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profile member asked on Dec 11, 2016

Island hopping best way to do it

Hi there are 4 of us coming to Thiland in March 2017 we're trying to sort out our trip/movements but there is so much to do in such a short space of time 14-16 days

We have decided island hopping & spending 2-3 days in each place is the way forward with maybe a few more nights at the last point

We want to do the elephant sanctuary
See the baby lions
Do some scuba diving etc
Do the full moon party in march (12th) I think it is

Can anyone recommend the best places to go to, to do the above I imagine there are some shocking animal sanctuarys 

We were thinking of starting at the furthest point & working our way back

Where would we fly into? How do you get to the other islands on a boat? What's the longest travelling time?

Any help/advice would be great so we can start making a plan/itinerary we're flying from the UK either Gatwick or Heathrow & then were planning on booking hotels on booking.com or air bnb

Roughly anyone that has done this type of thing how much should we be looking at money wise to do this?

I literally have no idea we're going to look at flights this week then hotel pricing & then I guess food/drinks everyday. Transport & trips

Thailand

8 Answers


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answered on 12/11/16 by
a VT member from Miami

Hello and welcome to VT.

A couple of points - Elephant Sanctuary is best seen in Chiang Mai, Thailand which is in the North.
I have friends who recently stayed there and although very expensive, found it to be the most rewarding experience and money best spent ever.

"Baby Lions" - if you're referring to baby tigers? The Tiger Temple, just outside of Bangkok was finally closed down - Thankfully - due to extreme cruelty on the animals. It was very controversial and many of us were quite happy when it was finally announced last year that it would close.
If you are talking about baby lions then perhaps someone else have more information on this or where you can do so. I imagine it would be some sort of petting zoo...

Scuba Diving, Snorkeling, etc. you would do off of Phuket.

My suggestion, with 2 weeks would be to use 3 days also going to nearby Siem Reap, Cambodia. Easy to get to, quite inexpensive and a totally different experience for sure.

I would fly Bangkok Air within all places in lieu of train travel. Bangkok Air is quick, efficient, great airline and usually runs fares as low as USD $50.00 between destinations except Siem Reap which average around $100.00.
I would break up itinerary in the following way:

Days 1 - 3: Bangkok (include Ayutthaya as a day trip from Bangkok - a MUST).
Days 4 - 6: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Days 7 - 10: Chiang Mai
Days 8 - 14: Phuket including trips to Koh Phi Phi, James Bond Island, etc. and then transferring if you wish to the F Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan.

For transportation you could opt instead for cheaper but much longer railway travel between locations (except Siem Reap) instead of using the airlines. I personally found the rail system in Thailand quite uncomfortable ad hot for long distance travel but others rave about it. It is totally a personal opinion.
I prefer getting to the place and making the most of my trip.

Homer


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answered on 12/11/16 by
a VT member from Miami

Meant to add:

As to how much money to predict is almost impossible and totally based on your personal preferences.
You can spend a ton of money in Bangkok if your tastes and requirements are high (doesn't sound as if this is the case with you), a moderate amount which we actually found much cheaper than say here in the USofA or Europe; by staying in more affordable 2 & 3 star hotels which feature A/C, Breakfast included, wonderful bathrooms/showers, daily maid service, etc. and eat out in local places rather than hotels.
Finally, you can do it all for a mere pittance by doing Thailand the way thousands of back packers do it every year by stained in cheap hostels and eating in food stalls.

We budget ourselves - 2 of us - around USD $50-$100/day including hotel, meals, cab rides and things to do/see and we've been able to stay at some very nice hotels.
Our personal favorite is now the Navalai River Resort right off of Kaoh San Road - the backpacker district and with easy reach to the temples, right on the river for cheap easy transport throughout the city and cheap shopping//dining options.
You can check my tips on this hotel and other things to do on our Thailand Pages.

Homer


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answered on 12/11/16 by
a VT member from Fareham

Happy to stay in 3* places heard you get quite good value for money accommodation can be good


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answered on 12/11/16 by
a VT member from Toronto

In terms of sucba diving, it's better to do it on the Andaman side in March. Phuket, Ko Lanta, Krabi, Khao Lak, all have scuba centres. There is liveaborad too.

Elephant sanctuary: there is one just opened in Phuket, by the same folks as the famous one up in Chiang Mai.

