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Self-drive Thailand itinerary (1 Viewer)

simmojunior

Well-known member
Myself and three friends are planning to go to Thailand from 8th (arriving 9th) - 28th December. We will hire a car (possibly a SUV) and will not be using guides.

Does anyone have feedback on our current planned itinerary:

9th: Arrive Chiang Mai after evening flight from Bangkok. Night in Chiang Mai.

10th: Drive to Fang via Huai Hong Krait. Night Fang.

11th: Doi Lang (West). Night Fang.

12th: Doi Lang (East) & Thaton. Night Fang.

13th: Doi Angkhang. Night in area.

14th: Doi Angkhang & Chiang Dao paddies & temples. Night Chiang Dao area.

15th: Morning in Chiang Dao area before driving to Doi Inthanon. Night Doi Inthanon.

16th: Doi Inthanon

17th: Doi Inthanon

18th: Morning Doi Inthanon before afternoon flight to Bangkok. Night Bangkok.

19th: Pak Thale & surrounding areas. Night Phetchaburi.

20th: Pak Thale & Phetchaburi. Night Phetchaburi.

21st: Pak Thale (if still targets) & Kaeng Krachan. Camping

22nd: Kaeng Krachan. Camping.

23rd: Kaeng Krachan. Night Ban Maka.

24th: Visit nearby hide & drive to Khao Yai via Saraburi temple. Night hotel near Khao Yai.

25th: Khao Yai. Camping.

26th: Khao Yai. Camping.

27th: Khao Yai. Travel to Bangkok. Night in Bangkok.

28th: Flight home.

Anyone suggest any changes? Also any tips for finding key birds & night birds? Any suggestions for places to stay? In particular, how do I go about arranging camping?

Thanks,

Oli
 

Britseye

Well-known member
Hi, Oli. I never miss the opportunity to eulogise about Thailand. It's been thirty years since I was there in the winter, but I have done half-a-dozen visits in the migration seasons (April and Sept) in recent years. Your itinerary is nigh-on perfect, I'd say. I can help you out with Khao Yai and Doi Inthanon, but I haven't been to Kaeng Krachan or bothered with the Spoon-billed Sands (since I had my own bespoke encounter with one at Khao Sam Roi Yot back in 1989). Also note, I don't drive, finding Thailand easy enough to cover by public transport and hitching.

Regarding camping. You can almost certainly just pull up at each of the National Park HQs and just book your spot over the counter. (i say 'almost certainly' because NP regulations occasionally change from time to time). Note that the Thais flock to National Park campsites at weekends and though lovely people they can be prone to making lots of noise and playing guitars till the wee small hours. Also Macaques have been known to be a bit of a problem at KY, nicking stuff out of tents if unattended during the daytime. KY offers excellent chalet accommodation for a tenner/room/night (i.e. tenner a room, not per person, sleeps two). Again, available over the counter on arrival. I've wild camped in the woods there before and also slept out (unofficially) at one of the tower hides overlooking a salt lick, but probably a bit dodgy for most. The park officials there don't like you spotlighting alone after dark due to potential dangers from Elephants, but I've done a bit here and there when I can, mostly for mammals. There are official night safaris most nights but I don't know how much they cost/how successful they are, though the only Elephant I've ever seen was thanks to four vehicles spotlighting one by the side of the road while I was skulking about trying not to be discovered!

At Doi Inthanon, the excellent Mr Daeng's at Km 31 offers chalet accommodation, tenner a person if I recall, but he also let me camp for free in his garden (2012).

Be warned, the traffic around Bangkok is astonishingly cluttered and the road system incredibly complex. I have a friend who has lived there ten years and he's driven me down to Pak Thale a few times, and even with sat nav, he occasionally goes astray.
 

albatross02

Well-known member
From east to Doi Lang I went with Toyota Hilux.
I did not use 4x4, but the way is partly quite steep for normal cars and in very bad condition. I suppose without SUV or 4x4, you not allowed to pass the gate.
Sometimes is possible to cross the park via border station. In March it was not allowed.

