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Your Feedback Appreciated on Two Possible Thailand/Cambodia Itineraries

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Sep 4th, 2015, 10:44 PM
  #1
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Your Feedback Appreciated on Two Possible Thailand/Cambodia Itineraries

I’m starting to plan a trip to Thailand and Siem Reap for November 2016 and wanted to run a couple possible itineraries past you S.E. Asia experts. We are planning 13 nights on the ground.

Option 1:

• Bangkok – 3 nights
• Chiang Mai – 3 nights
• Siem Reap/Angkor Temple complex 3 - nights
• Koh Lanta – 3 nights
• Bankok – 1 night

Option 2:

• Bangkok – 4 nights
• Siem Reap/Angkor Temple complex 4 - nights
• Koh Lanta – 4 nights
• Bangkok – 1 night

Of course, option 2 will allow for a more thorough experience in fewer places, and with less travel; however, we really want to see Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, as well as visit the National Elephant Institute outside of Chiang Mail. If we cut out Chiang Mai, is there a temple with similar attributes that might be equally as impressive which we can visit in any of the other places we would be staying? Also, is there a place to visit elephants where they are humanely treated near Bangkok, Siem Reap or Koh Lanta? We really want to visit all the other places, so if we cut out only one destination it will be Chiang Mai for this trip, but it would be much easier knowing that we could find equally satisfying experiences in the remaining places, especially for the two particular ones mentioned.

Your feedback is much appreciated!
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Sep 5th, 2015, 07:40 AM
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IMO, fewer stops means more time in each place (less time wasted in travel) and ultimately, a more satisfying trip.

There are many really fabulous wats in Bangkok. You don't have to go to Doi Suthep to see really remarkable Buddhist temples. If you want specific recommendations for Bangkok Wats in addition to the must-see Emerald Buddha, Reclining Buddha, Wat Arun and Wat Tramit, I'll be glad to offer some suggestions.

The elephants is a more difficult question. The National Elephant Institute, also known as the Thai Elephant Conservation Center is a fine place to interact with elephants, though I've been recommending the Elephant Nature Park lately. But other than those couple of places, most of the elephant camps (and especially those recommended on TA) are abusive of their elephants. I wouldn't go to any elephant place outside of northern Thailand - the places near Bangkok and near the southern beaches are really awful.

So if the elephants are must-do, you need to go to Chiang Mai.

Any chance you can add a couple of days to your trip? Three nights in each of these places is just two full days. And it takes three full days just to visit the "major" Angkor temples. (Do get a copy of Dawn Rooney's book, Angkor: A Guide to Cambodia's Wondrous Temples to prepare for your trip.)

The problem is that there is so much to see and do in this part of the world. I've been to SE Asia more than two dozen times and still haven't seen/done all that I want to do!
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Sep 5th, 2015, 07:29 PM
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Thanks Kathie! I guess I already knew that option 2 would be the way to go, but it's nice to have some confirmation. Hopefully we will be able to spend some time in Northern Thailand on a future trip. As we get closer I'll check back for your Bangkok Wat recommendations.

Thanks!
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Sep 6th, 2015, 04:22 AM
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Bangkok is awful for traffic. One night is enough to stay, if you want to waste the time. The airport is punishment enough.
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Sep 6th, 2015, 05:41 AM
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I am no fan of Bangkok, as posters here know, but if this is a first trip to SEA, you should certainly spend more than one night! But do sleep by the river.

I would be inclined to take a night from BKK and add it to SR, but I loved the temples so much the first time I had to go back for more.

If possible, I would put all the BKK time at the end - fly into BKK and straight on to SR.
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Sep 6th, 2015, 07:19 AM
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If there is any way you can plan your trip to be in Thailand (Bangkok or Chiang Mail) during Loi Krathong, it will truly enhance the experience. We've been to Bangkok several times but when we were there for Loi Krathong, it was the most memorable time we had.
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Sep 6th, 2015, 08:14 AM
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I do recommend that people stay along the river in Bangkok. That means you can take the water taxis (more like water buses!) to many of the main wats. And if you want to see the big shopping centers, you can take the skytrain. No reason to have Bangkok traffic interfere with having a wonderful time there!
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Sep 6th, 2015, 09:49 PM
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Thanks for the tip on Loi Krathong, FromDC. Unfortunately we will be arriving about November 20, which 5 days after it is celebrated in 2016, but if we can somehow manage it I would love to experience that.

Thursdaysd, I tend to like to be in big cities at the beginning of trips and spend the end of the trip relaxing, hence BKK at the beginning. I also find it easier to adjust to the time change with the energy in the city.

Kathie, it's a bit early still, but I'm thinking the Shangri-la for a bit of affordable luxury on the river, with easy sky BTS access as well.
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Sep 7th, 2015, 07:27 AM
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The Shangri-La is a fine option. They are virtually next door to the skytrain and the central pier. Other hotels would have a shuttle boat to take you there, you can walk from the Shrangri-La.
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Sep 7th, 2015, 03:05 PM
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Warm 'Labor Day' greetings to russ_in_LA from the San Francisco Bay Area. Glad you are planning a portion of your holiday in a place I've loved for ~ half-century, beloved Bangkok. (Not that our home of Singapore is all that bad.)

The Shangri-La, Bangkok should work well for you. Most of my SL stays over the years have been work-related; always fine times. Remain partial to the hotel's Krungthep Wing; in particular, a special, high-floor dwelling I discovered after a few business stays. Good friends and management at that property.

