Bangkok-Chiang Mai-Laos

Feb 5th, 2005, 07:45 AM
  #1  
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Bangkok-Chiang Mai-Laos

Ive been obsessively reading everything I can find on the Fodors boards re: Bangkok, CM, & Laos (specifically, Luang Prabang). Based on everything Ive seen, Im not sure well be able to do the trip wed like based on our time in country.

Were arriving BKK on Feb 25 and returning to NY on Mar 8, for a total of 11 nights & 10 days. Were booked at the Peninsula for 3 nights (2/25, 2/26 & 2/27) with the option of extending our stay. Our plan in Bangkok is to visit various Wats, wander around the City, take a day trip to Ayutthaya, see the floating markets, and shop (Id like to get a few business suits, etc.). From Bangkok, we travel to Chiang Mai via plane or overnight train (havent decided yet). Wed like to spend one day wandering around CM then take a 2-3 day Hill Tribe trek (probably w/Lisu Lodge). Notwithstanding US State Dept. health & safety warnings, wed like to visit Laos next. We havent decided how were going to get from CM to Laos, but the plan is either to travel do the Mekong River (see the following NYT article: http://travel2.nytimes.com/mem/trave...nations%2fAsia) or spend whatever time we have left in Luang Prabang. Then, of course, weve got to get back to Bangkok on Mar 7 for the flight home (very early Mar 8).

What do yall think? Is this itinerary doable? Im anxiously awaiting comments & suggestions : )

Thanks.
amyash is offline  
Feb 5th, 2005, 09:04 AM
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Frankly, I think you are trying to pack far too much into too little time. To begin, you've only got three nights in Bangkok. You're planning on spending a whole day going to Ayutthaya. You'll have one other whole day and maybe a few extra hours before you go to Chaing Mai. You want to visit wats and order suits in that time. A good suit wull require that you get at least three fittings. If you really want suits, you'll have to order as soon as you get there, get a least two fittings before heading away from Bangkok and plan for time for at least one more fitting after you get back to Bangkok.

You're planning on a 2-3 day trek in the north, then you're considering taking acouple of days on the slow boat to Luang Prabang. At best you'll glance at Luang Prabang before heading back to Bangkok .

I'd highly recommend that you choose just two places : either Bangkok and Chaing Mai or Bangkok and LP. You need more time in Bangkok (remember, you'll be really jetlagged!) just to accomplish the list you gave, and either Northern Thailand or Luang Prabang deserve more time than you've allotted.
Kathie is offline  
Feb 5th, 2005, 09:35 AM
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The time constraints are my biggest concern. The one thing I don't want to do is arrive somewhere, only to have a short period of time to see the sights. That being said, we want to maximize our time during this trip.

Should we do less in Bangkok, e.g., should I forego the suits if that's going to take up so much time?

How 'bout Angkor Wat instead of Laos? Or, perhaps the Golden Triangle region instead of Cambodia or Laos?
amyash is offline  
Feb 5th, 2005, 10:23 AM
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I'd say choose Bangkok and one other place. Since I'm ot fond of the Chiang Mai area, I'd recommend Angkor Wat, Luang Prabang or the Golden Triangle area. You could do 5 days in Bangkok and 5 days in the other place - any of those locations would be fine for 5 days.

This is likely only your first trip to this area of the world, not your only trip!
Kathie is offline  
Feb 5th, 2005, 01:03 PM
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i agree with kathie...skip one place...i think i would split my bkk time so that i am there at the beginning and end of my trip for an even number of days and go either to LP or Siem Reap....i hate CM so i would skip that...there is very little in CM that is not available in bkk...

you will love the peninsula....by the way your first day is usually a wipe out so don't plan on much for it...relax and swim and eat lightly...

jack at monet il sarto in the marriott resort and spa mini-mall is who we use for tailoring....you would be very happy with him....it is an easy taxi ride to that hotel or take the penn boat to taskim (skytrain stop), stay on that pier and take the marriott boat to that hotel--lovely ride even if you do not go to the tailor...his shop is on the second floor overlooking the large parking lot facing the street...
you have to plan on several fittings...know what you want before you go to a tailor, i.e. styling wise...have a picture if you can....he does have some books...

angkor is very aggressive and you need about 3-4 days minimum to do it... the sofitel is a great hotel there...

laung prabang is lovely, so i am told....i am going in june...i am staying in the pansea which i arranged through a nyc agent, whom i have just begun dealing with...his name is chip cooper and you can reach him at [email protected]

other fodorites have used him and i got his name here...i am quite pleased with his services and suggestions..

a good tailor/seamstress for women in silk is the js thai silk at the river city shopping center....take the penn boat to this mall across the river next to the sheraton...the shop is on the first floor opposite the info booth...
rhkkmk is offline  
Feb 5th, 2005, 04:51 PM
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I love Northern Thailand and I'd suggest you do bangkok, chiang mai and the golden triangle area.

