First time traveler

Old Jul 27th, 2009, 03:49 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 23
First time traveler

OK, I am sure there is a protocol for this, but I had rather ask forgiveness than permission.

I have never done any solo traveling and I am planning on going to Thailand (and maybe a day trip to Cambodia) between November and February for between 14 and 20 days. I have so many questions my head hurts, but let me get the big one out of the way then narrow the requests. (Yes I have been lurking the forms for weeks so hopefully I am not a total nub-let)

1) How tight should my itinerary be?
I know I want to spend some time in BK, I want to spend some time in the interior of the country, I might want to go to Angor, and I want some beach time. I am flexible with what I do so long as nature is involved and as far as the beach goes I want to snorkel and maybe meet people. (not a euphemism, I am just friendly and like people)

My destinations targets are potentially BK, some areas in Kanchanaburi, and Kho Phi Phi or one of the other western islands.

2) What will my premium be if I do not schedule my time like a military march?

I am sure other questions will arise, but for now I just want to get the conversation started. Thanks for any assistance you could provide and I know this is a personal preference question, but I am just looking for food for thought at this point.
dbarks is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2009, 04:30 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,077
Travel in Asia tends to be slow. Overland travel (especially to Cambodia) is over very bad roads. You'll also want to move more slowly as it is so hot (one of our regulars here refers to the seasons as "hot" and "hell hot") and because you a visiting a totally unfamiliar place and culture. You have to slow down in order to get a sense of the place.

14-20 days is a nice amount of time. You can visit 3 or 4 places and enjoy them. Bangkok and Koh PhiPhi are easy. For PhiPhi you fly to Phuket, then take a boat over to PhiPhi. I'm not sure what your interest in Kanchanaburi is, some people do it as a day trip from Bangkok, others stay overnight one or even two nights.

I don't know what you are thinking in terms of a day trip to Cambodia. Day trip says to me overland travel, and the only place you could do a daytrip to from Bangkok would be Poipet, sometimes described as the armpit of Cambodia. And getting there and back from Bangkok would take up your whole day. So I'm guessing you really mean something else - maybe you would like to visit the temples at Angkor in Siem Reap? It takes a full three days just to see the major temples, so it isn't a daytrip. There are good air connections between Bangkok and Siem Reap, but they are a bit pricey. However, you can get a Bangkok Air Discovery pass which will lower your costs considerably.

If you are considering Angkor, take a look at our photos as a preview: www.marlandc.com
Kathie is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2009, 04:36 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 6,664
All of your ideas can easily be handled with 20 days. For 14 days, you'll have to exclude something.

A day trip to Cambodia is unrealistic. If you go to Angkor Wat, you should spend at least three days to see the major temples.

The beach portion should be determined by what time of year you're going. The rainy season switches sides.

Even with only 14 days, you can visit three different areas. If your budget allows, the flights are easy. A typical two weeks in Thailand is:
5 days in BKK-some at the beginning and some at the end
4-5 days in Northern Thailand
4-5 days beach

If you want to visit Cambodia, you can substitute that for Northern Thailand.
Gpanda is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2009, 05:03 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
Heya d: I'm sure you'll all the help you need in here. But first help us, eh? How old are you? How well-traveled are you? Are you a self-starter or just a liddle bit shy? Are you a groovy kinda gal/guy or do you like your pleasures in a spa? How much are you expecting to spend, say for a night's accomodation?

Get the idea? You can be any or all of the above and still find a trip to challenge but not terrify.

Just a couple of things: solo travel in these areas will be fun and not scary. If you're young and backpackery you'll find other people to like - if you're old and curmudgeonly like me, you can hire people to like you. lol

I think you've got three weeks holiday - let's think of the 20 day option.

Where are coming from?

Twenty days is a fine length of time to do everything you want. So is fourteeen but twenty is better than fourteen.

More things: Kanchenaburi is not in the north of Thailand.
A day trip to Cambodia - lol lol lol. Perhaps you need to research that fantasy.

