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Bangkok & Chiang Mai - hotel & travel choice

Bangkok & Chiang Mai - hotel & travel choice

Jan 1st, 2016, 10:42 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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Bangkok & Chiang Mai - hotel & travel choice

I will be flying to BKK at the end of January. I will have 2 nights (my late night arrival and 1 Saturday night) on my own before meeting friends in Chiang Mai. I have been to Bangkok once, but this is my first time in Chiang Mai.

1) I have a choice of staying at an airport hotel and flying to Chiang Mai the next day (Saturday) and spending a day/night on my own in Chiang Mai. OR
Spending 2 nights in BKK on my own, including my late night arrival and then flying on a Sunday morning to Chiang Mai to meet friends. We will fly back to BKK for 5 nights after spending 3 nights in Chiang Mai.


2) I am leaning towards the extra night in Chiang Mai, but looking at hotels, Novotel is twice the cost of the Best Western. I know the Best Western is a 15 min shuttle ride away and the Novotel is right at the airport. I will probably spend 9 hours at the airport hotel before flying to Chiang Mai on Saturday morning. Is it worth it to spend double on the Novotel?

3) Also, any recommendations for Chiang Mai restaurants? And advice on things to do in Chiang Mai? We have a visit scheduled at the Elephant Nature Park and will visit the temples, of course.
Thanks!
ellenbw is offline  
Jan 1st, 2016, 11:37 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,000
If you are going to spend two nights in Bangkok, don't stay by the airport, go into the city. I always recommend that people stay along the river to get a real taste of Bangkok.

I've stayed a number of times at the Novotel at BKK. In my case, each time I have stayed there, I have arrived after midnight and typically had a flight out at 8 am or so, so being right at the airport was what I wanted. But you are quite right, the Novotel is overpriced. If you have the time, go for the Best Western or one of the other nearby hotels. Do note what the reviews say about how long it actually takes to get to the hotel, as lots of hotels bill themselves as airport hotels that are half an hour or more away.

Choose which city to spend your extra day in depending on your preferences - there isn't a wrong answer here.

If it was me - and it isn't - and I had a free day in CM, I'd stay inside thee walls of the old city and spend my day wandering in the old city.
Kathie is offline  
Jan 1st, 2016, 11:56 AM
  #3  
 
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I agree with Kathie, stay in the centre of Chiang Mai, inside or close to the city walls. Loads of restaurants to choose from. One place I never miss visiting is Aroon Rai. Basic but clean and friendly. Some of the best curries anywhere in Thailand. Khao Soi Khun Yai, near the north gate , is great for the traditional northern Thai noodle dish with all the accompaniments as is Just Khao Soi on Charoen Bprathet.

Doi Suthep just outside of town is worth a visit if you have half a day to spare. Saturday and Sunday night walking markets are a bit touristy but worth an hour or two. I would avoid the main night market though - IMO a complete tourist trap selling tacky souvenirs

Just wandering around the old town piping into a few wats is probably the best way of experiencing the city.
crellston is offline  
Jan 1st, 2016, 12:25 PM
  #4  
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Thanks for all the great advice so far.
Kathie: Yes, if I stay in Bangkok for 2 nights, I would not stay at the airport hotel - I should have mentioned that I would head directly to the city to enjoy Bangkok and probably hit the Cotton House and choose some fabric for a couple of Thai silk shirts. I think that can still be done in the 2nd half of my trip.

Kathie - I should also thank you for your suggestion of SJ International for jewelry on my trip years ago. I have a beautiful sapphire ring from there as well as some 'fun' sterling silver earrings & ring with pink sapphires. I will be going back to add to my collection with this trip and be bringing my girlfriends with me!

Crellston, thanks for the restaurant recommendations and advice on Doi Suthep and the markets. I will be staying at Le Meridien which I think is well located for exploring the old city.

The reviews on the Best Western Hotel mention a 15-20 minute commute to the airport on their shuttle which runs every 30 minutes.

For an in-country flight, BKK to CNX, checking a bag, how early do I need to be at the airport before my flight? I would normally be there 90 minutes ahead in the USA.
ellenbw is offline  
Jan 1st, 2016, 10:45 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
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For Doi Suthep, you can take an organized tour (all the hotels know how to arrange that) or commandeer a songthaew (the red trucks) to get you to the top. A fair price for a songthaew to the top of Doi Suthep that waits for you is 400-500 baht for the round trip.

I would not recommend staying near the airport as there is no "action" there. Stay somewhere near or inside the moat. You can get a songthaew/tuk tuk to anywhere you want to go if you are in the moat area.

I am currently staying at the Smith Suites--which I highly recommend. It is mainly for long stays but they do have a daily rate. Their older building, Smith Residence, is a bit cheaper and also has a daily rate. The hotels are immediately out Chiang Mai Gate. There is a huge food market there at night.

I hope this helps.

I recently posted a long list of links to my blogs on my SE Asia trip 2015-2016 based mostly in Chiang Mai. I did a similar trip in 2014-2015 that included Siem Reap Cambodia (Angkor Wat and other temples) and Yangon Burma. You can find everything on altecockertravels.weebly.com if you are interested.
lauren_s_kahn is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2016, 08:04 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
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Stay over night at the Elephant Nature Park!You won't feel rushed.
I go every year and stay for 4 nights.

Chang Mai Sunday walking street is full of stuff to buy.....lots of crowds.

I'm BKK Visit Silom Gem Building.Its near the Holiday Inn Silom. Beautiful gems 100 Real, cheap,.....start down stairs.Mind boggling.
Some venders can make anything to order..SJ international has nothing compared to this place.Sorry Kathie!
zoso is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2016, 08:45 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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zoso, are you referring to the Jewelry Trade Center? I haven't heard of a Silom Gem Center.

SJ has the advantage of being a single shop with a great reputation. Many Fodorites have purchased jewelry there and had it appraised well at home. While mind boggling can be fun, for major purchases of jewelry, I always like to have good references.

If you'll only be spending the late night before going to Chiang Mai, I'd opt for the Novotel. If you do go into Bangkok for 2 nights, don't forget you can check a big bag at BKK airport and just carry an overnight kit to your BKK hotel. It's 100 Baht per day and very simple to drop off or re-claim.
lcuy is offline  
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