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Question on Thailand
Old 03-12-2006, 05:26 PM   #1
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Question on Thailand

Since I retired I have been doing a great deal of traveling.* I have lived in Europe and am not a novice and can survive but I have never been to Asia.* Wife and daughter not going on this trip to Thailand.* Now my question....

I see guided tours available and they look interesting but would also consider just winging it on my own.* I know a number on this forum has been to Thailand and I am asking which way you might suggest for a healthy 55 year old who would really like to see the country rather just one city.

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Re: Question on Thailand
Old 03-12-2006, 05:47 PM   #2
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Re: Question on Thailand

Thailand has a well developed tourist infrastructure and it's easy to get around the major tourist sites (Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, etc.) on your own. Unless you're going to remote areas, people working in the tourism industry will speak enough English that language shouldn't be a problem. You can book your own flights on bangkokair.com or discounter airasia.com and go wherever intersests you.

I think whether to take a guided tour is simply a matter of personal preference.* I personally prefer solo travel to guided tours, as I don't mind eating meals alone and prefer to set my own itinerary and change it on the fly. On guided tours, I sometimes feel like the group is being hered like cattle from one place to another, and most groups are full of couples or families anyway, so I end up feeling more self conscious about being alone on group tours.*

Travel in Thailand is pretty easy as far as developing countries go. There are an awful lot of 55 year old solo male travelers who are there for the "nightlife." Just make sure the taxi drivers use the meter, and don't let them to take you to any gem shops or "special places" they suggest, as it's all a commission scam.* You'll have a good time either way.

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Re: Question on Thailand
Old 03-12-2006, 09:08 PM   #3
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Re: Question on Thailand

Any chance he could find a very good independent guide or even a home-stay withthe family of a physician? Learning about life of a peer in another country can be enriching for both, and may become the basis for a long-term friendship.

My family did the independent guide route in the late 60's. It worked very well.
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Re: Question on Thailand
Old 03-12-2006, 10:32 PM   #4
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Re: Question on Thailand

Last year, I went to Thailand for 1 month. At the time I wasn't interested in travelling around, so I spent 2 weeks in Bangkok which i'll never do again and 2 week in Chiang Mai which I really enjoyed and plan to return to.
My style of travelling might be different than yours. I plan to establish a homebase like Chiang Mai and casually branch out and explore the areas using the folding bike that I am bringing. I will also use public transportation when I need to cover greater distances. As I learn more about Thailand, I probably follow the same pattern in other regions of the country.
If you are adventurous enough, you can do pretty much anything you want on your own. Although I never used the tuktuks (taxis) if you do, use them only for transportation and negotiate a much lower price or as someone suggested, use metered taxis.
As far as tour operators, shop around a bit before using one. Get friendly with the farangs that either are touring or are long term visitors to get advance on getting around or finding reliable tour operators.

Have fun.
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Re: Question on Thailand
Old 03-13-2006, 12:23 AM   #5
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Re: Question on Thailand

Do not buy jewelry there. Big scam is to encounter someone socially who eventually tries to talk you into buying jewelry cheap in Thailand so you can resell for big money in your home country. People wind up paying thousands for costume jewelry.
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Re: Question on Thailand
Old 03-13-2006, 11:17 AM   #6
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Re: Question on Thailand

DW and I just returned from a 3 week vacation in Thailand and Cambodia.* It was a great trip (except for the dog bite and subsequent rabies shots), and we did it on our own.* Thailand was mostly comfortable and inexpensive: $15/night for an air-conditioned en-suite guesthouse room, $5/person for air-con bus fare between Sukhothai and Chiang Mai (6 hour ride), excellent food for $2-3 -- less if you eat with the locals, rather than tourist-oriented places.* Bangkok is huge and crazy, but worth a few days.* Outside of Bangkok, life proceeds at a much more reasonable pace.* We visited Ayutthaya (really liked the Baan Suan guesthouse there), Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, and Ko Si Chang (nice beach, but don't stay at the lodge there, it is filthy) -- fairly standard tourist places.

Interestingly, the much poorer Cambodia is more expensive for tourists.* Still pretty cheap by US standards, though.

You really need a guidebook, though -- we used Rough Guide, but I'm sure Lonely Planet is fine.* Without it, you won't know about the jewelry scams, etc.* I would have thought buying a guidebook was an obvious first step, but over there we met people without them -- that's why I mention it.* Also useful was a phrase book with phrases written out in Thai script.* We couldn't pronounce Thai very well (so that taxi drivers in Bangkok could understand where we wanted to go), but pointing to the Thai script was useful several times.

