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Return to Thailand

Holiday Ideas & Foreign Travel
Steveam
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Return to Thailand

#611441

Postby Steveam » August 27th, 2023, 3:43 am

I’ve just returned to Thailand after three and a half years - I returned to the U.K. from Thailand just as Covid was getting going. I’ve done a few continental Europe trips but haven’t flown since before Covid.

In the preparation for this trip I felt much more apprehensive than I recall. I’m not usually a worry wort but this time I kept thinking of possible issues (concerns about medical care, coping with the 12 hour flight, would the apartment be ok) and realised it’s just age and lack of practice. A bit like riding a bike - just get on and do it.

As I’ve moved house since my last big trip I had to explore new routes to Heathrow. I phoned a couple of minicab companies but they were extortionate, I considered Uber but they can be hit or miss where I am, so I settled on public transport using the Elizabeth line and it was superb. I set out a bit too early and check in hadn’t opened but once checked in I went to the lounge (I was flying business with EVA direct to Bangkok. EVA share a lounge with AirCanada but I prefer the American Airlines lounge so went to their reception and they are fine about allowing this unless they’re very busy). Comfortable time in the lounge and then easy boarding, smooth flight, attentive service and before I knew it I’m in Bangkok. All the worry and apprehension washed away.

Getting into Bangkok was the usual chaos and I should have used the newish airport link but instead used a taxi to the door of the apartment. Everything was fine with the apartment and I was greeted like an old friend having stayed there before.

I’m now settled in lotus land for a month enjoying the food, the smiles, the shopping malls and catching up with old friends. The heat is bad and the humidity awful but this is really the wrong time of year. I hadn’t realised that although pomelos are available all year this is the season - superb red pomelos are available from a stall at the end of the Soi where two ladies sit all day peeling them for lazy buggers like me. Other Thai food is just treat after treat. Lots of flavour and texture. Had a simple street food dish of crispy pork and rice and green vegetable which was heavenly with chilli bite from the sauce.

Things move on over 3+ years. The Skytrain now has many more stations and has been extended (people on the Skytrain are still requested to wear masks - I’d guess 70% were doing so). Prices seem to have risen but my Thai friends say this is the last year or so due to gas prices. The shopping malls in central Bangkok don’t seem so busy and I suspect this is an effect of Covid.

I’m pleased I’ve got back on that bloody bike and am travelling again - I plan to do lots more (health permitting).

Best wishes, Steve

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Re: Return to Thailand

#611450

Postby Dod101 » August 27th, 2023, 8:05 am

That is a great post thank you. I feel the same about Hong Kong as you obviously do about Thailand although I know that for all sorts of reasons they cannot be compared. Mind you as you hinted I would not dream of going to SE Asia at this time of year but that is another story. I prefer to go in our winter when it is cooler and drier there.

You had no problem getting health insurance?

It is great to hear a nice heart warming story after your tales of woe on the other thread. I hope you continue to enjoy your stay. My plan would be West Malaysia, Perth WA and hopefully Hong Kong in Jan/Feb but we'll see.

Dod

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Re: Return to Thailand

#611454

Postby Steveam » August 27th, 2023, 8:31 am

Hi Dod,

My choice of time was to fit in with a medical constraint (I have a bladder cancer checkup late September). I wanted to get back to Thailand before the checkup in case they find something and schedule another round of treatment.

I explained the above to my travel insurers (used to be HSBC Jade but they abandoned that so it’s now HSBC Premier with preserved benefits and continues until I’m 80). I contacted HSBC travel insurance - it’s provided by Aviva - and they were very relaxed about the whole thing.

If all is well with the checkup in late September I’ll probably do another SE Asia jaunt December/January.

Today I had a delicious “food court” lunch with a Thai friend and it cost next to nothing.

Best wishes,

Steve

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Re: Return to Thailand

#611684

Postby Eboli » August 28th, 2023, 12:53 pm

Annoyingly I believe the Thai Visa on arrival limit has just been reduced from 45 days back to the previous 30 days. Annoyingly, because I extended both my 2023/24 tours to 6 weeks each. I'll just have to re-acquaint myself with Thai bureaucracy at the Immigration office or add a Hong Kong or suck like weekend.

Enjoy the rest of you trip

Eb.

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Re: Return to Thailand

#611741

Postby richfool » August 28th, 2023, 4:21 pm

Yes, thank you Steve for the interesting post.

I lived in Thailand for 14 years (before returning to the UK in 2015), and had been going back roughly yearly since then, I too find the journeys daunting (am apprehensive about them). Due to covid, I didn't manage to get back there between Feb 2020, until Nov 2022, and then I visited again in Feb-March 23. I usually fly EVA Bus class, though earlier this year flew Thai Air (currently the only airlines to fly direct from LHR). Travel insurance is an issue for me too.

