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Cyn's Itinerary for the Great Adventure to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Japan

Cyn's Itinerary for the Great Adventure to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Japan

Old Jan 24th, 2007, 06:17 PM
  #1  
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Cyn's Itinerary for the Great Adventure to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Japan

I can't believe how close this trip is - and I am just NOW getting this posted for your input and comments - it's been a crazy-busy year, and it's only January 24!!!

At any rate, this is our (DH & me) trip, ably put together by Gregg at Innovasion Travel (thanks for the recommendation) for Thailand, Laos and Cambodia; and A&K for Japan. (Forgive me for not doing the planning on our own - first time to these countries, and simply not enough time in the day to put something together. Plus, it's simply a monster of a trip! )

Feb 12 pm Head to airport Sheraton Hotel
Feb 13 Flight leaves at 7:10am. BDL/ORD/NRT/BKK. Combination of economy, first and business - flying on AA miles
February 14 Arrive Bangkok, Thailand 11:45pm
Novotel Suvarnbhumi Airport Hotel

February 15 - 21 Hua Hin
visit Khao Wang on drive to Hua Hin. Veranda Resort and Spa
February 16 Free day
February 17 KAENG KRACHAN NATIONAL PARK
February 18 Free Day
February 19 Kaeng Krachan National Park
February 20-21 Free Days

February 22 Chumporn Chumporn Cabana. On the way visit Sam Roi Yot National Park.

February 23,24 KHAO SOK Khao Sok Riverside Cottage
February 24 KHAO SOK

February 25,26 (FLIGHT,River Kwai, River Kwai Resotel
February 26 KANCHANABURI

February 27 – March 3 ( FLIGHT, CHIANG RAI Legend Resort
February 28 Free Day
March 1 HALF DAY GOLDEN TRIANGLE AND MEKONG RIVER
March 2-3 Free Days

March 4 – 6 FOUR SEASON’s TENT CAMP

March 7 - 14 CHIANG MAI, Four Seasons of Chiang Mai
March 8 WAT DOI SUTHEP and TEMPLES IN TOWN
March 9 COOKING CLASS AT CHIANGMAI THAI COOKERY SCHOOL
March 10 DOI INTANON NATIONAL PARK
March 11 HANDICRAFT WORKSHOPS
March 12-14 Free Days

March 15 - 18 ( FLIGHT, Luang Prabang, Laos, Sala Prabang hotel
March 16 Explore LUANG PRABANG
March 17 KUANG SI WATERFALL, Lao cooking class at Tum Tum Cheng Restaurant
March 18 PAK OU CAVES

March 19 - 22( FLIGHT, Siem Reap, Cambodia, De La Paix Hotel Explore SIEM REAP

March 23 - 29 ( FLIGHT, Bangkok, Thailand, Oriental Hotel
March 24 MORNING HALF DAY UNSEEN KLONGS ; AFTERNOON HALF DAY GRAND PALACE AND TEMPLES
March 25 Free Day
March 26 FULL DAY FLOATING MARKETS, VILLAGES, AND NAKHON PATHOM CHEDI
March 27 Free Day
March 28 FULL DAY AYUTTHAYA AND RETURN BY CRUISE
March 29 Free Day

March 30 – April 1 ( FLIGHT, Osaka, Drive to Kyoto, Hyatt Regency Kyoto Days spent exploring Kyoto and area

April 2 Hiroshima (train) Rihga Royal Hotel

April 3 Odawara, ryokan, The Gora Kadan

April 4 Hakone Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort and Spa

April 5 – 8 Tokyo Park Hyatt Tokyo

April 9 Head Home!

So, what do you think??? Please be sure to tell me things that we should look for/not miss in any of the areas we are going. It still doesn't seem real.

Cyn
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Old Jan 24th, 2007, 07:03 PM
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looks very ambitious but doable..

one comment...better to go to the royal palace in AM---cooler

in HH make sure you eat at least once at supatra for dinner

go to doi tung north of CR

in LP eat at L'Elephant on the side street
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Old Jan 24th, 2007, 08:34 PM
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It is an ambitious schedule, but you have put in time for rest and relaxation as well.

In Chiang Mai, since you're paying to stay at the Four Seasons, plan to spend some more time there. You could do temples and handicraft villages on the same day, for instance.

You have relatively little time in Luang Prabang, so I'd cut the cooking class. Spend your time wandering the town, soaking up the atmosphere. LP is one of those places I think people don't "get" if they are too busy.

In Bangkok, you have a klong tour in the morning and the Grand Palace/Emerald Buddha/Wat Po in the afternoon. I'd reverse those. You want to get to the GP/Emerald Buddha when it opens at 8:30. Save the klong tour for after lunch.

Have a wonderful time!
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Old Jan 24th, 2007, 08:42 PM
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Wow, that's a long trip! Looks like a lot of fun and adventure.

