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Thailand trip report

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Aug 10th, 2014, 09:13 PM
  #1
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Thailand trip report

We are leaving Thailand today and I thought I'd write up my trip report before we return to the States. My reports are always meant to help others planning a similar trip so I stick to the trip itself.

We spent about 13 days in Thailand. It was our first experience of the Asian continent. We usually travel to the Middle East and/or Europe. All in all, the Thai people are very respectful and friendly (minus some exceptions we encountered in Bangkok). We thought we loved Thai cuisine but after eating it nonstop for over two weeks we are so done with it . On this trip, we used Bangkok Airways (great airline and your only choice to fly from Bangkok to Koh Samui, I think) and Asia Air (a budget airline company, they were never on time, ever, but we got where we were going so that's fine). All our hotels were from Starwood (hubby is a SPG member, great membership program).

Bangkok: it's a huge city, very crowded, lots of traffic but there's lots to do. We went to the Royal Palace (a must when you are here, but you don't actually go inside the palace- allow a few hours for this. It was so hot so bring your water!), Wat pho (and got massages at the school there, highly recommend), did the ferry boat ride on the tourist boat (the river is polluted and smelly and disgusting but you must do to get a nice overview of the riverside sights) and went "shopping" at MBK (huge mall with knock off stuff, think "made in China" luxury fakes) and hubby went to China Town (I was so done with the "smells" that I decided to skip). We stayed at Sheraton riverside and I highly recommend you stay Riverside in Bangkok. There are metered taxis (make sure they turn on their meters and have your hotel call for them). At the airport, make sure you take the public metered taxis to your hotel. You'll pay for any tolls but it's a pretty cheap ride to your hotel so no need to schedule any limo or anything like that. Our stomachs tend to be very sensitive so we stay away from street food but just use the rule "if it's crowded, it's safe to eat". There are hoardes of Chinese tourists (stereotype I've developed and am trying to rid myself of "Chinese don't cover their hands when they cough" ugh . I'd give Bangkok a C+ as a tourist. We love green spaces and love walking in clean, historic neighborhoods. Bangkok doesn't fit that description.

Koh Samui: We spent 4 days here and would give it a B+ (we've been to some amazing Islands so it's those islands I'm comparing it to). We took the tour to the national park (Ang Thong) and did kayaking, snorkeling, hiking up to the lagoon, etc. It's pretty much the same packaged tour everyone does. You schedule it from your hotel. That was a lovely day out that we enjoyed. We didn't care for the food. The one pet peeve I've had in Thailand is whenever we got fed by these tour groups, we'd get simultaneously attacked by bees and flies. How does one eat outside in this country with out being attacked by insects? We went to Chaweng Beach (and frankly would advise that you situate yourself on that beach- stay away from Lamai- it's rocky and you really can't swim in it). We stayed at the Le Meridian on Lamai beach which sucked (the hotel we loved, the beach ehhh). However, we were a short cab ride away from Chaweng Beach so that was fine. Chaweng beach is sandy and the water is turquoise blue (not like Hawaii but it's decent). The thing with Thailand is that everything is relatively cheaper than what you would get in the States. That's why people enjoy it so much. The sea food was good on the island and the people were very friendly and kind. We did an island tour and went to the "muslim area". That was pretty depressing to see so I'll skip those details. The island is meant to relax and do nothing pretty much so that's what we did.

Chiang Mai: We took Air Asia to eventually get to Chiang Mai (B). We spent 4 days here and again took the packaged tour from the hotel for trekking, elephant rides, bamboo rafting (my favorite part after the elephant ride) and waterfalls. My son almost died on this trip. He climbed wet rocks next to the water fall (after I repeatedly warned him not to). Of course, everyone else was doing the same thing. Thank God he was able to stop his fall down the rocks. Otherwise, the day was pleasant. We loved the elephants and feeding them. We visited Oasis spa one day for a relaxing spa treatment that would have cost 5xs the price in the states. We also visited a bunch of temples in the old city as well as the Doi Southep one on the mountain. The view of the city from the mountain was beautiful. We stayed at the le meridian which we highly recommend for location and service. We took a few tuk tuks (you must negotiate with them) and those were fun to ride in this city. The night market was right in front of our hotel so we were out there a few nights too. honestly, I'm not much of a shopper and I prefer "quality" over what I consider to be junk "quantity" so the night market (and shopping in Thailand, in general) weren't my cup of tea.

