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Driving on 2 week holiday between SIN and BKK and back?

Driving on 2 week holiday between SIN and BKK and back?

Old Nov 1st, 2008, 09:19 AM
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Driving on 2 week holiday between SIN and BKK and back?

I am trying to absorb recommendations from 1) people who have lived there and 2) travel boards.

what is the general opinion for a family of four adults as far as driving up to thailand at a leisurely pace, stopping a few places along the way and back, versus train?

The trains look nice, and i really prefer NOT to catch more flights. we will be coming from Spain, so we are accustomed to perhaps the more chaotic, aggressive drivng than some, and really like public transportation. I hear the luxury buses to KL from singapore are also good.

It seems we will be flying in and out of SIN, mostly because of price,and our son will be working there. The idea was to get to BKK eventually after stopping along the way, leaving some interesting stops for the way back.

For now it seems we will not do northern thailand, but save that area for another visit, as it seems we will be falling in love with this area!

I have not found where to get a land package to coincide well with the dates. That also could be a possibility, although we do want to keep the expenses down.

I am open to any suggestions, and will not be offended if this is just not logical at all. This will all be happening between December 23rd or so and january 10th or so, if we are lucky to figure it all out.
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 09:35 AM
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You could use ground transportation one way and a discount airline on the way back. This might be a good use of time and money. For that time period, the weather is likely to be much better on the western side of Thailand.
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 09:37 AM
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thank you.

everything is still wide open. i hope i will get a grip on this soon!
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 04:33 PM
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Hi,

Here are a couple of links you may not have found.

Trains.

http://www.seat61.com/Malaysia.htm

this has information on everything to do with trains all the way through. also one bus link - this is one of the better buses between Singapore and KL
http://www.transtar.com.sg/firstclass.php

I think that would be a really nice way to go - we have plans to do the trip that way some time - although we usually end up flying straight up to Bangkok (from Australia). A couple of things to think about. If you use trains it costs a lot more from Singapore than just across the border. The charge is the same but one is Sing Dollars and one is in Malay which is significantly less. You'll see that on the seat 61 site. I think from memory the bus works the same. The other thing to think about is the time you are going is peak season so it could be tricky getting accommodation in some places - check out a few alternatives to fall back on.

Personally I'd prefer not to drive - the driver seldom sees as much as anyone else but it does give you a chance to go off the tracks. Even coming from Spain you might find the drivers in SE asia a bit more suicidal and remember it will be the other side of the road to you through these countries.
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 04:46 PM
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not sure if you know it or not but driving in asia is a lot different...not nearly as easy....roads are not perfect and signage is often lacking...or all in the foreign language...

for these and for time reasons i would discourange you from driving...plus you will have very little time to spend in any of the interesting places..

i also have not mentioned southern thailand which is a hot bed of radicalism and a westerner is less than welcome there... and perhaps less than safe...

for this reason i would choose air asia...the flights are very reasonable and allow you to jump from place to place...take a look at their web site...

fly sin to K/L, stay a couple of days...fly to another malay place like penang or langkawi, return to K/L and on to phuket....fly from phuket to another thai place and/or bkk....fly directly back to K/L or sin using air asia (K/L) or tiger (sin).

its cost effective and fast...make sure to buy express boarding for an extra couple of US dollars...
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 04:46 PM
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this way you do not worry about car drop offs or associated costs...
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 05:59 PM
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I have driven in Thailand on many occasions and have always enjoyed it. Yes you do need to tune in to the Thai driving style but as long as you expect the unexpected you will be ok. Thais drive on the left so if you are not used to this then Thailand may not be the best place to learn! I am English so it was'nt a problem for me (but I am struggling here in Argentina driving on the right at the moment!).
I did not find Thai drivers to be aggressive, in fact, quite the opposite, but they are unpredictable. e.g. it is quite usual for THais to drive on the wrong side of the road if they only have a short distance to teh next junction
We have also done the journey south from Bangkok by train and it was ok but not as comfortable as it may appear on some websites. I would suggest booking a 1st Class compartment which you will have to yourself - essential if it is an overnight train.

The car will give you much more flexibility as to where and when you stop. Although as Bob has pointed out, you need to be a bit careful where you stop in the far south of Thailand.

The buses in Malaysia are great, equivalent in space and comfort to 1st Class on most airlines (and cheap!). Another alternative is travelling by ferry for part of the way.

