Bangkok or Chang Mai

Old Jun 24th, 2018, 11:53 AM
  #1  
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Bangkok or Chang Mai

I am going to be in Bangkok to start on a cruise on November 18th. Am flying in 3 days early to either see more of Bangkok or was thinking of flying on up to Chang Mai for the 3 days. We do have one whole day with the cruise line in Bangkok. Your thoughts?
The cruise ends in Bali on November 30th and we are adding on 4 days. Suggestions as to where to stay in Bali?
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Old Jun 24th, 2018, 01:52 PM
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My personal preference is Bangkok over Chiang Mai, but you need to read enough about both to know what will appeal to you. Bangkok has dozens of stunning Buddhist Wats (temples) has great food and has the energy of a major city. Chiang Mai is smaller, but still a big city and it has no public transportation system. Bangkok has good public transport and you can easily find your way around on your own with a good map. In Chiang Mai, you will need to hire a taxi for the day if you want to visit multiple places or if you want to shop. For me, Chiang Mai has all of the disadvantages of a big city (crowded, terrible traffic, air pollution) but without the advantages of a major city like Bangkok (some of the best restaurants in the world, fabulous shopping). Also, if you are looking to shop, Bangkok has a better selection and the prices are better. If you want to get out into the countryside, go to Chiang Mai - it isn't the countryside, but you can get there from CM.

In bali, where to stay depends on what you are looking for. If you want a beach, stay at a beach location such as Semiyak or Sanur (avoid Nusa Dua which is a sterile tourist enclave), if you are more interested in the culture, stay near Ubud.
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Old Jun 24th, 2018, 02:52 PM
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Your questions seem to be pretty generic and of the kind that may be answered better by a guidebook than the sort of subjective (& rightly) answers you'll get on forums. For instance my tastes have changed somewhat since my first visits to Thailand when I avoided Bangkok and gravitated to Chiang Mai. These days I'm finding more to love in the big city though not generally a city lover. I don't do beaches, just because, so my own preference in Bali is the countryside around Ubud. And none that I love will necessarily suit you. So rather than bother with us in that regard, buy or borrow a guide or 3, meant to be more objective for just the sort of information you need to make those very personal decisions.
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Old Jun 24th, 2018, 08:08 PM
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I've been to both Bangkok and Chiangmai, but am definitely a Bangkok person as I've been going there for 19 years and spend 3 weeks straight there. However, what will or will not suit you, I have no idea. There's plenty of information on Youtube.

Happy Travels!
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Old Jun 27th, 2018, 06:38 PM
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I have been looking at hotels in Bangkok and am not sure where to stay. Should I be downtown. Should I be in a quieter area?
Any thoughts?
Don't need fancy, just two beds, clean, easy access to touring for 3 days.
What guide books would you recommend?

Last edited by lizzy1111; Jun 27th, 2018 at 06:42 PM.
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Old Jun 27th, 2018, 08:02 PM
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I always recommend staying along the river. It's a great location. You have ready access to the water taxis - great public transportation! And being along the river IME, makes it a bit less hot (the moderating effect of the water) and a bit less polluted. There are options ranging from very expensive to very cheap. I would only choose a hotel right one the river - if you are a couple of blocks away you have negated the advantages of staying on the river.

Guidebooks: Fodors, Lonely Planet, Insight Guides
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Old Jun 27th, 2018, 08:04 PM
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PS - you say you "Don't need fancy," but hotel prices in Bangkok are so reasonable, you can get fancy for the price of basic in the US.
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Old Jun 28th, 2018, 05:45 AM
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I agree with Kathie about staying on the river. If you want cheaper and cheerful try the Ibis.
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Old Jun 28th, 2018, 11:51 AM
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Just for Bangkok I would go with the AA guide. With three days it has all you need and even list a few daily itineraries, and top 20 sights/ experiences.

For the type of hotel you are looking for, the Ibis Riverside suggested by Thursdaysd is good. Nice spacious rooms with the option of one large or two single beds. A pool is an added b9nus in that price range. Te only real downside is that it is on the "wrong"side of the river for teh BTS and river taxis at Saphin Taksin which adds another 20-30 mins to your daily journey.

Another Ibis is the Ibis Styles Viengtai close to teh backpacker district of Khaosan Rd. Busier area but a nice hotel with very stylish room and close to Wat Po, the Grand Palace and wishing easy reach of Chinatown.

