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First trip to Thailand...where should I start

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First trip to Thailand...where should I start

Old Oct 10th, 2005, 05:39 PM
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First trip to Thailand...where should I start

I'll probably pick up a Fodors Thailand in the next few days...in the meantime, can you tell me what your perfect itinerary would be for a visit to Thailand?

We'll have about 2 weeks
Our likes and dislikes are:
we don't like to shop
love seeing wildlife
pretty beaches/forests/scenery
architecture
good food

Thanks for any direction you can provide me.
jaspertl is offline  
Old Oct 10th, 2005, 06:28 PM
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first you need to understand thailand a bit...your book will help you with that...

shopping is a major thing in thailand, but you can avoid it---pity...

eating is excellent and reasonable in thailand...in bkk there are fabulous restaurnats...all cuisines...the $200 meal you have in ny is $60 in bkk...wine is expensive and not always all that great so forget it...

next i would choose where i want to stay first in bkk...depending on where you are coming from you may be dead tired...for instance from my house in boston to the hotel in bkk is exactly 30 hours...get the picture...so for the first day or so you are out of it once you get there, so i always suggest a hotel with a nice pool and a decent restaurant or two...my fovorite is the marriott resort and spa on the river...

some of us only like to stay on the river and some only like to stay elsewhere...only you can decide that...i strongly suggest the river for a first time visit...its the heart and soul of bkk really...bkk used to be all canals and the life revolves around the river now as most of the canals are gone...

also on the river are the sheraton orchid (my least favorite), the fabulous historic oriental, the ultra wonderful peninsula (rated best in asia for several years), and the wonderful shangri-la....these are all top end hotels...there are not many middle of the road hotels...lots of low end...there are also serviced apartments at very reasonable prices

a good hotel site is: www.huahin.20m.com
this site includes tax and service which is 17.7% and most usually breakfast...this is great savings...

there are very interesting traditional thai buildings in bkk and magnificent ones as well as many new high rise interesting buildings...this city has been on the move for 30 years...its very modern while maintaining a colonial feel in some parts as well...you will not be disappointed...

once you decide on a hotel come back and ask us more questions about where to go etc in bkk...also about where to eat...tell us what you like...

next i would decide on a beach location or an upcountry location...may like chiang mai in the north...i do not like it so will not talk much about it...others will sing its praises...its not bad but........

as far as beaches there is a lot to choose from...you have some weather issues i think at that time of year, which someone else will speak to i am sure...

koh samui is very nice
phuket is the most frequently visited island but i found it only so so...the jw marriott there is fabulous and there are many more wonderful hotels on phuket as well....the whole island is set up today for tourism...i guess that is one reason i can pass it by next time..
koh chang is a newly popular island and just beginning to be developed for the non-thai tourist...i like it quite well...i stayed at the barali beach resort but a better place i would stay another time is amari emerald cove...

on samui i stayed at the peace resort...it is small and family run...not elegant but decent...many nicer and more expensive places...

krabi and phi phi islands are another destination...

huahin is a town about 2 hours drive south of bkk...it has several nice hotels the best of which are the hyatt, anantara, sofitel, marriott...the king stays in that town most of the time...it is an old fashioned resort town...

so my general impression is for you to relax some so i would spend time in bkk and then decide upon either a beach or an up country visit, but not both...

it is easy to fly to each of the outside locations on either thai air or bkk air or one of the new low budget airlines....that is the only way i would consider going with only 2 weeks...flights are very cheap...

so get started and then come back and ask as many questions as you like...tell us about your budget and more about your likes and dislikes...that will help us a lot in steering you to the best vacation ever!!!!
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Old Oct 10th, 2005, 06:33 PM
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First, in two weeks, I'd recommmend not more than three locations. Travel in SE Asia is best done slowly so you can soak in the atmosphere.

Bangkok has some amazing architecture - the variety of the wats is dazzling. And the wildlife - oh, perhaps you didn't mean that kind of wildlife... The food is wonderful. And you can stay in lovely luxury for the price of a mediocre hotel in the US or a small, dirty closet in most of Western Europe.

If you are really interested in architecture, you may want to consider a side trip to the temples of Angkor near Siem Reap Cambodia - truly one of the wonders of the world.

For scenery, I'd nominate northern Thailand, especially the area of the Golden Triangle. There is a resort right at the Golden Triangle, the Anantara, which is really lovely.

I'll leave other to talk about the beaches. There are lovely beaches in Thailand. Which one to visit will depend a lot on what time of year you are going.

Seriously, I don't really think of Thailand as a place for seeing wildlife (other than of the type refeerd to above in the Bangkok section). There are other places in SE Asia know for wildlife viewing - I'm off to Borneo next month to see wildlife there.

