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How long to stay in Bangkok and Phuket?

Jwerking

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As part of my RTW retirement trip next year - I plan to go to Thailand for the first time - probably in November 2012. Guess I should go ahead and spend some extra time since I am retired. Is there plenty to do in Bangkok for two weeks and Phuket for two weeks? Any comments would be appreciated.

Any particular need to go to Ching Mai???

Thanks

Joyce
 

Jimster

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I have spent several weeks in Thailand and I'd say there is plenty to do. Right now it is a disaster in downtown Bangkok since there is a massive flood, but I am sure by November things will be fine. There are Wats to see and the river to cruise. You can go north of Bangkok to the tiger temple and pet the tigers. Shopping is great there- go to the MBk center. Bangkok is a nice combination of new and old. Check out the long neck people.

Phukett is great to ride elephants (chiang Mai too). The beach is very nice. The food is good and it is a very relaxing place to go.

Chiang Mai is close to the Golden Triangle and you can even go into Myamar. The night market is interesting too along with some waterfalls and parks. I like thailand very much- it is one of the top tourist destinations in the world.
 

ValHam

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Did you have to be on Malarone to go to Mynamar for the day? Have you also been to Pattaya? I am going to Pattaya - never been to Thailand - perhaps I should change for Phuket - I am glad I am going up to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai - I have heard it is great in that area -
 

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I love Thailand. It is such a wonderful country. We usually spend a few weeks there when we go. I was born and lived there for a bit. We go back every few years. I think you'll get different thoughts on where to spend time in Thailand. I think most people will tell you to not to spend too much time in Bangkok. However, I like Bangkok because that was where I grew up. There are tons to do in Bangkok. You can go to the different temples; dine by Chao Phraya River; shop at MBK, Chatuchak, Sampeng, malls (Thailand malls are not like US malls, some even have zoos/aquariums in them); go watch movies (you can eat food in movie theaters); visit the Grand Palace; enjoy nightlife; take daytrips to Ayutthaya, the floating market, etc. And the food! You can eat different food everyday. Bangkok is the best place to have Thai food. Make sure you try some of the street food. They are the best. Make sure to pick a clean-looking place though. I have a stomach made of iron, so I can eat almost anywhere :D

I love Phuket as well. That is the epitome of relaxation for me (along with Hawaii). It is beautiful. I did spend almost a week there and it was wonderful. You can take trips to Phi Phi Islands and Phang Nga Bay from there. The rest of the time was spent doing completely nothing! Other places that may be worth visiting... Kanchanaburi, Chiang Mai, Surat Thani (Koh Samui).

If I were you and only have 2 weeks, I would spend 5 days in Bangkok, 5 days in Phuket and find a couple of other places to spend your time. Hope this helps.

ETA: I just saw that you may have 4 weeks there? In that case, you'll have a great time!
 

darly2004

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I have spent several weeks in Thailand and I'd say there is plenty to do. Right now it is a disaster in downtown Bangkok since there is a massive flood, but I am sure by November things will be fine. There are Wats to see and the river to cruise. You can go north of Bangkok to the tiger temple and pet the tigers. Shopping is great there- go to the MBk center. Bangkok is a nice combination of new and old. Check out the long neck people.

Phukett is great to ride elephants (chiang Mai too). The beach is very nice. The food is good and it is a very relaxing place to go.

Chiang Mai is close to the Golden Triangle and you can even go into Myamar. The night market is interesting too along with some waterfalls and parks. I like thailand very much- it is one of the top tourist destinations in the world.

Personally, I don't know if I would go into Myanmar. I just hear a lot about political unrest there. I don't feel like it is as safe. I can be completely wrong since I've never been there though.
 

Jimster

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myamar

Myamar is a troubled country and if you are not willing to take a bit of risk it is not a good idea. My point was-it is possible.
 

Jwerking

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I love Thailand. ... Bangkok is the best place to have Thai food. Make sure you try some of the street food. They are the best. Make sure to pick a clean-looking place though. I have a stomach made of iron, so I can eat almost anywhere !

Yikes - I am a bit afraid of street food - is it really safe? The tour books recommended against it when we visited China about 10 yrs ago and we were really cautious about all food. Only drank bottled water and used boiled water from the in-room tea kettles to brush our teeth. Made sure we never had ice in our drinks - the wait staff thought we were crazy when we insisted on NO ice. So are things different in Thailand. I don't see these food warnings in the tour books I have read to date on Thailand and they do suggest that you try the street food??

