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Itinerary for trip to Thailand- suggestions?

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May 1st, 2014, 07:30 AM
  #1
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Itinerary for trip to Thailand- suggestions?

Hi All-

Now that our hotel reservations are booked, our flights are booked and our itinerary is pretty much completed- we can delve into the details (or, the MUST Dos as I like to say).

Help very much appreciated and I'll admit I haven't been motivated to research this trip. Don't know why.

We are flying in after 3 days in Istanbul so will use the first day for resting-

3 nights in Bangkok (the first night we arrive late so really doesn't count). My husband and I will be alone the next full day but the third day we pick up the kiddos (they are teens) from the airport.
4 nights in Ko Samui.
4 nights in Chiang Mai
4 nights back in Bangkok

Suggestions for what to do? Everyone keeps telling me to wait until we get to our hotel and they offer pretty much the same excursions. I would like to do a day trip (or two) from Bangkok though (I hate pollution, the seediness (aka prostitution) is going to urk me and so will the traffic). On the top of our list is: elephant encounters/rides, I'm undecided about the tiger thing (my teens seem nervous too, lol), massage (Chiang Mai has a beautiful palace that I'd love to spend the day at), we love hiking (but I hear it's scary so not sure), of course I know there are plenty of temples and we really love history. I also hear about something called Siam Sea World? That sounds like something nice to do while we are in Bangkok. I originally wanted to see Ayuthaya but now I'm reading it can be disappointing so I'm not sure.

Suggestions?

Thank you!
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May 1st, 2014, 08:07 AM
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I think it is a pretty good itinerary. For Bangkok, stay by the river - less pollution, and you can avoid the traffic by using the water taxis and the sky train. You also will not see prostitution in this area. The only day trip from Bangkok that I recommend is Ayutthaya. Since you aren't visiting other ruins, this will be interesting for you. I think people who have just come from Angkor or Bagan will find it disappointing. There is so much to see and do in Bangkok! And wonderful Shopping and fabulous food. I've never been to Siam Sea World, an aquarium in the lowest level of Siam Paragon Mall. But you could spend a whole day in this mall, shopping, eating - dozens of restaurants - even going to a movie.

Wait to book anything until you get to Bangkok. Booking ahead will just cost you more.

For Chiang Mai, be aware that there are only two places that treat their elephants humanely: The Thai Elephant Conservation Center near Lampang and the Elephant Nature Park. Also, there are no places that treat the tigers well - avoid anyplace with captive tigers. Oasis spa in Chaing Mai is lovely, and they often have coupons that you can pick up in the baggage claim a era for a good deal. Don't miss Doi Suthep, a beautiful temple atop a hill. Go first thing in the morning.

I'm not sure what wold be scary about hiking near Chiang Mai. There is a nearby national park worth visiting.

Have a wonderful time!
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May 1st, 2014, 08:36 AM
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Everyone is different in what they consider "must do"s. A glance at your earlier posts tells me you are going during hot/rainy season? That to me is important because it makes the city seem even more crowded and hectic than in the cooler season, so an early start for the palace and breaks in air conditioning are a must.

I was in BKK in July a couple of years ago and have visited twice before in December/January. In July he regular ferry boats will be packed and hot. I suggest hiring a long tail boat so you can get some speed and breeze, passing the Royal Barge Museum and going through the neighborhoods along the klongs.

Get to the Grand Palace at opening. It will be crowded, but you can use the shade as much as possible (take water on your trips). I found the queen's textile museum at the palace a nice air conditioning break afterward. It told the story of trying to find old fabric, pattern, and styles to recreate Thai styles that the queen promoted. The Museum of Siam was interesting for a more critical view of the country's history than one often finds, but not a "must do."

I enjoyed Vimanmek Palace and the throne hall as well as the short program. I also enjoyed Jim Thompson house, but I like architecture.

I enjoy walking through the flower market late. I enjoy seeing the piles of flowers, the arrangements in progress, the workers hauling baskets of vegetables. I just try to stay out of the way, realizing that these people are not a tourist attraction, just folks trying to make a living. I was told they have lots of problems with tourists unthinkingly touching the flowers on display, which damages the blooms with human oils as well as is disrespectful for those being taken to ancestors.

One day tour I have done is the Damnoensaduak floating market and Mae Klong train market. We really enjoyed the train market. The indoor market itself was large, clean, and interesting. The outdoor market up to the tracks that is retracted when the train comes through was simply bizarre. We bought various snacks from shops and vendors before driving on to the floating market. We stopped at a tourist place that shows how they make coconut sugar (tastes great), then on to the canal boat ride to the touristy market. There we walked along the edges, ate lunch from a boat, and enjoyed the market for the tourist destination it is. We aren't shoppers, so after lunch, we were ready to head back to Bangkok.

