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Hong Kong, Bangkok & Phuket - Over-rated ?

Hong Kong, Bangkok & Phuket - Over-rated ?

Sep 1st, 2004, 02:37 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2004
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Hong Kong, Bangkok & Phuket - Over-rated ?

Since we're doing the taste of type of trip with 4-7 days in each of these places, we don't want to waste time. You've already provided me with great advice on gems in these places. I'm now looking for advice on what, in your opinion, are the most over-rated places generally touted to travellers that simply aren't worth the time/effort of going to (and why) and could/should be scratched off my list? This information will help me shorten my too-long list.
dj_canada is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 04:49 AM
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Been to all theree places.

Hong Kong is by far the best destination and worth about 5 days.

Bangkok is interesting enough but worth about three days. The smog is terrible.

Phuket is worth two days. Mostly tin roofed shop houses and sprawl away from the nicer beach areas. Though Pi Pi is beautiful.
travdis is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 05:31 AM
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I bet you get wildly different opinions. Here's mine:
Bangkok is by far the most interesting. Seven days should be the minimum.
Hong Kong next -- four to five days should be more than enough.
Phuket completely over rated. It's a big international resort area. You probably won't even know you're in a foreign country. I'd skip it. If you want a beach (I'm not a beach person) I'd go to one of the less touristy ones in Thailand, or better yet, Bali. But if I were you I'd spend the time in northern Thailand.
glorialf is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 05:57 AM
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Yes, you will get wildly differing opinions on this. Of these three places, Bangkok is my favorite. I've been to Bangkok some 20+ times (I use it as a gateway in or out of other locales in SE Asia) and I always make sure to spend at least 5 days. My first visit there many years ago was for 9 days! There are wonderful wats to visit fabulous shopping, gritty street markets... enough to keep you busy and interested for many years to come.

I always enjoy Hong Kong, but it's a different kind of city than Bangkok. It's more crowded. more intensely city. I recently spent a week there and always have a list of things to do for next time.

Phuket is the least interesting of these three to me. I agree with Gloria, it's pretty much just an international resort destination. If you want a few days at the bech, then go there. If you are expecting something exotic - well, it's just a tropical beach destination without much cultural interest. There are some lovely resorts.

If I wanted another destination in Thailand for a few days, I'd opt for the Golden Triangle area.
Kathie is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 06:05 AM
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IF you are into snorkeling and/or diving Phuket is worth 3 days if you go in the Jan-April period. You can take a "fast boat" on a day trip to the Phi Phi Islands and another to the Similian Islands and 1 day in and around Phuket ($75 for 8 hrs).Both destinations are well worth it. The waters are very clear, weather permitting.
StanKase is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 06:49 AM
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Like Kathie, I really do love Bangkok. I first went to Thailand 20 years ago for a month and spent 8 or 9 days in Bangkok. I returned within the year for 3 weeks -- that time spending another 8 days in Bangkok. Since then I've been to Thailand 17 or 18 times, each time spending 5-10 days in Bangkok (also using it as a gateway). I never lack for something to do or see and only grow to love it more. It is an endlessly fascinating city with wonderful people.

I'd also vote for the Golden Triangle/Chiang Rai area as a wonderful alternative to Phuket -- you can stay in wonderful resorts if you want but there is also an enormous amount to see and do. 4 days in that area would be just fine and if you want you could add another 3 in Chiang Mai.
glorialf is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 06:55 AM
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i love both bangkok and HK...each for different reasons...both are fabulous...i think bkk has a slight leg up....HK is easier than is bkk in some ways...
phuket is an international resort--i have not been there yet...so far i have been to lots of other thai resorts and find them only marginally interesting and thus i would put phuket at the bottom of most lists....i am not a beach person by the way...i do not snorkle either...

the most over rated place by far imo is the weekend market...its hot, stuffy and the merchandise in general is not to my liking...i don't go there anymore on my trips...there are far more interesting places to shop...i feel the same about patpong, although everyone should experience it once....

the jade market in HK is interesting but not all that fabulous....easy place to be ripped off or sold a bill of goods..
rhkkmk is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 08:18 AM
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Bob or others on weekend market. I went on my first trip 20 years ago and have never been back. This trip I'm playing guide to a friend who has never been to asia and LOVES all kinds of markets. I was thinking of having Ratt take us early for 45 minutes or an hour. Not to buy anything but just so my friend can see the vastness of it. Would you say that's a mistake?

