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Trip advice - Bangkok - Siem Reap - Ko Mak - Bangkok

Posted by JessandScott on 13/1/2009 at 18:31

Hi everyone!

We're planning our trip for 3 weeks in Feb & March, and as it's our first time in Asia (my husband's first time overseas) we'd LOVE your advice. We'd really appreciate it if you can spot any flaws in our plan, suggest better ways of doing things, or can suggest places to say / things to do. I've had a search of the forum and can't see any threads that are the same (sorry if we're repeating things that are already here). So...

Arrive Bangkok very late on Fri, go straight to hotel and crash. Next 2 days also in Bangkok (no accommodation yet - any recommendations that aren't too far from airport and are close to public transport? Must be room for the 2 of us (no dorms) and clean. Looking to spend up to AUS$30, if that's not enough than will have to stretch budget).

Start out about 7am (if not earlier) on the Monday, catch bus from Morchit station to Aran, tuk tuk to border town, taxi (hopefully sharing with others) to Siem Reap. Have already booked 4 nights at Rosy Guesthouse. That gives us 3 days in Siem Reap (can't wait!!!).

Leave early Friday for the looong trip to Ko Maak. Has anyone done this? Is it possible to do it in one day? I know the last speedboat leaves at either 3 or 4pm. We'll have to taxi to border, tuk tuk, then catch the 2 buses, then songtheow to the pier and then speedboat (tired just typing it...). If we miss the boat we'll have to stay the night in Trat.

Not sure if we need to book the bungalow in Ko Maak ahead of time? The speedboat will get in at 4 or 5pm, is walk in still ok then? Maybe will book ahead of time for first 2 days for peace of mind (and if we don't like the place, can change after these 2 days). Can anyone recommend accom at Ko Maak? We're looking to spend $20 - $30/night, would love to be on the beach/ views of the beach, need own bathroom and reasonable level of cleanliness but ok with basic/ no frills (though need at least fan... air con preferable).

Want to spend a week - 10 days in Ko Maak, will try and kayak to surrounding islands for day trips and do the cooking class on Ko Maak (me) and maybe fishing for husband, as well as snorkeling, etc. If we get bored we'll catch the boat to Ko Chang.

On the way back to Bangkok, we want to go to Kanchaburi for the WW2 stuff. Not sure if this can happen direct for Trat or if we have to go to Bangkok first...

Anyway, sorry so long, but would REALLY appreciate any advice you have. Should have mentioned that I'm 24 and husband will be 28.

#1 JessandScott has been a member since 7/12/2008. Posts: 34

Posted by JessandScott on 13/1/2009 at 18:35

I forgot to say - I realise quite a few of you would have done the Siem Reap - Trat trip, just hoping a few who have done it might be able to impart some pearls of wisdom!

Also forgot to say we are organising Cambodian E-Visa so we can afford the currency conversion rort at the border.

Thank you in advance!

#2 JessandScott has been a member since 7/12/2008. Posts: 34

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Posted by JessandScott on 13/1/2009 at 20:05

Also forgot to say (sorry!) that we're looking at Suchanaree at Ao Suan Yai on Ko Maak, but have no contact details at all and would really appreciate a phone number or email address so we can email ahead (and maybe organise to be picked up at the pier? Or at least know which pier, and how long the walk is?).

#3 JessandScott has been a member since 7/12/2008. Posts: 34

Posted by Tilapia on 13/1/2009 at 22:40

Hi Jesse and Scott,

You will have to go through Bangkok to get to Kanchanaburi. The only way to avoid this is to circumnavigate Bangkok, and that wouldn't make much sense from a time/money point of view. You can make it to K-buri in one day from Trat, though. The fastest way would be to arrive at Ekamai and then take a taxi to the Southern Bus Terminal, where buses leave for K-buri almost every 30 minutes. It would be a long day, though.

