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One month out and planning the details....

One month out and planning the details....

Oct 1st, 2007, 02:40 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Apr 2003
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One month out and planning the details....

Greetings everyone! After planning forever, we're less than a month from vacation and I couldn't be more thrilled.

We are down to the particulars now and specifically trying to work out our time in Bangkok to make the most of our two days with Tong and one day touring on our own (plus the day to deal with jet lag, which will have to include some spa time or at least a good massage).

For a first trip to Thailand, I want to make sure and hit the hot spots (Emerald Buddah, Grand Palace, etc.), do some good shopping (night market, Sunday market in Chiang Mai, but what about the BKK floating market??), would like to make merit, want to see Jim Thompson House and do the Canal tour (understand those two are easy to do without a guide), and am interested in Tong's secret place, the Bridge over the River Kwai and the Tiger Temple.

Doing a search, I found the following draft agenda that Tong sent some other first timers, and really think it looks better than what she suggested to me. That said, would really appreciate input as to what we are leaving out, what we should take out and things that we should consider including on our one Bangkok day without Tong.

Tong's plan
Day1 - Bangkok tour & Fishing village.
- Merit making.
- The Grand Palace & The Royal Temple of The Emerald Buddha. If you do it with me, you need not to hire or rent any guide in there since I am a licensed one.
- Canal Tour.
- Wat Pho if time allows.
- Lunch.
- Fishing village & early dinner there if you want.
- Back to Bangkok.

Day2 - Kanchanaburi.
- The Bridge Over the River Kwai. (You should go there no matter what, it's on the way)
- The orphanage in Kanchanaburi. This place is in the forest. Peaceful and really in need. You can buy lunch for them, they would be appreciated very much. The cost for lunch for 120 children is 1,200 baht.
- Lunch at thai restaurant or yummy pad thai.
- Tiger Temple.
- Krasae Cave.
- Back to Bangkok.

Here is Tong's suggestion to me for an "in Bangkok" day:

Bangkok day : Leave the hotel around 6 am.

- Giving monks food.
- Giving monk alms.
- The Grand Palace & The Royal Temple of The Emerald Buddha.
- Buying some fish to release.
- Canal tour : releasing fish into the river while you're on the boat.
- Wat Pho.
- Lunch.
- Teakwood Mansion .
- JT House Museum or Flower Market and/or China town..
- Buying the coffin for unclaimed body.
- Back to the hotel.


Thoughts, suggestions, add, lose, do on our own?? What's up with the coffin thing and does anyone have thoughts about the Teakwood House?

Thanks much!!
WaterGirl is offline  
Oct 1st, 2007, 03:47 PM
  #2  
 
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Hi Watergirl
How excited you must be....We are 3 months out from our departure and I am spending time everyday looking up things on the computer. I will be interested in the answers to this as we have 3 days booked with Tong in Feb and another 3 days to look in Bangkok by ourselves. I like the sound of the 1st plan the best but then I have never been to Bangkok.What is making merit?
skittle is offline  
Oct 1st, 2007, 04:56 PM
  #3  
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Thanks! The Fodorites have been amazing with good suggestions as we've prepared for this trip - no doubt you've found the same to be true...

My understanding of making merit (and this is coming from a Presbyterian trying to understand something I believe to be grounded in Buddhist traditions) is when you give back to the Earth to make things balanced - it involves things like buying a bird and then freeing it or buying a fish and releasing it back into the river. Sort of a peace and thanks and redemption offering all in one. Kind of cool!

If I'm off base or someone has a better description, please pile on...
WaterGirl is offline  
Oct 1st, 2007, 05:08 PM
  #4  
 
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Remember this is your first trip to Thailand and is unlikely to be your last. You won't fit in all of the "musts."

Some of these things are easily done on your own such as the Jim Thompson house, and the Teak Mansion. Since both have guides there, I wouldn't do either with Tong.

People either love or hate the Floating Market. I'm afraid I'm in the "floating tourist trash" (quote from the Luxe Guide) camp. But some photographers love it. It's out of town and I'm not sure you have the time to do it. You don't really shop at the Floating Market, mostly you buy foods to sample. I'm also not especially fond of the night market, though as it's your first time, you'll probably enjoy it. You have so little time, you can skip that since you'll have a similar experience in CM at the Sunday walking market.

