Slow travel in Thailand

Old Sep 5th, 2022, 09:40 PM
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Slow travel in Thailand

I am going to Thailand for 5 weeks (from 21 September), and I will appreciate guidance from experienced Thai-travellers.

About me: I have travelled fairly extensively but I have never been to South East Asia. I have no interest at all in the party scene or adventure activities. My tolerance for shopping in malls gets used up fairly fast, but I do love small markets. I love slow travel, nature walks, forests, beach walks, great views, good food, some history ... I prefer to use public transport, but I can rent a car when needed. Thai scooters seem scary!

My first question: I arrive in Bangkok after a 17-hour travel day. I think I will spend the night in an airport hotel and fly to Chiang Mai the next day, saving my time in Bangkok for the end of the trip. I may even skip Bangkok altogether and focus on smaller cities. Does this make sense?

Of course I want to visit an island or two. Which islands will work best for me? Not too touristed but with some infrastructure, nice walkable beaches, good views ...

Transport: is there a good site / app where I can see transport options between the different places?

Any other tips or general recommendations will be really welcome.
kovsie is offline  
Old Sep 8th, 2022, 04:04 AM
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First thought is what kind of visa do you have?

For most countries it’s a 30 day visa exempt entry or a 60 day tourist visa bought before you fly. If you choose the former you’ll have to exit and re-enter the country at some point.

ALSO – they are considering extending the 30 days to 45 in October – watch this space.

Q1 - f you have a flight the next day, you could well miss BKK and stay near the airport. Or… could go into BKK spend a couple of nights to chill and then fly on or go on by train.

Either way, I think it’s a good idea to relax after your 17 hrs of Travel.

So we assume you are really starting from Chiang Mai?

There’s a lot to see and do there, temples, culture, river trips and excursions into the hills and forests.

Where next?

This depends on what kind of transport you use.

I have driven all over Thailand and find it is by far the best way to see “small towns” etc. Wherever I’ve stopped, I’ve always found a budget hotel (less than 1000 baht) with air-con and wi-fi. You need to be a competent and confident driver. My favourite trip is one that takes me from the North down by the western Myanmar border towards Kanchanaburi (bridge over the River Kwai). From there you could go to Bkk and South or avoid BKK and head down to Phuket on the west coast.

Public transport is cheap and you can easily travel from one town to the next by bus, minivan or even songthaew….but it can be time consuming.

Thailand has a limited rail system but some of the trains now are cheap and very good. E.g. Chiang Mai overnight to BKK – and BKK to Suratthani over night to connect to Koh Samui (island) in the South. – Travel first class whenever you can.

Wherever you end up you will find great markets (day& night).

Most Thai transport web sites and apps leave a lot to be desired. I’d start with Google maps to find a route then enter it in search to find out the best transport options.

The islands – I’m not a huge island fan – I get stir crazy! – Islands like Samui and Phuket are well developed but you can still find places where you can pretend there aren’t many people. To get to smaller islands, you can take ferries form the mainland or the larger islands.

3 main island areas – the Andaman cost (west) the Gulf (Koh Samui archipelago) or Koh Chang archipelago East Gulf near Cambodia.

Bangkok – You could split your Northern part and Southern part with a stay in BKK in the middle…or you could spend some time there before your flight out.

If you look at a map, you’ll see that almost all trips (except the one I mentioned earlier) tend to go through Bangkok


September is the rainy season. The wet ends for most of the country in November

October November and December in Samui are REALLY wet.

Phuket and the Andaman too will be wet in September.

In the North the wet tends to end in October, a few weeks earlier than Central and Southern Thailand.
khunwilko is offline  
Old Sep 8th, 2022, 08:55 AM
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>> I may even skip Bangkok altogether and focus on smaller cities. Does this make sense?
Skipping Bangkok on a first trip does not make sense to me.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Old Sep 8th, 2022, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by mrwunrfl
>> I may even skip Bangkok altogether and focus on smaller cities. Does this make sense?
Skipping Bangkok on a first trip does not make sense to me.
No to me. Bangkok is a fabulous city, in fact, my favorite in the world. It would be a mistake to not spend a few days there. There is so much to see and do, great food and culture. I'm going back for my 6th time in March. I never tire of Bangkok.
laurieco is online now  
Old Sep 8th, 2022, 01:38 PM
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First off, I would check out a few websites for the weather in Thailand. September/October are just about the wettest months of the year, especially in the north - flooding is not uncommon in some parts. On the plus side, temps will be lower.

Further south, for islands, you will need to choose between the Andaman and Gulf coasts to seek out the drier weather and calmer seas. Forget about the big tourist island of Phuket and Koh Samui and seek out some of the smaller islands.

You are right to be scared of scooters in Thailands, they are the biggest cause of death and injury amongst tourists ( and locals for that matter). Experienced motorcyclists excepted, only a fool would take to two wheels in SE Asia. Renting a car is a much better choice. Thais drive on the left mostly, although you would np be hard pressed to tell a lot of the time. Road signs, traffic lights and side of the road etc. are regarded as a vague suggestion rather than a rule. That said, once you get attuned to the Thai way of driving, it is pretty straightforward even in Bangkok traffic. Make sure you have iron clad insurance both for the car and yourself.

Getting around by public transport is fairly straightforward. Train services are a little limited but are often to places you would want to go. There are usually some train/bus/boat combo tickets to be had which can simplify buying tickets. Is the best resource out there. Overnight trains are fun and can save the cost of a nights accomodation. is also useful as is Googlemaps.

The standard tourist visa lasts for thirty days so you have a choice as to limit your time in the country to that or maybe overstay and pay the fine. Last time I did that it was by accident and it cost me 200thb per day. Do check for current rates. Alternatively, you could incorporate some time in an adjoining country. Cambodia, Laos or Malaysia are interesting options.

It would be a huge mistake to miss out on Bangkok, especially for the first timer as it really defines and puts into context, the rest of the country. There is a huge amount to see there, some touristy , some not. I much prefer Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai, but it is only a couple of hours by bus between the two. Alternatively, a good use of time would eb to drive the "Mai Hong Sorn Loop" from CM visiting places like Chiang Dao, Pai, Mai Sariang, Doi Intanon and Mai Hong Sorn. You can whizz around in 3-4 days or take a lot longer and do some hilltribe trekking staying in the minority peoples village, though for that you really need a guide because of the language issues (I used to speak Thai to a reasonable level but even that did me no good as there are dozens of different dialects!). Once again though, the weather is likely to be a big issue.

A good websit pe which is much better suited to this type of slow travel is . You have to dig around a bit but there is some really useful stuff there.

crellston is offline  
Old Sep 9th, 2022, 03:13 AM
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Most people star their visit to Thailand with a trip to BKK. There ae reasons for doing this and not doing this.
Doing this - it's nice to check into a comfortable hotel after. long flight and a couple of nights can help to sort yourself out before moving on.
Not doing this - it's nice to check into BKK once you've acclimatised to Thailand a bit - the sights you see all make more sense and you may be a bit more acclimatised to the weather.

Not visiting BKK at all?
Well I see no reason why not, but then again looking at possible itineraries for you, it would be logical to fit in a few days at some point. It is quite. spectacular town. It's not a very expensive capital and getting around the centre is pretty easy.
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