What's the best way to get from Bangkok to Koh Lipe with three kids?
What's the nearest airport? Besides taking a flight, are there other ways of travelling there that are also convenient? Thanks in advance, Fidelia
To reach the island in one day, you will need to catch a morning flight from Bangkok to Hat Yai International Airport. From Hat Yai, take a taxi or a minibus to Pakbara Pier in Satun, the main pier for Koh Lipe. The journey takes two hours and this ground transport can be easily arranged as you arrive at the airport.
When you reach Pakbara town, it can get pretty chaotic, as many people will be trying to sell you ferry tickets. The best option is to buy your ticket from one of the ferry company counters. There are three speedboats a day to Koh Lipe - one operated by Adang Sea Tour at 11am, another by Bundhaya at 12.30pm and the third by Forra at 2pm.
While flying is the most expensive option, it's also the quickest and even if you catch the last speedboat, you'll all be on the island by 3pm.
If you decide to travel by train, you will still need to go via Hat Yai. Trains depart from Hua Lamphong in the evening and the journey takes 15 hours, meaning you arrive in Hat Yai early in the morning.
Again, you will need to take a taxi or minibus to Pakbara. You will find travel agents in town offering packages covering both the minibus plus the ferry. You can also book a private van or car from here.
While waiting for a ferry at Pakbara, there are restaurants and shops where you can kill time. Be sure to stock up on necessities including snacks and milk for the kids as prices are almost double on Koh Lipe.
Many Thai people take a bus from Bangkok to Pakbara. If you decide on this option, you will need to take a bus to Satun, a journey of about 13 hours, get off in the small district of La Ngu, before Satun, and then take a local bus for the 15-minute ride to the pier. If you book a hotel on Koh Lipe, check if it's possible for them to send someone to pick you up in La Ngu. Enjoy the trip!
I have three days in Bangkok at the end of January and would like to know if you think Chinatown is worth visiting during my stay. I will be in Penang and Singapore before Bangkok, and I'm sure they have Chinatowns there too. Thanks a lot, F Fishwick
It seems like your visit to Bangkok's Chinatown will be quite near Chinese New Year - in 2013, this falls on February 10 - so you will see Yaowarat, Bangkok's Chinatown, gearing up for the celebrations. The experience is definitely worthwhile.
The place will be bustling and fun, especially if you like people watching. There are Chinese shrines - big and small - to visit and traditional Thai temples like Wat Traimitr, which boasts the biggest golden Buddha image in the world. There's Chinese food to sample - from stalls on the streets to the favourite restaurants of Chinese residents.
You'll have even more fun if you have a guidebook in hand showing you where to hunt for the best food in this area, so you can explore the back streets for the best place to enjoy fish maw soup served in a clay pot. This area is also great after dark for a seafood dinner on the street.
Chinatowns in different countries share some commonalities but they are also different. Penang's Chinatown in George Town is well-preserved and attractive and a great place to absorb the historical ambience of an early Chinese settlement. There are a lot of street stalls there too offering an amazing array of yummy food.
Singapore as a whole is Chinatown, but you can also find a Chinatown area in Singapore. It's quieter and cleaner than Bangkok and you won't find anyone cooking and selling food on the streets. There is plenty of culture and history though, like the Chinatown Heritage Museum, the Buddha Tooth Relic Shrine and a Hindu temple - the Sri Mariamman.