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-   -   N Thailand logistics (https://www.fodors.com/community/asia/n-thailand-logistics-642130/)

jsiegendorf Aug 26th, 2006 06:38 PM

N Thailand logistics
 
Hi all,

I have read so many useful things on this board already that have helped me, but I want to just get some thoughts on my specific itinerary. My wife and I will be in Thailand in Decemeber and we will have 5 nights/6 days in Chiang Mai area. The intinerary I have come up with so far:

Day 1: fly to MHS from BKK via CM; relax
Day 2: hill-tribe day trip
Day 3: morning in MHS; fly to CM; explore CM
Day 4: half-day visit to Elephant Cons Center; Doi Sutep at dusk
Day 5: hiking in Doi Inan near CM, hill-tribes - perhaps with Sgt Kai?
Day 6: finish explore/shop in CM; afternoon - off to BKK

This is somewhat modelled after Karen's experience here: http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34762799
this is required reading; as are viewing her photos

My questions (in no useful order):
1. Can we do Doi Sutep without a guide?
2. Is it easy to hire a driver get to Elephant Camp? Is this a possible trip in only a half-day's time?
(Karen had Sgt Kai with them for these parts, but it seems doable without a guide, hence cheaper).
3. For an alternate itinerary, I was thinking of hiring a driver for MHS to CM, with a possible overnight in Pai. Is my time better spent flying direct to CM, or is this something I should seriously consider?
4. Am I trying to cram in too much? I feel like I have not "overshceduled", but I reallyhave no idea.

rhkkmk Aug 26th, 2006 06:51 PM

i think it looks very doable, but not much down time....i am sure you can easily find a driver (s) for when you want and need one including to doi sutup....your hotels will help with that too....no need for a guide there either....it is not that large...but it is a must...

jsiegendorf Aug 26th, 2006 06:52 PM

One other option I was considering:

Scratch MHS altoghter and do Angkor Wat for 2 nights instead.

A question I left off:
5. I am taking several flights within Thailand: BKK-Krabi, BKK-CM, CM-MHS, return legs. Perhaps I would even do BKK-Siem Reap-CM-BKK. I have heard of airlines that allow a couple of legs for a fixed price. Can anyone recommend a good strategy/airline to look into for this?

Again, many thanks,

Jason

peacheysmokey Aug 26th, 2006 07:16 PM

Jason,

My family will be doing a similar (but shorter) itinerary around the same time. I'd like to spend 4 nights in the area, haven't figured out the logistics yet. I think we'll be there for New Year's.

Ellen

rhkkmk Aug 26th, 2006 07:16 PM

the airline would be bangkok air and its affiliate cambodian airline....siem reap air i think....

two nites is not enough for SR really...you need 3 full days minimum...imo

Tangata Aug 26th, 2006 07:54 PM

1. Can we do Doi Sutep without a guide?

Yes, you could hire a car and driver or use a Silor.

2. Is it easy to hire a driver get to Elephant Camp? Is this a possible trip in only a half-day's time?

Yes you can hire a car and driver and yes you can do it in half a day. You should plan to be there by 9:00 for bath time and the first show.

3. For an alternate itinerary, I was thinking of hiring a driver for MHS to CM, with a possible overnight in Pai. Is my time better spent flying direct to CM, or is this something I should seriously consider?

This is possible, but a one way hire would be expensive.

4. Am I trying to cram in too much? I feel like I have not "over shceduled", but I really have no idea.

You will be busy, but you can do it.

Kathie Aug 26th, 2006 08:38 PM

Personally, I think you are over-scheduled. You want to have time for those unscheduled expereinces that are often the highlight of your trip.

You really don't have time for SIem Reap unless you substitute it for your Northern Thailand time. It takes three full days just to see teh major temples. There are dozens of accessible temples.

If you aren't interested enough in Angkor to give it the time it deserves, don't go.

althom1122 Aug 27th, 2006 05:39 AM

Hi - thanks for your kind words on my trip report and pictures! I am STILL dreaming about that trip (and planning my next one). :-)

Regarding yours... I agree it's doable. But I think you'll feel a little rushed. You may remember that we considered the Mae Hong Son portion of our trip to be the one portion that was almost too fast. Still, I think it was worth it and am very glad we did it. Also, we had four nights in Chiang Mai rather than just three and that felt about right. But again, with your limited time, I think you can do what you've laid out. For some, it would definitely be too rushed - that depends on you. I think you should ask yourself what kind of traveler you are based on previous trips you've taken. If you feel rushed by moving around (packing/repacking) and you like to linger and have relaxation time, you might enjoy it more if you slowed down. I'm a bit of whirlwind and like to keep moving. I'd go for it... keeping in mind that you'll long for more time!
If you can stand any more reading, you might enjoy my "Final thoughts and top 10 lists" in case you missed them. I believe that's where I mention the Mae Hong Son portion seemed a bit short (although worth it!). Here's the link:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34780305

Have a great trip! What's the rest of your itinerary look like?

