Help with Thailand itinerary

Old Oct 13th, 2005, 10:40 AM
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Help with Thailand itinerary

We are traveling from Los angeles to Thailand (1st trip) with our 7 yr old son and need some input. We want to visit BKK, Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai or both and Phuket or Krabi. We leave on Dec. 15 and return 1st of Jan.

1.Is the trip too long from LA directly to Thailand, would you recommend a couple of days stop over in Shanghai or HK or...

2. Between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai or can we see both. What are the distances we are talking about. Natural beauty, lots of animal watching and interacting for our son - which is your recommendation.

3. Can't decide between phuket or Krabi. We are hoping to stay at a 5 star resort in teh south with great snorkeling. Not interested in nightlife etc. We don't want to spend too much travelling from one place to another though coming from Chiang Mai/Rai. Is Krabi too out of the way? It appears to be prettier than Phuket. Please give your recommendation on the BEST place to stay disregarding cost.

Finally please give us your ideas on how to split our trip between these three locations.

Thanks for any and all your ideas.
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Old Oct 13th, 2005, 11:00 AM
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given that you only have 2 weeks i would not stop off on the way....and yes it will be a terrible trip for him and for you....it always is...

bring lots of things to entertain him and try to get him to sleep some...

you might like to look at the bangkok marriott resort and spa...it is a great hotel for families...

you will not see lots of wild life in the north...a few monkeys in some places but that is about all...there are places where there are elephants in camps which are interesting--- one of the best is just outside chiang mai....you might look at the anantara hotel north of chiang rai as they have an elephant program which you might all enjoy...it takes 2 1/2 to 3 hours to drive from CM to CR...

i would suggest not moving around all that much in 2 weeks....maybe only visit 2 locations....so i would do bangkok and CM and CR or bkk and the beach...
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Old Oct 13th, 2005, 11:02 AM
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Also be aware that you are traveling in peak season so you should book your hotels as soon as possible.
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Old Oct 13th, 2005, 11:07 AM
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Thai Air is starting non stop flights from LA which would cut your travel time a lot. Check with them. Their economy is also the most spacious out there on this aircraft and their premium economy is even better. They might have some promotional fares since it's a new flight but even if they don't it will certainly be your shortest option.

I would spend a week in Bangkok and a week in northern thailand -- 3 or 4 days in Chiang Mai and the remaining time in Chiang Rai. You could also decide to spend a couple of days at the elephant conservation center in Lampang (about and hour and a half outside of Chiang Mai) which is a fabulous place for families. Check out their various programs where you can stay there and learn about the elephants. It's a wonderful place and the children I saw there were crying because they were leaving and their parents were saying it was the best thing they had ever done with and for their children.
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Old Oct 13th, 2005, 11:28 AM
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If I was going with a child, I wouldn't drop the time at the beach. (However, I love the beach so I would include this with or without a child! I know Gloria and Bob are not so keen on the beaches in Thailand).

The reason I say this is my best friend took a trip to Thailand earlier this year with her two girls, 5 and 7. They went to Bangkok, the north and the beach. The highlights for her girls were (in no particular order) (1) the Marriott on the river in Bangkok which they loved because, as Bob has said, it is a family resort and there were other children for them to play with; (2) the beaches - because again they just had a lovely time running around in the sea and sand playing with other kids and (3) the elephant conservation centre in Lampang. The girls told me that they were otherwise a little bored in Chiang Mai, although perhaps that was because they didn't make friends in the hotel they were in etc so that problem might be solveable by selecting an appropriate hotel. I think at that age, they weren't as appreciative of the wonders of Bangkok and Chiang Mai as adults might be.

In terms of your timing, we have done a two week trip visiting Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phi Phi AND Krabi so I think you could visit Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Krabi in that time. I would take a look at the Rayavadee in Krabi - absolutely stunning. Krabi in my opinion knocks the socks of Phuket, which I am not too fussed about. The limestone formations are beautiful and unique and the rocky cove beaches they form will be very different to those you are used to in California. You can take great snorkelling trips and also a trip to James Bond island (Phang Nga). When we did it we did 3 nights Bangkok, 5 nights Chiang Mai, 5 nights beach and 2 nights Bangkok. We were travelling from the UK though so our jetlag was not so bad at the beginning. You might want to consider having more time in Bangkok at the beginning to allow yourself to get over jetlag and acclimatise.
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Old Oct 13th, 2005, 11:59 AM
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In your time frame, you can do BKK-4 days, fly to Chiang Rai-2 days, acr to Chiang Mai-2 days, fly to Phuket-4 days, fly to BKK-1 day. I chose Phuket only because there is a direct Thai Air Flight CM-Phuket. If you care to share your budgetary constraints, we will be glad to recommend hotels and activities. In BKK, you can stay at 4 and 5 star hotels cheaply. In CM and Phuket the high end stuff jumps up in price considerably.
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Old Oct 13th, 2005, 03:00 PM
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Thank you very much for your replies. Great information. I am a little late in booking direct flight with thai Air which would have been great.

