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Hi all,

My wife and I just got approved time off to go on our long awaited honeymoon and see if we would okay relocating to Thailand. We are planning a 3-4 month trip out of San Francisco, and I need to return by September. Below is an itinerary of places we want to go to. We also want to stay in one place for a little while also (to live and explore local life). Where would we best experience everyday life? Most likely options are Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Chiang Rai.

I am thinking it might be best to think of the trip in 3 segments: 1. Stay in Thailand 2. Short trip to Hanoi/Ha Long/HoChiMinh/Angkor Wat 3. Short trip to Phuket/Kuala Lumpur/Singapore

About Us:
My wife is Thai and speaks some Mandarin/Thai. Also, I am a chef by trade, so food related recommendations in our itinerary are appreciated. I have been to Thailand once before (wife several times more), and we intend to eat at street food stalls as much as possible. We aren't looking to cram as much as possible into this trip.

Places we want to go to (in no particular order):
Bangkok
Phuket (Boat Tours)
Chiang Rai (have family there)
Chiang Mai

Seam Reap (Angkor Wat)
Hanoi
Ha Long Bay (Sailing)
Ho Chi Minh

Phuket
Kuala Lumpur
Singapore

Questions:
Since we are unfamiliar with Vietnam/Cambodia, should we use a tour company? Any recommendations?
Is it better to book (anything) while we are in the states, or wait until we get to Thailand/Vietnam
For our stay in Thailand, I don't think we are staying long enough for an actual apartment rental. Is a vacation rental the best option for this? Where should I look for a vacation rental?
How can I get the most bang for the buck?

We are probably looking at a April or May departure since I need to be back by September. Help?! Any Deals on Flights (we are willing to stopover in HK, Taipei or Seoul)?

Richard
 

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Tours - Bang for Buck

Hi all,

My wife and I just got approved time off to go on our long awaited honeymoon and see if we would okay relocating to Thailand. We are planning a 3-4 month trip out of San Francisco, and I need to return by September. Below is an itinerary of places we want to go to. We also want to stay in one place for a little while also (to live and explore local life). Where would we best experience everyday life? Most likely options are Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Chiang Rai.

I am thinking it might be best to think of the trip in 3 segments: 1. Stay in Thailand 2. Short trip to Hanoi/Ha Long/HoChiMinh/Angkor Wat 3. Short trip to Phuket/Kuala Lumpur/Singapore

About Us:
My wife is Thai and speaks some Mandarin/Thai. Also, I am a chef by trade, so food related recommendations in our itinerary are appreciated. I have been to Thailand once before (wife several times more), and we intend to eat at street food stalls as much as possible. We aren't looking to cram as much as possible into this trip.

Places we want to go to (in no particular order):
Bangkok
Phuket (Boat Tours)
Chiang Rai (have family there)
Chiang Mai

Seam Reap (Angkor Wat)
Hanoi
Ha Long Bay (Sailing)
Ho Chi Minh

Phuket
Kuala Lumpur
Singapore

Questions:
Since we are unfamiliar with Vietnam/Cambodia, should we use a tour company? Any recommendations?
Is it better to book (anything) while we are in the states, or wait until we get to Thailand/Vietnam
For our stay in Thailand, I don't think we are staying long enough for an actual apartment rental. Is a vacation rental the best option for this? Where should I look for a vacation rental?
How can I get the most bang for the buck?

We are probably looking at a April or May departure since I need to be back by September. Help?! Any Deals on Flights (we are willing to stopover in HK, Taipei or Seoul)?

Richard
Richard: I'm also married to a Thai.

When we went to Angkor Wat we used a tour company (fear of left-over land mines). Tour company took care of visas and provided a multi-lingual tour guide who spoke Thai, Cambodian and English with varying degrees of fluency. Served us well.

When we went to Vietnam we got our visas at the Vietnamese Embassy on Wireless Road and booked our airline tickets through United, also on Wireless Road (Thai airlines was the carrier - Star Alliance partnership with United). We did not bother with a tour company. Once in Vietnam we just booked our side trips via bus at tour companies on the streets. We did not use any guided tours and made out fine.

For the biggest bang for the buck. Let your wife arrange for your lodging without you being present. Your visible presence alone will add to the price. What we do is my wife will book for single nights. Once she has the paid the price for a single night the hotel won't increase it for subsequent nights even after they have seen me. (something to do with face)

As far as your itinerary as you state, don't try cramming, I did on one trip - too much traveling did take away from the enjoyment.

Relax and go with the flow. Don't plan anything in advance. Spur of the moment provides the greatest enjoyment. Exceptional sampling of the street food stalls will provide you with hours of relaxation.

Enjoy.
 