Another mid range place worth considering is Aloft on Sukhumvit Soi 11. Reasonably close to the BTS for getting around, nice rooms and very stylish - good value. We also stayed at the Mercure in the same area which again is ( or, at least was last year, pretty good value).

With the exception of Aloft, they are all AccorHotels properties so you will generally get better rates by joining their loyalty programme and booking direct.
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Old Jun 28th, 2018, 03:14 PM
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In Bali I'd go with Ubud, which is just high enough to take the edge of of the heat and humidity. Plus I'm assuming you wil be seeing plenty of seaside on cruise.

The range of accommodation in Ubud is huge.. I liked Sri Ratih which was on sale for my dates and quite relaxing, with an excellent onsite restaurant. Technically it's in Penestenan Kelod but easy to reach central Ubud on foot or by taxi.
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Old Jun 28th, 2018, 05:56 PM
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"I have been looking at hotels in Bangkok and am not sure where to stay. Should I be downtown. Should I be in a quieter area?"
Any thoughts?


Bangkok is pretty big! Some parts of the city better for shopping, some better for being nearer temples, some better for business, etc. Google up "different areas of Bangkok" or similar wording.

What ever location you choose you will be using taxis, buses or city rail transport for things not close by. Only three days so make the most of it. My favorite location is lower Sukhumvit. (Lower meaning lower numbered sois (lanes) where you have restaurants, pubs, malls, shops, supermarkets and cheap rail service.) Riverside is nice but I prefer more stuff within walking distance.

How much do you want to spend on a hotel room? Even a room around the equivalent of $20 US (low season) will usually have A/C and private bathroom. Right at a Skytrain stop, near MBK Mall, Siam area, is the Pathumwan Princess. Not too far from this hotel is Wendy House. Use the rail service for things too far to walk to.You still will have to use meter taxis for locations not close to city trains. Meter taxis cheaper than many Western cities for similar distances but you do have to know what you are doing! Meter fare is cheaper than asking and paying a flat rate.

Google will give you some specifics for how to use taxis. (From the airports, have small bills because drivers may not have change for 500 baht notes and hope you will stupidly say "keep the change!" You pay tolls during the ride and the rates are posted, not expensive. Pay a 50 baht surcharge plus meter fare at the hotel. Or choose a hotel where you can use rail service. In the city area no surcharge for using taxis, same price for one person or full load, pay meter only, have coins with you.)

Bangkok has 2 airports that are not close together if you are planning internal flights. Don Muang has more local flights and a few international flights. Suvarnabhumi gets more overseas flights along with local flights and has rail service that connects with the subway and Skytrain. (Rail service does not run 24 hours so if your flight arrives real late taxis available 24 hours a day from airports. You can change a little of your money at the airport any time of the day. In the city area you might get a better exchange rate. Meter taxis only take Thai baht. You will need to change something at the airport to pay for first day expenses. (Most Western currencies get a better exchange rate in Thailand.)

Some cruise ships call Laem Chabang cruise port "Bangkok" but this port is not close to Bangkok. Outside the cruise port security gate local transportation is not that expensive. But from immediately near the ship (since everyone on the ship is rich) taxi and other transportation may be a little pricey. Laem Chabang is closer to Pattaya - Jomtien.

I think Bangkok can occupy you for 3 days. For Chiang Mai since your time is short flying there from Bangkok is recommended. (You can always return to Thailand when you have more time for Thailand. If you do return to Thailand schedule at least 2 weeks, do a beach area good for the season you arrive, Chiang Mai-Chiang Rai area and finish in Bangkok for shopping, etc.) Google will give you many links for "things to do" type questions for Bangkok. In Bangkok some hotels have tour desks. Or you can sign up for a shared tour through travel agencies near your hotel.

Good luck.

