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Should typically non-tour people take a tour of Thailand?

Should typically non-tour people take a tour of Thailand?

Jan 31st, 2004, 02:53 PM
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Should typically non-tour people take a tour of Thailand?

We have travelled all over western and eastern Europe on our own in public transportation and by rental car. We are pretty adventuresome active people and typically have our own interests in what we want to spend our time on. We do not travel to shop. We are middle-aged and do not need upsacale accomodations. We prefer to seek out interesting local places to eat. Places we choose to visit are frequently off the typical tourist route. In addition to enjoying history and local cultural flavor, we enjoy nature and the outdoors.

That said, go-today has what looks like some pretty good package tour deals to Thailand in May. Specifically we can get these packages for 9 or 10 nights lodging, round trip airfare from Minneapolis to Bangkok, a flight from Bangkok to Chang Mai and all entrance fees and most meals for $1500 a person. Here are the 2 possible itineraries.

5 nights hotel accommodations in Bangkok
1 night hotel accommodations in a River Kwai Resort
1 night hotel accommodations in Pitsanulok
1 night hotel accommodations in Lampang
1 night hotel accommodations in Chiangrai
1 night hotel accommodations in Chiangmai
All entrance fees ? Total of 23 meals: 10 breakfasts, 7 lunches, and 6 dinners

5 nights hotel accommodations in Bangkok
1 night hotel accommodations in Pitsanulok
1 night hotel accommodations in Lampang
1 night hotel accommodations in Chiangrai
1 night hotel accommodations in Chiangmai
Total of 20 meals: 9 breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 5 dinners
? SPECIAL FEATURES ? Thai Cooking class ? Visit to local Thai village ? Thai dinner show ? Visit Sukhothai the first capital of Thailand

I have a 4 part question.
Should we do a tour in Thailand, or is it pretty easy to travel on your own?
If we go with a tour, which of the 2 sounds most like it would include locales that are truly interesting and not just tourist traps?
Considering the costs are these deals as good as they sound?
Is this just too quick of an itinerary, or do all these one night stops really deserve just about that amlunt of time?

If you know Thailand, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks.

julies is offline  
Jan 31st, 2004, 04:12 PM
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About five years ago, my husband and I, also middle aged, non-tour types, traveled very successfully in Bangkok and Chaing Mai by ourselves. With Lonely Planet (and maybe Moon guide?) and a relaxed attitude, we saw no reason to use a tour. We rode the boat bus/taxi in Bangkok, took a longtail boat ride through the back waterways, visited temples, etc. We treated ourselves to one night at The Oriental and the rest at a budget place. Then we took the train to Chiang Mai - easy and nice enough. I bought the train tickets while in the US and had them delivered to the hotel. Not sure this is necessary but it sure made things easy. In Chiang Mai, my husband got sick with a respiratory ailment and spent several days recuperating in our budget hotel while I went all over CM by myself! I would just have the hotel write out my destination and then engage a tuktuk. I even went up into the hills to a weaver's. We had intended to go north to Chiang Rai or even a trek to some of the villages but had to curtail our itinerary when he got sick. We took a Thai cooking class in CM. We enjoy eating in the night markets (great one in CM) and from street vendors and local restaurants. We had no problems with tummy upsets. Oh yes, in CM, after he got better, we rented a motor scooter and rode up in to the hills...quite an adventure.
eekelly is offline  
Jan 31st, 2004, 04:28 PM
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ASs eekelly says, travel is Thailand is easy and relatively cheap. Without doing the Math it actually does not look a bad deal, including accommodation, transport and all those meals. The downside of course is that you are 'fixed' on where you go and when. You have not said time of year, but unless it's peak season Dec-March then you should have no problems having a totally flexible travel plan.
As a good guide, an air-con room with tv, hotel restaurant, bar, room service etc etc would be, ball-park $35-50 a night for 2 of you, including breakfast/tax/service.
A flight BKK-Chiang Mai return on Thai is about $130, though Budget carriers are appearing with much cheap fares. A bus/train from Bangkok to River Kwai would be $3-5, a taxi would be $35-40 for both of you. A car + driver to take you River Kwai to Phitsanulok/Sukhothai area could be between $40-60, again for both. A buffet/average dinner might cost $5-8, though you can get a lot cheaper.
If you can tell us any hotels they are offering that may help as a guide.
If you think (I'm from BKK, not the U.S so I don't know your fares that well except what I have seen others mention) that the air fare could be $750 return but could easily be $950 return, it's worth looking at all aspects. Although Thaikland is easy to travel around in I hope with your extensive travels you are wise enough to realise that like anywhere, things can go wrong, so there are plus/minus on both options. Forget car rental, I wouldn't risk it at all.