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hi - best wishes for your trip

if you wish to fly within Thailand there are often discount deals for booking ahead with Air Asia, domestic options of Bangkok-Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai-Phuket may suit you. For international flights pays to check a few airlines, last month I went Bkk-Phnom Penh-KL with AA but returned on Malaysia Air as they were cheapest option on that particular day.
 

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Travel tips

In Vietnam, if you go to the Hoi An (recommended) then stay at the Ha An Hotel. Its a small hotel with a really personal service, lovely staff and it is good value.

Singapore is expensive, so don't plan to stay long there otherwise do lots of searching to find somewhere cheaper to stay. One option is to stay in Johor Bahru which is the Malaysian city just over the causeway - it is cheap and you can travel to Singapore easily. It does take 30-60 minutes just to get through customs/immigration though and you've then got to get across Singapore which is another 30 mins, so staying in Singapore is definitely preferable if your budget allows.

Kuala Lumpur is worth staying for a few days, especially as you are a chef! Malaysians live to eat. They spend their meals planning where they are going to eat next. KL also has good shopping and other things to do so its worth staying a few days and hiring a vacation rental e.g. Kuala Lumpur Condo which is in the centre of town. There are sooo many great places to eat, so its worth planning where to go. These three blogs are particularly good:

 

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If I can be of any help with the boat tour portion of your journey, please let me know.I've got a couple of boats and am starting a charter service. PM me and I'll give you my cell #
 

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If I can be of any help with the boat tour portion of your journey, please let me know.I've got a couple of boats and am starting a charter service. PM me and I'll give you my cell #
Hello Jetmikey,
Hi Jet, I also am from Colorado, the northern part. Are u living in thailand currently? I am thinking about retiring in Thailand or Malaysia. Penang or KL, for Thailand maybe the Pattaya area. I like women and good golf.
Thanks,
John
 

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Hello Jetmikey,
Hi Jet, I also am from Colorado, the northern part. Are u living in thailand currently? I am thinking about retiring in Thailand or Malaysia. Penang or KL, for Thailand maybe the Pattaya area. I like women and good golf.
Thanks,
John
John,
Been here 10 days...actually only 8 (2 in KL for Grand Prix last wknd).
Can't provide much real data, only hearsay.
There are women. There is Golf. One is more expensive than the other, apparently.

I CAN tell you this. Your wardrobe is useless here.
Anything that you wear in CO is too heavy. I showed up for my first day of work with a blue blazer, and my boss looked at me like I was crazy.

Ping me in a month, and I'll update this with some actual experience. I moved for a job, so I'm up to my ears in "new" right now...job, house, car, driving experience, language, culture, wardrobe, meals...etc
 

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John,
Been here 10 days...actually only 8 (2 in KL for Grand Prix last wknd).
Can't provide much real data, only hearsay.
There are women. There is Golf. One is more expensive than the other, apparently.

I CAN tell you this. Your wardrobe is useless here.
Anything that you wear in CO is too heavy. I showed up for my first day of work with a blue blazer, and my boss looked at me like I was crazy.

Ping me in a month, and I'll update this with some actual experience. I moved for a job, so I'm up to my ears in "new" right now...job, house, car, driving experience, language, culture, wardrobe, meals...etc
jetmikey check your user controls. I tried to PM you and it wouldn't let me. Talk to you in about a month.
Thanks,
John
 

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Sorry, I have to chuckle when people from western countries intent on eating lots of street food in Thailand. Their dishes and silverware have never seen a dishwasher. I think they use 2 bucket system for washing. One for soap and the other for rinsing. Cleaned off the plate, dip in soap and then dip in water. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Perhaps, you should consider taking Hepatitis A vaccine before getting there. Just a thought.
 

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Sorry, I have to chuckle when people from western countries intent on eating lots of street food in Thailand. Their dishes and silverware have never seen a dishwasher. I think they use 2 bucket system for washing. One for soap and the other for rinsing. Cleaned off the plate, dip in soap and then dip in water. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Perhaps, you should consider taking Hepatitis A vaccine before getting there. Just a thought.
Correction: They have never seen an automatic dishwasher, much less their dishes and silverware.
 

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Correction

Sorry, I have to chuckle when people from western countries intent on eating lots of street food in Thailand. Their dishes and silverware have never seen a dishwasher. I think they use 2 bucket system for washing. One for soap and the other for rinsing. Cleaned off the plate, dip in soap and then dip in water. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Perhaps, you should consider taking Hepatitis A vaccine before getting there. Just a thought.
"Correct me if I'm wrong". Your applying a fairly large broad brush stroke in characterizing the minimum amount of, or lack of cleanliness in the Thai "street vendor" venue. You cannot stereotype this way. This kind of thinking would doom you to eating only what you cook and still leaves you at the mercy of the vendor who sold you the raw food..

Having many, many times had to request actually "clean" eating utensils from board-of-health inspected and licensed eating establishments in the US, I suggest that the buyer beware. Perform your visual inspection and make your own decision.

