One Month Until Thailand!
I've got a three-week trip to Thailand coming up in a month, and I've got the basic sketch of an itinerary worked out. First, the basics: I'm from the US, I'm a 28 year old guy, and I'm travelling by myself. I've got quite a bit of travelling experience in Mexico and Central America, but this will be my first overseas trip. I'm not into tourist traps or resorts, but I also am not a broke-all-the-time traveler.
Let me know what you think, or if you have any recommendations:
1. Flying into Bangkok on 8/17, and am staying at a place I found on airbnb: http://www.airbnb.com/rooms/559881. It has good reviews, but isn't particularly close to the touristy parts of town. That's actually what I'm looking for, as I'm just looking to get over jet lag and adjusted to the new time zone, and perhaps meet some other travelers.
2. On the night of the 19th, I plan on taking the overnight train to Chiang Mai. I'll do the first class sleeper thing, and hope that I can get some sleep amidst all of the stopping.
As for Chiang Mai, I'm still not quite sure what I want to do while I'm there - my original plan was to find a trek to go on, but the more I read about them, the more lame they seem. I was hoping for something more along the lines of Quetzaltrekkers in Guatemala, which was both rigorous and awesome, and 3 full days of hiking - which finished with a 4AM wakeup to go watch the sunrise over Lake Atitlan. Nothing I see in Chiang Mai looks the part - the quality of the trips appear to depend on the quality of the guides - but none of them seem particularly unique. Does anyone have a particularly good experience that they can share?
The other thing I was considering was renting a motorcycle and doing the Mae Hong Son loop, which would take about 6 days. My roommate did this and she said it was amazing. But she wasn't there during the height of the rainy season. So I will also have to play that by ear.
All told, the Chiang Mai portion of the trip will probably take about 7 or 8 days at which point I will head southward again - I may fly to Phuket or hop on the train again.
3. Khao Sok National Park - this may be a terrible idea during the rainy season, but I'm really interested in seeing the park, and it appears that one is more likely to see wildlife when (if) it isn't raining. I hope to spend 2-3 days in the park, either on the way down to some beachtime or on the way back.
4. Finally, I plan to spend the last leg of my trip (hopefully about a week) on an island or perhaps on a couple of islands. I think this is where I need the most advice, as there's a lot of conflicting opinions on where the best islands are, and some seem to be developing fast enough as to make plenty of information outdated. It seems as though the Gulf is not quite as rainy at this time of year, so I may be leaning towards that side. Ko Tao has some appeal, but I've also read some fairly nasty things about it. I'd like to do some snorkeling though, and that seems like a good spot for it. Also, Ko Pha Ngan appears to be relatively quiet on the northern side, so I was considering that as well. I was also considering Ao Khanom as a simple alternative to the islands altogether.
After all of that, it's back to Bangkok - I fly out on September 9th.
So that's my rough sketch of a trip - but as these things go, I imagine my plans will change every day that I'm there. Let me know if you have any suggestions, and thanks in advance for your help.
My advice is to not sleep late on your first day. The sooner you adjust your body to Thai time the easier it is to adjust to time changes.
Spend the last day or two back in Bangkok before you fly home. Don't fly into Bangkok at the last minute for an expensive flight home. That connecting flight or even trains and buses can be cancelled or arrive late.
Popular tourist destinations are not necessarily bad. Transportation is good, hotels are cheap and food is pretty good with proper sanitation.
Change your currency to Thai baht in Thailand for the better rate. Bank money changers at the airport 24 hours a day. Remember to notify your bank that you will be overseas if you intend to use debit or credit cards.
When on buses and trains keep your money and passport on your person. Other valuables keep within sight. Better to avoid taking expensive stuff with you on your trip. I always use security boxes at hotels for spare currency and valuables. Don't trust anyone you invite into your room, keep valuables out of sight and locked up.
Travel the world now before you get too old to do it!
I suggest you go and check out the travel companies in the Old City, it will give you a better idea of whether or not you think they are lame. I also went bungee jumping...maybe not such a wise idea at the time but definitely an interesting experience haha.
I am not sure if you want to party a lot...I had no desire to see the full moon party or go somewhere very touristy so I spent a week on Koh Tao. I really enjoyed it! I didn't go suba diving but spent my days reading and drinking in a hammock on the beach and then going out at night with people I met at the hostel. This was 2 years ago and was a highlight of my time in Thailand.
Ko Chang is also a really nice island to check out if you don't want to head too far South. The snorkeling there was fantastic.
Have a great time!
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