Is there any reason why You go at 19. th December from Bangkok to Pak Thale ?
Bangkok is very crowded in the week until 50 km outside in direction of Pak Thale.
Saturday morning many people Bangkok drive somewhere and come back at Sunday evening.
It means the streets are much more empty from Saturday afternoon until Sunday afternoon.

For bird watching I would spent much more time in Kaeng Krachan than Khao Yai.
 

Britseye

Well-known member
"For bird watching I would spent much more time in Kaeng Krachan than Khao Yai."

I haven't been to Kaeng Krachan, but the above sentence might give people a misleading impression. Khao Yai is FAN-TASTIC. I get the impression that those of us who bird it on foot have a better time than those who drive around in the car
 

jwreeves

Well-known member
Perhaps try to visit hide outside of kaeng Krachan also late afternoon the day you stop at ban maka as I had a complete different set of birds on my morning and afternoon visits, and some hoped for species didn’t make an appearance on either(eg partridges)
 

simmojunior

Well-known member
Thanks guys. I think Mr Darby's looks a great place to stay and we'll probably end up with chalet accomodation rather than a tent for reasons you say.

Albatross 02, the only reason we plan to drive to Pak Thale that day is because that is when it fits in to our itinerary.
 

DMW

Well-known member
Albatross 02, the only reason we plan to drive to Pak Thale that day is because that is when it fits in to our itinerary.

On the 18th, you might want to consider picking up a hire car at the airport and driving straight to Pak Thale (or somewhere nearby with accommodation). That way you, you will not have to deal with Bangkok traffic on the morning of the 19th. People aren't exaggerating about how bad it can be!

As for Kaeng Krachen, unless things have changed, it's no problem to just arrive without a booking for the campsites. Ban Krang is the one to stay at.

If you see all your targets at Pak Thale on the 20th, I would head straight to Kaeng Krachen that day, so that you can be birding at dawn on the 21st.
 

albatross02

Well-known member
At weekend are many visitors at Kaeng Krachen. For birders and also for non birders from Thailand, Kaeng Krachan is very popular.

My first visit at Thailand I picked up car on Monday around 12 a clock.
Around this time streets trough Bangkok and 50 km behind was crowded, but much less than rush hour.
From Pak Thale to Khao Yai, I need only 30 minutes trough Bangkok at Sunday early afternoon.
I do not know how is about Christmas time in Thailand, because the most are no christian. But celebrating this time becames more popular even in Asia.

Buy the way, check the way from Bangkok area to Pak Thale can checked via google maps. You can compare the time when You want to drive, with traffic in this time.
 

Steve Babbs

Well-known member
I have recently returned from Thailand. We were told that we could not book accomodation over the counter apart from tents and it had to be booked in advance on the website. Which was pretty annoying, although the tents were fine.
 

simmojunior

Well-known member
On the 18th, you might want to consider picking up a hire car at the airport and driving straight to Pak Thale (or somewhere nearby with accommodation). That way you, you will not have to deal with Bangkok traffic on the morning of the 19th. People aren't exaggerating about how bad it can be!

As for Kaeng Krachen, unless things have changed, it's no problem to just arrive without a booking for the campsites. Ban Krang is the one to stay at.

If you see all your targets at Pak Thale on the 20th, I would head straight to Kaeng Krachen that day, so that you can be birding at dawn on the 21st.

Thanks, I think we'll do just that. We were thinking we best avoid driving after dark but we'll take advice from those that have done it.
 

temmie

Well-known member
I would spend less time around Pak Thalay and more in Kaeng Krachan. I would suggest spending one morning in Pak Thalay + Laem Pak Bia and evaluate if you really need to see anything more. If not, move to Kaeng Krachan. If you have more time in Kaeng Krachan, you can choose to go back for one day to Petchaburi, or you can choose to stay in Kaeng Krachan because there is a lot more to search for in the woods, compared to the salt pans.