Joyce
 

Jimster

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Well, it could be worse you could go to an uncivilized country like the USA and drink Grape or Apple juice and get 10% arsenic. E-coli is also a danger in the US. Frankly, food safety here is no picnic. I assure you, if you knew what you were eating and drinking here in the USA, you would have just as serious reservations about doing either. You are going to a different country-not a different planet. I would have greater reservations perhaps in China but you may have noticed there are over a billion chinese. So they obvioiusly aren't dying like flies because of poor health conditions.

It is true that street food in Thailand may have bacteria but for most people it really is no different than eating here. You can not avoid all of life's dangers. There is "playing it safe" and there is "being paranoid". Unless you are highly prone to food poisioning I would not worry about it. As for water, every hotel I have ever been in there says whether or not it is potable. I have eaten street food in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines and i never had food poisioning or an upset stomach. The original poster said it right. Just do what you would do here-look and see if the vendor appears clean and neat and he handles the food appropriately. In NYC they have a rating system for cleanliness and I assure you some places come up with "unhealthy" ratings. I wouldn't eat at one of them either.

I think when Americans go to these countries and act like they should wear face masks and latex gloves everwhere they go, they are sending a very condesending message to their host country. You probably had a better chance of getting sick or injured drivng to the airport than you did getting sick in the foreign country. And I assure you that you have a better chance of getting sick in a US hospital than you do getting sick by eating street food. Over 100,000 people each year get sick in US hospitals (many of them fatally). Strangely, I don't see a big outcry to avoid cars or hospitals.
 
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MALC9990

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Well, it could be worse you could go to an uncivilized country like the USA and drink Grape or Apple juice and get 10% arsenic. E-coli is also a danger in the US. Frankly, food safety here is no picnic. I assure you, if you knew what you were eating and drinking here in the USA, you would have just as serious reservations about doing either. You are going to a different country-not a different planet. I would have greater reservations perhaps in China but you may have noticed there are over a billion chinese. So they obvioiusly aren't dying like flies because of poor health conditions.

It is true that street food in Thailand may have bacteria but for most people it really is no different than eating here. You can not avoid all of life's dangers. There is "playing it safe" and there is "being paranoid". Unless you are highly prone to food poisioning I would not worry about it. As for water, every hotel I have ever been in there says whether or not it is potable. I have eaten street food in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines and i never had food poisioning or an upset stomach. The original poster said it right. Just do what you would do here-look and see if the vendor appears clean and neat and he handles the food appropriately. In NYC they have a rating system for cleanliness and I assure you some places come up with "unhealthy" ratings. I wouldn't eat at one of them either.

I think when Americans go to these countries and act like they should wear face masks and latex gloves everwhere they go, they are sending a very condesending message to their host country. You probably had a better chance of getting sick or injured drivng to the airport than you did getting sick in the foreign country. And I assure you that you have a better chance of getting sick in a US hospital than you do getting sick by eating street food. Over 100,000 people each year get sick in US hospitals (many of them fatally). Strangely, I don't see a big outcry to avoid cars or hospitals.

Good sensible advice. If you stay at a Marriott property in Thailand then you will be supplied with complimentary bottled drinking water. The ice in the bars and on property ice vending machines is safe to use. At the MVCIAP resorts in Phuket and the apartments in Bangkok you will be given 4 large bottles of drinking water each day by housekeeping and more will be supplied if requested.
 

darly2004

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You should definitely try the street food or you would be missing out on a huge experience. You can start in a nicer restaurant first and then work your way to street food as you get braver. One of the best places to get food for me is actually at the shopping centers. Food is very cheap and very good. Food court in the US is no comparison to the food courts in Thailand as far as taste goes. Other than looking for a clean-looking place, make sure to order dishes that are well-cooked and heated through. Although one of my favorite dishes is somtum, or papaya salad, that is sold street-side. The only time I had issues with food there was when I ate undercooked seafood. I do stay away from raw things... especially seafood. So hard since the oysters there are huge and really delicious-looking. As far as water, I don't really drink the water there. Usually get bottled water. They say the cylinder ice cubes with the holes in the middle are manufactured, so therefore "safe". Thailand is one of the greatest places to visit. I do feel the food totally adds to the experience. Every time I come back to the US, I crave the food there for years until we get to go back again.