Will also give praise to the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, a property I initially experienced as youth, travelling with my parents and siblings. Received some MO updates from a friend and MO manager this past weekend at a wedding in Hong Kong: current renovations on the BKK hotel's Authors' and Garden Wings will be completed by year-end. Having stayed in those two categories in the past (work and leisure), the updates should be welcome addition to the property. Some friendships at that place going back decades; class operation.

Would be remiss in not mentioning two other current Bangkok riverside favourites of mine (ours), the Peninsula and The Siam. (Speaking of the Pen, her Hong Kong sister was as fine as ever a few evenings back for said wedding.)

Any airline suggestions, honoured to assist, even with my primary business travel carrier, our cherished Singapore Airlines. Flew SQ 2 from HKG to SFO last evening; another sweet ride.

Savour your planning, russ; happy for you. Signing off from forthcoming week of meetings (and even some Thai dining) in SF Bay Area. Good week to you and all,

macintosh (robert)


... Singapore Girl, You're a Great Way to Fly ...
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Sep 8th, 2015, 10:31 AM
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We tried the buffet dinner at the shangri-la and it was outstanding. The location is excellent. We stayed at the Centerpoint Silom hotel (even closer to sky train and we found the accommodations excellent and much less money. The breakfasts were terrific.

While I prefer smaller towns to large cities, Bangkok is one of my favorite places and there is plenty to do. If you get tired of the city itself, get out to the floating market and also take a day trip to ayyuthia and the summer palace.
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Sep 8th, 2015, 01:25 PM
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Thanks for the info dgunbug! The Silom seems like a good option as well. It's hard to tell from the photos, but it appears to be set back further from the river than the Shangri-la. Do you know if there are any rooms directly overlooking the river? Thanks!
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Sep 8th, 2015, 02:30 PM
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The Silom is set back a bit from the river. There are river view rooms, but it's not a close-up river view like you would get from the Shangri-La. The Centrepoint Silom is a serviced apartment, so it has the advantage of larger accommodations and a kitchenette.
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Feb 6th, 2016, 04:37 PM
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Thanks everyone for your info above. We have now acquired our plane tix for Nov 20 - Dec 6, which gives us 15 nights, instead of the 13 I originally asked about. With the additional time, I'm thinking we might add in Chiang Mai. I know it's still a bit tight in each place, but let me know what you think of the following:

-Bangkok – 4 nights
-Siem Reap/Angkor Temple complex - 4 nights
-Chiang Mai – 2 nights
-Koh Lanta – 4 nights
-Bangkok – 1 night

I realize that Chiang Mai warrants more time, but I know we will appreciate the downtime at the beach at the end of the trip, and from what I have read there is plenty to see for three full days in and around Siem Reap/Angkor. My thought is to spend our one full day in Chiang Mai with Wat Phra That Doi Suthep and then Elephant Viewing for a few hours. Evenings could be exploring the old town area.

Does this seem like a reasonable plan, or would you suggest allocating 3 nights each to Siem Reap and Chiang Mai? Given that we will arrive in Siem Reap about noon on our first day, 3 nights would actually give us 2.5 days there. Then we would have 2 full days in Chiang Mai instead of only 1. Let me know what you think. Your opinions are appreciated!
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Feb 6th, 2016, 05:15 PM
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IMO CM is not worth any time

I love anantara riverside in bkk

Tamarind village is nice in CM, esp their rest.
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Feb 7th, 2016, 02:33 AM
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Russ, I preferred Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai, have you considered it? And I would keep 4 nights in Siem Reap but take one night off the beach and add it to CR or CM.
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Feb 7th, 2016, 03:13 AM
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I too prefer CR to CM it is a lot smaller and quieter and has a fantastic saturday walking market far superior and less touristy to those in CM. Also, the Black House and White Temple are definitely worth a visit. http://accidentalnomads.com/2015/10/...ack-and-white/

The problem may be in connecting flights to Koh Lanta and Siem Reap. I think CM probably has better connections and more choices in that respect getting to / from there may be a lot easier. That said it is only a couple of hours drive from CM to CR.

It really comes down to personal preferences and what you want to see but for me, I would not add any time to Siem Reap. In fact I would probably forego CM altogether in favour of adding a night the beach and to Bangkok. Even though flights are cheap and relatively short by the time you factor in packing, unpacking, transit time to and from airports, I just feel it isn't worth the effort. I would definitely consider Bob's suggestion of the Anantara for your first stay in Bangkok and then maybe somewhere else at the end.
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Feb 7th, 2016, 04:26 AM
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PS, please stay on the river in Bangkok - - where depends on your budget.
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Feb 7th, 2016, 06:48 AM
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Thanks everyone for your feedback. It seems like everyone is pretty underwhelmed by Chiang Rai, so we'll give some serious thought to skipping it on this trip. (If anyone has an opposing viewpoint, we like to know!)

Without question we will stay on the river. We are currently holding reservations at the Shangri-la for easy access to the river boat and sky train as well.
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Feb 7th, 2016, 08:04 AM
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If the elephants are important to you, you'll have to go to Chiang Mai to access either of the two good elephants camps. If you can skip the elephants, that gives you more flexibility in your planning.

Trying to add in Chiang Rai is complicated logistically as there are relatively few flights. It would literally take all day to get from Siem Reap to Chiang Rai. I agree with crellston that it makes more sense to simply cut CM and add a day to each Bangkok and the beach.
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