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you promised to help plan my trip and convinced me not to use my agent...

you promised to help plan my trip and convinced me not to use my agent...

Old Mar 26th, 2008, 02:39 PM
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you promised to help plan my trip and convinced me not to use my agent...

thanks to all who helped me realize I was getting ripped off by my travel agent for my family trip next xmas with husband and 2 teens
many of you kindly offered to help me plan on my own- so, if I have about 5 days to spend up north, what-specifics plse!-should I do? the guide books are confusing
we can do golden triangle, chiang rai, chiang mai, MHS,pai etc-whatever would be most fun, exciting. we are not shoppers, would like an elephant experience (1 day likely enough, more perhaps redundant), some hiking,boats, thai culture,hill tribes, yummy food, not too many temples (kids will whine...)

I will happily hire a guide and driver, and am not too worried about hotels at this point- rather plan where I can go in this too short amount of time

we will either do beach 1st (krabi or phuket) then north then BKK or reverse this order depending on flights etc

what are the things I "must see" in the north?
thanks1
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Old Mar 26th, 2008, 04:57 PM
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I wrote up what I think is a good plan on your other thread.

About the TECC 3-day program...we found that it was not at all redundant at the TECC in Lampang, but the 3-day program at the Anantara Golden Triangle is a disappointing 3 identical days. The TECC program was great fun, with the days being great, but the nights there really making the program special. You cook dinner together with the cooks and other guests, hang out with the mahouts if you like, talk a lot, it was really special. And their program is varied, with each day being a new day with something new to learn and experience. I highly recommend it, and it is well worth 2 nights, definitely.

If you didn't want to stop in BKK first, then in terms of flights, it makes logistical sense to go to Chiang Mai first as there is then a non-stop flight on Thai Air from Chiang Mai to Phuket (from where you can go to Phuket of course, or Khao Lak, Phi Phi, or even Krabi). Then Bangkok at the end.

Maybe a cooking class in Chiang Mai? We did a fantastic customized private course with Yui www.alotofthai.com that was just excellent. She was the only one of the many schools that would customize a course for an experienced chef, a 7 year old and myself...and she did a wonderful day for us.

You can do trekking from Chiang Mai...Sargeant Kai comes highly recommended, though we did not use him.
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Old Mar 26th, 2008, 05:49 PM
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just an initial warning....you will be very tired upon arrival in thailand and also will need a full day or so to adjust to the heat and humidity...just a warning not to pack too much into day one and even day 2....for this reason many of us suggest a hotel in bkk for a couple of days to unwind and adjust...one with a good pool...the leaders are:

marriott resort and spa
hilton mill.
royal orchid sheraton
shangri-la
peninsula
sheraton grande
nei lert

these all have a fantastic pool and lovely areas to relax in, but still offer a bkk experience...

quite honestly if you stay at the marriott a beach experience might not be necessary....

an alternative beach experience is hua hin....the hyatt there is fantastic!!!

up north: chiang saen/golden triangle...best hotel is the anantara...most impt. experience is a 1/2 day at the princess grandmother's (king's mother) former estate--doi tung....

cooking class at anantara is excellent...

chiang rai in itself does not offer too much...

chiang mai might be a better place for you....many like the baan orprin B&B..

you need to get going on hotels for xmas time....they are at their highest cost of the year...

hotel sites:

www.asiarooms.com
www.huahin.20m.com
www.agoda.com

these are all prepay so don't use them until all your flights etc are set....

get going on your pacific flights too....

thai air has a direct flt from nyc (jfk)---17 hours....fantastic

you can also fly through europe but generally it is more expensive...

air canada

look at cathy pacific too
korean
japan
united
northwest from detroit/minn.
eva air
ANA
brit air
luftansa
air france (i took them last year and it was excellent)

get a good basic guidebook like frommers or fodors and use it as a guide too....

ask as many questions here as you want....

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Old Mar 26th, 2008, 07:55 PM
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First thing is to decide if you want to do 2 or 3 days at Elephant Conservation Center. Everyone who has done it consider it the highlight of their trip. So I would check their website and do a search on this board to read more about it. That will affect your northern thailand.

Beaches -- all a waste to me since they have nothing to do with thailand. But maybe consider Hua Hua since it is closer to bangkok so you won't be wasting as much time getting there and back. I would spend no more than 2 or 3 days at any beach when you only have 11 or 12 days. With the amount you are saving you can stay in a fabulous resort in northern thailand where you can actually know you're in thailand while also relaxing.

If you really only want to do one day at the elephant conservation center then I would suggest 3 days in chiang mai and another 3 days either in the Chaing Rai/Golden Triangle area OR in the MHS/Pai area. The latter is less touristy. Fern Resort gets great reviews. You can do hiking and visit hill tribes from both. You could consider the Anantara or the Phu Chusai resorts in the ChiangRai/Golden Triangle area.

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Old Mar 27th, 2008, 06:28 AM
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We all have slightly different perspectives, which will give you a sense of the range of options.

