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cscarlet
12-30-2009, 08:26 PM
Just curious if anyone here has spent time in Thailand?

I'm in the process of planning a trip there (hubby and I) for later on this year, and would love to hear some first-hand experiences. :)

DWSTXS
12-30-2009, 08:35 PM
My brother has been in Iraq for the past 6 years, and every vacation he takes is to Thailand, in fact, after next year, he plans on retiring there and never coming back to the U S.
I'm not sure he would be a good source of into though, as all he does is frequent the shady areas, if you know what I mean.

cscarlet
12-30-2009, 08:53 PM
Hahahaha! That's awesome. Well, it's good to hear he enjoys it at least! :)

If he knows any great shady ways to... say... get a suit made for cheap without getting ripped off, or how to get tickets to a local Muay Tai fight, then pass it along!

Otherwise, I'm not sure I'd be running in the same circles ;) LOL

DWSTXS
12-30-2009, 08:59 PM
No, I highly doubt that you'd be running in teh same circles. He is full-blown into his mid-life crises, and seems to have adopted it as his new lifestyle. But hey, he's got truckloads of money, and next year he plans on retiring to a hut on the beach. To each his own!

cscarlet
12-30-2009, 09:07 PM
Actually, his plan doesn't sound too bad... And truckloads of money will go pretty far over there!

You'd have a guaranteed vacation spot, at least ;)

stephenf
12-30-2009, 10:43 PM
First hand experiences are not very useful if your planing a trip ,some people aren't very savvy and will lead you astray . Buy yourself a lonely planet guide book.Also there are lots of web sites that carry submitted revues of hotels and stuff, try this one www.tripadvisor.in
I'm off to Bangkok next week and I will travel by train to Singapore and back.So here is one bit of information you may be able to use,trains are cheap and you can book on line

profen4
12-30-2009, 10:58 PM
Thailand is the best place ever!!! :) I've been several times. tell me what kind of traveling you plan to do and I'll give you some advice. eg. are you backpacking? resorting? do you know where you want to go? how long will you stay? are you comfortable off the beaten path?

Univeral advice:

Chang Mai is the best place for Elephant trekking (book it in Bangkok and you will get discounts).

Buy clothing on Koh San Road. it's the backpackers mecca and everything is dirt cheap. it is cheaper in town but you end up saving a buck or two and it takes a while to get there.

Fran
12-30-2009, 11:03 PM
Make sure you get all the vaccinations you need, too. And have fun! x

cscarlet
12-30-2009, 11:25 PM
Awesome everyone, thanks! :D Stephen, trip advisor is great... I've become an addict ;)

swhibs123 your clothing tip is perfect, I'll make a note of that. Did you get around the city by tut-tut? Taxi? Sky train? Which was best? Any favorite restaurants?


So far I have in my head that I want to start out in Bangkok. Of course I want to do the temples and floating market, etc. there. I figured I should book tours once I get there so I can maybe negotiate, but I wasn't sure if I should do that through a hotel or if it was something I could do out-and-about without getting ripped off.

From there I wanted to take a train to Chang Mai. Not sure how long I'd stay in Chang Mai.

Then I figured I'd fly from Chang Mai to Phuket where I can lazy on a beach for a bit... but there are quite a few places I'd like to visit there by-way of snorkeling, rock climbing, etc.

We're also thinking of going in the rainy season, so I'm wondering just how bad the climate is then. I know in many tropical climates it's a case of "torrential downpour" for 1/2 an hour and then it's completely clear again, but if it's rainy all day long of course I don't want to do that.

I think I've got everything figured out with vaccinations (though haven't gotten them yet since we're so many months out).

Oh, and has anyone seen who's best for airfare? AirAsia is the cheapest I've seen so far (price is a factor), but I wasn't sure of their reputation or if there were any other airlines you've seen that offer good deals out to Southeast Asia (I can leave from anywhere in the U.S.)

cscarlet
12-31-2009, 06:38 AM
Shamelessly *bumping* this up to see if there's anyone else out there with experiences, tips, tricks, etc. to share! :D

profen4
12-31-2009, 07:56 PM
Okay - first, the suggestion about a travel guide made above is a must! especially if you want to go off the beaten path. the only two worth using, in my experience, is Lonely Planet, or Moons. I'm sure there are others that are good too, but those are the ones I've had good experiences with.

Flying in Thailand:

Bangkok airways used to have a "3 tickets in thailand for $150.00" deal, which is pretty good. So you could fly from Bangkok to Changmai to Phuket and back to Bangkok. Air Asia is also really good (price wise) but it’s not assigned seating and the seats are always 100% sold. I think the tickets were like 15.00 when I flew with them last.

