Itinerary guidance

Aug 13th, 2005, 03:24 AM
  #1  
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Itinerary guidance

Hello,
I am going to Asia over Christmas and I am about to start purchasing plane tickets, locking in an itinerary, so I thought I'd see if anyone has any thoughts on this itinerary. My main question is whether I am trying to do too much, should I cut one region out?

December 17 fly to Japan
December 18, 19, 20, 21 Tokyo
December 22, 23, (some small town, hopefully with hot spring)
December 24, 25, 26, 27 Kyoto
December 28 fly from Osaka to Bangkok
December 28, 29, 30 Bangkok
December 31, 1, 2, 3 Angkor Wat
January 4, 5, 6 Golden Triangle
January 7, 8, 9, 10 Koh Samui
Jnauary 11 Bangkok (stay near airport)
January 12 fly back to JFK

I am wondering if that sounds like too much travel. The region that would get cut out most likely is the Golden Triangle. One other possibility is to leave Japan a day early and add that extra day onto Golden Triangle, so I'd have 3 nights in Bangkok, and 4 nights each in Angkor Wat, Golden Triangle, and Koh Samui. Thanks for any suggestions you have, Jeff
alibi13 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2005, 05:11 AM
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A couple of thougts. The main one being that you are not spending enough time in Bangkok. Also you will be experiencing two completely different climates. Japan will be very cold and everything else hot. If I were you I would cut out the hot springs and add the time to bangkok. And unless you are a huge beach person I would eliminate Koh Samui and add one day to bangkok and the other days to northern thailand. Finally, I would eliminate one day in Tokyo and add it to Kyoto.
glorialf is offline  
Aug 13th, 2005, 05:21 AM
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I've not been to Japan, other than to fly through NRT on my way to Bangkok. I'd agree that you should increase your time in Bangkok. There is so much to see and do and so many neat places to experience in BKK that you should not short change that part of your trip.

I would include about 3 nights in Koh Samui. You might need time to vedge after you busy schedule.

Enjoy your vacation. It sounds great!
Carol
simpsonc510 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2005, 05:54 AM
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If you can swing it, you might check on fares departing Dec. 15.

You'll be arriving the the afternoon of the 18th, so that day will be pretty well used up by the time you get to your hotel.

I think that I might not want to be in Kyoto on 12/24-25 as I am guessing that shops and some sites would be closed for the holiday. But staying at an onsen ryokan might be just the thing for those two days. Could leave Tokyo a day earlier, go to Kyoto for a couple of days. Then an onsen for a night, maybe two (or another location), and back to Kyoto.

Dec. 31 I would rather be in Bangkok.

I agree that more time in Bangkok would be a good idea. Seems about right in two weeks to visit Bangkok and two other places. You have three G.T., A.W., and K.S. Consider taking a day or three from G.T. (if three then add 1 to Japan and 2 to Bangkok).
mrwunrfl is online now  
Aug 13th, 2005, 06:36 AM
  #5  
 
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you have an agressive schedule but i would only make a couple of changes...one thing that would bother my wife is the clothing differences of both cold and hot climates....lots to take and think about...

i would cut out the golden triangle...it is the least interesting of the places you are going...i too would add the time to bkk...

new years might be a very busy time at angkor or it might also be the perfect time to go there...i am unsure of this...i think 4 days in samui is perfect....

be sure to choose your hotels carefully as this can make a heap of difference...

a good web site is: www.huahin.20m.com

i also would not stay near the airport on you last nite...go back to bkk...this is where i would add some of the extra days...

are you aware that at holiday time some hotels add expensive mandatory dinners to your bill whether you take them or not?? also hotels are heavily booked over these periods so you need to get those nailed down now...
rhkkmk is offline  
Aug 13th, 2005, 10:11 AM
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And I think Koh Samui is without question and by 1000% the least interesting place on your itinerary which goes to show that everyone is different.

You don't go to Kyoto to shop -- you go to go to gardens and temples and they should be fine when you are there although to be sure you could check with the tourist bureau. And keep in mind that gardens in Japan are not about flowers in the way ours are so they should still be interesting in winter.

I do agree with Bob that the two climates would be a problem for me from a packing perspective.

glorialf is offline  
Aug 13th, 2005, 02:31 PM
  #7  
 
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While I agree you need more time in Bangkok, I would not take it from Tokyo. In fact I would add on to Tokyo, which is a fascinating and fun city from which you can do side trips. I would take time from the hot springs and/or ko Samui and add to Bangkok and Tokyo. Alternately, I would cut out both the hot springs and Ko Samui and go to Kyoto. Have you been there? If not, you are missing the best Japan has to offer.
laurieco is online now  
Aug 13th, 2005, 02:35 PM
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Sorry< i somehow totally missed that you have Kyoto in there. Don't know how I missed that. In that case, I would make the cuts mentioned and add at least a day to Kyoto, a day or preferably two to BKK, and, perhaps a day to Tokyo. Then, if you want, you can still do wither the hot springs or spend two nights in Koh Samui.
laurieco is online now  
Aug 13th, 2005, 04:21 PM
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I would cut out either golden triangle or Koh Samui and add the days to Tokyo, Kyoto, or Bangkok. Just seems like a bit too much air travel. You can do very easy and interesting side trips from Kyoto or Tokyo if you get bored while there.

