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Thailand honeymoon itinerary - April '08

Thailand honeymoon itinerary - April '08

Jan 21st, 2008, 10:54 AM
  #1  
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Thailand honeymoon itinerary - April '08

Hi All,

My fiancee and I are going to Thailand this April for our honeymoon. We're going to be there for 14 days, not including travel time. We're now trying to decide where to go. The consensus on the board for a trip of this length seems to be to pick 3 places. We're looking at: a beach, Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and Cambodia. The only non-negotiable item on the list is the beach, and since we're flying in and out of it, Bangkok seems like a no-brainer too.

So two questions: which beach should we go to, and should we go to Chiang Mai or Cambodia?

1. The Beach:

For the beach, we want a beautiful beach that's good for swimming, as well as a reasonable amount of activity going on close by the beach (read: she likes to lie on the beach all day, and I'm going to get antsy and will want to go eat at the food stalls and wander around town). So we need a decent sized town that's walking distance from the beach/hotel. I expect there will be a trade-off between touristy and stuff-to-do, but my ideal would be a less tourist-overrun place. We want to eat at authentic restaurants, and avoid throngs of tourists, bars, etc. I'd rather be able to walk into town from the hotel, but a frequent and free hotel shuttle would be an acceptable alternative. Because of the time of year we're going (mid-April), it sounds like Koh Samui and Krabi are the two front-runners for beach areas that fit the bill, but feel free to suggest something else.

2. Chiang Mai or Siem Riep/Ankor Wat, Cambodia?

For most of the planning process, I've been assuming we would "do" Chiang Mi, since that seems to be one of the major stops on most itineraries. But my older brother recently spent a couple of days in Cambodia (on a trip to Thailand), and came back raving about it, saying he prefers it to Thailand. This part of the trip will be more active than lying on the beach; I expect to go on hikes, bike trips, tours, cooking classes, etc. I believe we can do all of these activities in Chiang Mi. Are they available in Cambodia? Which has better activities? Given the time of 3-4 days, which one makes the most sense?

For the budget, we have about 20k Starwood points (and expect maybe another 10K with the rest of the wedding spending), so that gives us about a week's free hotel rooms on Starwood properties. Otherwise, I'm hoping to keep the costs reasonable, with the flight to BKK (from LAX) the biggest expense of the trip. At this point, I'm waiting on planning specific activities until I have a better idea of where we'll be.

Sorry for the length, and thanks to anyone who's read all of this, and more thanks to anyone who responds.

Thanks

Josh

JoshMiller is offline  
Jan 21st, 2008, 11:16 AM
  #2  
 
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First of all, decide whether you want to go to Chiang Mai or to Angkor. As someone who finds Chaing Mai rather boring, and someone who looked forward to seeing the temples at Angkor since I was a child, this choice would be a no-brainer for me. But each person is different, and you need to choose on the basis of what your interests are.

Do a bit of reading about Angkor. I always recommend Dawn Rooney's book, Angkor. You may also find photos illuminating. You are welcom to view our Angkor photos at www.marlandc.com

If you visit Angkor, most of your time each day will be taken up with visiting temples. This is rather strenuous with lots of walking and climbing, a nd it will be HOT as this is the hottest time of the year in this part of the world. You'll want to choose a hotel with a nice pool, so you can cool off after the temples. The usual schedule is to get up at dawn and go to the temples, stay out intil 11 or noon, return to your hotel for lunch, rest and perhaps a cooling swim, then back to the temples from 3 or so until sunset. There are many dozens of accessible temples and you won't see them all, but it takes 3 full days just to see the so-called major temples. Other things you might do while you are there: visit a school and donate supplies (take a look at www.theplf.org) , take a cooking class, visit Tonele Sap, visit the Artisans d'Angkor. Caution: Angkor will be more expensive than CM, as the flights are pricey and the temples pass ($40 for 3 days) and car/driver (about $25 per day) and perhaps guide (another $25 per day) is also pricey. But it's an unforgrettable experience.

Beach: the Phuket/Krabi side of Thailand is heading into the monsoons in April, so you'll have better weather if you choose Koh Samui or another beach on the gulf side of Thailand. Also, don't worry about being walking distance from things, as there will be plenty of cheap tuk-tuks to take you places. So I'd suggest you start research places on Koh Samui. You might take a look at www.sawasdee.com which is a Thai hotel booking site many of us use. See what places catch your eye.

