Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Asia
Reload this Page >

Jan 2017: Which first? Bali or ChiangMai/Pai

Jan 2017: Which first? Bali or ChiangMai/Pai

Nov 11th, 2016, 07:53 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 842
Jan 2017: Which first? Bali or ChiangMai/Pai

I'm heading off on a solo adventure from Canada to Asia for six weeks in January 2017. I land in Bangkok on January 10. I wish to spend a week or so in both Bali and Chiang Mai/Pai. Can anyone offer suggestions why I should do one before the other? I will be looking for low cost (hostel) housing too. I'm open to suggestions for that as well. Main purposes of the trip? I'm interested in the culture, history and geography - but mostly I'm going to have fun and relax. Looking forward to your responses.

tC
teacherCanada is offline  
Nov 11th, 2016, 11:19 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,336
As you are landing in Bangkok it would seem to make senses to visit Chiang Mai and Pai first. The burning season in the north usually starts sometime in Feb so to avoid any chance of the smoke, I certainly would not leave it until the end of your trip. Plenty of cheap flights ( or even the overnight train) between Bangkok and CM. I assume you will be spending a few days in Bangkok first?

Is there any particular reason you are visiting Pai? A nice enough place, but it wouldn't be my first choice after CM. Chiang Dao, Chiang Rai or Mai Hong Sorn would make great add ons to CM.

Chiang Mai is awash with decent, cheap places to stay. www. hostelworld.com . If you have a specific budget in mind for accomodation, it may enable people to suggest specific places.
crellston is offline  
Nov 12th, 2016, 05:10 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 2,759
I wouldn't expect much difference in weather patterns in Bali between January and February. You'll get some rain and likely some heavy storms, especially on the west coast.

I would, however, bear in mind that Lunar New Year is January 28. It isn't widely celebrated in Indonesia (except among the Chinese community) but it's a heavily traveled weekend and accommodations will be tight.

There's budget accommodation all over Bali. For the beach I'd suggest you concentrate on the areas north of Seminyak (Petitenget, Batu Belig, Brawa, Batu Bolong). I would avoid Kuta and Sunset Road all together.

Lunar New Year is celebrated in different ways throughout Southeast Asia. You might want to look into that when deciding where you want to be at that time.

I'd also suggest that you consider spending some time in Central Java -- Yogyakarta and the Borobudur area. The Phoenix in Yogya may be on the high end of your budget, but it's a lovely boutique hotel right in the center of town. At Borobudur, the Manohara is a good value, steps from the monument.

Fly AirAsia whenever you can.

In Ubud and the countryside outside of town you'll find plenty of lovely choices. Near town I like the neighborhoods of Nyuh Kuning and Penestanan. Out of town, I'm especially fond of the Alam Sari.
marmot is offline  
Dec 17th, 2016, 07:52 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 842
Thank you crellston and marmot. Apologies for the delay responding. A good friend and I spent the last two weeks in November in Peru - enjoying much of what Peru had to offer. Now, the planning for Thailand starts in earnest. Thank you both for your advice. I have decided to follow your suggestions. I will, shortly after arrival in Bangkok, transfer up to Chiang Mai. I will probably take an overnight bus. They sound like an experience! Likely spend a few days in CM before shifting over to Pai. Why Pai, you ask? When I was in Thailand in May, everyone I talked with suggested a visit to Pai. I can certainly adjust my schedule. The north of Thailand seems to offer so much. Unsure of how (or when) I will return to Bangkok at this time. Maybe the train?

I have booked a flight from BKK to Bali on January 23, with a return on February 1. marmot, thank your suggestions for accommodation and cautions about the lunar new year. Bali seems to be full of interesting things for me to explore and experience. Following my return from Bali I hope to visit Angor Wat - and will probably bus there and back from Bangkok unless other suggestions prevail.

My last 10 days or so I will head to southern Thailand for some more serious rest and relaxation.

tC
teacherCanada is offline  
Dec 19th, 2016, 01:39 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,336
"transfer up to Chiang Mai. I will probably take an overnight bus. They sound like an experience! " an experience? Certainly. A good one? No! Night buses in Asia have a terrible track record in Asia generally and in Thailand the drivers are renowned for popping amphtetamines to stay awake - not the best recipe for an incident free trip.