Another good tailor is Cotton House in Oriental Place which is across the river from the Peninsula.
glorialf is offline  
Feb 6th, 2005, 09:33 AM
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Thanks for the resonses. Not necessarily what I wanted to hear, but good advice, nonetheless.

Re: suits, etc...is asking the tailor (I've e-mailed Jack per your recommendation, rhkkmk) to ship the clothing back to the US feasible (if I don't want to be bothered carrying the suits, shirts, pants, etc. home myself)? Or will it be too expensive?
amyash is offline  
Feb 6th, 2005, 11:02 AM
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I don't recommend shipping purchases home. Two issues: one, the cost and reliability of shipping and two, you'll have to pay a hefy duty on it when it gets to you in the US. If you carry it home yourself you likely won't have to pay duty, or you'll pay at a low rate (maybe 10%) rather than the regular duty which is more in the 30% range.

My first trip to Bangkok 20+ years ago, I had something shipped to me and it arrived looking like it had fallen out of the airplane. Fortunately, it was insured, but I have never forgotten that lesson.
Kathie is offline  
Feb 6th, 2005, 12:39 PM
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skip the suits altogether; why be obligated for fittings when you are such a physically spectacular part of the world. weight the cost of BKK-made suits against airfare etc. just to get suits made. I've just planned a trip for a similar time period and am cutting Bkk short by a day so we can go to Siem Reap and Luang Prabang. Both are so well recommended by fodorites (and Kathie and rhkmkk have been invaluable resources) and are not going to remain quiet, back-in-time locations for too much longer. As for the river trip in the NY Times, I'd suggest you go to lonelyplanet.com (and there, Thorn Tree.com) You will find an Asian web site that will tell you everything you want to know. Just remember, you will be on the river at the end of the dry season, when it is at its lowest, smelliest, shallowest, etc. In both LPB and REP you can take trips on the Mekong (incl kayak in LPB to Pak Ou caves) so that may be an alternative. also, check out "let's Go, Asia". its the only travel book I've found with a 2005 pub. date so its more recent than even fodor's, good luck with your choices.
Janak626 is offline  
Feb 6th, 2005, 11:08 PM
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Amy-if you've got 11 days, and you're spending 3 in BKK, and you really want to see Thailand and one other SE Asia country, then it makes perfect sense to move on to Chiang Mai, and from there to Laos and Luang Prabang. I do not, however, think you need to spend 3 days doing a hill tribe trek in CM-believe me, you'll see for yourself how visiting the hill tribe folk is really a very touristy affair, both for them and for you (mind you, I still think you should see the hill tribes, but do it in a day- not 3).

With 2-3 days in CM, (there's plenty to do and see here, remember!) you could then move on to Laos and Luang Prabang-where you could spend 3 days, then back to BKK. That way you'll get a flavor of two very different areas of Thailand, and another S.E. Asian country as well.

So I actually think it is quite a doable itinerary, frankly, because I like to see as much as I can see when I visit an area for the first time, then come back for subsequent trips to further explore and get to know those places that I really liked the first time around. Obviously you know yourself best, and so can decide which way you want to approach this first trip.

And btw, Amy, as far as "safety warnings" on Laos, you should know that there are NO Travel Warnings out for Laos. There is a Public Announcement concerning the insurgents fighting govt. forces, and that extreme caution should be taken by travelers partic. in public places, as there is the possibility that travelers could get caught in the crossfire of any such skirmishes. There have been no reports of any attacks against westerners there. But this type of cautionary information about Laos and a number of other countires that is put out by the State Dept. in their information sheets is fundamentally different than the Travel Warning in effect for Indonesia, which forbids US Govt. personnel from traveling to Indonesia altogether, and strongly recommends that all other US citizens do the same-there is no such warning out for Laos.
Spygirl is offline  
Feb 7th, 2005, 02:12 AM
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It's certainly possible to do what you originally proposed, but as suggested by B and K, it's probably overly ambitious. You'll be bouncing from one site to the next and may not have the time to enjoy them. However, if you're young (undeer 35-40), you may want to give it a try. If you're older, I think you'd benefit from slowing down the pace. This will allow a deeper exposure to fewer places. If you get hooked, you'll be back.
Gpanda is offline  
Feb 7th, 2005, 04:09 AM
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Also on Thai Airways you can fly from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang, not on all days of the week, however, so plan accordingly.
laurie_ann is online now  
Feb 7th, 2005, 07:52 AM
  #13  
 
