agent quoted us $95/day for accommodations (transportation/stay) for ~3wks throughout thailand. is it worth it?
Hey all- new to this and wanted to get some advice on how to go about traveling in thailand and places to stay.
Me and a friend are traveling from the states to thailand for ~3 weeks and we're debating whether to book our accommodations in advance with this travel agent we found online or to wing it, and find place while we're there.
We're planning on going to Bangkok, ko samui, koh phagnan, ko tao, and then to ko raya.
i've traveled to china, israel, and throughout africa before and as a tourist, I rarely get local prices unless i'm in rural areas, and if I try to find a room last minute, they typically take advantage. I wanted to go through an 'agent' to book our stay/transportation for peace of mind, but have come across comments that it actually is cheaper to book our stay while at the places we're at and that haggling is rude (even though my experience shows that haggling happens everywhere). but I heard there are nice beach bungalows available on these islands for 900 baht and even cheaper starting at ~200baht. This agent is quoting us $95/day for our stay at each of the islands, but this also includes travel in between (ferry/bus/flight to phuket). not sure how different he accomodations are but wanted to get your thoughts on whether this is worth it or not. Can we find good accommodations for cheaper (i.e. ~900bath/day) without even booking in advance? If so, do you guys know of some spots to point us to?.....off-the-beaten-path type places to go?
thoughts? much appreciated.
This seems extremely high in price unless you are staying at 4 star resorts. I would advise checking out hostelworld.com and book along the way. You can get a double room with an ensuite (bathroom in the room) for $30 or less a night for 2 people total. Transportation is much cheaper than $60 per day also.
If you go through the agent you are paying for peace of mind but also getting ripped off I think.
Even in Bangkok you can find hotels under 1000 baht with private toilet, TV, hot water, A/C and maid service. Somewhere in your post I couldn't find WHEN you will be visiting Thailand. There is a few situations where booking a hotel ahead of time may be necessary. If you are traveling during high season, especially close to Christmas and New Years holidays you might want to book a room. Some cheaper hotels do not have fancy websites and rely on previous customers recommending them and using the emails or phone calls to hold rooms. If you are arriving late at night, like so many flights from the US, you might want to book at least one night ahead of time. There is excellent transportation from the airport in all price ranges. There is even a new Rail Link that can take you to the Pratunam area. (Bangkok and Chiang Mai is pretty warm too where you can even get a suntan once you get away from tall buildings!)
What you could do is ask for hotel recommendations in your price range. For Bangkok my favorite area is the Siam or Sukhumvit Road area so you can also use the Skytrain, subway and have easy access to the Rail Link. Off season, with some recommendations, you can even just call from the airport and ask the hotel to hold a room for you and that you will be there shortly.
Transportation is pretty good in Thailand and not that expensive. Phuket is probably the most expensive city in Thailand but even there you can find places definitely closer to $25 than $95!
So when are you coming to Thailand? With a US passport and flying into Bangkok you can get a 30 day Visa Exemption stamp in your passport for free. This allows you to visit for free. No problem changing US dollars to Thai baht at the airport 24 hours a day. Bring newer currency and larger denomination currency. US 100 dollar bills get more in exchange than 5's and 10's. No problem with travelers check, only bring the largest sizes you can get. The fee to cash a travelers check is 33 baht. The fee to use an ATM is 150 baht per withdrawal!
I would definitely not go with those prices your travel agent has quoted. $95 a day!!!!!!! - to give you a comparison log onto somewhere like Agonda and you will find 5 star penthouses for $26 AUD a night in Phuket....with US and AUD on almost parity sounds like the travel agent is going to get a good holiday out of the $95 a day quote.
Hello there, I'll be heading to Thailand this week, and will be staying 3 weeks. I'm a lone female traveler, and will be staying at Lub'd in Siam Sqaure for a few days and taking a few cooking courses. After that, I'm going to fly down to Phuket and go from there.
Sir Halberd, do you have any advice on the SW region? There's so many places to go, and I don't like places that are too touristy, or too far off the beaten path. I'm also interested in elephant treks, and maybe a 1 or 2 day group activity. Advice appreciated!
Other than general responses I usually shy away from specifics for this area. I don't like Phuket and have avoided this area for past 8 years. I kinda liked the James Bond Rock boat ride/lunch tour though.
Lub'd is not a bad choice for Bangkok.
This link might help a little:
Will send PM with some additional info.