Food poisoning exists everywhere. In every country, and in every imaginable venue. We in the US are, "supposedly" protected by massive amounts of regulations enforced by agencies such as the FDA and Board-of-Health. We have food grading, cooking regulations, classroom training, handling and preparation certifications along with kitchen inspections. Yet we often are provided with headlines of food poisonings, e-coli, salmonella, ptomaine, botulism outbreaks and the associated food recalls.

I have yet to suffer from any food bourne pathogen or illness I could attribute to a "street vendor" although I did get one seriously bad bout of food poisoning from one of the large food chains in an established "westerner" shopping mall.
 

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stednick are you a retired expat in Thailand? I know a couple of retirees and they have a lot of time on their hands. If you are, I can't match you in debating this due to the amount of resources that you have and I don't. I'm not here to criticize or romanticize the street vendors. I have a lot of compassion for them. Lucky that you never get sick from the food. The Thais just don't report anything unless someone dies. Go ahead and ask your Thai friends if you had eaten at a certain joint and had experienced 'khee-lad' or 'khee-tak' (diarrhea), if you or anyone should report to the authority? They will tell you to skip the place, or that you need to toughen up, because it didn't bother them or other people. Millions of visitors don't get sick from the food, but some do. Your sampling is not enough to be considered scientific. I don't fault people who take no precaution or people who do. It's their choice. But there are reasons Khao-pud (fried rice) or Gao-teow (noodles) is 30 baht a pop. They have to cut corners.
 

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No Debate

Tom: Not retired. No debate, no benefit to debating.

Food poisoning occurs - period. I take exception to your stereotyped Thai Street Vendor bucket-washing methodology. This implies that the Thai's have a cavalier attitude concerning cleanliness and sanitation. I do not find this to be the case.

I also aver that regulatory oversight and proper food handling and preparation can only minimize occurrences, not prevent them. I have, unfortunately been on the receiving end of several bouts of food poisoning. Never a pleasant, and sometimes a very serious, experience. Most episodes occurred in the USA, primarily because I have spent @ 80% of my time in the USA.

I would go one step further than you in that I would suggest getting, as opposed to considering, the Hepatitis A vaccination to those who intend to live in Southeast Asia.

Good luck to you.
 

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Tom: Not retired. No debate, no benefit to debating.

Food poisoning occurs - period. I take exception to your stereotyped Thai Street Vendor bucket-washing methodology. This implies that the Thai's have a cavalier attitude concerning cleanliness and sanitation. I do not find this to be the case.
I do believe that one can eat street food every meal for the next 50 years and never get sick. Or like in my case, I went back last year for one week and got diarrhea from one such meal. I don't recall if I drank from the cup with ice. But the only uncooked item was the cucumber condiments that came with barbecued pork (moo satay) None of the other dozen or so people who ate the same thing reported any problem. And I have Hep A antibodies, so I shouldn't be bothered by Hep A stuff. Yet, despite being careful, I still had something happened to me.

It's the luck of the draw. And also the locals can withstand whatever it was in the food, better than I can.

This is why it's very difficult to report food problems in Thailand. First, the vendors get very upset because they could go out of business if rumors spread. And second, other people don't get sick, so it can't be the food.
 

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New here so take it easy on me

Off topic but commenting on food sickness.

Lived in LOS for 3 years and the only time I had "round the house trots" was 2 times from farang establishments. I ate street food daily if my tgf didn't cook with never a problem. Although I do cringe sometimes seeing the 2 basin washing system 555.
 

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New here so take it easy on me

Off topic but commenting on food sickness.

Lived in LOS for 3 years and the only time I had "round the house trots" was 2 times from farang establishments. I ate street food daily if my tgf didn't cook with never a problem. Although I do cringe sometimes seeing the 2 basin washing system 555.
Were the farang places busy? The Thais like busy place not only as a sign of 'aroy dee' (taste good) restaurant, but to avoid eating food that has been spoiled from sitting too long or let someone else eat the top layer first in case of contamination from insects. So they tend to only eat at busy places.

Also, it's my theory that western cooking which developed in temperate climate don't do so well with tropical climate pathogens and insects. For fresh leaves veggies, they usually put lime juice or garlic (like in Som tum) to help kill the germs. Otherwise, veggies are cooked stir fried method at high heat. There is no such thing as a lettuce salad equivalent. To me that is just asking for trouble.

Another thing is the problem with insects such as flies and roaches. In the west, you don't count on having roaches run all over your food prep surfaces. Think pizza dough rollout for example. Well, all counter tops and cooking surfaces in Thailand are suspected for roaches poo, IMO.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I think cockroach is a big problem in Thailand. I'm going back to BKK in a couple of months and am taking some stuff to deal with roaches for my hostess. She can't use chemical spray (luckily) due to small children in the house. I don't think strong chemical stuff will do any good. You kill the first batch then the next batch from the neighbor will come back. You only kill yourself with the chemical stuff.
 