In Bangkok, there are two Starwood properties I'd consider: the Royal Orchid Sheraton (stay in the Towers if you stay here) or the Sheraton Grand Sukhumvit. Bangkok is a fascinating city with lots to do and see. As you read others trip reports, you'll get lots of ideas.
Kathie is offline  
Jan 21st, 2008, 11:43 AM
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With 20,000 points, the best value is to stay in the Royal Orchid Sheraton. We always stay there and love it. the Towers will cost exztra points, so I would not do that. It cost 3-4,000 points per night.

With 14 days, I would spend them as follows:

BKK-3 days
Cambodia-4 days
Beach-5 days
BKK-2 days

You have to fly in and out of BKK. Splitting your time there in front and back keeps you from staying at the airport and wasting a day.

You can probably figure out that I'm recommending Cambodia over Chiang Mai. CM is pleasant, but Cambodia can be spectacular.

Gpanda is offline  
Jan 21st, 2008, 11:50 AM
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kathie and i almost always agree on things...and again we are in sync....i also dislike CM, but most here love it...lets look at things in a different way...

do you like ruins, ancient ruins?? this is all what siem reap is about...it is probably the most fantastic ruins in the world....if so, 3-5 days in SR is for you...but---there is not much else there really...the restaurants, bars, etc are not fantastic...etc, etc...

samui on the other hand is laid back, getting quite built-up, but still nice...it has activities, bars restaurants, all level of hotels....i prefer bophut area...i like the beach front bungalows at peace resort....15 min. walk to town with more rest, bars and some limited shopping....the "big" town is less than 25 minutes ride in a taxi...taxis are cheap...only one airline flies to samui and that is bangkok air...

starwood points...best deal in bkk is the royal orchid sheraton...next best is the le meridien plaza anthanee....there are a couple others too...go to the www.spg.com site to see....also check 'cash and points' stays,,,i have the PL AN for 2800 pts and $45 which is a steal in may...

the ROS is on the river however and most of us prefer river locations---i would suggest you try that...

there is a meridien in samui as well...

btw, april is the hottest month annually in thailand, and SR is even hotteralways get a hotel with a fantastic pool....

imo, i would fly to bkk, stay 4 days, go to samui for 4 days, and return to bkk for the duration..you will be losing about 3 days for overseas travel, and 1/2 day for internal travel within thailand with each move...

do some more looking and study and come back with more specicic questions for us...
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 21st, 2008, 12:37 PM
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With regard to Chiang Mai or Angkor, I will definitely agree with Kathie. For me too, it's a no-brainer.....Angkor wins hands down. The Angkor Complex is a jaw-dropping experience....that needs to be seen soon!!! Chiang Mai is certainly worth a visit....but not at the expense of Angkor.

As for your beach time..well Samui has never done it for us and weatherwise at Phuket in April....it's no problem!

My choice of beach location around here is well known on this board, so I wont mention it again....but my worldwide search to find somewhere to compare continues.


Bangkok....Siem Reap....and a paradise beach......just perfect.
LeighTravelClub is offline  
Jan 21st, 2008, 12:41 PM
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Leigh, would you go to the Phuket side in April, despite the start of the monsoons? Of course, earlier in April is better, but I've known people who have visited that side of the peninsula in April and the seas were so rough they really couldn't snorkel or go on the hong tours. And of course, getting to Phi Phi in bad weather can be... gut-wrenching.
Kathie is offline  
Jan 21st, 2008, 09:26 PM
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Kathie, yes I would visit Phuket in April.
High season is when (on average) you get the best weather - meaning more sun and less rain. This is approximately November to April. It can rain anytime, but the prevailing winds at this time are from the North East, bringing little in the way of storms and rain. Also it means that the west facing beaches in Phuket are sheltered and calm. So, this is when most of the tourists visit. It's also when all the hotels are more expensive!

