Trip Report Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai

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Feb 25th, 2008, 08:14 AM
  #1
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Join Date: Jun 2004
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Trip Report Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai

I just got back from China and Thailand yesterday and I would like to share my experience.
First of all I want to thank all of the Forum members for being so kind to share their information with me. I felt I was far more prepared. Thanks to all.
Now before I begin with details, let me summarize. I went to 4 places in three weeks, China, Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai. That gave me enough of what I wanted to see for a three week visit.
You will fall in love with the Thai people and Thailand; I wasnít impressed with China, especially the outer areas. Itís somewhat unsanitary and a little depressing, at least the non tourist areas. I have visited China before but never the outer areas where my son and his wife are in the Peace Corps.

OK let me begin with hotels. We stayed at the Oakwood Residence and Centerpoint Silom in Bangkok. Both properties were great; rooms spacious, Bkfst good, staff was somewhat helpful. I would recommend both and would stay in them again. Oakwood was a little off the busy area but wasnít a problem at all.

Let me stop for a second to explain something. I believe Thai people want to be very accommodating so much so that they try not to disappoint in any way and that goes for trying to understand what you are saying. On more than a few occasions I asked for something and got a blank stare, acknowledgment, busy activity only to realize that in every case they didnít fully understand what I was saying. Whatever they say, do yourself a favor and be patient and repeat and confirm. Everyone speaks a little English but more than not something is lost in translation. If you ask for your room key and the clerk pulls your hotel file and begins looking through it, she didnít understand you, try again.

Bangkok, was busy but not as crazy as I thought it would be - not nearly as bad as Naples or Rome. Whatever you do donít think of driving itís not worth the aggravation. Taxis are pretty bad. They try to scam you about 60% of the time. We had some drivers refuse to turn on the meter after they told us they would, and just started driving, some changing the agreed upon price after about a mile driving, one driver got aggressive and we had to call the airport police to settle. He wanted more than the amount that was on the meter. We got stuck in the north part of Bangkok one night and tried to get a taxi to take us to our hotel on the south side, good luck, most just refused at any price. Transportation has got to be the biggest concern and problem. Let me also clarify that we were 6 adults and that meant two taxis everywhere.
Didnít see many scams, maybe a few attempts but we were forewarned and didnít fall prey. Not a problem.
Throughout Thailand you will see Tuk Tuks trying to offer rides, massage places, three to a block as well as tailor shops. If you want a massage or a tailored suit, you will be in a happy place. Both are cheap.
The sky tram is the way to go and easy to get around. You will be walking a lot, so bring comfortable shoes.
Restaurants are cheap or expensive. Every western, hotel or tourist restaurant was expensive. We had a beer at Lebua for $13 each and around the corner at a local Irish pub the same beer was $2. Rule of thumb follow the locals. We ate at a lot of no names, food was good, some great all cheap. Never got sick in BKK. Ate at Pepperoniís in the Narai hotel on Silom Rd., donít waste your time food is mediocre and expensive.
One very important thing if you are a wine lover you will be very disappointed. Wine is extremely expensive and very low quality. Donít be surprised to pay $50 for a bottle with half the quality of 2 buck Chuck, and that goes for all of Thailand.
Youíll do massages daily or at least every other day and wonder how you lived without them. Very cheap $7 to $12 per.
Shop the night markets and start by halving the offered price, shopping is everywhere and constant, if you like that, your in heaven. Be prepared to bargain.

Phuket, has a real resort feel to it. There are two Phukets, the one for locals and the one for tourists. There isnít much going on in the local areas, but the tourist areas are hopping. Shopping is everywhere. We rented a car and learned to drive on the left side of the road. Itís pretty scary and I wouldnít suggest it. We did it because we wanted to drive around the island and visit Phuket town, which wasnít worth going to. Very mountainous and curvy roads. We stayed at The Orchidacea Resort in Kata Beach. This is a very nice place but it is built on the side of a mountain and it is full of stairs, and no elevators. Very uncomfortable and because of that I would not recommend this hotel. We ate at the hotel restaurant, very good. Bkfst at the hotel was good not great, no complaints. Kata and Karon beaches are both nice and I would prefer them over Patong beach.
We met Richard and Megume who own a dive and excursion business and were very gracious people and informative. These people will help you and I would contact them if you need anything.
We took an excursion with Captain Mark on his sailing boat exploring caves and outer islands. We had a lot of fun and recommend him as well. We did find the massage shop that some forum members spoke about only identifying the shop as the pink ladies - itís called Khum Nom Massage opposite Central resort. I must say it was the best massage I had in Thailand. Thai massage 1 hr 200 bth or about $7US.
We ate at a great place in Patong beach. It was an Indian restaurant called Dubai - Indian Arabic and Seafood, good food, good location had fun and I would recommend it.
The reality is that there are so many restaurants so just look around for a place that fits your style look at the menu outside and give it a shot. I believe you canít go to wrong. Beaches were great, did a little parasailing had fun. Be careful, a lot of jelly fish are out there.

Chiang Mai was very nice. Taxi drivers were great, fair and honest, people were great. The main town is pretty close to the airport. We stayed at The Yaang Come Village . It was a great boutique hotel - the best we stayed at in Thailand. Only 42 rooms. I would definitely recommend this hotel.
We booked excursions with Sargent Kai and had a great time. We rode elephants, traveled down the river on bamboo rafts, hiked, and visited the Doi Suthep temple.
Everything was great, I recommend Sargent Kai and company. He will work with you to customize whatever it is you are interested in doing. Nooy was our guide for both of our tours which included trips to the markets - she was more than great, ask for her if you book with him. We also attended a cooking class with Yui of the A Lot of Thai school. We had a lot of fun and would recommend this to anyone. Yui was a wonderful teacher and I would go again.
The Sunday market was very busy and a ton of fun.
We ate at Dukes a good place for western food, good burgers and ribs. Sometimes Thai food can make you appreciate a good steak. There is a shopping Mall there and the prices are as expensive or more than the US malls.
One note if you are planning a similar trip you may want to reverse the air travel. There are no direct flights from Phuket to Chiang Mai, but there are direct flights from Chiang Mai to Phuket. So go BKK to Chiang Mai to Phuket to BKK, it will save some time and an extra flight.
There were a lot of mosquitoes and you will get bit, so bring repellent to minimize the bites.

Thanks again to all of you for sharing info with us, it did make a difference.
If you want further details I would be happy to provide what you need just email me at
[email protected]
marvontherim is offline  
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Feb 25th, 2008, 08:28 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 6,664
Great report and timely too. No penalty. Did Nooy have Red Rat with her? She was a great guide for us in 2004.

Gpanda is offline  
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Feb 25th, 2008, 06:03 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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good report, thanks
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