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Your top 3 picks of things not to miss during a trip to Thailand

Your top 3 picks of things not to miss during a trip to Thailand

Old Sep 6th, 2008, 11:56 AM
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Your top 3 picks of things not to miss during a trip to Thailand

My girlfriend and I are taking our 1st vacation to Thailand / Asia this coming November; considering approximately 2 weeks from Thursday November 21st (departure from NYC) through Saturday December 7th (return). We've read quite a few threads here and the information / opinions have been invaluable in helping us plan our trip, thank you! So far we are thinking of the below general itinerary and would appreciate any feedback / suggestions you have to make our trip more enjoyable and exciting. For starters, just want to make sure we're on the right track with selection of cities, duration and lodging.

We're in our 30's, active, open to exploring and experiencing the local culture, somewhat adventurous. Enjoy the balance of experiencing local activities with modern ammenities ;-)

-3 nights in Bangkok, considering either the Oriental Bangkok or Peninsula
-2 nights in Chiang Rai, considering Anantara Resort & Spa Golden Triangle
-3 nights in Chiang Mai, consideraing Mandarin Oriental Dhara Devi
-4 nights on a Thailand Island, unsure of island and hotel --- open to suggestions

*I'd really like to hear people's top 3 picks of things not to miss during a trip to Thailand. For example, is one on your list a restaurant, if so where? Is it a spa treatment, if so where? Maybe it's an activity like elephant riding, and if so, where did you do this?
iawlgb is offline  
Old Sep 6th, 2008, 12:22 PM
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Overall, I think you are on track.

Personally (and do read this as my preferences, not as what you "should" do), I'm not fond of Chiang Mai. And the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Devi gets very mixed reviews - "Disneyland" is one of the oft- cited comparisons. If you want a lovely high-end place, consider the Four Seasons, which is 20-30 minutes outside of town. I'd choose either CM or the Golden Triangle, not both, but you can do what you've outlined - though you'll eat up more of your precious vacation time in transit. If you have two nights at the Anantara, you'll really only have one day there and I certainly consider it worth more time than that. I'd opt for 4 nights at the Anantara and skip Chiang Mai or opt for 4 nights at the Four Seasons (skip the Anantara) outside of Chiang Mai and only spend one of the days in the town of Chiang Mai.

With four nights in northern Thailand, you'll be able to spend four nights in Bangkok. All of my must-do-see-experience recommendations are in Bangkok. My first trip to Thailand, I spent nine nights in Bangkok. I certainly didn't run out of things to do - I've been back some 20 times since and I still go home each trip with a long list of things I didn't get to.

Top picks in Bangkok: a water taxi ride to the Grand Palace/Emerald Buddha/Wat Po; a visit to the Jim Thompson House and the Suan Pakkard Palace (they are in the same general area, you can do them together which makes for a nice compare and contrast; and a visit to the Prasart Museum. Notice how many things I got into my list under the guise of being three top picks.

But my top picks may not be yours. It really depends on your interests.

I'll let others give you more beach suggestions. The Thai beaches are lovely, but they are international beach resorts. So relax and enjoy your time on the beach, but don't expect it to be a cultural experience.

Oh, yes, another must-do is spa, There are spas everywhere, and Thais do know how to pamper guests.
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Old Sep 6th, 2008, 12:46 PM
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We had our first trip to Thailand/Asia in March, so these recommendations are coming from a "first timer".

First off, I would agree with Kathie (we have not been to Chaing Mai), but I would do either CM or CR but not both and would definitely add a day to BKK.

Now, for top 3 things.

1. Anything with Tong!! You may be a little late trying to get her, but it is always worth a try (www.tourwithtong.com). Our favorites with her were the Floating Market and the "Secret" Fishing Village

2. Riding elephants at Anantara GT

3. Cooking class at Anantara GT

I had a few massages, but hubby had them at Peninsula BKK, Face Spa, Anantara GT and in Siem Reap. He likes a good deep tissue massage and said Peninsula BKK was by far the best.

We stayed at Peninsula and Anantara. Both were fabulous!! We spent time in Siem Reap instead of the beach so can't help you there, but have a great time!
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Old Sep 6th, 2008, 01:04 PM
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1. Drinks at Sky Bar.

2. Dinner & entertainment at Tawan Dang.

3. Dinner at Long Table.
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Old Sep 6th, 2008, 01:21 PM
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LOL, Brad, do I detect a theme here?
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Old Sep 6th, 2008, 01:54 PM
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Kathie,
The palace & temples are a given. Everybody goes to those places.

Sky Bar is considered the most beautiful bar in the world by many. I have taken many people there, no disapointment yet.

Tawan Dang is probably the best combination of Thai food & entertainment in town, and tourists don't know about it.

The Long Table is my favorite restaurant in town. The food, decor, and view are fantastic. And it's another place tourists don't know about.

