I am going to Thailand with my mum for a month (I am treating her) - so I came across this company offering a pre-arranged tour in various places around Thailand as I want to give both of us an authentic Thai experience away from the normal tourist traps.
Anyway, you can check out what they offering here:
I like the varied activities etc which they offer but I was a little surprised with the price.... $2,000 per person!
Anyhow, just wanted to know if you think I would be better off doing my own thing outside of this pre-arranged tour.
Thanks in advance
#1 flefant has been a member since 23/6/2009. Posts: 1
I took the liberty of C&Ping stuff from that link to make it easier for others to comment. My personal impression is that it's a total rip off!
After exploring the serenity of the Grand Palace and the modern madness of the Khao San Road in Bangkok, it’s off to Lopburi to learn how to cook and speak Thai. Next we take you to a local temple for 3 days of meditation and Thai massage before heading to Kanchanburi and a floating guesthouse which will be your home for the next few peaceful days. Our penultimate stop is the coastal town of Chumpon where you can sample life on a community farm as well as the beach before heading to Koh Tao and lending a hand on a beach conservation project.
# The stunning beaches of Koh Tao and Chumphon
# 3 days learning massage and meditation in a temple
# The forests, rivers and waterfalls of Kanchanaburi
# Exploring the sights of Bangkok
# Learning Thai cooking and language (to show off when you get home!)
# Experiencing Thailand the Thai way - laid back, slow paced and fun!
I'm not sure what you mean by "an authentic Thai experience" but that tour certainly wouldn't help you avoid any tourist traps. The Grand Palace for example is an impressive example of authentic Thai architecture but it's also at the top of most first timers' "to do" lists. Consequently it is always seething with tourists and touts and one of the best places to get scammed in Bangkok, as is Khao San Road.
Don't expect to be the only foreigners ever to have reached Lopburi, Kanchanaburi and Ko Tao either...particularly the latter. Hundreds of (mainly backpacker) tourists arrive and leave off every ferry. The whole island is devoted to tourism though so you won't have any problems finding places to stay, restaurants and things to do there. Massage, meditation, yoga, cooking classes, diving, snorkelling trips etc are all available there too.
You definitely do NOT need to pay some scam outfit $2000 to arrange logistics food and accommodation for you. Part of the authentic Thai experience comes from doing what you want, when you want how you want and in Thailand things are all set up to make this very easy to do.
Basic Thai cooking is very simple so it's easy to learn a few classic dishes even by watching how the street vendors prepare food.
Massage courses: Interesting but don't expect to be an expert after just 3 days. Wat Po in Bangkok is the most famous massage school in Thailand and their 30 hour courses last a minimum of 5 days. Even that is a totally inadequate amount of time to learn how to do a traditional Thai massage properly.
As for learning to speak Thai after a few days... forget it! Thai is a really hard language to learn and most westerners can't even hear the five different tones, never mind reproduce them accurately. You can try and pick up a few useful phrases if you like...hello, thank you etc but it's not really necessary as most people will speak enough English at the places you are going. Try this site if you want to learn a few phrases before going.
That "volunteer beach conservation project" probably involves you spending an hour or two picking up trash on a beach. Nothing to stop you doing that all by yourself too if you want!
Anyway, this is what I'd do if I were you.
1.Click on "Thailand" at the top of this page.
2.Check the travelfish weather map first to see which islands will have the better weather when you are going. The islands off the Andaman coast are drier during the winter months, the Gulf islands of Ko Tao and Ko Phangan are drier during the summer. Look at the various descriptions of islands and the accommodation options and chose one or more which take your fancy. Transport to various islands is a doddle, especially if you go when the weather is OK so don't worry about that unduly. When you get off the bus or the train there will be locals around who can arrange ferries and transport to the pier.
3. Check out other places of interest on the mainland and make up your own basic itinerary but don't book hotels/GHs in advance as you may change your mind when you get there. It's important to stay flexible, nothing worse than being stuck somewhere you don't like because you've already paid for the accommodation or being forced to move on from somewhere you really love.