When you plan your trip, consider that Thailand has more than one international airport. While most international flights arrive in Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport (airport code BKK; tel. 02132-1888), you can also fly directly to Phuket (airport code HKT; tel. 077632-7230-7), Ko Samui (airport code USM; tel. 07742-22512-9), and Chiang Mai (airport code CNX; tel. 05327-0222-33) from certain regional destinations such as Singapore or Hong Kong. Flight times from the U.S. to Thailand vary from 17 hours (from San Francisco or LA) to 22 hours (from New York). Stopovers add even more time, so it's worth opting for a direct flight if you want to avoid severe jet lag. Thai Airways' direct flights from Los Angeles or New York keep travel time to a minimum.
Private buses link Singapore and Malaysia with Had Yai in southern Thailand, but be aware that violent insurgencies in south Thailand are a real cause for concern. In Singapore, call the Singapore Tourism Board at tel. 800/736-2000, and in Malaysia, contact the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board (tel. 1300/885-050) for more information. In the northeast, buses run from the Thai border at Nong Khai where pedestrians arrive across the Friendship Bridge from Laos. Tuk-tuks (three-wheeled, motorized, open vehicles, also called "jumbos") take travelers to the bridge from Vientiane. Call Laos Tourist Information, in Vientiane, at tel. 856-21/212-248 for information.
Thailand is accessible via train from Singapore and peninsular Malaysia. Malaysia's Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTM) begins in Singapore (tel. 652/6222-5165), stopping in Kuala Lumpur (tel. 603/2267-1200) and Butterworth (Penang; tel. 604/323-7962), before heading for Thailand, where it joins service with the State Railway of Thailand. Bangkok's Hua Lamphong Station is centrally located on Krung Kasem Road (tel. 02220-4334 or 1690). Taxis, tuk-tuks, and public buses wait outside the station and access to the MRT (subway) is a few steps away.
The Eastern & Oriental Express (www.orient-express.com) operates a 2-night/3-day journey between Singapore and Bangkok that makes getting there almost better than being there. The romance of 1930s colonial travel is joined with modern luxury in six Pullman cars, seven State cars, a Presidential car, plus two restaurant cars, a bar car, a saloon car, and an observation car. Along the way, stops are made in Penang (Georgetown) and Kanchanaburi (River Kwai) for light sightseeing. Current fares per person one-way are $2,200 for a Pullman superior double. At certain times of the year, promotions will include overnights at the Oriental Bangkok and its sister property, the Mandarin Oriental, Singapore. Call tel. 800/524-2420 in the U.S., or 65/6395-0678 in Singapore.
Silversea Cruises and Crystal Cruises are two of the main cruise ships that visit the region. They call by Phuket before steaming on to Singapore or Malacca. These floating resorts have endless restaurants, Jacuzzis, pools, fitness centers, spas, deck games, and all manner of bars and lounges. For information on Crystal Cruises contact 888/722-0021 or check the website, www.crystalcruises.com. Silversea Cruises can be contacted in the U.S. at 800/722-9955, or visit their website at www.silversea.com.