Help Me Plan My Trip To Thailand

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I am currently in the midst of planning a trip to Thailand and would love some recommendations! I’ve been reading the travel books, and while they have some good suggestions I’d prefer trusted experiences – so I thought, what better place to start than the recommendations of my loyal blog readers. Also, while I love staying at the chain hotels utilizing my miles, I would also love to hear any “off the beaten” path recommendations. Look forward to many postings about this trip around the Christmas/New Years time frame. I will be there a total of 17 days give or take, so there will be lots to post!

I am temporarily planning on the following:

  • Hong Kong
  • Khao Lak
  • Krabi
  • Chiang Mai (and maybe even a 2-3 night trek)
  • Bangkok

All comments/suggestions/recommendations/experiences welcome! Thanks in advance 🙂

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  1. From Chiang Mai you can do a visit to Elephant Nature Camp. It’s a totallynamazing experience. You get to feed and wash the elephants in the river & learn a bit about them- how they are treated, used etc..

    Bangkok- go to the floating markets for a half day. There I so much to see in Bangkok, spend 4-5 days at leastbif you can

    Hong Kong- visit a wet market, Get dim sum at Maxim’s Palace City Hall- great food & experience. Check out the longest elevator in the world. Visit the big buddah, when we went it was too foggy out & couldn’t see myth. – also if you have extra time definitely visit Macau for a day

  2. Yangon is only a short, cheap flight away on Air Asia. With all that time a couple days up there will be a wonderful add-on. Since you’ve seen Cambodia and Vietnam, this is next frontier (Laos is great, but takes more time to really enjoy and flights are less convenient and more expensive). Some pics of Burma at and an itinerary for squeezing in the best of Hong Kong if you’ve only got a day or two: Macau is a much underrated stopover, too, with often cheaper connections to Bangkok than Hong Kong if that segment is not already part of your ticket.

    For Thailand, you’ve got some wonderful choices. My first trip I underestimated how much I wanted to see in Bangkok and needed another trip to make it up. The other choices are great too, and wisely giving Phuket a pass. Phuket’s resorts are nice but the town is sleezy.

  3. How exciting! I don’t have any tips for you myself, however I am planning an 3-4 week Asia trip using BA miles for the March-May timeframe and Thailand is my main focus as well. Please share all the great tips you receive with all your readers!

  4. We stayed at the JW not by the waterfront. I know it’s not off the beaten path but one of my favorite hotels – the food is incredible with seven executive chefs.

    Across the street is a tailor called Gulati who has made suits and shirts for President Bush the older and they are some of my favorite custom made shirts with a 24 hour turnaround time.

    I did a whole write up on my blog about our Phuket and Bangkok trip if you’re interested.

  5. I live in Thailand about 5 months of the year. I strongly suggest you replace Krabi with Koh Samui. Every time I have been to Krabi I found it full of, pardon the expression, Eurotrash and the Australian equivalent…loud, rude people looking for a cheap vacation. I have always found Samui to be a more relaxing place. The downside is Samui is served only by Bangkok Airways and they charge a very high price for flights there.

  6. It would help to know a little more about your hotel status and also desired price points.

    Bangkok is a wonderful hotel city, lots of great properties, and status can sway the conversation. I think the Peninsula is a fabulous hotel at the top end, I haven’t been yet but reports are that the new St Regis approaches that level (and cash + points = frequently available plus good Platinum recognition).

    The Sheraton Grande is even a lovely hotel, it’s almost hard to go wrong no matter your chain preference though because the Conrad is good, the Grand Hyatt Erawan is excellent, and the Intercontinental is nice as well.

    Of course the time you’re going to be there throws a little bit of a wrench in things because you’re not likely getting deep discount inventory 🙂

    On that last point, one of my favorite hotels to recommend in the world is the Le Meridien Khao Lak — not for a basic room, which I’d almost never recommend traveling there for, but because during much of the year there is no cheaper place to buy an ocean front villa with private pool, think $250/night or so .. but likely much more expensive while you’re visiting.

    On my next trip to Thailand (Thanksgiving) I’m checking out the brand new Conrad Koh Samui, currently slated to open October 1. Base room is an ocean view villa with private pool. Hard to imagine a better use of points.

