First time to Thailand and overwhelmed

Old Jul 18th, 2007, 06:29 AM
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First time to Thailand and overwhelmed

Hello

I'm planning a trip to Thailand for my husband and I from October 22- November 9th. This will be our first time in the southeast so we have no idea what we're in for. And I am the planner so I am extremely overwhelmed. I bought the travel guide Rough Guide to Thailand but there are so many things to do. We will spend 16 full days in Thailand, hoping it will be enough for what we want to do. Which is really not much. We want to have a good mix of down time and sightseeing.

Our greatest fear is the weather. I know it will be the ending of rainy season but are we looking at torrential downpours? Or showers off and on throughout the day. I know no one can predict the weather but if anyone can tell me there experiences while travelling during this time, it would be great.

Airfare:
Roundtrip from Boston to Bkk it will cost a total of $2630. This seems a bit high but it's the cheapest I've seen thus far. Does this sound reasonable? Or should I wait? We will fly Delta from Boston to JFK and then Thai airways to Bkk. Is Thai Airways a decent airline?

We are independant budget travellers, so we are not really interested in doing tours or spending a lot of money (the airfare is expensive enough). But we wouldn't mind hiring a tour guide a couple of times to give us a more personalized and in depth scope of Thailand, it's history, culture etc. Can someone recommended someone who is inexpensive?

As far as an itineary, We are at a lost. However, we know that we want to visit Ayutthaya, Hellfire Pass, Chang Mai and a beach stop. I don't know which beach spot is good for that time of year. My husband is not that crazy about spending the whole day at the beach as he burns quite quickly. So a place that has beach activities as well as land activities would be nice.

We aren't big on shopping. If anything, I'd shop for a pair of glasses and authentic Thai artifacts but nothing fancy.

While in Chang Mai, I would like to take a massage course as I am a Massage Therapist and would love to incorporate a new technique into my style. The problem is that most classes are for 3 days and I don't know if it will put a cramp in our schedule?
Anyways, this is what I have so far so any help will be greatly appreciated.

Bkk- 3 full days
Chang Mai-6 full days
Beach spot (Phuket/Ko Samui)-4 full days
Bkk-3 full days

Thanks,
Lacole
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Old Jul 18th, 2007, 07:49 AM
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Lacole-first of all greetings from Cambridge, MA. For airfare, take a look at Kayak.com. This will giove you an idea about general airfare. However, you should check Cathay Pacific. I think they are having a fare sale during your time period covering JFK-BKK. We got this flight for a total of $1750 for two. We just added Jet Blue Bos-JFK for anothe $250. Total Bos-BKK, $2000.

Your outline of internal time spent looks perfect. It gives a good distribution of three very different areas of Thailand. One small suggestion is that you consider splitting your Chiang Mai time up by visiting either Chiang Rai or Mae Hong Son. This can provide further exposure.

If you provide a proposed per night budget for your hotels, we will be glad to make recommendations. Take a look at HuaHin.20m.com. This is a good website for booking hotels in BKK, Chiang Mai and the beach. We have used it and they are very reliable. Note: the hotels will be most expensive at the Beach, Chiang Mai will be very cheap and BKK reasonable.

Don't Panic. Using this forum, you will be able to plan a great trip.

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Old Jul 18th, 2007, 07:50 AM
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Its great that you have 16 days for your first trip to Thailand - this gives plenty of time to get a good feel for the country.

My wife and I have taken the JFK-BKK Thai flight twice - Thai is a very good airline. I hope the $2630 price is for two people ($1315 each) - otherwise, I'd keep shopping. Hopefully you will allow plenty of time for you and your luggage to make the connection. JFK is vast and it is not a quick process if you have to switch from one terminal to another.

Your itinerary is pretty good - too much time in Chiang Mai unless you plan to take the 3-day massage course. Others will disagree but I really don't think there is that much to do in Chiang Mai. Consider spending some time in the far north - Chiang Rai and the area along the Myanmar/Laos boarders. Many on this board have stayed at the Anantara but it may be beyond your budget. We stayed at the Dusit which costs substantially less - that was way back in 2000 though.

I am sure it will be wet at times but it won't ruin your trip. Just be prepared for it.

Many on this board have used Tong as a guide while in Bangkok. Do a search and her name will come up. I am sure someone chime in on a driver for Chiang Mai - you will need one to get around to see the sites.

BTW, 6 days in Bangkok is a nice amount of time - there is plenty to do there.
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Old Jul 18th, 2007, 03:21 PM
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Lacole:

You'll probably receive tons of good information regarding your inquiry. We too are going to Thailand but chose to have someone show us the way. You may be more adventurous but if you are interested, we are paying $2145 per person for 16 days departing Oct 21 from Boston and that includes all airfare, most meals, top notch hotels and fast paced touring each day. You might, if interested, take a look at our trip:

http://www.oattravel.com/gcc/general...spx?oid=147001

There is so much good information on this site. We just picked up our anti malaria drugs and they were SO expensive....hope you have coverage that takes this expense off your list.