We also took a day trip to Kanchanaburi because of its moving WWII history. We left early to drive to the JEATH museum, bridge, and cemetery first. Then we drove to Hellfire pass, took the trail down to the first bridge and visited the museum. I found it very moving, much like visiting the concentration camps in Europe. A long day.

On one of the dry season trips we took a day trip to Ayutthaya and thought it was fantastic. We were some of the very few people there so we could wander as we pleased, just soaking up the history, hearing the flags flap in the breeze.

Most of the day trips were long and tiring (heat and riding). We have always hired private a/c car or van with driver and guide for trips from BKK because of the relatively low price and the convenience of pick up when hot, rainy, crowded. In the city we often fend for ourselves, but again you may prefer to hire a/c car service.

Hikes we have done in dry season only and involve overnight outside of cities, so not fit your itinerary.
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May 1st, 2014, 08:37 AM
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Which hotel (area) are you staying at?

You'll only see prostitution and girlie bars if you go looking for that sort of thing.

Like Kathie states, try and use the Skytrain (BTS), the Underground (MRT), and the Public Ferries (orange flag) to get around. The public ferry from Central Pier (by Saphon Taksin BTS) follows the Chao Phraya river all the way up to Nonthaburi. It takes about an hour in each direction, costs only a few bahts, and is a great way to see some of the sights from the water.

Ayutthaya is worth a day trip. But lingering for 2 days/1 night to absorb the atmosphere of these historical places will reap a greater reward. An early morning 3rd Class train to Ayutthaya is a good way of mixing with the locals, and only costs 15 bahts each way.

Someone may mention a day trip to Kanchanaburi. But it's a long, tiring day, that's much better done at leisure over 2 or 3 days.

Siam Ocean World could be anywhere in the world. But it's a fantastic place, and a good way to escape the heat and chaos of Bangkok for a few hours. Keep you eye out for discount vouchers.
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May 1st, 2014, 01:16 PM
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Here's another pro-Ayutthaya vote! We went about 10 years ago smack-dab during Songkran and it was one of the most magical experiences! We took the bus up (mistake) rented bikes (great idea)explored the ruins, had a great lunch, watched the soaring vultures - all with joyous locals chasing us down to douse us with water and rub clay on our foreheads (and the elephant's!). You haven't lived until you've ridden a majestic elephant covered in clay right across and through bumper-to-bumper traffic with everyone reaching out of their car windows and pickup beds to caress his legs and trunk!! The train ride back was waaaay better than the bus - right at sunset with the last day's rays hitting the golden Buddhas and rice paddies, all while hanging out of the train between cars drinking cans of Chang and celebrating life.
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May 2nd, 2014, 04:52 AM
  #6
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Thank you everyone!
In Bangkok, we are staying near the river (Sheraton Royal Orchid and then the Lebua and the other places we are staying at the Le Meridian (Yep, we're using Starwood points they are pretty good!).

Any particular restaurant suggestions? (keeping in mind that we are a family of 5 with a modest budget, don't eat pork/or drink alcohol and my stomach can be very sensitive to bad food prep)?

Thanks again!
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May 2nd, 2014, 05:12 AM
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I've been reading about Erawan National Park as a day trip from Bangkok. Is this doable as a long day (assuming we start early)? It sounds like the best way to get there would be to hire a driver or go on a tour. Can anyone recommend drivers/tours?
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May 9th, 2014, 11:03 AM
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It will be a long day trip as ours was to Kanchanaburi. A lot of time on the road to get to/from the destination.

I can recommend wandeetours.com for private tour from personal experience, but there are many more recommendations on this board. My Thai friend prefers just to book the cheapest group tour for these types of trips, but if I am going for a long day in the heat, I want to personalize the time, stops, etc. and ensure a comfortable vehicle, which costs more than the bus. With a group of 5, that is a van full.
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May 9th, 2014, 11:04 AM
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The journey time is 2.5/3.0 hrs each way from Bangkok-- a lot of time on the road.
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May 9th, 2014, 01:02 PM
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The only way to enjoy the Kanchanaburi area is to take your time, and loiter at leisure.

It's one of the easiest parts of Thailand to travel to and get around without any need for a tour or guide.

Have a look at this website for some great ideas...

http://www.seat61.com/Bridge-on-the-...m#.U200G4FdVEw
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