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Feedback on Thailand/SE Asia initial itinerary w/ kids

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Hi,

I am planning on a 4-5 week trip to Thailand and SE Asia with my husband, 3 year old, and 6 month old. We are in our 30s and going in January/February 2015. We would love your feedback on our first stab at a trip itinerary.

Fly from LAX to Bangkok, stay 5 nights
Overnight train to Chiang Mai, stay 7 nights
Fly to Krabi, stay 7 nights
Fly to Singapore, stay 5 nights,
Fly to Siem Reap, stay 5 nights
Overland to Bangkok
Stopover in Tokyo on the way home, stay 5 nights

Some other info:
-We're on a budget, so we want to save money where we can without being too inconvenienced.
-We definitely want to go to Angkor Wat/Siem Reap, Chiang Mai and a beach area in Thailand. We are going to explore Bangkok since we're flying in there. Singapore seems good in terms of trip logistics and for the kids, and Tokyo seems neat as a stopover.

-How doable is this with our kids, and what feedback you have on our destinations, time in each area, travel between destinations, or anything we're missing/should take out?
-Should we switch out Tokyo for Bali, or will Bali be too similar to Thailand?
-Is the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and the overland from Siem Reap to Bangkok doable with kids?
-What beach would you recommend, and would you recommend going to 2 different ones?
-Should we extend our time in Cambodia to go to Phnom Penh?
-Are there better transportation options or a different trip order?

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    My first reaction is that this way too much traveling with kids at that age. Secondly traveling by overland and overnight trains may prove to be a bad idea given that train travel in Asia is not the same as it is in Europe. Also doing Angkor Wat may also be difficult on the kids. I suggest cutting down the number of venues and taking it easy. Spend the money saved and stay in nice resorts and in venues that have well developed infrastructure with respect to tourism. Is this your first trip to Asia? If so you really need to be thinking slower , less running around- especially with kids at that age.
    In Bangkok I suggest the Anatara on the river- they have a great pool and have kids programs.

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    that would be anantara riverside.. but I would suggest a 2 bedroom at chatrium riverside as an alternative--cheaper too.

    no train, fly to chiang mai--air asia or nok air..

    Angkor would be too difficult with small kids I feel..

    Sheraton is very nice in krabi

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    If you are on a budget, you will need to cross Singapore and Tokyo off your list. Everything is very expensive in both cities, especially hotel rooms. Figure $300-$500 a night for both places, you'll spend $3000-$5000 just for hotels in the two cities.

    On the other hand, your pacing is pretty good. But you know better than I do how your children travel.

    Your idea of overland travel, especially with kids needs to be reconsidered. Most adults are pretty cranky after going to/from Siem Reap overland - I don't want to think about what it would be like with two small children.

    You will need to be willing to use babysitters as needed, particularly in Siem Reap.

    Bangkok is a marvelous city. I'd add more time there rather than going to Singapore or Tokyo.

    For beach, you want to be somewhere on the Andaman coast: Phuket, Krabi, Khao Lak, etc. Choose one place to spend all of your beach time. That way you can settle in and enjoy.

    I'd switch out Bali for both Singapore and Tokyo. Bali is quite different from Thailand, as it is Hindu while Thailand is Buddhist.

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    Warm greetings pchen and congratulations on future SE Asia holiday -- and potential stay in our fine home of Singapore.

    As noted, SIN can be a bit pricey. Will add, that with judicious planning, a Singapore holiday does not have to decimate one's cheque book. An acceptable initial primer is: yoursingapore dot com/ It contains numerous lodging options that could very well fit your budget. Singapore is almost always a hit with parents with young children (well, certainly with some cherished Scottish cousins who love to holiday in SIN with their kids over the Christmas and New Year's holidays).

    Will have more lodging - and aviation - suggestions once finally home to Singapore next week (ongoing business trip). Savour your planning pchen; very happy for you. Warm wishes to you and all from San Francisco Bay Area,

    macintosh (robert)


    ... Singapore Girl, You're a Great Way to Fly ...

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    We traveled extensively in Asia with our son from the time that he was 18 months old. I think whether you enjoy your time there with young children really depends on if you are willing to build in an ample amount of down time in your itinerary and willing to devote a lot of energy keeping them safe and entertained. ltsThe jet lag plus heat and humidity really take a toll on kids (and adults) so you have to slow down considerably.

