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Old 15th October 2015, 12:32   #1
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Default Charismatic Thailand: Holiday in a Friendly Neighbourhood

The weekend of 2nd October-15 was special as apart from extend weekend holidays, it also marked the completion of mid-term exams for my son or for that matter many more kids. My son was eagerly looking forward to a holiday abroad ever since his passport was renewed in January this year and we surprised him with a short Thailand (only) trip. Here is what was the trip worth for

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Well, we did not do lot of planning and decided to go all on our own and chose not to take any holiday package even though they were available at competitive rates.
Booked Indigo flight from Delhi to Bangkok with change-over in Kolkata as not only it was the cheapest option but also enabled my brother-in-law to join the same flight from Kolkata. A request at Delhi check-in ensured that we all were sitting together on our Kolkata-Bangkok flight.

Trip Details

Total No of people: 3 adult + 1 teenager (now that my kid is 12+ years old, hate to be called kid)

Flights: Indigo (Delhi- Kolkata- Bangkok)

Hotels

Pattaya: Marriott Resort & Spa (3 Nights)
Bangkok: Holiday Inn (1 Night)

Food & Dinning

Plenty of option in Pattaya. Seafood lovers would cherish fresh prawns. However we liked the Indian version of the prawns better due to absence of seasoning & masala in Thai grills. Although the Thai curries were much like Indian curries except that it got handful of coconut milk. Most of the 3-5 star hotels in Thailand have Indian section in Buffet spread, however can't say much on the choice of the food as we found limited option in Marriott & Holiday Inn. I would recommend Thai curries and live noodles.

There were Indian Restaurant everywhere. Pattaya also had Jain as well as pure vegetarian restaurants. Bengali restaurant even had sign-boards in Bengali. We liked "Zaika" located across the road opposite Marriott. The food was really good and hence we did not feel need to try any other.

Apart from Indian Restaurants, we had McD, Burger King, KFC and Pizzahut. All of them except KFC had at least one vegetarian option.

This was same with Bangkok except that the prices were on higher side.

Sight Seeing

Pattaya: Coral Island, City Tour & Tiffany Show
Bangkok: Safari World, River & City Tour

Shopping Guide

Pattaya is cheap and somewhat like Goa. We had option from street shops as well as some real good malls. Go for street shops for a difference. Malls are no different that India.
Bangkok: Malls have better collection than street shops, which are also in plenty. LED TVs are cheaper than India, however mobile phones list price were more or less same as India and with type of discount raining in India, net cost of mobile phone would be much less here.

Foreign Exchange
Plenty of option for currency exchange in Pattaya and Bangkok. The exchanges were everywhere and opened till 10 PM, however not many of them accepted INR. Dollars most welcome.

TIP: Use credit card at all possible place but do not choose to pay in INR, pay in Thai Baht by credit card. The VISA/MASTER Card conversation rate is most competitive (much better than what I got for my INR, which I had negotiated hard with local currency exchange in Delhi).

When you opt to pay in INR in foreign country, the card machine owning banks, say Bangkok Bank, covert the local currency into INR at their rate and not VISA/MASTER Card rate.
Rate difference: 1.86 Vs 1.94 INR for every Thai Baht

The Journey: Delhi- Pattaya

The Delhi-Kolkata flight time is 2 hours and Kolkata-Bangkok is another 2 hours 20 minutes. No wonder guys from Kolkata would find it easy to travel to Bangkok than Goa with Visa on Arrival requiring no advance planning. Later, we also discovered that stay option available in Pattaya were much cheaper than Goa. Food, travel & sight-seeing were a bit more costly than India, however it would not be a deal breaker for "frequent tourists" from India.

The flight from Kolkata was uneventful. Indigo was on time and we only missed the hospitality of a full service airlines, even though buy on board was available like domestic sectors except that you need to pay in dollars or currency of the destination (Thai Baht). No INR but credit card can be use to pay in USD.

I had pre-booked a SUV to pick us from the airport and drop at our Hotel at Pattaya. We landed at 3:15 PM and it took less than 30 minutes for Visa on Arrival. At 3:50 PM we were all inside a Fortuner, which was going to drive us to Pattaya located 120 Km from Bangkok Airport. No the Fortuner was not the newly launched one, which we would have loved. In fact it was first generation Fortuner automatic and burning Petrol.

We arrived to overcast cloudy sky. It started raining as soon as we left Bangkok and it rained all the way to Pattaya. The drive from Bangkok to Pattaya is 1 hour 15 minutes and we all were inside our rooms by 5:30 PM.

A quick check on weather forecast disappointed us as it showed thunderstorms & rain for next few days but the God was Kind as rain did not play spoil sports and we were more happy with weather being pleasant even though it turned humid in evening (somewhat like Mumbai)

We had early dinner at a Thai seafood specialty restaurant- Namsing. Prawns were fresh & roasted live after taking out from aquarium.
We had a long walk on beach Road before going for bed. We had 2 full day in Pattaya and first was a long one.