The buying coffins for unclaimed bodies is another type of merit-making. Several Fodorites felt it was a really good experience. One of Tong's strengths is in introducing you to Buddhist concepts and practices.
Kathie is offline  
Oct 1st, 2007, 07:45 PM
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i like the look of the last day trip for inside bkk that you describe....i did much of it with tong...

here is what we did: making merit in the morning is fun...you go to a street market that she knows and you buy some fresh food stufs in plastic bags.....shortly monks come along and she shows you how to bow down and then how to give the food to the monk in his bowl....very interesting and fun....takes 15 minutes maybe....she then takes you to a wat where you present the senior monk with a pail of goodies she has assisted you to buy.....that takes about 1/2 hour plus 10 minutes to do the shopping....he blesses you with water and it is quite spiritul (i too am a rotten protestant)...we did it very near to her husband's optical shop, so you might get to meet him....or have glasses made very cheaply...

next she took us to buy the fish to be relaeased, from the fish market....very interesting....

next we drove to the river to release them...

next we drove about 45 minutes to the "secret place"....this is one of the best experiences i have ever had in thailand...

you see and feed wild monkeys from a boat out in a grove near the bay....next we went to see cultivated shellfish.....and then had a wonderful lunch on a stilt house in the bay....fatntastic!!!

by the time you get back your day is really shot....

we started at about 6:30 and got back to bkk about 4.....we also continued on to an orphanage, which you could do or skip...

so on the other day i would have her take me to the GP, Wat arun, klong tour (afternoon), jim thompson house, wat pho, marble wat and a fun place for lunch....maybe the monk bowl village and the amulet market could be thrown in....

I WOULD SKIP THE FLOATING MARKET THIS TRIP....
i love it but it takes too much time...

then you would have your other day for shopping at paragon, siam, river city, etc....

those two days will exhaust you i am sure but you will never forget them...
rhkkmk is online now  
Oct 1st, 2007, 07:45 PM
  #6  
 
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i would skip all the out of town things except the secret place...
rhkkmk is online now  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 04:56 AM
  #7  
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Thanks Bob & Kathie! Follow up questions...

Timewise, would it be realistic to do the merit making, GP/Emerald Buddah, Wat Pho and then do the Secret Place in the afternoon? If so, then perhaps we could do Jim Thompson and the Canal tour on our own and still do the Kanchanaburi day too. What about China Town, the Flower Market and Wat Arun and the Marble Wat? Must see or not so much?

Another silly question - is the Klong Tour the same thing as the Canal Tour? And is the Klong tour something low key enough that we might enjoy it on our jet lag day as a good starting point and a "low impact" way to get a first glimpse of Bangkok? We also have a little more than a half day back in BKK at the end of our trip to take in a couple of last things....

I could live without doing the Tiger Temple and Kanchanaburi but am interested in that if we can make it work, and really do want to visit the orphanage. That said, the in-town sights are by far a higher priority.

Your perspective is incredibly helpful!
WaterGirl is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 06:50 AM
  #8  
 
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WaterGirl, here is the problem: this is your first trip to Thailand and you only have three days in Bangkok. That is not enough time to see the major sights in Bangkok. I'd cut Kanchaburi - save it for next trip.

The klnong tour and the canal tour are similar. There is a typical route used for a klong tour... stopping, for instance at Wat Arun. People usually use the term canal tour to refer to a similar tour done in a different area. So choose one or the other for your first trip, no need to do both.

The klong tour might well be something you could do on your first day (after your spa stop). If you are staying along the river, that will be quick and easy to arrange. Another option might be to visit the Jim Thompson House on your first day.

China Town is fun, and there is a wat there with a solid gold Buddha that I always enjoy visiting. The flower market is in the same area.

I like Wat Ben (marble wat)- perhaps Tong can take you there for merit-making.

There is more than enough to keep you busy and interested in Bangkok itself. If it were me, I'd ask Tong to arrange two days in Bangkok, and you could go to the secret place on one afternoon.
Kathie is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 07:05 AM
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you could do what you propose but it would be a killer i think...combining the GP and secret place into one day might be too much quite honestly...that is a long time to be outside and in the sun and humidity...

i would not do the out of town places at all except for secret place...it is really special...

i like the day of merit making followed by the secret place as a perfect day and then the 2nd day to do all of the bkk things...

doing a klong tour on day one might be perfect as all you do is to sit and look around, except for maybe a stop at the barge museum (10 minutes) and also a stop at wat arun (30 min to 1 hour)....but if you are paying for your boat i would not keep it while i visited wat arun....i might make that the last stop and have him leave you there and take a taxi back to your hotel....or i would have tong take me to wat arun seperately...
rhkkmk is online now  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 08:05 AM
  #10  
 
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You could to to the Floating Market one morning and the Fishing Village in the afternoon for your one day out of Bangkok. You could spend your other two days in BKK.

