Author Topic: Thailand trip report (bkk, cnx, kaho lak)  (Read 3131 times)

Offline Brian

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Thailand trip report (bkk, cnx, kaho lak)
« on: March 25, 2013, 03:54:32 PM »
   First of all, thank you everyone for previous trip reports, they were very helpful and we would have been lost without them.

  I flew with my wife and three kids with UA.  We took the following route: EWR ĖHKG (3 ht. stop over), HKG- BKK (18 hr stop over), BKK-CNX (5 days),  CNX- HKT (2 days). HKT- HKG (15 hr stop over), HKG- EWR.  All of the above flights we got for 65k miles.

Bangkok

    We landed in Bangkok at midnight, and our flight to Chaing Mai was at 5:25 pm. We took an airport minivan to the La Meridian hotel for 700 baht.  As a platinum member, we were upgraded to a nice corner suite. There was plenty of room for the kids to run around.  The next day we went to the Grand Palace. It is about 20 minutes from the hotel. The Palaces were pretty, you mostly saw them from the outside because the insides are closed up besides for 7 specific days a year. They do allow you in to the main temple (which we didnít do), and the throne room.  The throne room was cool but you have to hide your camera when you take pictures because they have guards that will take your camera and make you erase any pictures or videos if they catch you.  It was an ok tourist attraction but it may not have been worth the Bangkok traffic to get there. We went from the Palace to Chabad which was about five minutes away.  The ride back from Chabad which should have been about 15-20 minutes ended up taking close to an hour and 20 minutes. We ended up missing our flight because of it, so if you do decide to do anything in Bangkok, you need to allow for a lot of extra time. UA rescheduled us on a 9:30 flight to Chaing Mai.

Chaing Mai

   Our hotel in Chaing Mai upgraded us to a corner suite before our trip. We emailed the manager there and requested the upgrade.  The hotel staff in all of the hotels that we stayed in were super friendly and looked like they really enjoyed helping us out. The room itself was very spacious.  It had a huge bathroom with a walkin closet that was big enough to unpack all of our stuff and our kids stuff for all five days. There was also a bathtub that was big enough to hold at least 2 adults that we ended up using as a pool for the kids, which was an extra bonus. Both the bedroom and the living area had nice sized couches, and the living area also had a nice sized desk and small eating table.

  Some people like to do all of the activities in Chaing Mai in one day, but with jet lagged kids we wouldnít recommend it.  The first day (Thursday), we took it easy. We walked around in the morning, and yes, all of the stores were either massage parlors, tailors, or attraction information booths. We passed by about 4 Israeli restaurants on our way to Chabad.  That night we went to the night safari.  We actually really enjoyed the Safari. You can buy food for 20b to feed the animals. The deers, zebras, and giraffes walk right up to your train (which is completely open on the sides) to get the food.  The giraffe reaches his head in across 2-3 people looking for food so if you are scared of an animal touching you, you wonít be safe by not taking an outer seat on the 4 person bench.  After the safari you can see their lights show, which was kind of cool but the accompanying music was blasted so loud that it detracted from it instead of adding.

  Friday early morning, we hired a driver for 600b to take us to the tiger kingdom. His price also included taking us to the monkey show afterwards, and the ride back.  The tiger kingdom is definitely a must see.  We were debating whether to hire a photographer or not. We took cheekiminkeyís advice and got one. It cost us 500b for two cages (300 for one cage). It was definitely worth every penny. We went to the youngest tigers first, (young kids are only aloud in those cages).  We noticed that the trainers definitely gave more time to the people who had hired the photographers and helped out more in getting the tigers into posing positions. Our kids were total chickens and wouldnít take any individual pictures with the tigers, but we did manage one group shot.  When we were in the cage with the big tigers I was about to touch the back of the tigers head until the trainer yelled at me לא בראש!"Ē.  We ended up with a bunch of great pictures, and a great experience. You donít get to play with tigers every day.

  After the tigers we went to go see the monkey show which was about 5 minutes away. Before the show started, there was a monkey walking around giving kisses to anyone who wanted one and posing with his arm around you or on your lap for pictures. He was really adorable.  The show itself was more cute than anything. The tricks themselves were not that great but the kids were laughing the whole time just watching cute monkeys. After the show the kids really enjoyed feeding the monkeys, but it was kind of sad seeing the monkeys locked up in small cages, trying to get out and grabbing at the food. We made sure to feed them a lot.