And, before everybody else comes in going on, and on and ON about some great guide called Tong in BKK, before they shove Ponheary and Dara down your innocent throat in Siem Reap, before they insert Sgt. Kai between you and the hill-tribes in Chiang Mai let me just say - in words of one syllable - that there are others, by the hundreds. There are tuk-tuk drivers and guides akimbo. It's easy.

The only hard part is finding an honest one.

So, if your idea of Thailand ain't just must-see temples and the same cookie-cutter adventures that ALL of us have the first time we go you have to let us know. I see snorkel, I see 'meet people'.. so I'm going in that direction.

Let me say clearly, in words of one syllable, large chain hotels on the river in BKK are not the ONLY option. There are some delicious, grooovy boutique hotels to try.

All you really have to do is book flights and, if I were you, accomodation. Both easily done over the net. You'll get tons of advice. If you really, really think that the group-think guide is right for you, then you'll have to book 'em. As there's only one of you it'll be more expensive.

Why Kanchenaburi? If you have a specific connection to the Fall of Singapore and are actually interested, then go. Hellfire Pass is VERY moving. Otherwise, you'll find that famous Bridge On the River Kwai rather a let down.

Do you want a tasting menu of Thailand/S.E. Asia? Or an in-depth cultural trip? Or really, just a cool holiday. All are good. Choose any combination.

Now go look at a map of Thailand. The north is up the top. Phi Phi islands are down the bottom. Kanchenaburi is off to the left. You're gonna have to fly in and out of BKK, I think, each time. Maybe there's a way of doing some interesting stuff without you having to back-track.

Have you thought of a circuit BKK - Chiang Mai/Chiang Rai to Houiexay, grab a boat down to Luang Prabang [one night, two days, mucho nature], stay three days L.P.

http://www.asian-oasis.com/Luang.html

fly to Pakse [there's a river cruise there too and mucho nature] either stay there or transfer direct to Siem Reap.

http://www.asian-oasis.com/vat.html

Three nights Siem Reap.

Wildcard accomodation choice: http://www.hotelbeangkor.com/

I'll bet there's a direct flight S.R. to a beach. Swim snorkel... Back to BKK for a last few nights.
dogster is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2009, 05:05 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
lol - we were all typing at the same time.

There are some nifty trip reports in here too, g.
dogster is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2009, 05:10 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 6,664
Dogster is correct in that there are many ways to see Thailand. Almost all of them are magical. Your budget and demographic info can help us make more suitable recommendations. Thailand has something for everybody.
Gpanda is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2009, 05:25 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
Dogster is always correct. It is in the nature of the Dog.

g: the suggestions I am making are SPECIFICALLY tailored to your tragic single status. I, too am tragically single. lol. So I know the peculiarity. Touring, sightseeing in BKK, L.P. and S.R. can all be sorted out on the spot. The premium will be that you'll pay more if you do it thru the hotel. But, even pre-booking won't save you money.

Solo travel can be so cool - but it's easy to fall into a heap. So I'm suggesting places where you'll meet people - in that passing, transitory, safe way - as a solo traveler this is your bonus. Couples can not and do not have the same interaction.

If the O.P. is a single man, the reality of S.E. Asia is that everyone assumes you are there for sex. Whether that's spoken or tacitly assumed, you'll have to work with that attitude and deal with it.

offwego and Dogster discussed this very matter in a gay bar in Siem Reap, not that long ago.
dogster is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2009, 05:25 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11,334
And traveling solo is NOT a problem. I'm making my 4th (?) solo trip to Bangkok next week (60s female). I have many friends in Bangkok. People are easy to meet, really.

I will agree with dogster that there are plenty of other places to stay besides along the river. It all depends on what you think you might like. And I'll be making my 17th trip to Bangkok and have yet to make use of a paid guide! I have, however, met Tong and she is delightful! I'm going to guess though, that she will be booked up quickly during the "winter months" (Nov/Dec/Jan/Feb) as that is the peak season in Thailand.