The train is a nice way to go. To Cm would be better as arriving at dawn in tnegreat scenery of the north can be very special. Returning to Bangkok by air would mean you could transfer to your Bali flight without having to return to the city
crellston is offline  
Dec 19th, 2016, 02:28 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,930
I far prefer bali to the north of Thailand, esp Chiangmai Mai
2/3 bali. 1/3 cm
rhkkmk is offline  
Dec 19th, 2016, 06:24 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,947
<<>>

For a bit of an adventure, there are two 3rd Class trains a day from Bangkok [Hualamphong] to Aranyapraphet. The morning train is the best one to catch From Aranyapraphet it's a 10 minute tuk tuk ride to the Cambodian border at Poipet. From the Cambodian side of the border you can continue to Siam Reap by taxi or bus.

The journey has its challenges, but a bit of preparation will ease the way.

Here are the details from http://www.seat61.com/Cambodia.htm#Siem Reap website...

"Step 1: travel from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet by train, leaving Bangkok Hualamphong at 05:55 daily & arriving Aranyaprathet 11:35.

The fare is just 48 baht (about £1 or $1.60), no reservation necessary, simply turn up and buy a ticket at the station on the day - yes, the ticket office will be open, no, it can't sell out!

They may offer you a combined train+bus ticket to Siem Reap, but just buy the train ticket to stay flexible with onward transport.

Bangkok to Aranyaprathet is 255 km, 159 miles. The train is 3rd class only, but it's clean, spacious and it's a really pleasant and enjoyable ride, clickety clacking along with a breeze blowing through the open window.

Step 2: Take a tuk-tuk from Aranyaprathet station to Poipet...

You'll find plenty of tuk-tuks waiting at the station when the train arrives. It's only a 10-minute 6-kilometre (3.8 mile) ride from Aranyaprathet to the Cambodian border at Poipet, and a tuk-tuk will cost 80-100 baht depending on your bargaining skills.

If you haven't already bought a Cambodian e-visa (www.evisa.gov.kh), tuk-tuk drivers may try and take you to a travel agency to buy a Cambodian visa at inflated prices. This is no real problem, just say 'No' and insist that they take you direct to the border point and they will do so. They may tell you it's an 'official' visa office, and official-looking people may even ask to 'see' your passport or visa, just ignore them and repeat that you want to be taken to the official border post, and you'll be taken there.

The official Cambodian visa office is after Thai exit formalities, between the Thai and Cambodian border posts. So it's really very simple: If you haven't had your passport stamped by a Thai border guard at the Thai border post and passed through the 'Angkor' arch (see the photos of these below), it ain't the official Cambodian visa office! The official visa cost is $30.

Step 3: Simply walk across the border into Cambodia...
The border is open 07:00-20:00, and Cambodian visas can be bought there if you haven't bought a Cambodian e-visa beforehand.

First get your passport stamped at the Thai side, then walk on for 100 yards under the Angkor - Welcome to Cambodia archway to the Cambodian border post to buy your Cambodian visa, have your fingerprints scanned and your passport stamped.

Be careful with your valuables when crossing the border, just in case there are pickpockets around. The whole process should only take around 30 minutes, but at busy times it can take an hour, sometimes more.

At the exit from Poipet border post onto the big roundabout, you will see (or be guided to) an official free transit bus to the 'Poipet Tourist Passenger International Terminal' 10 minutes down the road from where all the share taxis and buses leave for Siem Reap or Battambang or Phnom Penh. This shuttle bus (and the man with the official badge who guides you to it) is legitimate.

Step 4: Take a bus, minivan or share taxi from Poipet to Siem Reap...

The 152 km (95 miles) should take around 2½ hours by share taxi or 3 hours by bus now that the highway has been improved. Prices are posted at the ticket counter at the Poipet Tourist Passenger International Terminal.

