Subject: Re: Thailand
Hello Rose,

>A specific question I have is if it is better to take land transportation
>both ways to Ayutthaya to allow more time at the actual site or take land
>transportation one way and return by boat the other.

That is a matter of personal preference. The boat gives you a different perspective than going by road or rail. I would imagine the difference wouldn't be more than an hour since Ayuttaya is only 74 km north of Bangkok.

>I don't know where in Thailand you live, but do you or others have any
>recommendations for restaurants in Chiang Mai which are good and also

If you are talking Thai food, just look for open front restaurants and a lot of Thais eating there. I'm a bit embarrassed as I lived in Chiang Mai for more than a year and can't remember the names of some of the places. One tends to dine in one's neighborhood. I lived on Klongcholprathan which is toward Doi Suthep. The best eating establishment in that neighborhood was a small place in the Chomdoi Condotel #2. Also, just down the road is the Wild Orchid, or something like that ... great food.

Western food, JJ Bakery and steaks, Philmore East.

A lot of the restaurants along the river are good, and not too pricey.

>Since you're a resident and not a tourist, do you know if the quality
>of day tours varies depending on the cost in Bangkok? We've found a
>considerable difference between tour companies and would like yours or
>others view on this matter. Would you or anyone else know of a
>reasonable priced guide we could use in Bangkok?

Almost every hotel has a tour desk. Tell them what YOU want, negotiate for a lower price and don't be afraid to say, Sorry!

Try small local travel agents. They will often know tour guides.

I am trying to develop a source on independent tour guides. Part of it depends on what type of tour. If it's the Grand Palace, get a taxi. If it's Wat Po, Wat Arun ... get a taxi. It's hard for me or anyone else to make recommendations on tours when we don't know what you have in mind.

I have a few recommendations that generally irritates the heck out of tour agencies.

-50% better service costs you double. -Never let a tour guide take you shopping ... it will cost you 20% of whatever you buy as their commission although the guide and merchant will both tell you what a great negotiator he is.

Regards, David