Last edited by SirHalberd; Jun 28th, 2018 at 06:01 PM. Reason: Link for Rail Service and Bangkok areas would not open.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2018, 02:58 PM
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We visited both in January as first time visitors. If I only had to pick one for 3 days, that would be Bangkok; and don't get me wrong, we loved Chiang Mai. Even with 3 full days you need to be selective on what you want to see/do. Stay by the river. Those hotels are not necessarily cheap, but more affordable than in other parts of the world. Have a great trip!
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Old Jul 2nd, 2018, 03:19 PM
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Thank you all so much for your hotel recommendations.
Should we hire a guide in Bangkok? If so who do your recommend?
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Old Jul 2nd, 2018, 03:33 PM
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i don't recommend a guide for Bangkok. Decide what you are most interested in seeing/doing in Bangkok, and figure out how to navigate Bangkok via public transport. The water taxis are great, and will take you to many of the most important sites. Combine that with the Skytrain and you can get to most places of interest to visitors. A taxi now and then is all you might need in addition to that. Having a guide will make you less likely to interact with the locals and to learn your way around the city.

Do read the information on the scams - "The palace is not open today" The tuk tuk driver who wants to take you to buy jewelry or suits, etc.

There are people who love having a guide. Do what works for you.
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Old Jul 4th, 2018, 09:11 AM
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We did not use one and it was fine. But know what you want to visit and how to get from A to B using public transportation, if that's what you'll be using. If taxi, have your hotel give you a card with the name written in Thai; not all cab drivers speak English. If the tuk-tuk or taxi driver is not using the meter, negotiate the fare before you get in.
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Old Jul 4th, 2018, 09:47 AM
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Always ask the taxi driver to use the meter. If he won't turn it on, get out of the taxi and take another one. Tuk-tuks don't have meters and will be more expensive than taxis.
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Old Jul 4th, 2018, 05:44 PM
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In Bangkok when I have to use a meter taxi I wave a moving taxi over. (I avoid parked taxis in front of malls and hotels. More often they want a flat rate.) Paying the meter fare is cheaper than paying a flat rate. Before I get in a meter taxi I say "use the meter" and if he nods or says OK then I get in! Have small bills and coins for paying meter taxi fares.

I have been with newbie visitors to Thailand who want a ride in a Tuk-Tuk. I tell them okay to try it out once for the fun of it if they want but meter taxi is cheaper. In a Tuk-Tuk if you are tall you might be ducking down a little to see under the roofline.

Tuk-Tuks show up frequently in scams! Google it up!

My preference for getting around Bangkok is the Skytrain. Or a combination of Skytrain, subway and Airport Rail Link. But the city rail does not go everywhere! (Not yet anyway! They have been adding stops and extending rail service quite a bit over the years.)

UrbanRail.Net > Asia > Thailand > Bangkok Metro


Good luck.

Last edited by SirHalberd; Jul 4th, 2018 at 05:46 PM.
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Old Jul 8th, 2018, 07:43 PM
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Have you accounted for jet lag? Bangkok is the reverse of the day for me and as much as I dislike the city it was great for switching my nights to day. It is a huge city so if you decide to stay in Bangkok I would stay in the area you want to explore or train/river that provides easy access. Not sureness what you are interested in but bike tours are fun and there are day tours that will take you out of the city.
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Old Jul 11th, 2018, 06:28 AM
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For both Chiang Mai and Bangkok you can sign up for a shared tour in person. Either through hotel tour desks or through local city travel agencies. Usually you choose a tour one day and leave following morning from hotel lobby or designated area. These tours are good for out of the city tourist sites.

Good luck.
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Old Jul 16th, 2018, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Kathie View Post
My personal preference is Bangkok over Chiang Mai, but you need to read enough about both to know what will appeal to you. Bangkok has dozens of stunning Buddhist Wats (temples) has great food and has the energy of a major city. Chiang Mai is smaller, but still a big city and it has no public transportation system. Bangkok has good public transport and you can easily find your way around on your own with a good map. In Chiang Mai, you will need to hire a taxi for the day if you want to visit multiple places or if you want to shop. For me, Chiang Mai has all of the disadvantages of a big city (crowded, terrible traffic, air pollution) but without the advantages of a major city like Bangkok (some of the best restaurants in the world, fabulous shopping). Also, if you are looking to shop, Bangkok has a better selection and the prices are better. If you want to get out into the countryside, go to Chiang Mai - it isn't the countryside, but you can get there from CM.

In bali, where to stay depends on what you are looking for. If you want a beach, stay at a beach location such as Semiyak or Sanur (avoid Nusa Dua which is a sterile tourist enclave), if you are more interested in the culture, stay near Ubud.
CM has songthaews everywhere for 30 baht for city trips. They also have buses. Cause it's smaller it's much easier to move around. Bangkok skytrains are super crowded now as are buses.
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