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Understanding beach destinations in Thailand


Aug 15th, 2017, 11:59 AM
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Understanding beach destinations in Thailand

We are beginning to put shape to a Thailand vacation this coming winter (we gave up on our original idea last year when I realized how hot the summer months would be). Depending on airline prices we are looking at some time in January or February. We will probably have about two weeks and I'm thinking of dividing it something like 5 nights Bangkok, 5 nights beach destination and 5 nights Chang Mai (could be in different order).

I am bewildered by all the beach options. The more I read, the more confused I get, and it's hard to picture what they are like in a part of the world that is so outside of our prior experience, so help.

thoughts are:
1. relatively simple to get to so that we don't spend too much time in transit
2. (and this may contradict one) not too crowded. We are not party people - more walk on the beach, explore towns, snorkel, quietly enjoy, good food, take in the beauty.

so any suggestions of particular towns that you would suggest given the above, or that you've enjoyed staying in, or that you would recommend for that time of year?

and any particular hotels - we would probably be looking at the higher end places as comfort does matter to us, but we're not really into big resorts - maybe a small to midsize resort or boutique hotel would be good. All advice appreciated. Thanks
lauramsgarden is offline  
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Aug 15th, 2017, 01:40 PM
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If you are going in January/February, you want to choose a beach on the Andaman Sea (Phuket. Krabi, Ko Lanta, Khao Lac, etc.) Phuket covers a huge area, so while it is very popular, there are more crowded beaches and less crowded beaches. If you wanted the most crowded "party" beach, you would choose Patong. But there are plenty less crowded places. You can flu directly into Phuket, so it is very easy to get to; you can also fly directly to Krabi, though there are not as many flights. To get to Ko Lanta or Khao Lak you would fly to Phuket, and it would be a drive of about an hour or two.

Travelfish.org has a lot of info on particular beaches, you might check that website. Look at lots of photos as well.

Happy planning!
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Aug 15th, 2017, 02:08 PM
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thanks Kathie, do you have a favorite? how complicated/crazy is the driving.... especially for a foreigner who doesn't read Thai?
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Aug 15th, 2017, 05:34 PM
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Driving is pretty straightforward in Thailand the roads are good, the signage clear and in English as well as Thai script. We have driven all over the country without incident. Thai driving standards are not great so it pays to drive defensively and expect the unexpected. E.g. Thais thing nothing of driving on the wrong side of the road if their turning is not to far and it would be inconvenient for the to get across on to the right side! All the major operators are at Phuket airport and I would stick to booking on e of those online and avoid the smaller local outfits even if they are cheaper.

Choosing a hotel in Bangkok or Chiang Mai is pretty straightforward as it is usually based on location and standard as public transport makes it easy to get around or walk to restaurants and sights.

I can see your dilemma with beach resorts as, in the main the tourist centres have got way overdeveloped so in reality most people would choose the hotel on the basis of its facilities, access to beach first and local area second.

A few old favourites that spring to mind are The Pimalai in Krabi or the Sarojin in Khao Lak, smallish places with personal service ( I confess it has been a long time since we have been !)

As you are not into bigger resorts https://www.mrandmrssmith.com/destin...hailand/hotels an English website but great description with some places you won't see on the mainstream sites. May be good for ideas, but you would probably be able to book for less on some other sites.

As for the timing of your visit. I would avoid the north of Thailand anytime from mid Feb on. The burning of the fields usually happens in March April but we have been there in late Feb and the smoke was unbearable. Doesn't happen every year but why risk it. If you can schedule your CM time for the beginning.

How much time you spend in each place is clearly up to you but I would probably lose a day from Chiang Mai and add it to the beach if that is your priority. Also, do consider Chiang Rai, even if only for a day trip. The White Temple and Black house on the own are worth a visit.
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Aug 15th, 2017, 05:43 PM
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I recently stayed at the Evason near Hua Hin (3 hours South of Bangkok). The hotel/resort was just perfect. Not too large, not too crowded. A beautiful pool that overlooks the beach.


The beach wasn't as nice as those in Southern Thailand, but I went to Ko Samui after this and found it horribly touristy. There are a few quiet beaches and some good opportunities for snorkeling, walking etc.

I've written a little about it here:



Hope this helps.


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Aug 16th, 2017, 05:37 PM
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Thanks so much all - I love the blog posts and pictures. I loved the look of the Pimalai, but am thinking that if I stay in the Phuket area it would make travel easier (I'm thinking fly Bangkok to Chang Mai, then Chang Mai to Phuket) as the guidebook indicates that there is a direct flight from Chang Mai to Phuket - or am I making too much of changing planes in Bangkok to go to Krabi - just sounds like it could be a long day of travel when all is said and done.
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Aug 16th, 2017, 07:32 PM
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Changing planes will pretty much write off a day unless you are very lucky with connections or maybe start with an early flight. At the moment Don Muang airport is suffering with long queues due to hopeless understaffing. Whilst this will mainly apply to immigration on int. flights it could have an impact on all passengers going through the airport.
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Aug 17th, 2017, 03:56 AM
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You could split your Bangkok visit with a few days in the beginning and a couple days at the end. (Assuming you first fly round trip to Bangkok and fly home from there.) Some tourists use the first hotel stop in Bangkok to store any winter clothing and gear not necessary in the rest of Thailand. Return to the hotel again and reclaim your items.

A final few days in Bangkok will allow you to do your final souvenir shopping and be a simple taxi or train ride to the airport. If you do your shopping in the beginning you will have to carry your purchases all over Thailand before flying home.

Most of the better beaches are further south of Bangkok. There are discount airlines available. Bangkok has 2 airports. Most of the long distance international flights land at Suvarnabhumi the newer airport. (Train service available to midnight.) The other airport is the older Don Muang Airport. Many local flights leave from there and a few international flights from nearby countries also use this airport.

Hua Hin is not that far from Bangkok and you can get there by train, bus or private transportation. The beach is not as good as other beaches but it is okay for relaxing. HH is popular with many retirees. Google up Hua Hin or read up on this place. Phuket can be a little lively in Patong area. Phuket is one of the top destinations to visit.

Easy to change most Western currencies in Thailand. For my dollars I get a better return changing in Thailand. (You must use Thai baht in Thailand.) In major cities there are many places to change money. Little Bank money changer kiosks open almost every day of year. Some of these kiosks open early evening. Bank money changers available at the airport 24-7. (I change a little at the airport to pay for taxi and first day spending. Rates are not fixed and can change frequently but usually nothing drastic.)

In Thailand it is easy to sign on to a shared day tour in person if you want. Local travel agencies often offer tours if your hotel doesn't have a tour desk. Select a tour one day and leave the following morning from your hotel. There are more expensive private tours also available.

Don't drive in Bangkok, traffic is chaotic!! It is not necessary with cheap meter taxis available and cheap Skytrain. (Meter is cheaper than paying a flat rate when using a taxi.)

I don't care for Phuket, the last time there was about 9 years ago to use up some Thai Air miles. I chose Phuket Town that time. (Doesn't fit my retired budget any more. Bangkok is cheaper especially for city transportation.)

For Bangkok - perhaps for you - a hotel in Riverside area. (My preference for Bangkok is the Siam, Asoke, Nana area, for good restaurants, Skytrain, malls, nightlife, etc.)


Hotel prices Bangkok for a room with private bathroom, A/C, basic maid service, TV and hot water from around 600 to 6000 baht a night. Riverside has some nice places in luxury price range.

Good luck.
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