I live on the south-coast and find it a hassle travelling to Heathrow. I don't like bus or coach travel (vertigo issues) and thus don't like the Rail Air coach from Woking, which first calls at T5 and then takes you all round the car parks of Heathrow before getting to the T2/3 bus station, as do the national Express coaches. I have therefore been investigating flying from Southampton, via Amsterdam, which KLM do. I believe EVA and Thai also fly from AMS. Southampton has an adjoining train station, so you get off the train and walk straight into the airport terminal building.

I also looked at train all the way into London Waterloo and then the Jubilee line and the new Elizabeth line on to Heathrow, which whilst longer would be more door to door.

I feel comfortable when I am in Thailand, where things are generally easy going, with whatever one wants readily available, food, drink, shopping or whatever. Their shopping malls are great as they, have everything from normal retail/clothes shops, restaurants, fast food shops, bank, telecoms technology shops, even cinemas and bowling alleys. I can even speak some of the language, enough to order food and drink and such basics.

I used to stay in Bangkok (Sukhumvit) for a few days on my way on to, or from, other locations, but more recently, I have cut out Bangkok and taxi transferred straight to Pattaya or Jomtien. Things are cheaper in Jomtien and Pattaya than Bangkok. Jomtien suits me more now as I am older. Suvarnabhumi airport is on that side of Bangkok, so it is simpler to transfer straight from the airport without going into Bangkok itself.

Eboli, yes the longer stamp on arrival time limit of 45 days finished in April and it's now reverted to 30 days for British nationals. You can apply for a 60 day tourist visa through the Thai embassy, if you wish to stay longer.

Air fares are the big (costly) issue now since covid and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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Re: Return to Thailand

#611834

Postby Eboli » August 29th, 2023, 6:26 am

Richfool,

Thanks for the confirmation about the visa.

I agree that air fares to Bangkok have increased a great deal. I normally travel Emirates business to Bangkok (this might suit you because it also offers the free chauffeur drive to Heathrow if you're within 70 miles - a not to be sniffed at valuable extra, though the mileage limit in Bangkok is less if needed). Air fares are about 75% up on pre-Covid levels in my case. I also travel direct to Jomtien where a 6 week stay in a nice apartment is about 30% of the cost of the air fare!

Eb.

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Re: Return to Thailand

#611836

Postby Itsallaguess » August 29th, 2023, 6:32 am

Eboli wrote:
I'll just have to re-acquaint myself with Thai bureaucracy at the Immigration office or add a Hong Kong or suck like weekend.


:shock:

I can see the 'Highly-inquisitive Brits absolutely devastated that they're too polite to ask' headline now...

Cheers,

Itsallaguess

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Re: Return to Thailand

#611877

Postby richfool » August 29th, 2023, 9:48 am

Eboli wrote:Richfool,

Thanks for the confirmation about the visa.

I agree that air fares to Bangkok have increased a great deal. I normally travel Emirates business to Bangkok (this might suit you because it also offers the free chauffeur drive to Heathrow if you're within 70 miles - a not to be sniffed at valuable extra, though the mileage limit in Bangkok is less if needed). Air fares are about 75% up on pre-Covid levels in my case. I also travel direct to Jomtien where a 6 week stay in a nice apartment is about 30% of the cost of the air fare!

Eb.

Hi Eb, I prefer to avoid indirect flights with stopovers, after a bad experience in the past, though noted the Middle East airlines do tend to be cheaper.

Below is a link to the Thai Embassy website in London, with some useful info re visas. I usually stick with the 30 day stamp on arrival (visa exemption) these days. Note that a 60-day tourist visa, can be extended in Thailand by up to a further 30 days, but I would avoid having to find and attend a Thai Immigration office to achieve that. It makes the queues of British airports look small. The Thai Immigration office in Jomtien is in Soi 5 off the beach road, and the queues invariably look horrendous, whenever I have gone past.

https://london.thaiembassy.org/en/publi ... 236972c562

Noted there are some nice condos in Jomtien and well priced.

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Re: Return to Thailand

#612165

Postby stevensfo » August 30th, 2023, 2:17 pm

Thanks for all this valuable info!

I fell in love with SE Asia while going to see my aunt in WA with a few long stop-offs, 5 days in Singapore, a trip to Vietnam and Laos and one trip with relatives to see Bangkok and Cambodia. I have a relative who teaches English in Phnom Penh. The French-run hotels on the coast are places you never want to leave.

Although Bangkok was amazing and our hotel was on the river with plenty of boats for getting around the city, I'm not a city person so somewhere like Jomtien sounds ideal.

