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Old 05-10-2014, 03:37 PM   #1
fleury
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So, I've pretty much made up my mind to go to Thailand from June 6th-20th. My primary reason is to check out the beaches as they're fantastic, as well as checking out the Full-Moon Party in Koh Phangan. I'm actually going solo, and would love to just meet other travelers while there. I have a travel agent getting back to me next week, and wouldn't want to rely on him for planning everything out, but with so little time between now and then I need to have a plan in place. Question's are as follows:

1) How long would you recommend I stay in Koh Phangan for? Any experiences on the full-moon party?
2) Safety. How safe is Thailand in general? Especially for a person going solo?
3) Lodging - any cheapo places under ~$35 per night which have a safe to keep my stuff during the daytime/night?
4) Any recommendations on any other islands I should go to when I'm down for the 2 weeks?
5) Transportation from BKK to Koh Phangan, along with other islands and getting back to BKK.
5) I'll probably stay in Bangkok for the day I arrive and the day before I depart. Anything interesting to see? Is shopping worth it?

I'll probably think of some more questions, but those will do for now I guess.

Thanks!
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Old 05-10-2014, 04:22 PM   #2
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1) Koh Phangan was my favorite place in Thailand due to the size, the beaches, and the ease of getting around (rent a scooter - but DON'T drive it to the full moon party!), but it's pretty quiet as people leave when the party is done. I spent 5 days there and would've loved to be there longer.

2) Thailand is VERY safe, unless you're strolling around a "non-touristy" place at night. Even then..

3) $35 / night will get you a real nice room most places. Just book ahead for the full moon party. If you aren't picky plan on more like $10-$15 a night for a decent, non-hostel place to stay.

4) Depends what you're there for. Partying? Nature? Beaches? Quiet vacation? Seeing the culture/history?

5) Thailand is one of the easiest places to travel. Essentially you go to the front desk of the place you're staying and tell them you want to be "here" on so and so night, and they'll set it up for you. We flew from Bangkok to Surat Thani and then bus'd to the ferry that goes to Koh Phangan. You can also take the train from Bangkok, but I've heard it's not great. Bussing + ferries the rest of the time.

6) Depends what you like. Lots of temples in Bangkok, the floating market, Khao San road. We found the shopping meh, though if you're looking for something specific then you may be able to find a good deal (ie a suit). We went to one of the massive malls hoping for cheap knock offs but it ended up being comparable prices to here.

You will meet TONS of people. Especially at the full moon party.
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Old 05-10-2014, 04:39 PM   #3
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1) Koh Phangan was my favorite place in Thailand due to the size, the beaches, and the ease of getting around (rent a scooter - but DON'T drive it to the full moon party!), but it's pretty quiet as people leave when the party is done. I spent 5 days there and would've loved to be there longer.

2) Thailand is VERY safe, unless you're strolling around a "non-touristy" place at night. Even then..

3) $35 / night will get you a real nice room most places. Just book ahead for the full moon party. If you aren't picky plan on more like $10-$15 a night for a decent, non-hostel place to stay.

4) Depends what you're there for. Partying? Nature? Beaches? Quiet vacation? Seeing the culture/history?

5) Thailand is one of the easiest places to travel. Essentially you go to the front desk of the place you're staying and tell them you want to be "here" on so and so night, and they'll set it up for you. We flew from Bangkok to Surat Thani and then bus'd to the ferry that goes to Koh Phangan. You can also take the train from Bangkok, but I've heard it's not great. Bussing + ferries the rest of the time.

6) Depends what you like. Lots of temples in Bangkok, the floating market, Khao San road. We found the shopping meh, though if you're looking for something specific then you may be able to find a good deal (ie a suit). We went to one of the massive malls hoping for cheap knock offs but it ended up being comparable prices to here.

You will meet TONS of people. Especially at the full moon party.
Thanks! Follow up questions:

1) Did you stay in Koh Phangan before of after the full-moon party?

