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1st time to Thailand - need input please!

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1st time to Thailand - need input please!

Old Oct 21st, 2010, 05:18 PM
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1st time to Thailand - need input please!

A friend and I will be traveling to Thailand for the first time - we'll be there for the second half of March and will have 13 days there (after travel). We're adventurous travelers looking to see a variety of places throughout the country. I'm just starting to gather info and would love to hear ideas on must-see or favorite places. Thanks for the help!
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Old Oct 21st, 2010, 05:30 PM
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With the amount of time you have on the ground, I would consider three base locations (Bangkok, a beach location, and a location in the north... ie Chiang Mai). You need to read posts here and also find yourself a guide book. Get some ideas of what you would like to see/do. Also, what is your budget for hotels?
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Old Oct 21st, 2010, 05:31 PM
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well of course bangkok holds many people's interest including mine....i suggest that you spend about 5 days there....selecting your hotel is very important as it can make or break your trip....many of us suggest hotels along the river for first time visitors, but most of them are quite expensive--$100-300 per night, with the bulk of them $125-190.

march is very hot so i suggest that each place you stay has a pool...

without knowing more about you it is difficult for us to suggest things....give us a budget...

thailand is a food lovers paradise with all cuisines available in the larger areas and of course thai food is excellent and reasonable... NO water drinking, except bottled water however... wine is expensive, beer is good and cheap.

the thais are the best people in the world....the country and city are very safe overall...

thai beaches are quite nice: phuket and pattaya are wild bar type places, koh samui, hua hin, koh chang, krabi and many others are more subdued....

transportation is easy within the country...airfares are cheap...check out air asia...

one warning....if you are coming from usa or canada you will be very tired upon arrival and may require a day or two to unwind, so do not plan much on your first 2 days.... many folks like to head right to the beach areas for this reason.
most usa flights arrive about midnight...

we love to make suggestions so tell us a little more about your budget, style of travel, needs
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Old Oct 22nd, 2010, 05:04 AM
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Thanks for the quick responses; we are from the USA so thanks for that advice too. I didn't provide too much info as we're truly looking for those must-see things that will give us the best experiences and feel for the diversity and culture, and then we'll decide how they fit into our budget. I like the idea of a northern place, beach and Bangkok. We're kicking around the idea of staying at a mediation center for a couple days, and also heard a cooking class in Bangkok could be fun. We're very open and adventurous travelers and generally prefer less touristy things, local hotels and restaurants. I dive, we like kayaking, rafting, hiking, mountains, rainforest, city, beach and love food! We're also thinking about taking one less day in Thailand and spending it in Beijing en route home to break up the trip. Budget-wise, we're probably in the lower to mid-range. Hope that helps - appreciate the feedback!
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Old Oct 22nd, 2010, 07:25 AM
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In my experience taking a day stopover on the way to or from Asia just makes the trip longer and the jetlag adjustment longer. I'd spend all the days you can in Thailand. Also, if you are traveling on a budget, consider the price of a China visa: $150.

In Bangkok, I consider the following must-see/do:

Grand Palace/Emerald Buddha, Wat Po, Wat Arun (If you are interested in Buddhism, there are other wats I'd recommend, many where you will rarely see tourists).

Jim Thompson House

If you are interested in the arts of SE Asia, I'd recommend the Prasart Museum (a private museum where you'll need reservations)

A ride in a water taxi on the river, a klong tour

Depending on your interests, a day trip to Ayutthaya.

Sampling lots of Thai food!


