Please offer Thailand suggestions

Jul 22nd, 2004, 10:23 AM
  #1  
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Please offer Thailand suggestions

We are two, mid 30's, females traveling 1st time to Thailand next February. As I collect pieces of info from all the other threads I thought I may as well start my own too. We are able to spend only 8-10 days there and I don't want to use too much of this time getting from place to place, so maybe picking 2 locations would be best? We'd like to do some shopping (floating market?), but mostly temples, snorkeling and beach, elephant trek and maybe rafting or another suggestion of a way to experience outdoors beauty. We'd like time to absorb the local culture, but not sure how to do all this in the amount of time we have. Any suggestions and opinions helpful! If not Bangkok and Phuket, then where? Please be specific as to why and any simple but nice places to stay (we are on a budget) would be appreciated. Recommended guidebooks? What about those package 3 night deals (Phuket) that is part independent/part on your own? Thanks for all your help!
hipvirgochick is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2004, 10:27 AM
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I'd say Bangkok and Northern Thailand. Phucket is an international beach resort area -- not a place to see temples or learn about the culture of Thailand. Bangkok has the sights. Northern Thailand (especially if you get outside of a major city like Chiang Mai) will give you a better idea of the culture -- even if you stay in Chiang Mai and take day trips.

Southern Thailand's culture is very different from the rest of the country. In many ways it is closer to Malaysian culture which it borders.

Gloria
glorialf is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2004, 10:32 AM
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your time is short and i assume that it does not include travel time which is a minimum of 1 day in each direction, plus you will be beat on day 2 after arrival...no matter what your age...

bangkok deserves a lot of time...maybe at both the beginnin and the end of the trip...maybe go to hua hin or koh samui...HH because you can go by car and can visit the floating market and river kwai from there...samui because it is an island and you get the beach...

i would, and do, spend more than 8 days in bkk alone on each trip...why not just stay there and leave the country and beach to another time??

a couple of suggestions for you
rhkkmk is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2004, 10:43 AM
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8-10 days is exluding travel time. rhkkmk - if we do decide to stay in Bangkok, and go on the excursions you mentioned, is it easy to book on the fly or should it be done beforehand? re: beaches, we are in seattle and look forward to the beautiful beaches there even if for a short time, snorkeling; and, i know it's touristy, but we do want to an elephant "trek".
gloria - will also look into northern thailand.
hipvirgochick is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2004, 11:04 AM
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I agree that you can find more than enough to do in 8 days in Bangkok alone. I've spent weeks there over the last 20 years and am constantly finding new and wonderful things.

Day trips either group or privately can usually be gotten once you get there. If you want someone good who is not connected with a tour operator you may need to book him/her in advance. Based on suggestions on this forum, I booked the driver Ratt for December and she was already booked one of the days I wanted her.

You might also take a day trip (and stay over night) in the River Kwai area. That might give you a feel of the country outside of a big city without involving a plane trip.

Gloria
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Jul 22nd, 2004, 11:18 AM
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Shopping is plentiful in BKK- check shopping threads on this forum (not floating market!)
River Kwai is perhaps a waste of too much time and too little to see IMHO.
Pattaya is close to Bangkok and you can get there by car (Ratt or taxi). Not the best beach resort but close by and maybe cost less than others that require a plane ride.
BillT is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2004, 11:22 AM
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But Pattaya is soooooooooo tacky -- at least in my opinion. Reminds me of a cross between Miami Beach and Atlantic City.

But then I'm not much of a beach lover.

Gloria
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Jul 22nd, 2004, 11:55 AM
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Pull up my previous post..."Great shopping guides for Southeast Asia." As for budget hotels, maybe it's best to check out lonelyplanet.com. Their forum can be quite budget-hotel minded. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2004, 12:22 PM
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Exactly how many days are you in Thailand? This will determine whether you can visit 2 or 3 places. The flight times between the relevant locales are slightly more than an hour. You will lose about 1/2 day each flight. Even if you drive to a beach, you lose about 1/2 day. The good news is that if you're like the rest of us, you'll end up returning to Thailand and can eventually do everything.
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Jul 22nd, 2004, 12:36 PM
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Gpanda - I will say 10 days in Thailand. Also, I don't know if our budget will allow for a lot of inter-Thailand flights, I haven't checked out the cost on those yet, but I assume we'll do at least one, just not sure to where yet! Also, I guess I should have de-emphazised the shopping part as shopping isn't the priority, more just wanting to check out some local markets/shops for fun. So, if we're to spend 5 days in Bangkok, and 5 days elsewhere, which would you recommend for the best outdoor adventure spot/island?
Pattaya does not appeal if it is as Glorialf says, but I will check it out.Guenmai - thanks for the hotel thread, I'll check that out. Thanks for your patience everyone.
hipvirgochick is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2004, 06:24 PM
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Hi hipvirgochick (you're all so tidy, you virgos!)www.bangkokair.com has flights to Krabi & Koh Samui really cheap around 2000 baht if you can get up early or leave later! Also the night train to Chiang Mai is an experience an a half! I love Chiang Mai & surrounds and I agree with others, if you want to experience the best of Thailand, the beaches are not really the place to do it. They are great for R & R. Mae Hon Song in Nth Thailand is fab (Fern Resort) my favourite place. Lovely Karen staff and beautiful woven handicrafts for sale. I miss MHS so much! Good luck & I bet you'll return!
Lyndie is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2004, 07:00 PM
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You have too many things you want to do in such a short time. I'd say to confine yourselves to two places. You could do Bangkok plus a beach or Bangkok plus a nothern Thai locale.