Having said all of this, I would strongly suggest that you decide where in Malaysia and Thailand you want to visit, as this may well dictate which method of travel is best for you.

Finally, as mentioned by previous posters, it makes sense to fly one way.
Happy travels!
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 06:42 PM
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You do know that in Thailand and Malaysia they drive on the "other side of the road" like in Britain? Unless you have great experience in driving on that side of the road you could react wrong in an emergency situation.

Although driving in the Southern part of Thailand may be more gentle than around Bangkok you do have some problems to consider.

If you get into an accident you may have to pay for the damage immediately (even your fault or not) and allow any insurance to pay you back eventually.

You, being a Farang will be considered wealthy, it is not unusual to try and get some additional money from you. Police may hold your passport until damages are settled for. If a foreign tourist smacaked into my car even I would be fearful of him skipping the country and leaving me with the damage to pay for!

Bus service and train service is excellent in Thailand. There are trains that have sleeper car service too! Reserve sleeper cars ahead of time to make sure you have a berth.

Good luck.

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Old Nov 2nd, 2008, 01:01 AM
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thank you all for your experienced insight! I can see this will be just the first of trips to this area. What a wealth of culture and scenery! I hope to get a beautiful glimpse of this area without exhausting oursleves.

It does seem like flying will have to be an option for part of the trip. the driving idea is now gone.

I have not researched every monument or most important sites yet, but have noted a few from others' reports i would like to incorporate.

tentative itinerary:
arrive SIN. Chillout 2 nights.
Night zoo
Peranakan museum, etc. see major sites

SIN-Malacca by early bus/train

overnight here? or stop, see town and move on? take driver to highlands?

Malacca-KL (bus/train)2-3 nights

canopy walk Forest Research Institute, cameroon highlands by taxi/driver and other sites

Fly to Penang/Georgetown 3 nights? or substitute for Thai beach? Phuket?

BKK 5+ nights, daytrip to Ayutthaya taking boat back., chatuchak, etc.
Any extra time could be spent one day at Hua Hin if we felt we needed more beach scene? or the marine park south of there?

bkk fly to SIN.

yes, accomodations at beach areas are very full, which could dictate WHERE we go to the beach. So far I see no problems in the bigger cities in my searches.

If streamlining this or going elsewhere seems appropiate, please comment. I am not sure exactly how many days we will have yet, but it seems leavng BKK for end will let us easily adjust those extra days to that area.

thank you. All of our close friends have gone on organized tours.. or personalized organized tours.. which i am still looking into, but it seems this will be more economical to do it on our own and hire guides locally?
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Old Nov 2nd, 2008, 03:00 AM
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Hi Lina,

The buses and trains in Malaysia and Thailand are fabulous so no worries there. Really no need to drive.

I found the Highlands disappointing but if I had my time there over again I would maybe take the Jungle Train.

Sounds like beach time is important to you, but my advise would be to do beach in Malaysia. Travel overland from SNG to BKK, spend a couple of days there, and fly back to SNG.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2008, 03:47 AM
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beaches in themselves are not really important to me except for the stunning scenery. however, our daughter and son will like to chill out at a beach, go snorkling or kayaking ( me, too) i am sure, in such an idyllic setting.

love good scenery.. good food and museums/monuments, local life. (don't we all?)

thank you for your confirmation of the excellent ground transportation. i am now having a bit more luck with an open jaw, into BKK and out of SIN which will solve the extra plane trip for the most part.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2008, 06:24 AM
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Important points for your planning:

1> Dec 23 to Dec 10th is a Peak travel time, so you are going to have to plan this speedily, in particular for malaysia and Thai popular areas.

2> Car rental - you would probably have to go across from SIN to malaysia to get a rental, drop that in Northern malasyai, take transport acrosss, then get a Thai rental on the other side. For multiple reasons I would not recommend, 'perhaps'(?) at another time of year with lots more time to spare, but not as a first time trip.

You can travel by train from SIN to KL, there are though also buses and budget flights with Tiger and the other budget airlines.
Within Malaysia you can train to Butterworth ( for Penang ) or train furthet to Arau to get to the coast for a ferry to Langkawi, this is the west coast route which is better that time of year.
From Langkawi you can ferry to Southern Thailand in about 1 hr 30 mins or less.

Do considor baggage etc when doing land travel mixed with flights, you will be limited on flights, in particular with budget carriers, so you want to make sure you don't have too much baggage.

As it is peak time you will have to book ahead, in particular for the Thailand resort areas.

