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Please take a look at my Thailand/Cambodia Itinerary

  • lowndes

    Joined Travelfish
    18th February, 2010
    Posts: 18

    Hello, I was hoping somebody with knowledge of Thailand and Cambodia can take a look at my itinerary and give me suggestions on how it looks. My wife and I will be taking a trip in August 2010. Thanks in advance for the help.

    July 30th: Depart NYC for London
    July 31st: London
    Aug. 1st: London
    Aug. 2nd: London
    Aug. 3rd: Depart London for Bangkok
    Aug 4th: Bangkok
    Aug 5th: Bangkok and evening train to Chiang Mai
    Aug 6th: Chiang Mai
    Aug 7th: Chiang Mai
    Aug 8th: Chiang Mai
    Aug 9th: Depart Chiang Mai for Mae Hong Son
    Aug 10th: Mae Hon Son
    Aug 11th: Mae Hon Son
    Aug 12th: Depart Mae Hong Son for Chiang Mai
    Aug 13th: Depart Chiang Mai for Phuket
    Aug 14th: Phuket
    Aug 15th: Depart Phuket for Phi Phi
    Aug 15th: Phi Phi
    Aug 16th: Phi Phi
    Aug. 17th: Phi Phi
    Aug 18th: Depart Phi Phi for Phuket
    Aug 19th: Phuket
    Aug 20th: Depart Phuket for Bangkok and Bangkok for Phonm Phen
    Aug 21st: Phonm Phen
    Aug 22nd: Depart Phonm Phen for Siem Reap
    Aug 23rd: Siem Reap
    Aug 24th: Siem Reap
    Aug 25th: Depart Siem Reap for Bangkok and onto Kanchanaburi
    Aug 26th: Kanchanaburi
    Aug 27th: Kanchanaburi
    Aug 28th: Depart Kanchanaburi for Bangkok
    Aug 29th: Bangkok
    Aug 30th: Bangkok
    Aug. 31st: Depart Bangkok for Hong Kong
    Sept. 1st: Hong Kong
    Sept 2nd: Hong Kong
    Sept 3rd: Hong Kong
    Sept 4th: Hong Kong
    Sept 5th: Depart Hong Kong for NYC

    #1 Posted: 18/2/2010 - 13:00

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  • francesstel-
    la

    Click here to learn more about francesstella
    Joined Travelfish
    16th February, 2009
    Location Italy
    Posts: 95

    Hi Lowndes!

    It looks like you have a really goof itinerary going on. You might just want to reconsider the order cause it looks a bit like you're moving all over the map & doing a lot of backtracking. It might be more straightforward to go in this order:

    1. Kanchanaburi is alomst en route to Chiang Mai. Those could be your first 2 stops.
    2. You could fly from CM to Phnom Penh then work your way west through Cambodia & back into Thailand.
    3. At this point you could head to your islands!

    I'm not sure the above advice is all feasible so if it sounds good you'll still have to research it (eg: flight between CM & PP and transport between Kanchanaburi & CM).

    Have fun & take care!
    FSH

    #2 Posted: 18/2/2010 - 18:16

  • lowndes

    Joined Travelfish
    18th February, 2010
    Posts: 18

    Thanks for your insight. I'll do some research regarding the order and see what I can come up with.

    #3 Posted: 19/2/2010 - 06:50

  • EmjayReet

    Joined Travelfish
    4th July, 2006
    Location Australia
    Posts: 156
    Total reviews: 3

    Yeah agree with the other poster .. seems all over the place and i think you are almost doing too much. You dont seem to have much time in each place... just remember that the travel can take AGES and eat into a whole day or more!

    Definitely needs some work!

    #4 Posted: 20/2/2010 - 02:40

  • lowndes

    Joined Travelfish
    18th February, 2010
    Posts: 18

    Thannks, I might cut out a few things possibly Mae Hong Son and a few days at the beach to add elsewhere. Also, I'll note that transportation between everywhere is flight except for train to Chiang Mai and private taxi from Phonm Phen to Siem Reap.

