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  1. #1
    Veteran ผู้มีประสบการณ์ toddmeister's Avatar
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    Default Getting around Isaan during Songkran

    Hi everyone

    Starting to sort the logistics for our trip in April.

    I've driven around Isaan lots over the years but never during Songkran. This year we will be spending Songkran in Kaeng Sanam Nang which is not far from Chaiyaphum, before driving over to Sarakham to spend a few days In my wife's home town. We will be flying into Udon Thani on either 11th or 12th. The flight gets in at 10.15am and we'll drive down to Kaeng Sanam Nang same day. I know it's going to be busy around that time but not sure exactly how busy and what to expect from the traffic situation. The drive on a "normal" day should take about 3.5hrs.
    Same goes for getting over to Sarakham. We'll be driving over on the 16th. Done this drive lots and takes about 2hrs normally but again I'm sure they'll be lots more movement just after Songkran.

    Anyone in the area can give me an idea of what to expect so we can factor this into our plans. Unfortunately we're on a tight schedule so theres not a lot of movement in the days we have, as we're going elsewhere too

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Forum Dinosaur ไดโนเสาร์ Flip's Avatar
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    You're a brave man for even going to Thailand at that time of year - a hell of a lot of expats head out!!

    I've never driven in that area but I'd take a guess you'll be OK. Yes, I would expect it to be busy but nothing like the arterial routes from the south. I have though, made the journey from Bangkok to Isaan at both Songkran and New Year - absolutely horrendous and something I'll never do again. Suvarnabhumi to Khao Yai - 9.5 hours against the usual 2 - 2.5. I think you'll miss the worst problems by flying to Udon.

    The busiest routes will be those from the capital up into Isaan on the evening work finishes and the evening before the return to work (your Mrs will be able to find those out) - i.e. Highways 1 & 2 and highway 24 from Korat onwards. Obviously the traffic will diminish as people reach their destinations. The traffic, although hideous, isn't really as heavy as it seems - the delays caused by literally hundreds of accidents cause a lot of it.

    As I say, I will never travel from Bangkok to anywhere on a major national holiday again.

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    Veteran ผู้มีประสบการณ์ toddmeister's Avatar
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    Thanks flip

    Songkran isn't exactly my idea of fun these days either. But unfortunately our trips are dictated by school holidays now and going at Easter maximises our time by utilising bank holidays etc. We're going from 31st March to 23rd April but our boy will only miss an extra week at school. Going in the summer would have been more than double the price for flights.
    Anyway. We arrive on the 1st but will be in Chiang Mai for a week before heading to Isaan so hopefully it won't be as bad as travelling up from Bangkok.
    It was a choice between having a relatively "quiet" Songkran with family in Isaan or spend it dodging drunk "digital nomads" in Chiang Mai, so it was always going to be isaan for me.

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    Forum Dinosaur ไดโนเสาร์ Flip's Avatar
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    If there are any specific problems around there, I would expect Paul (Maokaang) to know better as he's lived in Khon Kaen for many years.

  5. #5
    Premium Member sisaket's Avatar
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    Free Car Wash.
    13th April is on a Saturday next year so Songkran will run until 17th, I ve just returned (yesterday) from Issan to BKK the traffic going to Issan was Horrendous (for New Year) and will be like that for Thai NY.
    Expect traffic coming from the Eastern Industrial Seaboard, Rayong-Pattaya and Bangkok etc.
    I have had a few wild Songkrans in the past in including a few in Khon Kaen in the back of pick-ups, parties etc, total chaos, most of the larger Issan cities you should be routed away from the water carnage, I always drive with extra care, the 15th is Family Day which normally easier, a time for taking Grannies, Mothers etc out for a meal.
    My Songkran madness ended when I met Mrs, she cant stand water fights etc, prefers water/powder mix placed on cheeks etc.
    Alot of accidents happen after Songkran and the rush back South and on local dual carriageways en route to the main roads IE roads 2 and 24 which will be snails pace in places.
    Just add times on to your journey as there will be strong possibilities of check points, designed to slow traffic. It's a sad fact some people will ride bikes and drive vehicles after drinking, just be aware, my advice would be dont get uptight and slow down in built up areas and extra care after nightfall, i ve been lucky enough to have driven in all the Provinces of Issan and should be there for Songkran 2019.
    Have a great trip, chill out and enjoy.
    bangkok mags