As for flying from the USA. If you want comfort, choose an asian carrier. Specifically, Singapore airlines if you can. Otherwise, JAL, Thai, Malaysian Air… etc. are awesome to fly with.

It sounds like you're not trying to go too cheap (marriott or Hilton are top hotels), so I’ll try to keep that in mind with my advice. The first couple times I went we did it on a shoe-string budget. Cost was about $5.00/day (food and lodging). But the last couple times we “splurged” accommodations for $20.00 a night. Wow! Right? Well for $20 bucks a night you get a private bungalow on the beach and a hotel with a pool :) ahhh! (that’s on the islands, not Bangkok). food was still only a couple bucks a day.

In Thailand:

Starting in Bangkok is a good idea. lots of people HATE Bangkok with a passion. it's filthy, it smells awful, and it's crowded. I Loved it.

Traveling by Tuk-tuk's in Bangkok is not something I would recommend for you. Use the taxi. What you need to understand is that if you go via Tuk-Tuk you will be stopping at a jewelry store, travel agent, tailor's shop...etc along the way—whether you want to or not. Tuk-Tuk drivers get 300B (about 15 bucks) if they take a customer to one of these stores and they stay in the store for 15 minutes. If you go in and leave right away, they’ll take you to another place, then another…. So you’re option is a) play the game and stay in the shop they stop at for 15 min. or b) never make it to your destination. If you choose option “a” tell the Tuk-Tuk driver that you understand the deal. Tell him you’re not going to pay him anything for the ride, but you will stay in the shop for 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can tell them up front that you don’t want to stop anywhere but the sights you indicate, but the price will go up about 300B if you do so.

Taxi will be a couple bucks more, but no hassle. Tuk Tuk's are worth a try since the drivers are nuts, and you can say you did it, but if you're pressed for time, take a taxi.

If you go to Phuket, which is a beautiful place, please make a trip to Koh Phi Phi. It is the place that was hit the hardest during the tsunami and is slowly returning to its former beauty. I was there before, immediately after, and a couple years ago. It has great rock climbing, terrific scuba diving, and you can take a short jaunt via long boat to Phi Phi Ley (which is the place where “The Beach” was filmed) and chill out on a gorgeous beach.

As for fav. Restaurants. I couldn’t tell you the name of a restaurant there if my life depended on it. 95% of our meals in Bangkok came from the street vendors. The other 5% from restaurants, but we never took notice of the names (that sounds strange to say, I know). The good news is Thailand has just about the best food I’ve eaten on any of my travels and I could hardly tell the difference from sit-down restaurants and the food served on the street.

I don’t know how long you’re going for, but if it’s a few weeks, and you have the time, I highly recommend driving or flying to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat. It’s unbelievable. The trip by truck is harrowing to say the least so if you don’t have time and don’t like the idea of sitting in the back of a truck for 10 hours while it navigates the 150 km stretch of mine-blown roads and flooded rice fields…go by plane.

They’ll only ask you for proof of yellow fever vaccination if you’re from somewhere that has it, or if you’ve traveled somewhere that has it. what you need to be concerned with is mosquito’s. Take your malaria meds and use bug spray. Malaria medication takes care of malaria; the spray will hopefully take care of Dengue Fever.

I’ve been to Thailand twice during the rainy season. It’s fine! You get the random and sudden onset of 10 minute flood like rains, but then it clears up and it’s gorgeous for another couple days.

I hope this helps you a bit. Let me know if there are any other questions or you want some clarification.

Cheers

profen4
12-31-2009, 08:47 PM
Just in case you were thinking of checking out the other islands around thailand, this is how I would rate them. based on beauty, and things to do/see

1) Koh Phi Phi – even after the tsunami it gets top spot. Gorgeous!
2) Koh Pang ‘an
3) Koh Samui
4) Koh Samet
5) Koh Lanta
6) Phuket

ETA: Koh Tao is on the list too, but only as a place to learn to Scuba Dive. it's the cheapest place to learn in Thailand, but not the most amazing place to dive.

cscarlet
01-03-2010, 09:09 PM
This info is freaking awesome. I'm going to have a field day looking up stuff today. And we're definitely game for anything - I was only going Marriott/Hilton because I have POINTS and might stay free, but I'm open to ANYTHING if it's cheap and awesome (quite the fabulous combination ;)).

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I can't tell you how much I appreciate it!!!!! :D

*squeals and jumps up and down clapping* Soooo excited......

Priene
01-04-2010, 12:02 AM
It's been a while since I was in Thailand, but Phuket was overdeveloped when I was there. Samui was gorgeous, but apparently it's become a shadier place since then. Phangan was either a) a haven for releasing the mind from the shackles of reality or b) full of gibbering junkies, depending on your opinion about illegal narcotics. Phi Phi was better than any of them.

