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Help with Thailand trip- Bangkok and Phuket

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May 1st, 2011, 05:48 AM
  #1
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Help with Thailand trip- Bangkok and Phuket

Hi,

We are a group of four best friends...two couples (between 30-35). We are from India and we try and meet up for a trip at least once every year. We are planning a trip to Thailand in August end. We know it is bad weather...but this is the only time that would work with all our work commitments. We are hoping that good company would more than make up for the bad weather. Two of us would be traveling from London and and our friends would join us in India.

So far this is what we have worked out:

27th August - Delhi to Bangkok
28th August - Bangkok (early morning flight)

28th August - Morning flight to Phuket

28th - 1st September - Phuket

1st- 4th September - Bangkok

4th September - late night flight- Bangkok- Delhi

We are planning to do couple of day trips to Phang Nga and Phi Phi (weather permitting) and a Thai cookery class in Phuket.

Would really appreciate recommendations for the coking class. Couple of us are vegetarians...so it would be really good if the cooking class offers veg options as well.

Another thing that we very badly need help with is the selection of resort in Phuket. We have been tearing my hair over it. Our budget is fairly modest and that is making it even more difficult to make a decision. We would ideally like to spend $100 - $115/ night (inclusive of breakfast).

Some of the resorts we have been looking at:

Katathani Beach Resort- Ideally we would have loved to stay here...however even the superior room is coming at around $150/night. Given that some of the reviews about the lowest category rooms are not so great...we are not very inclined to increase our budget...don't know if it would be worth it.

Other resorts under consideration

Metadee Resort: We are getting a very good deal on this. The reviews and pictures on trip advisor look good. The lowest category rooms (Pool View rooms) are well within our budget. We could move up to pool access rooms. However given that two of us can't swim...it doesn't make much sense. However if there is a significant difference between the quality of the rooms then we could do that.
Drawback:not close to the beach...

Merlin Beach Resort: We can barely get the lowest category room in this resort. The reviews are decent (though not as good as Metadee). The rooms do look a little tired. We are two couples and the feeling that I have got after reading the reviews on trip advisor is that it is a more family friendly resort. Though honestly we are all quite fond of kids and don't mind them. The biggest plus is that it is on the beach...and away from the more lively area of Patong. The outside areas look decent and well kept.

Hilton Karon Beach Phuket: Personally I am not too keen on Hilton. My only experience of staying in a large five star property is Four Seasons in Hong Kong and I thought it was fairly soulless. However everything was really perfect there. So in terms of risk, this seems like the least risky option. It might not wow us...but we wouldn't also feel that we went terribly wrong. We are getting the sea view rooms within our budget here. The reviews on trip advisor are mixed.

Our main requirements are:
- budget
- as luxurious an experience as we can get (I understand luxury is the wrong word to use given our limited budget...but the best that we can do within that) - good rooms, grounds, beach, views etc.
- Sumptuous breakfasts. We all love big breakfasts with a large spread of things to choose from.

Location: As of now Kata seems like the best option for us. We want to be in a lively area with loads of local restaurants and bars...however we wouldn't want to be hassled by vendors every few seconds. We definitely plan to go to Patong for one of our nights and see how the night life is...we are in our early thirties and though not really party animals...we do like to go out once in a while.

Please help us decide which resort do we go with. We are all completely confused. I know we are already struggling with all the different options...however if you feel that we should look at any other resorts...then do suggest!

Please help....once we decide on this I will come back to the forum for more help with the Bangkok part of our trip.

Thanks a lot.....
rajshiv is offline  
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May 1st, 2011, 07:29 AM
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Ok, so you know that the weather won't be good in Phuket, and a couple of you don't swim. Why are you going to a beach?

It seems like it might make more sense to go to Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is an excellent place for a cooking class -there are many there that are highly recommended. Your price range in Chiang Mai will get you a nicer place than in Phuket. And, for the swimmers, it will have a good pool. You could stay outside of town in the countryside and still have the feeling of a resort.

This is the booking site I usually use for Thai hotels : www.sawasdee.com prices generally include tax and service (17.7% total), and, often breakfast. You might also check www.agoda.com
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May 1st, 2011, 08:28 AM
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Thanks a lot for your response Kathie...

Chiang Mai is a place that the group decided we would go to on the next trip...right now they were all more keen on Phuket. We tried our best to squeeze in 2-3 days so that we could also go to Chiang Mai...but this time it doesn't seem feasible. However given Thailand's proximity to India we should be able to go for another trip soon...Chiang Mai does look lovely...thanks a lot for the suggestion.

