The Nation


travellers' check

I will be visiting Bangkok in January and would like to get away for a few days to the beach

I'm on a budget and find the prices for accommodation in Phuket and Koh Samui too high. Where else can I enjoy the beach and relax? Thanks in advance for your suggestions. Ron

I agree with you that many Phuket and Koh Samui hotels are expensive, but both destinations also boast an abundance of cheap hotels. These budget places tend to be away from the beach or the main beach road. To get to Phuket, you can book a flight on one of the budget airlines but options are more limited to Koh Samui and the airfares much higher.

If you are on a tight budget, I'd suggest Cha-am, Hua Hin or even Pran Buri, 30 minutes south of Hua Hin. You can also look at Pattaya and Koh Samet to the east of Bangkok.

Cha-am, Hua Hin, Pran Buri and Koh Samet are quieter than Pattaya, though you can find a quieter part of the beach there if you look carefully.

All the destinations are in easy reach of Bangkok by bus though for Koh Samet, you will need to factor in an extra 30 minutes for the ferry ride. They all have good restaurants and a choice of budget hotels. Pran Buri has the quietest beach, Koh Samet the best island atmosphere, Hua Hin the best beach hotels, Cha-am the best seafood restaurants, and Pattaya the best nightlife.

Our group of three will be travelling overland from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap just after Christmas, and from Siem Reap back to Bangkok on New Year's Eve. Our return flight is on January 3, so we prefer to return to Bangkok to celebrate the New Year before going back home. Can you tell us whether the buses and immigration checkpoints will be running as normal? Thanks, Sunny J.

There is nothing to worry about, as everything will be running as normal. The best way is to charter a taxi from Siem Reap to Poi Pet, then cross the border into Thailand. If you plan to celebrate New Year's Eve in Bangkok, it’s best to leave early. The border is open 8am to 8pm and there is no time difference between the two countries.

It usually takes just a little over two hours to the border, and then you catch a bus or taxi to Bangkok. The bus station is just after the Thailand Immigration Office in Rongklua Market in Ayanyaprathet district. There are also touts offering taxis to Bangkok but you will need to bargain hard. A good price is about Bt1,900. Air-con minibuses to Bangkok’s Victory Monument leave from an adjacent area.

The distance from Aranyaprathet to Bangkok is more than 200 kilometres, and it might take you more than three hours. Let say the total travelling time from Siem Reap to Bangkok would be about six hours. If you leave Siem Reap early enough, you could arrive late afternoon in Bangkok. This would be great for you and your friends as you'll have time to check into a hotel and relax before going out to have fun in Bangkok on New Year’s Eve.

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