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    Veteran ผู้มีประสบการณ์ toddmeister's Avatar
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    Thanks both for your input. We looked at it again this morning and decided its probably going to be too stressful/dangerous/time consuming getting around. We've had a change of plan and are now going to do Isaan first then head to Chiang Mai for Songkran. We're flying to Khon Kaen on 2nd for a week and it'll be easier driving between there Sarakham and Kaeng Sanam Nang. We then fly to Chiang Mai on the 9th

    I would have preferred to see a more traditional Songkran with my wifes mother etc. but never mind. It actually worked out much cheaper doing it this way. Now flying from DMK into Khon Kaen rather than Udon and flights were only 800thb each. Flights from Khon Kaen to Chiang Mai also worked out at only 900thb each.

    We'll now just have to find somewhere in Chiang Mai where it wont be too mental for the main Songkran days

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    It will be mental wherever you go!

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    Admin maokaang's Avatar
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    We will be flying into Udon Thani on either 11th or 12th. The flight gets in at 10.15am and we'll drive down to Kaeng Sanam Nang same day.
    Why Udon Thani? Surely Khon Kaen is much nearer to Kaeng Sanam Nang?

    Northbound on Route 2 will be chaotic around the 11th and 12th. Southbound should be OK. Likewise southbound around the 16th and 17th will be chaos. Travelling west-east or east-west around Isaan won't be as bad, except when crossing Route 2.
    Paul พอล
    กำขี้ดีกว่ากำตด

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    Veteran ผู้มีประสบการณ์ toddmeister's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maokaang View Post
    Why Udon Thani? Surely Khon Kaen is much nearer to Kaeng Sanam Nang?
    The flights into Khon Kaen from Chiang Mai weren't ideal, either very early or later in the evening and my wife didn't want me doing a long drive after dark. Especially given the dangers of driving at Songkran. The flights into Udon got in mid-morning and its not too bad a drive down to MahaSarakham as we've done it that way before.

    Anyway we're sorted now as we're going to do Isaan first then Chiang Mai for Songkran but thanks for the info

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    Hi Toddmeister,
    I will be North East of Udon Thani April 7th to 10th then heading to Phuket for a few weeks.
    Wife will fly back and collect our boy from the grandparents on the 17th.
    As you have stated we would have preferred avoiding Songkran but school was a big factor with the dates so had to write a grovelling letter to School to get the 3rd week off at Easter which is later than usual this year.
    Did you have any issues getting time off school for your boy?
    We listed cultural and religious reasons which is quite true.
    Kingy

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    Veteran ผู้มีประสบการณ์ toddmeister's Avatar
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    Hi Kingy

    It was going to be mega expensive to try and stick to the school holidays. We are going a week earlier rather than a week later.

    I wrote a letter asking for an additional week prior to the official break-up and one extra day following the schools return after bank holiday Monday (so flying back 23rd April instead of 22nd). By coming back on the 23rd rather than 22nd we saved a total of £700 on the cost of our flights!! The flights went from being some of the most expensive I've ever priced to the cheapest I've ever booked (Emirates). All for one days difference

    We fly out 31st March and return 23rd April so my boy will miss a total of 6x extra days. He's only 5 so not really an issue. The school were really good about it. They said they only have to refer it to the local council if the child is to miss more than 10x consecutive days. Which he obviously isn't. I said the same in my letter basically saying we didn't want him to miss any school but felt it was important for him to develop a relationship with his Thai family as we don't go back every year

    Cheers

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