    #5 Posted: 20/2/2010 - 02:49

  • EmjayReet

    Joined Travelfish
    4th July, 2006
    Location Australia
    Posts: 156
    Total reviews: 3

    I would add extra days to Phuket and Chiang Mai .. you can always do day trips to other areas... and maybe just do a day tour to Kanchanaburi unless you are out there for a specific reason!?

    Tour with Tong does a great day trip which is a private tour covering the floating markets and all the Kanchanaburi sites in one full day!

    Reet

    #6 Posted: 20/2/2010 - 03:13

  • lowndes

    Joined Travelfish
    18th February, 2010
    Posts: 18

    So after further research I am having trouble rearranging the order of the trip where it makes more sense takes less time. I'll break down the travel to see if somebody can point out what I am missing.

    We will fly into Bangkok and then take the overnight train to Chiang Mai . This way we can sleep, get the train experience, save a night of hotel, etc. Next, if we decide to go to Mae Hong Son we will take the 30 minute flight there and back. When it is time to leave Chiang Mai we will fly to Phuket. (There is no flight "or cheap flight" from Chiang Mai to PP). After a week in Southern Thailand we will then fly to PP through Bangkok. Spend a couple of days there and take a private taxi so we can see the country to Siem Reap . Fly out of Siem Reap back to Bangkok. Once we land we will then take a private taxi to Kanchanaburi. The way back we will take the train because we like to see the countryside. Spend the rest of the trip in Bangkok.

    Anyways, I guess I am having trouble finding flights that would take less time. Trying to take flights that are as direct as possible. What am I missing about the order of the trip? I felt that was pretty good but am unsure about if I am putting to much in too it or spending too much/too little time in certain spots.

    Again, thanks for taking the time to respond. I really appreciate it. Trying to do as much research as possible before we go.

    #7 Posted: 20/2/2010 - 12:38

  • lowndes

    Joined Travelfish
    18th February, 2010
    Posts: 18

    Forgot to add. Do you think it is a good idea to cut out Mae Hong Son? Can most of the stuff seen there be done as day trips from Chiang Mai? Thinking about getting rid of that as it gets rid of 2 travel days. Therefore, we would spend about a week in Chiang Mai. Is that too much?

    #8 Posted: 20/2/2010 - 12:46

  • EmjayReet

    Joined Travelfish
    4th July, 2006
    Location Australia
    Posts: 156
    Total reviews: 3

    I would get rid of it and spend about 6 days in Chiang Mai .. try get a weekend there so you can do the Sunday Walking Markets..

    Add a day or two to Phuket ...

    The train back to Kanchanaburi isnt great for sightseeing.. its mainly suburbia.. I would just get the bus back.

    The plan looks pretty good .. would just try to enjoy places a little more... Definitely add a day or two to Siem Reap.

    On my first trip I did 3 days SR and 1.5 days PP and it was not enough. PP will be fine... only need a day packed of seeing the main sights but SR deserves at least 3-4 days. While you are there go to the Angkor Childrens Hospital and donate blood.

    2 days temples will get you a good chunk of the popular nad more remote.

    1 day tour of the Lake..

    Let me know if you want any accommodation suggestions. what is your budget?

    Look at Air Asia they now have a direct flight from CM to Phuket and if you get it on a sale it can work out quite cheap

    #9 Posted: 20/2/2010 - 13:00

  • EmjayReet

    Joined Travelfish
    4th July, 2006
    Location Australia
    Posts: 156
    Total reviews: 3

    Just had a quick look and AA have direct flights from CM to Phuket for Aug 13 for only $53AUD or $47USD at the moment. I would be snatching that one up quick smart if I was you!

    Alternative for the Cambodia trip is : from Bangkok do the overland trip to Siem Reap .. its a whole day of travel but GREAT sightseeing and an adventure! Spend your time there, then get the bus to PP (early morning) .. spend a day or two in PP and then fly AA back to Bangkok.

    The only airline flying in/out of Siem Reap from Bangkok is Bangkok Air and they are mega expensive.

    I also believe that the overland day trip is well worth it. I did it the first time and will be doing it again this July.

    I think PP is a nice end to Cambodia to put into perspective what you saw during your stay.