Last edited by Wanderers : 20th October 2015 at 09:33.
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Old 15th October 2015, 12:53   #2
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We got up late, you may blame it on time-zone difference, but who cared. We were behaved lazily and took almost an hour to complete the break-fast. The break-fast at hotel was a decent one with separate Indian section serving plain yellow dal & butter naan along with upma & Idli but the chutney was missing. So we settled for fruits, juices, bread & eggs even though the Buffet had over hundred odd items.

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Plenty of Juices to choose from. My brother-in-law in dilemma

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The Indian Section in breakfast

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The Pool Bar at Marriott



We had booked the sight-seeing with the hotel itself and a black Sedan (unknown brand) took us to various places in and around Pattaya before dropping us at a shopping mall in the evening.

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The famous temple of Pattaya- Sanctuary of Truth (Prasat Sut Ja-Tum). Made of Wood and located at the sea shore giving it a look like floating large boat. A truly architectural marvel in wood.

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A view of the sea from temple with Pattaya harbour in the background

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All made of seasoned wood

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My better half, myself and brother-in-law.

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My son joined after clicking three of us. Helmet was compulsory inside the temple due chances of wood falling. The construction was still in progress.



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Curving on the wood were in greatest detail and key feature of the temple all around and inside out.

After visiting Sanctuary of Truth, we drove to other end of the city, wherein we had a war memorial and a Buddha temple located on a hillock.

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View of Pattaya sky line along the coast. To me it looked much like marine drive of Mumbai except the traffic rush even though the beach road of Pattaya had heavy traffic after 8 PM but you can't compare Mumbai or for that matter any Indian metro traffic.

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The jetty or pier from where one can catch the boat to Coral Island. We had taken speed boat instead.

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The War Memorial maintained by Thailand Navy or Army (no sure)

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The Big Buddha of Pattaya

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Waiting for shopping to get over at Central Festival Mall.

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Evening sets in at Pattaya. Sea view from Beach road.

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At the Beach Road.

Last edited by Wanderers : 19th October 2015 at 12:54.
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Old 15th October 2015, 13:07   #3
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In the evening, we had booked the famous Tiffany show. Tiffany is one of the two famous theater shows in Pattaya and has been running for over 31 years. Gurgaon Kingdom of Dreams is similar except that Kingdom of dream is drama with song while the Tiffany is fully musical with little bit of drama.

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On the way to show inside a tourist van equivalent of tempo traveller. Clicked this picture to give you an idea of numerous lights, which one can find inside a tourist vans in Thailand.

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At the entrance to the theater. You need to pay to click a photograph with the dressed artist/performers

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The beginning of the show. The photography was not allowed beyond this scene but than we were in tourist friendly country and theater ushers were liberal during implementation.

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The Bollywood dance on Hindi Dola-Re song from Devdas. Apart from English they had songs from many other languages to connect better with tourists

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The closing part. The show lasted for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

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We strolled along the famous walking street of Pattaya. No cars allowed after 6 PM.

Last edited by Wanderers : 20th October 2015 at 09:38.
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Old 15th October 2015, 13:29   #4
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The following day we had plan to go to famous coral island (Koh Lan) by motor boat but not before a pleasant & refreshing Spa, which we had book at the hotel itself. The Hotel offered 40% discount on Spa. You can call it economic slowdown but for us its opportunity waiting to be encashed.

Initially, we had plan to go by Government run large motor-boats but after a lavish Spa, ditched the idea of walking all the way to pier and and catch a crowd boat. Took a brand new speed-boat on private hire from the beach near the Hotel. The Brand new was important as it later turned out to be a blessing as we came across two speed boats broken down in the middle of sea. We offered rides to all 4 Koreans from one of the boat, which we found stranded. While the help may arrive, a non-working engine leaves the motor-boat uncontrolled and causes rolling, pitching, yawing, which was better left for Road test of car than experience it over sea. We experienced this as we had to switch-off the engine during transfer of people from other boat.

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Chilling after a heavy break-fast,

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The diminishing Pattaya city in the background. The motor boat was indeed very fast with Yamaha 200 engine working hard and noisy.

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At the Coral Island Beach. You would find crowed like North Goa beaches. The only difference was the water, which was much clean but than we were 25 km from the Pattaya city shores.

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We had hired a Honda Activa equivalent for driving up the hill. My wife was thrilled driving around on top of the hill as it was truly scenic -water world.

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We all had a good bath at coral island before some snacks and cold drinks.