What's the Night market like in Bangkok? Or other markets? I'm thinking more in terms of "local color" rather than good shopping.
glorialf is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 10:08 AM
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5 - 5 - 5

Will give you a very nice taste of all three with a little bit of time (just a bit though)to catch breath.
Walter_Walltotti is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 10:12 AM
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i would never say anything is a mistake...it is quite a long ways out there for 45 minutes....you could go to other in town markets in much less time and get nearly the same results...i have not been into the night market--only have driven by it in taxis...rat likes it i know from her conversation..

if you know what you want to see or buy then she could take you right to it....you should also have a nancy chandler map which has a small section on the weekend market, showing the major divisions by types of goods offered...this is generally ok but the really nice shops/stalls are intersperced with the general category stalls...
it is hot as hell there....worth a visit if just for the experience...your friend will either hate or love it...

make sure you go through the flower market near to the river...

you can do many of these on your own, you don't need a guide...the guide does help with locating specific things however...and her car would be near-by and offering you an immediate cold drink and the best of all: a/c.....
rhkkmk is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 05:35 PM
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Gloria, I love the Weekend Market and went there almost every Friday for 6 weeks before we moved out of Bkk in Feb - got some amazing buys there and now that we live in very expensive HK wish I had bought more! My comments. Sun is the most crowded day, Sat less so and Fri the least crowded. The only disadvantages of Fri are that shops open around 10:30 and all the shops may not be open. I think it is still worth it to go on Fri to beat the crowds. Def buy either the nancy Chandler or I used a small write up in my Luxe guide which was also useful first couple times until I had my bearings.

There is a new portion called Chatuchak Plaza at the back which is air cooled and open daily - one option is to focus on this part as they also have great stuff.

To beat traffic getting there you can consider taking the BTS - is a direct ride, disembark at the last stop called Mo Chit. is right there. How I used to do it. Go by BTS. Have my driver come separately and park. Every time I had a lot of shopping meet my driver at Bangkok Bank (an easy to find landmark) hand over my shopping then go back for some more. Finally when I was done meet my driver at the said Bkk Bank and walk with him to the car.

The Night Bazaar is also an amazing experience. I found the Night Bazaar better for clothes and knick knacks and Chatuchak better for larger, home, crafty kind of stuff (e.g. I bought a full dinner set from Chatuchak and it would have cost me twice that at the Night Bazaar and 4 times that at Cocoon Bkk and 8 times what I paid at Cocoon HK but that is another story...). The advantage of the Night Market is it is in the center of the city and opens evenings so you can go at a cooler part of the day. You can easily combine it with shopping at Central, Chitlom, a visit to the Erawan Shrine, MBK or a meal the Conrad, Four Seasons, etc.

In terms of local flavour Chatuchak provides the best but at a cost - is crowded, dirty, hot, far. I would say if shopping is not the primary agenda you should do fine with the Night Bazaar. Sorry, dj, for hijacking your question!
hobbes is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 07:12 PM
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overated in HONG KONG i would say the shopping.
disigner goods... have a steep tax.
watches... same prob
electonics. name brand goods cost about the same as the west.. but nock offs and chinees brands are a bargain.

jade market.. if your lookinf for the stuff they have cool looking items. but as s tourist distination no way.

Bangkok... the jatachuk market is by far most overated place. as I said a million times if ya want wood working. live chickens, and used boxers then that's the place for you. if you looking for souvaners and nick nacks you'll find them all over town at same price.

tuk tuk rides.. only take them once and for a short trip.. it's an uncomfortable. polluted, expenisve rip off.

phucket. never been.
orgy7 is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 10:04 PM
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Have to agree with you again, Orgy7-I found no good deals at Chatuchak Mkt.-nice place to go-once, but if you're looking for great bargains, you won't find them here-go north to Chiang Mai, or better yet, Mae Sot-there are some incredible deals on expensive goods (like binoculars, and rubies, to name two) in that wild and crazy border town!

And I totally agree with Travdis's assessment of BKK-the smog hurt my chest, it was so bad.
Spygirl is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 12:11 AM
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IMO the most overrated sights/spots are:

Bangkok - the larger floating markets outside Bangkok (see smaller ones on your own long boat tour of klongs), the rose garden tour, any elephant camp tour. Patpong is very depressing, IMO, with the drunk 50ish western men hanging out with 14 year old prostitutes; shopping is virtually all copy bags, watches and pirated DVDs, plus the prices are extremely high and the vendors won't bargain as they are now so used to westerners who pay the first price asked.