I'm sure you will have a great time; we sure are looking forward to visiting Thailand.



 
Old Jul 18th, 2007, 05:31 PM
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Katherine, please post after you return from Thailand. I am taking the same OAT trip in January and want some feedback. Are you doing the Cambodia trip?
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Old Jul 18th, 2007, 09:46 PM
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from new england you will have a chance to visit the fodors GTg in cambridge ma before you go...its on oct 13 at the hotel at MIT...many of us will be there and most of us have been to thailand many times....we can give you tons of help...

contact me at [email protected] if you are interested in attending..

i will add more tomorrow when i have time...
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Old Jul 18th, 2007, 09:47 PM
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you might look at an independent package with northwest, united or some of the airlines....i saved a ton recently doing that...$1212 per ticket---boston to bkk and return with 3 days hotel and transfers included....
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Old Jul 18th, 2007, 10:22 PM
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Ah, the good old analysis paralysis! I felt the same way when planning my first trip to Thailand!

If you want to do a massage course, it seems that Chiang Mai would be a great place to do so and then the 6 days would be well spent. There are a few of us on this forum that LOVE Chiang Mai and I am one of them! I spent 4 nights there on my first trip. On the second trip I had planned on 3 nights in Chiang Mai and then 3 in Pai but I was having such a good time in CM that I stayed there for 6 nights.

If you want to see Hellfire Pass I recommend a couple of nights in Kanchanaburi. I really enjoyed my 4 nights in this area and it is MUCH cheaper than Bangkok!

For some nice inexpensive accomodations you can check out:

Suk 11 in Bangkok
Baan Orapin in Chiang Mai

A great website for info on SE Asia is www.travelfish.org.

Good luck!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 04:34 AM
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Wow, Thank you guys so much for all of this great info. Gpanda, it's nice to know there are some "Beantowners" on here!! Let's just say, I've been quite busy!! I finally booked our flights for $200 less than I originally quoted. We'll be travelling on Jet Blue round trip from Boston to JFK (and I certainly hope that a 3 hours lay over each way is enough time to make our connecting flights) and Thai airways from JFK to Bangkok.
I really would like to take a massage class in Chiang Mai which is why we are staying so long there. So, at the moment, I'm looking into the schools (any suggestions?) something inexpenzive but with a good reputation. Ill definately look into Ciang Rai or Mae Hong Son as well. Thanks for the suggestion Gpanda!! As far as a hotels. We are looking for something for less than $100/night. We don't want anything fancy but something with character. If we can get something for $50/night with character that cool too.
Craig--Thanks for mentioning Tong. I'll look her up. And yes, the $2430 is for two people.
Katherine--You know, we thought about doing a tour of Thailand but it just isn't our thing. I know that the price is much cheaper than doing things seperately. I did two tours in my travels. The first was in Costa Rica with Costa Rican Trails and it was fantastic. The other was during our Honeymoon in Spain it that has discouraged us. Yes, we saved money but the headache it caused was not worth the few hundreds of $ we saved. Dealing with rude and ignorant American tourists, big groups and getting to the sights and feeling rushed Not to mentioned being left but that's another story. When we travel, we want to take in the sights not just see it. I hate feeling rushed but I understand why they have to heard us around like cattle so quickly. Ok, maybe I'm being a bit to harsh. I'm not saying we won't do a tour again but if we can avoid it then we will.

As far as flying withing Thailand, I tried booking flights and it came out to over $800 this is through Thai airways. I've been reading that I can purchase for $50 each way. Any suggestions?
I was thinking going to Krabi for our beach spot. Can anyone give me some feedback on that?

Thank you all
Lacoel
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Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 04:49 AM
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For flying within Thailand take a look at the following sites:

http://www.airasia.com/site/en/home.jsp

http://www.nokair.com/nokconnext/aspx/exp_welcome.aspx
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Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 07:56 AM
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I think your itinerary is good. The problem of which beach is difficult at that time of the year. Take a look at www.weatherbase.com

The three areas people usually think of for beach are Koh Samui (use Surat Thani to find the stats), Phuket (including Krabi, etc), and Hua Hin. All three places have 10-11 inches of rain in October, Samui has 11 inches of rain in November, Phuket area has 8.2 and Hua Hin has 5.2 If you were later in November, the Phuket area would likely be fine. So looking at the weather, you may be better off heading for Hua Hin, which is a 2.5 - 3 hour drive from Bangkok. That would cut one flight for you as well. You can certainly chose to go to Krabi, but be aware that the weather will likely be wet and your activities may be limited, depending on the weather (many boats and trips like sea canoes don't run duing bad weather). It isn't that it typically rains all day, but there are big downpours often accompianied by gusty winds.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 08:03 AM
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Firstly, Thai airways is a great airline. I flew with them a few years ago, and had a great experience.

