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Trip plans to SE Asia for 2014 coming together! Int'l flights purchased!

Trip plans to SE Asia for 2014 coming together! Int'l flights purchased!

May 21st, 2013, 04:00 PM
  #1  
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Trip plans to SE Asia for 2014 coming together! Int'l flights purchased!

So our next trip is seriously in the works!

We will be going to Thailand (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai/Mae Salong), Laos (Luang Prabang) and end in Cambodia (Siem Reap). Reservations are almost done!

Flight is open jaw on Korean Air. We fly JFK-Bangkok, returning Siem Reap-JFK.
Hotels are mostly reserved:

-Bangkok (4 nghts) Centre Point Silom (used AA miles for this)
-Chiang Mai (4 nights) - Baan Orapin
-Chiang Rai (2 nights) - Baan Malai (a new, small guest house in town- basic, but convenient to town activities, which is important to me as we'll be there for a brief time)
-Mae Salong (1 night) - Little Home guest house (too early to reserve for January -- I actually called last night and was told to call back in October!)
-Chiang Khong- 1 night - Teak garden hotel
-Nagi of Mekong boat cruise/stopover in Pak Beng
-Luang Prabang (3 nights) Apsara
-Siem Reap - (4 nights) Golden Temple Hotel

I have booked the guide, Jermsak, for 3 days in Chiang Rai! Details to be worked out later, but I'm very excited to have him to explore this area. I've read a lot about him, and how he really made the touring wonderful.

I'll buy the internal flights shortly (Bangkok-Chiang Mai, Luang Prabang-Siem Reap) but won't be eligible for the discovery pass as these will be the only internal flights I have.

Now I can plan the "trimmings", ie, decide whether to get a guide/driver in Bangkok & Chiang Mai; decide which elephant camp in CM to visit; etc, but these things I can take my time with.

Now I have to get back to the rest of my life, especially as I'm entering a busy work period. I'm glad to get the foundation of the trip taken care of! Now I'm really getting excited about the trip!

Paule
progol is offline  
May 21st, 2013, 04:24 PM
  #2  
 
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Congratulations on making your international flight reservations for your SE Asia trip for next year! What a wonderful destination! You will love the Golden Temple in Siem Reap. We really enjoyed our stay there. Happy planning!
wkwb42a is offline  
May 21st, 2013, 04:55 PM
  #3  
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Thank you! I'm so excited that we wil really be doing this trip! Nice to hear that you enjoyed your stay at Golden Temple, too. They were very responsive to,a few questions I had as well.
progol is offline  
May 21st, 2013, 06:37 PM
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It sounds like a wonderful trip!
Kathie is offline  
May 22nd, 2013, 02:19 AM
  #5  
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Thanks, Kathie! I think it does, too!
progol is offline  
May 22nd, 2013, 04:39 AM
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Very excited for you. This trip will be terrific. May I suggest that you purchase the nancy chandlers maps for both Bangkok and Chiang Mai. We purchased the one for Bangkok in advance and it gave me a greater perspective on where tourist sites were located so I could plan what to do each day. I regretted not getting the map of Chiang Mai in advance. Also, while you can tour on Bangkok on your own easily, our day out to the floating market with tong was delightful and one of the highlights of our trip as we tastes foods and experiences things we would not have, had we gone there on our own or with a tour group.
Can't wait to hear more upon your return!
dgunbug is offline  
May 22nd, 2013, 01:33 PM
  #7  
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Thanks, dgunbug. In my admittedly obsessive planning & organizing, I've already gotten both of the Nancy Chandler maps. So much fun to look at - they really do give a good feeling for the cities. Of course the test will be when we're there, but they are really fun to look at.

Thanks for the suggestion of the tour with tong to the floating market. I've been wondering whether it's worth it to do or way too commercial. We'll be in Bangkok during the weekdays so won't be able to get to any weekend market. Did you do a full day tour?
progol is offline  
May 22nd, 2013, 01:40 PM
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This sounds somewhat like the trip I'm trying to plan!