Based on info I got here I checked around for hotels we would like to stay at. I was able to get the Oriental in Bangkok but was confused on which Anantara in Chiang Mai is the one we would want(there is golden triangle which does not accept children and one in Kun Sumi). We are looking at staying in luxury resorts. Is it advisable to move from Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai or is it possible to stay in one place and make day trips?

Finally, please recommend a luxury hotel in Krabi. Thanks again.
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Old Oct 13th, 2005, 06:02 PM
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The Anantara Golden Triangle is about 3 hours north of Chiang Mai. Not sure where you mean by Kun Sumi. Perhaps Koh Samui, which is a beach area in the Gulf of Thailand. There are some lovely luxury resorts in Koh Samui, but not sure how the weather will be there that time of year. In Phuket, if money is no object, I have heard the top luxury hotel is the Amanapuri, but there are others. For a luxury hotel in Chiang Mai you might consider the Mandarin Dara Devi or the Four Seasons, which is about 40 minutes outside of Chiang Mai. But really, your song will LOVE the Elephant Conservation Center in Lampang, about an hour south of Chinag Mai.
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Old Oct 13th, 2005, 06:27 PM
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Anantara Golden Triangle Resort - in Chiang Rai province, not Chiang Mai - does accept children, but there's apparently a glitch in their website booking engine. Suggest you email your request to the hotel directly.

Krabi is more scenic than Phuket, but the beaches along the mainland coast are generally not suitable for snorkeling - you have to go by long-tail boat out to one of the offshore islands (which is what the pretty advertising pictures you've seen usually show). Rayavadee is basically the only 5* deluxe resort in Krabi - and quite nice - but just so you know, it's accessible ONLY by boat, and you'll be sharing the beach with backpackers staying at $20/night bungalows next door. You might want to consider Pimalai on Koh Lanta (www.pimalai.com) - but they're fully booked during Christmas/New Year - a problem you'll run into at virtually every 5* beach resort in the south. At this late date, you might have no choice but to switch your itinerary around to stay at the beach first, then head north.

Forgive me for saying - I'm an American (ex-San Diegan) and own an inbound tour company based in Bangkok (so I obviously have a bias) - but in my opinion, you really need to talk to a professional travel agent (hopefully in L.A.) who's knowledgeable about Thailand to help organize this for you. It will be far less work, and you'll have a much better time once you get here!

Good luck!
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Old Oct 13th, 2005, 06:36 PM
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it is the anantara golden triangle...did not know they did not take kids...where did you find that out...i would ask them directly...there were kids there last year when i was there...two groups...

the oriental is beautiful but it would be the last hotel i would enjoy with kids...its just a little too formal and you do not want to keep your kids quiet all the time, seems to me...not a place to run around and let off steam....please take a careful look at the marriott if you have not already done so...it is not in the same lux class but one rung below...


CM and CR are too far apart to move from one to the other even for a day...

i disagree with the travel agent who has posted here....this board provides excellent advice and allows people to plan trips without the "help" of an agent...some of whom know little about the subject country...one man's opinion....
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Old Oct 14th, 2005, 04:34 AM
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JeffBKK, Are you the Jeff who works with East West Siam and helped me last year booking Lanna Farm? I tend to agree with Bob about not needing a travel agent in U.S. to plan a Thailand trip. Personally I think it is much more fun to do it on your own with the great resources on the internet, which is how I learned about Lanna Farm -- and you were very helpful! But some may not have time to do all the research. Pimalai on Koh Lanta is lovely, but a little difficult to get to, and as you say they are booked. I agree with Bob that the Marriott Riverside is a great place for kids -- and also without kids!
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Old Oct 14th, 2005, 06:03 AM
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There are a huge number of kids at the Oriental over the Christmas holidays and they have special activities for them as well as parties. They also have a day care center. The kids do not have to be quiet in the lobby -- they run and play and the staff plays with them. I know people who haven't stayed thare keep talking about how formal the Oriental is but it is actually one of the least 5 star formal places I've ever stayed. The 4 Seasons in CM and the Pen in Bangkok were much more formal in my opinion.