Since you and the kids want a beach, I'd start with that. You mya be able to fly straight through from your transpacific flight(with a plane change in Bangkok) to Phuket. If so, I'd do that. It gives you a relaxing place to recover from the jetlag, and it will ease your kids into Thailand, as it's an international beach resort. From there, I'd go north (you'll have to change planes in Bangkok.

You have a number of decisions to make about the north that will influence where you stay. If you or your kids want a 3 day elephant manhout experience, you must go to the Elephant Conservation Center as mentioned by Kim. Very basic accommodtaions are provided at TECC. That will take most of your time in the north, and plan to spend the rest of it staying in Chiang Mai (Yaang Come Village or Baan Orapin is my recommendation).

If you just want to see, touch, bathe elephants, you might prefer the comfort of a lovely resort to do so. The Anatara at the Golden Triangle has a small branch of the Elephant Conservation Center on the grounds. You can spend time with the elephants (or your kids can) while you relax and enjoy the spa or the view nor a great cooking class. There are some things to see in the area of the Golden Triangle. You can hire a car and driver (we asked the staff at the Anantara to recommend a driver) and driver to the market at Chiang Sean, the temples along the way, and Doi Tung, the princess mother's estste with lovely gardens and economic development projects for the hill tribes. You could stay at the Anantara for anywhere from three to five nights. If you stay the shorter time, you might hire a driver to take you to CHiang Mai to stay the last two nights, or you could hire a driver to take you vis a longer route with an overnight stay somewhere. You'll have to decide how much time you wwant to spend driving.

Your last 4 nights in Bangkok, choose a river hotel. If you want a luxe expereince, choose the Pen or the Oriental or the Shangri-La. These will allow you to use both the water taxis and the Skytrain for trnasport.

Bob loves the Marriott Resort and Spa. It's rather out of the way, which is either an advantage or a disadvantage. It is very kid-friendly (though every place will be).

As soon as you decide on your itineray, you need to reserve your hotels. You are traveling at teh busiest time of teh year, and some places may already be sold out.
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Old Mar 27th, 2008, 06:42 AM
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For your situation, I would fly into Bangkok, then change planes and continue south...since you want a beach experience....and rest up down there... and then fly back to Bangkok, change planes and fly north....and after spending time there, end in Bangkok. This way you won't have to keep going back and forth to the airport so much. Happy Travels!
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Old Mar 27th, 2008, 07:44 AM
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I agree about starting at the beach. That way you won't be jet lagged when you start sightseeing. Try this if you don't want to do ECC:
Beach (Phuket) - 3 days
Chiang Mai - 3 days -- spend one day at ECC
Chiang Rai/Golden Triangle or Pai -- 2 days
Bangkok- 4 or 5 days
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Old Mar 27th, 2008, 01:36 PM
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Going south to Phuket or Krabi is much easier if you do not land in BKK late at night. The flights through Narita mostly land after 10:00 p.m. when there are no more flights down to the beach. This necessitates at least one night in BKK. However if you fly direct from JFK on Thai Air or go through Europe, you can connect to a flight to Phuket and clear immigration and customs in Phuket. This means that you will be at the beach to start and you can easily adjust to the time change.

I think the next step is to buy the tickets from the US to Thailand. Then, map out your internal itinerary and but those plane tickets. Then book your hotel. You are going during a busy season and things can fill up quickly. It'a best to book as soon as possible.

BTW, you will have a wonderful time in Thailand. You won't be able to do everything, so just decide and book. If you love it as much as we, you will go back.

You made a good decision deciding to book on your own. You'll be able to make better choices and do what you want and skip the rest
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Old Mar 27th, 2008, 06:10 PM
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If you're still flying with Cathay you can go directly to Phuket from your connecting point in Hong Kong.
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Old Mar 28th, 2008, 08:34 AM
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Just to add to the comments here are my thoughts

You do not have to fly through an US hub. Both Air Canada and Cathy Pacific out of Toronto will get you to Bangkok with one stop in Hong Kong. Unless there is a seat sale from either NY or LA any saving in money is small as you have to add on the cost of getting there. And going out of Toronto your bags will be checked through to Bangkok and you will clear custom only once in Bangkok. Going through the states US customs can be a pain in the neck sometimes especial on your return. Cost wise both AC and CP are within $100 of each other 2150-2250. However with CP on the return it will be necessary to spend a night in HH.

I would leave the beach time until the last and fly directly from Chiang Mai to Phuket for either a noisy or more quiet beach. The teenagers will enjoy the beach but in my opinion Thai beaches are no better than those much closer to home.

Your itinerary (for the 12 days) might be as follows: BK - 3days, CM 3days, MHS 2days, Beach 3 days, last day in BK

For hotels let us know what you want to pay per room, you will need two. The river hotels suggested for BK are in the range of 350-550 for 2 rooms. An alternative to a hotel is an apartment and there is a good one (centre point silom) by the river and a short walk to the shytrain or river ferries. A huge 2 bedroom (183sqm) is around $275net with breakfast.