Stop by The New York bar in the Park Hyatt in Shinjuku and have a drink in the evening. The view up there of Tokyo is breathtaking. The New York Grill is THE place to eat in Shinjuku and the food is wonderful but very expensive with the same view on the 52nd floor.

Have a wonderful trip and we need a report on this one when you get back

Aloha!
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Old Jan 24th, 2007, 08:43 PM
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Sounds like a nice trip.

I too would switch the Grand Palace and Klongs time to Grand Palace in the morning.

And, I would recommend against doing the two tours they have booked you on (Unseen Klongs and Grand Palace) and instead get your own guide and/or driver for that. We did the same tours a few years ago and it was our first and last tour experience. We were rushed and brought shopping, two things I hate and specifically didn't want, which is why we chose the private version of the tours and paid extra. Made no difference, it was awful, so bad that I complained to the concierge at the Peninsula (which is how we booked it) and got an immediate refund from the hotel and a day with a driver. The driver was much more our style, went at our pace and where we wanted to go.
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 05:07 AM
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KimJapan --

Was the driver (the one that you preferred) from the Peninsula, or an independent driver? I'll be staying at the Pen in a few weeks and hope to do something very similar? Thanks,
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 06:14 AM
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Bonjour Cyn,

April 1 being the first Sunday of the month there's an antique market at Toji temple in Kyoto (15 min on foot from the South (Shinkansen) side of the main station).
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 06:25 AM
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Cyn, are you from Connecticut? We've done the BDL - ORD - NRT - BKK several times. Hopefully you are in business or first class ORD - NRT - BKK as these are looooong flights. We are also going mid-February but doing the direct flight from JFK on Thai (also in business class with miles). We are only going for 2-1/2 weeks.

Given the amount of time you have, your plan is not too ambitious. If anything, you have too much "free" time. We did about the same amount of time in Siem Reap and Luang Prabang. The full day you have scheduled is enough time to explore LP but you could easily spend an extra day or two here and not be bored. You are spending a lot of time in Bangkok and that is a good thing. We spent 8 very busy days there last year and plan on spending 4 more days in Bangkok this year. As other posters have said, do the Grand Palace when it opens at 8:30 AM - you'll beat the crowds and the heat. The klong tour is better in the afternoon anyway - you will see more activity.

I am not sure that I would want to spend so much time in northern Thailand - it doesn't make sense to be staying at both the FS tented camp and a resort in Chiang Rai - they are not that far apart and there is not much to do in that area of the country anyway - you'll also be staying at a resort in Chiang Mai with 3 free days so you'll have plenty of downtime.
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 06:36 AM
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Cyn-you must be really excited. Gregg is great at Innovasian. On the ground in Thailand, he uses East-West Siam for local guides. Some of these are very good, some just good. None have ever been bad. However, as with most guides, you should be firm in keeping to the itinerary Gregg has laid out for you. Soemtimes, the guide will try to slip in a visit to a retail store. Avoid this by being direct.

We did the GP/Wat Pho, lunch and Klong tour twice (the second time with some freinds). Both times it was GP in the morning and Klong in the afternoon. This is a much better way to do it. The klong tour is actually cool. Also, for lunch, the guide may want to take you to some place. You might want to see if you can pick out some place you want to go and insist.
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 09:28 AM
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Hi everybody!

Thanks for the input - I'm having computer issues at home, so I'm not able to answer/ask at the moment (I'm "sneaking in" while at work ), but as soon as I get them resolved (yeah, I need that on top of getting ready )I'll be back - I'm hoping tomorrow!!! Bear with me!

Cyn
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 02:27 PM
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The driver we were happy with was from the Peninsula, actually the same one who picked us up at the airport.

We were firm about no shopping, to the point of not getting out of the van at the shop, at which point the guide annouced we were required to enter the shop and watch a video and started to get very angry with us. Rather than argue with her and then try to find a taxi back to the hotel with a sleepy 3 year old, we watched the stupid video inside the shop. Put me off tours forever unless I make custom private arrangements with a known and recommended guide.

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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 03:11 PM
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Someone recently posted about a driver from the Pen taking them to the Wats. They complained about the traffic, as it took the driver 45 minutes to get from the Grand Palace/Emerald Buddha to Wat Po... which is right next door. So beware! A driver doesn't always save you time and frustration.
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 07:49 PM
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We actually used the driver to go to Ayyuthaya and boats and sky train around Bangkok.
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 08:47 PM
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well, yahoo - my computer is up ... for the moment.. so I apologize if I sound rather cryptic - I'm just afraid I'm going to lose my connection...again!

The guide issue - seems to be a recurring theme - is it really a bad thing to allow them the choice of restaurants? And do they really not listen to the request of their (correct word?) charges,fares,guests? I'm feeling like I'm going to get into a vehicle and be whisked away to never-never land.

Bob - Seems to be a consensus to switch the grand palace to the morning, so I'll make sure we get that sorted. We're early risers anyway (once we get on correct-time-zone), so should not be a problem on our end to head out early.