    Have a look through my travel blogs for photos and blogs on all of the above. www.travelblog.org/bloggers/reet

    xx

    #10 Posted: 20/2/2010 - 13:10

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  • lowndes

    Joined Travelfish
    18th February, 2010
    Posts: 18

    Emjay, thank you for the help. Really appreciate it.

    I think I'll take the advice and cut out Mae Hong Son and just spend the week in Chiang Mai . We have a lot we want to do in the area. Definitely could use accomadations recommendations if you have them. We are budgeting about $200 a day. That includes lodging, food, transportation, and activities. I'll list the accommodations I have researched and am thinking about so far.

    Chiang Mai: Pak Chiang Mai (if going to spend 7 days there might split it between 2 places; one in town and one out)
    Phuket: Boomerang Village Cottages
    Phi Phi: Either Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort & Spa or Holiday Inn (Maybe a night of Maya Bay Camping)
    Phnom Phen: FCC?
    Siem Reap: Pavillon D'Orient
    Kanchanaburi: Oriental Kwai Resort
    Bangkok: ??? was just planning to priceline a hotel with Name Your Own Price

    All of my information from these place came from the places like TripAdvisor so if you have any personal recommendations please share.

    #11 Posted: 20/2/2010 - 13:10

  • lowndes

    Joined Travelfish
    18th February, 2010
    Posts: 18

    I would go ahead and book the airfare but there is a chance that our trip could get extended by a month or so (or two). I'll know by the end of March so am waiting until then to make hotel reservations and airfare.

    Went ahead and booked our international airfare with frequrent flyer miles because the flight home from Hong Kong is extremely easy to pushback.

    #12 Posted: 20/2/2010 - 13:13

  • EmjayReet

    Joined Travelfish
    4th July, 2006
    Location Australia
    Posts: 156
    Total reviews: 3

    You are well out of my price range so I cant really offer much advice... other than areas to stay in:

    Chiang Mai... try find something in the old city moat area. Its a great little place to just wander around and has a great atmosphere

    Phuket.. stay at Patong in the thick of it if you are only there a few days so as to contrast against PP Island.. and yes do the Maya Bay Camping weather permitting. I should be doing it in July so keep an eye out on my blogs.

    I have heard that FCC is a little overrated.. I would look for alternatives

    In Bangkok why dont you try Navalai on the river. Its in an amazing spot. Havent stayed there personally but have seen where it is and it looks gorgeous. http://www.navalai.com/facilities.html

    I love Holiday Inn or Patong Mercure in Phuket... they are more in your price range.

    Reet

    #13 Posted: 20/2/2010 - 13:19

  • lowndes

    Joined Travelfish
    18th February, 2010
    Posts: 18

    Reet, thanks for the advice. I have been reading your blog and am really enjoying. You have had some amazing adventures!!!

    #14 Posted: 20/2/2010 - 13:21

  • EmjayReet

    Joined Travelfish
    4th July, 2006
    Location Australia
    Posts: 156
    Total reviews: 3

    LOL I certainly try to find trouble.. or does it find me!? Keep an eye on my blogs in July.. I am off again with a couple of friends in tow! Doing Bangkok - Siem Reap - Phnom Penh - Bangkok - Ko Phangan - Phuket with possible side trip to Maya Bay Camping!

    Another alterative and not trying to confuse you but if you could get rid of Mae Hon and find extra days a 3 day tour of Khao Sok National Park from Phuket would be well worth your time... I would choose it over Kanchanaburi and Mae Hon any day...

    You could get Kris from Limestone Lake Tours to get you a private transfer from Phuket up and back OR alternatively fly to Bangkok from CM do the overnigth train to Surat Thani.. do Khao Sok Jungle Magic Tour with LL Tours and then bus / private transfer to Phuket and on to PP...

    Khao Sok is my number 1 destination in Thailand .. it is amazing! And well worth juggling the itinerary for. It is in my blogs a couple of times!

    #15 Posted: 20/2/2010 - 13:29

  • lowndes

    Joined Travelfish
    18th February, 2010
    Posts: 18

    Sounds terrific, I'll do some research. And I definitely will keep my eyes on your blog in July. Sounds like you will be visiting and doing a lot of the things we want to do.

