Where in Thailand?

Feb 13th, 2005, 09:24 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Where in Thailand?

Hi Everyone,
I've enjoyed reading all your messages and advice as I plan a trip to Thailand for my husband's 60th birthday. It's a dream trip which revolves around a short trip from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok on the Orient Express from April 13-15 this year.

Here's my dilemma: We fly into Tokyo and planned to go directly to BKK and spend 4 nights before we need to get to Kuala Lumpur to catch the train. We planned to spend the time in Bangkok and then catch a flight the a.m. of the 13th to KL, but hearing concerns about BKK of traffic, polution, heat, not great restaurants, etc. etc., I am considering other options. We also have 2 nights available after the train arrives in BKK before leaving to fly out of Tokyo.

So, for the 4 nights before, should we go to Chiang Mai, the beach (Phuket or Koh Samui), Kuala Lumpur or even stay a day or two in Tokyo. Here are our priorities: Thai culture (obviously not in Japan!), food (we are serious foodies), accommodations, spas, and the general adventure of the trip. I am also interested in taking some Thai cooking classes, but I think you can find those most anywhere. We could then spend the last 2 nights in BKK, but that may not be enough time.

We planned to stay at the Oriental or Peninsula in BKK. I've looked at the Four Seasons and the Mandarin Oriental in Chiang Mai, but are they both too far out of CM to enjoy the city?? Is there an alternate that is a better location?

Looking forward to some great advice from the experts out there.


ginozmom is offline  
Feb 13th, 2005, 09:51 AM
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Just curoius - what is the attraction of the Orient Express from Kuala Lumpur?

Mandarin Oriental in Chiang Mai is much closer to the city center than the Four Seasons & is on San Kampampaeng Rd, which is a great shopping area for celadon, lacquerware and other Thai handcrafts. Though we didn't stay at the hotel (WAY beyond our budget!)the Grand Lanna restaurant there was our favorite restaurant in Thailand. Lovely garden setting, beautiful decor, and we thought the food was absolutely delicious.
CFW is offline  
Feb 13th, 2005, 10:24 AM
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A trip on the OE has always been my husband's dream. The route during our time frame is from Singapore to BKK, but the price is much cheaper if you catch it later in the day in KL.

Great to hear the location of the Mandarin Oriental and the restaurant, and also the shopping sounds terrific. I forgot to mention that as one of my priorities! Thanks.
ginozmom is offline  
Feb 13th, 2005, 10:43 AM
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I love Bangkok, and would opt to spend my time there rather than in CM. There are many wonderful restaurants in Bangkok, as well as great shopping, luxurious spas, and fabulous wats and other amazing things to see and do. I really think the choice depends on whether you like big cities. If you do, Bangkok is one of my faves. If you don't then opt for another location like CM or the Golden Triangle. A beach resort won't give you any real feel for Thai culture.

While it will be slightly cooler in CM than in Bangkok, they will both be hot at that time of the year. If you stay by the river in Bangkok you won't notice the pollution as much. And depending on the weather, you can get worse pollution in CM than in Bangkok.

If you want time outside of a large city (and CM is a large city), the Golden Triangle area is lovely, and the Anantara at the Golden Triangle is a beautiful resort with a great spa. You fly into Chaing Rai and the hotel will pick you up at the airport for an hour drive to the Golden Triangle.
Kathie is offline  
Feb 13th, 2005, 12:20 PM
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I would suggest spending your time in BKK. If you stay on the river, you minmize polution and traffic. At either hotel, you can easily access the skytrain and/or river ferry (the Oriental has its own ferry stop). BKK has some great restaurants and the Oriental is said to have one of the best cooking classes. Spas abound. You should definitely see the Grand Palace, Chinatown, the flower market and maybe a trip to Ayutthaya. Rhkkmk will probably suggest a two day trip on the Masora Song (SP?). I agree with kathie that a beach would not have sufficient Thai flavor.
Gpanda is offline  
Feb 13th, 2005, 07:19 PM
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forget some of what you have read as it is incorrect....yes bkk is full of pollution but so are most asian cities and other world class cities of the world---ever been to LA??? the pollution is manageable...staying on the river is one way to beat it partially....i would opt for the penn over the oriental but that is a personal opinion....the air seems cleaner along the river....

there simply is no other city in asia with the quality and variety of the food that is available in bkk...it is simply fantastic and reasonable in comparison to other world spots....the fantastic dinner you might have at biscotti at the 4 seasons hotel for $75 for two can compare in every way to the italian dinner you might have for $150-250 in florence, new york, LA, tokyo or paris....wine is one draw back in bkk as you can never be sure how it has been handled and the prices are outrageous, even for simple wines...the meals are great all over bkk...variety is unbelievable....the hotels are 1/2 the price of singapore and 1/3 the price of london...

the train is a great experience...stick with it....

i suggest you spend all your time in bkk....ask us for restaurant suggestions and we will give forth....be specific what pleases you and be as specific as you can about types, preparation, etc...

the shangri-la, oriental and other hotels all have cooking schools....the blue elephant restaurant (sathorn rd) has a great school as well...

the oriental in CM is close to town, the 4 seasons is not...there are good cooking schools in CM, both in hotels and on their own....do a search here...
rhkkmk is offline  
Feb 14th, 2005, 05:19 AM
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Definitely go to Bangkok and stay at the Oriental. You will love the city, never want to leave the hotel, have terrific food and see fabulous sights.