For drivers/guides you really don't need one in BK to visit the sights there. If you go out of town for 1 day trips then a car/driver is the way to go and maybe a guide. In CM a car/driver is best but not a guide. In MHS if you stay at the Fern resort have them arrange for your sightseeing.
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Old Mar 28th, 2008, 09:15 AM
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KimJ...isn't TECC where your daughter go so sick swimming in the same water as the elephants? I'd have issues wanting my family to take that chance, and recomemding it to others.
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Old Mar 28th, 2008, 02:29 PM
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Yes....we think so, but it also could have been food or just sickness unrelated to water or food. We ate a New Year's Eve buffet dinner in our hotel in Khao Lak that easily could have been a source of e-coli and the timing would be right...sick 24 hours later. Just no telling the source.

The TECC was so, so, so much better than the Anantara's program, and at the Anantara you also swim in mucky water with the elephants. Without resrervation I would recommend the TECC over the Anantara's program, as the Ananatara's is riding twice a day, that's it. Rather boring, and they don't teach you anything. Our questions about the elephants and their lives and so on were often answered with single words or I don't know. The TECC program is a well-rounded 3 days that every moment is interesting, and we came away having learned a lot about elephants. That's just not the case at the Anantara, and I recently read a review on tripadvisor that said the exact same thing about their elephant program, so it's not just us who felt that way.
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Old Mar 28th, 2008, 06:09 PM
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thanks for your tips so far- especially about flying to phuket from hong kong, or to either phuket or krabi if I fly from JFK. I never would have thought of it

now, given that I have only a couple of days on the beach, and want to be active and snorkel, should I choose phuket or krabi? does it matter?

also, should I choose a few days in the MHS/pai area, or golden triangle area, or does it matter?

thanks!
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Old Mar 29th, 2008, 02:02 AM
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Having read your previous post about anticipated budget, I suggest that you strogly consider the Thai Air flight from JFK. This is by far the best and most comfortable way to get to BKK from the East Coast. It arrives in plenty of time to catch a Thai Air flight to Phuket. You can have your luggage sent through and BKK will be merely another layover. You'll be at the beach your first full day and able to adjust at your leisure.

You might explore premium economy. Many on this forum have enjoyed it. Regular economy was pretty good as well.
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Old Mar 29th, 2008, 02:44 AM
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Did a little research for you & found a JFK-BKK-JFK route for $1751 ++ for a total of $1078.56 on

<Gateway.lax>
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Old Mar 29th, 2008, 05:59 AM
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The Cathy Pacific flight from Toronto with a 1hr stopover in Hong Kong will get you into Bangkok at 17.50. Just an hour after the Thai flight from New York. Price wise about the same after adding the cost to get to NY. Most of my clients and family perfer this way now rather than going through a US hub.
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Old Mar 29th, 2008, 08:09 AM
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oops that' suppose to read- $2078,56
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Old Mar 29th, 2008, 08:13 AM
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On CX- Toronto/BKK/Toronto-$1895.++ $2,146.39 nett. HK stopover as noted by Scotters.
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Old Mar 29th, 2008, 09:06 AM
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4bams,

The itinerary below is from A&K, one of the best travel agent IMO. Perhaps you might like it as it cover the 3 cities that you want to visit.

DAYS 1-2: USA or Canada/Bangkok, Thailand
Fly to Bangkok and transfer to your hotel overlooking the river and city. The Peninsula Bangkok
DAY 3: Bangkok
Sightseeing along the busy banks of the river and on Bangkok's famous klongs (canals) is followed by a visit to the Weekend Market. The afternoon is at leisure before tonight's welcome dinner at the hotel.
The Peninsula Bangkok B L D

DAY 4: Bangkok
Begin your day with a food offering to monks and then a visit to the flower market. Ride in tuk-tuks (three-wheeled, openair taxis) to view the magnificent Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha. This evening, see a thrilling kickboxing exhibition. The Peninsula Bangkok B L

DAY 5: Bangkok/Chiang Mai
Fly to Chiang Mai in time to explore the famous Night Market - a kaleidoscope of merchant stalls, open-air entertainment and tempting food carts. Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi B

DAY 6: Chiang Mai
Explore your resort this morning, and this afternoon visit an elephant training camp to paint with these gentle giants. Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi B

DAY 7: Chiang Mai
Tour Chiang Mai by rickshaw, followed by a stop at the Wat Doi Suthep with its famous viharn (temple library). After lunch at a local restaurant, visit a handicraft workshop. Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi B L

DAY 8: Chiang Mai/Phuket
Fly to Phuket, a tropical resort off the Andaman Sea. Your evening is at leisure to settle in to your new surroundings. JW Marriott Phuket B

DAY 9: Phuket
Explore Phang Nga's caves and hongs on a full-day sea canoe eco-excursion. JW Marriott Phuket B L

DAY 10: Phuket
Your day is free to enjoy the surroundings of your luxurious resort before tonight's farewell dinner.
JW Marriott Phuket B D

DAY 11: Phuket/Bangkok
Your morning is at leisure before this afternoon's flight to Bangkok. The Peninsula Bangkok B

DAY 12: Bangkok/USA or Canada
Board a flight back to the USA or Canada. B
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Old Mar 29th, 2008, 09:09 AM
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Reserve all the hotels yourself and arrange for your own guide/driver.
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