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  1. #1
    Member dhans's Avatar
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    Isaan by public transport

    This year Juli I will be visiting Thailand for the sixth time. The first three times alone, once with the mrs and once with wife and kids (in 2008). We've seen a lot of the sights, so now we're looking to Eastern Thailand. I've been to the Isaan once (Tha Rae near Nakhom Phanom) and two years ago we went swimming with the dolphins, so we spent a couple of nights in Laem Sing.

    I'm now looking for advice on travel through te Isaan. My son and daughter (ten and nine by then) defenitely wants to swim with the dolphins again, for the rest anything is open.


    We start beginning of Juli flying in to Bangkok were we intend to spend a couple of nights.

    Allthough it may sound silly for you old Thailand hands I'm not to keen on driving on the left of the road, so question is whether public transport is feasable?

    What would be a good route? Which places to visit or avoi? Tips on hotels or guesthouses? Any tips are highly welcome

    Hans

  2. #2
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    Isaan is a big region with lots of provinces, don't think they have any dolphins there, public transport is alright, train or bus.

  3. #3
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    I'm not to keen on driving on the left of the road,
    neither are the bus drivers.

  4. #4
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    The bus service between major towns in Thailand is actually pretty good- you really have no problem getting around that way. Locally services are quite OK too- albeit basic & non aircon, but you'll need a Thai speaker with you to make sense of them.

    Itinerary wise, well it's a big region. I suggest you do some original internet research, focusing on what you want to see. The Khmer temples at Phi Mai and Phanom Rung (especially) are well worth a look. Unfortunately Preah Vihear, the daddy of them all, remains closed. Loei Province is beautiful, and you have both the mountains & Mekhong there, also Chiang Kong on the Mekhong has a low key travellers scene. Farang wise, Udon Thani offers the most 'western' delights. Surin is quite a pleasant town, and is accesible to both Phi Mai & Phanom Rung. Out of the way Ubon Ratchathani is pleasantly situated on the Mun River, and accesible to Khong Jiam (where the Mekhong meets the Mun River), and the ancient rock paintings at nearby Pha Taem national park. Also an easy bus ride from there to Mukdahan on the Mekhong, which is a pleasant town.
    probes Aliens

  5. #5
    Days Work Done! Norton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhans
    We start beginning of Juli flying in to Bangkok were we intend to spend a couple of nights.
    How long do you intend to stay in Thailand?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by sabang
    The Khmer temples at Phi Mai and Phanom Rung (especially) are well worth a look
    Few here. TeakDoor.com - The Thailand Forum Historical Parks & Ancient Temples in Thailand

  7. #7
    Member dhans's Avatar
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    More specific

    [at] all. Thanks for all the swift responses. And Sorry. I falling into the trap of being to generic, which I normally also don't like on travel fora. Be assured I've allready done my research, but serendipity is finding the things you weren't looking for ;-) .

    The dolphin thing: we wil be going back to Laem Sing, otherwise my daughter will happily kill me ;-). After Bangkok we will go straight to Laem Sing in gather, so our place or departure into the Isaan will be Chantaburi.

    We have a total of 4 weeks to spent in Thailand and with the excption of the aforementioned mammals, there's no obligation to do or see anything. The occasional swimmingpool may be the only other thing the kids want.

    Broadly I see a broad sweep through the Isaan taking two weeks(??) ending in the north in chiang rai or chiangmai. The some time in the north before taking the train back to bangkok and then flying home. But this can easily change once we are on the road.

    Does this help?

  8. #8
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    The best way to get there from Bangkok is on an NCA bus. Google NCA bus Thailand with Google Chrome and it will translate the schedules into English. Nakonchai Air Buses are much nicer and driven more sanely than most of the other buses in Thailand.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobR
    NCA bus Thailand
    TeakDoor.com - The Thailand Forum Time Tables and Schedules for NCA

  10. #10
    Days Work Done! Norton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhans
    Broadly I see a broad sweep through the Isaan taking two weeks(??) ending in the north in chiang rai or chiangmai.
    The problem with public transport is you need to have a specific destination and stopping along the way if you see something of interest is impossible. I suggest you consider going somewhere in central Isaan like Khonkean or Roiet where I live and using it as a home base. Once there hire a small van and driver. From central Isaan you can reach any destination in a couple of hours so you can do day trips or 1 overnight and return. Will be more expensive than public transportation but gives you much more flexibility.