Otherwise, I think your itinerary is perfect! Especially an onsen somewhere with snow!

We did Thailand and Japan last Christmas/New Years and I loved going from one climate to another. I think that it is better to do cold first... you can either ship home or toss your winter wear before you head to Thailand.
lcuy is offline  
Aug 14th, 2005, 02:04 AM
  #10  
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Thank you everyone for your excellent comments. I definitely have some decisions to make. My fear is that I have too many plane rides.

I have decided to fly out of JFK a day early, which will add an extra day. I will perhaps spend only one night at an onsen with snow (suggestions), so I'll have at least 4 nights each in Tokyo and Kyoto.

I know Koh Samui is probably just a gorgeous beach, but I want to have a little ocean r&r at the end of the trip.

If I were to cut Golden Triangle from my iinerary what would I be missing. I had read Kathie say great things about a resort there, and I was hoping to check it out, but I wonder if it's too much travel, and I am definitely one of those people who tries to squeeze too much in, so I am trying to take contrary action to that tendency. The big question is if I remove Golden Triangle, what will I replace it with? I guess an extra day in Japan, an extra day in Bangkok, and maybe a 2-day sidetrip from Bangkok. Suggestions?

With Golden Triangle in the mix, it looks like:
12/16 depart for japan
4 nights in Tokyo (12/17, 18, 19, 20)
1 night in onsen (12/21)
4 nights in Kyoto (12/22, 23, 24, 25)
3 nights in Bangkok (12/26, 27, 28)
4 nights in Siem Reap (12/29, 30, 31, 1/1)
4 nights in Golden Triangle (1/2, 3, 4, 5)
4 nights in Koh Samui (1/6, 7, 8, 9)
2 nights in Bangkok (1/9 and 10)

Thanks so much.
alibi13 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2005, 02:55 AM
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Golden Triangle -- a lovely resort where you can get the r and r you want. Beautiful scenery but also you can go to villages that are unlike anything you willo see anywhere else. Different hilltribes with different cultures. There are places like Doi Mae Salong which is mostly Chinese and has an entirely different feel than any of the others. The late Queen Mother's garden which is one of the most spectacular garden I have ever seen and will be in full bloom. Near it is her project where people are being taught the old crafts. You can see paper being made as well as all the other crafts being done. There's the opium museum, elephant training center, cooking classes etc. In my opinion if you are interested in people and culture (rather than temples and things) it is endlessly fascinating. I would not eliminate it. If you really don't want to cut Koh Samui perhaps take one day off it and add it to Bangkok. Or taking a day off Tokyo and adding it to bangkok. But go to Golden Triangle. Bangkok is my favorite city in the world but if you want to appreciate and understand and experience what makes Thailand so magical youeed to go north as well.j

glorialf is offline  
Aug 14th, 2005, 03:26 AM
  #12  
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wow, Gloria. You are doing a great job illuminating the essential charms of the Golden Triangle. You make it all sound so tantalizing. Would I be able to visit all those places if I stayed at the Golden Triangle resort, or would it behoove to rent a car? The Golden Triangle place sounds grand, but I wonder if there is another option that is also strong but a little gentler on the pocket book? Maybe the
Golden Triangle resort is worth a splurge; it looks enchanting.
alibi13 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2005, 05:07 AM
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You definitely need a car and you might find that it's not much more expensive to hire a car and driver. There are lots of places to stay in the area. I have not stayed at the Anantara which is the one people rave about. If you want a cheaper option you could consider the Dusit Island Resort which is right outside of Chiang Rai and would enable you to also go to that city's markets etc. It's not "special" but is international deluxe and is just fine. Another cheaper option that at least sounds special is Phu Chaisai. Here's some info on it:
PHU CHAISAI - AT A GLANCE

Like all the best things in life, it started out as a hobby. Bangkok-based interior designer Sudavadee Kriangkrai chose the 'mountain of clear heart' as an idyllic country escape, where she could indulge her penchant for art, antiques and ingenious bamboo buildings. But she couldn't help building more and more rooms, and filling them with increasingly stylish furniture and hi-spec trimmings, until it became inevitable that she should start renting them out to the public. Lucky us.