    #16 Posted: 20/2/2010 - 13:31

  • EmjayReet

    Joined Travelfish
    4th July, 2006
    Location Australia
    Posts: 156
    Total reviews: 3

    if you look into khao sok and want to try factor it in let me know and we can try work out your itinerary to make sense. its worth fitting in if you can do it. www.limestonelaketours.com and my two blogs on it should give you lots of photos and info.

    It is really a fantastic place staying in the waterfall shower room at Arts and then on the floating rafthouses... some of the best food I have eaten in Thailand has been on this tour both times!

    I am travelling with a SE Asia virgin so will possibly be doing all the things you are interested in. While my friend does some temple tours in Siem Reap I will be doing some 'charity work' through www.theplf.org as I have done the temples to death.

    We are also doing a day tour from Bangkok that covers the Floating Markets (my 4th visit) and Kanchanaburi! I would recommend if you are going to do the Floating Markets you hire a private guide as opposed to going on a tour bus. I always use Tong (who has now become like a best friend). Her tours are fantastic.. you will find them in all my blogs in the Bangkok blogs so if it looks like something you would like to do let me know and I can give you her details. She can sometimes be hard to get hold of due to being so busy.

    #17 Posted: 20/2/2010 - 13:38

  • Sparts

    Joined Travelfish
    5th June, 2009
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 167
    Places visited:
    At least 17

    I don't think I'd spend quote so long as an entire week in Chaing Mai. 4/5 days max would do especially if you are trying to fit so many stops in. Having said that, I wish I could have spent more time there but equally I would have regreted having not spent more time on the islands lol.
    I'd also miss out Phnom Phen. Make the one stop in Cambodia. You can see more than enough of the Cambodian countryside from your base in Siem Reap. The Cambodian countryside for the most part is pretty uninspiring IMO. Perhaps someone could tell us what the trip from PP to SR is like? I know you can also get the boat but you'll see nothing from the boat.



    You've got to ask yourself, if this a holiday or a whistle stop tour? Kinda difficult to familiarise yourself places or people if you are always on the go?
    Fingers crossed you can extend this trip by a month or so. Then I wouldn't hesitate to extend Chain Mai, vistit PP etc.
    Couldn't agree more with the poster earlier, I'd leave Kanchanaburi for a day trip. Although I've never been there were several day trips from Bangkok. Unless you are keen as mustard to go you could always keep it as a bonus trip - just see how things go.

    I think the key to your trip is to be as efficient as possible with your flights as you have a month and seem to be making aorund 10 flights. It is easily possible but you may want to consider writing off a few days for intensive travel so you can relax a bit more at your destinations.

    #18 Posted: 20/2/2010 - 18:12

  • lowndes

    Joined Travelfish
    18th February, 2010
    Posts: 18

    Thanks Sparts, for your opinion. My goal for this Saturday is to go through my guidebooks for each of our stops and see what is is we want to do there. Then try to prioritize. I really would like to have the trip all booked up (except for tours and what we actually do in each stop, we can just do what we feel like at the time).

    I definitely don't want to be on the move constantly. Want the trip to be a mix of vacation, relaxation, and seeing the sights. This is going to be my last long vacation for a really long time so trying to make it great.

    #19 Posted: 21/2/2010 - 01:08

  • Sparts

    Joined Travelfish
    5th June, 2009
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 167
    Places visited:
    At least 17

    Hey, I did almost the same trip or at elast wanted the same trip at the end of last year. I was changing jobs and found myself with 6 weeks in between that I just had to take advantage of. Anyway, we had 30 days and split it something like the following, 2 days Bangkok, 4 days Chaing Mai, overland to Siem Reap - stayed 4 days, flights to KL 1 night, KL to Perhentian Islands 4 nights and then onwards to Koh Phangan for 12 days. We had 2 days in Bangkok at the end of our trip too. I may have my days slightly out as I'm going from memory. Anyway, the point is that we had lots and lots of travelling the first two weeks before slowing down and having a "holiday" at the end. Including our flights from Edinburgh in the UK and then London to BKK we made something like 14 flights, sometimes two in a day. The only flights we had booked for travel in SE Asia was from BKK to Chaing Mai. Everything else we booked more or less the night before travel. I was amazed we got away with this and we managed to get on every flight we wanted - every flight but one was Air Asia and all were so cheap it was silly. however, we were VERY aware of who flew where and at what time. We kinda knew wher we were going but always went with the flow.
    Best vacation ever and if I were to do it again I'd do it the same way.