If you opt for a northern location, Bangkok and a beach, do your cooking class in Chiang Mai.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2010, 10:12 AM
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Khao Lak has reasonable beaches and is a great location for diving, Not too far away is khao Sok national park for jungle treks, rafting staying in treehouses. Bangkok needs a few days to see the sights and, as kathie suggests Chiang Mai is the place for a cooking class (although it is along way to go just for that) so a trek out to a minority peoples village would be a good add on. Other places in the north worth visiting are Mae Hong Sorn, Pai etc. if you are happy driving in Thailand consider driving the Mai Hong Sorn loop from Chiang mai see- http://www.budget.co.th/images/world...ss_mae_eng.pdf
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Old Oct 23rd, 2010, 01:34 PM
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Don't bother with a stopover. Might as well get there. You'll fly in and out of Bangkok so a few days at the beginning and a few at the end. So my suggestion is:

BKK
Chiang Mai
Beach
BKK

Check the weather/rainfall for the right beach. Phuket and the west have very different weather patterns than Ko Samui and the Gulf of Thailand. Look at weatherbase.com for average rainfall.

It's going to be hot and humid, so be prepared. A pool will be a necessity.
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Old Oct 24th, 2010, 06:07 AM
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Here's my check list for "first timers....


Here are 20 things to think about when visiting Thailand…

1. Bring a mobile (cell) phone. It should be “unlocked” - this can be done either at home or in Thailand - then buy a Thai SIM card for it on arrival, they’re cheap (approx. 50 baht) or even free and depending on cost include some credit already on them. International calls to Oz/UK are about 5 - 8baht per min…Phones are cheap to buy too – and unblocked. Use the cheap rate international dialling numbers – 004, 5, 6, 7 8 9 etc.

2. Money - Bring ATM cards: - debit credit etc. - check fees and tell your bank your are going abroad. - Take Travellers cheques best for back-up. Bring very little cash (Baht) – you almost always get a better rate of exchange here than any home country. You can change money on arriving at the airport... Banks and ATMs -(keep some cash in reserve in case of flight delays/diversions etc) BEWARE - there is now a 150 baht surcharge for all foreign cards used in most ATMs!

3. Booking – there is usually no need to book rooms before you come as there is plenty of cheap accommodation. Exceptions would be in high season if you want a particular place and maybe for your first one or two nights just to get orientated.

4. Bring very few clothes – they are cheap here and you’ll only bring stuff that is too warm anyway.

5. Very little luggage – this makes you more mobile if you need to be and less vulnerable to taxi touts and undesirable men….Before you go home you can buy any extra luggage (cheap) to take souvenirs etc.

6. Internet access is everywhere – even on the beach… you can get all your photos copied to CD - If you have a lap-top you can connect it there's wi-fi in many public places cafes malls etc.)...and many hotels have wifi broadband - fees very immensely

7. Food - Thai food is very unlikely to give you food poisoning but can contain more chillies than you ever thought possible….Street food is usually safe (and delicious!), check for numbers of customers and general looks of the stall. Western (“farang”) food is much more likely to give you food poisoning …beware of Western Fast Food outlets and hotel buffets - food that has been out for over an hour or so. Thailand is not used to fridges/chill-serve etc. - fridges are not part of Thai cooking lore yet!

8. Always carry a pack of tissues - they don’t supply free tissues (if there is a vending machine at all!) – learn to use a “bum-gun” !!

9. Drink bottled water - not tap water. Even consider not brushing your teeth with tap water. Ice is usually safe in drinks and for anything else.

10. Crime - Use common safety sense – it is easy to relax too much here…when it comes to petty crime the rate is certainly lower than in places like the US/Europe etc…but every country has its share of con-men and psychopaths…..beware of fellow travellers! Don't behave like a shop window for thieves. Many Thai people legally own hand-guns.

11. Don’t be afraid to go to Pattaya – it is the tourist-sex capital of Thailand but they don’t jump out at single women and couples and it has good, cheap hotels, shopping and food. Not a bad place to start off for “All points East” - Koh Chang, Koh Samet, Khao Yai or Cambodia.

12. Bring an international driving permit – although most national ones are accepted by motorbike and car hire companies and anyone else who wants to hire you something….you may not be insured without an IDP! In Thailand they drive on the left - cars are Right-hand-drive. However driving is really only for the experienced. Be especially careful on a motorbike - Samui has the highest accident rate in Thailand.