You can camp in Kaeng Krachan and Khao Yai. In Khao Yai, at the Pla Ma Guay camp site, you can even rent tents and mattesses and a sleeping bag. Around late december / beginning of January, the camp site and the national park can become VERY crowded. There is always a spot, but it felt like a festival when I was there beginning of January. There are hardly any people on the birding trails though, except for the B-trail and the trail from Pla Ma Guay to the waterfall.

Traffic is VERY dangerous around Christmas and New Year. Thailand has >3000 deaths on the road and you will soon find out why. People drive reckless, fast and plain dangerous.

I would spend the night in Petchaburi after arriving in Bangkok and picking up a rental car.

Unless you have business or sightseeing to do, I would not spend a night in Chiang Maio. It is a very pleasant place but you will need your time on Doi Lang and Doi Ang Khan. I would either completely skip Doi Chiang Dao or Doi Ang Khan if you find most of your targets on Doi Lang. In Doi Chiang Dao, you need Mrs Humes and / or Giant Nuthatch but not much else, and the same for Doi Ang Khan. You have more targets in Doi Lang.

If you do well in Doi Lang, you can consider (if there are sightings) to try for Baer's Pochard at Chiang Saen lake, before going back to Doi Chiang Dao / Doi Ang Khan / Doi Inthanon.

You will need 4x4 for Doi Chiang Dao. Maybe as well for Kaeng Krachan (upper parts) when it has rained (normally not in december, but you never know).
 

albatross02

Well-known member
Traffic is VERY dangerous around Christmas and New Year. Thailand has >3000 deaths on the road and you will soon find out why. People drive reckless, fast and plain dangerous.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-38660283

"2nd in the world for road accident deaths, after Libya

24,000 people are estimated to die on Thai roads every year

73% of those killed are motorcyclists"

But no suprise, the motorcyclics often drive without head protection and even with bottle of beer in one hand, beach areas.

In remote areas driving in Thailand is even very relaxed.
 

BKKBen

Well-known member
. Maybe as well for Kaeng Krachan (upper parts) when it has rained (normally not in december, but you never know).

I'm pretty sure the current policy at KK is that technically no non-4x4 vehicles are allowed passed Ban Krang Campsite. However, if you talk to the park rangers, they'll let you drive to, and park at, the 1st stream crossing, which is only about 1km from Ban Krang.

Also, the DNP website for booking is

http://nps.dnp.go.th/

I stayed in one of the bungalows for a few days at Khao Yai from December 26th last year, and the park was relatively quiet, especially the trails - I left on the 29th and the northbound traffic was horrendous!

If staying in Khao Yai NP mid-week, I'd recommend staying in the bungalows at Tanarat Zone - depending on the bungalow, they house up to 4 people for around 800 baht (per room, not person), which is great value once you add in the fact you get the use of electricity, hot showers, etc.
 

simmojunior

Well-known member
Thanks guys. Following feedback about driving near Bangkok at Christmas, we will swap the order a bit. We will start with Khao Yai (to avoid being there at the weekend), before doing Pak Thale & Kaeng Krachan. We will then head north, which gives us flexibility depending on what is about at Chiang Saen etc...
 

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
I have heard it said that weekends can be good at Pak Thale, with the Spoonies etc better nailed down by virtue of many more people out searching, but I don't know how true this is.
 

halftwo

Wird Batcher
I've driven extensively in Thailand - including all the places you mention. I've used a Hilux almost exclusively - not 4x4 but had no problem either getting around eg KK, Doi Inthanon etc. nor had anyone say anything at KK. I've even slept in the back of it at KK.
I've done quite a lot of night driving without problem - as others say it's the motorbikes that are dangerous. A Sat Nav is essential - especially for getting in and out of Bangkok - but I'd opt for getting on the road when you get to the airport - and head out when the traffic is lighter - even if at night.

Sounds like a great trip - good luck.

H
 

albatross02

Well-known member
Last in KK and Pak Thale I get Toyota Fortuner.
I payd 650 Euro for 16 days include full insurance with botton, glas, roof and no paying in case of accident.
Clearance is high and was also good advantage to drive between the many pools in Laem Pak bia/ Pak Thale.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
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