two week trip advice- thailand

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Oct 8th, 2003, 07:39 AM
  #1
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two week trip advice- thailand

My husband and I are planning a two-week trip to Thailand to celebrate our 20th anniversary.
We've read many opinions on hotel choices in Bangkok but still cannot decide- we have a very good rate from the Regent. We would have to pay $85.00 more to stay at Sheraton Royal Orchid. Should we pay more for Sheraton just to be located on the river? We will spend 3 full days in Bangkok. Two days touring the city, temples, grand palace, shopping etc.
One day we would like to venture out of Bangkok and are thinking about going to the floating market. Also we hear much about Ayutthaya. Is it possible (and does it make sense) to combine a day trip to both these areas?
Next we will go to Chiang Mai and do a 2 day trek (private). Are we going to be constantly approached to buy things and will this dominate our experience? We were hoping that on a private trek, the guide would be able to minimize this - are we fooling ourselves? After the trek we will stay one more day in Chiang Mai, hire a guide and see the SanKamphaeng area. We are interested in shopping for large wooden crafts (animals) any recommendations?
Finally we will spend 4 nights in Phuket - Hotel choice is between The Chedi (hillside room) or the Sheraton Laguna (garden view room). It will cost us about $100.00 more to stay at The Chedi. Is it worth it? We do not want to be surrounded by many hotels and thousands of tourists - we want to relax, lie on a beautiful beach, have access to good snorkeling, kayaking, sailing etc...
Next Phuket question - should we book day trips to Phi Phi over the internet or when we arrive? Same question about Phang Nga? Is it possible to hire private guide/kayak and which outfit is the best?
With all the information given above, do you think that we have approached a first time visit to Thailand properly?
We look forward to your replys, suggestions and comments
Thank you!
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Oct 8th, 2003, 08:35 AM
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With a private car and driver, I suppose that the floating market and Ayutthaya are possible in one day, but it might not be that relaxing.
As for getting hit up constantly in Chiang Mai, even with a reputable group tour, I don't believe that you will feel greatly pressured to buy, let alone face that on a constant basis. Even at the nite market, you'll find the vendors much more laid back and respectful in Chiang Mai.
As for your choice between the Chedi and the Sheraton, it's the Chedi no contest. While the Sheraton is nice, in the Laguna complex, and has monkey acts and baby elephants touring the grounds regularly, even our kids felt like we could be in Hawaii or Florida. The Chedi offers a far more private beach, without tacky vendors or food stands. You can even walk next door and have a relaxing meal or drink in pure luxury. Assuming that walking up and down stairs is not a problem (because there are a lot) try to get a beach front cottage. If going out to party is not a concern, you may even want to check out some places in Krabi instead.
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Oct 8th, 2003, 08:55 AM
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first time - I am wondering who you booked all of your private tours through - it will also be my first time in Feb.

Thanks
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Oct 8th, 2003, 09:20 AM
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Dear Lilly,
Our tours in Bangkok are group tours that have been arranged by our travel agent. However, I found a site that offered what looked like good 1/2 day tours - "www.thailand-luxury-hotels.com" check out the links to the sightseeing tours...For our day trip outside of Bangkok - I expect we will hire a guide with the help of the hotel conceirge.
The private trek is through our travel agent. Again we will hire in guide for our day in Chiang Mai upon our arrival with the help of the hotel if need be.
The details are sketchy and so I hope they are helpful.
For all of you out there sorry for posting my inital questions twice - I am new to this and made a mistake!
"Firsttime"
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Oct 8th, 2003, 11:07 AM
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When you say that you will have to pay $85 more to stay at the Sheraton Royal Orchid, is that for the entire stay or per night? The rates on the Starwood website start at only $115 per night. We are planning to stay there, as almost all of the posters here say to stay on the river, and the Royal Orchid generally gets good reviews.
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Oct 8th, 2003, 01:36 PM
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When initially planning our trip, our travel agent suggested a hotel (don't recall which) not on the river. However, I wanted River, so he suggested the Peninsula (and there are plenty of comments about the Pen on this board) - the rate is higher than what you seem to be paying at the Regent, but might be competitive with the Royal Orchid. We paid $140/nt w/ bkfst. though I believe it might be a little higher now. Check their site or any of the Asian hotel sites, or have your TA check.

The Pen is not to be missed, besides having been voted best hotel in Asia.
Amazing river views, large rooms, big beds, down duvets, biggest bathroom, excellent service. Check it out.

Whichever hotel you choose, they should be able to arrange a guide and driver (a/c car) to take you anywhere - The Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Arun Temple, Chinatown, Jim Thompson House, shopping. For the floating markets you have to get a very early start 6am to head south to Damneon Saduck - when finished here, you're usually back in BKK after lunch. And the hotel can arrange a trip to Ayutthaya.

I can't comment on trekking, but we didn't find too many people thrusting themselves at us to buy items (except outside The Grand Palace), though if you let your guide know in advance, they'll work with you.

