutthaya, Surin, Nakhon Si Thammarat(?)
Am I being too ambitious? Are these good? What am I missing? I have, on the advice of a friend omitted Phuket and Pattaya. Also left out Ko Samui because I thought Krabi might be a better substitute.
I'm sorry for SUCH a long post, any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.
#1 rakhi has been a member since 21/10/2008. Posts: 2
All the places you've listed, as well as transport to most of them, will be absolutely packed during the time you'll be in Thailand. For your budget, for the time you have, for getting off the "beaten path" and for local flavour, you might want to consider a couple of other places.
For example, Issan (the Northeast), particularly along the Mekong River north of Loei and then east to Nong Khai is excellent! Also, in and around Nan and Phrae in the eastern part of the far north. Great! You mentioned Surin ... you'll have no trouble getting a train ticket there unless you try to go during the holiday itself. It's an interesting place. Quiet and great food. You could keep going east to the Mekong River and then go north to Mukdahan, or even cross into Laos.
Khao Yai will be overrun with holidaying Thais. Chiangmai, Chiangrai, the islands around Krabi, Samui, and Phuket will all be very, very busy with foreigners, mostly. However, there are some islands that aren't completely developed that would give you your relatively empty beach wish. Tezza has a great site for island info and you should take a look.
Myself, I would recommend Koh Jum (but it is sometimes raining there at that time of the year.) Otherwise, you might want to check out either Koh Mak or Koh Kut in Trat Province near Cambodia.
Unless you enjoy noise, traffic, beachfront hotels and resorts, sex tourism, shopping malls, and polluted beaches, avoid Pattaya!
All good suggestions from Tilapia there.
History: Ayutthaya or Sukhothai are the two faves, Kamphaeng Phet is a far less-touristy alternative, where there's still good places to stay (3J guesthouse in particular)
Uncrowded beaches: You'll be searching alongside thousands of others. Good bets are the islands off Ranong (not covered on Travelfish at the moment) and Ko Jum. Ko Kut also good.
Budget: looks good
Off the beaten track: Tilapia knocked this one on the head -- Nong Khai and west to Chiang Khan are lovely, though best if you have your own transport. Nan in northern Thailand also very good.
Hope that helps!
#3 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,770
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As Tilapia says, avoid Chiang Mai. Too busy at that time of the year and apart from the markets there isn't too much reason to stay there. But Nong Khai has a fair share of sights and festivals, there is a Christmas festival there that you can read about on the www.mutmee.com website. And no, somtam2000, I am not a spammer!
The quietest beaches in Nov/Dec would be in the Chanthaburi and Trat provinces. The beaches in the Prachuap Khiri Khan province have better seafood but will also be full of vacationing Thais.
#4 mic59 has been a member since 30/7/2008. Posts: 107
I think you will be pushing for a place on Railay at theat time within your daily budget - but next door at the climbers' beach Ton Sai you should be able to find a place.
As Somtam says, nearby Jum is a very good option, as are the Ranong islands of Phayam and little Ko Chang Andaman side.
Thank y'all so much for the many suggestions...tilapia, somtam, mic and tezza. I will look up all of these options.
We are having some trouble getting tickets to fly during that time though (we're going to be flying from India). And so we're trying to see if we could, maybe, delay the holiday a little. Do you think the tourist pressure will ease up a little in the 2nd half of Jan and therefore open up more options for us?
Also is it wise to book one's hotels before landing there and can we safely expect to get decent lodging upon landing up there? Thanks.
#6 rakhi has been a member since 21/10/2008. Posts: 2