2) Interesting. At any point did you get pickpocketed or anything? Just curious (not trying to be ignorant).

3) Where did you stay in Koh Phangan or any other places (if you remember the names)?

4) Partying would be real nice, but some really nice beaches and general interesting things is always nice.

5) When you flew from BKK, how much did it cost? Did you pack light or bring a suitcase?

6) Just general things to see and do. The nightmarket I heard is pretty neat as well.

Where else did you end up going? Phuket? Koh Phi Phi?
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Old 05-10-2014, 05:19 PM   #4
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1) We were there 2 days before it and 3 days after it! Got busier at it came closer, was crazy the day/night of, then quieted down the next day

2) There are obviously people there trying to take advantage of tourists, like anywhere. Familiarize yourself with common scams, and use common sense (ie don't carry your wallet in your open back pocket) and you'll have no issues. It does get annoying when every other cab driver / person on the street is trying to scam you, but I would never call it dangerous. Thailand is super touristy.
Cab drivers will want a flat rate and turn off their meters (make sure they keep them ON), or may try to drive the long route.
Never take a tuk tuk as the majority just take you to a "shop" and try to sell you over priced wares.
If someone says a temple is closed and offer a bus ride to a different one, they are lying.
Things like that.

3) Koh Phangan has dozens of great places to stay. I'd suggest looking online to book for the full moon party. We were in a bungalow halfway between the port and the full moon party beach. You can book in advance to some places online but not all places do this - plus you get a better sense of how good a place is if you show up and look around first, depends how comfortable you are winging it. For example, where we stayed in Koh Phi Phi was close to all the noise, but we ended up looking for a better place and found a really great one.

4) Koh Phi Phi and Phangan are definitely party-central. You'll be hard struck to NOT find a good beach, as there are the other islands by Phangan (tao and samui), as well as dozens of others (krabi).

5) Just one traveler backpack. The domestic flight I believe was ~$89, not a whole lot more than the train and way, way faster / more convenient.

6) I recommend picking up this book for things to do and see.

We also did Phuket and Phi Phi, as well as the rain forest in Khao Sok. Most people also go to Chang Mai up North and/or Krabi near Phuket.
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Old 05-10-2014, 06:22 PM   #5
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I wouldn't recommend Phuket. It was always a touristy place, but now it is about 75% Russian, so the food and hotels have gotten a lot more expensive. I found the Thai food to not be very good there either. I think they are trying to cater to Russian tastes.

It would be the start of their low season so you could get hotels cheaper, but when we went we paid over $100 a night for a nice hotel, which is insane for Thailand. It has really changed in 5 years. Beaches are nice, but you can find nice beaches anywhere in Thailand.
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Old 05-10-2014, 09:29 PM   #6
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Always check for an Adam's apple.
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Old 05-10-2014, 11:14 PM   #7
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I'd suggest not trying to do too much travel in the limited time you've got. I might recommend as follows:

- Spend two nights in Bangkok on Khao San road just enjoying the scene. Go to a good tailor on your first day and order some suits and shirts for pick up when you come back from Bangkok at trip's end.

- Head to Koh Phangan by either nightbus to Surat Thani or plane to Koh Samui and then ferry from either to Koh Phangan.

- Enjoy the full moon party and the island generally for about 5 days before heading by ferry to Koh Tao.

- Spend 4 days on Koh Tao getting your open water diving certification and enjoying the parties.

- Make your way back to Bangkok and spend another night or two there. Pick up your suits and shirts and head home.