A shared taxi costs $12 for a seat or $48 for the whole car. A bus costs $9, minivan $9. You may also be approached by taxi drivers outside the border post, perhaps $40 for a taxi all the way to Siem Reap."
LancasterLad is offline  
Jan 5th, 2017, 12:14 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 842
My departure date is close - only 2 days away. Thank you to all who have offered sage advice. LancasterLad, I have printed the advice given above and will take it with me. Still unsure how I will get back and forth from Bangkok to Siem Reap, but I feel more comfortable with your information.

crellston, I hear you comments about the night bus. The train is a possibility, maybe both ways or maybe just on the return journey to Bangkok.

I have kept my itinerary very loose. Besides the flight to Bali and two nights at a hostel in Chiang Mai, I have nothing else booked. This goes against all my previous travel experience - but I'm hoping it all turns out well.

Thanks again

tC
teacherCanada is offline  
Jan 5th, 2017, 06:03 PM
  #9  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,785
Have fun!

FWIW, I left my (strong!) planning preferences aside for a trip once, and I had a wonderful experience. And when I returned, I found my preferences perfectly safe -- I've been nurturing them ever since. ;-)

Maybe you saw my trip report on Bali? It might have some useful ideas for you...
http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...a-and-bali.cfm
kja is offline  
Jan 5th, 2017, 06:09 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 2,759
Bali is fairly slow right now, but if you're arriving around Lunar New Year (January 27-30) you should make a hotel reservation in advance.
marmot is offline  
Jan 5th, 2017, 08:38 PM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 842
Thanks kja and marmot. I will read your trip report before departure kja. Thank you for your words of encouragement. My arrival in Bali is on the afternoon of February 1. It is most likely that I will be staying in hostels rather than hotels, and will likely book my first night or two near the beaches on the southern part of the island prior to leaving Bangkok. I am usually such a planner. This trip is quite outside my comfort zone. I will trust my instincts and kja.

Many thanks

tC
teacherCanada is offline  
Jan 5th, 2017, 08:52 PM
  #12  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,785
Uh oh -- my by-the-seat-of-my-pants trip was to northern China. I planned my time in Bali rather carefully. Sorry to have misled -- but -- GOOD news! -- I don't think obsessive planning is needed, or necessarily particularly effective, for Bali. Go and enjoy!
kja is offline  
Jan 5th, 2017, 09:09 PM
  #13  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,785
PS: For Bali, I can't recommend "my" driver -- Amik -- highly enough. You can contact him through the Alam Indah hotel group:
http://alamhotelgroup.com
If he isn't available (and do ask for him if you can!), I'm sure anyone this group recommends would be reliable.
kja is offline  
Jan 6th, 2017, 05:02 PM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 842
Thanks kja for your suggestions. When I went to view your trip report I realized that I had already read it (the Bali part) a few months ago. It was nice to re-read.

marmot, I thank you again for your good advice. My first night on Bali will be February 1. I am thinking I will get low cost lodging in Seminyak or Kuta and make decisions about further nights after that.
Will you be on the island when I visit? If you are amenable, I would love to connect with you and have a cup of tea while we enjoy the view. Please let me know if this might work. Thank you.

tC
teacherCanada is offline  
Jan 6th, 2017, 05:21 PM
  #15  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,785
I'm glad you enjoyed my trip report!
kja is offline  
Jan 6th, 2017, 07:02 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 2,759
tC, I don't think you'll have any problem finding budget accommodation on February 1. If you do a little research and pre-book you won't have to settle for anything substandard. Unless you're looking for raucous nightlife I would avoid the Kuta/Legian area, though this is where you'd get the cheapest prices. And I would definitely avoid anything on Sunset Road .

If you concentrate on Seminyak and Petitenget you'll find a range of budget choices with lots of restaurants and shops, but not quite so crazy as Kuta.

The beach area north of Seminyak which is loosely referred to as Canggu is full of young, hip hostels, b&b's, cafes etc. which can be both cheap and charming. This area would include Batu Belig, Brawa and Batu Bolong.

The westcoast is mostly bigwave, surfer beaches. During the rainy season, a lot of trash gets washed up on beach. You might also look at Sanur which is a good swimming beach and a more homey, quiet atmosphere.

Alternately, you could skip the beach altogether and head directly to the Ubud area. It depends what you're looking for.

I believe I'll be in Bali when you're here. I live in Petitenget and would be pleased to get together if you're in the neighborhood.
marmot is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:54 PM.