Last edited by Wanderers : 20th October 2015 at 08:34.
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Old 15th October 2015, 13:58   #5
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We checked out of the Hotel on third day after break-fast and had planned to go to Safari world located on outskirts of Bangkok before checking-in at our Bangkok Hotel. You can drive through the Jungle Safari, however for Marine park, one needs to walk around. Initially we were reluctant to leave our Luggage in taxi but this option suited better. Normally people check-in at Bangkok and go for safari next day. As a precaution, we carried all valuables & passport in shoulder bags and did not leave them in taxi. This time the taxi was an Innova Petrol.

The Safari World was worth the visit as seen from the photographs below.
The Jungle Park photos were taken from the car and we were not permitted to roll down the dark windows, so please excuse the quality.

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Plenty of birds. Large ones and most of them could hardly fly.


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A big size wetland in the middle of park.

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The board says Bengal Tiger (Adjective "Royal" Missing)

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All the tigers seemed sleepy. I don't know the reason but unlike Lion the tiger normally keeps moving.

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The Tiger made some movement after waiting for 10 minutes at the spot. There were three different spots having tigers. At each spot, we had a Forest ranger pick-up van parked for tourist & tiger safety, I suppose.

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At the entrance of Safari world Marine park, one need to walk inside.

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The weather was hot & humid. However the park management tried to keep the atmosphere cool by mist sprinklers and fans. Quiet effective I would say.
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Our ticket included Indian Lunch and we were surprised with a large spread of Indian Buffet, however the quality was below average and arranged like a wedding lunch.

There was separate buffet for Thai and others.
There were 100+ Indian that day. Must be some group tour as I could see some of the big company names from India.

Last edited by Wanderers : 19th October 2015 at 12:57.
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Old 15th October 2015, 14:14   #6
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The Marine park of Safari world was even more exciting with star of attraction being the famous Dolphin Show.
There are many other shows like Cowboy show, spy show etc. All of them start at pre-fixed time and if you want to see all of them, you need to come by 10 AM and enjoy them till 4:00 PM.

The Dolphin show was at 1:45 PM so that all can sit and enjoy the show after lunch.

This was the first experience of seeing Dolphin. The show was a packed house with huge crowd from India, who were travelling as apart of group tour. The Organizer even played Hindi songs and invited Indians to dance before starting the Dolphin show.

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The Dolphins greeting the crowd- Namaste

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The Dolphin chose the prettiest face to plant a kiss. Earlier, it had rejected the trainer in center. Racial discrimination ! You can't blame poor Dolphins for sure.


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All the Dolphins jumped in sync to hit the balls.


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We found Dolphins quite intelligent and trained better than other pet animals. After a fun filled afternoon, we decided to move on our way to Bangkok, which was another 35 KM. The Innova was waiting at the entrance with all our luggage and we were soon off to Bangkok.

The Bangkok city had huge traffic rush and it took almost 2 hours to reach our Hotel. The traffic was a real mood off and we soon concluded that Pattaya (apart from Puket, which we did not go) is the only place worth visiting.

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The pier or Ferry Ghat (as its called in Kolkata) near Grand Palace/ Sleeping Buddha. You need Tiger Balm after the bumpy ride in a speed boat, however the boat was better.

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The city of Bangkok is best explored through the Chao Phraya river ferries/boats, which stops front point to point. However the water current was on higher-side and the boats were not fully equipped for safety, so you may choose to take a taxi.

The Chao Phraya ferries have been shown in many movies including James Bond.


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View outside the Grand Palace.

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The Temple of Sleeping Buddha


There was nothing much to show from the city of Bangkok. The city tour of temples were not worth a mention and we discontinued it mid-way due to excessive humid weather. Grand Palace & Sleeping Buddha were the main attractions, which one can choose to visit. These sights were well connected by river ferry route, which we had taken.

Taxis were cheaper by meter but cabbies were reluctant to go by meter. However they were polite and did drive us after we barged inside a taxi and asked for our hotel.

After a long day, we checked out late from our Hotel and headed to Airport but not before our dinner at an Indian Restaurant called "Bawarchi". While the food tested good, it was on expensive side and there were better option available. In fact Holiday Inn served better value for money Indian food.

The return flight was uneventful except that it was full to its capacity with tired and sleepy passengers.
As it turned out, Thailand served an easy getaway to we Indian in search of tourist locations outside India during peak holiday season. As mentioned in subject, it was friendly all along right from the Visa on Arrival counters. While they do have touts and agents everywhere but they would be struggling for admission in KG, if our Desi Touts decide to start their training school.

All in all it was a fun-filled holiday.
Thanks for reading.

