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Your ideal Thailand itinerary - max 3 weeks

Southampton, United...
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Your ideal Thailand itinerary - max 3 weeks

Hi

My boyfriend and I have decided that we'd like to go to Thailand next year for 2-3 weeks (depending on how much time I can get off work).

I've been looking at loads of brochures etc (STA travel, Audley travel)and in all honesty, I'm completely overwhelmed by it all - I want to do everything but obviously there are cost/time restrictions.

My boyfriend has specifically said that he'd like to go to Chiang Mai, but other than that we have no idea what to do. The islands obviously are quite appealing however we're looking to go in May/June 2012 and i understand that it's the south's monsoon season at that time.

So, my question... If you could have 2-3 weeks in Thailand, where would you go? (Also if you could give an idea of cost including flights that would be great).

Thank you.

Sunderland
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1. Re: Your ideal Thailand itinerary - max 3 weeks

Hi

Next May/June we're spending 15 nights in Thailand. We're going to Chiang Mai, Bangkok and Koh Tao.

The weather is just starting to turn around that time so you may not have really bad weather. However, the Gulf of Thailand has a better track record than the Andaman Sea coast at that time of year.

You already say you want to visit Chiang Mai, so taking a standard 14 nights, here's a few ideas:

Fly UK to Bkk (1 night)

Chiang Mai (4 nights)

Bangkok (3 nights)

Koh Samui/ Tao or Phangan (4 nights)

Bangkok (2 nights)

If you get longer, then extend each section as you see fit. the above assumes you are travelling during the day, however, overnight bus and train travel is quite popular so depending on what you want could be changed.

You don't say what your interests are so it's difficult to be more specific about locations.

Costs are even more difficult, as everything is dependent on your requirements. Flights from UK will be around £500-£600 pp return, but that is very general and you may pay a lot more/less.

I hope this helps a little. Enjoy your trip, Thailand is an amazing place to visit.

Southampton, United...
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2. Re: Your ideal Thailand itinerary - max 3 weeks

Hi, this helps a great deal, thank you!

Regarding our interests, we really like pretty much everything, sight seeing, walking, relaxing etc, I've seen adverts for cookery classes which looks interesting!

I've been looking at flights already and have seen flights from Manchester - Chaing Mai for £593 which sounds good. I hadn't thought about stopping in Bangkok for the 1st night - I guess we could get the train to Chiang Mai on the 2nd day which could decrease costs.

Have you booked your whole trip through an agent, or do you find that it's cheaper to arrange separately on your own? How far in advance do you book your flights?

Thanks again :)

Norfolk, United...
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for Chaweng, Ko Samui
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3. Re: Your ideal Thailand itinerary - max 3 weeks

Hi

With 3 weeks, then 3 locations would work well. A stop in Bangkok is great fun and really worth doing, as is Chaing Mai.

The flights you have seen from MAN to Chaing Mai are not direct as there are no such direct flights, but you would have to change planes at Bangkok so why not stay there. Booking these 'direct' flights will be more costly than booking a flight to Bangkok and then booking your own flights!

Its not the south's monsoon season during May / June, but the west. The northeast monsoon or prevailing wind blows between October and March and affects the East side of Thailand, whilst from May to September the southwest monsoon or prevailing wind affects the West side of the Peninsular. The times of year the wind directions change can, and does vary by weeks. The monsoon wind does not mean it will rain all day every day, just that the wind is in such a direction that there is a higher chance of rain and the sea will be rougher and not so smooth.

So in May / June the Koh Samui / Koh Phanang / Koh Tao group, Koh Chang, Koh Samet or even Hua Hin would be great places to visit as they are on the eastern side of Thailand.

Package or DIY is always a decision to make. We are very much in the DIY camp. DIY is better booked earlier, whilst packages can bag a deal if left to the last minute. We have booked DIY for all our long haul trips to SE Asia and Australia for 20 years or more. We only use the 'Thomson' for our sneeky week away as an AI deal. We book our flights, our internal flights, hotel, tours, transfers, etc ourself. We love the planning process, the research, the interaction etc. Great fun!

Our holiday will probably be a bit cheaper or about the same as a similar trips offered by the larger long haul operators, like Kuoni, but we got the exact holiday we wanted, staying at the hotels we wanted, for the number of days we wanted, flying when we wanted with the airline/s we wanted, at the times that we wanted, and doing what we wanted - and not what they wanted to sell us. But the word similar sums it up, they don't offer what we wanted and we would have had to compromise! We find with DIY we get what we want and not what they want to sell us!