    Good luck with your planning :)

    #20 Posted: 21/2/2010 - 04:27

  • lowndes

    Joined Travelfish
    18th February, 2010
    Posts: 18

    Ok so I've gone through and decided the definite things that we want to do in each location. I've posted an updated itinerary to get some more insight. I've tried to incorporate the suggestions that have been made. Might not be spending as much time as the beach as was suggested simply because I am not the biggest fan of swimming in the open ocean. I sort of have an irrational phobia of that. (I do want to overcome that and at least go snorkeling once).

    We also have 4 days in Bangkok at the end of the trip and I think that is too much. 2 full days in the beginning and 2 full days in the end is what I am thinking is sufficient. Therefore, I have a couple of days to play with and put elsewhere. Thanks again for you guys taking the time to help me.

    July 30th: Depart NYC for London
    July 31st: London
    Aug. 1st: London
    Aug. 2nd: London
    Aug. 3rd: Depart London for Bangkok
    Aug 4th: Bangkok (Arrive at 6:00 AM)
    - Get adjusted to time change
    - Evening Boat trip with dinner
    - Just explore during the day
    Aug 5th: Bangkok and evening train to Chiang Mai
    - Lazy morning
    - Visit markets
    - Catch 6:00 PM sleeper train to Chiang Mai
    Aug 6th: Chiang Mai (Arrive around 6:30 AM)
    - Explore Town
    - Thai Massage
    - Nice dinner out on the town
    Aug 7th: Chiang Mai
    - Cooking class at Thai Farm Cooking School
    Aug 8th: Chiang Mai
    - Chiang Mai Zoo and Aquarium in AM
    - Sunday Market in Evening
    Aug 9th: Chiang Mai
    - Move to hotel in Chiang Mai countryside
    - Elephant, Bamboo Rafting, and Hiking
    Aug 10th: Chiang Mai
    - Relaxation Day
    Aug 11th: Depart Chiang Mai for Phuket
    - Morning Flight to Phuket
    Aug 12th: Phuket
    - Deep Sea Fishing
    Aug 13th: Phuket
    - Hong by Starlight
    Aug 14th: Depart Phuket for Phi Phi
    - Morning Ferry to Phi Phi
    - Camping in Maya Bay in evening or check into Holiday Inn Phi Phi
    Aug 15th: Phi Phi
    - Relaxation Day at Holiday Inn Phi Phi
    - Snorkeling and Long Boat cruise around islands
    - Private dinner on the beach
    Aug 15th: Phi Phi
    - Relaxation ay at Holiday Inn Phi Phi
    - Sunset Dinner Cruise
    Aug 16th: Depart Phi Phi for Phuket
    - Relax
    Aug. 17th: Phuket
    - Free Day
    Aug 18th: Depart Phuket for Bangkok and Bangkok for Phnom Phen
    - Stay at the Pavilion
    Aug 19th: Phnom Phen
    - Visiting the National Musuem, Royal Palace and the Killing Fields
    Aug 20th: Depart Phonm Phen for Siem Reap
    - Stay at Pavillon D’Orient
    - Relaxing night on town
    Aug 21st: Siem Reap
    - Angkor Wat
    Aug 22nd: Siem Reap
    - Angkor Wat
    Aug 23rd: Siem Reap
    - Visit the area and relax
    Aug 24th: Depart Siem Reap for Bangkok and taxi to Kanchanaburi
    - Stay at Oriental Kwai Resort
    Aug 25th: Kanchanaburi
    - Full day exploring the surroundings
    - The Bridge, HellFire Musuem, Erawan Waterfall (don’t know if I got these names right just going off the top of my head of what I have read.
    Aug 26th: Kanchanaburi
    - Relax by the river
    - Kayak on river
    - Evening Bus back to Bangkok
    Aug 27th: Bangkok
    Aug 28th: Bangkok
    Aug 29th: Bangkok
    Aug 30th: Bangkok
    Aug. 31st: Depart Bangkok for Hong Kong
    - Early Flight
    Sept. 1st: Hong Kong
    Sept 2nd: Hong Kong
    Sept 3rd: Hong Kong
    Sept 4th: Hong Kong
    Sept 5th: Depart Hong Kong for NYC