There are excellent restaurants in Bangkok (far more than in other places), there is a spa at the Oriental that is considered one of the best in the world. It is the perfect place to spend a 60th birthday.
glorialf is offline  
Feb 14th, 2005, 05:49 AM
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Why donít you start the trip by flying to KL directly from your home and getting on the train there? I donít understand schlepping to and from the Bangkok airport on 4 separate occasions. You could spend the night in KL at a hotel near the train station if your flight from home does not match the train departure time. If you fly from Bangkok on the morning of the train departure, I think you will be a bit pressed for time to get from the airport right to the train station (quite a trip, and traffic can be an issue as well.) I don't think you will find direct flights from Chiang Mai to KL, you will have to transit through Bangkok which will make for a long day. Also, the KL train station is actually one of the best architectural sights in KL, IMO. If you did KL first, you could then spend 6 nights in Bangkok (rather than breaking it up) or do 3-4 nights Bangkok and then 2-3 nights Chiang Mai.
Cicerone is offline  
Feb 14th, 2005, 06:47 AM
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I would stay in Bangkok the whole time. And yes, it has pollution, but what big city doesn't? What's four days of pollution compared to the great experiences you will have in BK ? As for Kuala Lumpur....do they have a Four Seasons? I know they have a Ritz Carlton...I stayed there and would stay there again in a heartbeat and it's not too far from things. I walked everyday to the Bukit Bintang (the main street).Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Feb 14th, 2005, 06:55 AM
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Rhkkmk-As for air pollution in L.A. What major city doesn't have it? L.A. gets a bad air pollution rap.I've lived in this county for 40 years and the air is a lot cleaner than it was decades ago.There was a list of the worst air pollution cities in the U.S. that came on the news last year and L.A. was ranked way down in the 20s on the list. A lot of places that one would think would not be on the list were.I think Houston was pretty high on the list. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Feb 14th, 2005, 07:08 AM
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rhk-I was going to say, your information on LA's pollution is waaaay out of date!

I've spent months in the city, (LA) and too many trips to count over a period of 25 years, and have only once or twice thought it not too pleasant, usually the air there is so clear, so bright, it's like looking through a magnifying glass-wonderful!

Cannot compare BKK and LA-downtown BKK is about as polluted and congested as it gets-LA-not at all.
Spygirl is offline  
Feb 14th, 2005, 08:23 AM
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oh my god, relax!!! i only used LA because it has been "known" as a polution laden place for years...maybe not any more....i was not pointing at it only making a point of comparison....i think even the state department has issued warnings about it in the past.... relax
rhkkmk is offline  
Feb 17th, 2005, 04:38 PM
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Hi again everyone,
Thank you so much for your thoughts. They are very encouraging as spending as much time in Bangkok as possible was my first desire. Now the tough decision the Penn or the Oriental--gees, life could be tougher, not sure how?!! Cicerone, I do wish we didn't have to split up the time, but the train has a set schedule and only passes through KL on the 13th, which is 4 days after we arrive in Asia. So, we'll end up back in BKK on the 15th for two more nights.

I would love to hear restaurant suggestions in BKK if anyone has the time. Of course, we have to have terrific Thai food. We also like French and even a fusion of the two. Are there great Vietnamese food? What about sushi? We really just appreciate high quality, interesting food and preparation of most any kind.

Thanks again.

ginozmom is offline  
Feb 17th, 2005, 05:33 PM
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the restaurants are fantastic...

the outdoor thai restaurant at the peninsula is really nice and they have tasting menus for 2....

harmonique on soi 34, new road is fantastic thai, but not fancy in any way just good food...

biscotti (italian) in the four seasons hotel is our favorite....

baan khanitha, on soi 23, sukhumvit road is in a lovely thai house and the food is great...

the conrad hotel offers a great dim sum lunch every day on the 3rd floor...

spice market in the 4 seasons is a favorite of many for thai

all of the hotels along the river have very good restaurants....la normandie at the oriental is french and very very expensive by bkk standards...i like the lord jim at the oriental as well...especially their seafood lunch buffet....china house at the oriental is good also...

i would stay at both bkk hotels...one at the beginning and one at the end...i prefer the penn although i have never stayed at the oriental...
rhkkmk is offline  
Feb 18th, 2005, 05:53 AM
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The Oriental is sheer perfection. You'll find lots of opinions on the two hotels. You might also check out www.tripadvisor.com for other detailed reviews of the two hotels that give a good "feel" for the differences between the two -- and they are VERY different. So since they are both obviously superb hotels it really boils down to what kind of things you look for in a hotel.
glorialf is offline  
Feb 18th, 2005, 08:18 PM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 28
The Oriental is hands down the best. Timeless, classic, world-renowned. Over 125 years of brillance.
AdrenalineBoy is offline  
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