After the ride back, even though it was still early, the kids had had enough, so we ate lunch by Chabad, picked up some food for shabbos and went back to the hotel. Friday night we ate by Chabad. There were about 250 Israelis by the meal, it was really nice and quick. Back at the hotel we had a  poor security guard accompany us all the way up the 16 flights of stairs to our room because of some hotel protocol, but he said he was  used to it and that it wasnít his first time. He asked us what time we needed an escort back down the stairs in the morning, and he showed up exactly on time and rang the bell (he was actually a great alarm clock). We ate the shabbos day meal in the hotel. We had brought along a crock pot and stuff to make cholent, and bough a piece of meat from Chabad. It wasnít worth it for us to schlep the kids out again for the day meal.

Sunday we hired the same driver for 800b to take us to the elephant village. They say that the Mae Sa elephant camp has the best elephant show, but because the village had better elephant riding and more activities we decided to go there. It was about an hour drive from the hotel. We arrived just in time for the 9:45 show. The show was one of the highlights of the trip. We heard all about what the elephants would do through the Thailand trip threads, but seeing it live was definitely a great experience. (As a side note, the bathroom there had about 6 stalls and one communal roll of toilet paper available before going in.)  The elephant ride was cool but if you have kids you need to be holding them tightly the whole time and your arms may start getting sore by the end of it. The elephant takes you across a river and through some foresty area and then back through the river. A long the way there are stations that sell you food for 30b to give the elephant as you ride. Our elephant had a little bit of an attitude and when we didnít give him his food fast enough when he reached his nose up for it he sprayed some I donít want to know what at us. We definitely learned our lesson and had the food ready for him the next time.  After the elephant ride we did a short ride on an ox-cart. It was really nothing more than a boring and bumpy ride, and I would not recommend spending any money on it ( it may have been part of a package though).  The ox-0cart took us to our bamboo raft for the last part of the trip. The ride was about 40 minutes down a river and was very calm and relaxing. You should probably bring sunscreen for the ride especially with kids but in case you forget, they offer you some really cute cone shaped straw hats that were great for pictures.

Night Market vs. Sunday night Market

The night market was right by our hotel so we ended up visiting it twice. After walking through about one block of the market it seems like you are walking through a repeat of the same things over and over again. The prices were not that great and the people were not very interested in bargaining.  The prices after bargaining were not much better than prices for things on sale at Wallmart, so it didnít feel like such a great bargain. The market itself had booths with watches, t shirts, sunglasses, some bags, a few paintings that you might want for your house, a lot of different colorful soaps for display, and a few other household items. Besides for that, it was mostly junk.  They did have fake Beads there, but we bought some on our last trip to China and they sounded just like the real ones but they broke after a few weeks, so donít jump at the cheap prices. In the middle of the night market area is a small plaza lined up with artists. They do some really unbelievable  work, with copying pictures.  It was said earlier that it cost about $60 to get a picture drawn, but that price goes up if there is more than one or two people in the picture.

The Sunday night market was about 10 times bigger than the regular night market. There was a lot of the same stuff but with a lot more variety. Prices started off cheaper but the people were a lot less bargainable. For example, a  t-shirt at the regular market, we couldnít bargain for lower than 125b, but in the Sunday market the same t shirts were starting at 100b. We were told that the difference in price was because the vendors at the Sunday market donít have to pay rent and the other vendors do.

   The Sunday market was definitely more of an attraction than the regular market. There were lots of food stands and random people playing music. The place was flooded with people, mostly younger adults . It seemed like more people were there to enjoy themselves than to buy anything. There was a lot more souvenier type things to buy there and a lot more clothes, but not as much jewelry, watches, or sunglasses. I t was mostly just junk. Please note that at exactly six oíclock you have to stand still while the loudspeakers play a tribute to the king whom we learned earlier is in the hospital with heart problems ( he is 85 yrs. old).   All in all it wasnít something I would change my schedule around to do, but if you are there anyway on a Sunday,  then go ahead.

Phone number for our driver- (08) 7349-2580. His name is Likit Boonchai. We were really happy with him. He drove a van so there was plenty of room in the car, he was really friendly and had great English. His prices were also better than the prices the hotel gave us. It seemed like the hotel clerks were getting commission from the taxiís they hired.

  Kholak
   We took an early flight Monday morning to Phuket. From there it was an hour and 20 minute ride to the Meridian. We used Cheeki monkeys driver, who charged us 1500b for the ride. It was a good savings compared to the 2500b that the airport charged for the same ride (thank you cheeki monkey). We pre-arranged with the hotel to upgrade us to a pool villa for 15,750 points per night. It was a mice villa with a beautiful private pool. The pool does have a jacuzzi at the end of it, but it only bubbles and doesnít get hot (not that you need any extra heat in 90 degree weather). We ended up switching rooms because our air conditioning system wasnít working properly. The new villa that they brought us to was basically identical on the inside but the pool was different. It didnít have a jacuzzi, but it had a much bigger shallow area ( half of the pool lengthwise). We ended up liking the second pool much better because we didnít really use the jacuzi, and now there was much more room for the kids to swim. We hadnít known that that option was available to begin with so we were very thankful for the broken air conditioning. We will include pictures of the pools so you can see the difference.
 