When I stop work next year, I'd like us to plan a trip to take in a few of those places, maybe including Penang island, strongly recommended to us, finally ending in WA where my aunt lives, ex-teacher, 81, smokes and drinks like a trooper, usually pissed at 5pm, yet great fun! 8-)

If I get one of those hats with dangly corks round the edge, maybe I can stay there? ;)

Steve

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Re: Return to Thailand

#612191

Postby Dod101 » August 30th, 2023, 4:42 pm

stevensfo wrote:Thanks for all this valuable info!

I fell in love with SE Asia while going to see my aunt in WA with a few long stop-offs, 5 days in Singapore, a trip to Vietnam and Laos and one trip with relatives to see Bangkok and Cambodia. I have a relative who teaches English in Phnom Penh. The French-run hotels on the coast are places you never want to leave.

Although Bangkok was amazing and our hotel was on the river with plenty of boats for getting around the city, I'm not a city person so somewhere like Jomtien sounds ideal.

When I stop work next year, I'd like us to plan a trip to take in a few of those places, maybe including Penang island, strongly recommended to us, finally ending in WA where my aunt lives, ex-teacher, 81, smokes and drinks like a trooper, usually pissed at 5pm, yet great fun! 8-)

If I get one of those hats with dangly corks round the edge, maybe I can stay there? ;)

Steve


I have not been to Bangkok for many years so cannot help you, but I know HK, Perth WA, Malaysia and Penang Island fairly well and of course Singapore.
Penang Island is full of history and I like just hanging around there but then I like hanging around in Sri Lanka as well. Almost anywhere hot and humid in the East suits me

Laos is definitely on my list of places 'to go'. Not so keen on Vietnam or Cambodia but that is sheer prejudice as I still have very clear memories of the fallout from the War there and Cambodia of the Killing Fields.

Dod

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Re: Return to Thailand

#612218

Postby richfool » August 30th, 2023, 8:03 pm

Whilst living in Thailand (Phuket at that time), my wife and I went to Penang, to assess if we would prefer to live there utilising the Malaysian silver haired retirement visa scheme. In the event, for a variety of reasons, we decided against it. Amongst other things, it didn't have the same characteristics and warm and friendly people as Thailand, it was hotter, and Georgetown struck me as a bit too much of a city. Though to be fair to Penang, we were only there for a few days. We did the funicular with stunning views.

If anyone goes to Laos, I strongly recommend they visit Luang Prabang, - much more so than (the current day capital of) Vientiane. The French influence very evident there. I never quite got to Cambodia or Vietnam, there being too many distractions for me in Thailand (plus I was working for part of my time there), though I know some who did. Since I left in 2015 quite a few expats I knew have left Thailand and moved to Vietnam and Cambodia.

My wife has a sister living in Perth, so she is keen to visit there in the next year or two. Though I'm not sure if I could cope with the journey. From the UK flying via KL or SIN would be options, though, she would also want to combine that with a trip to visit family in Laos, which would likely mean flying from KUL or SIN up to Vientiane (VTE). (Alternative) route suggestions very welcome.

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Re: Return to Thailand

#612221

Postby Dod101 » August 30th, 2023, 8:37 pm

richfool wrote:Whilst living in Thailand (Phuket at that time), my wife and I went to Penang, to assess if we would prefer to live there utilising the Malaysian silver haired retirement visa scheme. In the event, for a variety of reasons, we decided against it. Amongst other things, it didn't have the same characteristics and warm and friendly people as Thailand, it was hotter, and Georgetown struck me as a bit too much of a city. Though to be fair to Penang, we were only there for a few days. We did the funicular with stunning views.

If anyone goes to Laos, I strongly recommend they visit Luang Prabang, - much more so than (the current day capital of) Vientiane. The French influence very evident there. I never quite got to Cambodia or Vietnam, there being too many distractions for me in Thailand (plus I was working for part of my time there), though I know some who did. Since I left in 2015 quite a few expats I knew have left Thailand and moved to Vietnam and Cambodia.

My wife has a sister living in Perth, so she is keen to visit there in the next year or two. Though I'm not sure if I could cope with the journey. From the UK flying via KL or SIN would be options, though, she would also want to combine that with a trip to visit family in Laos, which would likely mean flying from KUL or SIN up to Vientiane (VTE). (Alternative) route suggestions very welcome.


Going to Perth WA via Singapore is the most direct way I think. No problem but even from Singapore to Perth is quite a long way. I go in January. Perth weather is great then, hot but dry and I have never had rain then. I do not mind flying long haul though. Some might. It is a rather boring city though and you do not need long there. I have a stepson there otherwise I would probably not bother.

Dod

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Re: Return to Thailand

#612247

Postby Steveam » August 31st, 2023, 3:32 am

Picking up a few points raised above:

Bangkok suits me well but I like big, noisy, bustling cities. Pattaya is a bit of a hole (many years since I’ve been) but Jomtien is much nicer but still some spill over from Pattaya. The “real” Thailand is the north and North East (said by a Thai friend) and a visit to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai and the countryside give a very different perspective.