What I would do is either bus, train or budget flight to KL, then Air Asia or train to Penang / Langkawi area. You can ferry into Southern Thailand and then get a car and driver to whichever beach area you wish, small tropical islands such as Koh Ngai, Mook, Lipe which are quite remote easily from Satun area. perhaps more developed Koh Lanta. Head to busy Krabi area and if you wih Phi Phi / Phuket / Khao Lak.

From there you can budget flight to Bangkok, or, budget/normal flight back to Singapore ( from Phuket ).
Between Phuket and Singapore there are up to 7/8 flights a day.

The coastal route going from Phuket to bangkok in fact offers lots of places to stop once you get over to the Gulf of Thailand side, but you would want 4-5 days to enjoy places on the way. In this case, busiest time of year and with just those days, I would skip it.

Had you thought of flying Singapore Airlines from Madrid or Barcelona ( I believe they fly there via Milan ) and that makes ticketing easier, in fact you may get 'add ons' to Langkawi or Phuket quite cheap with them ( through their Silk Air division ).

I think you need time to relax and enjoy the places and things you wish to do. Unless you really want to train or bus I would pick say Penang and then Krabi / Phuket area, you will find that 17/18 days will fly by. You can budget flight from Penang to Phuket with Firefly.

I think it should be stressed that you need to sit down and plan 3 or 4 places, check your budget, note peak season also means peak rates and 'tight availability indeed' for hotels and other accommodation. Also 23rd december and then following days untiol around 4th January will be 'tight' for flights too.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2008, 06:25 AM
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That should be Dec 23 to 10th Jan.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2008, 06:31 PM
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melakka is a lovely town...a full day there would do it justice...the old chinese section is lovely as well as the portugese sections of town... try to stay downtown...

visit petronas towers in K/L--tickets required...2 full days is really enough for K/L
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Old Nov 2nd, 2008, 08:27 PM
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Getting a tour in Thailand is pretty easy, find the nearest travel agency where they will have a menu selection of popular destinations. Some tours are half day, full day and overnighters. Tours are easiest to get in Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Phuket.

Good luck.
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Old Nov 5th, 2008, 07:15 PM
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I sort of did what JamesA suggested back in 1999. We took the train from SIN to Kuala Lipis, then to Khota Bharu. Next we took the bus to Penang, the ferry to Langkawi, then a ferry to Satun, Thailand. From there, we took a minivan up to the Phuket area. Great trip. Enjoy!!
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Old Nov 6th, 2008, 03:29 PM
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Hi
On the weekend we took a bus from singapore to malacca (Melaka) (we used Konsortium bus line which was OK but rather dirty). However, it was a 4 hour trip and was fine. Malaysia is easy. Melaka (malay spelling) is nice. We stayed in Hotel Puri which is nicely located in the old China town. It was clean, charming and not too tired. Also look at the Heeren for accommodation. We had lunch there and it looked very clean and OK. Do go to the BABA NONYA museum a few doors up from the Hotel Puri. An old house still decorated in the antique style. We took a tri-shaw ride (S$40/hour) which was a great way to see the sights. There is a magnificent OLDEST chinese temple (directly accross the road from the new chinese temple which understandably, no one goes to). The river boat cruise (45 min/ 10 r each) was also worth doing to see the old malay style houses. Melaka is having some money spent on it now it is UNESCO heritage listed. Should be nice and clean and freshened up in a few years, but for now you can see it in its less well-heeled state! PS went to the museum in the red square. It wasnt very good. Try the maritime museum - you will see the boat!
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Old Nov 6th, 2008, 03:31 PM
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PS the bus SIN-MELAKA was around S$28 one way. And once you are in Malaysia you should then buy your cheap air asia flights.
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Old Nov 11th, 2008, 03:47 AM
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I am wondering if i should start a new thread, as it seems we would be better off not extending this trip all the way up into bangkok area, and are definitely not interested in driving now.

present thoughts after reading many many posts would be to go sin-melaka, KL, penang, and PERHAPS the jungle route train back to singapore.

Any comments? Too many stops?

actual travel dates from dec. 25 to jan 5th.

thanks



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Old Nov 11th, 2008, 06:44 AM
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So it now appears you'll have maybe 10 days on the ground. Because you'll likely want just an day or day and a half in Malacca you could probably do Singapore, Malacca, and Penang. I'd suggest you not try for 4 locations in a mere 10 days.
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