Now graced with 32 cottages, 5 family villas, a top-quality spa and views to die for, Phu Chaisai has become the kind of place style magazines vie to photograph. Bamboo is everywhere rooves, walkways, four-poster beds, even the towel rails in a way which is both original and environmentally friendly. Lush, landscaped gardens lend colour and privacy to the resort, so that you can happily slip naked into your private plunge pool, while looking out over distant horizons to the Laos border.

HIGHS
A place for genuine relaxation and top quality pampering, including massages and herbal steambaths

We loved the design of the cottages and villas, with their bamboo furniture and sweeping views

The landscaped gardens are a real symbiosis between buildings and nature

Definitely the most unusual and inspiring base for exploring Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle
LOWS
This is an isolated, back-to-nature kind of place

Geared more for wealthy Thais than farangs few staff spoke English, and the menus & DVDs were in Thai but we quite liked that

Occasional conferences we coincided with a Viagra forum! which can dominate the resort

Loud karaoke wafting up from the village in the evening

For other ideas you could look at the reviews of hotels on tripadvisor.com and asiahotels.com. Generally golden triangle hotels are listed under Chiang Rai. but sometimes Chiang Saen.
glorialf is offline  
Aug 14th, 2005, 05:09 AM
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Here's another review of Phu Chaisai:
I left my heart at Phu Chai Sai, a little piece of heaven in the mountains of Chieng Rai. This property is truly amazing with it's magnificent sweeping views, it's gorgeous gardens (the gardens!!!), it's cozy and unique bungallows bullt into the side of the mountain, it's top-notch spa and infinity pool and a staff that is too good to be true, it's hard to choose it's best feature.

We were greeted by a sea of smiling faces and a cool drink. From the time we reached the property, we couldn't stop smiling. We felt that we had entered a dream.

Our second night at the property we were sent complimentry bottles of wine, to enjoy the breathtaking sunset.

The hotel offers full spa services with a sublime "asian blend" massage, see Gay to book it. It also has great side trips to town and surrounding areas. John the tour guide is the best, a really terrific guy. (Make sure to do the River Rafting, you'll need 24 hours notice so that they can build you a bamboo raft ... it's a gas!!!)

We couln't get over how happy and accomidating each and every staff member was. We felt like members of the family by the time we left, which by the way was extremely difficult.

Private Thai homes are also available for rent, we were luckly enough to stay in one for the night. We were only there for 4 nights, but it felt like home. I still have bruises from the continual need to pinch myself, making suure this was all real and not a dream!!!



glorialf is offline  
Aug 14th, 2005, 07:37 AM
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how about a monkey wrench...have you checked availability at any of these places up north?? that would be an immediate question in my mind...this is xmas/new years time and hotels are going to already be full of bookings...you might not have an option on where to go or stay...they may all be full up....

i think the time you have alloted to bkk is still too thin....if you have deemed the time at the beach in samui to be essential then i would definately chop off the north visit...this can be easily done without compromising your visit to thailand...
it is a lovely area (up north) but i think in comparison to the other parts of thailand it is the least appealing to me personally...you all know my feelings about chiang mai (ugh) and the areas further north while interesting do not, in my book, rate nearly as highly as do other areas of thailand...i liked my vist to the anantara resort and its immediate surrounding area, but i did not view the area as fantastic...other than one short visit to an 'encamped' hill tribe on the property of doi tung (princess grandmother's estate)i have not visited any hilltribes in the north...i found it depressing honestly.

i know this will spark flames from some of you...sorry...
rhkkmk is offline  
Aug 14th, 2005, 08:18 AM
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Bob-- everyone is different. It really depends on what you're interested in. The only SE Asian beach I've ever liked was Bali because of the culture. Otherwise it's just a beach. I am VERY people and culture oriented. Not everyone is. I have spent days in villages and refugee camps learning about how people live. And I learn a lot about their priorities and religion and culture (need a translator to do this). I don't go to the places where tour groups go but find ones that rarely see foreigners or if they do they are people like me. I've learned a lot about and from them and while they are poor many of them are happier than some of my rich american friends. And, yes, some of it is depressing but I travel to understand the world better and don't mind being depressed -- just makes me want to find a way to help them. And in small ways I have (not by giving out candy or money). And many of them love the chance to learn about the world outside. Again, you can't do this by going to the tourist villages like the one you went to. Need to get to places that aren't frequented but that's easy to do. I also am not a big shopper. I may spend 10% or less of my time in thailand shopping. But I love to go to markets == the ones where the thais go to buy their food etc. And I can spend hours roaming around there. On the other hand I last about 15 minutes at Bangkok's night market. That's why the north interests me so much. I have read virtually every book ever written in English on the various hilltribes and find their customs endlessly fascinating. I also felt after several weeks in Burma that I needed to see first hand what was happening to the Burmese who are refugees in Thailand. For me that is more rewarding than all the temples and sights and restaurants and even my beloved Oriental Hotel.And I've managed to help some of the non profits working with them. However, if you're not into that then I suppose you're right about the north.
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