I'm not fond of Chaing Mai, though some others on the board are. I'd recommend the Golden Triangle area (you fly in to Chaing Rai). Intra Thai flights are cheap. Northern Thailand is where you would find elephant treks. (BTW - do you really want an elephant trek or do you just want to ride an elephant our in the bush? There is quite a difference in time commitment and price).

The beaches are lovely in Thailnd, but they are certainly not a cultural experience. If you want the beach you have to give up on elephant treks.

Shopping in Thailand is fabulous - wonderful crafts, gorgeous silks, many things you won't find elsewhere. The floating market is very touristy, probably not what you are interested in.
Kathie is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2004, 03:41 AM
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The choice is "Culture or Sun?" BKK plus either N Thailand or the beach, but not both. The beach resorts have very tourist-oriented "culture" offerings. If you choose N Thailand, you could spend some time in Chiang Rai and some time in Chiang Mai. It's about a 3 hour car ride. Outside CR, there have been many positive posts about the Anantara (see RhkKmk's recent opus).

On the elephant front, we rode an elephant outside CR for about 2 hours through the hills. It was beautiful and wonderful, but 2 hours was plenty. There's a good amount of balancing when your going up and down the hills.

If you opt for the beach, the karsts in Phang Nga bay are stunning. Seacanoe.com can provide day tours or overnight kayaking.

Gpanda is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2004, 04:17 AM
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Pattay never claims to be a palm beach tropical island, it isn't, it is a very lively city and yes, I guess in some was it is Atlantic City for those of us here. Masses of restaurants, clubs, lively bars, Vegas style shows, that it the great thing about the place. It is not a quiet beach resort, that would be Vegas without Gambling!! If you want beach cheap and close to Bangkok try Jomtien beach just beyond Pattaya or if you want quiet and restfull try Hua Hin. For an island Koh Chang is what many people feel Phuket and Samui were 10-15 nyears ago, it is a relaxing island with some great resorts, the Panviman is superb.
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Jul 23rd, 2004, 04:44 AM
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Believe it or not there are people out there that don't really want the quiet/relaxing/deserted get away from it all beach resort. Some like a beach resort where they can see people, have a lively night life, lots of hustle and bustle. As always know thyself- then decide what works best for you.
BillT is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2004, 04:57 AM
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Bill-
You're right. Everyone is looking for something else in travel and if what they want is a noisy, lively, fairly western beach Pattaya would do the trick.

Gloria
glorialf is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2004, 06:01 AM
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Hi

My wife and I have been to Thailand a couple of times and it is a GREAT vacation destination We have been to Bangkok, Phuket, Samui, Krabi, Hua Hin etc. I think I have to say that Bangkok is a must when you go to Thailand...it has lots to offer when it comes to sightseeing, shopping, eating etc. If I were to recommend a beach place I think that I would say Samui. We had a lovely time there when we went there. I have posted trip reports and pictures from our trips to Thailand on my personal homepage www.gardkarlsen.com Maybe you can find some useful information there. Get in touch if you have any questions.

Regards
Gard
Stavanger, Norway
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Jul 23rd, 2004, 10:07 AM
  #18  
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Thanks for the comments and helping me get headed in the right direction. I welcome further suggestions. In the meantime, I'll be checking out all places posted above. In any case, my friend is definitely set on visiting Phuket, we may just need to extend our vaction a couple days because Northern Thailand sounds a must too. Even though we are trying to coordinate a semi-independent travel, can anyone comment on the side-trip to Phuket on this link?
http://www.phuket-travel.com/package...ver_phuket.htm
hipvirgochick is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2004, 10:54 AM
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You really don't need packages anywhere in Thailand, domestic air travel is easy and cheap with numerous budget airlines operating. From Bangkok to Phuket you have Thai Airways, Bangkok Air, One-2-Go, Phuket Air, Thai Air Asia and soon Nok Air, so highly competative. Trabsport is safe and easy everywhere, taxis at airports are plentiful, there is no reason at all to go for any packages, it has to be one of the easiest countries in the world to travel around. For Phuket choose your beach wisely, Kata and Nai Harn are relatively quiet and relaxing, Karon and Kamala busier, the nightlife center is Patong if you are into bars, clubs and the like, you can also easily get to Phi Phi and krabi area from Phuket.
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Jul 23rd, 2004, 11:07 AM
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JamesA - Thank you for your post and letting me know how easy travel is. I've always insisted on making my own arrangements before, but for some reason Thailand seemed more intimidating than Europe or U.S. travel. Kata and Nai Harn sound perfect, and definitely a trip to Phi Phi. We may want some nightlife once or twice, but it's not our main thing. If it's anything like our prior trips we will be up and out early and too tired for nightlife!
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