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Planning Thailand Trip for either mid October or November 2008

Planning Thailand Trip for either mid October or November 2008

Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 03:02 PM
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Planning Thailand Trip for either mid October or November 2008

My husband and I are in the beggining stages of planning a trip to Thailand. We are planning on going for 2 weeks in either mid October or beginning of November 2008. I know we want to go to Bankok, Chaing Mai, a beach destination (Phuket, PHI Phi or any other island), Siem Reap, Cambodia. Is there any other place that we should visit in Thailand that is a must? We are not set on going to Cambodia if there is a must in Thailand. What do you recommend besides those places in Thailand and also what island would you recommend? We want to go to a beautiful island.
What is the must sights to do in Bangkok and Chaing Mai?
Can you drive to Chaing Mai from Bangkok or is there a bus or is flying the best bet? How costly would the flight be to Chaing Mai?
In Chaing Mai we would like to go on an Elephant trek in the jungle and possibly like to visit a hilltribe. Any tours do you recommend for this?

In Bankok we would like to go to the Grand Palace, Wat Traimit, Wat Po, Wat Benchamabophit, floating market and to Tiger Temple (I believe is outside Bankok).
Is eating and hotels inexpensive?
Any information would be great.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 03:24 PM
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The weather is likely to be better in November than in October.

Start by buying yourselves a good guidebook.

Next, you'll need to figure out how much time you actually have on the ground in SE Asia. When you sat two weeks, you may well have 12 days on the ground after taking away the time it takes to fly there.

With a mere 12 days, you need to restrict yourselves to not more than three destinations. Each time you change locations, you lose most of a day.

What kind of vacation are you looking for? Relaxation? Cultural experiences? And how much of each?

Since you have so little time, you'll want to fly from place to place. Flights can be very inexpensive on discount carriers.

You'll need to decide whether you want to visit the temples at Angkor. The flight there is rather expensive, and the temples pass and car and driver and guide (if you wish) add up. If you are traveling on a tight budget, the cost may make the decision for you. Perosnally, I think Angkor is one of the wonders of the world and loved every minute of our week there. It takes a full three days just to see the major temples, so plan to spend at least that much time there if you go.

You can spend a lot or a little on both hotels and food. Overall, both hotels and food are a good deal when compared with Canada, the US and Europe. And since each of us has a different idea of what constitutes expensive or inexpensive, you'll need to give us an idea of what you want to spend per night for hotel in order for us to make recommendations. Once you've decided on locations, take a look at one of the good Thai hotel booking sites, www.sawadee.com to see the options and prices for hotels.

Read some of the many trip reports to see what things interest you most. You have listed some things you want to do in Bangkok, and there are many more must-sees in my opinion. If you can read a bit to see what interests you and can give us more info about your interests, we can make more recommndations.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 03:41 PM
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went in the beginning of Nov and the rains were just ending. The rivers had had flooding, so I`d say go in Nov.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 04:07 PM
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I would definitely agree with kathie that you are going to too many places in the time you have. And what to do should be based on what your interests are. if it were me I would just go to two places but if you really want more -- keep it at 3. In order to experience something of thailand I would say that Bangkok and Chiang Mai/northern thailand are a must. If you want to go to a third place I would make it Siem reap but that's because a beach is a beach is a beach and the ones in thailand while lovely have the least to do with the country.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 04:26 PM
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The easy way to split up your time is to give each destination four days. When you subtract the travel time, it's actually only 3 1/2 days. you will be flying in and out of Bangkok, so you may want to split your time there in front and back. Otherwise, you waste 1/2 day while staying at the airport.

Two weeks from North america is 12 days on the ground. Three destinations should be your maximum. If you want beach time (the weather can be iffy in both October and early November), you should choose between Chiang Mai and Siem Riep. If budget is no issue, I would recommend Siem Riep. The temples are unique.

The first step is to get your air tickets to and from Bangkok. Then you can plan the internal portion later.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 09:13 PM
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Thanks for the replies. As far as hotels I was thinking around the $50 range. I am more interested in the cultural experience then relaxation. I was only thinking about an island because I heard that they are beautiful. How do they compare to Caribbean beaches? If they are similar then maybe I won't go to an island and just go to Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Siem Reap. How do you get to the temples at Angkor? Can you went a car or is there public transportation or as you mentioned to hire a driver? What would the cost be to get a driver? Any hotels you recommend in Bankok, Chiang Mai and Siem Reap?
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Old Dec 24th, 2007, 01:33 AM
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The beaches in Thailand are very nice, but IMO the Caribbean beaches are nicer. It's close. However, the Thai beaches are definitely Thailand-lite. They're very tourist oriented.

Having said that, flying to Siem Riep can be expensive. There's only one airline from Bangkok, i.e., Bangkok Airways. The cheapest way to fly is to get a Discovery Pass. This allows for three or more legs on Bangkok airways at a reduced price. You can call the New York Office (actually a call center in India) reserve your flights and then pay by certified check. This avoids the 3% credit card charge.

In Siem Riep, you can hire either a driver or a guide and driver. Ponheary (do a search on this forum) has been a great guide for many of us. She can be reached at Ponhear[email protected].
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Old Dec 24th, 2007, 04:44 AM
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Skip the beaches if relaxation isn't for you. I would strongly recommend Baan Orapin in Chiang Mai. A well located, small (around 12 rooms) hotel with wonderful owners and staff. There are many hotels in Chiang Mai in your price range that are large commercial hotels that could be anywhere. This one is special.