We loved the trip, and will probably go back.* That is, after we see all the other places we want to see first ........
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Re: Question on Thailand
Old 03-13-2006, 12:28 PM   #7
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Re: Question on Thailand

What are the seasons there, and how hot does it usually get in the different seasons. In particular, what is their cooler time of year and how long does it last.

Anyone know how it compares to Southern Florida weather?
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Re: Question on Thailand
Old 03-13-2006, 08:45 PM   #8
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Re: Question on Thailand

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert the Red
DW and I just returned from a 3 week vacation in Thailand and Cambodia...
<Drool> :P

Maybe someday...
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Re: Question on Thailand
Old 03-15-2006, 12:32 AM   #9
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Re: Question on Thailand

Get a Lonely Planet Thailand and start exploring!

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Re: Question on Thailand
Old 03-15-2006, 04:59 PM   #10
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Re: Question on Thailand

People,

I'm a new member -- I've been reading lots on Thailand the last month (Bangkok at first -- but Chiang Mai sounds nice).* Here are some very helpful links I've come across:

http://www.bangkokbob.net/
http://www.philipwilliams.freeservers.com/
http://www.stickmanbangkok.com/
http://www.nancychandler.net/move.asp
http://www.thaiapartment.com/
http://www.mrroomfinder.com/index.php
http://bangkok.asiaxpat.com/
http://www.thailandlife.com/food/
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Re: Question on Thailand
Old 03-15-2006, 05:23 PM   #11
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Re: Question on Thailand

My wife and I spent 1998 in Thailand. We lived in a subdivision north of the Bangkok airport. I worked for an American company there, so we had a house with a maid and a car and driver. It was a great experience. The weather in Thailand is best described as hot and muggy, divided into the wet and dry seasons. Temps hit the 90's to 100's. The highlands in the north are more pleasant.

Be sure to bargain for anything you buy. Tourist price for a parasol was $12, for a local $2, as an example.

There are very modern and inexpensive hospitals and dental clinics in Bangkok. Food is quite cheap. The people are friendly.

In resort communities there is a lot of English spoken.

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Re: Question on Thailand
Old 05-09-2006, 06:51 AM   #12
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Re: Question on Thailand

I can really help you here...I retired and am living part time in Thailand...and have a Thai wife. I have traveled all over and been here off and on since 2002.

Thailand is awesome. I have been to over 50 countries in my life and love it here the best...the weather, the cost of living, the people, the food, the safety. Sure, there are problems here, but there are everywhere. And living is cheap!!!!

I am 48 and can live a fantastic lifestyle here for about 3k per month. Probably even less, but I do love to eat out and travel. I have been all over Asia...pretty much to every country around here.

I recommend getting a Lonely Planet book...but it is oriented towards the cheaper traveler. Maybe get Frommers also. The LP Thorn Tree is good for info, but I recommend www.thaivisa.com. Lots of great people there.

I recommend solo travel. Everybody in the tourism business speaks English. That means everybody you encounter at the airport, bus station, restaurants, etc. A few taxi and tuk tuk drivers don't speak much...but you can get by.

Travel here is safe and cheap. Like anywhere, watch for pickpockets at major transit places and at outdoor festivals. But I have never had any problems and have never known anybody who has. Food is safe, but I drink bottled water...as most everybody does here in Asia.

I am here until September traveling around the region...I will do what I can to help! I am new to this board...I guess PM me when you get a chance. And have a blast when you are here!

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Re: Question on Thailand
Old 05-09-2006, 08:34 AM   #13
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Re: Question on Thailand

Billy and I are finishing up 9 months here in Thailand (this trip).

Take advantage of our Thailand Travel Page http://www.retireearlylifestyle.com/thailand_travel.htm where we list basics, mostly about Chiang Mai, but we continuously update. Getting Money, Transport, Visa Run, Restaurants, Medical Info and some Thai survival phrases are all listed as well.*

Lonely Planet is great to research - then hire yourself a driver! Do what you want to do, when you want to do it, at your speed and time of day. Drivers are cheap and you can hire for 1/2 day full day or longer.

"Our" travel agent is listed too.

Photos of Ayutthaya - a must see: http://www.retireearlylifestyle.com/ayutthaya.htm

Thailand Photos we have taken and stories we have written: http://www.retireearlylifestyle.com/thailand.htm

Here's the view from our 'Southern Thailand Office':* * *
http://retireearlylifestyle.com/southern_view1.wmv

Vietnam is fabulous also. If you get a chance, go there as well! http://www.retireearlylifestyle.com/vietnam.htm

Smile, bargain, and have a great time. Plan to return!

Akaisha
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Re: Question on Thailand
Old 05-10-2006, 12:15 PM   #14
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Re: Question on Thailand

Wonderful country.
My wife is Thai and our daughter in now working in Thailand as a nurse. She even went to collage in Thailand, so I feel well conected to the land.