13. Public transport is cheap. Planes, Trains, Buses, Minibuses, Taxis, from town to town. If you’re in a minibus or taxi, tell the driver you’ll tip him if he keeps the speed below 90/100 kph! National speed limit is 90kph (120 on motorways)

14. Around Bkk try to use meter taxis with the meter on...it’ll be cheaper than the tuk-tuks. Take a tuk-tuk once for the experience then use meter taxis. Don’t let the drivers take you out of your way...they’ll try to take you to some (relative’s) store where they get commission.

15. Medical - Firstly it is best when you can, to consult with a doctor at home who specialises in tropical medicine. - Check out a few “jabs & medications” - Hep “A” & “B” require a long course before leaving and are a pretty good idea –unless going to remote areas, most travellers don’t bother with the malarial medication – too heavy! You can get tetanus or rabies here if you’re bitten by a dog - it’s cheap. Many medicines (including antibiotics) can be bought over the counter without prescription and are cheap. A pharmacist will give you what he considers right for your symptoms but you can just as easily see a doctor at a local clinic for a couple of hundred baht. They usually speak a little English.

16. Check up on Thai manners and customs – this will earn you more respect from the locals. - Keep up some dress sense – how you dress in Thailand is quite important. Don’t go topless without checking out if it’s acceptable where you are – usually it’s frowned upon. You’ll notice that Thai women (even sex workers) are very modest in public –they usually swim fully clothed. You may at times be expected to take off your shoes – in certain parts of Temples, entering someone's home and even the occasional shop – just keep an eye out on what others are doing – there may even be a shoe rack.Table manners – Thais tend to eat from communal dishes in the centre of the table – don’t pour everything onto your own plate!

17. Don’t knock the royal family – even in jest.

18. Body language - Don’t point your feet at people – the body is seen as hierarchical and the feet are the “lowest” part and should not be waved about (this is like a “fingers up” sign). Before entering someone’s home you must take off your shoes; this also applies to some shops and businesses. - Never take a shoe off and wave it at someone – this could lead to violence.
It is also impolite to touch people on the head.
Extended arm with waving hand palm down means “come here” - palm up is considered impolite.

19. The “Wai” - It’s not really necessary to “Wai” people - the Thai greeting - as you’ll probably get it wrong. If they Wai you, you might try a wai back.

20. Remember, this is the Land of Smiles and you will find everything goes much better when you have a smile on your face - whatever the situation….
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Old Oct 24th, 2010, 08:38 AM
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Some counter-points to the above:

3. "there is usually no need to book rooms before you come as there is plenty of cheap accommodation" This is true for the least expensive accommodation. For mid-range or upper range accommodation you'll pay more if you arrive without a reservation. You don't necessarily have to book far ahead, but internet prices for most accommodation will be cheaper than what you can negotiate in person. Some people book their first few nights, then book each subsequent stay a couple of days ahead. See www.latestays.com for great bargains.

11. "Don’t be afraid to go to Pattaya" True, there is no reason to be afraid to go to Pattaya. But I'm not sure why you would choose to go. It's reputation as a haven for sex-tourists doesn't make it an attractive place, and the beaches are dirty. Don't waste your time.

15. Medical - do your research first. You'll want to make sure that routine immunizations such as tetanus are up to date. Hep A is recommended even if you are staying at home. It takes two injections for the full course, but you'll have partial immunity after the first. If you opt for the Hep A & B combination, the series is three shots, but again, you'll have partial immunity after the first.

Malaria is a problem only in the remote border areas with Burma, Laos and Cambodia, places you are unlikely to visit. Most travelers to Thailand don't take malarial medication for this reason, not because it's "too heavy."

If you become ill in Thailand, go to a major hospital. Doctors, nurses and administrative personnel at the large hospitals do speak English and the physicians are sometimes US-trained.

