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Comments on Thailand Itinerary? (First Trip)

Comments on Thailand Itinerary? (First Trip)

Old Mar 16th, 2007, 10:17 AM
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Comments on Thailand Itinerary? (First Trip)

Hi everyone

I would love comments on this intinerary for our first trip to Thailand. We are a retired couple in our mid/late 50's. We have done a lot of travel in Europe, but this is only our second trip to Asia and our first trip to Thailand.
We are most interested in the culture, interaction with the people, history and the arts. We are big fans of public transportation. We prefer small towns to cities. We are also avid hikers. We purposely skipped the beaches because we are not really beach people and we will also be visiting Bali on this same trip. We will be traveling in Oct/Nov.

Bangkok (3 nights)
Overnight train to Chiang Mai (4 nights) - includes a day trip to hill villages
Bus to Mai Sariang (2 nights)
Bus to Mae Hong Son (4 nights)
Bus to Pai (3 nights)
Bus to Chiang Mai (1 night)
Bus to Sukhothai (3 nights) - includes day trip to Si Satchaniai
Train to Ayuthaya (2 nights)
Bus to Kanchanaburi (4 nights)
Train to Bankgok (1 night)

Thanks for your help!
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Old Mar 16th, 2007, 10:24 AM
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make sure the buses you take are air conditioned...
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Old Mar 16th, 2007, 10:36 AM
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Mostly sounds great, but I'm not sure Kachanburi will sustain for 4 days. Also, you have a lot of days for the Sukothai/Ayutthaya combination. The ruins are interesting, but not even close to Angkor Wat. I suggest that you consider 3 days at Angkor Wat, flights from BKK, and cut down the S/A time. AW is unique. The Thai ruins are merely interesting. If you did that, you would preserve all of your time in the north and see one of the true wonders of the world.
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Old Mar 16th, 2007, 10:49 AM
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I agree -- mcuh too much time in Ayuthaya and Sukhothai. One day is more than enough in Ayu and if you go to Angkor Wat I'd skip it completely. Same true for Sukhotai UNLESS you are interested in visiting some of the burmese refugee camps and other villages in the area. But if you do that you need to do some homework since guide books are useless for this area. If you are going just to see the ruins I would also suggest that you head to angkor to do that or reduce your time and spend an extra day in Bangkok. I also agree that Kanchanaburi is probably only 2-3 days. You could add the time in the north -- maybe spend a day or so in Doi Mae Salong which is in a gorgeous setting and is unlike any of the other towns or villages you are going to since it was founded byt the Nationalist Chinese during the civil war.
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Old Mar 16th, 2007, 11:24 AM
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It looks like you have done your homework!

I was in Kancahanburi in November and loved it! I only planned on three days but I extended my stay a day because I liked it so much!

I did, however, rent a motorbike and explore the area each day. The River Kwai Festival was going on while I was in town and that was also very interesting.

The town itself is sleepy with some great restaurants and casual bars to get a cold beer.

I found the people in Kanchanaburi to be some of the most friendly in all of Thailand. It is als very inexpesnive compared to Bangkok.
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Old Mar 16th, 2007, 12:01 PM
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Thanks for the feedback! I should have added that we will be going to Siem Reap after Bangkok. I like the idea of shortening time at Sukhothai and Ayuthaya and adding time in the north.
Can I take a bus from Chiang Mai to Doi Mae Solong? (Or do I go to Chiang Rai first?)

Eurotraveler, thanks for comments on Kanchanaburi. It just appealed to me so much when I was doing my research. I also thought that we could do a cooking course at Test of Thai while we are there.
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Old Mar 16th, 2007, 12:10 PM
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I had a private car and driver when I was in Doi Mae Salong and thinking about it you will need some ability to get around in the area since it's pretty isolated. I take public transportation all the time in Chicago where I live but, to be honest, I wouldn't even consider it in thailand. I like my creature comforts too much and also like the flexibility and freedom a car provides.
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Old Mar 16th, 2007, 12:27 PM
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Reen, I would add time up north since you will be cutting time in Sukhothai and Ayutthaya. Have you looked into Chiang Dao? I stayed there last year and fell in love with the area.

www.chiangdao.com

When I was researching my solo trip to SE Asia last year I read many posts on this forum from people who don't like K-buri. I decided to see for myself and was so happy I did! it was very easy to take a bus there and the bus was very comfortable. It just took a couple of hours and the scenery was very interesting.

I think K-buri is for the more adventuresome traveller rather than those who prefer the comfort of a big USA style hotel with a swimming pool and upscale restaurants as K-buri doesn't really have much of that at all.

I recommend getting out and about and seeing some of the waterfalls, the Tiger Temple, etc. Each day I took off in a different direction and explored. Two wheels, open road... fabulous!

I recommend you stay at a place on the river. Yes, there are karaoke barges that float up and down the river but they don't last until late at night. If you would like to see my photos of Thailand I have two photo albums from two separate trips last year along with one of Siem Reap and Angkor Wat.

If you want accomodation recommendations let me know!
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Old Mar 16th, 2007, 01:51 PM
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Eurotraveller, Chiang Dao looks really good. I think a few days there would be perfect for us. (I may even shave a day off Chiang Mai.) Would love to see your pictures and would greatly appreciate any recommendations on accomodations. Thanks so much!
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Old Mar 16th, 2007, 02:00 PM
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Chiang Dao is beautiful and the Chiang Dao Nest is a very nice place to stay. The food there is gourmet and the prices reflect that a bit but it is well worth it! There are two "nests", 1 and 2 but 1 is definitely the nicer of the two. Nest 2 has great Thai food, though!

