On My Itinerary: Thailand, in one week!

photo by Rigel M.

photo by Rigel M.

Last night I did a test-pack of my carry-on, and after expanding all the TravelPro expandable areas, realized it had exceeded the 45-inch limit for a carry-on. So, I was forced to unload. I took out two tank-tops, a t-shirt, a skirt, a repackaging of our Pepto-Bismol and Advil into little plastic baggies (instead of half-full bottles), a terrible chick-lit book (Bergdorf Blondes – my friend lent it to me, and it is horrid) and suddenly zip, zip and zip – I closed the expansion and my carry-on was set to go. Yes, even a little tank-top and removing the extra bottles made all the difference.

Jon is skeptical he can replicate this, so I started a test run for him. So far, I’ve squished six t-shirts, three pairs of shorts, some boxers and his toiletries into his Travelpro with room to spare. Plus we each have a backpack that are still empty, so that’s a good sign.

Here’s our general itinerary for Thailand.

Day 1 Fly via Tokyo to Bangkok. Race through all the major sites of Bangkok.

Day 3 Fly to Chiang Mai (tickets booked last weekend, of course the fares tripled since the protests). Enjoy Chiang Mai for next couple days.

Day 5 Partake in jungle trek to elephant camp and hill tribe village (www.queenbeetours.com). Ride a bamboo raft down the river. Sleep in some treehouse. Be the ultimate tourist, especially since I doubt normal Thai people ride around on elephants or bamboo rafts much.

Day 6 Overnight train (yes, if you’re trying to maximize your 3-week vacations) to Phitsanulok, morning bus to Sukhothai – historic site of old capital. Sleep in a real hotel.

Day 7 Morning train to Ayutthaya, another historic site. Another train to Bangkok, overnight by the airport

Day 8 Early morning flight to Koh Samui to catch the ferry to Koh Tao.

Day 9-16 Live in a swimsuit for the entire week. Lie on beach chair. Occasionally move to turn pages of book, get lunch, dinner, Mai Thais, make room for a Thai massage. With the plunder taken by Thai tourism, we theorized we could probably hire someone to follow us around all day massaging us from behind.

Day 17 Head back to Bangkok, then 12-hour layover in Tokyo.

Day 18 Back to work. The end.

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3 Comments

Filed under On My Itinerary

3 responses to “On My Itinerary: Thailand, in one week!

  1. Terri

    I hope you guys have tons of fun!!! I may be coming to visit (and go to a conference) in March. I’ll let you know. Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and Happy 2009!

  2. Josh Gluck

    OK, I promised to give you some sage advice. Sounds like you don’t need it really, but here goes:

    In Chiang Mai– I stayed at the Galare Guest House which is right by the river and close to the night market, but not incredibly convenient to the old city. It was inexpensive ($30) and comfortable, with a very friendly staff and very nice breakfast area overlooking the water.

    I remember two restaurants in Chiang Mai. To satisfy your “I’m in the 3rd world so I should eat bugs” desires, try Aroon Rai in the old city. You probably know that bugs actually taste pretty gross and that people eat them because they have to, not because they beat KFC in a taste test. There’s a place by the Galare called Riverside that I remember being pretty hopping. If you’re in Thailand to hang with Europeans, this would be your spot. Because you’re on your honeymoon and not backpacking, I might check in with the concierge at a finer local hotel and ask where you can get a nice romantic dinner.

    Also, and it might go without saying, beware haggling in the night markets. The first quoted price will likely be at least 500% of what’s actually a reasonable offer. If they let you walk away, then you know you’re low-balling.

    Whatever you do, AVOID any Lanna Thai/Northern Thai dinner theaters.

    Enjoy the jungle trek. Keep in mind that on any organized tour you will either be seeing a tourist-friendly “hilltribe” village where the locals are probably hard at work in the city and dress up for you for $$, or a totally rotten, opium-infested hellhole. Inevitably your Thai guides will explain to you that the government helps the tribes, but won’t help the drug addicts. To see the real deal, you’ve got to get off the bus routes entirely.

    Overnites on Thai trains are not too bad, just don’t expect the Eurostar.

    I didn’t go to Sukhothai but I did see Ayutthaya. I would really strongly suggest getting a good guidebook and reading up on what you’d like to see. Ayutthaya is a total ruin (no commemorative plaques, no interpretative exhibits) so it’s much better if you know what it is you’re seeing. Please don’t trust your tuk-tuk “guide” to know anything substantial. Also… don’t try to walk the whole thing if it’s hot. I did, and I was sorry. There’s a huge reclining buddha that’s very cool.

    I didn’t see much time for staying in Bangkok, which is too bad because I think it gets a really bad rap from most tourists. Here’s why: Bangkok’s red light district is called Patpong, and it’s where the city’s largest night market is. There is nothing you want to buy at the night market. Patpong is a hole and it’s full of sex tourists and regular tourists who should have been given better advice. Once you get past the novelty of seeing young girls on the street with numbers pinned to their dresses for easy selection, it’s a sad and desperate place. As you are an Asian-looking woman with a Western-looking man, people will assume you’re a hooker and Jon is a john. Unless you’ve always wanted to see young girls shoot ping-pong balls or smoke a dozen cigarettes from their nothings, skip it!

    The nicest part of the city is by the river– it’s about 5-10 degrees cooler and has a nice breeze going, which makes it far more tolerable than other areas. Make sure you hit the Royal Palace (very impressive, right up there with the greatest sights of Europe) and see a wat or 2. I might skip the very touristy wat where they give free student massages. I remember it being pretty dirty and unbelievably hot and not that fun.

    Beware anyone in the vicinity of the Royal Palace who tells you that it is closed and offers to take you to another temple and then back when it re-opens. Rest assured it is not closed. Actually, beware anyone in that area who offers you anything.

    Jim Thompson was an American adventurer. How he got into the Thai silk business and how he met his demise I really forget, but the Jim Thompson store in Bangkok sells extremely high-quality silk items at very reasonable prices.

    My favorite place for a sunset drink in Bangkok is the bar at the Royal Orchid Sheraton on the riverfront. The view and bar nuts are well worth the price of drinks.

    Another highlight of Bangkok for me was Siam Square. Bangkok is an international, fairly modern city that comprises about 80-90% of the Thai economy. It’s a far richer place than you’d think, and Siam Square is where the Thai middle class hangs out. I thought visiting the malls and walking around with the throngs of young people was pretty fun, and it’s a far more authentic Bangkok than you’ll get at the Palace or in Patpong.

    OK Rin, that’s my Thailand download. Go enjoy!

  3. Josh Gluck

    Two more things:

    1. Yes, I know I made up the word “interpretative”.

    2. For your romantic dinner in Chiang Mai, you and Jon need to get a taxi ride out to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Dhara Dhevi (about 30 mins from the city). There are 3 restaurants there to choose from: Northern Thai, French and Fujianese.

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