Low season is from May to October when Phuket enters the South West monsoon season, meaning prevailing winds are from the South West, coming across the Indian Ocean bringing (on average) more rain than the high season. The winds also mean that the beaches are sometimes too rough for swimming. Many guidebooks and travel agents will tell you the weather is always bad at this time of year and many people believe it. Of course, thats nonsense.

Low season is a great time to visit Phuket and the rest of Thailand. That is, so long as you don't mind occasional rain and don't want to sit on a beach for 2 weeks. You'll get sun most of the time, most days are hot and you start to wish it WOULD rain just to cool things off! The rain that does fall mostly comes right at the start and end of the season.


You can do anything in low season that you can in high season. And there are advantages. Main advantage? HOTEL PRICES - a bargain can be had in the summer as hotels compete for limited numbers of guests. Big resorts drop prices dramatically, while cheap guesthouse rooms can be down to a couple of hundred Baht. Another plus - the colour Green - many locals call this time of year the Green season, as the rain that does fall is lapped up by the tropical plants that cover Phuket. Another plus - less crowds. Yep, this is not package tourist season, so you have more space to move, more room on the beach, less crowds at the main sights, less divers in the water, more breathing space in the restaurants.

Sure it rains sometimes, sure you will have wet and windy days now and then, but you get way more sun than rain.

Yes, you are quite right...early April will be better, and yes, there may be days when it's too choppy for snorkeling, and yes transfers to Phi Phi can sometimes be 'difficult', during low season. All that said, I still much prefer this part of Thailand at least in comparrison with Samui.
LeighTravelClub is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2008, 12:20 AM
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You should note that April is the hottest time of the year in Thailand with day time temps in excess of 40 C and humid.

Also, the Thai new year(Songkran) falls in the middle of April as well and you should take this into consideration.
Hanuman is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2008, 12:36 AM
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Further to my post - Songkran start on April 12 and officially will last until the 15th(in reality the celebration will continue until the 20th). If you're coming during that time make sure you do all your domestic flights arrangement NOW.

Bangkok will be deserted, Chiang Mai will be crazy with revelers and for the beaches(Phuket, Samui, Hua Hin etc) will be crowded with local holiday makers. Highways will be jammed and it's probably the peak time for road accident.

Lastly, during Songkran our neighbours(Kampuchia, Myanmar and Laos) will have the same new year celebration.
Hanuman is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2008, 10:38 AM
  #10  
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Wow!. First, a big thanks to everyone who replied. Please keep them coming.

I've decided to go with CM. The temple complex sounds really interesting, but I can picture myself being hot and tired, and wondering why I'm not taking a relaxing bike tour or something. I remember being in Rome in June several years ago, and looking at the ruins there and thinking that was too hot. And it'll be much hotter this trip.

For the itinerary, our flight gets into BKK fairly early in the morning on 4/15, so we're going to immediately transfer to a domestic flight to the South. We figure this saves us the hassle of going into the city and checking into a hotel for just 1 night. So over 14 days (not including overseas travel), we're thinking 5 days at the beach, and probably 4 days each at BKK/CM, with time for domestic travel making up the difference.

So on to the beach. I'll ask my fiancee her thoughts on the trade-off between the risk of rain vs. the low season crowds. I'll continue reading other posts on the board, and post back here with more questions.

Thanks again!


JoshMiller is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2008, 07:13 AM
  #11  
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Hi All,


After reading responses to other posts, it looks like the key is to be as specific as I can concerning what I'm looking for.

We're looking for a beach where we can get (inexpensive) massages every day, without the roar of jetskis and parasailers everywhere around us. Is that possible? I'm thinking the massages can be had at a relatively major resort, but that would bring the aqua sports and crowds and noise. I'm okay using our Starwood points at the beach hotel and staying somewhere more casual in BKK, but I'm worried that the major resorts would be really crowded and loud, and not very relaxing. On the other hand, I don't want a beach that's too isolated. In the words of one poster, we want "quiet, but not too quiet". Finally, wherever we are needs to have street vendors and authentic Thai food (the biggest reason I'm picked Thailand is the food- the biggest reason my fiancee picked it is the beaches).

