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How to Book?

Los Angeles
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131 posts
7 reviews
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How to Book?

Hi,

I'm planning to take my family (wife and two young boys ages 5 and 6) to Thailand over the 2010 Christmas holiday. After tons of research, I've got an itinerary and hotel choices. This will be our first trip to Thailand.

Since we will be travelling for 24 days with internal airfares, transfers, etc., I'm really not sure the best (and most economical) way to book the trip and how to get the best rates within reason.

We want to pre-book the trip and a few tours. Do most people book their trips themselves or use an agent? If you use an agent or operator, can you recommend someone? Not sure if that's even allowed on TA, but I'm sure you'll let me know if my question is not appropriate.

We are based in Los Angeles but would be happy to use someone in Asia that's reputable and comes recommended.

Thanks for your consideration.

Wags

Simba Sea Trips
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Berlin/Bangkok
Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Berlin, Thailand
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34 reviews
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1. Re: How to Book?

Book your domestic air travel yourself on the internet for the best prices. I'm not sure you can nail it down this far ahead - I tend to do my bookings only a few days in advance - but the earlier you book, the better the price. The domestic airlines are THAI, Air Asia, Nok Air, Bangkok Airways and 1-2-Go (not recommended due to safety concerns).

Transfers in general do not need to be pre-booked. There are always limos, vans and taxis at every airport, and ground transport of all kinds is cheaper on the spot than on the web. You can always arrange tours through your hotel desk or concierge. Maybe you should pre-book a private guide like the famous Tong if you plan to use one in the Bangkok area.

Bus travel and ferry trips cannot be booked in advance. If you try to reserve too far ahead, they get all confused since it's not customary here. There have been a number if reports of people booking and even pre-paying ferry trips and then arriving at the pier and no one knows anything about a pre-booking.

Hotels are best booked on the internet at a number of discount booking sites: www.wotif.com, www.agoda.com, www.asiarooms.com, www.asiatravel.com are some of the best ones. Serviced apartments are a fantastic deal in Bangkok for a family - a 2-bedroom suite will set you back less than a single brand-name hotel room, and they can be booked by the night, the week or the month. Local chains like Centre Point give you all the luxury hotel amenities - pool, fitness room, breakfast buffet DVD player etc. In general in Thailand there's a huge oversupply of accommodation and prices are moderate or even modest. If you're paying what you would in the US, you're overpaying.

Los Angeles
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131 posts
7 reviews
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2. Re: How to Book?

What an awesome response. Thanks for the information. Very helpful.

We are interested in taking the overnight train from Ayutthaya to Chiang Mai. We want to book two interconnecting first-class compartments. Is there an agency in Thailand that can do that for us (I understand it's not possible to book over the internet).

Thanks again,

Wags

Berlin/Bangkok
Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Berlin, Thailand
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3. Re: How to Book?

http://www.traveller2000.com/train/

http://www.thaifocus.com/travel/train/

http://www.asia-discovery.com/train.htm

"To book with the State Railways of Thailand, email them at least 15 days (but less than 60 days) before your date of travel on passenger-ser@railway.co.th or fax + 66 2 225 6068. Your fax or e-mail must include the journey, date, train number, departure time, class, seat or sleeper (upper or lower berth), number of passengers, your name and e-mail address." That's from http://www.seat61.com/Thailand.htm

State Railways of Thailand's new booking site does not permit first class bookings. http://www.thairailwayticket.com/

Mount Gambier...
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4. Re: How to Book?

I agree with everything above.. it is sooo easy to do it yourself... book your flights and accommodation then sort the rest there unless you want a specific 'must do' tour.

By must do tours I mean Tour with Tong in Bangkok, Patara or Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Hong by Starlight in Phuket.

In relation to interconnecting cabins on the train.. I dont think there is actually interconnecting ones available. You might be able to get two next to each other though. I always do 2nd class air con .. its great for people watching and meeting other travellers and safe! The boys can have the top bunks and adults on the bottom!

I use www.sawadee.com to book accommodation OR the hotel websites. Most have one these days.. I usually trawl through reviews on here and also on www.travelfish.org for accommodation then compare them on Sawadee and their official website. Another good one is r24. It is the same as Sawadee but just run under name of R24. You will see the layout is exactly the same!

Reet

For ideas and piccys have a look at my blogs on Thialand at www.travelblog.org/bloggers/reet

Los Angeles
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131 posts
7 reviews
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5. Re: How to Book?

Thanks Reet. Very helpful. I will take a look at those websites you recommend and your blog as well!

Any suggestions on how/when to get decent prices on airfares? Since we are travelling in the peak holiday season, we know that airfares are likely to be high but aren't sure if we will benefit from waiting a few months to get closer to our departure dates.

How far in advance should we be booking the trip in order to get dates and hotels that we want?

Thanks a million.

Wags

Mount Gambier...
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6. Re: How to Book?

Wags

At the moment Air Asia have a sale on and flights around Thailand can be picked up pretty cheap. I have paid $20 for fights on sale previously ... but anything that is under $50 is good for most legs.

When are you going again? What legs do you need flights for?

As for accommodation I havent seen it go on sale so much so I would just secure it whenever you find the place you like. That way you are assured to get what you want. The one place that does have great sales is Mercure chain. I stay at the Patong Mercure and got them on sale for half the price I originally booked them last April by chance. I cancelled my first booking and bought in the sale without penalty but if you book them far enough in advance and pay in full you get the same deal ($65-70 per night per room for gorgeous hotel)

If you need some ideas etc just post your budget and what you are looking for!

**Edited: just saw you are going over Xmas... I would start booking now as some places can get pretty booked over Xmas. It is the main peak season.

I think the Air Asia sale doesnt go to December but join up at their email list and try to check the website every 5 days or so for any random sales that come up.... they should have sales for that time of the year in the next few months. Grab them when they go on sale for great savings**

Edited: 24 February 2010, 06:27
7. Re: How to Book?

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