It would be good to get your hotels and flights booked ahead. When I go during off season, I wait until I'm in the city to book flights to Samui, Chiang Mai, Phuket, etc. Seats and hotels have always been available.

We are all ready to help you with your trip. It will be a memorable one, I hope.
simpsonc510 is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2009, 05:52 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 636
I travel a lot, and one rule I try to follow most of the time for anything other than long weekends is to spend at least 3 nights in each place. I sometimes make one or two exceptions for arrival or departure nights or for sidetrips to places that can easily be seen in half a day. Also, since you're a first time solo traveller, I also would suggest that you spend 3 nights or so in Bangkok at the start before touring around, instead of connecting in Bangkok en route to another location.

Thailand has some affordable "splurges" in terms of hotels, so if your budget can handle it, affordable hotels with a few splurges here and there. I stayed at the Conrad in Bangkok for a few nights a few years ago and paid for an upgrade to the Executive Floor - at a total cost of about $125 a night (which wouldn't even get me a HoJo in NYC). It was great.
frogoutofwater is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2009, 05:58 PM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 23
Wow Dog. Fan...tastic. Let me touch on the surface of your reply and then study the info and get back with more appropriate details.

I am 50 but get mistaken for young 30's, just genetics. My travels are not extensive, but I am comfortable in my own skin and have made friends everywhere from Belize to SW Detroit.

Coming from Washington, DC I am interested in Kanchenaburi because a picture of monks with tigers during a very down time in life (we all get them) got me to thinking about visiting. After reading about all the tiger temple "issues" I wont visit, but the area is close to BKK (is that the right abbreviation?) and I thought it might be worth a try. I am interested in 2 to 3 place to visit. I know I want beach time. I am not scared of night life, but normally use it as a time to people watch. (drunken kids (sorry Young Adults) are like watching bumper cars with hair) I am very much a self started and am a good wanderer also I like the heat and humidity.

Other than beach and BKK, I am open to other options. the beauty Angor interests me, but I can save it for next time. I like the idea of visiting places with wildlife and am not adverse to volunteering and working, but on such a limited time, I feel that would be disingenuous.

Your statement "I see snorkel, I see 'meet people'" is right, but let me add that I am not afriad of an adventure. I have no reason to do this other than I have the time and want to go.

Budget: Maybe $200 to $300 a day but could go higher. The "boutique hotels" sound perfect. As for the rest of your post, I will spend tonight digesting and will come back in the morning with more through thoughts.

Thank you all for your replys. For now, more reading.
dbarks is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2009, 06:26 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
'I have no reason to do this other than I have the time and want to go...'

Ah-h-h-h - there's the clue. How perfect.

I know that one day I'll find out whether dbarks is a man or a woman - but there's no rush. I am all sexes to all people, too. Right now I am Angelina Jolie - soon, when I look in the mirror to shave, I'll be Keith Richards after an all-night party. It shouldn't make any difference - but, my word, in Thailand, it does.

See you in the morning. I'm assuming you're in the U.K.?
dogster is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2009, 06:28 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
ooops, Washington.
dogster is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2009, 07:02 PM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 23
I am a guy.
dbarks is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2009, 07:20 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,147
Dog, you couldn't tell dbarks is male? I'm disillusioned, having assumed you have extraordinary powers of perception. I do love it that dogster is talking to someone who calls himself dbarks. Ruff!
LAleslie is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2009, 07:31 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,077
You've gotten a great start! Think about it, let us know what kind of food for thought you need next. This was just an "amuse bouche" Next we can head to a real appetizer.

By the way, $200-300 a day means you can live in the lap of luxury in Thailand... a wonderful hotel, spa, fine food, etc.

Many of us here have done solo travel in SE Asia. I find it an easy place to travel solo as the people are so warm and welcoming.
Kathie is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2009, 08:16 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
Well, yes LA, I assumed dbarks was a guy - but when I re-read, I realized that there was absolutely nothing that couldn't be said by a gal.

