Questions from Thailand
July 29, 2009 8:40 PM   Subscribe

Tips for a trip to Thailand in August: Full Moon Party, Climbing in Krabi, Visiting Angkor Wat, Tailor in Bangkok.

I am about to head off on a 2 week trip to Thailand and Cambodia, I held off on asking a question about the trip since there is so much good information already posted here, but now I've accumulated a couple of questions I couldn't find answered elsewhere.

I want to make an appearance at the Full Moon Party, but I am a little uncertain about accommodations. A lot of the information on the internet mentions a minimum 3 day stay during the full moon period. If I show up earlyish on the day of would I be able to find a place for only 2 nights (any suggestions where, I don't care very much where only the island I am)? Or is it better to just stay on Ko Samui and just come over for the night?

I also want to head over to Krabi to give climbing there a try (I've gone climbing a couple of times but not a ton). Is it possible to climb even though I'll be there during the rainy season? How much should I expect to spend to rent equipment and have someone to lead me on a climb?

Some of the posts from years past have mentioned the overland trip from Bangkok to Siem Reap (for Angkor Wat) as being particularly hellish. Has anyone given it a try more recently (it sounds like the roads might have been fixed up a bit)? I was considering flying Bangkok to Siem Reap and then coming back by bus to save a bit of money.

Can any one recommend a reputable tailor in Bangkok. I want to get some decent quality dress shirts made.

Thanks askmefi.

Current plan would involve 3 days in Bangkok, 2 in Ko Pha Ngan, 2 in Krabi, 3 in Chiang Mai and 3 in Siem Reap. Any one think I should change that around to add more time to one of the locations?
posted by vegetableagony to Travel & Transportation around Thailand (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
My 2 baht. On your schedule I'd definitely fly in/out of Siem Reap. The bus trip is arduous - fine if you have a few days to recover before some serious sight-seeing - but not if you want to hop into it (and Angkor and the other Wats are worth spending time on). Trust me, the money spent flying will be worth it.

Rain may douse your climbing plans unless you like and are capable of climbing up slippery rocks in the rain. Frankly, I'd spend those days elsewhere.

Just wing it when it comes to Ko Pha Ngan. You'll find somewhere to sleep.
posted by Kerasia at 9:16 PM on July 29, 2009

Best answer: I did the overland trip from Bangkok to Siem Reap this January. Definitely fly if you can afford it. The train from Bangkok to the Cambodia border is fine, but the border town is terrible and I got scammed trying to get on a bus to Siem Reap. The road from the border to Siem Reap isn't terrible, but still dirt road for most of the trip and takes about 4-5 hours.

Going back might not be as bad. I only went one way, but it seemed like most of the annoyances and scams (including a very convincing fake embassy) are setup to get people coming from Thailand, not the other way around.

Definitely make it to Angkor though, it blew my mind! The most fun experience was getting stuck at a pretty far off temple and convincing 2 Cambodian women to take us the long way back to town on the back of their scooters at sunset.
posted by meta87 at 9:23 PM on July 29, 2009

Definitely not the cheapest, but they do A+ work, have quick turnaround, and even can send a car to pick you up or drop off your completed suits at your hotel: Embassy Fashion Bespoke Tailors.

You mentioned only 3 days in Bangkok-- don't forget it takes time to get the suit made, come back for a fitting, and get changes. I had a picky friend that would do 2 or 3 fittings to make sure the suit fit perfectly. Hopefully you can have time at the start of your trip to get fitted and time at the end (flying back through the airport after Angkor Wat) to give them time to make it.

I didn't climb in Krabi so I can't help with that. Hope you have a great trip.
posted by sharkfu at 11:08 PM on July 29, 2009

I'll defer to others if they know specifically, but the issue with the "minimum 3 day stay" during the full moon party might be that you can only get transit that often... the islands are not necessarily very well served in that regard. Or it might be that no one EVER wants a hotel room starting on the last day of the festival so you maybe just have to eat the cost of day 3 if you only want to spend 2 nights there.

You will need to make 3 appearances for fittings, etc, at any decent tailor shop. Do not skimp on this - you will get someone who uses cheap fabrics and it will be a waste of money (you can get decent suits in the US that fit fairly well off the rack; if you're going to bother with tailoring, do it right). I was happy with my experience at Raja's off of Sukhumvit at that Nana BTS (subway) stop, but he will ask you to come in multiple times.

