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Thailand Itinerary June 2012 - 9 days, 2 kids

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Hello,

I am going to Thailand with my family (husband, 15-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son.) I've been sorting through the places that look inviting, and realize that I need to adopt the less-is-more approach, but first I'd love some feedback from all of you experts. My goal is to get a variety of experiences: temples, markets, wandering, street food, nature. I've contemplated 3 itineraries:
Bangkok-Kanchanaburi-Chiang Mai
Bangkok-Lampang-Chiang Mai
Bangkok-Chiang Mai

Kanchanaburi is attractive for the floating hotel possibility and for Erawan National Park
Lampang is attractive because the city seems interesting (?) and for Chae Son National Park. (I can't help noticing that no one on the forum has said anything about either of these cities - are they unsuitable or just off the beaten path?) The plan is to take the overnight train north from Bangkok to either Lampang or Chiang Mai for the adventure of it.

If we eliminate both of those places for reasons of logistics and time, what do people think of Khao Yai National park as a day trip from Bangkok and/or Doi Suthep from Chiang Mai?

My impression is that a base in Chiang Mai allows for a variety of activities. We do plan to visit the Elephant Nature Park outside Chiang Mai.

Finally, my theory is that we should have a good base in each place we stay. (If it were me and my husband, we'd stay in cheap dives and spend our days wandering. But with kids it's different, am I right?) So any recommendations on great family hotels with grounds (or public areas greater than the room we will all be sharing) and pools (since it will be so hot)
Thank you in advance!

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    You are quite right that less is more, especially at this time of the year when the weather will be very hot. I'd be inclined to choose just two places, and Bangkok and Chiang Mai make sense.

    Lampang is mostly known on this board as the location of the Thai Elephant Conservation Center. I can't remember anyone raving about the attractions of the city of Lampang. From CM, you can take day trips to Lampang and to Doi Suthep (highly recommended) and to the areas around CM.

    I agree you want a place to stay that offers good facilities for the kids. Virtually every hotel in Thailand has a pool, so even fairly inexpensive places will have this amenity. One place that has often been reviewed has family friendly (with a big family room) and inexpensive is Baan Orapin in Chiang Mai. In Bangkok, there are dozens of places that would work. If you can, stay by the river. It gives you access to the water taxis (a quintessential Bangkok experience) as well as the view of the endlessly fascinating river traffic. The Chatrium might be a good choice, as it is a serviced apartment and would offer more space for the four of you.

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    I basically agree with Kathie (as so often is the case!!)

    Firstly Kanchanaburi. Of great interest to Aussies & Brits for the infamous "death railway" of WW2 and to Thai students for noisy parties at weekends! The floating "hotels" are not great - we looked at one and decided immediately to stay on land!

    Erawan and other NPs are very scenic but you really need your own car. The are also one or two overated cave systems you can have a look around in the area. In essence, this would be my last choice of your three itineraries. If you do decide to go the Inchantree hotel is a very nice place to stay.

    If you did want to break your journey to Chiang mai and see some temple then Sukothai is worth considering for its temples and the train is a great way to get to CM which would be a bit of an adventure for the kids (book 2 adjoining private compartments 1st Class).

    Lampang itself is just a laid back Thai town - nice enough but as Kathie points out really of interest for the elephants centre.

    Loads to do in CM - doi suthep is but one attraction and best done early morning before the clouds or haze set in and spoil the view (we were there in December). Click on my name for a recent trip report on CM & The north. Yestravel also has a detailed ongoing report on the north.

    http://www.travelfish.org/sights/thailand/northern_thailand/chiang_mai/chiang_mai has some good ideas on things to see and do.

    Kathie gives good advice on Bangkok and an apt would be definitely the way to go.

    Khao Yai National park is a long day from BKK. Some nice waterfalls (and lots of monkeys as I recall). I think some scenes fron The Beach were filmed there. A boat trip from BKK to Ayuthaya, Bang pa in might be better choice or one of teh floating markets. Do not underestimate teh amount there is to see in Bangkok

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