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Nothing "overly ambitious" about visiting 3 places-and you certainly don't need to be under 40 to do that-jeez! There is a logical progression from CM to Laos-since, as Laurie Ann pointed out, you can catch a flight from CM into Laos.
Spygirl is offline  
Feb 7th, 2005, 12:16 PM
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For me, the reason to limit the number of places you visit is to give yourself the opportunity to experience the places you've chosen. Bangkok is filled with fascinating venues and things to do. I spend five days there each time I visit, and I've been there some 20 times. If you venture to Northern Thailand, outside busy Chaing Mai, you'll want to slow down and enjoy the slower pace. And Luang Prabang's charm lies in its slow pace and the opportunity to just wander the streets and the markets and the wats. You can certainly see three places in that much time, but you really can't experience three places. If, like spygirl, you just want a glimpse to decide whether you want to return, then see three places. If you want to have an experience of places on this trip, choose two. (I do agree with gloria, though, you could opt for Bangkok, CM and go farther north to the Golden Triangle in this much time.)
Kathie is offline  
Feb 7th, 2005, 06:56 PM
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Hi, again...bear with me, please, I'm still trying to work this out. Based on the responses to my initial query (thanks, all) and the things we'd like to see/do, we're going to spend another day to Bangkok. So...arrive very late Fri night/Sat am (2/25 - 2/26). Remain in Bangkok thru morning of 3/2 (Wed). That'll give us 4 full days/5 nights. Fly to CM early 3/2. Wander around CM am/pm (realistically, we'll probably only have the afternoon), spend the night, then take a 1 day trek to the hilltribes on 3/3. Get back to hotel in CM in evening, spend a 2nd night (3/3), then travel to EITHER Angkor Wat/Siem Reap or Luang Prabang morning of 3/4.

Stay in AW or LP 3/4, 3/5 & 3/6, then fly back to Bangkok on 3/7. Flight back to NY early 3/8.

One concern...I can't find flights directly from CM to either LP or AW/SR on Bangkok Air or Thai Air (well, the Thai air website is being difficult, so I'm not positive that there's nothing available). Connecting back in BKK is a waste of time we just don't have. Ideas?

BTW..we are young and ambitious (and, I still want my suits).
amyash is offline  
Feb 7th, 2005, 07:02 PM
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shipping is very expensive and not always that reliable....buy another suitcase and put everything you buy in it and check it as an additional piece of luggage...we buy one of those huge "rice bags" (stripe nylon bags with a central zipper on top) and cram it full of stuff....my wife buys tupperware like containers (like you would store sweaters in in the off seanon) and puts breakable things in them and puts them in between the clothing...everything comes home perfectly...we buy the containers at central chitlom and the rice bags on the street for $3.....
rhkkmk is offline  
Feb 7th, 2005, 07:07 PM
  #17  
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My issue w/the luggage: I'll have one bag & 2 carry-ons for the trip over; I anticipate having to buy a garment bag for the suits/shirts (am I obsessing over this, or what?), so unless I pay to check an add'l bag (this can't be cheap), I'm out of space.

Don't want to pay duty or taxes, tho. I'll have to suck it up somehow.
amyash is offline  
Feb 7th, 2005, 07:44 PM
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There is no flight that I know of from CM to Siem Reap. The only non-stop flights from BKK to SR are on Bangkok Air.

I have heard rumors that Lao Aviation flies from CM to LP (but not every day of the week). So if you want to go to CM, you are making it harder to get to either LP or SR.

You have TWO carry-ons and ONE checked bag? Typically, you'll have problems with two carry-ons. Don't buy a garmet bag - buy another suitcase, you can fit loads of things in there, not just your custom-made clothing. Plan to leave your extra suitcase in BKK and pick it up again on your way back through.

Personally, I'd skip CM (I have to admit I'm one of those people not fond of CM) and go to LP instead. You can visit tribal peoples in Laos, and it won't be as touristy as near CM. LP will be a real contrast to Bangkok. That will give you the time for your suits and the time to enjoy LP.
Kathie is offline  
Feb 7th, 2005, 08:04 PM
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Kathie is right there are no flights to Siem Reap from CM. Both Thai Airlines(mon/thur/sat) and Lao Air (tues/fri/sun) fly CM to LP. I happen love CM and CR but to each his/her own.
Scotters is offline  
Feb 7th, 2005, 09:31 PM
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"I have heard rumors that Lao Aviation flies from CM to LP (but not every day of the week). So if you want to go to CM, you are making it harder to get to either LP or SR."

Huh? Lao Aviation flies 3 days a week out of CM-Tu-Fri-Sun.I don't quite understand how that makes it harder to get to LP-you plan your itinerary around the flight schedule- that's not all that difficult-it's an hour flight!

Amy-I'm hoping to do this exact itinerary-BKK-CM-LP this coming Jan. 2006, so I obviously think it's very doable-if you decide to go with it, then we'll be very interested to hear of your experiences!

And Chiang Mai is a wonderful place with surprising charms- you'll see.

Spygirl is offline  

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