We did stay at one of the Laguna Resorts Complex hotels and maybe we were lucky, but it wasn't crowded and not too many children. If you want something more private though, I'd go with the Chedi. As far as sitting on the beach, do know that it is unbearably hot and humid, so be prepared to find shade regularly. We did go out on Phang Nga Bay one day (there are either kayak tours or on a Chinese Junk replica) which we enjoyed.

Any day trips can be arranged by your hotel, but why wait till you get there and waste time arranging things - if you're already using a TA, have them prebook tours in BKK, your trekking and in Phuket, so you don't find yourself locked-out.
 
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Oct 8th, 2003, 01:40 PM
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Dear Richard,
The $85.00 difference was per night - we were able to get a terrific deal at the Regent. For the Sheraton I was given the rate of $160 + taxes, service & gratituty = $196. I just checked the web site and was given the rate of $125.00 + taxes etc.. = $154.00. This is only $35.00 more than the Regent - So the question remains - do I pay more to stay on the water at the Sheraton or take advantage of the great rate at the Regent?
Opinions are wanted - thanks!
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Oct 8th, 2003, 05:11 PM
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We were just in Thailand this spring and went to Bangkok & Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai & Phuket. We stayed at the Peninsula Bangkok which was the best. Great view of the river, large, well-appointed rooms, wonderful breakfast, great service & water shuttle to metro stn. We found a deal online for about $150 and it was definitely worth it. Can't say for the Sheraton or Regent.

For Ayutthaya, we took the train on our own so as not to be rushed. If you take the train, make sure to ask for a first class seat, regular class does not have AC (although it was extremely cheap). Even first class was cheap. We took a tuk tuk from the train to the temples and around the temples for the day. It ended up being much cheaper than joining the package tours where they give you only 10 minutes at each stop.

In Phuket we stayed in a Hillside room at the Chedi, and it was great, very relaxing. The beach is shared with the Amanpuri hotel so not very crowded. The restaurants are good and you can walk over to Amanpuri for dinner as well. The hotel offers a shuttle (for fee) into Patong or Phuket town if you want the nightlife and more restaurant choices. But the hillside room required a lot of walking to get to the beach and lobby so be prepared for stairs. We also considered one of the Laguna hotels but heard it was very busy with families, may not be the most romantic atmosphere.

We did a sea kayak tour in Phang Nga Bay with the John Gray company (http://www.johngray-seacanoe.com/) that was great, small group & they basically take care of everything. We booked online before we left. They took great care of us, each couple gets a guide that paddles for you. We got to see the different hongs & caves on the tour. They include dinner in the tour. We had a lot of fun.

We also did a Phi Phi island snorkeling trip but that wasn't so much fun. There was little time for snorkeling, the group was huge, and it felt very rushed. It sounded like all the tours were similar, so just don't expect too much snorkel time. We booked our tour through the Chedi. We heard some others in our group who booked in town and were able to bargain the rates down.

Good luck with your planning & have a great trip!
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Oct 8th, 2003, 06:35 PM
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Yes, stay on the river. I always stay at the Royal Orchid, and I highly recommend getting a Towers Room. Your full breakfast, cocktails and hors d'ouvres and even laundry are included in your room rate. the rooms have nice amenities and are on the top floors.

I also recommend waiting until you are in Thailand to books "tours" and I recommend that you get a car and driver (and guide, if necessary), and not go on a formal tour.

Ayutthaya and the floating market really don't work as a day trip together. Expect to take the whole day for Ayutthaya, and you can do the floating market in a half day, if you wish. Personally, I'd skip the floating market and spend your other two days in Bangkok in the city - there is so much to do and see. I've been to Bangkok well over a dozen times and I always spend at least 4 or 5 days there.
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Oct 8th, 2003, 08:09 PM
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staying on the river gives you a whole different view of bangkok and one that i think is essential...at the prices you have quoted i would stay at the peninsula...i don't like the sheraton and unless you are going to be in their high end rooms its not worth the money---its just like an convention sheraton around the world....the pen is different and memorable...should be able to get it for $170 or 180...maybe even a small package...look at their site....

i would not combine the two outside bkk trips....i would skip ayu....i can never spell it...go for the floating market and go early via private car and skip all the other stops they make....you can do it in 1/2 day....spend the rest shopping....outside of bkk is not too interesting to look at so you won't miss anything....take a klong boat tour on a long tail boat for about 2-3 hours through thornburi...hotel will ararange it for you and if you stay on the river they will pick you up there...

cm looks good...visit the elephants just outside town??
shopping
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Oct 8th, 2003, 08:11 PM
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i also ment to say that regent is very nice and in a good location, but not as interesting as on the river---its a 4 seasons.....good restaurants at regent--biscotti is one of our favorites and my wife likes spice market...haven't tried steak house....
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Oct 9th, 2003, 05:47 PM
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firstime-
Is your great Regent rate through their website, another one or your travel agent?
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