Only you can decide what is better for you, as I bet if you asked 20 people, 20 would have different reasons for doing their holidays the way they do. Some like the flexibility of DIY, some like the fact that packages mean they don't have to worry . . . .

Flights are normally the cheapest if booked around 300-330 days before your departure date. Unless the airlines offer a deal (which some do) prices slowly get a bit more expensive from around 250-300 days. We always save buying early at the right time and not leaving it. We use netflights.com as it seems to always offer the best 'deal'. You can also compare on sites like kayak.co.uk.

Booking directly with the hotel can bag a bargain or great deal [which are not always the cheapest but work out cheaper], as can one of the many direct hotel booking websites (although with the later check the small print and if the prices include local taxes or not)

We book our internal travel / flights ourselves, but all transport is easy to sort out yourselves. We also sort out our own tours and car hire etc. The down or up side, is you don’t have the tour operators rep’, . . . . . and we all have mixed views on the role this folks play!

We do also buy additional insurance to cover us for internal flights as most UK travel insurance policies DO NOT cover this and only cover from the country you live in to the holiday country, and not flights within that country (read the small print). Most folks think they are covered but they are not – we have one of the best annual travel policies [Columbus] in the UK and they don’t cover it!! With a package deal you do get a little extra protection, but we find with sufficent insurance and paying by credit card the airline will always get you home safetly.

Leaving it to the last minute can get you a great package deal with one of the larger tour operators, but it won’t for DIY flights.

So, it really does depend on you.

Have the fun is in the planning. The best thing to do is to read, read, and read some more, sites like TA, tourism sites, etc! Then you can see what really appeals to you!

Edited: 20 July 2011, 22:42
Southampton, United...
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4. Re: Your ideal Thailand itinerary - max 3 weeks

Wow - thank you for your very detailed response - these are all helping a great deal. Also, thank you for confirming the weather situation - I was looking at the Phi Phi island as well, but judging by your response, that's probably best left for another time.

I double checked the prices of Man to Ciang Mai and (currently) there's only £10 in it! It also seems to vary greatly on what day you fly out on - do you know what days are the cheapest? Anyhow, looking at this it would probably be more cost effective to fly straight to Chiang Mai, then train/bus etc down to Koh Samui and then back up to Bangkok for a few nights before we depart. No doubt this will change, but it seems fairly logical to do it this way.

I will definitely check out 'Netflights' - although the TA flight search is where I've found the others ones I've been looking at - i believe it checks sites like eDreams and Opodo etc.

If you don't mind me asking, how much do your holidays normally cost? (I appreciate this will vary from person to person depending on activity etc)

Thanks both once again

Sunderland
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for Koh Tao
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5. Re: Your ideal Thailand itinerary - max 3 weeks

Hi

Just to clarify the 1 night I stated was travelling. I find people often overlook the 1st night of a 14 night holiday is spent on the way to Thailand.

Our last holiday to Thailand, was for my husbands 30th birthday and cost us around £2500. That included flights, accom, travel, food, drink, an open water scuba diving course. We went to Bangkok, Hua Hin, Koh Tao, Kanchanaburi and then back to Bangkok.

One other thing, I personally would travel straight to Chiang Mai, especially if you can get a good price.

Enjoy planning you're trip, it's the best part! we're going around the same time and I can't wait.

Southampton, United...
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6. Re: Your ideal Thailand itinerary - max 3 weeks

Ah yes of course, thank you lushlynds - did you book it all yourself or through an agent?

Sunderland
Destination Expert
for Koh Tao
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7. Re: Your ideal Thailand itinerary - max 3 weeks

I book it all myself. It can seem a little daunting doing it yourself but you have given yourself plenty of time, do lots of reading and you'll be fine. You'll get a lot more holiday for your money doing it yourself.

I'm planning a 4 week trip for my 30th birthday next year, I love the planning, reading up and generally just dreaming about where to go and what we'll be doing.

Edited: 21 July 2011, 13:29
Redditch, United...
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8. Re: Your ideal Thailand itinerary - max 3 weeks

Hi there.

I am planning on doing a three week trip in November to Thailand.

I found your post and the replays very interesting and was wondering if you could let us know what you ended up doing in the end. Where did you go, good and bad points. What should I give a miss and what should I definitely do. What did you end up spending in the end?

And reply would be appreciated.