Secondly, if you do the massage class, which I recommend, then 6 days is perfect in Chiang Mai. I spent 6 days there when I went, and I loved it. I didn't do a massage class, but I did do the 2 nights 3 days treking tour. I loved it. I also took a cooking class, which was so fun!
There is plenty to do in Chiang Mai!

Your itinerary sounds great so far, and flying will definitely allow you to see a little more. I flew from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and it definitely saved some time.

Also, you shouldn't have any issues with monsoon. I went when the monsoon was in full swing (early August) and it rained twice, and when it rained, it only did so for about 20 minutes then cleared up right away afterwards.
It's fun to experience some monsoon weather (if you get to watch from inside that is)as it is definitely different from the kind of rainfall we get in North America.

Enjoy your trip!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 08:58 AM
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Go Red Sox.

The Thai Air JFK-BKK flight is great. Even in economy, there's plenty of space.

If you go to the beach at the end of your trip, i.e., the beginning of November, Phuket/Krabi is supposed to have better weather than Ko Samui.

For internal flights, you can book Thai from CM to Phuket direct. If you want Krabi or another airline, you'll have to go through BKK. It's more time.

$100 or less in Chiang Mai will be fine. In BKK, you can find a decent hotel for that amount. In Phuket, they are a little more expensive. You may be able to average $100 per night for all the nights. In Phuket, we atyed three nights at the Old Phuket Hotel in Karon Beach. It's a solid three star. Not fancy, but it met our needs.

You should definitely come to the GTG on 10/13/07.
Go Red Sox.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 09:38 AM
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Yes, do come to the GTG - the way things are going the Red Sox won't be doing very much in October anyway.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 11:28 AM
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I'm sad to say that I've lived in Boston all my life and nope I'm not a Red Sox Fan. In fact, I don't even like baseball. Now, football is another story!!!!
What is the GTG? I'll definately look into Hua Hin. Thank you all again
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Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 11:43 AM
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The Boston GTG is an annual Get-To-Gether(hence the acronym) loosely organized around a lunch and dinner. It is attended by Fodorites from the Asia Forum and the Europe Forum. There is much mingling and chatting. Nothing substantive is organized, but some information does get communicated. Lats year we had about 30 people at the various meals.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 12:29 PM
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Wow! Great to see so many Bostonians on this forum. I am also in Boston and planning our trip to Thailand and Cambodia for January-February. The GTG sounds like a fantastic place to start, although I have to admit that I haven't done much in the last few weeks but research the trip and roam around this site. Lacole - good luck with your planning!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 12:53 PM
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Travelday-I've found the best way to plan a trip is to figure out how many days we acn ber away and book the international flights. Thereafter, I block out the destinations and book the intra-Asia flights. If you're going to Siem Riep, Bangkok Airways is the only BKK-SR carrier. If you're going somewhere else in Thailand, obtaining a Discovery Pass from BKK Air will save a lot of money. Once the locations are set, I figure out the hotels in each spot. Lastly, I come up with a set of activities I'd like in each location and arrange any logistical items, e.g., guide.

There are many other ways to plan, e.g., work backwards from the activities, but the way I've done it is relatively easy and completely stress free.

One note, booking the international flights early, you can stall for the other things.

Go Red Sox.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 01:24 PM
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Thanks Gpanda. That's generally the way I do things as well. I start with the major flight, then where we'll be when, then any domestic travel, accomodations and sights.

Right now I know I want to take Thai Air from Boston to Phenom Pehn - bus it up to Siem Reap. Fly from Siem Riep to Phuket via Bangkok Air. Ferry to Railay for a few nights. Boat to Ko Phi Phi for a few nights. Then back to Phuket to fly to Bangkok for the last four nights.

A good friend just got back from two months in Thailand. She took the non-stop Thai Air flight from JFK and said it was fantastic, even for a 17 hour flight.

How far in advance would you book a flight for mid-January. Flights are $1445 round trip (BOS-BKK-PNH and BKK-BOS) right now and I'm tempted to just book them.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 01:53 PM
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The Thai Air flight does not change much. You're going in the high season. You might be able to save a few dollars if you shopped around, but I would not worry about it. I've found that when I pull the trigger on buying tickets, I have no regrets even if a better deal becomes available. My anticipation outweighs the small savings.
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