Thailand & Laos -- Oct or Nov 2006 - TravelPUNK Backpacker College Student Budget Travel Message Boards!



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Old 06-13-2006, 09:30 PM   #1
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hey all, I'm taking some leave and traveling before I get to my permanent duty station/deploy to Iraq after finishing some army stuff up @ the end of sept. I'm getting a 4K bonus and I intend on travling with it. so I am planning on a lil 2 week trip to thailand & laos.

Who has been, who has advice, things to see, etc. I heard it was cheap to travel there. I know for sure I want to see Bangkok, and one of the remote beach islands on Thailand, I'm doing research on both though, seeing what I want to do.

I'm traveling alone -- will I be okay? Also I heard monsoon season was during that time, what's up with that?

Anything, anything at all would be greatly appreciated.

Also -- how to get cheap airfare would greatly be appreciated... all I know is expedia and cheaptickets.com

thanks!
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Old 06-14-2006, 05:08 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally posted by pinknic38@Jun 13 2006, 07:30 PM
hey all, I'm taking some leave and traveling before I get to my permanent duty station/deploy to Iraq after finishing some army stuff up @ the end of sept.* I'm getting a 4K bonus and I intend on travling with it.* so I am planning on a lil 2 week trip to thailand & laos.

Who has been, who has advice, things to see, etc.* I heard it was cheap to travel there.* I know for sure I want to see Bangkok, and one of the remote beach islands on Thailand, I'm doing research on both though, seeing what I want to do.

I'm traveling alone -- will I be okay?* Also I heard monsoon season was during that time, what's up with that?

Anything, anything at all would be greatly appreciated.

Also -- how to get cheap airfare would greatly be appreciated... all I know is expedia and cheaptickets.com

thanks!
nicole
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id recomend going to phuket to be honest. Definately check out the islands on one of the tourboats. Your money will be like gold over there.
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Old 06-14-2006, 07:34 AM   #3
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Enjoy your time in SEA! Yes, it's definitely cheap.

I haven't actually travelled through Thailand or Laos - just a brief stop in Hat Yai and Songkhala in the south of Thailand

For international flights, I bought my Bangkok - Boston ticket for next Jan off www.orbitz.com for an okay price (I think) but it was kind of a rushed decision for me.

For flights within SEA check out AirAsia.com, although I think Laos might not really be serviced. Works for flights within Thailand though.

Hope that helps somewhat, and have a great time! Everyone tells me that solo travelling is awesome and SEA is a great place to backpack, so I'm sure you'll be fine. I'm taking my first solo trip in a month too, to Borneo.
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Old 06-14-2006, 10:47 AM   #4
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Thailand is great. There are plenty of solo travelers and as long as you keep your wits about you, you should be fine. There have been some problems lately on the island of Koh Samui where tourist girls have been taken advantage of by local Thai guys, but overall I think Thailand is rather safe.

I would recommend Phuket whole-heartedly as a good island to go to. It has everything from crazy partying and over development in the Patong Beach area, to a lot of more laid back spots on other parts of the coast. You can also take day (or longer) trips to Koh Phi Phi which is absolutely gorgeous, more laid back, with towering cliffs and great beaches.

Bangkok - great city - definately do the tourist things - go see the grand palace and surrounding temples, consider a boat tour on the Chao Phrya (river flows through the city). Avoid the tuk-tuks or at least be very cautious with them, usually they want to take you to Gem parlors, Tailors or other places where they get a commission - versus where you want to go. Taxis are very cheap and so I usually stick to them. There is also a scam outside the grand palace where someone will tell you its closed for a few hours but that they will give you a tour of the city - if you hear something like that, just politely decline. The GP is not generally closed during normal hours - check for yourself.

Don't be afraid of the street food - try it - much of it is fantastic. There is of course lots of cheap shopping - night markets and the like. Just do your research and explore around and don't be afraid to try new things.

Enjoy your time there - its really a great place.
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Old 06-18-2006, 11:48 AM   #5
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SE Asia's great...I definitely recommend it. Thailand is a great place to start... folks are great, friendly and English is widely spoken. If you're into historical sights, then the temples and such there are awesome. I recommend Ayyuthaya (spelled a number of ways), which I did as a day trip from Bangkok.

Getting around in Bangkok, I chose to use the Chao Phraya River Express. Bacially, it's a river "bus" that goes up and down the river that winds through the city. MAYBE you could get faster to your destination by taxi (if it's near the river), but with Bangkok's traffic, that's not assured. One thing that IS guarenteed is that it will be a quieter, calmer way of getting around.

As far as taxis, the ones hailed by hotels are more expensive than the ones you grab on the street. I never had any problems with tuk-tuks...if you spell out exactly where you want to go. They get money for fuel from the shops they drag tourists to, so I humored them at the first jewelry store, going in and looking around. Then I cut them short when they tried to drag me to a tailor. The final way to make sure they don't drag you all over the place is not pay them till you're done...completely, last stop.

Good luck, and feel free to ask specifics...