Theme? OK, so they are all night spots. Most tourists spend their days at the usual temples, markets, etc. Then they have dinner at their hotel.

Bangkok is a nightlife mecca, and most tourists miss the best spots. If they do go out at night, they might hit Patpong? That's mostly a waste of time, and it's not where the Thais go.
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Old Sep 6th, 2008, 02:15 PM
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kathie has given good advice and so has brad....i have a restaurant list if you want it, ask me at [email protected]

one thing you may not know is that you will be very tired upon arrival as the flight from nyc is a killer...plan on at least one full day of down time....

you might want to move right on to the beach area upon arrival or the next AM.....koh samui is quite nice and has some upscale places to stay: anantara, renaissance, pansea and others....
hua hin just down the coast from bkk is also very nice: hyatt, sofitel, new sheraton (north of town).....
krabi---a fabulous new hotel i visited there was the amari vogue...it would be perfect for a few days adjustment to heat and humidity...

krabi and samui you need to fly to from bkk....HH you drive to via taxi or limo....

more later, its dinner time...
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Old Sep 6th, 2008, 02:53 PM
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In late November, Phuket, Krabiand Khao Lak are the best beaches, weather-wise. If you go to Chiang Mai, there is a daily CM-Phuket flight on Thai Air that does not go through BKK.

Tong, or one of her team, can provide a great day at the Floating market and Fishing Village. Try her at Tourwith Tong.com.
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Old Sep 6th, 2008, 03:09 PM
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i think you would really like the peninsula hotel...its fantastic..

as for bkk touring, tong is an excellent guide....she may or may not be available...

also do a klong tour of thornburi in a long tail boat

thompson house, grand palace, v-mek palace and suan packard are well worth your time...

i prefer the vertigo bar to sky bar...its in the banyon tree hotel on its top floor...hotel is on sathorn rd

i personally would end my trip with bkk or split the time ending up there for a few days...

i also have a dislike for chiang mai...its just another place....i would prefer to spend my time at the anantara---3-4 days....its easy to drive up there too so rent a car in chiang rai and drive the one hour north...easy drive with only about 4 turns...
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Old Sep 6th, 2008, 03:09 PM
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Well, iawlgb, I just returned a few days ago from my 14th trip to Bangkok. I love the shopping there! A highlight is Chatuchak Weekend Market, if you are into a unique market experience. You can find everything there!! Obviously, it's on weekends. Going early on Saturday or Sunday is best as it really gets hot and crowded after about 11am.

The tourist places I'm sure will be on your list (Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, etc) also Jim Thompson house, so no need to repeat them here.

Sky Bar and Tawandang would also be on my list. I've not yet been to the Long Table so can't comment.

Phuket should have marvelous weather during your visit.

Carol
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Old Sep 6th, 2008, 03:42 PM
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Brad, I was acknowledging your expertise as resident Bangkok nightlife expert! I noticed that you didn't recommend Bed - I know you used to love it - are you no longer recommending it or did it just not make your short list?
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Old Sep 6th, 2008, 04:46 PM
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One of my favorite places in Thailand is not frequently mentioned, and I've never understood why:

1) Ayutthaya : A few years ago, my wife, daughter and I spent the better part of a week here. I found the temples there to be beautiful, inspiring, and largely deserted. Perhaps not quite in the league with Bagan or Angkor, but nearly so, and easier to access.

My remaining two are both in Bangkok:

2) Wat Phra Kaew/Grand Palace

3) Chatuchak Weekend Market

Have a great trip!
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Old Sep 7th, 2008, 07:24 AM
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First: absolutely book Tong. She is fantastic and a heck of a lot of fun. Book her now.

The Sky Bar is an outstanding venue. Drinks are perfect there. Incredible views and it is "ranked" as one of the top ten bar/venues in the world, deservedly so.

And, while this may trigger much debate -- we actually loved the Floating Market. Yes, it is very touristy, and it is about an hour drive from BKK but, we had a great time there. Terrific spot for photos. Granted, we had our kids along, but we too thought it was a unique spot, especially with Tong showing it to us. Have fun.
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Old Sep 7th, 2008, 07:07 PM
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Not necessarily in order:

#1 Bangkok and environs, ie: MBK shopping center, Siam Square, Paragon, shopping areas, nightlife, street vendors: Patpong/Silom. REAL Thai food (Beware of Chinese food disguised as Thai..do your homework before leaving!)

#2 The southern Islands: Krabi, Phuket, Samui, etc.

#3 Temples, massages
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Old Sep 8th, 2008, 12:02 PM
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Our Favorite Things:

1. Thai foot massage -- anywhere and everywhere. We had them nearly every night during our 5 weeks in Thailand.

2. Anatara, Golden Triangle a day with the elephants and mahouts. Don't chicken out when it comes to the bathing.

3. A day with Tong in Bangkok for the floating market and the carved wooden temple.
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