If you're right into the WWII stuff, you may want to stick around in Bangkok for the night and then take the train to K-buri from Thonburi on the other side of the Chao Phraya. The train will drop you off closer to the majority of guest houses, as well.

How will you be coming back into Thailand? On the ferry from Sihanoukville and Koh Kong, or back through Aranyaphrathet by land?

Can't say much about Koh Mak. My favourite place there was razed to the ground and rebuilt in charming cement. But, to get to Koh Mak from SR would be a really long day. From Sinhoukville it would be easy. You can also take the more relaxed, quiet, slow boat to Koh Mak. It leaves Laem Ngop at around 3:00 and arrives at the magic hour, so you will get a bit of sunset from the water and on the island.


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Posted by JessandScott on 14/1/2009 at 10:50

Hi Tilapia

Thanks so much for your help. We really don't want to have to deal with another really long day of travelling, so we might just go from Trat - Bangkok and stay a night before heading to K-buri on one of the buses or the train the next morning. My husband is really into the WWII stuff so it would be good to have at least a whole day there.

For the Siem Reap - Ko Mak trip, we're planning on catching a (hopefully shared) taxi to the border, then bus to Chanthaburi, then another to Trat , then a songtheow to the pier and the speedboat to Ko Mak.

We had originally wanted to go to Sihanoukville (instead of a Thai island) but decided against it for a few reasons, one being that the trip from Sihanoukville - Bangkok is quite long (and that would be a third whole day of travelling, instead of the half day it takes to get to Bangkok from Ko Maak ). I hadn't thought of going through there as a means to get to Ko Maak though... how does that work with border crossing?

About Ko Maak … am interested to hear other people’s impressions as well? We’ve decided to only book the first 2 nights (if at all), that way we can leave for a different bungalow operation or different island entirely (Ko Chang or Ko Kut) if we don’t like it.

Thanks again!

#5 JessandScott has been a member since 7/12/2008. Posts: 34

Posted by swag on 15/1/2009 at 05:19

Hi I spent a week on Mak March 07 and really enjoyed it. It's a lot quieter than Chang if that's what your looking for.Most of the island tends to shut down by 9.30-10.00pm so we had to make sure we had a songthaew organised to get us home. If the lady that cooks at Makathanee resort is still there is probably one of the best pad thai's I've eaten.Having said that we caught up with an english couple who left after 3 days to head to chang as it was too quiet for them. So I think your idea of 2 nights booked to check it out is very sensible if you want to head to chang it's only a quick speedboat away.

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Posted by Tilapia on 15/1/2009 at 06:01

Jesse and Scott,

Unless you plan to go to PP and have a few days to spend traveling, forget about this route.

From SR, you could go overland, or by boat to PP. I recommend going by boat. From PP you can take the bus to Sihanoukville and then from there you catch a ferry to Koh Kong. The ferry to Koh Kong is great. The scenery is fantastic and it's much more interesting and comfortable than going overland (in my opinion.) I also think that PP is worth a couple of days, but that's just me.

From Koh Kong you go to the border at Had Lek where minivans, songthaews and/or buses will be available to whisk you off to Trat and/or Laem Ngop (45 min-60 min) where you catch the boats to the islands. I also think that Trat is a great place to spend at least one night.

It's easy, and a much nicer way than going by taxi to the border, but if time is of the essence, then stick to your original plan.

Have fun.

#7 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,521
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Posted by JessandScott on 15/1/2009 at 14:47

Thanks swag & Tilapia for your feedback.
Swag - I'm glad to hear good feedback about Ko Mak, we're looking for somewhere quiet and relaxing where we can laze around all day and my hubby can fish. We're not interested in any crazy nightlife so it sounds like Ko Mak is for us :). Thanks for the tip about getting home of an evening though! We might find we get bored after a few days and then will move on.
Tilapia - thanks for the extra info, will look into doing this route. Time is of the essence (we're only there for 3 weeks in total) but if it really is a much nicer route then there's no harm in checking it out! We got our current plans from the Travelfish feature. How long do you estimate the PP - Sihanoukville-Ko Kong route would take?
Thanks again!