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Old 06-19-2006, 12:55 AM   #6
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Laoitian, courtesy of my dishwashers:

(phonetic )

PEE BAH-- "You're Crazy!"

SA BA DEE "Hello, how are you?"

HAN LY "Hot now/today, or Its Hot!"

BOK DOY "asshole!"

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Old 06-19-2006, 10:12 AM   #7
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My experience of the monsoon was in Singapore, where, I was assured, the season was over. When the rain began sheeting down pretty much as soon as I got to the city from the airport, pregnant and with two little kids in tow, I realized that not bringing raincoats or an umbrella had been a strategic error. I'm from Vancouver, so I know a thing or two about rain, but this was a novelty. Fortunately, a nice man stopped a girl with an umbrella and made her walk with me across the street, and she took me to a mall which had a sale on umbrellas when it was raining. $10 normally, $6 if it's raining. I kind of expected it to be the other way around, but go figure. It's a nice umbrella, too.

Each day dawned bright and hot, so we marched off without the umbrella, had a great time looking around the city, and about 6 each night, just as we were heading home, it started pouring again. The second day out, I fashioned raincoats for the girls out of plastic shopping bags (with holes for heads and arms, have no fear) but wasn't impressed by the traffic whipping by, shooting up fountains of water all over the back of me. Ah, well, at least it was warm. Finally, on our last day in town I learned my lesson and dragged the great walloping umbrella around all day...naturally come 6 o clock we had the loveliest sunset and a beautiful, clear evening.

So, bottom line is, if it's monsoon season (or even if it isn't but it's close) bring some kind of wet weather gear - a folding umbrella would be fine, or you can buy one in country, but you'll probably need something.

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Old 06-20-2006, 07:48 PM   #8
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Ah Laos ! *sigh*

In case you had not read it yet, here are my tips and hints about Laos, out of another thread.

Quote:
Originally posted by atchoum@Feb 24 2006, 03:05 PM


First of, people should hurry going there before it gets westernized. It is one of the very few countries that remain genuine. Its neighbours, Vietnam and Laos have already started changing.

As most of SEA countries, Laos is fairly cheap. One can get around with less than $15 a day, depending on the area. My average daily fees amount $11, I'm a super low budget backpacker. Of course, there are a good range of hotels/hostels in the main cities, from $3 hostel rooms to $100 hotel's. You can even find places for $1, in the countryside, with no service, shared "bucket baths" and squat toilets.* * «-- rare in Laos.

In Vientiane and Luang Prabang, great foreign restaurants for a few dollars a meal. This is where I had the best meals of my stay in Asia, but french and italian food. The noodle shops are unexpensive and serve good local food. Street vendors sell food to bus users, on the national roads. When the bus stops, they run to your window with their chicken on a stick (in fact a roasted bird), sticky rice (with coconut milk), corn, and more. No need to buy a snack in advance, the bus stops every one or two hours. Beer Lao is the only and very famous national beer (99% of the backpackers buy the beer lao t-shirt) and Lao Lao is the homemade rice alcohol you'll likely drink at any time of the day (can be the first thing you're offered in the morning ! ).*

Luang Prabang is one of the prettiest thing, that makes Vientiane, the capital, look sad and boring. But I loved Vientiane. In which other capital would the locals greet you on the street as if you were family ? "Sabaidee" - hello in Lao.

Several cities from coloniasm are worth seeing. Well, pick one, no need to see all of them.

The south is charming. I recommend the Si Phan Don (= 4000 Islands), on the Mekong, just by the cambodian border. No luxuary around : electricity, tv and internet addicted, please avoid this place !* It's gorgeous, filled with partying backpackers, lots to do (visiting small intouched villages, temples, hicking, seeing the highest falls of SEA, rapids, wild dolphins), and also spots to be alone for those who don't feel like joining the others. Bamboo houses at $1 a night. It feels like paradise, really ! And you're on the Mekong River !

Bus drivers are crazy* ; bring earplugs with you !

Yellow fever vaccine is supposed to be mandatory. But they didn't ask to show my proof (I had it with me though). And for those travelling in the countryside, Malaria is a potential danger.

Oh, and it is illegal to have sex with a Lao !
The visa is bought upon arrival, for $30 cash and one picture.

Monsoon ends around October, so it shouldn't be so bad. I experienced the beginning of monsoon and it was only raining an hour per day, but every day. Being there at the end of monsoon has one major advantage : nature will be glowing !

The thai currency can be easily changed in major cities in Laos.

Even though it doesn't seem like a long train journey, from Thailand to Laos, looking at a map, well... it is SEA, and it means it will take time. Especially if you're travelling from the southern islands. If you have time, I've heard very good things about northern Thailand, so you can make one or two stops on your way to Laos.

Or by plane, ticket bought in the tourist zone in Bangkok (take half a day to shop airfares), expect to pay around $125 for a return ticket to Vientiane with Lao Airline. But that was the scariest flight of my life, worse than with Royal Nepalese Airline.
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