Last edited by Wanderers : 20th October 2015 at 08:43.
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Old 20th October 2015, 10:12   #7
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 20th October 2015, 15:25   #8
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Nice Photographs & detailed explanation. Me and few of my friends are planning to visit Thai. This travelogue will help us a lot. A few more additional particulars I require, if you can provide it will be helpful in planning our trip. Approximate cost per person inclusive of travel, food, stay, entrance fees, etc, it will help us to budget our travel. Online bookings that were made from India itself, so that we can make our bookings. Any other additional particulars such as contact persons there for travel/stay.
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Old 22nd October 2015, 11:38   #9
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Excellent report Wanderers. Thailand is beautiful.

Its wonderful to see both, the modern as well as the traditional side of a country. From the temples and the statue of the Buddha to the modern buildings and malls - it's all there.

That bay looks overcrowded. Hope the traffic control is doing a proper job. That said, the water looks much cleaner than say, Mumbai - perhaps we can learn a thing or two.

Now, I'm against holding animals captive, but the zoo is definitely an attraction for children.
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Old 22nd October 2015, 12:15   #10
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An amazing travelogue of one of my favourite places to live! :-D
Quote:
Originally Posted by accentgiri View Post
Nice Photographs & detailed explanation. Me and few of my friends are planning to visit Thai.

Ive was born and brought up in Bangkok. Know the place pretty well still, since i keep going back once a year or atleast once in 2 years.
PM me if you need any help :-)
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Old 23rd October 2015, 08:29   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by accentgiri View Post
A few more additional particulars I require, if you can provide it will be helpful in planning our trip. Approximate cost per person inclusive of travel, food, stay, entrance fees, etc, it will help us to budget our travel. Online bookings that were made from India itself, so that we can make our bookings. Any other additional particulars such as contact persons there for travel/stay.
As per my experience, you need Rs 10000-12000 per day per person in addition to flight fare. So for a 5 day trip it will work out close to Rs 70K to 80K along with a return flight.

You should book all sight seeing in Thailand through agents only as the list price or ticket cost at the counter is more than what is offered by agents. Hotels2thailand.com is one of the most competitive online booking site.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aditya View Post

That bay looks overcrowded. Hope the traffic control is doing a proper job. That said, the water looks much cleaner than say, Mumbai - perhaps we can learn a thing or two.

Now, I'm against holding animals captive, but the zoo is definitely an attraction for children.
I would say that Pattaya was still better than Bangkok in terms of crowd, may be it was due to off-season.

Yes, despite of the crowd, the water was clean. Mumbai topography is definitely better and would look great, if we have better waste management & beach regulations in place.

Yes holding tigers captive was a sad situation. Even the tigers in Safari parks were too disciplined and did not look natural. Thailand even has a tiger temple, wherein they keep the tigers chained like dogs. No we did not go there.


Quote:
Originally Posted by kkkkkaran View Post
An amazing travelogue of one of my favourite places to live! :-D


Ive was born and brought up in Bangkok. Know the place pretty well still, since i keep going back once a year or atleast once in 2 years.
PM me if you need any help :-)
Thailand is indeed a favourite among we Indians.

Last edited by Wanderers : 23rd October 2015 at 08:36.
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Old 24th October 2015, 17:08   #12
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Wow. Nice write-up and photos. We are planning to visit Bangkok, Pattaya and Krabi next year. Our flight bookings are done but we haven't booked the hotels yet. We are looking for some good and affordable hotels near Siam in Bangkok. The information you have provided will be helpful to us. Thanks.

Regards
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Old 26th October 2015, 13:05   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Panda View Post
Wow. Nice write-up and photos. We are planning to visit Bangkok, Pattaya and Krabi next year. Our flight bookings are done but we haven't booked the hotels yet. We are looking for some good and affordable hotels near Siam in Bangkok. The information you have provided will be helpful to us. Thanks.

Regards
Avishek
Yes Krabi is another hot destination in Thailand apart from Phuket.

Krabi is another Pattaya in making and still not crowded. Pattaya enjoys excellent connectivity due to its proximity to Bangkok, which is 120 Kms (1.5 hrs drive)
For Phuket & Krabi you need to plan another sets of travel.

There are lots of hotels in Siam area in Bangkok including Holiday Inn Siam, which we had opted earlier. Siam also has quite a few Indian Restaurants.

Last edited by Wanderers : 26th October 2015 at 13:08.
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Old 26th October 2015, 13:29   #14
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Default Re: Charismatic Thailand: Holiday in a Friendly Neighbourhood

I hope we can make it successfully to Bangkok since we are going without any Travel agents. Its solely our planning. So we are doing as much homework as possible.

Last edited by Gannu_1 : 26th October 2015 at 13:31. Reason: Typos.
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Old 26th October 2015, 15:55   #15
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Default Re: Charismatic Thailand: Holiday in a Friendly Neighbourhood

I have rated this 5 star.

I am asking a stupid question - you started by deciding not to go the agent route - you surely did not regret it. But the question that comes to my mind is - NOW do you think it made any difference?
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