    #21 Posted: 21/2/2010 - 05:10

  • lowndes

    Joined Travelfish
    18th February, 2010
    Posts: 18

    And the itinerary if I kept Mae Hong Son in there:

    July 30th: Depart NYC for London
    July 31st: London
    Aug. 1st: London
    Aug. 2nd: London
    Aug. 3rd: Depart London for Bangkok
    Aug 4th: Bangkok (Arrive at 6:00 AM)
    - Get adjusted to time change
    - Evening Boat trip with dinner
    - Just explore during the day
    Aug 5th: Bangkok and evening train to Chiang Mai and morning
    - Lazy morning
    - Visit markets
    - Catch 6:00 PM sleeper train to Chiang Mai
    Aug 6th: Chiang Mai (Arrive around 6:30 AM)
    - Explore Town
    - Thai Massage
    - Nice dinner out on the town
    Aug 7th: Chiang Mai
    - Cooking class at Thai Farm Cooking School
    Aug 8th: Chiang Mai
    - Chiang Mai Zoo and Aquarium in AM
    - Sunday Market in Evening
    Aug 9th: Chiang Mai
    - Free day to relax and explore
    Aug 10th: Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son (morning flight)
    - Fern Resort
    - Explore Town
    Aug 11th: Mae Hong Son
    - Elephant Riding, Bamboo Rafting and Hiking
    Aug 12th: Depart Mae Hong Son for Phuket
    - Arrive in Phuket at 3:00
    Aug 13th: Phuket
    - Deep Sea Fishing
    Aug 14th: Depart Phuket for Phi Phi
    - Camping in Maya Bay or Holiday Inn Phi Phi
    Aug 15th: Phi Phi
    - Relax
    Aug 16th: Phi Phi
    - Relaxation Day at Holiday Inn Phi Phi
    - Snorkeling and Long Boat cruise around islands
    - Private dinner on the beach
    Aug 17th: Phi Phi
    - Relaxation at Holiday Inn Phi Phi
    - Sunset Dinner Cruise
    Aug 18th: Depart Phi Phi for Phuket
    - Relax
    Aug. 19th: Phuket
    - Hong by Starlight
    Aug 20thth: Depart Phuket for Bangkok and Bangkok for Phnom Phen
    - Stay at the Pavilion
    Aug 21st: Phnom Phen
    - Visiting the National Musuem, Royal Palace and the Killing Fields
    Aug 22nd: Depart Phonm Phen for Siem Reap
    - Stay at Pavillon D’Orient
    - Relaxing night on town
    Aug 23rd: Siem Reap
    - Angkor Wat
    Aug 24th: Siem Reap
    - Angkor Wat
    Aug 25th: Siem Reap
    - Visit the area and relax
    Aug 26th: Depart Siem Reap for Bangkok and taxi to Kanchanaburi
    - Stay at Oriental Kwai Resort
    Aug 27th: Kanchanaburi
    - Full day exploring the surroundings
    - The Bridge, HellFire Musuem, Erawan Waterfall (don’t know if I got these names right just going off the top of my head of what I have read.
    Aug 28th: Kanchanaburi
    - Relax by the river
    - Kayak on river
    - Evening Bus back to Bangkok
    Aug 29th: Bangkok
    Aug 30th: Bangkok
    Aug. 31st: Depart Bangkok for Hong Kong
    - Flight at noon
    Sept. 1st: Hong Kong
    Sept 2nd: Hong Kong
    Sept 3rd: Hong Kong
    Sept 4th: Hong Kong
    Sept 5th: Depart Hong Kong for NYC

    #22 Posted: 21/2/2010 - 06:29

  • EmjayReet

    Joined Travelfish
    4th July, 2006
    Location Australia
    Posts: 156
    Total reviews: 3

    Hmmmm yes it looks pretty good but no real relaxation time in there... maybe take those extra two days from Bangkok and add to Phuket or Phi Phi. Keep your first itinerary.