We are trying to learn swimming and should be more comfortable in the next three months. However we all do enjoy being on the beach.I found it hard to understand why would people want to lie down in the sun...when I was back in India...now I appreciate the idea a lot more. We really do get very limited sunshine in London...and the idea of lying on the beach in the sun...with the soft sea breeze is truly enticing. All of us do enjoy getting into water...and are really looking forward to a few days on the beach. The last beach holiday that we went for was five years back (for our honeymoon)...and now feel are ready for the next one.

Thanks a lot for your suggestion about the booking websites. I saw your post on some of the other topics and since then have been looking at rates on these websites. These rates that I have found out for the above mentioned resorts are usually from wotif/ agoda and sawasdee.com. However I didn't find significant differences in the prices between the hotels own website and these sites...except for Hilton.

Have you been to any of these resorts yourself...would you recommend one over the other?
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May 1st, 2011, 08:38 AM
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i much perfer krabi and khoa lak to phuket....have you looked at them?

in K/L i love the jw marriott and they have a very good rate just now (2970B++) if you are a member of marriott rewards which is free and you can join on line....the breakfast there is fantastic....K/L is a one hour drive north of phuket airport. i am going back there in october...

we also love the sheraton at krabi--i don't know their price.. i have stayed there twice. good indian and thai food right across the street --very reasonable...

air asia is a good way to get to all these locations..

look at chatrium suites on the river at bkk.... good deal and delicious breakfast... also centre point silom.... also marriott mayfair and marriott sukhumvit park are good deals...
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May 1st, 2011, 08:47 AM
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I do understand about the need for sun - I live in Seattle. Sorry, I haven't stayed at any of those places on Phuket, so can't be of much help on specific properties. I'm sure others here will have suggestions.
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May 1st, 2011, 11:17 AM
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rhkkmk thanks a lot for your response. The deal on JW Marriot does seem brilliant! I am really tempted...I wasn't even looking at it because I thought it would be waaaay beyond our budget. The only thing is that some of the reviews say that it is quite a distance from Kata and Patong. We were thinking of renting bikes...however we wouldn't want to do a 45 minutes bike ride to get in. We have just 4 days in Phuket...do you think it would make more sense for us to be closer to Kata/ Patong?

The deal on chatrium is absolutely great...especially the two bed room apartment...fits within our budget and looks lovely. Thanks a ton for this...I am getting it booked now!

My friends would be using Air Asia between Delhi- Bangkok-Phuket...and we would be using Air Asia between Bangkok-Phuket...our tickets have already been done...

An aunt of mine very highly recommended Krabi too, however we had already got our tickets. Hopefully sometime soon we will get to go there as well.

Thanks a lot for all your help...
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May 1st, 2011, 12:13 PM
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It is a 2-3 hr drive to Krabi from Phuket. Actually a very lovely ride, thru limestone formations, rain forrest and small villages. Even on a rainy day it is enjoyable.

Are you interested in night life? That would be the main reason to be near Kuta and Patong. The food there is average to say the least. Beaches are crowded and not that nice. Have you looked at any pictures of the beach area in Kuta/ P atong? You can check the reviews of places you are interested in on Trip Advisor.com to see if they meet your needs.
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May 1st, 2011, 12:22 PM
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With just 4 days would you recommend that we go to Krabi...or are you suggesting that instead to Phuket we go to Krabi?

The ride does sound very interesting and I will suggest it to the rest of the group and see what they feel about it.

We are definitely interested in the night life. We would like to go out for a couple of nights.

I have been constantly looking at reviews on tripadvsor...and in a sense I think it has just added to our confusion...

Have you stayed at any of the resorts that we are looking at?

How long does it take to go from JW Marriot to Kata/ patong...I am seriously tempted!
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May 2nd, 2011, 10:41 AM
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Hi...any more ideas...or suggestions?
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May 2nd, 2011, 11:03 AM
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I also recommend staying in Krabi instead of Phuket. I find the scenery more beautiful and there are less tourists.
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May 3rd, 2011, 05:51 AM
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Krabi does look very beautiful...but we have just found out that one of our friends is pregnant and we would want to keep the travel as minimal as possible...so as of now it does look like it would be just Bangkok and Phuket.