Phuket - any elephant trip or "jungle" trip as there is almost no jungle left. I have never been (and never intend to) but I imagine the Phantasea cultural show is overrated. To really enjoy Phuket, you must get away from Patong and also off the island and out by boat to deserted islands, otherwise you will wonder what all the fuss is about. Phi Phi is pretty, but overdeveloped, better seen by boat and don't bother going ashore. (Unless you want to take the time and effort to climb the hills to see the twin sweeping bays, that is worth it, but it is a long hot climb.) I also am not crazy about "James Bond Island" because it is always so crowded. There are other places as beautiful and not crowded, esp the national park areas. I would hire your own boat rather than taking a group boat, as the latter have a fixed itinerary but with your own boat you can pick you places.

Hong Kong - the bird market (most of it is gone anyway), the Ladies Night Market (most of it is copy bags now and very little interesting artefacts, go to Hollywood Road for that), any dinner junk or boat trip (unless you hire your own junk).

In general, any tour which involves a bus or a mini-bus is going to be overrated and you will probably spend more time in "craft factories" (i.e shops) than actually sightseeing. (One exception would be the day trip to Ayyuthia and the Summer Palace outside Bangkok which is very good and involves no shopping stops, you go up by bus and back by boat. The trip is run by the Shangri-La hotel, take a look at www.shangri-la.com, or call, fax or e-mail the hotel at Tel: 66-2- 236 7777, Fax: 66-2- 236 8579 , Email: [email protected]. The ship is called the Horizon Cruise II.)

Orgy 7, unless things have changed in the last 30 months or so since I moved from Hong Kong to Zurich, there is NO sales tax or VAT in Hong Kong on any goods, including luxury items like watches. What are you referring to? The government has threatened from time to time to impose a GST, but I don't believe any such legislation in fact been passed and enacted. Designer brands like Chanel, Prada, etc are not any cheaper there, is that what you mean? Local designers are also expensive but still good (like Blanc de Chine) However, most watch brands are about 15-20% cheaper than compared to US prices, plus with no sales tax you can save more. If you do some comparison pricing before your trip, you will most likely find very good bargains on watches.
Cicerone is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 02:25 AM
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Cicarone. "STEEP TAX" was the wrong statement. "good look out, thanks".. I have no clue what the taxes are anywhere.. I guess I was trying too say the prices are no better then the USA. and I incorectly infered that HK may have a high import tax. which tends too be the case here in thailand and prices in both places are fairly simaler on the goods I stated..
I have done some watch window shopping in HK and the prices were higher then what I found in US. but I may have gone too wrong shops. I was doing the touristy thing in touristy hight end shops.

I have read many articles on how HK has lost it's luster as a bargain haven.. yet people still post that they would like too visit HK and buy camars etc. wich they think is still dirt cheep..

orgy7 is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 05:49 AM
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As others have noted, if you live in Europe, electronics are still a good buy in Asia, but if you are from the US. Also Eureopeans have a pretty high VAT on items they buy in their home countires which increases prices for them even more. (Some US states have sales taxes, but they are generally lower than VAT.)

I would keep looking at watches, I did a study for about 6 months between US, European and Hong Kong prices and found HK the cheapest.
Cicerone is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 07:30 AM
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I have not bought electronics in Hong Kong for years. About same price as buying it from mail-order/internet place from NYC, but with added trouble and no warranty.

However, I did buy a watch for my dad. It's an inexpensive Seiko titanium. Haven't seen that model in the US, but comparable ones are about 20% higher here, even from mail-order/online shops.
rkkwan is offline  
Sep 12th, 2004, 12:48 AM
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Just came back from a trip to Hong Kong. Great city with lots to offer. The skyline is spectacular, but dont miss out on the outlying islands. Here you can find rest and get away from it all when you need some peace and quiet from the big city.

Shopping compared to Europe:

Designer clothes - not a good deal, but you'll find everything you need and more. Prices are high though.

Electronics - you may be able to find good deals, but be sure to check prices at home before going.

Watches - Extremely good deals available. Hong Kong is a heaven if you're thinking about bying that "once in a lifetime " expensive swiss watch. With a little bit of bargaining you'll get it at half price.
Copenhagener is offline  
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