Photos, including an album of accomodation photos, can be found here:

www.windjammer.smugmug.com

Unlike many people on this particular forum, I tend to stay in nice budget accomodations along with the ocassional splurge. Let me know if you want suggestions.

Cheers!
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Old Mar 16th, 2007, 03:03 PM
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Eurotraveler, thanks for the web link. I need to spend more time on your site, but the pics are beautiful. It would seem that you and I have similar travel styles. I also like the nice budget accomodations. I would much rather spend less on hotels and be able to travel more! Any suggestions you have are more than welcome. Thanks again!
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Old Mar 16th, 2007, 03:20 PM
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Exactly! Why spend oodles on a room you are hardly ever in? I travel overseas 2-3 times a year. I generally spend a 60 days or so overseas in a hotel plus 10 or so each year in locations near my home for short trips.

I couldn't do all that traveling if I spent $100+ per night for a room.

Here are a few of my recommendations for the places you are going that I have stayed in:

Chiang Mai

Baan Orapin http://www.baanorapin.com/
Chiang Mai White House http://www.chiangmaiwhitehouse.com/house.asp

Bangkok

Suk 11 www.suk11.com

Suk 11 is located right near the sky train and the doubles are clean, with air con., breakfast included. A great place to chat with other travellers in the common areas of this place. I stayed there twice last year.

Splurged for 4 nights at Centre Point Silom for a 1 bedroom apartment as well. http://www.centrepoint.com/Locations/silom_a.aspx

It was nice to have a kitchen and lots of room to relax after spending a day in the heat. it is right near the sky train and the river taxi.

Kanchanaburi - I can't remember the name of the place but I recommend checking out www.travelfish.org for reviews and recommendations for SE Asia travels.

Siem Reap

Auberge Mont Royal http://www.auberge-mont-royal.com/

The rooms are pretty basic but the rest of it is very nicely done and the pool area is beautiful. Nice location a few blocks from the center.

If you want to spend even less, I recommend Phuket Hostal. I checked out their rooms and they were large, clean, basic and very inexpensive! No website but if you google you will find some info for it. if I go there again in December I will stay there in an air conditioned room for about $15 a night.

Let me know if you have other questions!

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Old Mar 16th, 2007, 03:28 PM
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I would also highly recommend Baan Orapin in Chiang Mai and Chiang Dao but I would not shave time off in CM to do it. If anything I would skip one or both of the thailand archeological sites since you are going to Angkor Wat. If you want to shave some time off you might do it in Hae Hong Son since 3 days there. 3 days in Pai and 2 days in Chiang Dao should be fine Here's a suggestion:
Bangkok - as is
Chiang Mai - as is
Mae Sariang - as is
Mae Hong Son -- reduce to 3
Pai -- as is
Chiang Dao - 2 nights and most of next day
Chiang Mai - 1 night
Sukhothai - 2 nights
Kanchanaburi - 3 or 4 nights
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Old Mar 16th, 2007, 07:43 PM
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This is so helpful. The accomodation recommendations are great and travelfish has a wealth of info. Glorialf, your revised schedule looks really good. I think my trip is much improved -- thank you both!!
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Old Mar 17th, 2007, 06:58 AM
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I would include at least one day at Sukhothai ruins. We went there, as well as to Angkor Wat, on our January trip and found Sukhothai to be very different from Angkor Wat visually, culturally and experientially. If you have the time, build Sukhothai into your itinerary,IMO. If you need to cut something, skip Ayuthaya and Si Satchanai, neither of which were as impressive, memorable or photographable as Sukhothai.
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Old Mar 17th, 2007, 09:47 AM
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Oops-- if you have time I would add one night at least in Doi mae Salong. It will give you a very different experience and the setting is spectacular.
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Old Mar 17th, 2007, 11:19 PM
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I did the Chinag Mai - Mae Hong Son part of your trip 3/4 years ago by rented car. I appreciate that you are travelling by bus but you may still find the following routemap helpful:
http://www.budget.co.th/pdfs/worldclass_mae_eng.pdf

Travelling by bus is great and you ceratinly get to meet the people. Learning a few Thai phrases will enhance your experience immesurably and the Thais will so appreciate your efforts! Lonely planet have a good phrase book.

Totally agree with the comments by gpanda and glorialf re Sukothai and Ayuthaya, I was underwhelmed by Sukothai and Ayuthaya could easily be reached in a day trip from BKK.

The train ride from BKK to Chiang Mai is great and Huamlapong station should be on every visitors itinerary regardless of whether they are travelling by train.
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Old Mar 18th, 2007, 10:07 PM
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Reen-My husband and I will also be in Thailand & Bali in October. At the end of our trip we are doing the Northern area. I was givien a name by other Fodorites-A Sergeant Kai. He is working on a package to CM-CR and Golden Triangle. He has been wonderful to respond back to my many questions. If you are interested his E-mail is [email protected]
Chris
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Old Mar 18th, 2007, 10:16 PM
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Did not like the train ride between chaing Mai and bangkok. Would think it`s the same train going in both directions. Did the overnight train. The fumes from the train were bad, and the train was dirty, especially the bathroom.
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Old Mar 19th, 2007, 09:58 PM
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To anyone-On this thread I saw the Baan Orapin in CM rec'd & I looked at the pictures and they looked nice. Somewhere I thought i read it wasn't so good so I had found River View Lodge. Can anyone give me ideas which place I should stay in CM|??? Thanks for the help-Chris
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