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Final Thai/Cambodia Itinerary - Activities w/ Teens

Final Thai/Cambodia Itinerary - Activities w/ Teens

Old Dec 11th, 2006, 11:43 AM
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Final Thai/Cambodia Itinerary - Activities w/ Teens

For those of you who assisted with the myriad of possibilities for our trip (2 weeks SE Asia w/ 2 teen boys), here is the latest. My husband has refused to fly on Lao airlines, so we have substituted the Anantara Golden Triangle for Luang Prabang.
Itinerary is now:
3 nights BKK
3 nights SR
4 nights Anantara
2 nights Tokyo

Would appreciate any last-minute suggestions for great teen activities. We're doing muay thai, the night market in Chiang Rai, and a school visit in Cambodia.
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 12:40 PM
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One of our favorite activities in bangkok was the Amazing Bangkok Cycling tour. Very inexpensive and you get to go through markets, have a mini klong tour, visit forest-like areas on the far side of the river, and get lots of smiles and waves from the locals. A totally different side of the city that our teens loved. (and us too!)
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 01:06 PM
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OH YES, I like the sound of that, Icuy, any more info please.
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 01:18 PM
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Sounds great - will look into it right now.
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 02:07 PM
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Lucy, Just found out that ABC has both all day (10:00-3:30) or half day (1:00-5:30) availability on the day we can do our bike tour. Which do you recommend?
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 04:01 PM
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We did the half day and found that plenty of bicycling. Not sure what extra you get on the all day. Lunch, I'd guess, but you might ask. they do kind of choose their route differently based on the participants. When my daughter and her BF did it last August, they had a very small (4?) group. At the start, he asked where she'd gone on our previous tour and managed a new route that day.

Here is our trip report from two years ago

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...7&tid=34549294

and another thread on the tours:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...7&tid=34744756

One tip:

When you are choosing your bike in the morning, make sure the seat height and brakes are to your liking. They can be adjusted later, but its much easier while still in the garage.

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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 04:22 PM
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Lucy, Just read your trip report which was very helpful because we will be in BKK and Tokyo the exact same time of the year. Also was thinking of trying to sneak my underage kids into Bed Supper Club, which now i know won't work because my younger son is only 13. Sounds like your bike tour might have been the "full day" because it started in the morning. I'm going to see if we can get a private 1/2 day morning tour.
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 04:33 PM
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If I'm reading it right, there's only an hour difference between the half day and full day - so I'm guessing there's not a huge amount of additional biking in the "full day" version.
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 04:34 PM
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We did a cycle tour of Koh Kret, private, with Spiceroads. It was OK...the biking was not difficult. It was an all day affair, and although it was January 7 it was quite hot...very hot actually. The heat didn't bother us as much as the route did, though.

Although most of the ride was on quiet roads and Koh Kret where there are no cars, the part that went through a busy market area with 8 lanes of mish mash traffic was scary...our daughter was 8 then, and though good on a bike, I was terrified for her. It was dangerous, very dangerous. If she had so much as wobbled, she would have been hit...all of us to be truthful.

I had specifically asked about the route, they of course knew we had a child, and it was a private tour, so I was quite disappointed in the routing. I would certainly inquire about the traffic conditions for any bike trip you might take.

Now that I look back, with the exception of the traffic conditions, the ride was good and was fun...just not a highlight for any of us because we all got spooked I think by the traffic. Hopefully Amazing Bangkok has some better routing to avoid the kind of traffic we encountered.
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 04:34 PM
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the anantara has a fantastic elephant training program...i think your kids would love participating in it...contact them about it to make a reservation....there is not a great deal to do in this area for teens so this would keep them busy along with the very nice pool...

rent a car while you are up there as the anantara is very issolated...very easy to drive around up there with no traffic at all....i rented in the chiang rai airport from budget...

make sure to visit the opium museum directly across from the anantara drive way entrance...
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 04:42 PM
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Bob is so right, and it didn't even occur to me. The elephants at the Anantara are the reason we are going. There are only 4 that can be used for the mahout training program, so it absolutely must be prebooked. If you don't do mahout training, you can have rides during the day and have a look around. The mahout training program over 3 days is very nice...wake early, finish at 9:30 or so, then free time until mid-afternoon when you bring the eles out to the jungle for the night. There is plenty of time to do a short excursion during the day between ele sessions, or you are welcome to hang out at the ele camp.