The first time I visited Khao San Road I contracted pneumonia. The second I watched a stranger drop dead. It's a wretched fleapit hellhole of unidentifiable stains on dismal bedroom walls. If you should happen to contract a life-threatening infection, the Vichaiyut Hospital (http://www.vichaiyut.co.th/eng/about.asp) does a kick-ass line in antibiotics and lovely spicy lunches.

Chiang Mai was great. Chiang Rai not so much, though Burmese propaganda being megaphoned over the stream that passes for a border was a different holiday experience.

The ruins are fabulous: Sukhotai, Ayutthaya and the Angkor city of Phimai. If your guidebook suggests hiring a bike to get around, hire a bike. There are some big sites in Thailand.

(and if you fancy nipping over the Malaysian border, I loved Penang.)

profen4
01-05-2010, 04:59 AM
The first time I visited Khao San Road I contracted pneumonia. The second I watched a stranger drop dead. It's a wretched fleapit hellhole of unidentifiable stains on dismal bedroom walls. If you should happen to contract a life-threatening infection, the Vichaiyut Hospital (http://www.vichaiyut.co.th/eng/about.asp) does a kick-ass line in antibiotics and lovely spicy lunches.
)


LOL - I had to laugh at your description of Khao San road - I know most people get there and get out asap, but I thought it was great! the hotels are shifty, at best. but if you want to do any shopping at all in Thailand, shop there. if you want to book any trips, tours, etc... book them there. Khao San road is the hub for all travelers moving about in thailand. last time I went to thailand, I didn't buy anything until the last two days (which I spent on Khao San).

I agree that Malaysia is nice, I stayed in Penang for a week, but I'd say, if time is short and you're up for a short jaunt in Malaysia, go to the Perhentian Islands (sp?). It's beautiful.

I was going to rec. Myanmar if you have time, but you need yellow fever vaccine to get in there...I think.

cscarlet, how long do you plan on staying in Thailand?

profen4
01-05-2010, 08:24 AM
I didn't mention this before, but on the islands, all the ones I mentioned above, you do not need to book a place to stay in advance, but I know many people like the peace of mind knowing what kind of place they're heading for. But whether you have a place booked or not, you will be attacked by dozens of porters, each one armed with a photo book of locations that you can choose from (depending on your budget).

My one piece of advice about hotels on the islands, always, always, always, ask to see your room before you pay. and if you're not happy, walk another few steps down the road/path/trail...there's plenty of accommodations (a large percentage is for the budget traveler and might be nasty by your standards... it was by mine :P .

cscarlet
01-05-2010, 09:35 AM
You guys are fantastic.

As for length of stay, I'm thinking two weeks (which will unfortunately have to include a travel day on each end for the flight out/back), and of course there will be some travel days in between. I'm thinking 3 days Bangkok, 3 days Chiang Mai, and the rest on the islands (though don't know where yet). I could go past 14 days, I'm just not sure exactly how long I'll be able to skip out of work without the world falling apart while I'm gone ;) Haha.

Perhentian Islands? Hmm I'll look into that too...

I think I will need to strike a balance with budget accommodations. For example, I'm fine with extremely limited amenities (give me a beach and a book and I'm happy). Though, air conditioning might be a "must-have" for my husband. He gets crabby at night when it's too hot.

I will also definitely remember your advice on asking to see the rooms too!!! (I'm sure especially for budget rooms, it's required for satisfaction).

I would be one to book ahead of time, though. I'm a bit too anal to just show up and hope for the best ;) haha. Hence why I'm obsessing over gathering information now, still 6 months out!!! :D

profen4
01-05-2010, 11:49 PM
14 days is pretty good. I think you have a good itinerary for that amount of time. It’s impossible to see everything anyway, so if elephant trek, shopping and beaches are what you really want, you're on track. Be advised that the elephant trek consists of about 20 minutes on the actual elephant. The rest is hiking through the jungle (if you happen to do the trek to the Karen Long-Neck tribe). Still a good time, IMO.

Honestly, if you really just want a nice place to chill, go to Koh Phi Phi. Just get off the plane on Phuket and catch a taxi or bus directly to the ferry. Watch "The Beach" again before you go -- it will get you pumped for how gorgeous it is! (Though the movie will no doubt be playing in at least one of the restaurants on the island when you get there anyway).

If you're keen to island hop, I believe phuket and Samui are the only ones with airports. I'd personally rather stay in Samui than Phuket but I've heard other people say the opposite.

RE: Hotels, if you want a place when you get there, by all means book ahead. But I'd not book ahead for more than a day or two. You can check out the other hotels in that first day and no doubt find a better deal. Don’t be afraid to barder either. The places that have a presence on line will be more expensive than the ones that don't.

I'm excited for you! you're going to have a blast.