Subject: Thailand in March
Hello fellow Ziners,

I have gained so much from your trip reports on various destinations. Here are my comments on our group trip to Thailand in March, 2004.

If you're looking for a beautiful destination where hotels, meals and everything else are in the bargain basement category, Thailand is it.

Our group just returned from a mid-March trip, and I'll share a few observations for those of you who might be interested. We made our reservation with TBI, a subsidiary of Genera Tours.

We visited Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Chiang Rai. Some of the finest and most ornate temples in the world are in Thailand. In Bangkok of course the big attraction is the gold covered Grand Palace. March is hot and humid with temperatures in the 90's and humidity in the mid 80's. Our guides said the best months to visit are December and January.

Sickness - we had absolutely none. I was expecting some to have stomach problems, (hot climate, unfamiliar food) but it just didn't happen. We did have a couple of people who were temporarily overcome by the heat the first day, so that should be a reminder to drink lots of water (our hotels provided two free bottles each day) and not do anything too strenuous the first day. In fact, you should save the Grand Palace tour for your second day, to give yourself time to get acclimated. We also took the interesting boat ride along the klongs (canals).

Hotels - Thailand hotels are just beautiful. We chose the moderate category, but our rooms were large and pretty lobbies and dining areas were really good and meals were great. All hotels had beautiful swimming pools.

Chiang Mai - You'll want to visit the elephant camp and ride the elephant through the forest, and buy a bunch of bananas to treat them during your ride. The elephants insist on it and are experienced beggars.

Massages - A Thai massage at that. It's the big thing over there. And no wonder. A really intense massage costs $6 for one hour or $12 for a two hour session. For tenderfeet, take the oil massage which is gentler. Members of our group discovered what fun it was to get a haircut or shampoo. It cost almost nothing and they shampoo your hair at least three times, massaging your head, neck and shoulders in between each shampoo. The price was about $3.

The Night Market in Bangkok. Every night the sidewalks in Patpong are crowded with merchants and their stalls. Prices are good, but if you don't like crowds, shop in the stores. Same merchandise.

Hill Tribes - While in Chiang Rai we visited three tribes, taking small gifts for the children - tablets, pens, candy. The first was to the Karen tribe. They have entered Thailand from Burma and are characterized by the brass rings they put on their little girls, starting at age 5. They are also called the giraffe women. And they do live in the hills. It was a pretty good walk for us to get there, up hill and down. Then we visited two more villages, bought their handicrafts, drank their green tea, and we were tired.

The people we met in Thailand were gracious, welcoming, and extremely polite.

Restaurants - The food was good everywhere we ate, although really spicy. Our favorite was in Chiang Rai. It was started by a doctor who hoped to educate the Thai people in birth control methods. I don't think the idea caught on, but there's his restaurant called Cabbages and Condoms. The food was great, the band was fantastic and our group would have danced all night if we didn't have an early departure.

Long flights - YES. Someone recommended that we take two things - No Jet Lag tablets, and Airborne which is supposed to keep you from getting germs in crowds. Nobody came back with a cold, so maybe they work.

United gave us wonderful service. Every flight, both coming and going, was on time, the flight attendants were great and even the food was better than you'd expect. Now if we just had more leg room.......

Rosemary - in Kansas City