What time of year do you plan on going? We're going in February, which is good for some places, but terribly hot in others.
WWanderer is offline  
May 22nd, 2013, 01:49 PM
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We're going mid-January through the first week of February.
progol is offline  
May 22nd, 2013, 02:24 PM
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So glad you are moving along! There was a lovely coffee shop in Mae Salong that had new "cottages" not far from Little Home (where we stayed) that I think would be a quieter location. We will try to find the name...
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May 22nd, 2013, 02:24 PM
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Personally I was not a great fan of the weekend market and with so little time in Bangkok, I would have omitted it from my itinerary anyway. We spent an entire day with tong - you can click on my name and read my trip report. We started early in the morning, made merit with the monks, visited the floating market, picked up bananas, drove the the railroad market (worthwhile) and then to pick up a small boat that took us through mangroves where we fed monkeys, saw cockle & mussel farming, and had a sumptuous lunch at a stilted house on the water. The day was such fun, although I could have done with a bit less time feeding the monkeys and perhaps skipped the lunch. It was a beautiful atmosphere though, in a private stilted shelter. Tong was a joy to be with. We would never have sampled the assorted foods she purchased for us from the floating village, had she not been with us and it was a wonderful introduction to new foods and unusual fruits. IMO you can tour Bangkok on your own, so I would use tong only for a day outside the city.
dgunbug is offline  
May 22nd, 2013, 03:02 PM
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Many thanks for both your suggestions!

virginiafish, I'm already in the process of reserving a room at Little Home, but if you do think of the name of the other place, I'd love to look into it. On TA, I remember reading that there are quieter bungalows in the back. Does that seem possible? If not, we'll survive one night with ear plugs.

dgunbug, thank you so much for that wonderful description of your tour with tong. It's exactly the type of thing I'm looking to do, and I'll have to look at your report (again) and then see if I can coordinate with Tong. It sounds like a lot of fun - though I agree with you about the monkey-feeding. Having just been to India (your report from India helped me enormously!), I'm not romantic about monkeys these days!

Again, thanks all for the help! I so appreciate all the wonderful ideas from all of you here on the board.
progol is offline  
May 22nd, 2013, 06:47 PM
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We also arranged our tours with Tong for our time in Thailand this past January. The train market was amazing and most unusual, and we also loved our afternoon at Tong's "secret destination", all of which dgunbug described so well above. (Please read my TR). It was helpful to have a guide in BKK also to accompany us to the wats and explain many things. We enjoyed of course exploring on our own on other days. At that time, Tong, herself, was not tour-guiding due to health reasons; but her tour guides were excellent. I recommend the Jim Thompson House, as well as lunch in their restaurant(pomelo salad)! Upon our return home, we read The Secret Agent by Francine Mathews, a novel based on the life of Jim Thompson. We had such an appreciation of the vivid details and description of Bangkok (in the book), having just spent a memorable time there. The advice given by so many people on this travel forum contributed greatly to the enjoyment and success of our SE Asia trip!
wkwb42a is offline  
May 22nd, 2013, 06:58 PM
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Sounds like a great trip! We'll be in BKK mid January also.
yestravel is offline  
May 22nd, 2013, 07:58 PM
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Sounds like a great trip. Good luck and enjoy
Simond01 is offline  
May 23rd, 2013, 02:44 AM
  #16  
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Thanks everyone! I'm really excited about this trip. Can't wait -- but at last I can still plan!

Yestravel, when will you be there? We will be arriving on Jan 19.
progol is offline  
May 23rd, 2013, 03:25 AM
  #17  
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Wk, I just looked at your TR -- very helpful! I will definitely contact Tong at some point for at least one full day tour, maybe two. The trip to the train & floating market as well as the "secret destination" sound terrific. And having a knowledgeable guide taking one through the wats is invaluable. I like the khlong tour as well.

Your description of the Golden Temple Hotel also influenced my choice!
progol is offline  
May 23rd, 2013, 03:54 AM
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dgunbug,
I just looked at your TR - looks like I'm following in your footsteps (though I won't have nearly as much time in the different locations).

Great to read about Korean Air and how comfortable steerage is, too! Did you fly home from Siem Reap? We will be leaving very late that day and was curious if you did a day's touring on that last day. I suspect that we'll need to have a day to relax, but will definitely have a full day before leaving.

Paule
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May 23rd, 2013, 04:00 AM
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We arrive in BKK on January 17 and leave on Jan 23. Maybe we could meet up. You may have read our TR from 2012 - we did a very similar trip to the one you are planning. We loved it!
yestravel is offline  
May 23rd, 2013, 04:16 AM
  #20  
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yestravel,

We'll definitely be there at the same time, though you'll be rested by the time we arrive! That would be wonderful to meet up!
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