rhkkmk- just wondering... did you go to the FM with Tong? Those who have all seemed to enjoy it. Also, I know you don't eat street food, do you think that may have been a reason you didn't like it? Or was it just not your thing?
Tim_and_Liz is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 08:54 AM
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no we did not go with tong....we went on our own once with a hotel driver and a second time with ratt.....we love the floating market....

i just think when people have a very short time in bkk, say less than 4 days, that the FM and bridge over river kwai are a waste of valuable and limited time when there are so many other interesting and important things inside bkk.....the secret place is a unique experience and thus i feel it is worthwhile even with a short stay...

and yes you could combine the two, FM and secret place, if you left bkk about 6 or 6:30 AM....
rhkkmk is online now  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 11:02 AM
  #12  
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OK, so if we do both days with Tong in BKK - one making merit and visiting the secret place and the orphanage and one doing GP, Wat Pho - what about the fishing village in the afternoon and for dinner or Chinatown? Or Wat Ben or Wat Arun either separately or as part of merit making... Are those good things to do with her or better on our own??

Figuring then that we'd try to do a klong tour post spa on day one, plan to visit Jim Thompson and maybe the Teakwood Mansion on day two. What other "must see" spots will be fairly simple for us to cover on our own?

So frustrating trying to pull a plan together with no bearings or sense of space, distance, transportation, etc. This advice is a huge, huge help!
WaterGirl is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 05:11 PM
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As I have already said I am following this thread with great interest becouse we will be in Bangkok for 6 days in Feb.Watergirl,how much time are you allowing for shopping? My family are not really big shoppers(I am,Boohoo) but I still thought shopping is one of the great Must Do's in Bangkok.At least that's what I am telling my family and I'm sticking to my story.
skittle is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 05:53 PM
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Another place in town you can do on your own is the Erawan Shrine.

No doubt you'll need to be flexible with your schedule. You have so much packed in, there will be things you'll opt out of in order to spend more time somewhere.

Skittle, yes, I agree that the shopping is great. There are things to buy in Bangkok that are either unique (crafts, antiques, Jim Thompson silks, etc) or such good deals you shouldn't pass them up (like sapphire and ruby jewelry). There are also deals on things like having prescription glasses made (half the price of the US). Any kind of custom work, clothing, etc., will be much less in Bangkok than elsewhere.
Kathie is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 07:23 PM
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Sorry, Bob. I misread your post where you said that you love the FM but it takes too much time. I for some reason thought you said you didn't like it. (I maybe mixed it up with Kathie's response.)
I need to stop multitasking when I am on Fodors.
Tim_and_Liz is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 07:38 PM
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the fisherman's and the secret place are the same place....they are about 45 min. outside bkk....
rhkkmk is online now  
Oct 3rd, 2007, 06:26 AM
  #17  
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Because I don't want to try to squeeze in too much or overschedule but also want to use our time well, it would be great if you could help me put some things in perspective timewise...

Done well, is the Grand Palace/Emerald Buddah (with Tong) a half-day proposition, an hour tour, 2-3 hours???I'm trying to figure out if it is more of a Vatican sized (all day with museum) undertaking or a Notre Dame (1 to 1 1/2 hour max) sort of commitment. What about the secret place? Canal Tour? Wat Pho? Floating market?

Obviously these will likely vary significantly from person to person, but if you were traveling to Bangkok with someone who had not been before and were planning your day (with flexibility of course), how much time would you plan for those (and others if you want to add on) places??

Sorry to be difficult with all of this... Thanks for your insight!
WaterGirl is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2007, 06:47 AM
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The Grand Palace/Emerald Buddha and Wat Po (these are just a block apart, so best done together) are most of a morning. I consider all of them "must-dos" and would do all three together.

The klong tour is typically two hours. You can ask for longer.

The floating market takes time because it is perhaps 45 minutes away. You want to leave very early for the floating market, so you could still get back to Bangkok late morning.

I haven't been to teh secret place, but understand it's about a half day.

Other must-do places: The Jim Thompson House is perhaps an hour, but you may want to stay for lunch (they have a nice cafe). There is also a Jim Thompson store there.

The Erawan Shrine is a 15 - 30 minute stop while you are out shopping.
Kathie is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2007, 06:52 AM
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I have never traveled with Tong but here's the timings as I have experienced them:

GP/Emerald Buddha - 2 hours (get there when it opens at 8:30 am)

Canal tour - 1-1/2 to 2 hours

Wat Pho - 45 minutes (its 5 minutes from the GP, by the way)

Floating Market - 1-1/2 hours drive each way and 1 to 2 hours there plus more time if you stop for lunch or at shops in the area (when we went, we left Bangkok at 6:45 am and were back by 1:30 pm)
Craig is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2007, 07:18 AM
  #20  
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Very helpful...Thanks much!
WaterGirl is offline  

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