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upcoming Thailand & Japan trip questions

upcoming Thailand & Japan trip questions

Old Jul 11th, 2008, 12:09 AM
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upcoming Thailand & Japan trip questions

In November my wife and I will be traveling to Japan and Thailand for a total of 23 days in November 2008.

Our flights are:
USA > Osaka
Osaka > Tokyo
Tokyo > BKK
BKK > Chiang Mai
CM > Phuket
Phuket > BKK

Here are my questions:

1) Considering the number of the flights, would you recommend that we take one large check-in baggage for both of us (50lbs max, I think? or less/more?) +(and my backpack which carries laptop and dSLR) or should we just take 2 smaller carry-ons + (and my backpack with the laptop and dSLR)? Can we even take a total of 3 carry-ons?

I doubt that we need to take a lot of clothes with us, but I suppose larger baggage is useful for shopping for stuff. We do not plan to do any shopping for brand names or suits. However, if I see nice authentic art, or jewelry and things that cannot be bought outside of japan and Thailand, I might want to buy some of those.

What would you recommend?

Is it easier to just check bags in? or carry-on without having to wait for baggage carousel.

Never traveled to Asia, I'm not sure what the customs will be like, do they go through carry-ons by hand or x-ray only?

Have you ever tried to ship things that you have bought in thailand or japan to home, so that you don't have to carry it around with you?
I have done this once in Europe, and it was helpful to unload the unnecessary clothes and gifts and have them shipped home. So, maybe I can ship some stuff home from BKK? would you recommend? is it expensive from Thailand to ship a big box home? what service would you use? Fedex/UPS or there is a cheaper (secure) version?

Do you know what is the weather like in Japan & Thailand in November? I'm sure its hot in Thailand, so shorts and shirts should be good. But how about Japan. Any insights and tips would be appreciated.

For those of you who're into photography, would you recommend that I take my canon 40D dSLR + 1 or 2 lenses? It's pretty big, but quality of photos will be much better (than if I take a small P&S).
Thankfully my backpack has a nice space for both my laptop and the dSLR.

Do I need to buy a power outlet converter for japan and thailand? Mainly for camera battery charger and laptop/cellphone charger.

Should I take my At&t cell phone with me and use roaming or buy a local SIM card?

Have you used the Iphone in thialand or japan? is it possible to get internet on it, like we do in the states? (the maps feature might be very useful, if yes)

things like toiletries, suntan lotions, hair products and creams and what not. Would you recommend buying those there or take with me?

mmm, ok I think those are all the questions I have

limens is offline  
Old Jul 11th, 2008, 12:42 AM
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1. 3 carry on bags would be difficult imo for several reasons. Carry on space is tight on most domestic flights in Japan and many in Thailand. And, all liquids/gels over 100 ml containers MUST be checked or discarded.

2. Shipping from Japan is expensive unless you use an all by sea routing. It is reliable, though. We have shipped a lot of packages over the years from Japan.

Thailand, not sure, but I think rhkkmk recently shipped a package from Thailand to Boston...check their trip report for information.

3. Japan in November can be sunny and hot, rainy and cold, and everything in between. The later in the month you get the cooler it will get. You will need a jacket at night even if daytime is warm, and if it is not sunny you will probably need a jacket in the daytime, too.

Thailand will be warm in the daytime and nighttime, though in Chiang Mai you may need a light jacket at night.

4. Take your nice camera. We travel with both a compact digital and a dSLR, and the dSLR is much better...we get lots of pictures to keep from the dSLR and lots to throw out from the compact one.

5. Check your electric appliances first and foremost to determine if they can accept variable voltages. Many can, and our computer and camera and shaver are multivoltage compatible so we only need an outlet adaptor. Some appliances are only good on one voltage, like 100 for Japan, 120 for US, 220-240 for Thailand...if that is the case, you need an outlet adaptor and a voltage converter. Japanese outlets are 2 same-sized flat pins, like US but one side is NOT bigger than the other. Few outlets in Japan can accept 3 prong plugs. In Thailand, many hotels have a multi-shaped outlet, but those that don't are two round pins or 3 round pins.

6. Not much help in using a US phone overseas...except that most will not work in Japan. IPhone was just released in Japan, but I'm unsure if the US version will work here. If you do use your roaming feature, I can confirm that it will be very expensive. Much cheaper to get a local SIM in Thailand, but it is not possible in Japan. In Japan if you can't use roaming, you can rent cell phones, but you can't buy SIM cards. I use internet a bit with my Japanese phone, and it has maps, but only in Japanese.

7. Unless you are brand loyal or staying in guesthouses or hostels rather than hotels, you don't need to bring lots of toiletries. Hotels in both Japan and Thailand have shampoo, conditioner, soap...in Japan, even the basic business hotels have these things. Anything over 100 ml must be in a checked bag. Suntan lotion and mosquito spray are easy to get in Thailand, but will be out of season in Japan.
KimJapan is offline  
Old Jul 11th, 2008, 12:55 AM
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I'll try and answer some of your questions.

#3 - Check an online weather site but in general Japan should be cool while Thailand will "start" to cool down but it will still be hot but may be not as humid as the other months.

#4 - I use a 5D and I recommend a medium zoom, like a 17 - 40 or 24 - 70.

