Draft Itinerary and Questions

Old Apr 14th, 2017, 05:19 AM
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Draft Itinerary and Questions

Hi all,

I am in the early stages of planning for a family trip (boys will be 8 and 10) to Thailand this winter with (perhaps) a stop in Siem Riep, Cambodia. I have spent time reading recommendations and reviews but have a few questions. Because we have children, I would like to travel around school vacations so as to minimize time out of school. I was considering leaving shortly after Christmas this year. I admit that this is a LONG read and I apologize for that. (I just re-read it before posting and am cringing at the annoyed responses I may get.)

By way of background: I am very well-travelled, my husband less so, and my children have spent long summers travelling around Europe. I prefer not to spend money on things like zip-lining, etc or things I can really do here. None of us have been to Asia.

Question one: Is a week too long in Bangkok (I know opinions will differ), but will we find ample things to do that don't involve hours-long day trips? We have timeshares and there are ample places to stay in Bangkok that we could take advantage of to minimize out of pocket expenses.

Question two: Airfare is reasonable right now, LAX to Bangkok, but seems to jump in winter, Can anyone speak to reasonable fares in winter or am I going to struggle to find decent flights then? We tend to use miles for flights, so I am assuming that LAX round trip to Bangkok will end up being our best option and would like to not pay too much over our miles benefit.

Question three about interior flights: Once there, it looks like flying to Siem Reap and Chiang Mai are in our best interests to maximize time in country. My first thought was flying from Bangkok to Siem Reap to Chiang Mai and back to Bangkok for departure, but perhaps a roundtrip at some point is best?

Question four: How does this (very early draft) itinerary look?

Day one: Arrival in morning (hopefully) Bangkok
Days 2-7: Bangkok with side trips. (I'm willing to do a couple of longer side trips, but with kids like to minimize the time in seats.) Looks like a full 5 days in Bangkok outside of arrival and departure days.
Day7: Ideally a morning flight to Chiang Mai and a day to get to know the city.
Days 8-9: Chiang Mai and area. This gives me 2 1/2 days in Chiang Mai. Too little?
Day 10-11: Elephant Nature Park overnight (has anyone spent the night there? Does a day tour suffice? )
Day 12: Flight to Siem Reap.
Days 13 -15: Siem Reap
Days 16-20: ???? Assuming I need to get back to Bangkok for a return flight, I would like to spend a few more days in Thailand.

Alternatively, we take a train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai with a 2 or 3 night "layover" in between to break up the trip and give us a few more days in Thailand, which would get us closer to the 3 weeks I'd like to spend total. Or we fly to Chiang Mai and do a longer side trip further north to Chiang Rai.

Thank you in advance. I am well aware that itineraries are often too ambitious at the beginning.

wendy17 is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2017, 05:47 AM
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I would only consider flights for internal movement... best use of time---check out nok air and Bangkok air for their combo flights which would include siem reap.
you might want a day or two more in siem reap if the kids like ruins.

may I suggest foreign airlines for transpacific flts: Korean, ANA, japan air, are some favs. last fall there were many flts from east coast usa for about $800+.

I always use miles for asia: current favs are united partners. book as early as possible.

make sure all hotels have good pools for the kids. I love anantara riverside in bkk or chatrium riverside.... Marriott sukhumvit park is another good choice---all of these have excellent pools.

take a look at tours with tong for touring around Bangkok. best way to book is to telephone her from usa---remember time difference.

for me a week in bkk is perfect.
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Old Apr 14th, 2017, 08:00 PM
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I appreciate the feedback. I agree on having a good pool for kids. Will check out the combo flights and Tours with Tong!
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Old Apr 15th, 2017, 05:13 AM
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the boys would love tong's trip to see the wild monkeys in the estuary... it's a blast and unique.
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Old Apr 15th, 2017, 09:20 AM
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"Is a week too long in Bangkok?” Not for me, but possibly for 8 & 10 year olds. Try to stay by the river as Bob suggests above. The Anantara Riverside is great but the Chatrium does have apartment style rooms which might suit.

I would be inclined to break up the time in Bangkok with some trips out. Ayuthaya by river or train is easily arranged and onc etwre you can hire bikes or a tuk tuk to get around. T local train would be fun for the kids to and doesn't take too long. Kanchanaburi (bridge over the river Kwai is a little further and could e done as and overnight , again by train or by hiring a car.

I have been to the Elephant Nature Park but have not stayed overnight. It could be done as a day trip from CM but it would be a long day. I suppose if you really want to get involved, then and overnight would provide a lot more time with the eles.

2.5 days in CM is enough time to hit the highlights of the town. Try to wstay within the old city but away from the night market which can get a bit manic.