So 10/10 Dogster for non-sexist thinking - After my recent experiences in Kolkata and Mumbai, I've come to the conclusion I'd better not assume anything. But something about dbarks led me to feel a kindred soul about to take his first trip to somewhere we all know he'll really like.

So this post is kinda fun. I gotta say it's heartwarming to see the Fodor's board swing into action. You have at least a dozen EXPERTS in here g, so use 'em.

Whatever happens gbear is probably gonna be going in thru BKK and out thru BKK - I think frog is spot on, three days is good to get your bearings. You don't really have to see every golden temple in BKK at all - matter of fact, you don't need to see any of them.

so first step is to think about hotel[s] for probably three/four days at the beginning and maybe one, two at the end. This'll depend on flight arrival and departure times.
dogster is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2009, 08:30 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
O.K., I'm fifty but I look thirty. I'm either a very lucky man or I'm delusional. lol lol lol. I'm arriving in BKK for the first time.

What kind of experience would I like? Something with 24 hour room service, not too difficult and right in the middle of everything, I think. I'm in BKK, a pulsing, groovy city. It's not all tinkling bells and temples, it's a humongous, cosmopolitan, Bladerunner place. I've suddenly become extremely handsome, I don't know how. A miracle has occurred in the taxi to the hotel.

I think I'd like a view, just to get my bearings. I think I'd like to DIVE IN. I think a gerooovy boutique place might be cool, but a big megapile in a shopping mall might be better to start with. Easier. lol. You'll see why.

Which BKK would dbarks like to dive into?

There are quite a few to choose from.
dogster is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2009, 02:52 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 6,664
Dbarks-the last post was an advertisement. Ignore it. If you want to look at the variety of hotels in Thailand, go to Sawadee.com. Many on this forum have had good success booking through this site.


BTW, I graduated from Bethesda-Chevy Chase H.S. a long time ago.
Gpanda is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2009, 03:23 AM
  #19  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 23
Wow, the replies are loose, fun and the information is great. Dog, as I guy, are I not by nature delusional.

Kathie, I love all kinds of food. I am an adventurous eater and have been a foodie, but do not like to eat to excess. I have a feeling I will like the street food the best.

The kind of BKK I want to dive into. I don't know. I am sure that the shader side of life will be seen but ignored. I am sure that at least one obligatory golden Buddha is in order, but the Blade Runner aspect of the city the sights and sounds and smells of that kind of place is a draw. I think a bar hopping night is in order, and I am sure

Frogoutofwater, 3 nights in BKK sounds right, The question is where next? Even if I decide on more beach (2 days Phuket, 3/4 days Phi Phi) that still leaves me 4+ days for some adventure somewhere. I have no problem climbing in Krabi, or heading to Chaing Mai (the $207 Thai air fly three time in country sounds like a good deal)

Arrival and departure times look pretty good on Korean Air leave DC 11:50 AM arrive 21:50 next day and leave at 00:10 and arrive at 9:50. So the BKK 3 days. Some place else 3 days. Beach the rest of the time with a BKK stop on the way back sounds like about 20 days to me.

So back to my original question: Do I have to follow a schedule or will I pay premium if I do not schedule?

This is going to be epic fun, isn't it?
dbarks is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2009, 03:54 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
Absolutely.

Delusion is perfectly normal in men of certain years - particularly in Thailand. You'll see what I mean.

Did you ask a question originally? lol

Well, no, actually you don't have to schedule anything. It's entirely up to you. I like to have it sorted, only 'cos I find it takes up a lotta time trying to do stuff on the road but in Thailand, with a laptop and a credit card, there's no reason, really - I guess. It's really about your abilities to operate in an unfamiliar environment.

I'm not sure whether doing it on the spot or in advance would be more cost-effective. Your budget will get you out of any situation. I think things would be about the same.

Availability will be the issue. So if you want to play it loose, then you have to be flexible. I'd have that first hotel booked - you can always extend. Your three nights in BKK is really only two days.
dogster is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO