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Advice for Asia novices

Travel Forums Asia Advice for Asia novices

1. Posted by benandlewis (Budding Member 2 posts) 5y

My self and my partner have travelled pretty extensively but never been to Asia and are starting next Spring with a two week trip to Thailand and need some advice:

1. We only have two weeks and don't want too many destinations and too much time spent travelling

2. We will both be knackered and want plenty of relaxation but happy with some exploring

3. Not keen to rough it but would be happy to keep costs low(ish) at the start for a few days of pampering towards the end

4. Had very mixed reports of BKK so not sure whether to fly in and out or stop for a few days

Thoughts, suggestions, favourite destinations and activities welcome please

Ben

2. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 1993 posts) 5y

Thailand is probably the most comfortable destination in Asia, and don't let the press scare you, it's a very safe place. Thailand and the rest of Indochina are dirt cheap for Westerners, and while luxury accommodations are available, I far prefer the simple little guesthouses/hotels for real experiences and friendliness. In Bangkok, I stayed here at the Baan Dinso Boutique Hostel - a tiny little cottage with the friendliest people in Thailand! Don't let the label hostel scare you - this is a small hotel and they treat their guests like gold. Bangkok is just the point of entry, and while magnificent, far too overpopulated and westernized for me. Get out of town after a few days, and see the real Thailand. Laos is also a great destination - Luang Prabang is nothing less than awesome in my opinion (fly from Bangkok on Bangkok Airways).

I suggest you read at the Travelfish website for more information about Thailand and Indochina.

[ Edit: Edited on 27-Apr-2011, at 10:56 by Daawgon ]

3. Posted by LaurenLolz (Respected Member 226 posts) 5y

@Daawgon, I am headed over there for my 1st trip. I've been to Japan, but not SEA. I've read it's not Thailand but Scamland, and that has me worried. All the travelers I have met say the same thing you did, everyone is real friendly, and it's very cheap, but I am just worried someone will take me for a floosie, and I don't want to get ripped off. Any advice on that front? Thanks.

4. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3562 posts) 5y

Of course the best advice is to use your common sense. If a stranger approached you in your city and tried to sell you gems, buy in his store, etc. you would be wary. Same in Tland. Just because you are on holiday and the people seem friendly & helpful, keep your radar on.

Here is a list of some of the common scams many visitors fall for. NEVER rent a jet ski in Tland. Hundreds of victims every year fall for the jet ski scam. Pattaya as well as Phuket is infamous for this scam.

Be very wary of renting a motorbike (MB). Inspect the MB carefully before agreeing to rent. If you don't, you can be charged for damage done by others. Almost certainly you will be charged far more for the repairs than the actual costs. The worse scam is when your MB is 'stolen'. If you rent for several days, the owner 'steals' his own MB. He knows what hotel you are staying at plus he has the keys to the MB and the lock provided. After you are in for the night, the owner comes by your hotel, unlocks the MB and rides it to another location. You report it 'stolen' and now have to pay the stated replacement price. The Thai Police will be involved and work out a suitable amount owed to the MB owner. Of course he will get a cut for his services. After you leave town, they bring the MB out to rent again. You thought you were going to have a fun day riding around on a MB. It can end up costing you several thousand USD.

Tland is a amazing country and almost certainly you will have a fabulous time. Just use your common sense and be aware of your surroundings. Good luck with your planning.

5. Posted by benandlewis (Budding Member 2 posts) 5y

Quoting LaurenLolz

@Daawgon, I am headed over there for my 1st trip. I've been to Japan, but not SEA. I've read it's not Thailand but Scamland, and that has me worried. All the travelers I have met say the same thing you did, everyone is real friendly, and it's very cheap, but I am just worried someone will take me for a floosie, and I don't want to get ripped off. Any advice on that front? Thanks.

Thanks for the information so far but it's got a bit distracted by scams which wasn't the question.

We are both pretty experienced travellers but have never done Asia and have chosen Thailand as our first destination and want to combine an initial explore with a really relaxing holiday.

We make a common mistake of trying to fit too much in so what we do see we don't get enough time with and we spend far too much time travelling.

