Friday, March 28, 2014

THAILAND: PREPARATION


     This was a DIY trip.  I started planning for this months in advance.  I relied heavily on Trip Advisor and Fodor's for advice and information.  I chose hotels from reviews on TA.  Location and the amenity of a pool were the main considerations.  My husband happily went along with everything I planned.  His only request was to try to book a hotel with a pool.  I did that and we utilized the pool quite a lot.  All the hotel prices included breakfast and taxes.  I bought the Nancy Chandler maps of Bangkok and Chiang Mai but to be honest I used them more before I even left home.  The maps were great in helping me draft a day to day itinerary with maximum efficiency.  Once we arrived in Bangkok and Chiang Mai I used maps from the airport and/or the hotels and they were free.

     HOTELS:

          I booked hotels through Sawadee.com, Agoda.com, Booking.com and directly by myself using the hotel website.

          Bangkok-Bossotel-great location minutes walk to Saphan Taskin BTS and Sathorn/Central Pier, almost next door to Shangri-la.  This is a good choice if on a budget.

          Chiang Mai-Baan Orapin-lovely property with the wonderful staff of Pepsi and manager Opas.

          Chiang Rai-Baan Soontree-another great property but a little bit away from town.  I booked this anyway as we had our 2 full days booked with Jermsak so location not the priority here.

          Khao Lak-Le Meridien-My husband was going to be scuba diving so I wanted a place with a great pool and nice beach.  This property didn't disappoint.  Loved the house made sugar donuts at the breakfast buffet!

          Phuket-Tropical Garden-located in Kata beach area.  Very busy, lots of traffic.  Beach was a few minutes walk right across the street.  This place was booked due to cost as our daughter and grandson were meeting us and she's a teacher on a budget.  I would have preferred a place that was beach front.

          Kanchanaburi-Sabai @ Kan Resort-walking distance to town and that famous bridge.
   
     TRANSPORTATION:

          Flights-Air Asia was great in that you can purchase extra baggage weight.  Nok Air advertised that you could purchase extra baggage weight but when I tried to do this via the website that function was not working so I ended up paying an obscene amount of money for the extra weight as compared to Air Asia.  Cambodian Angkor Air to fly from Phnom Penh to Bangkok.  They charged almost the price of the one way ticket just for my husband's scuba bag!

          Train-Used Man in Seat 61 website for information.  Originally wanted to book overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.  Tried to book this on line while we were in Cambodia.  Response received from Thailand Train Ticket on January 28, 2014 was that due to the "political crisis" in Bangkok since their office was near the scene of the protest it had been closed down until February 2014 and they advised us to directly contact the train station.  We did end up on the overnight train to Chiang Mai but not on the recommended train #13.  I will expand on this experience in the relevant post.  Used the train from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi.  While pleasant, there is no A/C and it was horrendously hot.  My husband was not happy.  We returned to Bangkok on a bus with A/C.

          Bus-Used Green VIP bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai.  It was most comfortable and we really enjoyed the short trip.  Local bus from Erawan Museum to BTS station to get back to BTS station Saphan Taskin.  Bus had comfortable seats, great A/C, and cheap at 30 baht for the 2 of us!  Also took the bus from Kanchanaburi back to Bangkok.  Bus was great with much needed A/C.

          Car-Rented a car from Economy Car Rentals for our time in Khao Lak and Phuket.  Picked it up and dropped it off at the Phuket Airport.

          Other forms of transport were BTS, MRT, Chao Phraya ferry system-tourist and local, long tail boat for khlong tour, tuk tuk, songthaew, taxi, private car, and of course-these feet were made for walking!!

     MONEY:

          ATMs all over the place.  We never had a problem changing USD to baht.  Some places took USD and credit card.

     IMPRESSIONS:

          Bangkok is a big city with all the pros and cons.  Loved it, hated it.
          Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai were favorites.  Loved northern Thailand.
          Khao Lak and Phuket were our beach destinations.  My husband and I much preferred Khao Lak over Phuket.  It was much quieter which was a plus for us seniors.  I also like the beach in Khao Lak better than the beaches in Phuket.
          Kanchanaburi was very nice.  Loved learning more about the WWII history that took place here.

          There is a place in Thailand to suit everyone's interests. Whether you want big city vibe or peace and quiet there is a place for you.
          The food was very good but there was one place we went to in Chiang Rai where our meal was horrible.  My husband, who will eat anything, could not eat what he ordered.
          We had great weather but it did get very hot towards the end of our stay in March.  Water became a necessity when sightseeing.  Hat and sunscreen also.
       
          Other than a month long trip to China in 2007 we had never been to Asia.  Our experience in Thailand was full of great memories and a few not so great ones.  Overall I'm glad we spent this time in Thailand.  It is a very easy country to do a DIY trip.



   
            

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