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Help from all seasoned travelers to SE asia

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May 5th, 2014, 06:30 AM
  #21
 
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cayetana, you can't see all of the wonderful things in this area in one trip. You will have to come back. I've visited SE Asia several dozen times and there is always more to see and do.
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May 5th, 2014, 06:56 AM
  #22
 
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Kathie. Can you produce anything to discredit Elephant World at Kanchanaburi?

All that I've read is positive stuff. I personally know one of the DE's on the TA Kanchanaburi Forum, and if there were any bad vibes then he'd have posted something in the forum to warn people. But I can't find anything.
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May 5th, 2014, 07:42 AM
  #23
 
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LL, I'm not talking about good vibes or bad vibes. I'm talking about independent reviews of how they treat the elephants. There are a number of reputable organizations that conduct such reviews. The last time reviews of all of the Thai elephant "camps" "preserves" etc were done, there were only two places that passed the reviews. IMO, the only way we can know how the elephants are treated is via an external review by an independent organization. There are plenty of places that got good reviews by travelers for years before the actual animal welfare reviews were done.

The place that used to be listed on TA as the number one attraction in Chiang Mai turned out to be a camp that used hooks on the elephants, and there were fresh scars observed even by visitors - who still said they had a great time there. The elephants did not have such a great time. I don't know whether this camp is still listed on TA as #1.
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May 5th, 2014, 08:39 AM
  #24
 
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Here is a review on Travelfish of Elephant World http://www.travelfish.org/feature/312 . It seems very positive and I would tend to trust reviews there more than I would on Tripadvisor but even travelfish and so called destination experts on TA are not experts on animal welfare. If anyone really cars about animal wefare then they need to research these operations carefully. As Kathie points out ethe only real way of knowing is to consider the independent reviews by external organisations.

Returning to the question of your itinerary cayetana, one important issue to consider is the weather at that time of year especially in Northern Thailand. June - July is the transition from the hot season to the rainy season and Chiang Mai has been known to experience flooding at that time of year. These days there is no certain way to predict when the seasons may change but at that time of year I think you can expect high temperatures, humidity and possibly rainfall as well. I have visited Northern Thailand in July and it has been ok even with the heavy rain. It is certainly a lot quieter in terms of tourism and prices are generally lower.

Chiang. Rai is ok and certainly not as busy as CM but if it were me, and I were not going to Vietnam, I would add a day or two to Bangkok and Siem Reap ( or maybe add in a trip to Phnom Penh for a couple of days). However, I see no problem in taking a flying visit to Hanoi for a few days just to get a flavour of the country and It is a fascinating city with a lot to see. I am sure you will want to return. I would however not bother with a trip to Halong Bay.
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May 5th, 2014, 09:07 AM
  #25
 
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While I agree with Crellston about a brief visit to VN, be aware that you must have (or arrange) a visa in advance and it will cost you about $65-70 in visa fees for even a short visit to VN.
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May 5th, 2014, 12:47 PM
  #26
 
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Thanks.
While I admit to neither being an expert, nor having a particular interest, I still can't find anything to suggest that the Kanchanaburi Elephant World is anything other than what it advertises itself as.
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May 6th, 2014, 08:56 AM
  #27
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Thank you all for your valuable comments. Now I have to go to the travel agency to make the arrangenents. I judt read about the earthquake near CR I hope the people are well. I read the ehite temple sustained serious damages. Based on that, I think I will skip it during this trip. I have reviewed the flights and since I am coming from Tokio it seems that it is easier to do the itinerary in reverse. Fly from tokio to hanoi , from hanoi to siem reap, from siem reap to bankok, from bankok to chiang mai. Those are the places that I am modt interested in. With this in mind, any comments as how I should structure the trip. Would it be better to start in bankok? There is also a direct flight from tokio. I have spoken to friends who have travelled the area and they tell me that Bankok, although interesting, is a very big city eith lots of traffic and that it is better to spend more days in the north. So far I sm inclining to fo the following
3 nts bankok
4 nts chiang mai
3 nts siem reap
3 nts hanoi
1 nt halong bay (. I do want to visit it even if briefly)
Can you experts please suggest the order in which I should arrange this cities? Pleaseeeeeeee. I think you can be of soooooo much more help than the travel agent. I prefer direct flights since I have so little time.
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May 6th, 2014, 09:26 AM
  #28
 
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Note that your one night at Halong Bay consumes two days getting there and back, so will take from your already limited time in hanoi.

