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Trip Report 3weeks in Thailand, Cambodia & Laos

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We just returned from our first trip to Asia. Thank you to all of the Fodorites who gave me suggestions for our trip that made it the successful and wonderful adventure that it was.

We left on 12/12/12 from San Francisco. My husband, our 17 year old daughter, and myself flew Cathay Pacific to HK & then on to Bangkok, while my son & his fiancé flew United to Tokyo & then onto BKK. We were scheduled to leave at the same time & arrive within minutes of each other. At the last minute their flight was changed & they ended up arriving several hours after we did, necessitating a separate airport pick up.

I prearranged our airport pick-ups with the company Oriental Escapes, highly recommended by a friend who lives in Bangkok. They were great to deal with and I prearranged all of our pick-ups on their website, listing each flight, the destinations, hotel names & the number of people to be picked up. We had a total of 5 airport pick-ups/deliveries. Each time they were on time, efficient, competent and very nice to deal with. I paid for all of the rides after the first one, which was nice as there was no need to deal with payment more than once. Their service was not nearly as cheap as a taxi but I knew my older kids were not great travelers & it ensured that they would be picked up without having to manage on their own. At times we were picked up in a van to accommodate all 5 of us.

We were in Bangkok for three nights before flying to Chiang Mai. While in Bangkok we stayed at the Royal Orchid Sheraton in river view rooms. We purchased vouchers from Expat Holidays Thailand for our stay at a very reasonable rate (which I can't remember now). This was one of those specials someone mentioned on the Forum before the moderators quickly removed it. It turned out to be legitimate despite my worries & we really enjoyed staying at the ROS, particularly the river view & the convenience to the water taxis & ferries.

We spent quite some time every day at the breakfast buffet, a highlight for my kids as they liked seeing the Thai, Chinese, Japanese & western options. Once that was finished we went next door to the Riverside Mall to change money & headed out to catch our first ferry to the National Palace, which we all loved.

We must have done other things that day & had dinner somewhere but it must not have been memorable as I don't remember where or what we did. At some point we took a long walk through Chinatown, which the ROS borders. It was close to rush hour & somehow we hit the car repair section of Chinatown which went on for many, many blocks. Not the most scenic area of Chinatown in which to walk. Given the time of day, the streets were even more clogged than usual with hundreds (thousands?) or motorbikes,taxis & trucks. I was more than happy to return to our hotel! I definitely don't recommend the auto repair section unless you have a real love of auto parts, grease & grime.

The next day we spent the morning at Wat Po & Wat Arun. The afternoon was spent with our friend who lives in Bangkok. He took us to the modern part of the city & taught us to ride the Skytrain. We were impressed as it was so much cleaner, quieter, & nicer than BART at home. No one talks on their cell phones & is much more respectful of each other. Bay Area residents could take some lessons from the Thai.

We ended up at the Central Plaza Mall, the goal being the rooftop bar on the 57th floor to watch the Bangkok sunset. It was a spectacular setting, and, even though I have a tendency to be acrophobic, I really enjoyed it. The 2 for one drinks helped. We proceeded to see the Erawan Buddha and the associated scene, followed by dinner of Peking duck at a nearby Chinese restaurant.

We left Bangkok the next morning for our Discovery Pass flight to Chiang Mai.

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