I believe that pretty much sums up Thailand for us. All in all, I think Thailand was ok for me. Maybe I'm spoiled from all the other amazing trips we've had (went to Italy last year) but Thailand just seemed to be overrated (IMO). I left out a lot of the details (don't want to bore you and just wanted to be helpful for others). It's a place where you can do pretty much anything for much less $. Let me know if you have any questions, I'm happy to help.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 02:48 AM
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Those places are overrated. Samui and CM would not make my top 10 in Thailand.

Bangkok is a great city but it takes about 3 visits to get it. I hated it at first but now love it.

Samui is expensive by Thai standards.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 03:53 AM
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Prachuap- for a first timer to thailand, we are pretty much told to choose bangkok, chiang Mai and an island. I think it's a good intro but I agree they are overrated. It's like Italy- you're told Rome, Venice and Florence - though I loved the last two (didn't care for Rome), I'm glad we went to other places in Italy (but still wouldn't have missed these three places too).
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Aug 11th, 2014, 04:03 AM
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<<<...for a first timer to thailand, we are pretty much told to choose bangkok, chiang Mai and an island.>>>

It's a shame really, especially as there are plenty of other places which are just as easy to get to, are much less touristed, and are less claustrophobic. Places such as the Kanchanaburi area, Ayutthaya, Nong Khai, and Prachuap Khiri Khan [town].
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Aug 11th, 2014, 04:32 AM
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Told by whom?

Travel agent?

Better to read a guidebook or websites.

I liked Roma. Firenze was a bit boring.

I thought Italy was overrated. Very expensive rooms. Food bland.

Better pizzas outside Italy imo.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 06:48 AM
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Thanks for doing your report. I'm sorry you don't love Bangkok as much as many of us here love it. Maybe Prachuap has it correct that, for some folks, it takes several visits to appreciate it's appeal. I recall thinking I had made a bad choice on the first day of my first trip after I twisted my ankle on the uneven sidewalks within the first hour of touring! I've now made 35 trips to Bangkok and it feels like my second home.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 07:26 AM
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bkk does take some warming up to and a first visit usually doesn't that. I can't wait to get back there on each trip---#18 starts next month.

if you are basing your views on packaged tours offered in hotels, I can see why you did not like the food or sights. they are ok for an overview but don't represent the best the country has to offer.

by "royal palace" as you call it, I suspect you mean the grand palace. it is open daily to the public for a small fee and the sight is mind altering. certain parts are not open, but they are royal guest houses and/or royal residences.

maybe you mean the actual home of the king?? it is not open as is the case of most royal residences worldwide..
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Aug 11th, 2014, 08:23 AM
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Yes grand palace
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Aug 11th, 2014, 08:27 AM
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And we only took 2 packaged tours. The rest we did on our own.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 09:47 AM
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my take was that YOU did not really like Thailand, nor Italy for that matter either?? am I reading incorrectly..
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Aug 15th, 2014, 02:44 PM
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Sad to hear you took a Elephant ride.t
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Aug 15th, 2014, 02:53 PM
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If I may folks please, please do your home work re. Elephants!.Go to a rescue site like The Elephant Nature Park out side of Chang Mai.No hooks, no chains,no circus acts just kindness!
A American couple donated the land where the park is.Ive been 3 times now.Love, love, love it.

The back of a Elephant is all bones unlike a horse!Many of these Elephants are abused
All about the money in Thailand and else where.
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Aug 15th, 2014, 04:14 PM
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I concur with zoso. I don't blame people especially, since not everyone is educated about what goes on to get an elephant to submit to tourist-related activities. Google "elephant crush", and you won't want to ride an ele or watch one paint ever again.

Loved, loved Elephant Nature Camp, zosa!! We stayed there a week and would love to return. They have a new program called Pamper a Pachaderm that looks fantastic.
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Aug 15th, 2014, 05:21 PM
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Make that Nature PARK -though it might feel like a camp to those rescued elephants!
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Aug 16th, 2014, 08:29 AM
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Elephants are much tougher than horses.
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Aug 16th, 2014, 12:36 PM
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Sadly, elephants are not that tough; certainly not tough enough to withstand being tortured for weeks on end to get them to be docile, then working nonstop logging or hauling around chair-loads of humanity, beaten daily with hooks, and oh so much more. ):
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Aug 17th, 2014, 05:30 AM
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So you have never seen a horse broken in.
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Aug 17th, 2014, 08:27 AM
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Yeah, Prachhuap, horse-back riding wasn't the subject, but I agree - that stinks too. "Horse whisperers" are introducing kinder ways of breaking horses for riding, but certainly there are still crueler methods being used.
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Aug 17th, 2014, 08:05 PM
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So you dont eat meat nor use leather products I take it.
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Aug 18th, 2014, 04:49 AM
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I don't, but I'm sure that in some way I've added to an animal's suffering over the years. ):
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