More generally I think it is a good idea to relax and not try to cram so much stuff in, especially if you're going to try and save money by skimping on travel... flying might be pricey but the busy is SLOOOW and will wreck your plans to get everything done in 2 weeks.
posted by rkent at 11:27 PM on July 29, 2009

Best answer: I like Rajawongse, on Sukhumvit. Not a 2 suits for $100 place, but everything I've had done there has been great and Victor is really helpful. I think it's about 1000B per shirt. Spending less for something that falls apart isn't a great deal. Just make an appointment and go for a fitting your first day, then go off to to Cambodia or Krabi and later fittings on your way back through Bangkok. It's right next to the Majestic Suites, which is pretty decent and not too expensive. But if you're willing to walk 5-10 minutes and you're traveling on a budget, I'd recommend The Atlanta Hotel on soi 2. A neat old art deco place at the very end of the street, with sign out front that says "sex tourists not welcome." Not fancy, but I thought it was a good deal.

Flights are pretty cheap and there are several discount carriers that fly out of BKK. Angkor Wat is not to be missed. Can't help you with climbing.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 2:11 AM on July 30, 2009

The 3 day stay rule on Koh Phangan during the full moon has nothing to do with lack of transport - there are several boats everyday back to Surat Thani. The rule is there because they can demand it. Prices for bungalows also double during this time. Having said that, it's August - one of the least busy months.

As for the trip back to Bangkok from Siem Reap via Poipet, the road is just fine these days. It used to take 8 hours+ from Angkor back to Poipet and then another 4 to Bangkok. The Cambodian portion is now sealed and takes half the time. I'd say go for it - it's all part of the experience (unless of course you're pressed for time - which it seems like you are). While many flights in the area are cheap, ones to Siem Reap are not - because it's a tourist destination. For instance, flights to Surat Thani (near Samui and Koh Phangan) are inexpensive from Bangkok, whereas flights from BKK to Samui are very expensive.

Have fun!
posted by gman at 4:23 AM on July 30, 2009

I think basically what will happen when you get to Koh Phangan the day of, is that all rooms available will be far away from beach.

When I was in Thailand last month, people arriving there on the day of just talked of looking for hours to try to find a room.

I agree you should fly, it seems to me you are packing a lot in on a short period of time.
posted by hazyspring at 4:30 AM on July 30, 2009

If you do decide to try climbing in Krabi (I loved it, but it wasn't during the rainy season), you may want to consider just staying on Railay Beach - the prices may be a bit higher than Krabi town, but you'll be right where the climbing is. I took a half day beginner course, of sorts, and I think it came out to about $25 Canadian (included equipment, transportation to and from the climbing site and Krabi town and a small sandwich and water), but now that I think think of it, that might be higher than it actually was.
posted by backwards guitar at 5:36 AM on July 30, 2009

I'd definitely second Rajawongse if you're looking for a good tailor. I had a few suits/shirts made with them the last time I was in Bangkok, and I was very impressed with both their service and the quality of the clothing. I've put their suits through some heavy use since I got them, and they've held up well.

They're not the cheapest in the city by any means, but they're still very reasonably priced. The owners (a father and son team) are also very friendly guys who seem to know their business. They've had some colorful characters come through the shop over the years (politicians, business leaders, diplomats, etc.) and can tell you some interesting stories.
posted by frogpondian at 8:01 AM on July 30, 2009

I went last August and don't remember the date, but the Queen's birthday fell on one of the days of the trip, and we couldn't get a bus out of Surat Thani on that day, or something like that, either because it was all booked, or they just weren't running that day. I don't remember the details because it was all a stressfull hungover sun-burnt blur, but I would try to stay put on that day, so if you're in Ko Phan Ngan during that day for example, maybe stay there and don't try to wing last-minute transportation or lodging if you're there during the Queen's birthday.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 8:24 AM on July 30, 2009

Best answer: Koh Phangan: You can get a room and right near the good beach too. The people who can't find them are cheap backpackers (like me). There always seemed to be vacancies but just in the fancy and more expensive places. Like one night there would be the same price the backpackers are paying for the whole week. But atleast you would have A/C.

The toilet situation there can be a bit grim so its nice to have your own room to go back to.

The places away from the beach might seem like a discount, but don't forget you would have to pay for the transport back from the beach even if they have a free ride to the beach.
Also, don't rent a motor bike. On Koh Samui the roads are fairly flat so its ok, but on Koh Phangan the roads are very hilly. One picture I like is of the hospital there that also rents bikes.

To do everything in two weeks you are going to be spending more money than people who do it in a month.
posted by Iax at 12:05 PM on July 30, 2009

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