How far is JW Marriot from Patong and Kata and off the resorts that I have listed which seem the best that would meet our needs?
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May 3rd, 2011, 07:00 AM
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the jw marriott i was suggesting is the one in khao lak, not the phuket one, although the phuket one is very nice too. it is a 45 minute car ride to patong (not a very nice place actually). as i remember kuta is a bit further.

the phuket jw is very convenient to the airport---maybe 20 minutes north of the airport...

i have rented a car for stays at both jw's... it makes getting from the airport easy and it allows for total freedom for getting around daily. i use pure car rentals....
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May 4th, 2011, 03:39 AM
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Thanks a lot for clarifying this. 45 minutes is a fairly long ride and I don't think my friend would be up to making that ride twice in four days. So unfortunately it doesn't seem likely that we would be staying at JW Marriott. Right now Metadee seems the best option to me...
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May 4th, 2011, 04:17 AM
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I am just seeing this post. I have to agree with raj about the appeal of a beach. I am NOT a swimmer myself.... sink like a rock in the water. But I LOVE the atmosphere on a beach. I will seek out a beach as often as I can. I live in the interior of the USA, so no beaches are nearby. I go to Florida at least twice a year, and to Hawaii once a year. It's the beach that draws me. I don't set foot in the water!
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May 4th, 2011, 04:22 AM
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In reading on from the post re: why a beach if you don't swim?... I would agree that Kata would be a good location for you. It is too bad that Katathani is beyond your budget. I have stayed there, and it was really lovely.

On Kata, I've stayed at Mom Tri's Boathouse, but I think it is probably beyond your budget as well. I think there is a Kata Beach Resort? Someone here had stayed there... cannot recall who it was.

Just returned from my trip to Bangkok last night. I don't stay on the river, but I think you will enjoy the Chatrium anyway. You can take their shuttle to the skytrain to get into the 'heart' of the city, around Siam and Sukhumvit area.
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May 4th, 2011, 06:13 AM
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Thanks a lot for your response...hope you had a good trip to Bangkok. I was just looking at your other thread and you seem to have enjoyed Hong Kong. I really liked the city, however I was there for almost a month. I went to a lot of outlying islands and did some short treks and thought that was lovely.

Mom Tri's is definitely out of our budget...did you stay in the most basic rooms at Katathani? Are they worth the extra money?

I haven't closely looked at Kata beach Resort because Metadee is very well reviewed on tripadvisor and it seemed to meet our needs.

However I will check it out tonight. The only reason why I am unable to go for Metadee is that it is not on the beach...where as both Merlin and Hilton are.

Is there a reason why you don't stay on the river...is it more difficult to get to teh city. How frequent is the shuttle...can't we take the local transportation to the skytrain?
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May 4th, 2011, 07:31 AM
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raj, I really did enjoy Hong Kong. It was not a long stay, but still filled with fun. We didn't do treks, other than walking all over Kowloon! haha

I don't stay on the river (anymore) because it is too far away from my friends in the Sukhumvit area. The skytrain closes at midnight, 1:00am... and I would not want to have to taxi back to the river at that hour, when leaving my friends' location(s). That's why I just stay in Sukhumvit instead. Soi 8 has become my home away from home in Bangkok.

I can't answer your question about the shuttle boat from the Chatrium to the skytrain, as I've never been to Chatrium. A lot of the most frequent posters here on the Asia forum stay on the river all of the time. They can tell you a lot more about the scheduling of the shuttle boats than I can. I do agree that staying in a 2-bedroom apt would be nice for you and your friends.
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May 4th, 2011, 07:35 AM
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i think the shuttle runs about every 1/2 hour... i don't think you would find local transportation to your liking except for taxis... local buses are crowded and non a/c.

the boat is fun and comfortable...night and day...
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May 4th, 2011, 08:14 AM
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I took the Chatrium shuttle in November by mistake LOL. It was late and I thought it was the Sheraton boat. I think all the boats come every 20-30 minutes.
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May 5th, 2011, 02:38 PM
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I checked with the hotel and they said that there is a shuttle every 15 mins during the day...that sounds quite reasonable. Quite a few reviews on trip advisor said the same. If we decide to stay out longer on a particular night...I am sure we can manage.

Chatrium does look lovely and I will book it over the weekend.

Phuket...still quite undecided...because of time difference we haven't had a chance to have a proper conversation about the different choices...hopefully over the weekend we will decide on something. If someone has any opinions please feel free to share.
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