Thailand 101

Nov 18th, 2008, 03:04 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 52
Thailand 101

Hello Fodorites,

I am just beginning to research a trip to Thailand for my hubby and I in 2009. I have read through some of the threads, but frankly, for someone that knows very little about when/where to go in Thailand, it is quite overwhelming. We are coming from the US, and we are hoping to have a trip where we can enjoy both some beach/relaxation and adventure. I've read a few things about the rafting and that sounds really fun. I think we would like to keep the history sightseeing (temples, etc.) to a minimum, maybe just a day. I believe that we will be able to be there for 8-10 nights. Should we plan to fly into Bangkok and then travel within Thailand from there, or if we plan to spend most of our time somewhere else, should we fly straight to that city? Is Northern Thailand (this is where Chaing Mai is, correct?) also a good resort/tropical location? Any help to get me pointed in the right direction is greatly appreciated.
desireepratt is offline  
Nov 18th, 2008, 03:48 PM
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From the US, it takes two days to get to Thailand. Be honest with how much time you will be on the ground.

You will fly into Bangkok (BKK) and it makes sense to plan a little BKK time at the front and a little at the end. The lengthy of time you will spend in Thailand should dictate whether you visit two or three destinations. If 8-10 days, I would go to two. If 11-14 days, three is more doable. You won't waste time travelling with this as a guideline.

The best time to go is from mid-November through the end of February. The weather is the "coolest" (only really hot). During that time period, the best beaches are on the Andaman Sea (west side of Thailand). These include Phuket, Krabi and Khao Lak.

With 8-10 days, I suggest:

BKK-2-3 days
Beach-4 days
BKK-2-3 days

With 11-14 days, I suggest:

BKK-2-3 days
Chiang Mai-3 days
Beach-4-5 days
BKK-2-3 days

There is a direct CM-Phuket flight on Thai Air that can avoid going through BKK.

If you give us an idea about your per night budget, we will suggest hotels.

You will have a wonderful time. Thailand is unique. Just read some threads and pick out some things that sound like fun.
Gpanda is offline  
Nov 18th, 2008, 03:48 PM
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This post is pathetic.

Buy a guide book. Get a map. Make SOME effort.

Maybe someone kind will come in and help you. Not me. You haven't even BEGUN to help yourself. Start there.

Do you even know why Thailand? It's certainly not because of Thai culture is it? Beach and adventure? Go to California.

dogster is offline  
Nov 18th, 2008, 04:28 PM
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Pause and consider what you want out of this vacation.

Now, what made you choose Thailand?

From what you've written, I'm unclear whether Thailand is a good match for your vacation. If you are only interested in one day of cultural activities, there are plenty of places you could visit much closer to home that will give you the other things you mention - beach, relaxation and adventure.

Once you've answered the questions above, buy yourself a good guidebook on Thailand - perhaps the Lonely Planet guide. Take a look and see if you think there is a match between what Thailand has to offer and what you are looking for.
Kathie is offline  
Nov 18th, 2008, 07:39 PM
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Dogster, really, why even post? If you're not going to help then save your "precious" time and don't post anything.
desireepratt is offline  
Nov 18th, 2008, 08:00 PM
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the dog is a perfect gentleman...he must be having an off day...

for 8-10 days i suggest bkk-beach-bkk...

the main sights in bkk can be seen in 1-2 days if you have little interest...for sure you will need to go to the grand palace...also to the jim thompson house...also a ride up and down the river...from there you can see the grand palace, wat pho and other bkk should also visit wat pho...that would be enough...

do you like to eat?? if so bkk is a fabulous place to do that cheaply, and not only thai can get almost all types of food...i have a restaurant listing for you if you want it, ask at [email protected]

a really nice italian or french dinner you would pay $150+ for in usa would be $75 here...only draw back is wine is very very expensive so have beer instead...usa bottle cost= $30, thai price= $120 or more...

shopping is fantastic in bkk too...

some of the riverside hotels have fabulous pools and gardens so its almost like being at an lux island retreat: peninsula, marriott resort and spa, hilton, royal orchid sheraton, shangri-la come immediately to mind...

you will be very tired upon arrival and need a day or two to unwind...i suggest one of the hotels above for that...then go to the beach or up north...then back to bkk for several days...on day one and two, plan to relax and get adjusted in bkk./... an alternative is to move on to the beach area immediately after arrival or the next day...and relax there...

chaing mai is up north, but chiang rai and golden triangle is extreme north...i personally do not like CM, but many do....

the rafting is not your typical white water rafting...its quite calm...not what you would go to thailand for...

trecking however can be interesting, but remember it is very, and i mean very hot, even in the cool season...don't forget the humidity too...i have been to CM in february and it is still hot as hell...

beach locations might include: hua hin, koh samui, phuket, krabi, khoa lak, pattaya or koh chang

so get your ideas together and read a bit more in a guide book and come back to us and ask questions...we will be delighted to help you...
rhkkmk is offline  
Nov 18th, 2008, 08:02 PM
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i would add that the best time to visit is nov 1 (oct 15+) to march 1....may/june and july/august, but not september or early oct (rain, etc).. our last two or three trips have been in may/june and we loved it but you get some rain in the late PM some days...
rhkkmk is offline  
Nov 18th, 2008, 08:31 PM
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I am a good man, but I wake up rabid. The post irritated me for the reasons I wrote. I should've shut up. It's lucky there are kind people in here.
dogster is offline  
Nov 18th, 2008, 08:51 PM
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Hi Desiree,

The Dogster was being particularly harsh. He tends to bare his teeth occassionally but his bark is harsher than his bite. I too come from Melbourne so I know what he is going through, being stuck in gloomy southeast Australia being asked questions about glorious Thailand.