We have no real preference between Krabi, Phuket and Samui (or some other, perhaps lesser known area) if it meets the above criteria. Our last beach vacation was to St John, USVI, which has gorgeous beaches, few crowds (except when the cruise ships come in), and is definitely too quiet a town for what we're looking for. Our beach vacation before that was South Beach (Miami), and that was too far the other way (crowds, tourists, bars). If it helps, we're both 28, so we're kind of between the 'drinking all night at the bar' age and the 'walk down the beach and go to bed early' age (if you'll pardon the stereotypes).

Josh
JoshMiller is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2008, 12:11 PM
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O.K. Josh, I still say go for Phuket.
TwinPalms Resort, Surin Beach, may be just what you are looking for!

One of Phuket's fanciest places, the rather swish Twin Palms Resort is a 5 Star Boutique Resort with brilliant modern tropical interiors - fabulous restaurants - enormous swimming pools - lushly landscaped tropical water gardens... "Phuket’s most exciting and stylish contemporary hotel". I have never heard or read a bad review of this resort, located on Surin Beach, which despite development is still a quiet place to stay. TwinPalms manages to have all the facilities, be in a great location and still can be described as a "getaway". Slightly off the beaten track, which is just how I like it!

I think it might fit the bill for you. Here's a link

http://www.twinpalms-phuket.com/
LeighTravelClub is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2008, 04:43 PM
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Kata Beach or Kata Noi in Phuket ticks all your boxes. Crowds are starting to dissapate a bit by April so you wont be overrun and the weather is still good. Beach is beautiful and the sea is still not too rough at that time of year.
shanek is offline  
Jan 24th, 2008, 11:22 AM
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Hi Leigh,
Thanks for the suggestion, but it looks like I left 'price' out of my criteria list. The TwinPalms looks great, but at ~10k baht a night, it's a little steep for me. The Sheraton resorts are in my budget only because of our Starwood points. Otherwise, I'm hoping to stay under $100 a night.

Some more criteria for the hotel:
- While we expect to spend most of the day lying on the beach, I don't want to have to race to the pool in the morning to get a chair.
- A sufficient number of off-property restaurants and bars around
- Easy walk to the beach (I understand that few properties on Phuket are on-beach).

With more research, I've been looking at Koh Lanta. It sounds like it might border on 'too quiet', but I figure we'll have the 2nd week of the trip in BKK and CM, and that'll be much more active, so there's nothing wrong with a fairly quiet island.

Any opinions on that? Since this has gotten off of my original topic, should I repost under a new heading?

Josh
JoshMiller is offline  
Jan 24th, 2008, 11:56 AM
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And one final question (for now):

My fiancee has a truly amazing ability to attract mosquitoes. She gets bitten multiple times while I don't even notice there are bugs around. Is there an area or beach I should pay more attention to, or stay away from, because of the mosquitoes there?
JoshMiller is offline  
Jan 24th, 2008, 06:51 PM
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don't forget to look at starwood properties with cash and points awards---amazing low requirements
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 25th, 2008, 06:45 AM
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Thanks for the suggestion rhkmhk, but the Starwood properties seem to be mostly in BKK. Re the ones at the beach, I'm concerned they'll be mega resorts, with lots of jet skis and tourists, and even worse, not many off-resort restaurants and bars around. One thing I know i don't want is to be forced to eat at the resort restaurants for a week.
JoshMiller is offline  
Jan 25th, 2008, 10:23 AM
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A quick update:

I made the mistake of telling my fiancee I was looking at some smaller hotels, since the bigger ones are out of our price range, and she 'decided' for us that we should stay at one of the Starwood properties. I can't really complain, since I'd been dithering around for awhile, so I made us a reservation (using points) at the Khao Lak Meridien.

For anyone following along at home, the Starwood website said it wasn't available 4/15-4/21, but the phone agent had no problem with it. Is that common?

Now I'll look just at the other Starwood properties, although in an effort to save some points for ROS in BKK, we'll probably stay with the Meridien.

Thanks everyone for your input!

josh
JoshMiller is offline  
Jan 25th, 2008, 05:14 PM
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many fodotites have had trouble with both the 800 # and the internet...it seems to be hit or miss....send an e mail directly to the hotel and make sure to always tell them it is your honeymoon...
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 27th, 2008, 08:00 AM
  #20  
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Thanks, will do.
JoshMiller is offline  

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