16. As KW says, Thai women dress modestly. Topless sunbathing is not considered appropriate anywhere in Thailand. In the city, tank tops, bared midriffs, etc, are considered inappropriate and should be saved for the beach.
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Old Oct 24th, 2010, 04:47 PM
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Thank you all for the great suggestions and advice - completely excited!
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Old Oct 24th, 2010, 07:10 PM
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i think the suggestions are basically quite good... why would one spend time looking for an hotel while on vacation?? book ahead... you can always move on...

street food....eat it but don't be surprised if you get sick... just take a look at their clean up facilities... bowls of non-bottled water and soap in the alleys...

we have enjoyed our two stays in pattaya...
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Old Oct 27th, 2010, 07:47 PM
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Pattaya actually have lots of places to go.. although it's quite famous for the sex tourist especially the walking street, but still it has lots of other places to go..u can go to the floating market to have a look too.. 20 mins from the pattaya city is the vine yard (silver lake, it has a very nice view..
i used to go there and stay at Citin garden resort. the hotel a 3-star hotel, not really expensive but yet a very nice place to see..
Since u alrd in Thailand, go ahead..explore as you can

For Bangkok, i can say it really famous for Shopping..Chatuchak will be the best place to explore. it has all the things from clothes, crafts, food, everything.. Also don't forget to try on thai massage too!
for temples, you can go to wat arun (chao phraya river there, wat pho, wat phra keaw..if you come on april 13-15, there will be songkran festival (water festival)the most fun festival in thailand..

place to stay..for budget..u can consider legacy express at sukhumvit soi 1.. near BTS ploenchit and Nana..

if you want to hotel with pools try out grand president at sukhumvit soi 11..

Good Luck! hope u had a great trip! XD
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Old Oct 28th, 2010, 06:20 AM
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KW, you forgot what I think was in another post your best piece of advice related to #14. On boarding promise the Bangkok cab driver a large tip IF he drives within the speed limit. Ours drove like a maniac. Might have been an angry reaction to my demand that he turn the meter on en route to the airport.
Wish I'd known that advice in advance of taking one of the most hair-raising rides of our lives, during which my wife was pleading with him to slow down and drive more carefully. Not a great way to finish up a trip to Thailand.
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Old Oct 28th, 2010, 06:56 AM
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If the driving is that dangerous then the best option is to get out and hail another taxi if you can. Offering a large tip to drive the way you want might be interpreted as meaning they're a lousy driver...
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Old Oct 28th, 2010, 07:40 AM
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If you go to Pattaya check out the Tiffinay show - ladyboys- quite entertaining and appropriate for all ages. Also in Bangkok its the Calypso Cabaret at the Asia hotel. Again all good fun and you will have a blast!

We also enjoyed our stay in Pattaya.
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Old Oct 28th, 2010, 05:46 PM
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Pattaya's a sht hole. Don't waste your time there unless you're looking for whores.
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Old Nov 1st, 2010, 07:07 PM
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WJ - Yes - the advice was originally aimed at people getting taxis from the airport to Pattaya, but it obviously could apply elsewhere. time is money for these guys and they don't actually take a rational approach to how little time they save by driving at break-neck speed and taking unnecessary risks.
f they think they are getting a bit extra it can work wonders. Of course, you will have to put up with the driver taking his eyes off the road to repeatedly point at the speedo and grin at you!
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Old Nov 14th, 2010, 02:25 PM
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Hey, I will be in Thailand for three months starting in about three weeks. Traveling alone, first time there. I will keep you updated on how things go if you want!
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Old Nov 16th, 2010, 07:57 AM
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Bookmarking
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Old Nov 17th, 2010, 06:38 AM
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HHTaylor, please keep us posted. My neighbor's son is teaching in ChiangMai and my neighbor is dying to visit him but afraid to travel alone. I really tried to tell her it's fine and it's safe. I think she needs encouragment from other solo woman travelers.
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