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Hong Kong & Thailand in Dec. - Help & Questions

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Jun 25th, 2005, 10:28 AM
  #1
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Hong Kong & Thailand in Dec. - Help & Questions

After reading through lots of posts here and elsewhere I've come up with a loose itinerary and lots of questions.

Sorry this is a bit long, but this will be a major trip for me and I want to get it right, so your help and suggestions are welcome and needed!

This will be my first trip to Asia. My interests are varied - Of course I want to see the highlights, but more off the beaten path places as well. Beautiful scenery and spectacular locations are a big plus. Enjoy hiking and walking. Not really into doing tons of shopping or eating in high-end restaurants, esp. since I am traveling alone.

Rough itinerary and questions:
12/17 - depart LA
12/19 - arr Bangkok
2 or 3 nights Bangkok: historic district, wats, Chinatown, river cruises, Ayutthaya, Thonburi

hotel ideas: Shangri-La, Sheraton Royal Orchid, or Marriott Resort & Spa?

12/22 - To Chiang Mai
2 or 3 nights Chiang Mai: old city, wats, night market, day trips to Mae Hong valley, Lampang/Elephant Conservation Ctr., possible one-day trek into mtns or jungle

hotel ideas: Imperial Mae Ping, Rachamankha or ??

12/25 - to Hong Kong
5 or 6 nights Hong Kong
I'm most excited about Hong Kong because I've always wanted to go there, so I plan on exploring as much of the city as possible, including some of the outlying islands and a day trip to Macau.

Hotel - Sheraton Kowloon

12/31 - return to LA

Questions:
- What would you add (or not do) in each place?
- Comments on hotel choices? (budget $150-$200 night)
- From everything I've read, Chiang Mai and surrounding area seems more interesting to me than Bangkok. Would it be a mistake to skip Bangkok? Or even replace it with somewhere else in Thailand?
-Recommended number of days in each location based on my interests?
-I'm thinking Thailand first, then Hong Kong - any reason to reverse that order?
-Suggestions for flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai - and should I book in advance since it is high season?
- Same questions about flights from Chiang Mai to Hong Kong.
-Is it better to try to reserve a car and driver in advance for a day in either Bangkok or Chiang Mai? Or can I just do it when I get there? Is it even necessary?
-Airlines: EVA and Thai have pretty good rates and schedules for LAX-BKK/HKG-LAX. Either would be an OK choice, right?

JohnH is offline  
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Jun 25th, 2005, 11:12 AM
  #2
 
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I have been to Bangkok about a dozen times. I usually route myself through Bangkok for trips to Asia because I can always get a good fare to BKK, and because I love to shop at the Chatuchak weekend market. So, that is the first bit of my advice: if you like to shop and bargain, there are few places in the world that approach the weekend market in BKK. The second bit of advice is that the Temple of the Emerald Buddha/Grand Palace area is one of the great attractions in the world, and to me is a "don't miss" opportunity. The most fun way to get there is by skytrain connecting to a water taxi, but of course, you can take a regular taxi or book a tour. There are guides available for hire just inside the gate, so that is a much more cost-effective approach than booking a tour. Ayatthaya is a nice day trip out of BKK, so you may want to consider going up in the morning and getting dropped off at the airport for an evening flight up to Chiang Mai. No need to book internal flights till you get to Thailand. In fact, you would need to hook up with a Thai travel agent to do so. (At least, the last time I tried...)

As for additional time for Bangkok's other attractions (vs. Chiang Mai), I'd list everything I wanted to do in Thailand and put the list into order. That should tell you when to leave for Chiang Mai. I notice you have the night market listed for Chiang Mai. It's definitely fun, but if you arrange to be in BKK on a weekend, the prices at Chatuchak are about 20 - 30% better, and there are 75 acres of selection.

As for airlines, since you want to stop in Hong Kong, you may want to look into Cathay Pacific. Being based in Hong Kong, they often have good rates to encourage layovers.
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Jun 25th, 2005, 11:32 AM
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Bangkok is one of my favorite cities in the world. Personally, I don't like Chaing Mai much. Yes, I've been there. In a couple of days you can see the area and shop. Believe me, there is nothing "off the beaten path" about Chaing Mai. It's the second largest city in Thailand. There are some on this boartd who like CM. If I were you, I'd opt for the Golden Triangle area for a few days instead. The Anantara there is beautiful. And you are in lovely rural area.
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Jun 25th, 2005, 12:03 PM
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Bangkok is my favorite city -- don't miss it. I also love Chiang Mai and northern Thailand in general.I love Hong Kong but you can see the major sights in much less time than in Bangkok so if I were you I would reduce your time in Hong Kong and add it to Bangkok or nothern thailand. If you love scenery I would do the following if you can spare the time:
Bangkok - 5-6 nights
Chiang Mai - 2-3 nights
Chiang Rai area - 2-3 nights
Hong Kong - 4 nights

Hotels -- in Bangkok all your choices are very good. You're right to stay on the river

In Chiang Mai if you want something less hotel like you might consider either Baan Orapin which is a boutique B and B or Tamarind Village.
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Jun 25th, 2005, 01:21 PM
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I don't think you'll need 5-6 nights in Hong Kong. Spend a night in Macau, and perhaps cut another day to put in Thailand.

Sheraton Hong Kong is a good hotel choice.

Don't forget to inquire about rates on EVA's Evergreen Deluxe class. Often just a few hundred over coach, but with wider seats and more legroom.
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Jun 25th, 2005, 01:39 PM
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Do not skip Bangkok. In fact, I think you should add a day or two there. The trip to Ayutthaya will use up a whole day. Your activities will be much more enjoyable if there is a little down time mixed in. When you go to Chinatown, I suggest that you go to the Flower Market first thing in the morning. It's walking distance from Chinatown and is visually spectacular.

In BKK you can eat at very good restaurants on the cheap. If you stay on the river, S-la, ROS or M it's easy to get to Tonguew Thai (close to the Oriental, Harmonique or Gallery Cafe (close to the ROS). All three are wonderful.
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Jun 25th, 2005, 04:16 PM
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Thanks everyone. You guys are great.
So adding another night or 2 in Bangkok it is.
I considered adding Chang Rai or even Laos or Vietnam, but don't think I have the time on this trip. Would rather concentrate in just a few areas.

rkkwan - yes I am considering Evergreen Deluxe on EVA. I had never even heard of that airline until I started planning this trip, and most comments seem very positive.

gpanda - is the flower market in Chinatown every morning?
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Jun 25th, 2005, 04:35 PM
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JohnH-The Flower Market is not actually in Chinatown, but it's a very short walk. The FM is just off the Memorial Bridge. If you take the river ferry, you can get off at the Memorial Bridge pier walk a block or two and be stricken by an avalanche of flowers. Cruise around for as long as you like and walk over to Chinatown. I suggest that you get Nancy Chandler's Map of Bangkok. It has a bunch of good spots that don't appear in the guide books. We've found a number of places from the Map that were intriguing. I don't know whether the FM is open on the weekends. Someone will.

Don't try to fit everything in on this trip. You may be captivated, as have we, and return often.
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Jun 26th, 2005, 08:26 PM
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We were in Bangkok in May (our 3rd trip there), and had booked Ratt (she's recommended here often, for good reason) to take us to Ayuthayya for the day. It was a fantastic day (even included an elephant ride), and I would encourage you to email her ahead of time if you think you would like to do that
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