#5 - For the Canon you don't need a converter but you might want to buy one of those multi plug adapter. For the computer I'm pretty sure it will be multi voltage as well just read the small prints on the converter plug it should read something like "input: 100 - 240 v".

#6 - I would buy a local sim card for Thailand and for Japan it's a totally different system altogether and it will be better if you rent a phone there.

For the Iphone, I use an unlock version with firmware 1.1.4(unlocked at a local mall here for 500 Baht). Computer browsing through EDGE is slow and you have to make sure that you buy the right package for a local sim card if you want this service. Service through wifi is normal similar to the States. Map functions or feature will only work if the phone is connected to a wifi source and the coordinate is not that accurate - it's usually off by about 1 kilometer!

#7 - You buy all of those things in Japan or Thailand. You can probably find some that are not available in the US from Japan.
Hanuman is offline  
Old Jul 11th, 2008, 02:59 AM
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They handle luggage much better in Asia than in the US. I would check one bag and take another carry-on with essentials for both of you. The back pack would be a second carry on.
Gpanda is offline  
Old Jul 11th, 2008, 04:13 AM
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I can't imagine being gone for that many days for the 2 of you getting by on one checked piece of luggage.
When we go to Asia we check 3- 4 large bags and thats only for 10-12 days! Women carry a lot more stuff and of course you will be buying things so take the extra bag. We usually go over with one empty suitcase knowing that we will fill it up on the return. Now that the airlines have reduced the weight to 50lbs per bag its even more necessary to check the second/third and sometimes fourth bag for the two of you.
BillT is offline  
Old Jul 11th, 2008, 04:24 AM
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Also - why not leave the laptop at home? There are always internet cafes around that you can pop into?
That will free up some space and give you one less thing to worry about on the trip - hey this is a vacation right?
BillT is offline  
Old Jul 11th, 2008, 05:38 AM
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i prefer two small bags to one large suitcase....if you buy tons, and you will, you can buy a cheap additional suitcase to bring things home in....$5-15....that is a thai price, not japan...

weather will be wonderful in nov in thailand....the best of the year...it will be hot and humid however...

only take your backpack for carry on..

laundry is very cheap in thailand but i suspect more expensive in japan...

cameras....bring the best you have as the picture taking is fantastic..

shipping is very expensive...i use UPS or Fedex....stuff arrives in 4-5 days in usa...10 kilos is about $100+...sometimes they have specials...you can ship from your hotel business center...

thai sim card costs about $3, but your phone must be "unlocked"

i think you will find that most of your eqpt will have builtin converters for electricity...

you may need a plug adapter...on my recent trip all of the hotels we stayed in had US standard plugs....but small places may not...

do not take any supplies of greater than 3 oz or they will be taken from you....have them all in a clear 1 gal. plastic bag .... in thailand almost anything you want will be available...
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Jul 11th, 2008, 06:31 AM
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I always buy stuff in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. I've shipped home (UPS) and it isn't cheap, but it is very quick service. It's nice not to have to lug the stuff around, if it happens to be heavy! A lot of the stuff I buy is very light weight.

I usually take one large check bag, plus I stuff a large duffel bag inside of it, for extra stuff! I carry a smaller bag onto the plane, for my computer, books, etc.

The place I stay In Bangkok has a washing machine in the kitchen, so no need to bring many changes of clothing. I "move in" and stay in one place for at least 10-12 days or more. You, however, will be traveling around a lot. Try to make your load as light as you possibly can. As others have said, laundry in Thailand is very cheap and service is quick. I cannot comment on Japan.

I have had bags searched as I EXIT Bangkok, but never as I enter. Just typical security checks. Just walk through the green zone, when entering, if you have nothing to declare, which you shouldn't have. Although, I see you are entering Thailand after a visit to Japan. Maybe someone else can comment on any customs checks that are required in that situation. I'm always entering BKK directly from the USA, via NRT.

I agree with the others that your electronic equipment will probably not require a converter... only an adaptor to fit the plug-in configuration. I have no problem with phone, camera, computer.

Re: phone. I have two cheap plain (no fancy options) phones that are "unlocked" that I carry (one for me, one for DH or any other friend traveling with me). It is easy to pick up SIMM cards. They are easy to use, both in Thailand and on my frequent Europe trips. Now that I have them, they are just always packed for a trip overseas.

You will find all sorts of creams, suntan lotions, etc. at Boots Pharmacies and others, which are everywhere in Thailand. I would not carry large sized bottles from home unless there is a specific product you MUST use, put it into your check bag. No problem.

Have you selected your hotels yet? Just curious.

Enjoy your trip.


simpsonc510 is offline  
Old Jul 11th, 2008, 07:07 AM
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Remember that intra-country flights in Japan and Thailand will adhere to the international standard of a maximum of 20 kg of checked luggage per person. So one 50 lb suitcase will be a problem. I'd say each of you should check a suitcase and take only a small carry on each.
Kathie is offline  
Old Jul 11th, 2008, 07:54 AM
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we are leaving for thailand next week and planning to buy an extra piece of luggage there to carry home our shopping purchases - as someone mentioned, it will be cheaper than shipping or than anything we could buy here. If you go that route, I would try and wait until you get to thailand to buy an extra bag, things will be much much more expensive in Japan. Unless you find a 100Yen store!
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