  If you are going to eat inside the villa, make sure not to leave any food around because the ants are really quick to show up. It wasnít a terrible ant problem, but there were a few problem spots where they liked to gather. Also the kids did get a little bitten up, so try to remember an insect repellent.

  As mentioned in the master thread, there was a great kids room, with a babysitting service. There were tons of things for the kids to do there, games, slides, toys, a ball pit, a coloring area, books, and more.  The hotel also does have its own elephant. It is trained really well to give big kisses, but watch out because It does try for your mouth. It is also happy to collect tips for its trainer. They let you put small kids up on it for pictures, but our kids were too chicken. Later they take it into the water by the beach where it plays ball with the visitors.  We had two amazing days there. It was definitely the highlight of the trip for the kids.

   At checkout we got a bill for 15000b instead of the 3000b that we were expecting (we booked with c+p). When we asked about it we were told that they accidentally charged us for the upgrade instead of charging us points. They were about to fix it for us but I jumped on the price to pay $400 and save 31500 points.

We took a flight to hong kong, stayed there over night which was great for breaking up the trip back home.

Side notes

If we were to go again with kids we will stay in Hong Kong over night in order to break up the trip. The second flight to Bangkok was a killer for them. We will skip Bangkok all together and go to Chaing Mai. 5 days for us was a perfect amount of time in Chaing Mai. If we would have extra time we will stay a third day at kho lak.

Chabad was unbelievable in all places. Their prices are subsidized for Israelis. It would be nice to leave a nice donation.

If anyone is interested in more pictures of any specific places let me know.

Offline sky121

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Re: Thailand trip report (bkk, cnx, kaho lak)
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2013, 04:16:24 PM »


If anyone is interested in more pictures of any specific places let me know.

Nice TR-

Did you fly Coach?


I'm def interested in any pics!
"Not all who wander are lost"

Offline AJK

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Re: Thailand trip report (bkk, cnx, kaho lak)
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2013, 09:33:27 PM »
Great TR!!

What airlines did you fly from BKK-CNX and CNX-HKT and HKT-HKG?



They say that the Mae Sa elephant camp has the best elephant show, but because the village had better elephant riding and more activities we decided to go there.

What village?



In BKK, how far is Le Meridian hotel to the Chabad?
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Offline Brian

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Re: Thailand trip report (bkk, cnx, kaho lak)
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2013, 09:56:25 PM »
Quote
Did you fly Coach?
Yes
Quote
BKK-CNX and CNX-HKT and HKT-HKG
All with Thai
Quote
What village?
I don't remember the name, my driver recommend it (probably because of commission) we enjoyed that place.

Offline SavingsBigtime

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Re: Thailand trip report (bkk, cnx, kaho lak)
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2013, 10:35:58 PM »
Thanks great tr!
What did you do in hkg?

Offline Brian

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Re: Thailand trip report (bkk, cnx, kaho lak)
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2013, 01:22:42 PM »
Quote
In BKK, how far is Le Meridian hotel to the Chabad?
Without traffic it's 15-20 minutes. We had crazy tragic on the way back and it took us an hour and 20 minutes.
Quote
What did you do in hkg?
We landed at 7:30pm, we went straight to our hotel to get a good night sleep before our flight back home.

Offline MAJ

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Re: Thailand trip report (bkk, cnx, kaho lak)
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2013, 02:35:13 PM »
Great TR!!

What airlines did you fly from BKK-CNX and CNX-HKT and HKT-HKG?



What village?



In BKK, how far is Le Meridian hotel to the Chabad?
r u asking because u want food from there? If that's the case u can ask them to deliver, they are amaZing! I would tell them where I am in bkk and order for an hr later for a very cheap fee

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Re: Thailand trip report (bkk, cnx, kaho lak)
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2013, 02:58:49 PM »
Well, I'd love to be within walkable distance to the Chabad, if possible.

But it's good to know they'll deliver if need be.

Thanks.
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Offline MAJ

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Re: Thailand trip report (bkk, cnx, kaho lak)
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2013, 04:44:12 PM »
Well, I'd love to be within walkable distance to the Chabad, if possible.

But it's good to know they'll deliver if need be.

Thanks.
merridien is not close, I stayed there and with traffic can take an hr to get there

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Re: Thailand trip report (bkk, cnx, kaho lak)
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2013, 04:56:21 PM »
Any (decent?) points hotels within walking distance?
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