We plan on retiring there in 2009. Saving like mad, sold our home here in California and now rent.

You will have a blast there. The food and the people are some of sweetest/best in this world.
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Re: Question on Thailand
Old 05-10-2006, 12:16 PM   #15
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Re: Question on Thailand

For those of you who have traveled back and forth to Thailand... *what's the best carrier, in your opinion? *Are there better or worse routes to take, time and moneywise? *Any tricks for making it easier / any speedbumps to avoid?

I'm going in October and am thinking about tickets now (from San Francisco).

Any advice for a newbie?

Muchas thanks,
Caroline
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Re: Question on Thailand
Old 05-10-2006, 12:35 PM   #16
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Re: Question on Thailand

Quote:
Originally Posted by Caroline
For those of you who have traveled back and forth to Thailand... *what's the best carrier, in your opinion? *Are there better or worse routes to take, time and moneywise? *Any tricks for making it easier / any speedbumps to avoid?
When I'm king of the world there will be a nonstop daily commercial flight from Honolulu to Bangkok. If you support my election campaign then we'll also establish one from SF.

Northwest through Tokyo pretty much sucks. My spouse is about to confirm the same for United. We've heard of a routing through Singapore but the military is too cheap to spring for the fare we haven't researched it yet. If there's a good thing about the routing through Narita, it's that you arrive in Bangkok at 1 AM when the traffic is light and you can take a long nap and get up for breakfast to power through the day and (somewhat) recover from jet lag. If ever a flight justified the purpose of upgrading to business class, this is it.

If you need baht upon arrival, change just enough in the airport for the cab ride. You'll find plenty of ATMs around the city with better exchange rates.

If you decide to return home from Bangkok, save 500 baht cash for your departure tax. Most people tuck it in their return-ticket folder after they arrive in Bangkok to make sure it isn't inadvertently spent on other diversions.
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Re: Question on Thailand
Old 05-10-2006, 11:12 PM   #17
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Re: Question on Thailand

Many people swear by EVA. For about $200, you can upgrade to their Deluxe class. I have never done it, but know many people who have.

Thai Air goes direct from LAX, but it is a little expensive. You can go via Singapore, but I think it is longer than going via Japan, Korea, Taiwan or Hong Kong. Not 100% sure about that though.

Try Star Tours 800-974-1067. They specialize in tickets to Thailand and are based in LA. I found them via a Thai newspaper in Vegas. Great service and great price. We just flew via JAL (which I love!). But we spent 2 weeks in Japan before coming here...

When you arrive, ignore the touts trying to get you a taxi. Just walk outside and you will see the taxi line. Should be about 200 baht to your hotel, maybe less. If the line is really long, it might be worth it to get one of the touts to help you. Immediate service, usually in a Benz, for 500 baht.

Plenty of ATMs in the airport. Might be better than exchanging money...but check your banks charges for foreign ATM transactions...some are just crazy.

And avoid the jewelry scams here...tuk tuks will try and tell you it is the queens birthday or something and offer you a trip around the city along with a trip to a tailor and a jewelry store. Huge rip off as they get a huge commission off it.

Other than that, it is very safe here...enjoy! Check out www.frommers.com and www.lonelyplanet.com for great discussion threads on travel in Thailand (usually!).
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Re: Question on Thailand
Old 05-10-2006, 11:26 PM   #18
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Re: Question on Thailand

"Thai Air goes direct from LAX"
It does? Wow, never heard of that. from NY yes but not LA yet but home I am wrong. My wife flys Thai Air, I perfer Eva.
For 20 years I have used NWA but the sky hags and the times, arriving at 11:30pm makes Eva so nice.

Eva takes off at 1AM and you end up in Bangkok in the Morning.

Heading back to the US of A on Eva you leave around 12:30pm instead of NWA at 6Am.

Love to take an American airline but at this time, well, can not.
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Re: Question on Thailand
Old 05-10-2006, 11:32 PM   #19
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Re: Question on Thailand

I remember Eva Air. Right next to Mark Air in SEA. I thought of them as Mr. and Mrs. Air.



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Re: Question on Thailand
Old 05-11-2006, 03:05 AM   #20
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Re: Question on Thailand

We use EVA too. Arrive BKK in the morning, and jump the first plane to Chiang Mai.* We figure we have been up already 20+ hours, so a couple more is no big deal. We may as well settle in by the pool right away...*

We stop over in Taipei, a city we in which we have never seen the sun!

EVA is partners with Continental, so we get miles that way as well.

I didn't know Thai Air goes direct from LAX either... will have to check that. Thanks.* 8)

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