    Haven’t spent much time in Chiang Mai, I think Ben (luckycoins) will be there soon, I’m a huge fan of the Le Meridien Chiang Rai though.

    Hong Kong is another wonderful hotel city but definitely on the pricey side. I think the key is to ensure a harbour view, no matter what you do. Grand Hyatt is excellent, so is the Intercontinental (which is better than the Intercontinental Grand Stanford, though they can be chinzy on elite benefits). I even really like the Sheraton in the TOWERS section, an award can get into towers for a modest number of points and then the standard platinum upgrade is harbour view. W is one of the coolest hotels I’ve been in but their view is of the working harbour not the famous skyline so for a first trip I would avoid it — just secure a harbour view.

    On my next trip to Hong Kong I’m slated for the Conrad, but am hoping to change, e.g. if there’s a decent 3rd quarter Hyatt promo….

    I do realize this comment is rather chain-heavy! 😛

  7. My wife and I are planning a very similar itinerary- we’re planning on a few nights in the vicinity of Phuket on arrival, 4 nights in Chiang Mai, 2 nights in Bangkok, and three in Hong Kong on our way back to NY just before Christmas. We booked Lebua in Bangkok when it came up on vacationist, but we’re still researching some of the other potential stays. Kaoh Lak is of interest if we can work out a trip to Similan Islands for some snorkeling, and we’ve been mapping out some interesting waterfalls around Chiang Mai… we probably need to find a guide/driver for that. I look forward to what people can suggest!

  8. Kalboz is the “go to” guy on Milepoint and flyertalk for Thailand. He has some fantastic writeups and photos.

  9. That is awfully a lot of traveling for a 17-day vacation :). I would devout more time Thailand and especially to Bangkok which is an awesome metropolis especially in December/January. For an “off the beaten” path boutique place in Bangkok, I’d recommend the Chakrabongse Villas on the Chao Phraya River, a short walk to Wat Pho. Alternatively, Arun Residences which arranges its own guided tours to many points of interests in Bangkok and environs.

    For Chiang Mai, the Chedi including breakfast & WIFI (around $200). The MO Dhara Dhavi is excessively expensive at $700/night.

    I would also consolidate my southern Thailand/the islands into one location and use that as a base to explore the beaches/islands when getting tired of relaxing. Koh Phi Phi is very nice if you stay at a decent place (like the HI or the Zeavola). For your December trip, the Zeavola is going for $330++ for a Village Suite (40 SQM living room space & a King bed). On the other hand, the Holiday Inn Koh Phi Phi, using Steve Sickle F&F’s rate to book, you will get the Coral Beach Studio for less than $250++ per night.

  10. I will be in Thailand as well in December, but only for 7 days. We’ve planned about 4 nights in Koh Phi Phi and another 3 nights in Bangkok.

    I’ll be following the comments closely, since I need some tips as well!

  11. This is awesome
    I plan on hkg-sin bkk itinerary around thanksgiving with 5 days in Thailand
    Am I crazy to do bkk in 2 days and Chiangmai for 2.5 days leaving the rest of the country for a later trip?

  12. Leaving on a very similar trip in t-minus 2 weeks! I’ve been to Thailand before and made sure to hit up some of our favorite spots. I liked bangkok but didn’t need 4 or 5 days. Depends if you can handle the heat and soot from all of the cars– I can not and needed a beach immediately! Went to Koh Chang last time, not planning on returning as it was time consuming to get there. LOVED Krabi and excited about going to Koh Samui since we didn’t get to go the first time around. Also trying out the Le Meridian Khao Lak! Very excited about that one from all the great reviews (especially from Gary!)
    If you really want to splurge, I definitely recommend the Anantara Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai. They have an elephant conservation center pretty much on their grounds and you can spend a whole day being a Mahout (elephant trainer/helper) where you bathe the elephants, feed them, etc. and then return to the most amazing boutiquey hotel and lounge around in the infinity pool overlooking the wilderness. Very surreal.

  13. We posted a great deal for the Anantara Golden Triangle Chiang Rai but unfortunately, it expired last night:

    Bangkok is amazing with its temples, palaces, markets, etc. especially in December/January when the weather is mild.

