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Are there ways to minimize the risks of Thai travel now?

Are there ways to minimize the risks of Thai travel now?

Dec 7th, 2008, 03:23 PM
  #1  
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Are there ways to minimize the risks of Thai travel now?

My daughter and I have long planned a trip to Thailand, beginning mid January. We can't just delay the trip because of scheduling issues. While the airports have opened, the political situation doesn't seem stable. We have made a partial deposit on the itinerary to a travel agent: Trails of Indochina (TOI). Our travel insurance, like most, does not cover the Thailand issues: they are classified as political unrest/civil war, etc. not Terrorism. Our itinerary includes Bkk, Ko Samet, Chiang Mai, CHiang Rai, Angkor Wat then back to Bangkok for a couple of days. A variety of flights in and through Bangkok airports. Any suggestions about how to evaluate risk, minimize cancellation policies on hotel, air and guide deposits, etc., and get some backup if we make the trip and encounter problems. I am not sure that TOI, the tour company, is particularly well staffed in Thailand. Is there one that might be better? This is custom travel, not a tour group and we live in San Francisco. Thanks for any advice, include alternative itinerary!
carolp is offline  
Dec 7th, 2008, 04:39 PM
  #2  
 
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Just keep monitoring what's going on. If things settle down, your trip will be great. Nice choices. There's no way to guarantee that the political situation will normalize, but it's likely to happen. Tourism is such an essential part of the Thai economy that it seems that calm should prevail.

We'll see.

Remember, if you get to BKK, hopefully, you will be able to adjust your intinerary on the fly. You might come up with a plan B to get to various locations by ground travel.
Gpanda is offline  
Dec 7th, 2008, 04:44 PM
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You are doing a lot of moving around. How much time do you have?

I know nothing about Trails of Indochina. Which local agency do they use in Thailand? If you need to make adjustments in your itinerary, is there someone local who can help you or do you have to do it through the travel agency in the US?

If you were booking everything yourself rather than going through a travel agency, you would have few (or even no) deposits to worry about. Booking directly with hotels typically requires no deposits, and typically you don't pay guides until you use them. Booking things yourself in this case would not only be much less expensive to begin with , but would allow you more flexibility should you want/need to change plans.
Kathie is offline  
Dec 7th, 2008, 05:07 PM
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I thought the same thing about booking directly BUT two of the more expensive hotels: Le Virnarm in Ko Samet and Anatara have cancellation policies of 27 and 21 days respectively...and by the way, there are no deals on prices anywhere! Probably only a day or so in advance. Also, can the hotels reliably arrange airport pick up, etc.? p.s. THis forum is great. I've looked at it lots as we planned this trip. We have two and a half weeks for the trip. My daughter will be going first to (slight gasp) India for two and a half weeks with friends...starting in Mumbai. Yep, we can pick them. Mumbai and Thailand/Bangkok on the same trip. Ask me what went on in Turkey in the weeks before I went there a couple of years ago...
carolp is offline  
Dec 7th, 2008, 05:30 PM
  #5  
 
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I too have good luck with trip selection. I'm leaving on December 19 for eight days in India followed by eight days in Thailand. I keeping every finger and toe crossed that this trip will go off without a hitch. Good luck to all of us intrepid travelers.
ggmcgg is offline  
Dec 7th, 2008, 06:21 PM
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The hotels certainly can arrange airport pick up, probably more reliably than a travel agency half a world away. It wouldn't hurt to email the hotel directly and ask about better prices and cancellation policies given the recent "difficulties" at the Bangkok airports - it never hurts to ask!

