|Subject: RE: Steph's Thailand Questions|
I agree with Les and Jo - you may run into lots of rain but ... it shouldn't dampen the trip too much. It's such a warm rain that you won't want to put too much more on to avoid the damp. A couple of things are just a litte more challenging: hiking in the rain forest (slip-sliding down the trails and some rather unpleasant encounters with leeches) and, on the coast, you might have a few delays in boat trips.
I've booked a number of hotels in Asia through the Internet and had good results. But ... it depends on the country whether you get the cheapest prices. I did an extensive study of hotel booking in Thailand (for business purposes) and came to the conclusion that, if you must book ahead (eg. you are coming in late at night and want to avoid a hassle finding a place after a long flight) - a local (Thai) travel agent can get you a price cheaper than anything you'll find on the internet or through booking agencies. We actually just chose an agent from a list on the internet, contacted him and he booked the hotel and we went into his office the day AFTER we arrived to pay him (he didn't even want a credit card number for confirmation). I've confirmed this with others who have done some comparison shopping and they, also have found local agents to give the best deals. BUT - for those nights when you have some time to check out a place in advance - the prices are much better as a 'walk in' customer (especially as you will be there at an off-peak time).
As Les said, Phuket is, in places, almost ruined by the tourists but the region is quite spectacular so ... don't avoid it totally. Some of the beaches are much more touristy than others - for instance, I'd stay clear of Patong and go to the quieter, Kata if you want to stay on Phuket island itself. Krabi, on the mainland, is a quieter alternative. I'll send you a copy of the travelogue I sent to the list on October 23/99 (it's also available in the archives for anyone else who is interested) .. it briefly outlines our few days in that area.
Have a great trip in the Land of Smiles!
Cheers from hot and muggy Hong Kong, Judy