Re your last few days, some time on the beach might be nice but not sure you have enough time unless the flights from Siem Reap work out really well. I always make sure I spend the night in the city of departure before an intercontinental flight - just in case.
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Old Apr 15th, 2017, 07:49 PM
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November through February is high season in Thailand for hotel bookings and from the US flights can be higher priced too. With highest prices Christmas - New Years holiday week.

When you use miles are you limited to particular airlines? Given the choice for first time arrival Thailand I would choose an airline that has flights arriving during day or early evening hours if you can. This way you have more transportation options and depending on arrival time maybe some time to get out and stretch your legs a bit after a long flight.

Bangkok is a big city there is no one single location you can stay where you can walk to most things. The city area does have a pretty good city rail service. (This is is the Airport Rail Link from Suvarnabhumi, the Skytrain and a subway.) Meter taxis are cheap if you do not pay a flat rate. Using the meter is cheaper.

Change your dollars in Thailand for a better exchange rate. Bangkok Souvarnabhumi Airport is a modern airport. There is rail service up to around midnight and meter taxis available 24 hours a day. You will need Thai baht to pay for transportation. Bank money changers available at the airport even for late arrivals. In the city area no problem changing US dollars in some of the many banks and bank kiosks. Exchange rates are not fixed. For cash stick with the newer $100 bills with the big heads. No tears, no writing, no dirt or stains, etc. (ATMs available too.) What the rate will be in December is anyone's guess!

The train to Chiang Mai is popular. Although the overnight sleeper train sells out fast. Hualamphong is the main train terminal. There is a subway stop for this train station. From Chiang Mai there are many shared tours to Chiang Rai. (Golden Triangle, White Temple, orchid farms, etc.)

In Bangkok, Chiang Mai and major cities popular with tourists there are shared tours you can sign up for in person if you want. Select tour one day leave from the hotel next day. Usually in a 8 to 10 passenger van.

Besides Tong Tours another company called Ratt is a popular private tour company. Both Tong and Ratt will be very busy during high season. Some complaints with these two tour companies is that they are not prompt in returning email queries.

Another airline you can use for some flight information is Air Asia. Bangkok has 2 airports. Don Muang is the older and smaller airport but they also have international flights and many local flights with discount airlines. When flying with discount airline they do not always have the same weight allowances as full service airlines. If overweight you pay a fee.

Schedule a few days back in Bangkok before flying home. Do your final souvenir shopping at that time. There are beach locations you can fly to in Thailand. You can use a train, bus or fly to Hua Hin (beach area) about 4 hours from Bangkok by road if you are interested. (Google up and see if any interest.)

Google search will give you some of the things kids might like. Alligator shows, boat rides, ride a tuk tuk for the heck of it but use meter taxis or Skytrain for normal rides. (Tuk-tuks show up often in many of the scams for Bangkok.) Do a search for Bangkok scams so your are aware of what to expect. (Tuk-tuks, gold and gem, palace closed, etc.)

For adults arriving Bangkok I advise NOT sleeping in late the following morning. Get up and hit the road, etc. Get your body on Thai time as soon as possible. Some tourists start adjusting their time at home to Thai time so the time changes are not so bothersome. With kids you do what you gotta do.

The first hotel or whatever you use for accommodation might be able to store any winter clothing you may leave home with. All of Thailand has summer-like weather not just beach areas. Google search will give you info on what to wear.

Good luck.
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Old Apr 16th, 2017, 05:55 AM
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Thank you for all of the information. Due to having to work around kid's schedules and school breaks, I am somewhat bummed to be travelling during high season and am now looking at itineraries that might take us a bit out of the "typical" itinerary.

I am not sure that Thailand has an "off the beaten path" option during high season.

I am considering adding Khao Yai to our itinerary which seems less travelled, although no doubt still attractive to tourists.

We will have options for different airlines. What those airlines will be, I don't know....I should take a look now at our options, but I don't intend to book too early.

Thanks again all for the great tips.
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Old Apr 18th, 2017, 05:05 AM
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I have an updated itinerary. I hope.

Bangkok: 5-7 days

Most of the people I run into recommend leaving Bangkok almost immediately, but from the research, it seems worth visiting.

From Bangkok, I would like to visit Ayutthaya.

Bangkok to Angkor Wat and Angkor Wat: 3 days (3 full days with travel outside of those days?)

Flight Angkor Wat to Chiang Mai and Chiang Mai: 4 full days including the direct area and the Elephant Nature Park.

Rent a car and do the Mae Hong Son "Loop". I don't know that we would actually loop with Mae Hong Son being the last stop, it looks like backtracking may be best.

Mae Hong Son "loop": 5 days? Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son or Pai as the destination and overnighting in between.

Or alternately spend my time in Chiang Mai with a visit to Chiang Rai and onward to Chiang Dao. I will post the details for that and questions in a separate thread I think.

Thank you.
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