Unsolicited info for Thailand and Hanoi

Nov 13th, 2004, 12:29 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7
Unsolicited info for Thailand and Hanoi

We just returned from a couple weeks in Thailand and Hanoi, Vietnam. I wanted to post a little info on accomodations and other bits.
Bangkok -- We stayed at The Rembrant Hotel at Sukumvik soi 18. A very nice hotel. We paid about $55US a night. Comfortable king bed, great bathroom, very clean. There is large pool and good facilities. The breakfast (get it included in your rate - asiahotels.com) was fantastic. It is 650THB, about $16.50US if it isn't in your rate. It is close to the Asoke station of the skytrain, lots of internet cafes and Soi Cowboy, if that is your thing. The taxi ride to/from the airport isn't more than 200THB.
General stuff. I got some great tailored clothes at Rajas's Fashions (Sukumvit soi nana 4). He gives you "free" drinks while you wait. My friend got 5 suits, ten shirts and a couple sport coats for about $1200US.
Watch the taxi drivers. They don't want to run with the meter on and when they do it sometimes mysterously fails in the middle of the ride. Just demand they turn it back on and if they don't, get out. There are plenty of honest drivers. Some stuff as any other big city. You will definitely feel as if you are going to crash, but the drivers are very good and there seems to be an etiquette to the chaos. Same in Hanoi.
See the Grand Palace, Wat Arun, and the others. Try to get to Chatachak (sp?) Market. Open on the weekends and the skytrain goes right to it. I forget which stop, but the hotel will be able to tell you.
Drink lots of water. It was hot and my spouse got dehydrated and we had to call a doctor to the hotel. On a saturday night, he came with a nurse, arrived in 35 minutes, stayed for two hours, gave her two IV drips and a bunch of pills for about $125US. Try that in the states!
Tipping was by discretion. Some help acted suprised and grateful when you left them a 100THB tip on a dinner for four people. Others were accustomed to it, especially in the more "western" places. 10% seemed to be about right. Restaurants and taxis are the only two places I remember tipping. It didn't seem appropriate anywhere else.
We read alot about the violence in the south. I would be very suprised if the Thai government allowed this to go on much longer, if they can help it. We never felt threatened and had no fear of it spreading, although things do change. I am also suprised that these events are taking place. The Thais seem to be very peaceful and non-confrontational. Just be aware of your surroundings and be careful.
Sukothai -- We stayed at the Royal Orchid, only one night. Beds are hard as rocks, but it is worth it. A really nice break from the big city. About a 30 minute flight from Bangkok.
Mae Hong Son -- Very close to the Burma (Myanmar) border, 30 minutes NW of Chang Mai and you have to go through Chang Mai if you fly. Great little town. Lots of good food, nice sights, great market (mornings are best) and wonderful people.
We stayed at the Fern Resort. I highly recommend it. It is located on old rice fields, bring your bug spray. It is 7 kilometers from the small town. You can rent motorbikes, 125cc, for about 150-180THB/day. This is the best way to get around if you aren't going to stay around town. There are lots a expeditions you can take, up to several days in the jungle.
Back to the resort. The staff at the Fern are fantastic. They have a clan of dogs that run around. They are very nice animals, but some people were reluctant to accept them. They hang out in the restaurant, around the cabins, and will take you on a hike. The food at the resort is very good. The breakfast is simple, but enough. There is a pool and BBQ pit.
The food and market in town is good. Alot like the rest we saw in Thailand. Becareful if you are feeling brave and ask for your food "Thai style". Hot, Hot, Hot.
Hanoi, Vietnam -- Typical of a of a city in a long repressed country. Dusty and dirty, honking horns ALL day and night. Things are very inexpensive. The food we had was great.
We stayed at the Lucky2 Hotel. Our reservations were for the Lucky Hotel. When we arrived they said they didn't have room for us in the Lucky, so they moved us to the Lucky2, which was brand new. This was not a problem. Although, be careful. I heard stories about drivers taking the travelers to a different place and messing with them. Make sure you have the address and, if possible, a contact name. The two Lucky hotels are within one block of each other. They are in OldTown, clost to HCM Masoleum (sp?). We never did get in, and noone would/could tell us why it was closed. English is hard to come by, so be prepared when you are trying to get somewhere.
If you like coffee, I have never had any better than in Hanoi. It is probably the condensed milk, but it was really good.
Taxis are fine, but same applies. Watch them. We didn't have any problems with taxis or otherwise.
Take a trip to Halong Bay. It is about a 4 hour bus ride, and then whatever time on the boat in the bay, and then back. We did it in one day 9Am-9PM. It was alot for one day and there are plenty of accomodations in Halong City, so consider taking a night there. It is a small place, but looked to be worth a day or two.
We booked our trip to HB through the hotel. You may find a better provider, but for the $20US/person, I thought it was fine. Some people complained of the food, the amount of time the boat sat idle instead of moving through the different areas of the bay. All in all, I think it was worth the money. Try to catch a clear day, if you can. We went out when it was hazy and it was hard to see anything from a distance.
I hope this is helpful to those who may be going there. If you have a question, I will be happy to answer you.
Happy travels and tread lightly!

thartnett is offline  
Nov 13th, 2004, 01:02 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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nice report...you covered quite a bit of territory...did you eat at the rembrandt...the mexican and indian restaurants there are very good...
rhkkmk is offline  
Nov 14th, 2004, 10:52 AM
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No. We didn't eat at either. We always seemed to be out and about. Everyone said the Indian Food was "The Best in Thailand".
thartnett is offline  
Nov 14th, 2004, 11:36 AM
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you missed two good places....were the rooms decent...there have been mixed reports?? what about the pool
rhkkmk is offline  
Nov 14th, 2004, 12:11 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
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Thartnett, great trip report! Just wondering...how many days and fittings did it take for your friend to get his suits and sport coats made while in Bangkok?

Also, we will be visting Hanoi in December. Did you have any problems with ATMs there? On average, how much did you spend each day on meals? I'm trying to get an idea of how much money we'll need in Hanoi.
Gecko is offline  
Nov 14th, 2004, 08:42 PM
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meals are pretty cheap in most rest...i suggest at least 2 or 3 fittings...that's what my tailor does...i think on my last sport coat i have 4 or 5...i am difficult to fit...big..
rhkkmk is offline  
Nov 15th, 2004, 04:54 PM
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The pool was real good in Mae Hong Son and at the Rembrant in Bangkok.

It took my friend 4 fittings to get his suits just how he wanted.

I think I spent $150US in Hanoi in 3 and a half days. We ate out, drank, went to some sites that had a small admission fee, taxis. You could easily do it cheaper if you need to. ATM's are fine. I was able to get money out of a machine that appeared not to be on the same network (Exchange). There are a couple banks around the lake closest to the old town, by the big post office.
thartnett is offline  
Nov 16th, 2004, 09:04 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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The de-hydration situation justs points out that 1) you need to take it easy and 2) give serious consideration to having a driver at your disposal. For the $125 spent on the doctor- this person could have hired a driver for 4 hours per day for 6 days!
BillT is offline  

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