Monday, August 28, 2017

Thailand (Southern), Aug 2017

" If you wish to travel far & fast, travel LIGHT. Take off all your envies, jealousies, forgiveness, selfishness & fears "

" Take every chance you get in LIFE. Because somethings only happen once "

" We have nothing to lose and a world to see "

" My 7 days (21-27/8/2017) overland trip from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Hua Hin, Hatyai & Songkhla (my first visit), Southern Thailand with 3 of my travel buddies from Klang " 

Travel Itinerary: Kuala Lumpur > Padang Besar > Hatyai > Hua Hin > Hatyai > Padang Besar > Kuala Lumpur (2,560km)

After our group's Feb 2017 visit by trains from Kuala Lumpur to Thailand & Laos, one of my travel buddies from Klang has expressed keen interest in visiting Hua Hin & Hatyai just for a week both for food & sightseeing ! So I just do a simple travel itinerary and show ourselves up in this Land of Smiles in the southern region ! 

As done in the past, our group opted to taking trains from Kuala Lumpur all the way to Hatyai / Hua Hin & return. The Malaysia leg of travelling by KTM express train to Padang Besar, a border town between Malaysia & Thailand, was pretty comfortable and the journey took about 5 hours travelling at an average speed of 120-135km per hour - very relaxing indeed ! A connecting Thai shuttle train awaited us on arrival at Padang Besar so we just hopped into the Thai train and arrived in Hatyai after an hour ride. Immigration clearance at both sides was pretty straight forward & smooth, just the normal passport checking & stamping and luggage screening.

Upon arrival in Hatyai, we bought our sleeper train tickets departing in the evening and arriving in Hua Hin in the early morning. For our return trip to Kuala Lumpur, again we took Thai & Malaysian trains and everything seemed to work up well ! Just a little bit of logistics & ground transport planning, you should be okay.

Our group put up 2 nights each in Hua Hin & Hatyai hostels, this allowed us time to explore and see the three cities in greater depth. From Hatyai, we took a minivan to Songhkla and hired a tuk tuk and visited few popular touristy places in this coastal town. We did the same when we were in Hua Hin and had a great lunch at the Monsoon Vineyard, 45 km from Hua Hin city and close to Myanmar border - the country side is very scenic & the vineyard is really a gem in Hua Hin especially for foreign tourists who enjoy wine drinking ! 

Spicy tom yum soup, stewed pork & offal, steamed & deep fried chicken, mango sticky rice, hot rice porridge, street food desserts, fresh sliced pineapples, Thai black coffee, fish maw soup, Thai dim sum, salted fish, glutinous rice dumpling, tuna mayonnaise sandwich bread, Thai Bah Kut Teh .... we really enjoyed the Thai food here, travelling free & easy at our own pace to these wonderful country towns in Southern Thailand not far from the Malaysian border ! 

The weakening of the Malaysia currency against the Thai Bhts (Bht100=Rm13) in recent years has resulted in lesser tourists from Malaysia shopping in Hatyai so during the week days, it was pretty quiet except during the weekends, you probably see a bigger crowd in the night markets. I observed that more & more tourists from China visiting Hua Hin as this seaside town is about 3 hrs by mini vans from Bangkok !

Total Expenses incurred (7 days): Rm97 + Bht6,107 = Rm891 (US$207)

Hostels (4 nights): Bht1,040 per pax (Rm135=US$31)
Food (7 days): Bht2,350 per pax
Trains (total): Rm97 + Bht1,520
- KL Sentral > Padang Besar - Rm42 (senior)
- Padang Besar > KL Sentral - Rm55 (senior)
- Padang Besar > Hatyai - Bht70
- Hatyai > Hua Hin - Bht779 (upper sleeper), Bht869 (lower)

- Hua Hin > Hatyai - Bht749 (upper), Bht679 (lower)
Entrance fees (total): Bht350
- Santorini, Hua Hin - Bht150

- Sam Phan Nam Floating Market (Hua Hin) - Bht200
Taxi hire: Hua Hin Monsoon Vineyard - Bht250 per pax (cost sharing of 4)

Tuk Tuk hire (total): Bht165
- Songkhla - Bht40 per pax
- Hatyai Floating Market - Bht125 per pax
Mini vans (total): Bht158
- Hatyai>Padang Besar - Bht50 per pax
- Hatyai>Songkhla - Bht34 x 2=Bht68 per pax
- Santorini Park>Hua Hin Bht40 per pax
Bus (Hua Hin>Santorini Park): Bht44 per pax
Tuk tuk / Taxi: Bht230 per pax

Exchange rates: Bht100=Rm13; US$1-Rm4.30

Southern Thailand Map

Travel Highlights:

1) Hua Hin

Santorini Park, Hua Hin

Rajabhakti Park, Hua Hin 

Hua Hin Beach

Sam Phan Nam Floating Market, Hua Hin

Monsoon Valley Vineyard (formerly Hua Hin Hills Vineyard)

Wat Huay Mongkol, Hua Hin

Hua Hin Train Station 

Night Market, Hua Hin

2) Songkhla

Golden Mermaid Statute, Laem Samila, Songkhla

Songkhla Municipal Song Thale Park 

Chumporn Khetedomsak Memorial Statute ( Founder of Thai Navy )

Tang Kuan Hill Station

Samila Beach, Songkhla

Songkhla City

3) Hatyai

Khlong Hae Floating Market, Hatyai

Asean Night Bazaar, Hatyai

Hatyai Plaza

My travel buddies from Klang - another fun trip to the Land of Smiles !

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