Anyway you can spend Sunday with your map and calculator! Let us know the hotels, that will be a good pointer as to what the value is like.
JamesA is offline  
Jan 31st, 2004, 04:33 PM
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Don't bother with it a tour is a tour. you'll probly be banging your head against the tour bus seat. asking yourself why am I on this damn thing.

I've done the independent travel thing in eastern Europe and Asia (thialand) and I will say that your thai trip may be a litle bit more chalangingp... so just plan ahead a litle more then you usually would..
orgy7 is offline  
Jan 31st, 2004, 05:58 PM
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We are looking at going in May. Here are the major hotels: Mandarin Hotel in Bangkok, River Kwai Resotel and Amity Green Hills Hotel in Chang Mai.

Orgy7 has hit it right on the head. I am nervous about banging my head on the window of the hotel bus as we leave a place i really wanted to spend more time at for a place I have no interest in.

I think the best airfare I could find would be in the $750 to $800 neighborhood.

Thanks for all the advice.
julies is offline  
Jan 31st, 2004, 06:13 PM
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Well if you are here for 10 days and you can get an airfare for $800, I presume US, you will have $70 a day from the tour budget, or around 2,600 Baht a day. If you want to rent a car, you should get something for a little less that 1,000 and your accommodation for about the same, so that would leave you 600 Baht a day. Most backpackers would probably consider that adequate, but I suspect that you will want to top it up a bit, if you allowed another 1,000 a day that would be about $260 for the ten days.

Personally I would think that worth paying for the independence ? and we have done a number of coach tours in Europe and Africa. Of course, you won?t have the same class of hotel as you might get with a tour, but 1,000 a night should get you something clean and reasonable.
Tangata is offline  
Jan 31st, 2004, 07:39 PM
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If you can travel to Western Europe on your own, you can travel to Thailand on your own. To me, both tours sound ghastly, but I like to go someplace and stay at least a few nights. The idea of moving every night would be awful for me, but we each have our own styles of traveling.

I'd suggest you buy a good guidebook on Thailand and decide which places you want to visit. then you can make decisons about whether you'd like to rent a car, or whether you'd rather fly (or take the train) among a few places.
Kathie is offline  
Jan 31st, 2004, 08:52 PM
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The continual moving around doesn't sound so hot to me either. Our last 2 teips to Europe we've actually settled in and out of each 2 week trip we've spent a week in a rental house so we could really get to know one locale. I think you are probably all convincing me that for people who scorn other groups of lemmings following a tour guide with an umbrella, a tour might not be the best idea.
julies is offline  
Feb 1st, 2004, 07:20 AM
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It is wonderful to see there are so many independent travelers. We call ourselves "chronologically challenged, upscale, backpackers" cause we are in our 70s, stay in better than hostel rooms, and our carry on luggage is a backpack.
We spent December in Cambodia and Vietnam, with only our time spent in Cambodia booked ahead. With add on from Orlando our fare to Bangkok was $860 return. Because we booked our airfares within the country we saved enough over U.S. internet prices to pay for our hotels for the whole month.
Upon retirement we spent three months in S.E.Asia, arriving in Singapore with absolutely nothing booked, not even the first night accommodation.
You have to get a different mindset to travel in S.E.A. For instance it is no cheaper to book a flight two weeks ahead. You can book day of flight in some cases at no more cost. You can change flights also at no cost.
Independently, you can stay in a place if you like it, or leave if the weather is bad. You can wander the temples for several hours, and not have someone saying "Time to get on the bus".
Go it on your own.
twoaussies is offline  
Feb 1st, 2004, 08:20 AM
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Booking a flight the day you want to go at no extra charge. This is starting to sound like our kind of travel. How about language (and different alphabet) difficulties?
julies is offline  
Feb 1st, 2004, 09:33 AM
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Almost everyone you have contact with will speak English. Interestingly, I've encountered fewer language problems during my many trips to SE Asia than in my many trips to Europe!

You can book flights at the last minute for the same price. The only caveat is that if you are traveling at a busy time of the year, you may have trouble finding seats.
Kathie is offline  
Feb 15th, 2004, 11:12 AM
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If it's helpful for you to have the perspective of a first-time traveler to Asia, I just got back from an independent trip to Thailand and never had a problem. Our profile is very similar to yours.
MikeBuckley is offline  
Feb 15th, 2004, 02:54 PM
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From one middle aged traveller to another - go for it on your own! Just imagine eating all that westernized bus tour food for 10 days and not getting a taste of the "real thing". That would be enough to put me off. Don't try to cram too much in, as you will want to go back again and again as we have done. If you see Northern Thailand this time make sure you plan to spend time in Southern Thailand too!
Good luck and have a great carefree time on your own.
Maudie is offline  

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