    Khonkean is much bigger than Roiet but I believe your kids will enjoy Roiet. If you should decide a good idea of having a home base in Roiet, I would be happy to arrange a van a driver. I have no idea of the cost but will make some inquiries.

    I would strongly recommend your first stop on the way to Isaan be at a resort in Khao Yai. You can take bus from Bangkok to Khao Yai. A short 3 hour trip. From Khao Yai to Roiet or Khonkean by bus about 4 hours.

    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

  11. #11
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    he's going from Bangkok to Chanthaburi/Laem Sing and the dolphns at Oasis Sea World first; that's relatively easy though unsure re C'buri to Laem Sing - about 20km so taxi maybe best option there are plenty at the bus depot

    Buses run direct from C'buri to Nakhon Ratchasima (via Sa Kaeo); we've done the C'buri-SK trip several times, good buses and regular service.


    swim with the dolphins

  12. #12
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    the best thing to do is take NCA to khon kaen and sort thinks out from here. pop me an email if you like
    mekhongmud[at]gmail.con



    tom

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    Don't miss the fresh oysters from the farms on the road out of the dolphin show - superb and cheaper than chips.!
    There are cheap bungalows at Laem Sing beach and good beachside seafood restaurants.

  14. #14
    Thailand Expat terry57's Avatar
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    I've toured Issan by hired car and by train bloody lovely Nov, Dec and Jan.

    Not a good idea to hire a car if your not used to driving on the left and a smart move by you.

    The trains are brilliant, you can do a slow trip staying in different towns over an extended period and hire a car with driver in each place to explore, just sit back and take in the sites.

    From Ubon Ratcha up to Nong khai take the tourist bus, bloody lovely trip along the Mekong.
    Stroller is a Yerman faggot.

  15. #15
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    Driving on the left isn't so bad, even if you are used to driving right side in your home country.
    Just take it slow. There are many versions of thai drivers, many go very slow. It is not like a road in Europe where people get upset if you don't maintain speed or drive perfect.
    That said, there are plenty nutty thai drivers who will zoom past you and dont think about consequences. So it is more a road safety issue than driving left or right.

    The only time I think I would have problems in left side driving is an emergency. Then your instinct takes over and you drive like it is a right-side country, which may lead to an accident.

  16. #16
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    If you get to Udon Thani...have a look at Ban Chiang...World Heritage site where Early Thai Civilisation existed 5000-7000 years ago...Steel and Bronze Age and beautiful pottery...I think its about 35 odd Kilometres out of town. Also Nong Kai on the Thai/Laos border...Maybe consider a trip to Vientiane in Laos where they drive on the Right Hand Side....Lol...Enjoy your trip
    PS..If you get to Chiang Rai check out the Clock... at different times of the night, and dont forget to check out the White Temple....my 87 yearold Mother reckons it leaves the Taj Mahal far behind. She has been around the world so many times she cant remember and rates the White Temple as one of the must see buildings in the world.

  17. #17
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    Also you can get buses cheaply for direct travel between CHiang Mai and Sakon Nakon. Break up the trip..Its all cheap.

  18. #18
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    'once with the Mrs. and once with the wife and kids' ?...........ermm......
    were those two separate parties
    or just the same parties only expressed differently ?..

  19. #19
    Member dhans's Avatar
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    The Mrs was then my fiancee and is now my wife and the mother of our kids ;-).

    Keep the ideas flowing! I'm drafting the itenerary that I will present for suggestions shortly.

  20. #20
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    You could take the kids fishing some day. There are plenty of put-and-take lakes around.
    I try to split vacations up, so there is one day for the parents (see the white temple etc) and one for the kids (dolphin swimming etc).
    Then the kids can better endure a day of culture...
    It is just that Sea Worlds and Disneylands are scarce in Isaan ;-)

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