What he means to say is, do a bit of research, on this site and others, and scroll through some of the trip reports, put together a rough itinery and post it here for comments including a few lines of information about what you feel would make a good holiday, eating ,adventure, culture, fratinizing with bar girls, swimming in clear water,lying on white sand reading a book or all of the above (sounds like my ideal holiday). What this then will achieve is that the good people here (Dogster included)will sense that you have done a little homework and they will be able to furnish you with an educated evalaution of your itinery and either help you fill in the blanks or dismiss it totally based on your likes and rewrite an itinery for you. Based on what you have told us so far, it is very hard to help you and all we can do is tell you how we would spend our holiday. Am I making any sense?

The advice I could give you from the information that you have given is that 8-10 days is not long enough and that Chang Mai is not the destination for a "tropical resort" feel. Also, one of the "magical" parts of Thailand in terms of adventure is the sea-kayaking through Phang Na bay not the rafting. This can be accessed from Phuket or Krabi regions and is "well worth the price of admission alone".

And Dogster, if you are following this post, please cut this poster a little slack and share your great wealth of travel knowledege with thoose that are new to the forum.
shanek is offline  
Nov 18th, 2008, 10:15 PM
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I am suitably chastised - and SO nicely too. You said exactly what I said, but with all the grace and style I should have exhibited. Next time I will make sure the sedation has kicked in BEFORE I come to the computer.

I will behave in future. As much as a dog is able.
dogster is offline  
Nov 19th, 2008, 03:13 AM
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Dogster-we're begging you to remain true to your canine roots. If we wanted vanilla, there's lots of posters for that. Your mood swings are an essential part of your personna. What kind of hound would you be with your fangs removed?
Gpanda is offline  
Nov 19th, 2008, 06:04 AM
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What I saw in the OP was probably similar to what Dogster saw. People who seem to pick a country by throwing a dart at a map.

OP seems more interested in beaches and resorts, which she certainly wouldn't need to fly all the way to Thailand for, and only wants one day for "history" which seems to negate the reason for going to Thailand at all IMO.
Jaya is offline  
Nov 19th, 2008, 10:27 AM
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Posts: 1,007

Some people find history invigorating and others find it a chore. There is a lot more that can be taken away from a Thai vacation than a lesson in history.

I like to immerse myself in modern Thai culture and at the same time I enjoy being by the ocean, not in a resort as such though I have stayed in some, but in smaller locally owned hotels and guesthouses. I have done most of the main Bangkok and Chang Mai sites but I dont see these as the highlights of my trips.

There is something special about a Thai beach holiday that makes it worth the trip, no matter where you are coming from, if you select an area that suits you. I come from Australia where the beaches are fantastic but I still pine daily for Koh Samui, Kata Beach, Phi-Phi etc. It may not be fashionable for you but dont dismiss someone elses wants as a waste of time.
shanek is offline  
Nov 19th, 2008, 03:37 PM
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I tend to agree- we go to Thailand for the shopping, eating, 5 star hotels and the hospitality of the Thai people and I don't mind doing a few of the temples, wats etc. but I'm no history buff.
BillT is offline  
Dec 4th, 2008, 09:24 AM
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Hi everyone,

First, thanks for the response. I understand that there is a lot about Thailand that I do not know and it may seem like I am randomly choosing that country for a vacation. And to a degree, we were. So perhaps if I better describe what we were looking for and why I thought Thailand might be a good place, you can tell me whether there may be a better destination for us.

We took a fantastic vacation a few years ago to Costa Rica. This was a perfect destination for us because

1) it did provide some degree of luxury with the resorts. We're not staying 5 star, but we're also not looking to "rough it"

2) there was a great combination of relaxation and adventure between the pool/beach/spa and the rafting/zip line tour/volcano, etc.

3) it was cheap

4) the tourism industry was very prominent there, so the customer service was outstanding

I've heard that Thailand offers similar characteristics. We've been to Europe and didn't enjoy how we were treated there (very unwelcome because we're Americans, which I understand, but don't wish to experience again) and I was under the impression that the Thai culture was also very open and friendly. I would love to experience something different in terms of culture without having to see all the histroic landmarks, but seeing a few of them. A large reason for our interest in Thailand is the great experience that friends and relatives have had there and that we can get a LOT (as I am told) for our money there... more than we can in Mexico, Carribbean, etc. We do LOVE food (and wine, but we can settle for beer) and I love shopping, so that may be another good match for Thailand. Shanek, it sounds like our idea of an ideal vacation is very similar, so maybe you can tell me if Thailand is a good destination for us.

Thanks everyone for your input!
desireepratt is offline  
Dec 4th, 2008, 04:57 PM
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YES...without doubt, Thailand will give you what you want. The time of year will determine which area you should spend most of your time but you will find the tropical paradise you seek on Phuket or Koh Samui. Either of these destinations would be best for a first time trip as they offer a bit of everything, you can have a bit of adventure and there is culture there if you choose to seek it out. Both Islands are geared heavily towards tourists but they both have another side to them if you move away from the tourism epi-centres.
shanek is offline  
Dec 5th, 2008, 02:51 PM
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Hi, desireepratt!

You've gotten some excellent advice here.

I'd do the gpanda initial suggested itinerary: 2-3 days Bangkok, 4 days beach, 2-3 days Bangkok. Skip Northern Thailand for this trip.

You can also access Phang Nga Bay from Phang Nga itself, but if you're headed to Phuket or Phi Phi - take one of those long boats and just ride with the wind to those fantastic rock formations!

Bring rain gear and mosquito repellent.

PS I like to throw darts at a world map too and see where it lands!
easytraveler is offline  
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