There's lots more to see and do in Thailand but for your first trip and the length of time you have, that's about as good as you can do.
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Old 05-11-2014, 07:32 AM   #8
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I'm in Thailand right now, spent time in ko samui and Phuket. Samui is better, smaller and more chill, better clubs and more white girls. Phuket is pretty Russian. Beaches are dirty pretty much everywhere I've been. If you want to meet people you'd be well off to stay in a hostel or join a tour group for a week. Every massage place is a rub and tug. Every place. Goes without saying but NEVER drink tap water or accept ice in your drink, and don't eat pork no matter how legit the place looks. Overall it's safe and language barrier is manageable, remember to barter for everything. Also bring your own sunscreen because for some reason it's the only expensive thing here.
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Old 05-11-2014, 08:01 AM   #9
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Something to add is to keep your valuables on you while your training/bussing around. My brother was there a couple years ago and had his large backpack under the bus while traveling from 1 city to the next. Apparently some guy is locked under the bus with everyones bags and starting going through everyones stuff during the duration of the trip.

Other that that you should be ok. You'll most likely get scammed from the tuck-tuck drivers, but thats part of the experience of Thailand.
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Old 05-11-2014, 10:48 AM   #10
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When you arrive in Bangkok the best way to your hotel if you are downtown is by either the BTS Skytrain or taxi. There will be lots of people trying to get you into a more expensive ride. If you choose taxi then you want to go to the lower level and to the far left end (as you are facing the street with your back to the airport). Depending on where you are staying it should run 400-500 Baht with tip and highway tolls. If your hotel is near a BTS skytrain station that's a good option as well. It only costs about 40 Baht and it's fast. You will have to make a transfer though onto another line once you reach the end of the airport line. Depending on your hotel location it'll cost another 20 or 30 Baht. I like the taxi though, door to door.

If it's your thing, take in the Muay Thai boxing at Lumpini Stadium in Bangkok. I have paid anywhere from $50-$75 for ringside, but there are several price levels. The best nights are Tuesdays and Fridays. Starts around 6p.m.

If you want to take a river tour in Bangkok you can save a lot of money by taking the public transit boats. About 25 or 30 Baht will get you anywhere they stop. The boats are covered and wide open on the sides for picture taking. The river gives you easy access to a lot of the tourist sites in Bangkok(Grand Palace, Chinatown, Wat Arun etc.) without dealing with Bangkok traffic. Just take the BTS skytrain to the last stop by the river (Saphan Taksin IIRC) and its a short walk from there. And remember if you are going to the Grand Palace you will need long pants. For me I loved the bustle of Chinatown.

If you want to shop and are going to be in Bangkok on a weekend, Chatachuk Market is the place. Over 15,000 stalls and easily accessed, again with the BTS. Just go to the end of the line, a station called Mo Chit and then follow the throng.

I have to disagree with a couple of the previous comments.
Do take a Tuk Tuk at least once. How can you not in Bangkok? Just make sure to set the price beforehand and tell him "No Stops" They might balk at that a little but eventually they will give in, or you can make his day and stop at a tailors for 5 minutes so he can receive his kickback of fuel. Be careful if you reach outside the Tuk Tuk for a photo though. It's easy to be hit by other vehicles or motorcycle taxis.

And definitely try the pork. I have been to Thailand quite a few times and have never had an issue with pork. It's delicious and some of the best dishes are made with pork. Lab Moo(minced pork with lime and spices) is a great cheap lunch. Chicken is really good too. The only meat I would stay away from is the beef, not for any safety reasons, it just doesn't taste that good.

On a safety note I try to never travel by minivan. You are really rolling the dice with these lunatics. Thailands road carnage cannot be understated. I read that it is the 3rd worst on the planet(behind The Dominican Republic and some other small island nation) and much of that blame rests with drugged up minivan drivers.
With your restricted time frame if you can afford to fly that is definitely the way to go.

