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Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Thailand by Bus: Crazy Idea (Hat Yai - Krabi - Phuket)

Hi all,

It's been really long since I last updating my blog. So, I've decided to write about my recent trip to the Southern part of Thailand, which includes Hat Yai, Krabi and Phuket. But, under a very tight budget. 

So, I've been dreaming on going to Thailand with the local transport as what I always did when I stayed in Edinburgh before. I missed taking the train to Glasgow, Manchester, London and even Paris. I also missed riding the night bus across UK. That's why I decided to went for this trip. 

Basically the idea was minimizing the cost as I'm under a very tight budget but couldn't help the wanderlust. Looking at the world map, we can see that the land are all connected. We can easily go to China by crossing Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and puf! We're in China already. We can even go to Europe! I also know that there's a Malaysian guy studied in UK, came back to Malaysia by bike. There's also a family lived in UK, came back to Malaysia by car. Of course, it's really risky. That's why I'm thinking of taking the local bus or train instead. 

The Shuttle Train between Padang Besar and Hat Yai. It only scheduled for 4 times a day, 2 from PB, 2 from HY

So, to prepare for the big plan of travelling to China, then to Rusia and Europe, I planned for this trip to Phuket first. I'm thinking of travelling to Bangkok in near future, then to Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi and finally enter China. This will all with either the local bus or the train. For this Phuket trip, the initial plan was:-
  1. ETS train to Padang Besar
  2. Train to Hat Yai
  3. Local bus to Krabi
  4. Local bus to Phuket
  5. Local bus back to Hat Yai
  6. Train back to Padang Besar
However, due to some circumstances I need to revise the plan. Instead of taking the train to Padang Besar, I decided to drive there. I've read few blogs that saying they did parked their cars at the station. And, I'm not surprise to see many cars actually parked there. It's very similar to any of KTM stations actually. 
Our "VIP" bus from Hat Yai to Krabi

I planned for a solo travel. I love travelling alone since I'll have all time for myself. I don't need to wait for anyone, no need to go with anyone's pace. And most importantly, I can have time to think about myself, without any disturbance. In UK, I always travel alone, and those were the most precious time I had since no one can disturb me. However, when I told my mom about this, she wanted to come along. I was a bit reluctant at first, but since I travelled with her many times already, I agree. Why? Because she understand my pace. She also sometimes let me do whatever I want while she stayed in the hotel room. So, I can enjoy my time as well. When we went to Korea together before, I went out by my own like 3 days. That's why I agree for her to come along. She did asked my father, but he refused since he never been a beach fan. lol.. But he does want to come along for the "China's mega trip"! 

The ticket for Phuket to Hat Yai

Next, how about the cost? Even with driving, the cost doesn't differ much since I'm from Parit Buntar. The train ticket to Padang Besar costs similar if I'm driving. But, I thought if I bring my own car I can maximize the flexibility. I can always revise my plan here and there since I've no prior schedule and what not. The transportation costs are like:-
  1. Driving to Padang Besar (RM100 - T&G top up and Fuel)
  2. Train to Hat Yai (THB70)
  3. Local bus to Krabi (THB214)
  4. Local bus to Phuket (THB150)
  5. Local bus back to Hat Yai (THB255)
  6. Train back to Padang Besar (THB70)
The total would be RM 100 + THB 759 = RM 197.30. Cheap right? Even cheaper than a return air fare to Phuket. And, remember, we will not have to worry about luggage at all! Plus, with approximately RM 200, you can easily go to both Krabi and Phuket! 

Maybe some of us concern about the comfort. Well, trust me, the local bus in Thailand is waaaayyyyyy better than the airbus. Let's start with the seat comfort. The legroom is similar to what you'll get if you take MAS. I'm not exaggerating! It's true! The window is huge! It's basically at the same level as your seat. So you can enjoy the view as much as you want!

The Blue Bus from Phuket Town to Kata Beach - Costs only THB 65. Please remember Tuk Tuk is only cheap in Hat Yai, but pricey in Krabi and Phuket

Now, let's compare with the travelling time. Although it might take longer for you, but you'll never get bored with the long waiting time. There's basically none at all! You can come to the bus station, buy the ticket and hop-on the bus in less than ten minutes. Remember, most of the bus and train station in any part of this world will be at the heart of the city. So, you'll not need to travel extra miles to the airport which most of the time located at the outskirt. With flight, you need to come at least 3 hours prior to your departure. This means, you need to depart from your hotel 4 hours prior to avoid traffic and all. Then, you need to fly for 1.5 hours to reach KL. Next, when the plane touch down, you need to wait for extra half an hour before you can finally alight from the it. Next waiting for your bag and half and hour later, you can finally exiting the airport. In total you'll take almost 7 hours but you're not even at your final destination yet. 

I always love taking the local transport whenever I travel to foreign countries. I enjoy experiencing the same as the local did. This way, I can learn their culture as well. Like in Thailand, I learnt that the bus conductor will ask the passengers where they want to get off. And, the driver will stop at the exact place where the passenger want. That's why the journey time might varies depending on how many stops the bus made. It's also fun to watch the local on the bus. The conductor and driver never stops talking for the whole journey. What amuse me is that the driver even "drive-thru" at a street vendor selling foods, and buy it! lol.. They even have a thermo-flask for them to store their drinks under the dashboard. I never found that here in Malaysia. And, you can only see this if you take a ride with locals. That's why I said, I love riding the local public transport. Travel is all about learning and experiencing the local culture.

My mom with Mr. Driver

Those are the three main reasons why I decided to travel to Krabi and Phuket by train and bus this time. I went to Hat Yai two times already. The first time is by bus from KL. Then I took the Tuk Tuk to tour around Hat Yai. The second time, I went there by the mini van rented from Padang Besar. Talking about mini van, I've plenty to talk here. 

Well, I did read many bad experiences about it. People said it's not comfortable and pricey. But, I've decided to try it. No harm, right? We shouldn't always blindly trusting what others said. We need to experience it by ourselves, so we can confirm the rumors. So this time, I took the mini van from Ao Nang to Phuket (Kata Beach). So it costs me THB 350 which is double the local bus fare. The boy who sell me the ticket said it will take me like 4 hours, so I agree since it will take me almost an hour to reach Krabi Town from Ao Nang by Sangtheow, then another 3 hours to reach Phuket Town by the local bus and finally another hour to Kata Beach by the blue bus. In total, it would be 5 hours minus the transit time here and there. But, I never imagine it would be a nightmare for me. 

I'll tell you the story in the next post. And, I also will share with you guys about my accommodation there and what I did there. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading my post!
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