    Koh Samui is great, but for a December/January trip, the Phuket area and the Andaman Sea islands (including Khao Lak, Krabi, Koh Phi Phi, and, of course, Phuket itself) have the better weather (less rain).

    Khao Lak which is located about an hour north of HKT, is a bit isolated but if you are into relaxing it’s a great location. Koh Phi Phi is great for relaxing also and it is centrally located between Phuket and Krabi. It is a great base to explore the entire area (Koh Lanta, Koh Jum, etc.)

  14. @Edward Ross

    I definitely agree about heading to Koh Samui if you’re staying in nice places, though I prefer Koh Tao for the more back packery vibe. Thai flies to Koh Samui now as well 2x daily from BKK, but prices are still pretty comparable to Bangkok Airways, which has better service. I’m in Phuket right and flew BKK-HKT on TG which was great as I got an F seat on a J ticket in the 744, next I’m heading over to USM for a few more days of sun then back to BKK with Bangkok Airways. Tickest were pricy at over 14k baht for the J-Y-J trip.

  15. Fascinating post, can’t wait to see what you come up with. We’re celebrating our 20th Anniversary in a little over one year and thinking of going here. Plenty of time to stockpile my points & miles.

  16. Pattaya is a very nice beachy area. We enjoyed the Royal Cliff Resort here.
    While in Bangkok, dine at Baan Kanetha. Excellent! It was walking distance fron the Dusit Thani Hotel, a really beautiful place to stay.

  17. My husband and I are planning a trip to Hong Kong, Phuket, and Bangkok in October and have found the threads on milepoint that someone else here link to, to be very helpful.

    Among highlights we have planned- Staying at the IC in Hong Kong, trips to James Bond Island (Phang Nga bay) and Maya Beach (Ko Phi Phi), and a rooftop dinner in Bangkok TBA (most likely @ Lebua so we can try the Hangover-tini)

    I’ve only been to Thailand one other time for about 18 hours and really enjoyed checking out the royal palace in Bangkok- we’ll be going back there for sure!

  18. hulagrrl210 & dealswelike, & Million Mile Secrets: here is a thread “6 Nights in Bangkok” with must do items for Bangkok. Mix and match to tailor according to your needs/wants:

    For Koh Phi Phi, take a boat early in the morning and go snorkling with millions of colorful fish. During the day, do not go to the beach where the day-trippers are … you will regret it! The Holiday Inn couldn’t have a better location, it is on more than 50 acres of tropical gardens along a private beach, which has gorgeous blue water with a sandy sea floor, where you can swim and snorkel year-round. Most bungalows have identical design with parquet floors, comfortable indoor daybeds, and decks with lounge chairs. However, a few rooms are family-style duplexes; those numbered 100-118 are also beachfront. A late 2007 expansion of the resort has added more beachfront rooms, hillside rooms with spectacular beach views, and an additional pool, bar, and restaurant. The Terrace Restaurant ($$$$), which serves Thai and international cuisines, has splendid views of the sea, and the cliff-side satay bar is one of the few sunset viewpoints on the island. Classes in Thai culture, arts, cooking, and language are offered throughout the week. The resort offers boat service from Phuket.

  19. for an ‘off the beaten path’ option in krabi try the aka-nak resort. (website loads slowly, if at all)

    if you want peace and quiet, away from the maddening crowd, and a truly local experience, then this is the place. on both my visits, i felt that i was the only non-resident in a 3km radius!

    • @Shan – Thanks for send me your blog. I enjoyed reading them and now really want to go to Boracay! Sounds beautiful.

  20. Thailand is a wondrous kingdom, featuring Buddhist temples, exotic wildlife, and spectacular islands. Along with a fascinating history and a unique culture that includes delectable Thai food and massage, Thailand features a modern capital city, and friendly people who epitomize Thailand’s “land of smiles” reputation.
    Thailand Trip

  21. Just got to Bangkok! Just from the Taxi and the 1 night stay, so far I can tell I’m going to love it here. Flying up to Chaing Mai for 4 days and then headed south before returning to Bangkok. I’m here in the rainy season, which is probably not the best time, but I’m still researching beaches for this time of year (looking into phi phi), but any other recommendations?

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