Since it sounds like you are only going to have 10 or 11 days in the south I would split my time with the 3 big islands there rather than wasting more travel time heading over to the Andaman side. Like someone mentioned, if you had 4 days on Koh Tao, you can get your diving ticket for around 9000 Baht. Motorbiking around the islands is a blast as well, but it is quite risky if you have no experience on them. You will probably see a few bandaged fellow travellers on all the islands. If you do rent a motorbike they usually want to hold your passport as well. Check your bike over thoroughly for any damage beforehand and point it out before you take it. They want you to bring the bike back with a couple scrapes because they are gonna nail you about 4 or 5 times the value. Other than that, wear your helmet and have fun.
I love Thailand.
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Old 05-11-2014, 04:02 PM   #11
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Wow, I must say you guys are absolutely awesome! That's more than a great start and I didn't expect that much detail, but I'm more than happy to get all the info. I think right now, I'd do something like this:

June 6-9 (travel) - arrive in BKK, stay for a day. Take in some shopping, boxing, maybe check out a tailor or two (though I've read the quality and overall sketchiness of the tailors is not good, but I'd play it by ear).
June 10-14 - fly to Koh Samui, ferry to Koh Phangan, party for 5 days and explore the scenery.
June 15-18 - head to either Koh Tao or Koh Samui (depending on what you guys would recommend), maybe take in some open water diving (I've never done it before), along with some parties, and general exploration.
June 19-20 - Fly back to Bangkok, chill, pick up potential suits and wait to return to reality.

I do appreciate the help, and any further advice would be great. I probably need to pick up a backpack considering lugging around a regular suitcase seems a bit cumbersome, and unnecessary considering limited clothes are needed in the hot beach environment. Though I wonder how easily a backpack could be snatched up if I leave it alone for a couple minutes. Activity wise, I can always find things to do, so I appreciate the advice (I don't think I'll be doing the crazy motorized stuff as I usually do because of the solo travelling, and so far away from home if something does go awry). I guess at this point my main concern all in all is safety of my belongings. I need to find a place that has a safe for my money during the day, and a place where I know my belongings won't be snatched up. I hope that won't be hard to find.
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Old 05-11-2014, 06:34 PM   #12
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Just a couple more things based on your itinerary:

• The tailor I used last time was called "Boss" and had an orange sign. Just on the next street off Khao San. Thailand's big thing is silk, so go for silk shirts & suits that run about $180 and up (cheaper and you risk getting paper woven in).

• Travel with a backpack, but buy a garment bag for your suits on your return leg through BKK.

• Book your Koh Tao resort before you go. Most dive resorts provide free accommodation while you do your course. You'll also need to know when it runs so you can plan accordingly.

• Most importantly, buy a flexible plastic waterproof case (a cheap waterproof camera bag is good) so you can put your keys cash and cards in it and keep it in your board shorts pocket while you swim. It sucks to have to watch the beach while in the water.

You'll have a great time.
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Old 05-11-2014, 07:21 PM   #13
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I'm in Thailand right now, spent time in ko samui and Phuket. Samui is better, smaller and more chill, better clubs and more white girls. Phuket is pretty Russian. Beaches are dirty pretty much everywhere I've been. If you want to meet people you'd be well off to stay in a hostel or join a tour group for a week. Every massage place is a rub and tug. Every place. Goes without saying but NEVER drink tap water or accept ice in your drink, and don't eat pork no matter how legit the place looks. Overall it's safe and language barrier is manageable, remember to barter for everything. Also bring your own sunscreen because for some reason it's the only expensive thing here.
White girls, dirty beaches, no ice in your drinks and no pork? Different strokes I guess, but it sounds to me like you're doing Thailand wrong. And speaking of "strokes," the majority of massage places specialize in slightly painful but thoroughly relaxing traditional Thai massages, which do not include any extracurricular activities.
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Old 05-11-2014, 10:11 PM   #14
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He is going alone, hook up with a lady boy, who is gonna know?
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Old 05-11-2014, 10:26 PM   #15
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1.) Phuket isn't pronounced "####-it".

That's all I got.
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Old 05-12-2014, 12:09 AM   #16
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I checked out some of the prices for your dates to and from Samui by air. If you want to fly directly to and from Samui to Bangkok you're gonna pay a bit more. I found Thai Airways at 9780 Baht and Bangkok Airways at 8190 Baht.

Nok Air and Air Asia both have return flights to and from Surat Thani with transfers to the pier and ferry to Samui included. They are very reasonable but obviously take longer. About 7 hours or so. The best prices I found for those were 3580 Baht for Nok Air and 2843 Baht for Air Asia. What is interesting about the Air Asia flights is 660 Baht goes to pay for checked bags up to 20kg. So if your pack can be carried on, your flight would only be about 2200 Baht.
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Old 05-12-2014, 11:51 AM   #17
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White girls, dirty beaches, no ice in your drinks and no pork? Different strokes I guess, but it sounds to me like you're doing Thailand wrong. And speaking of "strokes," the majority of massage places specialize in slightly painful but thoroughly relaxing traditional Thai massages, which do not include any extracurricular activities.
I mean, the great thing about traveling is you could hear five different opinions on a place and they could all be right, it's up to you to go and see for yourself. Just sharing my experiences, every public beach I've seen is filthy but maybe I'm just spoiled by Australia. However here in Patong (Phuket) the vast majority of massage places have the girls sitting in plastic chairs on the corner touching your arm as you walk by and flirting constantly. Every block. The girls are like 19 and wear tiny tank tops and daisy dukes, they don't look well versed on anything "traditional". My friends and I went to two places that were the most legit looking we could find and still had to tell our masseuse both times to stop going at us.
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Old 05-12-2014, 03:46 PM   #18
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I mean, the great thing about traveling is you could hear five different opinions on a place and they could all be right, it's up to you to go and see for yourself. Just sharing my experiences, every public beach I've seen is filthy but maybe I'm just spoiled by Australia. However here in Patong (Phuket) the vast majority of massage places have the girls sitting in plastic chairs on the corner touching your arm as you walk by and flirting constantly. Every block. The girls are like 19 and wear tiny tank tops and daisy dukes, they don't look well versed on anything "traditional". My friends and I went to two places that were the most legit looking we could find and still had to tell our masseuse both times to stop going at us.
You sound like a terrible travel companion.
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Old 05-12-2014, 05:54 PM   #19
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I mean, the great thing about traveling is you could hear five different opinions on a place and they could all be right, it's up to you to go and see for yourself. Just sharing my experiences, every public beach I've seen is filthy but maybe I'm just spoiled by Australia. However here in Patong (Phuket) the vast majority of massage places have the girls sitting in plastic chairs on the corner touching your arm as you walk by and flirting constantly. Every block. The girls are like 19 and wear tiny tank tops and daisy dukes, they don't look well versed on anything "traditional". My friends and I went to two places that were the most legit looking we could find and still had to tell our masseuse both times to stop going at us.
Ah, fair enough. Patong is one of the two cities in Thailand (along with Pattaya) where your generalization about rub and tugs is mostly true. That's a shame, because nothing beats a good Thai massage for under $10. The beaches in that area aren't my favorite either, but Kata is at least a little better if you're willing to take a tuk tuk 15 minutes to the south.
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Old 05-13-2014, 05:33 PM   #20
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I checked out some of the prices for your dates to and from Samui by air. If you want to fly directly to and from Samui to Bangkok you're gonna pay a bit more. I found Thai Airways at 9780 Baht and Bangkok Airways at 8190 Baht.

Nok Air and Air Asia both have return flights to and from Surat Thani with transfers to the pier and ferry to Samui included. They are very reasonable but obviously take longer. About 7 hours or so. The best prices I found for those were 3580 Baht for Nok Air and 2843 Baht for Air Asia. What is interesting about the Air Asia flights is 660 Baht goes to pay for checked bags up to 20kg. So if your pack can be carried on, your flight would only be about 2200 Baht.
Thanks man! Seems like my travel agent is really taking his time with his feelers sent out, though he said ~$25/night will be hard considering I'm going alone (he said that's normally for each person), but he'll see. anyway, where did you check for those smaller internal flights? I'm going to have to bring a check in luggage (24") as I have my shampoo/conditioner and whatnot.
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