@ P&E and Littlewing: thanks so much for the heads up. me and a buddy are feeling more comfortable about winging it. Would you know of specific places around Bangkok, Ko Phagnan, Ko Samui, Ko Tao that you would recommend staying at either by way of word of mouth or personal experience?
@P&E: i'll definitely check out hostelsworld.com, as well. And that's good to know that transportation shouldn't cost that much. do you know how much ferry's typically cost? 500 baht?
@littlwing: penthouses would definitely be nice. do you know if bungalows on the beach hard to come by? if you know of some solid beachfront spots through word of mouth, we definitely would check them out. fyi- my friend said the same thing about the agent have a holiday with that quote.
@Sir Halberd: Thanks for the good tips. we plan on arriving on April 10th around 1:40 am; it'll be in the late night (early morning) as you said. what are your thoughts on booking the hotel in advance? and what's the rail systems you mentioned (i.e. rail link, sky train, subway). Does each service people from the airport to bangkok? or does each go to different areas? and about private toilets, how much do beach bungalows with them typically cost?
thanks for the advice everyone. you have no idea how comforting this is. many thanks.
@ Sir Halberd:
we're a typical group of young friends who wouldn't mind staying in hotels while in bangkok and would be flexible when in the islands. we're not on a mission to stay as long as we can in thailand to where we need to find the cheapest accommodations but we do want to enjoy thailand to the utmost for prices that are reasonable for thailand's standards. $95/day (2,900B) per person was our benchmark for both transportation and accommodations and that was coming from an 'agent' we found online.
Soi1guesthouse seems really solid especially for the night of coming into Bangkok. We'll also look into Khao san road, which we've heard a lot about. For a few basic guys, this looks ideal and manageable before finding a hotel; if we even decide to. The sukhumvit region also showed very nice hotels quoting prices at ~$150USD/night and less online. For 3 people, we thought this was in range for the standard of what some of the hotels were showing and being able to move up in accommodations is always easier than it is to move down, so ~4,500B for 3 people seems like a good max for bangkok, unless i'm wrong....
if you have any other suggestions, especially for the islands, I would definitely be interested to know. For the most part, this was reassuring and helpful.
Many thanks Sir Halberd.
Hi - glad to hear you have reconsidered what I feel was a ridiculous quote. I like the Southern Thai islands, ive seen them evolve from huts on the beach to cities with airports and while its now financially ok for me to stay in hotels..and get upgraded to penthouses using lastminute bookings or negotiating..I still love a good beach hut. If you are young and want to party the hotel recommendations I can give you are probably not going to be the demographic your after..but..say phuket..try these areas if you want to get off the beaten track a bit and find a little more than Bangla road hustle and bustle. Go down to Kata..check out the Sawasdee guest house (not the sawasdee resort across the road, its mega expensive but can be grabbed on last minute deals for a lot less than on their website..Kata is a lovely "village". I personally wouldnt bother with a lot of the tours on the Phuket must see do..Chalong ...get a bus from Kata, or a taxi..about 300 - 400bht, spend the day cruising around Chalong - if you feel like it book a snorkelling tour or diving tour if you dive while IN chalong..thats where many of the boats leave from. Do the Phi Phi tour. Do the James bond island tour but be prepared for heaps of tourists there..cos its a tour!. Want to ride an elephant? - if you do go out to Kata from Patong, ask your driver to stop at the elephant trek thru the jungle place..blink and you will miss it unless you spot the elephant mum and her baby beside the road. Its a great way to while away a couple of hours. Fantasea if you are into cabaret type entertainment..i cant give a review, ive never been there, it doesnt interest me. You will have to work out what type of things you want to see...are you into nature or nightclubs?
Krabi is awesome..Koh Samui is in my opinion a little toooo touristy, I love Koh Tao, read blogs on each area to find out what islands grab you.
A little hint about scoring the penthouses for cheap rates - I do homework before I go and always have my first night booked so when I arrive from the airport I have somewhere to sleep. The next morning..i log onto a few hotel booking sites and find the absolute best price..(one room left, book now) and go down to the lobby and show them the price I can get it for online...usually they will meet that price or if you agree to pay a price somewhere between what they have offered at the lobby..Having said that though, for fun, and because they are beautiful, while we had booked and paid for 5 nights at a lovely 4 star hotel in Nai Yang..we paid 350 bht for one of the huts on the beach and slept there because..they are cute as hell!! We are a lot older than you so like having um..a kettle...and aircon but im sure you will have a great time. Thailand is an easy place for travellers.