All the best

Graeme

Peachland, Canada
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9. Re: Your ideal Thailand itinerary - max 3 weeks

Hi

Two sites that are worth checking out for hotel deals are Agoda and you should sign up for travelzoo, it is a weekly e mail of the top 20 deals of the week, there is one for asia and the uk.

hope this helps

Graham

Southampton, United...
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10. Re: Your ideal Thailand itinerary - max 3 weeks

Hello Graeme, thank you for the message.

Well, we've just returned and it was amazing! Simply the best holiday I've ever had - you'll love it!

Itinerary

Our 2 1/2 weeks were broken down into the following:

5 nights in Chiang Mai (including a 3 day / 2 night trek)

8 nights in Koh samui

2 nights in Bangkok (Sukhumvit area)

In hindsight, we would have cut Bangkok down to just the 1 night as we were a little tired to appreciate it fully - plus it wasn't our cup of tea really (a bit too much hustle and bustle). If we were to do it again, we also would have visited Bangkok first to give ourselves a break from the near 2 day solid travel to Chaing Mai.

Flights and Travel

We booked our flights relatively early (9 months in advance) with Swiss. They were approx £600 each from Manchester to Bangkok. Manchester to Chaing Mai proved too expensive through the agents / websites so we booked onward flights ourselves direct with Air Asia, these were about £25 per person for a single. Again, bought in advance which is how you get the best deals. The flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is only an hour or so.

For our return from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, we got the train as we couldn't find any cheap flights. We booked a 1st class sleeper with a/c for about £14 each. The journey itself was fine - you get meals delivered to your cabin at quite reasonable prices, HOWEVER we arrived 3 hours late to Bangkok and almost missed our onward flight to Samui!

There are several options of getting to Samui however for not wanting to waste another day travelling, we booked flights with Bangkok Air, for £100 return each. Definitely worth the price if you ask me. Again, it takes about an hour compared to the train > ferry combo which can take up to 7 hours. There is another altenative i believ, cheap flights with Nok Air to Surat Thani and then the ferry across - i didn't look too much into these though.

Tours and Activities

We actually did A LOT on this holiday - more than I've ever done before. However it didn't feel too much (well, the trekking was tough) as we alternated our days where possible.

In Chiang Mai we embarked on a 2 night / 3 day trek to the Mae Tang area - this cost about 1600thb per person. We booked through Travel Hub who were very helpful - travelhubchiangmai.com/trekking_tours/chiang… - we would highly recommend the tour although must stress it was very hard work! Having said that, I don't do much exercise (if any) and managed it, so if i can do it, I'm sure most people can. You get breakfast and dinner within the price, and once at the village, you can buy drinks etc. Only 4 of us did the 3 day trek - most did the 2 day. As part of this you get to go Elephant Riding and White Water Rafting. On the 3 day trek we saw some amazing waterfalls, it was really good and great value for money.

Samui activities - the three activities we did whilst in Samui were SkyFox ziplining for about 1400thb each, AngThong marine national park and Snorkelling at Ko Tao (around 1800 - 2000thb each)

Skyfox booking site - http://www.ungsafari.com/

Asia Web for the other two (check out the promotions) - http://www.kosamui.com/tours/

We were actually due to do the Jungle Safari tour instead of the snorkelling, but on the SkyFox tour we saw a lot of what we were due to see on the Jungle Safari, so I emailed Asia Web and transferred to another tour - they were very helpful in sorting this out and I'd recommend using them - they cater for all areas of Thailand.

Bangkok - Silom cooking School, 1000thb for a 4 hour cooking class including market tour. This was brilliant, Chef Nusi was great and we made some gorgeous meals that are easy enough to make at home too!

http://www.bangkokthaicooking.com/

Acommodation

Depending on your budget, I'd recommend the folowing places in Chiang Mai:

Dreamcatchers B&B (a little out of the city so taxis - which they can arrange - are required) - http://www.dreamcatchersbnb.com/

Bodhi Serene - http://boutique-hotel-chiangmai.com/

And in Samui, the Samui Mountain Village was just perfect! Although depending on who you're travelling with, might not be everybody's cup of tea as it's more of a romantic get away, http://www.samui-mountain-village.com/

Costs

Including flights, trips and spending money, we spent just over £1300 each. Thailand is as expensive or as cheap as you want it to be, we were on a budget but still ate well 3 times a day. On some of the tours, food is provided so that helps with the budget as well.

Anyhow, i think that's covered everything. If you have any questions let me know!