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CHAPTER 2: COOLEST PLACES TO STAY EN ROUTE WITH HOTELS.COM

ROUTE GUIDE 10 DAYS TRAIN TO ANDAMAN

So here we have it, a step-by-step planning guide for my next trip – touring southern Thailand in 10 days by train! I’ve managed to use Hotels.com for all of my accommodation picks, which has made it far easier and enjoyable to plan. If you’re interested to find out some of my best travel tips and my route guide for my southern Thai expedition do join me! 

Day 1: BANGKOK – PRANBURI


Depart from Bangkok Thonburi Railway Railway Station 07:25 to Pranburi Railway Station arriving at 12:21

‘Pranburi’ is the first pit stop!

First of all a 5-hour scenic train ride south! My first planned stop is Pranburi in Prachuap Khiri Khan province, due south of the well-known seaside resort town of Hua Hin.  

One of my first thoughts for alighting here is very much aligned with the theme for my trip – slowing down, just like the old-style Thai trains I’ve always been used to.

Through some initial research, I stumbled across ‘Pranberry Earth’ when browsing on Hotels.com. I knew this was the ideal place to rest at for my first night. The warm and inviting Italian décor gave it such a wonderful homely feel, and the accommodation also offers bicycles for rent which will be perfect for riding down to the beach. 

Source: Hotels.com website

If time permits, an additional activity in the region would be to embark on a trip to the Sam Roi Yot National Park where one of Thailand’s most mysterious and mystical landmarks lies: the Phraya Nakhon Cave. As my plans only allow for a one night stay here, after biking to the beach I will return to the hotel and feast on a local fresh seafood BBQ spread! My favorite!

Source: Hotels.com website

Pranberry Earth

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DAY 2: PRANBURI – HUAI YANG
Depart from Pranburi Railway Station at 12:17 to Huai Yang Railway Station arriving at 13:58

Follow the tracks to relaxation: Next stop Huai Yang!

After departing from Pranburi with a journey time of just under 2 hours, I will reach my next destination, Huai Yang – an even less familiar coastal spot! It is a perfect place for me as Huai Yang has a wide choice of accommodation – it is quiet, peaceful and simply relaxing.

 

From research, I’ve found ‘Mumsa Beach Resort’ – just a 10-minute drive from the train station and what looks to be a real gem situated on the beach front with incredible sea-view rooms. If you’re looking for ultimate peace and serenity – you’ve certainly hit the jackpot with this accommodation!

Source: Hotels.com website

Don’t be fooled by its location – though privately located, Mumsa Beach Resort has plenty of activities right in front of you, in the gentle surf and around the resort, offering paddle boarding, surfing, bicycle hires and a health club. Mumsa Beach Resort also had rave reviews on Hotels.com, “Heaven on Earth” and “Fantastically calm” to name a few.

Thinking about reading a book whilst lounging in a hammock on a pristine and quiet beach with great food really put the icing on the cake and swayed my decision to stay here!

Source: Hotels.com website

Of course if during this time if you’re feeling energised and fancy venturing away from the resort, Huai Yang National Park is just a 15-20 minute drive away. 

Source: Hotels.com website

Mumsa Beach Resort 

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DAY 3-4: HUAIYANG – CHUMPHON
Depart from Huai Yang Railway Station at 13:59 to Chumphon Railway Station arriving at 16:55

From chill-out to adventure! 

After the chill out vibes of Prachuap Khiri Khan it’s now time to head south and enter into planning for Chumphon, our second of four provinces.

The third night will be unlike the first two days of the trip. I’ll be in Chumphon to discover the magical underwater life, so the intention is to spend two nights there, with a full day itinerary the next day. Using the search function tool through www.Hotels.com, I’ve found my next nights’ accommodation just (less than 1km) a short distance away from Chumphon train station, which would be perfect for an early morning train departure. 

Source: Hotels.com website

This time around my decision was based purely on convenience and activity rather than style and décor, after all, each accommodation has its uniqueness right?!

Ok, so onto my choice – Retro Box Hotel looked to be as the name suggests – retro and cool, in addition to being relatively inexpensive too! Browsing through the pictures on Hotels.com, it turned out to be a hotel constructed by containers with a central swimming pool that added to this to the fun theme. 

Source: Hotels.com website

Located just a stone’s throw away (5-minute walk) from the hotel is Chumphon’s Night Bazaar, perfect for an evening stroll and for discovering what the local market had to offer for dinner!

Once I arrive at Retro Box Hotel, I will book my next days’ snorkelling trip (as shown on the website). From first research, it appears that the day trip is 1,000 THB or less and if luck is on my side, I may even be able to swim with the whale sharks!

Source: Hotels.com website

Retro Box Hotel

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DAY 5-7: CHUMPHON – SURAT THANI
Depart from Chumphon Railway Station at 06:30 to Surat Thani Railway Station arriving at 09:43

It’s time to escape the beach! 