ETA: We are thinking of traveling again soon. This time with our two very little ones. I will definitely be more cautious with where we eat, but will probably just make sure whatever the kids have will be well-heated before they eat it.
 

Jwerking

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Well, it could be worse you could go to an uncivilized country like the USA and drink Grape or Apple juice and get 10% arsenic. E-coli is also a danger in the US. Frankly, food safety here is no picnic. I assure you, if you knew what you were eating and drinking here in the USA, you would have just as serious reservations about doing either. You are going to a different country-not a different planet. I would have greater reservations perhaps in China but you may have noticed there are over a billion chinese. So they obvioiusly aren't dying like flies because of poor health conditions.

It is true that street food in Thailand may have bacteria but for most people it really is no different than eating here. You can not avoid all of life's dangers. There is "playing it safe" and there is "being paranoid". Unless you are highly prone to food poisioning I would not worry about it. As for water, every hotel I have ever been in there says whether or not it is potable. I have eaten street food in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines and i never had food poisioning or an upset stomach. The original poster said it right. Just do what you would do here-look and see if the vendor appears clean and neat and he handles the food appropriately. In NYC they have a rating system for cleanliness and I assure you some places come up with "unhealthy" ratings. I wouldn't eat at one of them either.

I think when Americans go to these countries and act like they should wear face masks and latex gloves everwhere they go, they are sending a very condesending message to their host country. You probably had a better chance of getting sick or injured drivng to the airport than you did getting sick in the foreign country. And I assure you that you have a better chance of getting sick in a US hospital than you do getting sick by eating street food. Over 100,000 people each year get sick in US hospitals (many of them fatally). Strangely, I don't see a big outcry to avoid cars or hospitals.

Okay - Jimster - will give the street food a try! It is kind of funny having you lecture me because I am Asian - an ABC (American born Chinese) and believe me - I eat things that Americans would never think to eat. When was the last time you had Chicken feet? Not necessarily one of my favorites at Dim Sum, but I will eat it and a bunch of other types of Asian foods that I was raised on. Actually, a lot of time the street food loves yummy and I would love to try it because it is what the locals eat and would likely not know to order it in a restaurant.

I am doing this trip to Thailand as part of visiting my daughter who is working/living in Korea for the next two years. I accompanied her to Korea last year and stayed two weeks. We ate a pastry from a food cart and it was yummy. Saw lots of people eating food off of a stick and we had no clue what it was. My daughter has since found out that it is chicken - which is cooked in broth - which makes sense now because people would scoop broth out into cups to drink with the chicken. But don't think I will try it when I return because boiled chicken does not sound very appetizing to me.

Anyway, ordering food in Korea was a challenge - as there were no English menus and no one spoke English. So if there were no pictures, we were out of luck. We did eat at Food Courts frequently because they always had food displays allowing us to point and order.

I am getting excited about this trip. Just booked three weeks in Japan on RCI for Sept 2012 - Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. Then we will go to Korea to visit my daughter in Oct - until going to Thailand for the month of Nov 2012. I just booked the first week in Nov thru II at the new Marriott Bangkok timeshare and the last week in November at the new Marriott resort in Phuket. I have a search in for TG week at the Marriott Phuket Beach Club - thus that leaves the week in Chiang Mai.

Has anyone ever stayed at a timeshare in Chiang Mai - there are a few? IF so, would you recommend it or should be stay in a hotel in the Old Town??

Joyce
 

Jimster

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I can't speak to the timeshares because i didn't stay there. I stayed at the Dusit D-2 which is right off the night market downtown. It was not extraordinary but it was nice. FYI I booked through agoda.com as they had the best rate-about $80 as i recall. That was in August of this year. I also hired the driver from the hotel as a private driver and guide to take me all over. I went to the the Silver Temple and the Golden Triangle and many other places. I felt this was superior to the typical bus tour.

A final word on food. I would suggest you go to flyertalk.com and read the forum on Travel and Dining. In my book, this is a must do- there are thousands of contributors to this and you will get more info here than in the guidebooks. Travel and dining is one of the tabs across the top. Then scroll down until you get to Thailand. They have a whole section devoted to Thailand and food and lodging. You will see the same debate about street food as was discussed here and it may give you further insights. Often times they even recommend or critique specific vendors.
 
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