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Bangkok Chiang Mai Phuket Trip/Guide Reviews

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Nov 13th, 2006, 11:16 AM
  #1
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Bangkok Chiang Mai Phuket Trip/Guide Reviews

This is my first post but I chose many of my choices below based on lurking on this site as well as many others...so I wanted to share my experiences as well.

This was my husband and I's first trip to Thailand, and we had ten days to see it all. Our first two nights were in Bangkok at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit. The hotel was gorgeous and well kept, and the staff was helpful and accomodating. We especially enjoyed the cocktail hour where we were served unlimited free wine or beer while listening to live jazz. We used SPG points so the stay was free...even better!

The one full day we had there, we booked an all day tour with Tan Suchira (www.izthai.com) because Tong was booked. She was an excellent tour guide with superb english skills. We went to the floating market, Grand Palace, and the reclining buddha, as well as stopping by some local markets (not a single farang in sight!) all in eight hours. We experienced walking, skytrain, water taxi, and tuk tuk during the tour...we didn't have a lot of time there so it was great to be able and do it all in one day. She also helped negotiate for us and developed a code word to let us know when she thought the goods were too expensive. She has a great sense of humor too - we found that while most Thais understand English, they do not understand American sarcasm and humor...Tan "got" it and dealt it as well!

So after that good experience, we flew to Chiang Mai and stayed at D2 Hotel, which is an ultra modern and chic hotel, very reminiscent of L.A. (So you may not like it if you want a "Thai" experience.) We had a tour guide named Mr. Joy ([email protected]) based on reviews we had read. We only had one day, and asked him where we should go. He took us to Mae Ping where we went elephant riding, oxcart riding, and bamboo rafting. That was half the day and was fun. But then, instead of seeing the Doi Suthep temple, he insisted we go see handicrafts made. He then took us to at least eight different "factories" where we were shown how to make handicrafts for about one minute, and then taken to showrooms where prices were overinflated! The final one (cashmere) wasn't even a factory, but a carpet shop! It was obvious he was taking us to places where he got commissions. It was so disappointing and a waste of our money and time. He claimed to be a driver and guide, but we got very little guiding as he just dropped us off at each location and rarely spoke in the car. Maybe we were spoiled with Tan, where we learned so much while seeing so much, but we felt incredibly gypped when we ended with Mr. Joy. We are certain the reviews I saw must have been fabricated!

We then got to Phuket where we stayed at the Le Meridien. The hotel is nice but a distance away from Patong, which is a good and bad thing. It's nice because you're away from the hustle and bustle but it wasn't convenient as you had to hail a tuk tuk anytime you wanted to leave the premises and avoid the hotel's ridiculous charges. And to get to the airport, you're dependent on their shuttle system which charged 1200 baht. While in Phuket we did the John Gray "Hong by Starlight" tour which was incredible! We also met up with Phuket Richard ([email protected]) and did elephant riding and played with the gibbons. He was a wealth of information and would make a great guide as well. He gave a few tour guide recommendations (can't remember them, but we'll call on him when we return to Phuket).

All in all a great trip! We took advantage of Thai Airline's "Discover Thailand" domestic flight package (3 trips for $169) which saved us a lot of money. We'd love to return.
sailornep5 is offline  
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Nov 13th, 2006, 04:23 PM
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Glad you had a great time. The "factories" are a common "guide" diversion. As a newbie, you could not have known. Glad your BKK guide worked out well.
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Nov 14th, 2006, 05:54 AM
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As my husband learned to say to all guides on our first trip to Morocco...."No markets, no carpets," But I like the real markets.
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Nov 14th, 2006, 10:42 AM
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Glad you had a great trip and welcome to the board. Many of the regulars are traveling now so the board is a bit slow. We seem to travel in November and December a lot. Happy Travels!
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Nov 20th, 2006, 10:10 AM
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sailomep5:

Do you have TAN's email address?
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Feb 1st, 2007, 03:54 PM
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Tan is remarkable. It was as if we were seeing Bangkok with a close friend not a tour guide. The email we used to contact Tan was: [email protected]. Tan now has a website (www.izthai.com).
Brenda
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Feb 1st, 2007, 04:49 PM
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Thanks for your insights into the *lcal industries* I'll make sure we don't book any tours of those...on our visit to Chang Mai in early April.

Mark-

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Feb 1st, 2007, 05:31 PM
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Another shout out for Tan. She has done multiple tours for myself, family and friends. Everyone that comes back from her tours LOVES her! In fact, she even sent myself and my parents a holiday card. I 100% reccomend her!!
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Feb 1st, 2007, 05:32 PM
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Who is Phuket Richard? We are going to Phuket in a month and a half and would love new infor and people to guide us. We have done Siam Safari and John Gray.
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Feb 1st, 2007, 05:38 PM
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He is a man who lives in Phuket and runs a dive shop I believe. He books things a lot for mostly Australains who visit Phuket. I don't believe he is a guide, but a local foreigner/businessman. He has bbq's on the beach somewhere once a month that seem to be popular with Australian tourists as well. You can see many references about him on tripadviser.com forums.
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Feb 2nd, 2007, 03:03 AM
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Phuket Richard owns a diving buisness in Phuket. Eight months ago he started taking forum members and their families to the Rawai Mini Golf for a 150 baht all you can eat BBQ, then every one heads down to the Sunshine Bar. The night is so successful you now have to book. People from all around the world go to this function - not just Australians.
Theres a lot more info and photos re this night on the link below.
www.cathyandgarystravelpages.com
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