With 4 days of hugging the coastline, it would be a good time to continue down to Thailand’s largest southern province of Surat Thani – “The City of Good People”. After an early rise and a few more hours on the train/ few more hours sleep, the arrival time into Surat Thani Train Station would be around mid-morning. I feel it would be the right time to escape from the beach and head inland to Khao Sok. Though a little ‘out of the way’, it is my goal to reach the stunning Cheow Lan Lake. The suggested travel tip here is to share a mini-van from the train station in downtown Surat Thani to Khao Sok. For the first night, I would stay in the forest and the following day stay on Cheow Lan Lake itself – I can’t wait for this! 

Source: Hotels.com website

For my first night, I’ve found Art’s Riverview Lodge. Decorated to fit it’s surroundings – you’ll feel well and truly immersed in the forest! With the morning mountainous mist, it seems the tranquil place I desire to find my bearings in the picturesque Khao Sok National Park. 

Source: Hotels.com website

Upon reaching Art’s Riverview Lodge I plan to have some fun by doing some river tubing (which is a 2-hour long activity carried out by a professional tour guide)! Some say it’s similar to that of Vang Vieng in Laos – minus the several ‘bar’ stops, where there is also some rocking climbing and Tarzan styles monkey ropes which are apparently a must try! 

Source: Hotels.com website

Art’s Riverview Lodge

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The following day, I’ll make a trip to Cheow Lan Lake, which is amongst the most famous visitor spots in Thailand – don’t let that put you off, it is said to still certainly feel peaceful. With the magnificent lake rippling reflections cast from the majestic mountain ranges in the background, this really is quite special and a potential highlight of the trip. Having already been fortunate enough to travel to this region, I feel I would want to revisit at my first opportunity! Your day-to-day communications are sure to be cut off from the world as you know it, but it will make you stop and think as you gaze out onto the open lake – truly awesome!

 The Floating house in Cheow Lan Lake – 1 night package (boat + room + 3 meals) 1,500 THB /person

After a few days away from civilisation the plan is to head back to downtown Surat Thani in order to get the early train the following morning. From a quick search, it seems this province is known for it’s oysters! As an oyster lover, I feel it would be so rude not to go and call in at the local oyster farm which is located at Kanchandit district, not far from the centre. 

Source: Hotels.com website

There are plenty of options when it comes to accommodation in Surat Thani city. I came across Lumluek Boutique Hotel – a friendly and inviting hotel, which has the added bonus of producing home grown food!

Source: Hotels.com website

LUMLUEK HOUSE 

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DAY 8-10: SURAT THANI –  TRANG
Depart from Surat Thani Railway Station at 06:28 to Kantang Railway Station arriving at 11:20

The last leg: Time to take our final train journey!

Kantang Station (or we can also call Andaman Station) – This station is one of the oldest station and most classic stations and has been preserved under the Fine Arts Department of Thailand. It dates back to days of reigning monarch King Rama VI and to this day keeps it’s original architecture. 

Source: Hotels.com website

Although the last station, it’s not quite the end of the trip. Let’s go back to Trang city, where local tuktuks can take you on a culinary tour of the local old town. Grilled pork and dimsum are local specialties here – check it out! Taking a walk through Trang’s night market after is also worthwhile! 

Source: Hotels.com website

Within the nearby vicinity of Trang’s train station, there are a good number of hotels, though for this stop, I opted for cute, minimal yet comfortable. Nokhook House in central Trang province has many exceptional rated reviews on the Hotels.com reviews section. Homely, clean, comfy and within walking distance of most places in Trang – Sounds just the ticket! 

Source: Hotels.com website

Nokhook House

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In order to experience the real Andaman and my final calling point, I will have to explore Andaman’s spectacular array of islands. The very next day I will book an island hopping package including Koh Mook, Koh Krahdan, Koh Ngaio and Koh Ma which is a recommended package in order to firstly get a taste of the islands. Worriless, because I choose Hotels.com, a leading online accommodation booking website with many properties, together with all the information needed to book the perfect stay.

Source: Hotels.com website

As I have already ticked Koh Mook and Koh Krahdan off my list, I plan to stay on Koh Ngai island. Hotels.com also has a great range of accommodation choices on the islands too, so don’t panic –
you’re not on a deserted island after all and Hotels.com has got your back!  

Source: Hotels.com website

For my final few nights, I plan to finish in style and celebrate the end of my 10 day ride to Andaman! 

Source: Hotels.com website

Coco Cottage Koh Ngai

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And below would be the pure beauty and elegance of the Andaman Sea, where we would have spent almost 10 days to reach (and which I would leave an hour later to fly back to Bangkok)!

For those who say the train is slow and painful, that’s ok! Everyone has their style. I believe it depends on your objective and your focus being centered around ’destination’ or travelling to for an experience. 

Even as I’m only at the planning stages, I almost feel like I’ve already taken this journey and am now eager to get going!

I’m sure along the way there will be some hiccups but that doesn’t worry me. Sometimes the enjoyment arrives from the unexpected moments – the delaying of trains or extra costs for comical things! 

Remember that happiness is a way of travel, not just a destination. Let’s enjoy and share our experiences together!

And through this post you can also get the 8% discount code from Hotels.com, just type the discount code: 8OFFHTFOTTH when you book through Hotels.com this time!

Safe ride X