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July in Thailand & Laos: Thoughts on our itinerary??

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My husband and I, middle aged (yikes) travel lovers who like somewhat off-the -beaten track, not touristy, travel will spend 3 weeks this July in Thailand (Bangkok and Mae Hong Son) and Laos (Luang Prabang). This is our 2nd trip to Thailand: we were there 3 years ago, also in July and fell seriously in love, so we're actually revisiting Bangkok and Mae Hong Son, hoping to see all that we missed and adding in Laos.
We only have 3 months left to plan, but figure that since this isn't the busiest season, we can still book what we want in terms of hotels (we like luxury when it's available) and flights (we have NY-Bangkok, so we're committed).

This is our outline so far--questions follow:

---7/4 Arrive Bangkok: one day to rest up and see a bit

---morning of 7/6 Bkk to Chiang Mai

---7/6 overnight CM staying at Rachamankha Hotel (we spend almost a week in CM last trip)

7/7-7/10 Mae Hong Son. Will spend 3 full days with Ju from Rose Garden Travel trekking and going to genuine Hill Tribes. Maybe boat trip and home stay. Thinking of staying in Boodee House in town (Stayed in Fern Resort before, but want to be in town this time.

??? 7/11-7/18 Luang Prabang/Laos. Just posted about this. This gives us 6 full days in LP. Is this too much? We'd be interested in maybe doing an interesting overnight somewhere (Nong Khiaw?) if that made sense--or should we instead just spend 5 days in LP, relax and head a day early to Bangkok? One day will be the cooking school Tamarind. Saw from previous posts that Residence Phou Vau was very good, though would rather be closer to town, but somewhere luxurious too.

7/19-7/22 Bangkok (leaving for NYC very early the 23rd). This is 4 full days in BKK. We were there last time, but didn't feel we REALLY saw it. Last time did the Floating Market/Fishing Village with Tong: really liked her and thinking book her for a day in the city, but not sure what to ask to do--NOT museum stuff, but more things only a Thai would know to introduce us too. Heard there was a great food tour of Chinatown.
Where to stay is making me crazy. So many choices and neighborhoods. I know this question is asked every day here. (Thinking Milenium Hilton? But I'd rather be on other side of river. Would like to spend under $200 and want breakfast included. Stayed at Peninsula last time, but pricey and would rather not have to cross river ) Know it's important to be near the Skytrain, and would love a pool along with a yummy breakfast (though nothing will ever beat the buffet at the Peninsula).

Anyway, a longer post that I'd planned, but would seriously welcome comments and input. Would you shift dates around? Is LP the right choice for something new? Guides you recommend, places that can't be missed, the perfect hotel/guest house/experience???

Thanks so much,


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