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Thailand street food

I have lived in Bangkok for the past 12 years, not by choice, but because of my employment with an international company. Previously, I lived in Europe and San Francisco Bay Area (20 years). My wife is Thai and a trained chef at the Oriental Hotel, Bangkok. I do not eat street food and she has not eaten street food since she took the food hygiene part of her studies. For everyone who can say that they eat street food frequently and do not get sick, there is a matching story of someone with food poisoning.

I estimate that on an average, my secretary had stomach problems due to street food every two weeks. However, food poisoning is just a part of the story. Thailand can, at best, be described as a developing country, with a signficant part of the population having minimal education and an even lower income standard. In addition, due to low income, many educated Thais who are office workers eat street food, not because of choice, but because of economic necessity. The basic question to ask yourself, "do I want to ruin my holiday because I tried to save a few bucks by eating street food?"

I suggest that when you come to Bangkok, visit the Klong Thoey market and see the raw pork, etc. laying in the sun. This may be suitable to a Thais constitution, but I doubt that you will be able to handle it. A few more examples:

Fishballs in Kiew Tiew (noodle soup) = coated with boric acid
Vegetables containing pesticides washed only once

The oil used in cooking in a wok has been bought from a restaurant after it was used repeatedly and will then be used in the street cooking wok for at least a month. Also, MSG is used in street food

By the way, I travel frequently throughout SE Asia both for work and pleasure and there are several restaurants in HoChiMInhCity that serve street food that is cooked in the restaurant with high standards of hygiene.
 

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'stirring the pot' with the ongoing food discussion . . .



Asia's 10 greatest street food cities
The best street dishes from the top culinary centers in Asia -- and where to find them

******

Bangkok is a street food heavyweight; one can eat well in the city without ever setting foot inside a restaurant. The street food scene in Bangkok is an integral part of the culture and locals know that the cuisine you'll find on the sidewalk is often the tastiest.

Bangkok street food culture is built around the Thai habit of eating many small meals throughout the day. The sheer variety of street food options in Bangkok can be overwhelming -- from fried noodles to creamy coconut and tropical fruit desserts -- but those who choose to indulge are amply rewarded.

more here


Bangkok Ranked as One of Asia’s 10 Greatest Street Food Cities

The travel website www.cnngo.com recently ranked Thailand’s capital of Bangkok as one of Asia’s 10 greatest street food cities. The website proclaimed the city as a street food "heavyweight" due to its easily accessible choices of street food.

In the feature, 10 kinds of local Thai delicacies were presented, ranging from No. 1 the popular Phat See Ew noodles to No. 10 Khanom Khrok, a well-known Thai dessert. The traditional Thai tea with milk Cha Yen also came in at No. 8. The full list is as follows:

1.Phat See Ew (stir-fried rich noodles with broccoli and dark soy sauce)
2.Som Tam (spicy papaya salad)
3.Moo Ping (grilled pork skewers)
4.Boat noodles (assorted noodles in small bowls)
5.Khao Phat Poo (crab fried rice)
6.Moo Dat Diew (marinated dried pork)
7.Khanom Jeen (fermented rice noodles with curry)
8.Cha Yen (Thai tea with milk)
9.Khao Niew Mamuang (sticky rice with mango)
10.Khanom Khrok (sweet coconut pudding)

The website also recommended one restaurant famous for each of the above foods with corresponding location on a Bangkok map.

Other greatest food cities in Asia include Taipei, Penang, Fukuoka, Hanoi, Singapore, Seoul, Xi'an, Manila, and Phnom Pehn.
 

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the food thread!

I've never developed a taste for the very hot chilis, and I have tried . . . just not for me.

Living in Chanthaburi we have an abundance of prawns and saltwater or freshwater fish available and a lot of the dishes here involve seafood of some sort; my current favourite is a place between our home and the swimming pool/park - select your fresh fish, remind him not too much chili, and it is stuffed with greens/veges and slow baked over charcoal, go for a swim and come back in an hour and take it home hot wrapped in tinfoil.

Sometimes we go the pier at the beach and buy direct off the boat, they have large crabs too. Last Thursday we went to a small restaurant built out over the water (river) and shared a platter of huge prawns baked in salt (even the salt is local - Tha Mai salt farms!), glorious.

Chanthaburi is also known for its noodles . . . two recent articles in the Bangkok Post

Chow down on Chanthaburi's famous noodles

Chanthaburi-style noodle dishes are hard to find made properly in Bangkok. But actually it's a good thing that you will have to travel to Chanthaburi if you want the real thing, because when you get there you'll not only have a chance to do some exploring in an interesting province, but also the opportunity to taste more intriguing local dishes.

and

Thai Cuisine: Weekends in Chanthaburi
 
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