Please don't go on an elephant ride or tiger petting...the animals are not being treated well.

It is likely to be smokey in northern Thailand in March, as it is the burning season and it can be very bad at times.


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answered on 12/11/16 by
a VT member from Miami

Yes, as a whole, Thailand is very good value for $$$ as far as food, hotels, etc. go. Many a 3 star hotel we've stayed in Thailand have been comparable to a 4 star here in the US and even in Europe. I always book through hotels.com as I get points and free nights. I've also booked via booking.com but for Asia, tend to book through Asiarooms.com


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answered on 12/11/16 by
a VT member from Trail

Tourist Attractions like Thai National Parks , Elephant Safaris & Tiger Farms are usually a bitter disappointment in my opinion. I've been on many and found them to be rather disappointing. A day on a good beach is more enjoyable. Sounds like you like to party so grab a flight to Krabi and head of to the Party Islands. Be careful with your cameras, money, passports, airline tickets. There are a lot of thieves around including destitute Ferangs. Be on alert at all times. Do not get blasted on alcohol. Don't drink from shared drinks with strangers at the Moon party. Remember that sexual diseases are rampant in Thailand.


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answered on 12/11/16 by
a VT member from Pattaya

When you ask for hotels mention your price range. In Thailand even hotels not under any star rating can have air conditioned rooms, private bathrooms, hot water, TV and clean linen. Probably free wifi too. Some kind of accommodation available for just about every price range from basic backpackers to rich tourists.

Determine how much you have available each day for hotels and daily spending after paying for round trip flights and try to stick to that daily budget. For me food is cheaper in Thailand unless I select some trendy-yuppie type place to eat at. Bangkok in particular is cheaper than many beach areas because of inexpensive city transportation. Something made in another country like Switzerland or some other place in Europe probably won't be cheaper in Thailand. I can buy name brand computers cheaper back home (with good warranties) cheaper than Bangkok.

Thailand might be a little bigger than you think. (Pull up a map of Thailand.) For distant locations like Phuket my advice is to fly. Phuket right now is probably the most expensive city to visit but very popular with women tourists. Many flights from your part of the world first land at Suvarnabhumi Airport Bangkok. This is a modern airport with organized transportation to the city area. There is even rail service to the city area available up to midnight.

Having a hotel available to head for is a good idea at least for the first night. Especially good if you arrive late at night. My opinion is that Bangkok worthy of a visit too! Thailand has warm weather all year long not just beach locations. Some tourists are content with a visit to a beach area, Chiang Mai and final stay Bangkok before flying out. This way you see a little of everything.

For what to "see and do in Thailand" you can try a Google search too. This forum has a Travel Guide section that has information for cities in Thailand. (Top left hand corner of this website.)

Bangkok has some distinct districts. Chinatown, Pratunam, Siam, Sukhumvit, Riverside, etc. My preference is a hotel where you can also use city rail transportation. But 4 people sharing the cost of a meter taxi is not expensive! Do not encourage more people to travel with you! Meter taxis in Bangkok are not big, you can stuff 4 people in one Toyota Corolla size taxi but more people with luggage can be too tight.

Read up on changing money, you get a better rate in Thailand if UK currency. ATMs work with many foreign debit and credit cards. There is an ATM fee plus your home bank may apply a fee too. So don't take out small amounts because the cost is the same. Forum and Google will give you some specifics. (No old currency, no writing on the bills; my suggestion is to stick with the larger denominations. You will have a chance to change any leftover Thai baht to your money when you leave.)

Oh yeah, Bangkok has two airports. If scheduling flights immediately after arrival know which airport you depart from. Don Muang and Suvarnabhumi are not close together.

For your short visit I wouldn't do more than 3 big cities. From Bangkok, Phuket (if you choose this place) and Chiang Mai you have daily tours to nearby tourist sites in other locations. Shared tours you can sign up for in Bangkok and major cities. Select tour one day and leave following day. Some hotels have a travel/tour desk too.

[original VT link]

March. Lots of time to make some decisions. Check the available weather for any beach location you choose to go to.

Good luck.


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answered on 12/12/16 by
a VT member from Kuala Lumpur

Just to add to the excellent advice already provided, we rented a car from Bangkok and drove it up to Chiang Mai over 8 nights. My friend then flew on to Phuket and I went home. It was a great way to see the country, so you might be interested in that. Have a good trip and tell us about it too.

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