By the way, some unsolicited "advice" - you are on the ground for perhaps 16 days or so and are visiting 5 different places... you'll spend almost a third of your time in SE Asia traveling. Is that how you want to spend your trip? I'd highly recommend you cut at least one location. If it was me (and it isn't) I'd cut Chiang Mai. It' still quite a busy schedule, especially since it takes most of a day to get from one place to another... and if you are worried about problems at airports...
Kathie is offline  
Dec 7th, 2008, 09:15 PM
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The political situation here in Bangkok has completely calmed down. A new democratic party leader looks like getting PM job, and so the previous anti-govt protesters are gonna delighted.
Besides Bangkok, all those other Thai destinations you mentioned in your itinerary have in no way been affected by the recent unrest.

With fewer tourists and bargian hotel rates, you really ought to try and make it over - you won't be disappointed.
SiamJai is offline  
Dec 7th, 2008, 09:21 PM
  #8  
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Kathie,

Thanks for the suggestions--Trails of Indochina is headquartered in Vietnam and has offices/affiliates in Thailand..and, yes I agree about the busy schedule, although the BKK, KoSamet is drive/boat and there is one flight to take us to Chiang Mai, then by car to Chiang Rai. Unfortunately to get to Angkor (Seam Reap), we have to fly back to Bangkok then on to Seam Reap, so it's through Bangkok again. And, then we conclude with a few days in Bkk, which I now wonder if we should cancel...
carolp is offline  
Dec 7th, 2008, 09:24 PM
  #9  
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Ok, how on earth do you get bargain rates? So far all of the hotels and websites are quoting the same prices as before and queries about rates or cancellation policies have yielded no flexibility! Many thanks for suggestions.
carolp is offline  
Dec 8th, 2008, 07:58 AM
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Carol, we are now entering the highest season in Thailand. Rates from just before Xmas to just after New Year's are the highest of the year - sometimes twice what they are even during high season. So there is no guarantee you can get discount rates.

Call or email your hotels and ask about rates and whether they can give you a better rate. Also ask about any leniency in cancellation policies. Again, no guarantees. Since so many hotels lost so much money during the airport closures, they may be reluctant to discount.

To be honest with you, I wouldn't use a VN based travel agency to book Thailand. Of course, I'd book it all myself, so I'm not sure that is helpful to you. But since you've made deposits, it may not make sense to cancel at this point (though if you check the prices to book yourself, you may find it would cost less to cancel them, lose your deposits, and rebook yourself).

I don't know why you would cancel your few days in Bangkok. I was in Bangkok in late Oct and early Nov when the demonstrations were going on at Government House. Had I not been reading the news, I never would have known there was anything going on. I was not impacted in any way by the demonstrators.
Kathie is offline  
Dec 11th, 2008, 12:47 AM
  #11  
 
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Yeah, it would be crazy to cancel your trip. Just like Katie, i was in Bangkok (still am) during the times of the demonstrations etc.... at government house and was in now way affected by it all.
Sure, agreed again, unless you had read up on the situation in the news you wouldn't even had realized that anything unusual was going on!
SiamJai is offline  
Dec 11th, 2008, 01:10 AM
  #12  
 
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We've been in Thailand (Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son, so far) for the past week and there has been nothing...I repeat, nothing...that would prevent you from having a completely normal vacation. As SiamJai noted, the situation has drastically calmed down and the potential new PM seems like someone who will bring more unity than anything else.

Things are definitely looking up, so I would recommend you go on your trip and enjoy the heck out of yourself!

Happy travels!
filmwill is offline  
Dec 11th, 2008, 04:48 AM
  #13  
 
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What I see here in Thailand is what I see on TV and in the press, if I go outside the office or house there is nothing to let you think anything different is or has happened, but we are not in Bangkok. I'm in Phuket at the moment and apart from the airport handling those extra flights last week there is 'nothing' out of the ordinary. Yes tourists are down but I think it was not going to be a great year with the world economic situation as it is anyway. Budget flights from Australia into Phuket still arriving 'full' and airlines like Silk Air still running 4 flights a day to Singapore. yes tourism will be down but that means hoefully for you better flight and hotel deals.

Things happen, look at Athens !


JamesA is offline  

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