Thai Travel Part 1

Thai tale on the road…Part One

It’s a big country and worth the effort to ‘go and have a look’. Do you want sand and sea? There’s plenty of that. How about rural farm land, bisected by tracks…miles of it! Up a mountain, down a cave. Culture and historic landmarks. The sea, possibly a signature for the country’s pull for tourists, has two very contrasting coastlines, about 2000 miles of it.

Train, plane or…whatever takes your fancy. You’ll need to decide what mode to use to see parts of the half a million sq.km of this beautiful country. Public transport is cheap and plentiful, driving is daft and often dangerous but don’t let that put you off!

I’ve travelled thousands of miles, it’s a personal ambition, but I’ve enjoyed them all. Of course I have my favourites, as you do! Living in the sprawling Bangkok metropolis pushes the escape button to disappear somewhere quiet…but you’re never alone, it’s so popular. Personally I like the northern reaches. How about overnight train to Chiang Mai, bus to Chiang Rai…hire a car to lose yourself in the hills and tangled foliage. Don’t forget Pai and the Mae Hong Son province…wonderfully quaint in a sense, and so far removed from Kru Thep.

Or go west! Kanchanaburi is a good watering hole, and well know historical point, before venturing ‘up river’. Head out towards Sai Yok, the train stops at Nam Tok. Move through Khao Laem National Park on the banks of Vajiralongkorn Lake heading for Mon Bridge, a few miles short of the Myanmar border. And don’t forget the railway and museums. The Thais are modestly proud of their landmarks

Isaan. Laos influenced area to the east of Thailand, bordering Cambodia and Laos. I would suggest train and bus, but bear in mind the distances. Flights to various points from Bangkok are available if you want to get out there quick. I will say the Isaan food is arguably the best in Thailand, though some will squemishly hesitate at what might be on the menu! The only way to find out, is go and try! Oh, and the people are hard working, friendly and gracious.

Statistics show, despite rising prices, that Thailand is the most visited country on tourist profiles. I’m sure most head for the beaches and limestones backdrops on the Andaman side, or Pattaya and Hua Hin on the Gulf? But there is so much going on, it’ll depend on what you want. On the water, next to it, or under it…it’s worthy of picking your spot. Even when it rains, it’s wonderful!

Southern reaches are easily accessible, overnight trains are fun if lengthy trips. Coaches are comfortable, and flights can be a good option. Phuket and Krabi are established places from where to explore the west coast. Further south, Trang will ease the trips to island hopping beyond Koh Lanta. On the Gulf side, after Hua Hin’s coastline, there is the Chumphon Archipelago with its clutch of well known islands. Push further south, Songkhla and Pattani offer a contrast.

My travelling is far from done.

@Andrew Burns

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