#8 JessandScott has been a member since 7/12/2008. Posts: 34

Posted by Tilapia on 15/1/2009 at 22:59

PP- Sihanoukville -Koh Kong can be done in one day, but you'd have to leave PP at around 3:00 am by taxi to get to the pier in time to catch the boat. I think that the boat leaves Sihanoukville at around 9:30 in the morning (you'd have to check.) You would be better off spending an evening in S'ville down by the water. It's nice.

The trip takes around 4 1/2 - 5 1/2 hours, depending on the wind and how long the stop at Koh S'dach lasts. Then it's about an hour, or so, to Laem Ngop, so it's unlikely that you'd get your boat to the island in time. But Trat is a super little spot to spend an evening in. It has an excellent night market and really nice, cozy spots to stay in.

I used to be a regular on Koh Mak, and taking into consideration what I like, it is the best island in the area. You might want to check Tezza's site for info on it ...

Again, I would take the slow boat over the speed boat, unless there's no other option. It's much more relaxed, quiet, and less expensive.

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Posted by JessandScott on 17/1/2009 at 11:29

Hmmmm, on reflection we might have to do the SR - Poipet - Aran - Chanthaburi - Trat - Ko Mak route for timing reasons... will leave super early in the morning and hopefully make it there by that night. If we don't make the boat in time we'll just spend the night in Trat and leave the next morning.

Did you ever have issues with sandflies or blowflies on Ko Mak? I've heard some conflicting reports. Thanks for all your help!

Also... if anyone does have contact details for Succharanee, we'd be most grateful!

Thanks :D

#10 JessandScott has been a member since 7/12/2008. Posts: 34

Posted by swag on 18/1/2009 at 05:39

hi. yes that question about sand flies on mak has cropped up occasionally.Personally when we were there we didn't have any problems with sand flies, didn't get one bite. Also one night at dusk i took the chance to go out fishing with one of the local fisherman for about 4 english spoken but had great time and the fish i caught was kindly cooked by the kitchen were we stayed.wasn't cheap i think about $80 aud but part of that was a sling to the bloke that organised it. One thing is i have heard reports the boat no longer runs from sihanoukville to kong as the bridges are finished and buses have now taken up the slack.

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Posted by tae on 28/6/2010 at 09:42

Just wanted to let people know that they offer sleeper buses from Siem Reap to Koh Chang now. I asked the operators about dropping me off at Koh Mak and they said it'll only cost an extra dollar. That makes it $22 from SR to Koh Mak leaving at 8:00AM and arriving around 7:00PM.

#12 tae has been a member since 28/6/2010. Posts: 4

Posted by JessandScott on 28/6/2010 at 16:42

That's great news... we did the trip and it was pretty exhausting (cab from Siem Reap to the border, then crossing the border and waiting forever for the bus to Koh Chang (no one spoke much English and we kept being told 'half an hour'... after a few hours we started worrying!), then giving up and catching a bus back to Bangkok, only to see a bus to Koh Chang as we pulled into a bus station and jumping to that, then waiting for an hour or so for the ferry... we started at 7am and it was about 9pm by the time we got to our accomm on Koh Chang!

So, that's a long way of saying I think the bus from Siem Reap to Koh Chang/Koh Maak is a good idea! We stayed for a few days on Chang before moving to Maak.

Oh... and we didn't encounter a single blowfly on Koh Maak (in April), and the places we stayed had lovely clean beaches (were cleaned by staff early every each morning).

#13 JessandScott has been a member since 7/12/2008. Posts: 34

Posted by JessandScott on 28/6/2010 at 16:43

Oh - and we paid more than $22 each between the cab, the bus (the lovely ppl on the second bus let us get on for free as we'd already purchased a ticket to Bangkok!) and the ferry.

#14 JessandScott has been a member since 7/12/2008. Posts: 34

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