I was fortunate enough to have some time off from school over Christmas, as did Keith. So while we were highly anticipating our holiday visitors, we decided to keep busy while waiting for them to arrive.
We debated what we should do and where we should go with the time we had. We discussed going to Laos or some other neighboring country to Thailand. After some debate though we both agreed that we wanted to travel around Thailand and see some farther away and less traveled places that we wouldn’t be able to make it to on a weekend trip. The planning process took quite a bit of effort to put together. The following information is how we put together the trip.
With my trusty Lonely planet guide book and the use of the world wide web we planned the following itinerary:
Chiang Mai–> Sukothai–> Ayuthaya–> Kao Yai National Park –> Bangkok–>Koh Samui–> Koh Phangan–> Koh Samui –> Chiang Mai
Here are the details:
‘The Road to Bangkok’: Keith and Sarah
Chiang Mai — Sukothai, Thailand
How: Bus straight south
Travel Time: 6 hours
Details: 1 day and 1 night
Sukothai — Ayuthaya
How: Bus south
Travel Time: 6 hours
Details? 1 day and 1 night
Ayuthaya — Pak Chong
How: Train east
Travel Time: 2-3 hours
Details: Get dropped off at the closest town to Kao Yai National Park
Pak Chong — Kao Yai
Travel Time: 645 mins.
Details: catch ride to our guesthouse near the park entrance
Travel Time: 30 minutes
Details: After a bus to the park entrance the main mode of transportation inside, if you don’t have a car, is hitching rides from friendly locals
Kao Yai — Bangkok
How: Bus Southwest
Travel Time: 3 hours
Details: Spend Christmas night in Bangkok
Travel Time: N.A.
Details: Meet up with my cousin Johanna and her husband Austin to spend 2 days and night in Bankgok
Beach Time on Koh Samui: Keith, Sarah, Austin and Johanna
Bangkok — Koh Samui
Travel Time: 2 hours
Details: Fly direct to Koh Samui- spend the next 5 days on the island
New Years on Koh Phangan: Keith, Sarah, Austin, Johanna, Sean and Katie
Koh Samui — Koh Phangan
Travel Time: 1 hour
Details: My brother, Sean and his girlfriend Katie joined us just in time for a half hour speedboat ride to Koh Phangan for the New Year’s Eve full moon party
Koh Samui — Chiang Mai
Travel Time: 2.5 hours
Details: Flight from Koh Samui to Bangkok and then from Bangkok to home sweet home in Chiang Mai
After figuring out the above time table we had to make sure logistically that our plan would work. So Keith and I researched bus and train time tables and turns out that the plan would work!
Keith and I can tend to be a bit picky when choosing accommodation and try for budget places, that also have private rooms that are clean and bed bug free. We combined using my guide book, tripadvisor and agoda to find guesthouses/hostels/hotels that would be a good fit. While Keith and I traveled we spent an average of $20- $30 USD per night. What we got for this money varied from place to place. We always had a private room, although unfortunately more often then not we did not have hot water.
Sukhothai: TR Guesthouse
Ayutthaya: Tamarind Guesthouse (our favorite)
Khao Yai: Khao Yai Garden Lodge
Bangkok: Wild Orchid Villa
Finishing the planning process
After planning out our accommodation, which for us was the hardest part, we briefly looked into what activities were in each location and if pre-booking anything was necessary. We did this because there is nothing more disappointing then getting to a location and realizing that we missed the boat for seeing something really cool. We found that we needed to pre-book a half day tour to a cave in Khao Yai ahead of time, so we went ahead and did that. Everything else we were able to plan and do once we were on the road and at the destination.