    A few tour suggestions now:

    In Bangkok hire a private guide, you will get to see all the must see sites within one day

    In Chiang Mai the elephant trek, rafting tour is over-rated and most of the elephant camps are AWFUL. They treat their elephants like crap! The rafting is sitting on some bamboo as you go down a river and you just get your bum wet!

    I suggest you spend that day at one of two places - Elephant Nature Park where all abused/rescued elephants live.. here you dont get to ride the elephants but you do get to get in the water and wash them as well as feed them and have an educational day on the Thai elephants. The 2nd suggestion which is more expensive but will achieve more towards your goal is Patara Elephant Farm. It is mega expensive but worth every cent and it is one of few places that treat their elephants well... you will get so much more out of the experience. At other 'camps' where you do the touristy tour you mentioned you get to ride on top of elephants in baskets and the mahout will use a hook to keep the elephant in line. If you dont know what you are looking for you may not see the signs of abuse but if you see purple iodine on sores and lots of white scarring you can be assured that elephant is being abused! The baskets are a one size fits all and each ellie is not a one size fits all! They get crippling back injuries from doing the tourist rides!

    At Patara you are given your own elephant for the day. You learn to feed it, care for it, look for signs of sickness, you get in the river and wash it then you learn the thai phrases for 'go' 'stop' etc then you learn all the different ways you can climb on the elephant.. you then get to ride the elephant bareback on its neck through the forest and are basically telling it where to go! When you get to a big waterfall you stop for lunch and then you get to go in the water with your ellie and play! Very very fun! You then ride it back to the camp!

    I urge you to strongly consider supporting one of the two above places rather than doing the normal touristy package! You can book both online before you go as they have limited places for each day.

    www.elephantnaturefoundationonline.com
    http://www.pataraelephantfarm.com/

    In Bangkok a good dinner cruise that is reasonably priced and has rave reviews is Loy Nava

    For your trip to CM on the overnight train, when you get to the railway station, you will find a little massage place hidden behind all the shops inside the terminal. Great for a foot massage before your long train journey. There is a little convenience store where you can buy snacks and beers for the journey too. You will find a little bakery. Grab yourself a pastry for the morning just in case the train runs late and dont risk the breakfast offered on the train. Have heard its not flash and have never personally had it on any of my trips.

    There is also a food court in the train station.. it is on the opposite side of the hall from the bakery/banks etc. They will make you up a takeaway pack and the food is really good. I always get a chicken or port dish over rice and it will come with little sauces in plastic bags you can pour over.

    I travel 2nd class air con sleeper but you might want to do 1st class. I prefer 2nd as you get to socialise and people watch. When the beds are made up you have a privacy curtain for each bed. I sleep with any valuables in my bed with me and my luggage on the rack next to the bed. Never had any issues. Just make sure you have locks on luggage but I have never felt unsafe. Try get beds in middle of carriage away from toilets. They tend to get smelly.

    Dont go fan 2nd class as the carriages are really dirty. We were lucky enough to upgrade having got there early on one trip as there were cockroaches EVERYWHERE! I have only ever seen this in the 2nd class FAN carriages.

    If you want to enjoy the scenery catch the later train - think its about 7pm or later.. its the one that says it arrives around 9am. The scenery is its prettiest the last couple of hours out of Chiang Mai so you can get up, wake up and watch the scenery go by for the last hour or two of your journey.

    I know a couple of tour operators in Phuket so if you are interested in boating, atv'ing or just an island tour (with private driver) let me know and I can post those details for you.

    John Gray Hong By Starlight is great - you will love it!

    Try get your shopping done in Chiang Mai (if you are okay carting it around rest of trip). The night markets in CM are amazing and sooo cheap! Esp if you like the fake watches/handbags.. I found quality and price to be so much better than what I have found in Bangkok or Phuket.