Friends have suggested concentrating this trip in the South as it will be a more chilled and relaxing experience and on our next trip we can do more trekking, etc.

Ideas about what to see and were to go in the South would be great!

6. Posted by rubytan (Budding Member 8 posts) 5y

The south is great for beaches and Thai culture since you're after a more relaxing trip..

Try Krabi and Phuket? Or even the islands like Koh Phi Phi and Koh Phangan. :) Those are the places with nice beaches and cheap food even if they do get a little overrun by travellers. I always think its good to see the Patongs and Khao Sans for yourself just so you can really decide if you like it or not.

Post 7 was removed by a moderator
8. Posted by ezraweeks (First Time Poster 1 posts) 5y

my fav was khao sok national parks floating bungalows it is a touch on the rustic side but worth it for the beauty. there is a place called smiley's bungalows http://www.smileybungalow.com/ who organize trips to the lake its worth a day or two they truly treated us like family I cant say enough good things about this place they really made my whole time in Thailand in a few days. some travel companies I know of use them and they are very reputable check out freeandeasy.ca or beachtravelers.com they both go there.
if you do go tell them Ezra and Lisa from Canada say hello :)

-snip-

[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]

9. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 1653 posts) 5y

Quoting benandlewis

My self and my partner have travelled pretty extensively but never been to Asia and are starting next Spring with a two week trip to Thailand and need some advice:

1. We only have two weeks and don't want too many destinations and too much time spent travelling

2. We will both be knackered and want plenty of relaxation but happy with some exploring

3. Not keen to rough it but would be happy to keep costs low(ish) at the start for a few days of pampering towards the end

4. Had very mixed reports of BKK so not sure whether to fly in and out or stop for a few days

Thoughts, suggestions, favourite destinations and activities welcome please

Ben

For hotel advice always mention how much you want to spend per night and someone almost always comes up with a suggestion that fits your budget. Many small hotels and guest houses are around the same price as hostels or not that far off. It helps if you read up on Thailand a bit to narrow down some areas for you to explore.

My recommendation is to visit Bangkok at least for a day or two at the start of your holiday. Why fly all the way to Thailand and avoid the capital city? A final night in Bangkok will allow you to do some final shopping and you will also only be a short taxi ride or even a train ride to the airport. During your first visit to Bangkok you can purchase flights or other transportation to other cities. Some hotels will also store a bag for you - maybe store winter clothes if you are from a cold area. When you return to Bangkok you use the same hotel and reclaim your bag.

What you do and where you visit are also influenced a little bit by how old you are and by gender too! But for many couples visit to Bangkok and including a short visit to Chiang Mai so you can see the "real Thailand" works out okay. There are some beaches closer to Bangkok than Phuket. With a short visit flying will be necessary unless you only choose local areas to visit. A few more days in Thailand won't cost that much more. Hotels are cheaper than Europe and food is also cheap unless you only choose fancy places to eat at.

For Bangkok, if you are young, maybe a hotel in the Khao San Road area will work out okay for you. Retired, into shopping maybe a hotel in the Pratunam area will do. There is a train direct from the airport to 3 places in the Pratunam area. At an in between age maybe stay in the Siam or Sukhumvit Road area will be a good choice. There is no Skytrain, no subway and no Airport Rail Link in the Khao San Road area of Bangkok!

Wait until you get to Thailand to convert any currency over to Thai baht. You will find bank money changers available at the airport 24 hours a day. You can also use ATM's for cash too but keep in mind that there is a 150 baht fee to use an ATM so take out the maximum you can to save on fees. When you fly home you will be able to change Thai baht back to your currency also 24 hours a day. Thailand is probably the easiest country in Asia to cash travelers checks and you get a hair more in exchange than cash. There is a 33 baht fee to cash a travelers check so only bring the largest denominations. For cash bring newer currency and make sure it is not all dirty and torn. Stick to the larger denominations so you don't have a huge bag of small bills.

Try not to waste your entire holiday only at beaches! Thailand has excellent transportation. Bangkok in particular, has three rail services. But the hours are limited to 0600 to midnight. The subway can take you to the national train station, Hualamphong.
http://www.urbanrail.net/as/bang/bangkok.htm

Good luck.