Karen

althom1122 Aug 27th, 2006 05:47 AM

Oh dear - I just now saw the second part of your question - Siem Reap. As Bob says, I think 3 nights is a comfortable minimum, but... it is SO wonderful. What is the likelihood you'll be back to Asia? If yes, then save (and savor) Siem Reap. If no, the decision would be very hard. Only 2 nights in Siem Reap, or no nights in Siem Reap... hm. It's a special place, unlike anywhere I've ever been (although so was our entire trip for that matter!). If you travel every year, I can pretty much guarantee you'll want to go back to Asia, and you can do Siem Reap another time. I do think I enjoyed it more than Mae Hong Son.
Regarding airlines, you might want to check the Discovery Pass, but as I rember, it doesn't work for the Mae Hong Son flight (there are only one or maybe two airlines that fly there, as I recall).

jsiegendorf Aug 27th, 2006 08:18 AM

At this point I tend to agree with Kathie. Angkor deserves more time and to rush it would be a travesty. We love to travel and although we might not get to go back for quite I while (we will be starting a family very soon) I am sure we will eventually go back.

The current initnerary is this:
flight: ORD-MSP-NAR-CAN (the result of using frequent flyer miles; sleep in Guangzhou, China (CAN)
flight: HKG-BKK; sleep in Bangkok

then:
3 nights Krabi
2 nights MHS
3 nights CM
3 nights Bangkok

flight: BKK-SFO-SLC-ORD

in Krabi we are going to recoup, relax, and do some sea kayaking

in Bangkok we are not going on any excursions (this trip!), so we will spend the whole time in the city.

I guess one other option would be to scrap MHS and add a night to each Bangkok and Chiang Mai. This would afford us the opportunity to go on a day trip from Bangkok and slow us down in Chiang Mai. However, my wife and I really want to see the Karen people, and I dont know if the MHS "experience" can be replicated in or near CM (please tell me if I am wrong!)

connette Aug 27th, 2006 08:53 AM

We felt the need to go to Siem Reap ASAP before it gets too much worse. If it is going to be quite some time before you travel that way again because of starting a family, you might want to reconsider. It has become so touristy over the past few years and the number of visitors is expected to increase dramatically. Even all of the huge cruise ships that go to Asia have recently added pre and post cruise packages to Angkor. I can't even imagine how much more crowded it is going to get. I fear it is going to become like Disneyland. Just a thought for you to consider.

althom1122 Aug 27th, 2006 10:28 AM

It's a tough call between keeping MHS or skipping it and adding a night to BKK and CM. The latter would certainly be easier and more relaxing. I think I'd be tempted to do that... even though I really did enjoy the Karen tribe. Either way, you will have a great trip.

jsiegendorf Sep 10th, 2006 02:18 PM

Hi all,

Thanks for all the useful advice. Taking all of it into consideration, I have come up with a revised itinerary:

flight: ORD-MSP-NAR-CAN (the result of using frequent flyer miles; sleep in Guangzhou, China (CAN)
flight: HKG-BKK; sleep in Bangkok

then:
Day 1: arrive Krabi - relax
Day 2: Krabi - relax or trip to Koh Phi Phi
Day 3: Krabi - sea kayaking
Day 4: fly to Chiang Mai - Night Baazar perhaps
Day 5: hiking in Doi Inan near CM, hill-tribes - perhaps with Sgt Kai?
Day 6: cooking class, massage perhaps
Day 7: half-day visit to Elephant Cons Center; Doi Sutep at dusk
Day 8: walk around Old Town; fly to Bangkok
Day 9: Bangkok
Day 10: day trip to floating markets
Day 11: Bangkok
Day 12: flight: BKK-SFO-SLC-ORD

This itinerary seems like a good pace. We will do MHS/Karen tribe next time.

I do have a question about the Floating Markets. We were considering going the night before so that we could see the markets earlier and with fewer tourists. Has anyone else done this? Also I have read about other, less crowded markets in Samut Songkhram and Amphawa. Has anyone been to either of these?

Thanks!!

Jason

Gpanda Sep 10th, 2006 04:31 PM

Jason-you're in BKK for such a short period of time that I would skip the floating market. It's very touristy, even early before the buses arrive. I believe your time is better spent in BKK. Having said that, if you want to see the floating market anyway, don't sleep there, just make sure you get on your way from BKK very early. You could get eithet Tong or Ratt (see many posts about contacting them) to pick you up very early.

BTW, we thought Krabi was magical.

althom1122 Sep 10th, 2006 04:39 PM

I think your itinerary looks great now. Very tough call regarding floating market. It was a must-see for me because I'd never been to Asia before and had always seen such pictures - and just couldn't pass it up. It was awfully touristy, though. Still, not sorry we did. But loved our time in Bangkok, also. Agree that if you do it, get an early start and get back to Bangkok, maybe in time for lunch. We enjoyed Julie Taxi - she's another option for the floating market. And Sergeant Kai is really wonderful. The guide you're with can make all the difference in the kind of day you'll have. He is so pleasant I can't imagine anyone not enjoying his company.

OJudy Sep 10th, 2006 08:24 PM

Please be sure to check to see if you need a travel visa for your time in Guangzhou. It's my understanding that a visa is needed from the Chinese consulate even if you simply transit through China and don't leave the plane.

jsiegendorf Sep 16th, 2006 04:01 PM

We are getting visas for China. Fortunately I live in Chicago and can stop by the Consulate on my lunch break. The whole China detour is really unfortunate but such are the circumstances of a free flight to Asia!

Thanks to everyone for the advice and input. It was extremely helpful and we have created a wonderful itinerary with your help!! I'll post a trip report when we get back in late December.

Jason


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