If you want to save some money and time you could consider skipping cambodia and spending the whole time in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and then either go to the golden triangle area of MHS/Pai area in northern thailand. You could rent a car and drive and eliminate the flight. You can see lovely scenery, lots of different hilltribes etc. It's my favorite part of thailand. However, if your passion is archeology and/or temples you should not miss Siem Reap. On the other hand, if your interest is learning about a culture and getting to know a people, I would spend the entire time in Bangkok and northern thailand. I have been to thailand 18 times in the last 22 years and never for less than 2 weeks. And I still learn and experience something new. And northern thailand is my favorite part of the country.
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Old Dec 24th, 2007, 07:36 AM
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have you checked airfares?
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Old Dec 24th, 2007, 07:44 AM
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you might give some thought to hua hin as your beach, flying is best and is about $125 r.t.....each site....it is only 2 hours from bkk via car...or train or bus...

i personally do not find the beaches as nice as the ones in NA or the carribbean...

i would splurge on a hotel in bkk if you possibly can to get something nice....look at the majestic grande or centre point silom....
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Old Dec 24th, 2007, 02:19 PM
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Be aware that SE Asia has two seasons dry/hot & wet/hot & that many of the beach coastal area hotels are either closed for repairs, roads flooded & many excursions are closed from May to Oct due to rough seas.

The Gulf islands have clearer water in different times than the west coast Andaman sea. Personally, I found Phuket horribly touristy, Phi-Phi was over-built about 15 years ago... For the price range you mention you might want to check Lonely Planets guidebook/forum as it is more oriented to budget.

If you are looking for culture, go to NE Thailand (Isaan region), northern Thailand (especially that time of year) & Siem Reap. BKK is not for the budget traveler... IMO it's more for shoppers, foodies & those of us who are willing to pay for great hotels/service. Siem Reap is cheaper than Thailand & has a unique culture in the Khmer temples.
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Old Dec 24th, 2007, 05:19 PM
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Thanks for your advice from Glorialf about driving along the golden triangle. Is it safe to drive there? We are now thinking of going in Jan 2009 because my husband will have more vacation time then so I have alot of time to plan. Is it easy to find the hilltribes by yourself. Very interested in seeing the long neck tribe. I think I will skip Siem Reap and go there another time. So I am thinking of going to Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Golden Triangle. Still cant decide if we should go to an island. My brother went to an island in Thailand and he says that it was the most beautiful place he has been. I have to find out what island he was talking about. Can you rent a car from Bangkok and drive to Chiang Mai? Is is safe to drive and how long would it take? How much would the flight be from Bangkok to Chiang Mai? Happy Holidays to everyone.
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Old Dec 24th, 2007, 05:26 PM
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Believe me, you do not want to rent a car in Bangkok and drive to CM. Once you are in the north, you could drive to Pai or the Golden Triangle. Flights on the budget airlines such as Air Asia are very cheap, or you could opt for the night train, also inexpensive.

The traffic in Bangkok and in CM is crazy.

As for finding hilltribes by yourself... no, not really. You would need someone who knows the area and the tribes to go there. Also, many people find the trips to see the long-neck women objectionable referring to it as a "human zoo." You will have to make a real effort to get into the back country to see hilltribes living traditionally. There are guides and trekking companies that can help you with this.
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Old Dec 24th, 2007, 06:06 PM
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The best way to see the hill tribes is to go on an overnight trek. there are many companies that can arrange this. My son and wife did a wonderful 3 day-2 night trek through ChiangMaiTours.com. Sergeant Kai has been used by lots of people on this forum with very positive reviews. Note the accomodations will be very basic.

In January, the best weather will be in Phuket,Phi Phi Islands, Krabi, or Khao Lak. They are listed by declining order of touristyness (nice word?).
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Old Dec 25th, 2007, 11:11 AM
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Thanks Gpanda for the website info. The tours look great. So I think the best bet is to do one of the tours offered to go on the golden triangle and to see the hilltribes including the longneck tribe. We thought we would drive ourselves but if we cant see the tribes on our own then maybe a tour would be better. The other option would be to get a driver. The only thing when visiting on a tour to see the longneck tribes it doesnt mention spending a night with a tribe. The other tours that don't include the longneck tribes offer the overnighting with a tribe. Do you know what it cost for your son to do the tour he went on? Merry Christmas everyone.
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Old Dec 25th, 2007, 11:29 AM
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The thing is that if you drive to the hill tribes, it is nearly certain that you will see a tribe that has a lot of tourist contact. However, if you trek in, you will be able to see people with minimal tourist contact, a very different feel.

For my son's trek, we E-mailed sergeant Kai and told him we wanted an overnight trek. he arranged everything, including airport transfers and hotel for a night in Chiang Mai.
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Old Dec 25th, 2007, 04:16 PM
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BTW, because you may have switched your dates, I suggest you start a new thread with a more accurate title. Bob is easily confused.
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Old Dec 27th, 2007, 06:35 PM
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I'm not sure how the tours work for visiting hill tribes but if you want something personalized, you could try asking the Karen guide I used in Chiang Mai. His name is Chaiya, his english is excellent, and he's helped a woman I know well who lives outside of CM and deals in high quality tribal artifacts for years. He doesn't drive, but has a driver with van to handle that part of it. I found his rates to be competitive and he took amazing care of my husband and I.
His email is [email protected]
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Old Dec 28th, 2007, 09:07 PM
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jenskar2: Thanks for the info on Chaiya. Do you know if Chaiya takes people to visit and stay with hill tribes and also give tour of the golden triangle? What did you guys do with him?
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Old Dec 30th, 2007, 06:27 PM
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Glorialf: I plan to use the hotel in Chiang Mai (Baan Orapin) that you mentioned -- since I will be there only 3 full days, what excursions would you recommend. I will be in BKK mid-October. Thanks.
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