    My son was grown up before we made it to Angkor though we did visit Burma when he was a toddler. He enjoyed it immensely, but it was quite the work out for his parents running interference as he zoomed up and down the temple steps. I don't know that I'd recommend it.

    For travel outside of main cities, I would suggest that you make sure you are covered by medical evacuation insurance and that you understand the contract details, e.g., which hospital you would be taken to in emergency.

    Our son's first trip to Bali was at age three. He loved it and the Balinese loved him, which made the experience all the more pleasurable for all of us. Aside from beach time, Bali offers wonderful arts and crafts, religious pageantry and masked dance that young children readily relate to. It's a good value overall, and child care is inexpensive and reliable. There are aspects of Bali that overlap with Thailand, but the culture and environment are quite different, especially if you spend most of your time inland in the Ubud area. January/February is the rainy season in Bali, so it's not ideal for the beach anyway, but it's also low tourist season (except for Lunar New Year mid-February) and rates will be advantageous.

    I'm ambivalent on Singapore with young kids. There's a lot to do -- Night Safari, the Bird Park, the marine parks and aquariums -- but the experience may not justify the cost. Tokyo is even more expensive and is not especially kid friendly. If you want another stopover you might add Hong Kong which, although also expensive, is more accessible and is very festive before Lunar New Year. The Star Ferry and Peak Tram alone will be highlights for your three year old.

    I think if you choose Bangkok, north Thailand (not necessarily Chiang Mai itself), a Thai beach, Bali and possibly one other location, you'll get a great overview of Asia and not wear yourselves out by jumping from place to place. I agree, flying is preferable to traveling overland.

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    Agree with marmot...maybe stick to Thailand and Bali for now. I found Thailand and Bali to be quite different.

    We loved visiting Thailand, Cambodia and Tokyo with our kids when they were 10 and 13. We also traveled extensively with them when they were very little, but not to malarial destinations. I wouldn't want to give malarial meds to babies/toddlers and for that reason, I would skip Siem Reap. I would also wait to take them to Tokyo - the stairs in the train stations will be a challenge and they will appreciate Japan a lot more when they're school age.

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    Hi -- since I have traveled with young kids from pillar to post around this world since they were babies, I say take them. Only you know your children and I feel since you are exposing them to international travel at such a young age by 5 and 3, they will be packing their own backpacks for the plane like my kids. I have kids age 6, 10 and 12 now and my 12 year old requested spending her next birthday in Tokyo which I'm planning, because of her love of travel and food. She went on her first international trip at 8 weeks.

    With that said, since I've been to Siem Reap with the kids summer before last, if you really want to go, I do think you will have to explore babysitters. If you stay in a nice hotel this should not be a problem. And things are much much cheaper in a Cambodia than some of your other cities. I say this for two reasons: the days are very, very long to truly appreciate the temples. At a place like Angkor if the kids poop out before you do, you will be disappointed because you will immediately feel its history and importance. Secondly, you cannot use a stroller at all. You will have to hold both the kids and the paths are uneven and all structures have lots of climbing and stairs. It would be difficult for you. If you plan your days right, there are other temples that are smaller and more compact that take less time. They could go with you for a few hours and then couple it with other sights in the area. In terms of malaria meds, check with a pediatric travel doctor which is easy to do, especially since you are in LA. It's a personal decision. My kids did take meds at your kids age to go on safari in South Africa and have used them several times since with no adverse side effects, but it's a personal choice.

    Have you considered Laos? We went with the three kids too and we all loved it. We were only in Luang Prabang and the surrounding area, but it was lovely. It's an easy city to navigate and there are lots of sites and sounds for the whole family to enjoy. It has a sleepy, peaceful and relaxing feeling that is conducive to children.

    I would agree to take out Tokyo if you are on a budget. I can tell you now that I'm gearing up for a whopping bill to plan a birthday trip of a lifetime for my daughter. Laos is much cheaper and works well with Cambodia if you go. You will save so much money from Tokyo, that you could easily fly as tickets are not bad.

    Good luck! You are going to be raising inquisitive and interesting global citizens!

    Take care.

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