The Anantara offers a Mahout Discovery Package that is more reasonable than booking the mahout training separately.

John Roberts is the man you need to talk to. He's great to communicate with. He keeps a website too, www.helpingelephants.org
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 05:49 PM
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Thanks for the head-up about the bike tour and also for the Anantara suggestions. Have already been in touch with John Roberts and have booked multiple elephant activities on Day One, including mini-mahout package for the boys - driving lessons, bathing and river riding for the boys and standard trek for us. On Day Two we have a cooking lesson while the boys have more ele time, then we have a hilltribe trek for all of us at sunset. Day Three is the 3-country tour. Plus there is some appealing resort stuff - tennis/spa, squash, etc. Our boys always get into competitions with the staff. So Bob, do you think we still need the car? We usually like to rent cars and explore but I fear we're already overextended.
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 05:50 PM
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Doesn't sound like you need a car. We won't be renting one there.
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 05:55 PM
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I don't think you need a car. You have plenty of things scheduled.

By the way, I personally wouldn't book the 3 countries tour. You go to border towns in Burma and Laos that give you really no feel at all for the country (sort of the SE Asian equivalent of Tijuana). Instead, I'd book a day trip to Doi Tung, the Princess Mother's estate and hilltribe project. You can stop and see various projects producing goods and money for the hilltribes (coffee-roasting, paper-making, etc) and visit the estate atop the mountain, which is really lovely.
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 06:04 PM
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Kathie, did you actually go on the 3-country tour? I was interested in the Burmese part because I thought there was a visit inland to a Shan village. The Lao visit seems bogus because it's a duty-free island, but I thought the kids would like the boat on the Mekong, the weird shopping and the bragging rights of having been to three countries in a day.
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 06:05 PM
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please forgive all my typos. i'm usually the grammar/spelling police.
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 06:10 PM
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I think you can design your own "tour" to skip the cheesy parts and visit the interesting parts. There is also an agent in Chaeng Saen, just a walk away according to someone on tripadvisor.com, that can arrange boats and car/driver and guide etc for a less dear price than the Anantara charges...although I'm quite sure the Anantara would have no problem with you setting your own itinerary.
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 06:27 PM
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We took the boat ride on the Mekong, which we liked. We stopped in Laos, but it was a worthless stop (probably made more so because we had been to Laos). I did not opt to go across the Burmese border. The reports I heard from people I trust sounded pretty grim, and because of my own issues about the junta I did not go. I don't know anything about a trip to a Shan village.

As Kim says, no matter who you book trip trip with, you can alter the itinerary to suit your needs. We just hired a car and driver (through the Anantara) for the day and went the places we wanted to go. We had a whole list for him!
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 07:59 PM
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I'll be looking for your report on the Anantara and their offerings. I'm sure whatever you do there will be fun.
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Old Dec 11th, 2006, 08:39 PM
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Crosscheck,

Our (2 parents and 2 teens) favorite memories of our trip to the Anantara Golden triangle in the summer of 2005 include

1. the elephant camp
2. the longtail boat ride on the Mekong (excluding the stop in "Laos" - in inverted commas because it's a cheap set of market stalls on an island)
3. massages at the Anantara spa
4. the Opium Museum
5. making merit at daybreak
6. swimming in the Infinity pool
7. leisurely meals at the Anantara
8. exploring the village of Sob Ruak and the town of Chiang Saen where we saw no other tourists.

The property is utterly charming, particularly at night.

Spending time with the elephants was sensational -- one of our all-time favorite memories of family travel.
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