I appreciate any and all restaurant recommendations - Fodorites have guided us to some of the best food we have ever had (oh, gee, even topping my own kitchen ). And I did print out "the list"

Which leads me to Kathie's suggestion to cut the cooking class in Luang Prabang - one of my true passions is cooking - so, do you really think we should eliminate it?

hawaiiantraveler - thanks for the input on Japan - I have not spent the time I need on Japan, so all info is most gratefully appreciated.

KimJapan - we are using private guide/drivers for everything on our itinerary - so we should be ok?

Florence - thanks for the tip - I'll be sure to print this so I can discuss it with our guide. Do you know if the laws a little different in Japan compared to Thailand regarding purchasing antiques?

Craig - we live in S. Vermont - BDL is our closest "international" airport. We used to be able to fly BDL/JFK/XXX, but approx 5 years ago, they eliminated all flights to JFK. We would have to fly to ORD or Cincinnati or DC or something equally as silly to get to JFK, so we pretty much gave up on that - especially because neither one of us will drive in NYC. I do believe that I recently saw where Delta? is now flying that route again, so it may be something we can do in the future. We fly AA econ to ORD, then first to NRT, then business to BKK. On the way back, its business/first/first, as we fly through DFW on the way back. Thought about trying to re-route on the way out, but the flight to DFW leaves BDL at 6:00am - just not worth it for this sleepy-head.

Re: Chaing Rai - originally, we were going to spend all of the time there at the Legend, but decided to split the time over to the FS. We are most definately rural-folk. Our choice to live in the county is perfect for us - and truthfully, we are nervous about the amount of time we will be spending in the cities - the county-time will be good for us. Also - and I know it is not what Thailand is known for - we are really hoping to be lucky in our ever-present desire to see wildlife. We are so lucky where we live to see "wild" animals on a regular basis - http://tinyurl.com/yvl3db these were all taken this summer in-or-near my backyard; wildlife is something we always try to incorporate in our trips, and hope to encourage the value of conservation in tourist areas. I do understand the dire economic straights that can lead to the destruction of wildlife and its' habitat (thinking about the Africans who will kill a rhino because the money received (on that horrendous black market for the horn) can literally mean the difference between life and death for them and their families), I truly believe that tourism can be a means to save some of our natural world. Yikes - all this because you asked about the switch in Chaing Rai - Sorry!

Andy - yes, Gregg has been great so far. I think he has really tried to "hear" me when I have asked for some changes. The tour company listed on the vouchers in called "Exotissimo" - I don't know if that is the same company to which you were referring?

Thank you everyone for such terrific input - I truly appreciate your taking the time!

Cyn
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 08:56 PM
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We had a private guide too, arranged through a tour company, and our tour had the exact same name as yours, and it was as I described it. I won't use guides unless they are recommended and then specifically booked by me and for my itinerary. There isn't anything stopping a guide who works for an agency to take you to places you don't want to go to...they are motivated to do so, as they get commission for bringing you there, whether you buy or not. I'm not saying it will happen to you, but to beware, and be clear in what you want right up front.
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 09:05 PM
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KimJapan - I'm such a regular tourist -I wonder if I'll even be aware that someone is trying to take advantage of us. We most definately are NOT shoppers though, so even if they bring us, we will not buy... Ha! I already have a shopping list - something I have never done before, and it's all fodors fault.

But back to the point - how do we keep the guides on track? (Oh, that's a pretty good pun, do you think?)

Cyn
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 09:11 PM
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tell us about the food....a passion for many of us...

wild animals....i don't think i have seen one out and about in thailand...i think they may get eaten??

good decision to change the klongs and GP around..

guides will do exactly what you want them to but sometimes you have to be firm...

try to avoid going to any shops with them...prices are high and quality questionable...they ALL make commissions from these visits...tell them no shopping!!! avoid asking questions about this too as it leads them to take you places you need not go to...
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 09:18 PM
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Bob - food - hmm - most recent:

Ascots, Bermuda: fresh grouper over baby shrimp in a heavenly light cream sauce over (a first for me) - seaweed. The seaweed was a crunchy marvel, and the sauce was unbelievable. And this reminds me that I still have to do my trip report for that trip before I leave.
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 12:02 AM
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Cyn,

<<<<<Do you know if the laws a little different in Japan compared to Thailand regarding purchasing antiques?>>>>>


There are hardly any restrictions in Japan that would concern someone dealing with a licenced craft/antiques seller (which includes those in fleamarkets). The only restricted items I know of are firearms, swords, suits of armors, maybe ivory and a few other crafts made from animal parts (turtles, felines, ....).
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 05:30 AM
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Cyn-it sounds like Gregg may have switched local providers. He's very attentive, so I'm sure they will be good.

Concerning guides restaurant choices, play it by ear. The guide probably gets a kickback from the restaurant, but the food may still be good. My experience has been that the food is serviceable, but never exquisite.
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