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Overwhelmed - 1st timer planning a trip to Asia - need help

Overwhelmed - 1st timer planning a trip to Asia - need help

Jul 16th, 2013, 12:17 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 6
Overwhelmed - 1st timer planning a trip to Asia - need help

Hi,
I've been reading about Thailand (forums, books, tour companies) and I must admit it's a bit like drinking from a firehose. I'm rather overwhelmed with all the information. Initially, I was set on this tour: http://www.gate1travel.com/southeast...clathtu14.aspx but with single supplement, it's almost double. Still affordable overall, but why pay double to be solo? The more I read, the more I want to see, but time and money are restricting my wanderlust. So I'm hoping you good people can help me out a little (or a lot).
I have roughly 2 weeks (14 days, but can probably spend a couple more, depending on how things go) and I'd like to spend some of those days on a beach. I am planning to travel in November of this year (or later, but depends on pricing).
Looking at that link above, many of the activities and optional excursions appeal to me (but not the elephants). The thing I don't like about it the location of the hotels. I do like the tour guide and how things are organized and pre-planned, and having a guide explain how Thailand "works". I kinda know how Europe "works" so I know what to expect when going there, and started off with guided tours to several countries.
I'm seriously considering doing something like this on my own, but don't want to shlep luggage and depend on "public" transportation.
I guess, to start, here are some things about me: traveling solo, female, mid-30s, not a partier, LOVE photography (photography tours are waaaaay too expensive), architecture, cultural activities, and somewhat of a foodie (but can't handle spicy food or pork). I like things a little off the beaten path, but since I'm solo and don't want to drive, not toally off the beaten path. Oh, I've traveled some in Europe (Portugal, Spain, England, Scotland, Prague, VIenna, Budapest), and it took me about 5 years of ever-increasing solo days around an organized tour to do a completely solo tour.
I'd love to hire a private guide, if possible. I was also thinking of taking a cooking class.

What can you recommend, based on the above? Any help is greatly apprecaited. Sorry if this is a little all over.
alywi is offline  
Jul 16th, 2013, 12:48 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,984
If you can plan a trip to Europe, you can - more easily- plan a trip to Thailand. I recommend against a group tour. Thailand is so easy, there is no reason to put up with bad or inconvenient hotels, bland food or stops that don't interest you.

Thailand is very affordable. Don't want to take public transportation? Don't. Hire a car and driver or take taxis. (though you will want to take the public water taxi in Bangkok at least once, and you will learn to appreciate the skytrain) Want a guide? Hire one on the spot. Want a group tour of one place? Arrange it once you get there.

Mostly, you don't need a guide in Thailand. But if you want one, that can be easily arranged. Decide on an itinerary, then we can help with hotels and any "special" things you want to add in, like a cooking class. Many people like to take a cooking class in Chiang Mai, but there are excellent cooking classes in Bangkok as well.

Plan to fly among your destinations - flights are cheap and easy, no need for long bus travel. For Noveber, you'll want a beach location on the Andaman Sea side (Phuket, Krabi, Koh Lak, etc)

Since you are a bit nervous about this trip, you can set up a car service from the airport and can arrange a guide for your first or second day in Bangkok. Many guides are willing to take public transport with you so you can learn the system.

Start by browsing hotels on booking sites like www.agoda.com or www.sawasdee.com

A trip on your own will cost you less and you'll get a lot more out of it.
Kathie is offline  
Jul 16th, 2013, 12:55 PM
  #3  
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Thanks Kathie. Yeah, there are some things about tours that really turn me off (I think I counted at least 3 separate shopping stops - I don't like that).
In general, how many days should I plan for Bangkok? I would still like to see Ayutthaya, Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, and Chiang Rai, as well as some time on a beach.
Thanks again.
alywi is offline  
Jul 16th, 2013, 02:07 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,984
One of the problems with tours is that they move you through places too fast to have any real experience of them. With two weeks, I'd suggest you plan not more than three stops. You can visit Ayutthaya as a day trip from Bangkok, if you wish.

I'd say 5 days for Bangkok, as there is so much to see and do there, especially since you are interested in a daytrip to Ayutthaya. Choose one place in the north and a beach and you'll have a good combination and good pace.
Kathie is offline  
Jul 16th, 2013, 05:53 PM
  #5  
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Thanks Kathie,
That's really helpful.
alywi is offline  
Jul 25th, 2013, 08:52 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
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We used Friendly Planet for our trip to Thailand. Specifically, we joined the "Taste of Thailand" tour. Like you, I was a bit leery of tours- went on one in college and it was too commercial for my taste. We (my brother and I) wanted to focus on outdoorsy pursuits, food, and seeing cultural and historical sights. I was completely happy with the tour and am planning to use them again to go to Vietnam. My concern in SE Asia was a lack of language skills and the tour completely eliminated that issue- transportation was handled quite well and our guide gave us wonderful short lectures about Thai history and culture. The other tour goers were our sort- some students and mostly friends and couples in their 30's and 40's. No crazy, party atmosphere. Oh! And FP's single supplements aren't too high priced. Plus you can find a roommate if you wish too. Good luck!
Hobbert is offline  
Jul 25th, 2013, 08:53 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2013
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One other thing- our days weren't jam packed. Want to linger at a site? No problem. We had several days that we just wandered off on our own. I never felt rushed.
Hobbert is offline  
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