    In Phuket stay in Patong and shop at the OTop markets.. they are much cheaper than Beach Rd.

    In Kanchanburi, Erawan will take a good chunk of your day so maybe do that day 1 then on day 2 do the Bridge etc. For Erawan go into town to the bus station, jump on the local bus (think from memory 80 baht per person) and then you pay to get into National Park at the gate. Once there you can wander to the top at your leisure (I have heard that on organised tours you get rushed and dont often make it to the top). Once you come back down you can have lunch at one of the little restaurants at the bottom before catching local bus home. The buses depart every hour throughout the day. Go early.. From memory it took us about 3 hours to get up and down the falls.. but if you check my blogs its probably more accurate there.

    In Phnom Penh, my two MUST SEE sites for you are S21 and Killing Fields. Anything else is a bonus. We only went to these two and then Russian Markets. We missed the other places as we were palaced/templed out at tht stage. Read my blog on S21 to prepare yourself. I found that because I knew what to expect I was fine but my partner didnt know what he was walking into and had to walk out of the buildings upset a couple of times.

    If you want a suggestion of the best temples to see in Siem Reap let me know. We did two days. On day 1 we did all the usual suspects such as Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and others close by. We hired a tuktuk driver for the day for $12USD. On day 2 we paid for a aircon car ($25) and went to more remote temples. They had less tourists and IMO were more beautiful than the more popular ones!

    Anyway that is all I can think of, and I think you will have an amazing time regardless of itinerary.. but like I said earlier.. take a day or two off Bangkok and put it on the beach area ... I loooove Bangkok personally. I could spend a week there easily...

    Reet

    #23 Posted: 21/2/2010 - 13:20

  • lowndes

    Joined Travelfish
    18th February, 2010
    Posts: 18

    Wow Reet, I think I owe you a case or two of Chang for all of your help.

    I appreciate your insight on the Elephant Riding. I have been trying to do some research because I don't want to to a place that abuses their elephants. I don't think I could have much fun if I saw them with a hook to keep the elephants in line. Patara Elephant Farm looks like a terrific experience!!

    I've added Loy Nava to my tours listed. Been researching which one of those is the best so glad you gave a recommendation.

    It's funny that you mention the first class vs. 2nd class thing. You are right that initially I thought we would prefer 1st class and might still do that. However, we do want to meet people and hear about their travels on our trip as that is part of the fun. We'll just have to keep the options in mind when it becomes time to make a reservation. Also, if we decide to take the later train to catch more scenery then that should solve the decision for us as I believe there are no 1st class sleepers on that train last time I looked. And thank you very much for the food suggestion. I'm always on the lookout for the next best meal.

    We do plan to do some shopping but whenever possible we are going to go to the post office and ship things home. Also, I've heard that there might be some places to find some real good wood furniture. If this turns out to be true we might shop around for that and get shippers to ship it to America. I guess Chiang Mai is the place for that too?

    I would really appreciate your recommendations on tours in Phuket . Right now we are spending 3 days in Phuket (1 day deep sea fishing, 1 day Hong by Starlight, and 1 day whatever) and 4 days in Phi Phi at the Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort & Spa (4 days because you stay 3 get the 4th night free). We might take your suggestion and have 4 or 5 days in Phuket and therefore time for a few more activities.

    I've added S21 to PP. Haven't heard about that one yet. I know we want to see the Killing Fields and that was the only thing for sure on our list. It would be fun to see the National Musuem, Royal Place, Sunset Cruise on the Mekong, but we will have to see how that plays out.

    Siem Reap we are staying at a place (Pavillon d'Orient) that provides you with a TukTuk to use all day that is including in your roommate. First day we are going to use that to go out to Angkor Wat. If you could share some of your other favorite sites that would be terrific. Plan to do something like that the following day.

    Anyways, thanks again for all of the help. I'm really starting to feel confident in the itinerary that we are laying out. Really helps to have the advice of somebody who has done it before.

    Doug

    #24 Posted: 22/2/2010 - 01:21

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