As you can see, there is much more than two weeks worth of Thailand that I expect you'd enjoy. Think of this as your first trip to Thailand. If you are like many of us here, it won't be your last.
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Old Oct 10th, 2005, 07:02 PM
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I pretty much agree with kathy. I would spend 6-7 nights in Bangkok, 5 or 6 nights in northern thailand and the remaining time at a beach. You should read about the various areas of northern thailand and then ask questions. I love northern thailand -- spent a month there once and return regularly. I'm not a beach person -- went to southern thailand once and never returned so I'll leave that to others.

While Siem Reap is wonderful I would spend the full two weeks in thailand.

If you are interested in elephants you might consider spending some time (maybe 2 or 3 days) at the Elephant Conservation Center. They will teach you about the elephants, show you how to ride and wash them etc. People who do this rave about it and it is a wonderful place. It is outside of Chiang Mai in Lampang in northern thailand. Do not confuse it with the other elephant camps where they do not treat their animals well and are more concerned with money than the animal's welfare.

Shopping is great in thailand but I know many people (including me these days) who do virtually no shopping there and have a fabulous time.
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 11:26 AM
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What time of year are you going jaspertl? Then we can help you with potential beach time. Also - what type of place would you like to stay in - boutique, spa, family, beachfront, desert island, price range etc.

We took a two week holiday to Thailand with friends a few years ago and split our time so we had 3 nights in bangkok at the beginning, 4 in Chiang Mai, 5 on the beach and another 3 days/2 nights in Bangkok. That worked as a good balance for us - but of course this is personal to everyone.

I think if you are not interested in shopping, the river hotesl in Bangkok would suit you well, depending on your budget (rhkkmk has listed some of the hotels there). This location serves as a very good base for getting to the sights in Bangkok - either by river boat or sky train. If you want to go to restaurants in other areas for dinner, the traffic is less horrendous at night and you can easily get a taxi. rhkkmk has a great restaurant list that he emails out (bob - hope you don't mind me promoting this!)

Have fun planning!
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 12:09 PM
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I was in Thailand several years ago and I recommend skipping Phuket and going out to the Phi Phi Islands off of Phuket. They are pristine and spectacular. I stayed at the Phi Phi Island Village and absolutely adored it. It is a low end resort that fit my need for simplicity and comfort.
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 01:13 PM
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Thanks to you all for your replies & suggestions.

first, let me say that I don't like to lie on the beach and sun & swim as much as I enjoy admiring pretty beaches.

Is thailand a place where you would rent a car and drive around to sightsee? we do like car trips but I'm not sure about driving in thailand.
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 01:16 PM
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OH!! Also....we haven't picked an exact time yet but heard that the weather is best Nov-March?
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 01:38 PM
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Weatherwise for beaches, south best time is November to March, from April to October the Gulf of Thailand islands and beaches have the better weather though some areas of the Gulf are pretty dry for much of the years except November into January when Samui / Koh tao area can get quite a bit of rain, but even in January Samui rainfall is about on par with Phuket.
if you like great beaches Krabi area and Phi Phi and Koh lanta really nice ( Nov thru March/April ), Koh lanta is still quiet enough to be very relaxing yet has some nice places to stay and along the coast south to Trang some remote and quiet beaches. South East from bangkok are Koh samet and Koh Chang, south of bangkok just past Hua hin long coastline of quiet and remote beaches, this is farmland country and mountains ( near Myanmar border area ) and quite remote once off the highway. Buri Ram and the whole Isan area have some wonderful forst and remote areas, very tranquil and relaxing.

A good site to get the feel of places, maps etc is www.sawadee.com, lots of reliable information so you can get a feww of these places we mention.
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 07:26 PM
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If you don't like beaches except to look at them, I'd skip the beaches and spend the whole time in bangkok and northern thailand.
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 07:45 PM
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when in the country you can rent a car but not anywhere around bangkok!!!

the beaches are not all that beautiful imo...they are nice but most are not all that wonderful to look at...

nov to mar is the best weather generally although i have been the last two years in may and june....you get a little rain almost every day but that helps keep it cool
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Old Oct 12th, 2005, 05:24 AM
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At the time of year you are thinking of going, the beaches on the Andaman coast will have great weather, so take a look at Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga (James Bond Island), Phi Phi, Ko Lanta. We love the beaches on this coast - particularly around Krabi and Phi Phi - but are not into lying on the beach (I can tolerate 30 mins on the beach with a good book, John can't bear more than 5 minutes before he gets twitchy!). The attractions for us are the wildlife and scenery you get to see by taking a trip OFF the beach - snorkelling, diving (if you haven't seen wildlife in Thailand, you haven't looked underwater!), sailing etc. We love the Krabi area because you can do all these things plus kayak around the caves and rock climb on the limestone cliffs - amazing scenery and views.

So perhaps you might want to look at that area if these things appeal to you, but if not then perhaps take more time in Northern Thailand instead.
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Old Oct 12th, 2005, 08:09 AM
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Bella - I'm chuckling about your wildlife comment!
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