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Posts Tagged ‘getting around’

A popular crossover point for those wishing to reactivate their visa or just get a new entry stamp is Aranyaprathet. Aranyaprathet is a small but busy border town in Sa Kaew Province that provides a convenient gateway into Cambodia, or entrance point into Thailand depending on which way you’re travelling. The actual border point is Poiphet in Cambodia some 15km from Aranyaprethet. 

Aranyaprathet Border 

There are twice daily first-class buses from Suvarnabhumi to Aranyaprethet, and in the opposite direction. Times from Suvarnabhumi are 0800hrs and 1430hrs with cost just under 200 baht. Buses also leave Bangkok’s Mor-Chit bus terminal regularly throughout the day for a similar price of around 200 baht for the 4-5 hour journey. These first class buses usually include some food and a toilet. Cheaper lower class buses are also available but don’t expect a toilet.

There are also daily trains from Bangkok’s Hualamphong station out east to Aranyaprethet. For price you’d be hard pushed to beat the train. With only a third class service on offer a ticket will cost you around 48 baht, though not quite as much comfort as the first class buses.

Various option are available on Khaosan Road though reports usual point to a higher charge and a lesser service than the regular buses out of Mor-Chit or Suvarnabhumi. Mooch about and you might just find a bargain.

Getting from Aranyaprethetto the border will cost you about 60 baht, pretty steep when you consider it’s only 48 baht from Bangkok to Aranyaprethet by train. The border is open from 0700hrs to 2000hrs. Expect queues in the morning as Poiphet is casino heaven for Thais on a gambling day trip. Midday onwards the buses from Khao San Road pull in and things get busier. Morning is better.

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Out on the east coast, a little over 200km from Bangkok, is the small island of Koh Samet, part of the Khao Laem Ya – Mu Koh Samet National Park. This once idyllic island paradise has developed over the last decade at break neck speed resulting in a some loss of its character and natural beauty. Despite this it still remains a great place to escape to with some fantastic beaches.Ever popular with Bangkok residents it can get quite busy at weekends and during school holidays so for those interested in a quiet life weekdays are the best option.

Part of Samet’s popularity is its close proximity to Bangkok and the fact it can be reached so easily.Air isn’t an option unless you have your own helicopter or sea plane, though Rayong’s Utapao airport is a 45 minute flight from Bangkok if you really feel the need to fly.

Boats out to the island leave from Ban Phe, a short ride out of Rayong town. The journey by road from Bangkok to Rayong and Ban Phe will take around three hours by car and four by bus. Buses leave from Ekamai station and Mor-Chit, cost around 100 baht and leave every 40 minutes throughout the day. Some taxis will make the journey and depending on your bargaining skills it will cost in the region of 2,000 baht one way.

When you get to Ban Phe prepare to be cajoled by touts selling tickets for the sea crossing and accommodation on Samet Island. Price for the boat trip across varies but is generally from 50 to 100 baht for a return ticket, takes around 40 minutes and leaves 3 or 4 times a day. Most boats go straight to the main port of Nadan but boats are also available to: Ao Cho, Ao Wong Duan, Ao Thian, Ao Wai, and Ao Phrao. Speedboats for around 1,000 baht are also available and a few of the resorts have their own boats and transport thrown in as part of the accommodation cost.

Once in Nadan you’re greeted with pick-up taxis ferrying guests to and from the various beaches and resorts for up to 40 baht per person. Alternatively you might want to try hiring one of the many motorbikes available for a few hundred baht a day.

Koh Samet is in a national park and therefore visitors to the island have to pay an entrance fee. In keeping with Thailand’s rather unfair dual pricing policy entrance to the island is 40 baht for Thais and a whopping 400 baht for foreigners.

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The last place of any size and note before hitting Thailand’s northernmost border with Burma is Chiang Rai. Smaller than its more well known neighbour Chiang Mai, Chaing Rai is increasing in popularity with tourists and is rapidly becoming a more regular feature on travel itineraries.

At over 800km from Bangkok and without a train station it is slightly less accessible than Chiang Mai. Ways to get to Chian Rai:

Car: Obviously if you have one then fine otherwise hiring a car is always an option, with or without a driver. Talk to taxi drivers, many are prepared to drive tourists to even the most remote areas of Thailand, for a fee. Ideally you need to make sure the taxi looks half decent and then prepare to battle the price down.

Train: With no train link to Chiang Rai the only option by rail is Bangkok to Chiang Mai and then car or bus up to Chiang Rai. The train to Chiang Mai is between 250 baht and 1,400 baht depending on class and then a three hours bus journey to Chiang Rai. Green Bus offers an air-con return trip for 520 baht but cheaper options are available.

Bus: The 11 hour trip by bus can be made from Bangkok’s northern bus terminal and will cost you from 239 baht for a non-air bus up to 900 baht for a VIP air-con service with less seats. Check around the travel agents on Khao San Road and you might find other deals direct from there.

Air: Not that domestic air travel should be encouraged in any way shape or form but yes, budget flights are available. Air Asia, Nok Air, One-to-Go and the not so budget Thai Airways all offer regular daily flights. Economy return with Thai is in the region of 6,000 baht and as with most budget airlines the price varies from almost nothing up to Thai Airways prices. Having said that One-to-Go are fairly consistent at 1,750 baht one way. Sure air is great if you’re really short on time but it’s not quite the same experience as rail.

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Thanks for question Ron. Right, as I understand it there is a separate bus to Rayong from Suvarnabhumi Airport. You need to take the shuttle bus from outside arrivals to the airport transportation centre. From there go to the inter-city counter and from there you can get a ticket to Rayong. As far as we know service is from 06000hrs to 2100hrs and will take a couple of hours.

Buses also leave for Rayong from Bangkok city, from Ekamai and Morchit bus stations. From here you can get a regular service throughout the day.

Other ways of getting from Bangkok to Rayong are car, either hire or taxi, or plane. But come on, really? Is that a journey that warrants a plane?? Expect taxi fare from Bangkok to Rayong to be in the region of 3,000 baht.

Hope that helps. [This was in response to a comment on a previous post]

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Whilst most angles are covered when it comes to Bangkok there are a few that are regularly overlooked. One of them being travel by bike.

Bangkok is a crowded and largely traffic congested city that has long been associated with some of the worst air in the world. However, it is a great place to see by bike. It can be dangerous and you would be well advised to take all necessary precautions (helmet, pads etc) but many people have reported experiencing a surprisingly courteous attitude from drivers when perched on two wheels.

Travelling by bike you will see a side of Bangkok so often missed when sat in a taxi or on a train or bus, and will be able to cover more ground than by walking. Armed with a good street map, plenty of water and a healthy smattering of sun lotion you will be ready to take on the high roads and by roads of Bangkok.

Most airlines will allow you to carry a bike if you prefer to use your own. Normal requirement is that the pedals are removed and all parts of the bike which can move are tethered with tape or string, or simply removed. All airlines follow different rules and whilst many will not charge you for carriage of a bike there are bound to be some that will.

If you’re only planning to cycle for a short time or simply can’t be arsed to take your own then you might want to buy a bike or simply rent one for the period that you intend to be in town. Most big super/hyper markets have great deals on bog standard models (Tesco and Carrefour).

Bicycle hire is possible but not that wide spread. There’s usually a few bikes for sale/rent along Khao San Road and there are one or two companies who hire mountain bikes. Spice Roads [http://www.spiceroads.com/about/bikes] offers Trek mountains bikes from as little as 280 baht per day whilst there are several other companies who offer guided tours by bike of Bangkok, or small areas of Bangkok that are of historical importance.

Another good source of information is the Bangkok Hash House Bikers here: http://www.bangkokbikehash.com/. This is a group of like minded individuals who meet about once a month for a two-wheeled jolly and a few drinks. Might be worth an email in their direction to find out more.

Happy cycling!!

Some helpful links:
http://www.bangkokbikehash.com/
http://www.spiceroads.com/about/bikes
http://www.realasia.net/BangkokBike.htm

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As with most destinations in Thailand there’s a choice to suit all timescales and most budgets.

  • The traditional route is Bangkok to Surat Thani on the overnight sleeper then grab a ferry to Koh Phangan. Depending on the class of train or bus you opt for this will cost between 600 baht and 1,500 baht and take a night and most of the following day. 
  • Closer to Bangkok than Surat Thani is Chumphon, a handy stopping off point for Koh Tao and Koh Phangan. This route can be a slightly shorter journey on the train followed by a high speed catamaran across to the islands. Lomprayah offer a special online promotion of 1,700 baht for a return ticket from Bangkok to Koh Phangan. 
  • Bangkok Air are the main choice for flights to Koh Samui, and from there by boat/catamaran across to Koh Phangan. But flights to Koh Phangan from Bangkok are costly, in the region of 3,000 baht one way. 
  • The cheapest one way option using the catamaran is perhaps Bangkok – Chumphon by train (3rd class fan seat 272 baht) and then Lomprayah’s special web promotion of 750 baht for a catamaran across to Koh Phangan. Total for this journey coming in at 1,022 baht. 
  • Many agents on Khao San Road offer train tickets but they also charge a booking fee, sometimes 250 baht, for the service. Cheapest way is to do it yourself. 

 

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  • Well, the short and obvious answer is by plane. Thai Airways, AirAsia, Nok Air, 1 2 Go etc etc all make regular trips up to the north. But this is also one of the most expensive, boring and environmentally un-friendly options, all be it the quickest. Cheap deals are regularly advertised in the Bangkok Post but as a rule you might want to factor in about 1,800 baht for a one-way trip by air (generally more if it’s Thai Airways). 
  • More in keeping with the spirit of travelling is the train. Trains from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong station to Chiang Mai run about 6 times a day and take upwards of 12 hours. Fares for the slow meandering journey cost from under 300 baht in 3rd class to just shy of 1,400 baht for a first class sleeper, one-way. Trains in Thailand are not famous for their reliability or luxuriousness but they offer the chance to travel in a time-honoured fashion at an affordable rate and with some excellent views. 
  • Or, if you like the idea of the train but not squalor and you have some seriously deep pockets you might fancy a stab at the Eastern and Oriental Express. This hotel on rails is SE Asia’s answer to the Venice Simplon-Orient Express and is the only train that makes the full journey from Singapore to Thailand. Conditions are luxurious and the price tag hefty. Bangkok to Chiang Mai will set you back between US$1,370 and US$2,400, depending on how much pampering you require.
  • Competing with the regular trains, but not as enjoyable, is the coach. Coaches leave regularly from various points around Bangkok and of course Khao San Road. Prices vary depending on the company you choose and level of service you require but an air-con seat will cost you in the region of 400 baht and take slightly less time than the train. A word of warning though: Thai bus drivers tend to work long spells without a break and rely on cigarettes and caffeine drinks to keep them awake. 
  • And finally you can always drive yourself. Hiring a car and making your own way is arguably a lot more fun than jumping on a plane or sleeping on a train but costs for hiring, insurance, fuel and extra accommodation will make this option second in price only to the Eastern and Oriental Express. 
 
 

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