I need some advice about the villages/cities which can be found between Bangkok and Chiang Mai that you would suggest to spend 5 nights in. The idea is to head to the North on our way to Chiang Mai (by means of bus or train but surely overland), and on our way we intend to spend in total 5 nights in villages between Bangkok & Chiang Mai.
So far we're sure we'll be visiting 2 nights in Phitsanulok, of which a day tour to Sukothai. Someone also told us about Phrae and Lamphang but we need some more information.
Having said this, in which cities/villages would you stop which in your opinion are worth visiting? how would you distribute the 5 nights & how long (nights) you suggest that we stay considering the things to see in each location?..
Would also appreciate if you can give us some advice on the type of transport/transfers we have to consider from each location to move on to the other until we reach Chiang Mai. Thanks so much in advance.
#1 borgy has been a member since 27/1/2010. Posts: 11
it depends on what types of things you like to do. if you are really into ruins and temples and such, then i'd recommend sukhothai and ayutthaya and perhaps even lop buri and kamphaeng phet. if you want to explore a town where thais go on holiday, then phitsanulok and lampang are excellent choices. here's a breakdown of what we found on our trips through these places on our way from bangkok to chiang mai:
ayutthaya - right near bangkok and on both train and bus lines. excellent ruins/old city and a decent backpacker ghetto to hang out. good additional activities like elephant rides and boat trips around the island.
lop buri - best access is by train but on the bus line as well. lots of good ruins too but nowhere near as good as ayutthaya or sukhothai. lots of monkeys there, so if you don't line monkeys, don't go!
phitsanulok - right on the main north-south train line. mostly a local/asian tourist scene, with some good fish restaurants right on the river and a good night market and bar zone next to the river.
sukhothai - excellent backpacker hangout with easy access to the very nice ruins/old city and a great variety of quality budget accommodation and restaurants. very good spot to relax for a few days.
kamphaeng phet - not a tourist destination at all despite the UNESCO world heritage site ruins. located midway between BKK and Chiang Mai on the main bus route. if you are looking for an authentic thai experience with friendly people, low prices, a fun local bar scene and fantastic local night food market, this is your place.
lampang - quick bus trip from chiang mai or a slightly longer train ride. this is a popular thai tourist destination with a happening local bar scene, often with live music, and a very good local night market (similar to the walking street in chiang mai) on weekends.
i'd be happy to make some accommodation recommendations too if any of these towns appeals to you. have fun. cheers.
Ayutthaya, Lopburi, Sukhothai, and Kamphaeng Phet are worthwhile spots indeed. However don't discount the possibility to just fast-track up to Chiang Mai and use those extra days to visit the far north of Thailand.
Straight north of Chiang Mai you could visit Chiang Dao and the jungle-atmosphere around Chiang Dao Nest http://www.chiangdao.com or Malle's Nature Bungalows http://www.maleenature.com and further north to Doi Angkhang, Thaton and Mae Salong up along the hilly Burmese border.
Also the northwest road to Pai, Soppong http://cavelodge.com and the Mae Hong Son loop which takes a few days by public bus. For the more adventurous, rent a motorbike in Chiang Mai and explore these spots on your own. Also many self-made daytrips to the hills out of Chiang Mai up to Doi Pui, out to the Samoeng loop, and Doi Inthanon among others. The far north and west of Thailand is IMO relatively more scenic than the midland zone.
There is a mind-boggling number of lovely little villages between Bangkok and Chiangmai, however in most there is nowhere to stay except possibly in peoples' homes or in temples. Most are also off of main bus routes and are serviced by the odd songthaew, if they are serviced at all. You might find a homestay somewhere along the way. I can't help you with that, though. Maybe somebody else can.
Phrae is okay, but it's not exactly on the way to Chiangmai. Again, there are lots of really nice villages in the area. If you are going to go that way, you may want to skip Phrae and head right up to Nan which is, in my opinion, nicer.
I think that Sukhothai would be a better spot to stay rather than Phitsanulok. There isn't much to do there though it does have its merits (Wat Phra Si Ratana and, as Exacto mentioned, the riverside being a couple of them) and it's a fair distance from the ruins.
North of Sukhothai is another collection of very well preserved temples in an area called Si Satchanalai (also a UNESCO site), which was the administrative capital of Sukhothai, and the place where the bricks which built Sukhothai were fired. I found this place to be slightly better than Sukhothai, very quiet and unvisited, and the village of Si Satchanalai has guest houses where you can stay.
I agree with Captain Bob about the scenery in N. Thailand and around the central plain, but I do have to say that the landscape to the northwest of Lopburi is fantastic! Most people miss it, though, because it is off the main transport routes.
If you are interested in visiting villages, then I would suggest that you find a spot to stay for a couple of days, rent a motorbike, and then go out and explore the countryside. Quite a few of them have small cottage industries that range from silk products to woven grass mats, soaps and shampoos made with kaffir lime, and loads of other things. Many of the villages are involved with a program called OTOP, which stands for One Tambon One Product, and they are always happy to show guests around their "factories." You don't even need to speak Thai. You'd be honoured guests.
This story: https://www.travelfish.org/feature/152 also lays out some of the options between the two cities.
#5 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,767
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Thanks a lot for your replies Exacto, Captain Bob, Tilapia & somtam2000...each of you have been really helpful. I want to ask you a question Tilapia if you don't mind. You said that the landscape to the northwest of Lopburi is fantastic...when you're saying "NorthWest" of Lop-Buri you mean it's still in Lop Buri or it's outside Lop Buri and thus I need to travel to another village nearby? And how far would you estimate to be from the main centre of Lop Buri to get there?..finally I will appreciate if you can give me the specific name of the area in the North West of Lop Buri which you're referring to...thanks a lot in advance.
#6 borgy has been a member since 27/1/2010. Posts: 11
"... when you're saying "NorthWest" of Lop-Buri you mean it's still in Lop Buri or it's outside Lop Buri and thus I need to travel to another village nearby?"
The area is outside of the city of Lopburi , but still in the province of Lopburi. Plus, it's probably more north than northwest. If you take Highway 1 north out of Lopburi you will find yourself in an area of rice paddies and small tidy villages, with a backdrop of green limestone hills, some of which have white standing and reclining Buddha images that are visible from the roads. There are lots of small villages off of the main roads that you can ride into for a look around. Don't be surprised if you find yourself being stared at everywhere you go, or perhaps being dragged into a school. My favourite village is called Lum Khao (Windy Rice.) I lived there for 4 months.
"And how far would you estimate to be from the main centre of Lop Buri to get there?"
With your own transport, about 20-30 minutes.
You can see all of these places on Google Maps, and Google Earth.
i responded to this on another thread as well, but i'd recommend Asia Lampang Hotel in Lampang and TR Guesthouse in Sukhothai. both are comfortable and affordable, and they are located right in the middle of all the fun stuff to do too. cheers.