Three nights in Siem Reap is te absolute minimum, you may find you regret not having longer (I had that long the first time, and wound up going back).

I would take time from CR to add to Hanoi and SR.
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May 6th, 2014, 04:29 PM
  #29
 
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One night on Halong Bay is doable IME. We were picked up at 8.30, boarded our junk around lunch time and spent the afternoon motoring around the most amazing scenery. We kayaked through a tunnel to a secluded lagoon, then back to the junks sleeping area. The next day we visited the Amazing Cave and a beach before early lunch on board and then the road trip back to Hanoi, arriving about 5.00 pm.

I was well pleased that we went, and even enjoyed the road trip, the traffic is really something else !
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May 6th, 2014, 07:29 PM
  #30
 
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If you are coming from Japan, then you should go Hanoi-Siem Reap-Chiang Mai and save Bangkok for the end of the trip because most likely your return flight to Mexico will be from there. You may even need to spend the last night of your trip there anyway depending on when your flight home departs. Easier to be there already.

I loved Hanoi and if you are going anywhere in VN, that would be my choice. Fantastic food there too. I agree that Halong Bay will be rushed but people certainly do it. Check on the weather for the time of year you will be there though. No point in going if it will be dumping rain.

For all your flights, try to get the earliest ones possible because every time you fly you're going to lose half a day's travel time.
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May 6th, 2014, 11:43 PM
  #31
 
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@Kristina<<>>

Spot-on!
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May 6th, 2014, 11:47 PM
  #32
 
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Halong Bay is certainly possible in an overnight trip but I just don't think it is worth the effort ( just my opinion).

Kristina makes a very good point re getting the earliest possible flight each day to maximise your time in each location. Overall, arriving in a new places at say 9-10 am will make a huge difference. To the time available for sightseeing.

Also, if you are returning home from BKK then it does make sense to be there beforehand.

How much time you spend in CM and SR largely depends upon the relevant importance to you of elephants and temples.
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May 10th, 2014, 06:37 AM
  #33
 
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Bangkok might be a problem at present because of political troubles in the past 48hrs. Check your travel insurance.
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May 13th, 2014, 06:32 PM
  #34
 
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Agree total disaster. Sack that agent.

Krabi> Halong Bay
Chiang Mai = mega touristy.

I would recommend the following for 2 weeks:

Bangkok 4 nights
Kanchanaburi 2 nights
Krabi 5 nights
Trang 3 nights

(Trang is real Thailand). Great night market and some tours. Tham Lae Khao Kob cave is very good as is the Emerald cave tour.

Trang gets more Thai visitors than foreigners.
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May 13th, 2014, 06:36 PM
  #35
 
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I found Chiang Rai boring and a bit fake like CM. Its just smaller.

If you do the north hire a car and visit Chiang Dao and Tham Lot caves. You could try Lampang also if you want to see the real Thailand that isnt put on just for foreigners.
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May 13th, 2014, 06:43 PM
  #36
 
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Elephants

North
Chiang Dao Elephant camp
Lampang Elephant Conservation centre

Bangkok

Samphran Elephant Zoo

Krabi

Nosey Parkers
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May 13th, 2014, 06:51 PM
  #37
 
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Laos - havent spent much time there but its basically a slower less interesting version of Thailand.

It does have nice scenary though you can find that elsewhere and its hard to beat Phang Nga bay area near Krabi for scenary.
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May 17th, 2014, 12:11 AM
  #38
 
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Just remember every time you change city or country you loose at least a half day of sight seeing. In some cases up to most of the day. Travel is slow as there are not good roads in all these areas. The drive out to Halong bay is a two lane road with a lot of truck, carts, tour busses and various other rolling modes of transportation. Don't schedule our time too tight and then add the stress of not getting to do do all you want.
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May 17th, 2014, 02:07 AM
  #39
 
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"Laos - havent spent much time there but its basically a slower less interesting version of Thailand."

Slower,yes, but much more interesting, more pristine scenery , more unspoilt,cheaper and far fewer tourists ( apart from LP)
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May 17th, 2014, 07:58 AM
  #40
 
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How is it more interesting? Being slower means less to do. Thailand has a very high repeat visitor rate while Laos doesnt.

90% of Thai cities have very few tourists. You must have just been to the touristy places.

Does Laos have 4 star hotels for $30 a night?

Food might be cheaper but you wont get hotels any cheaper at the better end.
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