There is no question the Marriott would be good for kids but this writer has clearly stated that they want 5 star and as you yourself say it is 4 star.
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Old Oct 14th, 2005, 06:57 AM
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The daily non stop CM to Phuket is the best flight, 2 hrs, but from Phuket Airport it is a couple of hours by taxi to krabi area, you certainly need to book right away as it is not just peak season but bookings appear to be well up for this year. I have just booked our New Year local trip and got the last room available where we stay.

The scenary around krabi is superb but note that a lot of properties are 'not' on the beach, don't get confused with some place called something like xxxx Palms resort and take it for granted it's on a beach, or it is a full size resort, could be anything.

The Nakamanda in krabi is close enough to Ao nang for restaurants etc but quite, remember there is still no full star rating system for Thailand although 'some' are now being given star ratings, many properties just 'decide' they are a certain rating.
If you are looking for top places a nice site that shows luxury places ( plus others ) is www.phuket-luxury-hotels.com ( they also have krabi, Koh lanta, Chiang Mai and other places ) but it gets you started.
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Old Oct 14th, 2005, 07:07 AM
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If you are going to fly to Phuket, why not stay on Phuket! You can try for the Katathani on Kata Noi beach. It would be great for kids at that time of year, if still available. The travel time from Phuket airport to the Katathani is about 45 minutes, depending on traffic and driver. It's a great resort.

I also love the Villa Royale which overlooks the Katathani from a rocky outcropping. But it isn't a place for meeting and playing with other kids.

Carol
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Old Oct 14th, 2005, 11:41 AM
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I can't thank everyone on this site enough for all your generous advise. With the very discouraging news about lack of availability and exorbitant prices we considered not going at all, but Thailand is very hard to pass up. So we took jeffbkk's advise and moved our stay in Bangkok to the most difficult booking time (December 26-31st) and began our trip in Krabi staying at the Pimalai resort in Koh Lanta. (I am assuming that to get to Pimalai it is better to go Krabi rather than phuket)

Here is what we finally settled on (and booked tentatively ): Flying on Cathay to HK. 2 nights in HK. Fly to BKK and take connecting flight same day to Krabi arriving there at 4:20 pm. I understand that the ride is about 50 minutes to the hotel Pimalai resort. Staying at Pimalai for 5 nights. flying to Anantara Golden Triangle resort from Krabi via BKK. (As much as we really wanted to stay at the Mandarin Oriental Dara Dhevi, the photos on the website are mind boggling),they just had nothing available. They only have 15 open villas and the rate is $600 per night not including anything.) There is an elephant farm in Chiang Rai and from what I read on trip advisor, Chiang Rai and the resort is also very nice. I think it may even be possible to visit Lampang for one day. I am not sure how far that is at this time. But that seemed the best solution. We stay 5 nights in Anantara and flying to Bangkok to stay at the MO. This was the hardest part of the booking. We would have stayed 6 days in BKK but MO has a compulsory new years eve dinner at at unbelievable $350/adult and $270 for kids!!?**!! so we depart on the 31st and arrive in LA on the same day.

One advise I have for anyone else in our situation (late in booking) is to call all the hotels directly in Thailand and see what they have. Websites and international booking centers routinely told me there was nothing available when direct calls to Thailand yielded availability.

Also for those who travelled with Children, what health precautions did you take as far as shots etc.

Our bookings are still tentative,so if anyone has any suggestions, please share. Again thanks to each of you and without your invaluable advise, we would not be looking forward to experiencing this amazing country.
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Old Oct 14th, 2005, 12:20 PM
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First-- you cant't get to Lampang from the Anantara resort. Would it be possible for you to stay at the Four Seasons In Chiang Mai? I love northern thailand but I'm just afraid that 5 days in Chiang Rai with a 7-year old is too long. I would suggest cutting a day off this part of your trip and add it to Bangkok.
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Old Oct 14th, 2005, 06:40 PM
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As to Pimalai - we loved it, but it is about an hour from the airport in Krabi by car to the Pimalai's boat dock in Krabi & from there another 50 minutes or so by boat to the resort on Koh Lanta. When we were there there were no kids or kids acitivities, but the staff is wonderful & warm & if there are no other kids I'm sure they will be very helpful in arranging sailing or snorkeling for your son. As Gloria said, the Anantara is about 4 hours from Lampang, so a day trip would not work. You will be quite isolated at the Pimalai and also at the Anantara, so I agree with Gloria that you may want to consider something closer to Chiang Mai with more to see and do nearby.
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