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Phuket extension worth the money for college students?($600)

Travel Forums Asia Phuket extension worth the money for college students?($600)

1. Posted by agmBJJ (Budding Member, 3 posts) 17 Apr '08 17:43

agmBJJ has indicated that this thread is about Thailand

Hey everyone, I'm a first time poster here and hope to use this site more often in the future. :)

My friends and I are trying to put together a relatively affordable, 2 week trip to Thailand for the upcoming Winter. We have a window between Dec 16th and January 21st in which we can go on a vacation, but would like to limit the trip to no more than 15-17 days tops.

Right now I was reviewing a couple of sites for affordable packages, here's what I have so far:

http://www.smartours.com/deals_thailand.htm

Dec 27-Jan 9 '09: $ 1699 -13 days

With Phuket extension: Dec 25-Jan 10 '09: $ 2299 -16 days

That's a $600 difference for three guys in college that don't have a lot of extra money. Can any of you make a case for why we should or shouldn't pick up the extension? On one hand we feel as if we go all the way out there we should cover Phuket, but on the other hand we keep looking at how big of a price increase we'd be looking at for just another 3 days or so.

Thanks a lot in advance!

[ Edit: Edited on Apr 17, 2008, at 5:44 PM by agmBJJ ]

2. Posted by wildfk (Respected Member, 454 posts) 17 Apr '08 18:04

I haven't done the maths, but whenever I used to try to book a package holiday and compared it with just GOING there the package deal always lost out.

I would be inclined to work out how much it would cost to do the trip without the aaid of a package holiday company and just stay at down-market hotels whereever you are...cost about 250 to 500 baht per night....convert that to dollars/euros or what ever.

Flights for Bkk to Phuket are about 4000 to 5000(??? - I might be out of date here)....where is the rest of your holiday?
Phuket is also one of the pricier destinations in Thailand.

3. Posted by agmBJJ (Budding Member, 3 posts) 17 Apr '08 19:21

Thanks for your response, you already have me second guessing the vacation package. Here is what we would like to cover-

Bangkok*
Phuket*
Chiang Rai
Chiang Mai*
Angkor Wat
Ko Samui

The ones with a * are ones I think we probably would not want to miss. We would like to go for about 12-14 days and we'd be departing from either New York, Newark, or Philadelphia. Would you advise that we fly into Chiang Mai and work our way downwards? I'm open to any of your recommendations but also I'm sure there's already plenty of information on the boards. I'll do a little reading myself, but thanks again for your help.

What we're looking for in this trip is to be immersed in a different culture, visit temples, beautiful beaches, and enjoy the nightlife of a new country.

4. Posted by ekay (Full Member, 23 posts) 17 Apr '08 19:23

Hi,

There is always two sides to a coin. Normally, the window months you mentioned is the peak tourist season in Thailand. Wildfk is right to say that Phuket is expensive (touristy). Pre-booking your travels is fail safe but you maybe paying more than the other guys who goes with the flow. Check out Travllerspoint on accommodation for less touristy islands. Koh Toa, Kho Chang are favorable enough.

5. Posted by jekalo (Full Member, 118 posts) 17 Apr '08 23:23

That is a lot for just 3 extra days. I went to Phuket on 25, Dec to the 30 of Dec this year on a bit of a whim. I was in Bangkok and had a few days before I had to be back to work so, I went to the airport booked a ticket on the spot, flew down and booked a room when I got there, no problem even at high season. I might just have been lucky but there were lots of places in Phuket with vacancy signs out and the only tours that were fully booked were some of the scuba trips for same day tours. That said, I was disapointed in the place, getting old I guess. Its jammed with bars, discos and a beach that would be great if it were not packed with beach chairs and baking bodies from the road to the water. It was my least favorite place I have visited in Thiland but for some young guys it might be a great way to end your trip. I also have found it cheaper to avoid package deals and just do a little planning ahead of time and see what comes up when I get to a destination.

6. Posted by Degolasse (Travel Guru, 811 posts) 18 Apr '08 02:23

I'll also suggest going the way of independent travel. I have no idea how much you can get a flight for from the States, nor do I know the standard of accommodation you require, so I can't really do the math to see what is cheaper, but like other said, tours rarely work out to be cheaper. In the case of South East Asia I usually find tours are often twice or several times more expensive than I could do on my own.
Really the only advantage of a tour is that you may be able to do things quicker than independently, though by the looks of the itinerary they spend more time in Bangkok than I would have thought. I don't know if you can find a tour that can fit all that stuff in in 17 days, but if you choose to go independently than I would say you should limit things just a bit. If you are heading to Bangkok, and a couple beaches, then I would say you should choose between either Chiang Mai and Rai, or Angkor. You may be able to get to Angkor and take a quick trip up to Chaing Mai, but I wouldn't try to see all three. 17 days really isn't much time. The trip to Angkor from Bangkok will take 3 days if all you want to do is see it for a day and head back, or 5 days if you want to spend enough time there to appreciate it.
I would also add that I didn't think much of Phuket. Actually, it's my absolute least favorite place in the country and will never return (unless of course someone wants to give a free all-inclusive vacation). For my tastes is was too busy, far too expensive, the bars were disgusting, and the average tourist age was about 20 years older than me (I'm 29). So it wasn't for me. Personally, I think 3 college guys would have waaaayyyy more fun somewhere like Koh-Phagnan, especially for the Had Rinn New Year's Party. Even Phi Phi would be better than Phuket I think.

7. Posted by agmBJJ (Budding Member, 3 posts) 18 Apr '08 10:37

Thanks for the responses everyone, judging from people's experiences I feel a lot less inclined to go to Phuket now. Regarding traveling within the country, what would be the recommended method? I will be leaving from JFK. Here are some paths I have thought of, and if I have any methods of transportation wrong please let me know:

Would it be a good idea to fly into Bangkok, spend a few days there, then go to Koh Chang, and then travel to Chiang Mai and spend time between there, Rai, and Lampang?

1. Fly into Bangkok, spend 3 days there, go to Koh Chang for 2 days, go back to Bangkok for 2 days, fly to Chiang Mai and spend 7 days between there, Lampang, and Chiang Rai.

2. Fly into Bangkok, spend 6 days there, go to Koh Chang for 2 days, fly into Siem Reap and spend 3 days at Angkor Wat and then fly home.

3. Fly into Chiang Rai, spend 5 days between there, Chiang Mai, and Lampang. Fly down to Bangkok, spend 4 days there, then go to Koh Chang for 2 days, go back to Bangkok and fly back to JFK.

4. Fly into Chiang Rai, spend 4 days there between there, Chiang Mai, Lampang. Fly into Bangkok, spend 3 days there, go to Koh Chang for 2 days, and then fly into Siem Riep and spend 2 days in Angkor Wat and fly back to JFK.

Do any of those sound good? Tickets are running around $1700, and this doesn't include breakfasts, hotels, or tour guides. We don't necessarily need all of that though. If we went in our open window of December 16-January 21st what time would everyone recommend the most?

8. Posted by wildfk (Respected Member, 454 posts) 19 Apr '08 18:16

Don't spend too much time in Bkk either.....you'll find the rest of the country has better things to offer.