Cambodia (Angkor temples and Siem Reap) is packed with tourists which has rather spoilt it. I first went 20 years ago and it was fabulous but when I went back just before Covid it was very much overwhelmed by tourists and everything had become a bit of a rip off (although we still enjoyed our boat trip on the Tonle Sap.)

I second the recommendation of Luang Prabang - fabulous and relaxed and a beautiful fusion of French and Asian food. (Really worth focusing on the fusion restaurants - many of the chefs trained in France and then returned to setup these excellent restaurants which, for top quality, are reasonably priced). Coffee, croissants and watching the Mekong - a perfect start to the day.

Vietnam is very mixed for me - Hanoi and Halong Bay are great but it’s some years since I was there. I’m thinking of Ho Chi Minh City early next year which will be a real shock as it’s a long, long time since I was last there.

Both Singapore and Hong Kong are on my favourites list but I really didn’t take to Penang - lots of history but felt a bit colonial to me.

An unsung destination rather further is Taiwan. A real delight and the Palace Museum is worth several visits. (The Nationalists took train loads of treasures as they left for Formosa.)

Gosh, what a ramble through old memories. An old man’s delight.

Best wishes,

Steve

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Re: Return to Thailand

#612252

Postby Dod101 » August 31st, 2023, 7:27 am

Steveam wrote:Picking up a few points raised above:

Bangkok suits me well but I like big, noisy, bustling cities. Pattaya is a bit of a hole (many years since I’ve been) but Jomtien is much nicer but still some spill over from Pattaya. The “real” Thailand is the north and North East (said by a Thai friend) and a visit to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai and the countryside give a very different perspective.

Cambodia (Angkor temples and Siem Reap) is packed with tourists which has rather spoilt it. I first went 20 years ago and it was fabulous but when I went back just before Covid it was very much overwhelmed by tourists and everything had become a bit of a rip off (although we still enjoyed our boat trip on the Tonle Sap.)

I second the recommendation of Luang Prabang - fabulous and relaxed and a beautiful fusion of French and Asian food. (Really worth focusing on the fusion restaurants - many of the chefs trained in France and then returned to setup these excellent restaurants which, for top quality, are reasonably priced). Coffee, croissants and watching the Mekong - a perfect start to the day.

Vietnam is very mixed for me - Hanoi and Halong Bay are great but it’s some years since I was there. I’m thinking of Ho Chi Minh City early next year which will be a real shock as it’s a long, long time since I was last there.

Both Singapore and Hong Kong are on my favourites list but I really didn’t take to Penang - lots of history but felt a bit colonial to me.

An unsung destination rather further is Taiwan. A real delight and the Palace Museum is worth several visits. (The Nationalists took train loads of treasures as they left for Formosa.)

Gosh, what a ramble through old memories. An old man’s delight.

Best wishes,

Steve


You certainly know the East much better than I do. I am afraid the Colonial bit is what I really like about Penang and for that matter Sri Lanka. In Penang you need to stay in the old UNESCO site part with all the Chinese shop houses and Indian restaurants. That is the 'authentic' Penang. The beach at Batu Ferringhi is a disaster. When we used to go there a very long time ago, there was a beautiful unspoilt beach with a few hotels scattered along it. Now it is a long row of tightly packed hotels on a very tatty road with a strip of beach somewhere.... and yet in January/February it is packed with European tourists escaping the northern winter. Easy to get to and all that but really horrible.

Dod

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Re: Return to Thailand

#612254

Postby Steveam » August 31st, 2023, 7:35 am

Oh! Dear Dod, I didn’t mean in anyway to show off. My knowledge is superficial in the extreme. Apologies - it was just a ramble through happy memories which are very much alive to me as I’m here in Bangkok.

Best wishes, Steve

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Re: Return to Thailand

#612943

Postby TahiPanasDua » September 3rd, 2023, 5:55 pm

I love the East having spent decades there in Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan. We also worked in Slovakia, Romania and Sri Lanka. The only one I have reservations about is the Philippines as it was terribly violent in those days. I actually witnessed a hotel front office robbery where the robber shot dead a security guard.

I really love Penang but I probably enjoy it in an unusual way. My wife and I can speak Malay to a certain extent and that can be very enjoyable. We also love the food for which it is rightly famed in Malaysia. Like DOD, we like the colonial aspects, particularly so as I worked for the Malaysian government soon after independence and everything was still colonial in all but name.

A naughty example of enjoyment involved my use of Malay in a taxi. We were returning to our hotel when the driver got a call on the speaker phone from his girlfriend. Their conversation gradually became more and more X-rated. They did not hold back as she had been informed at the outset that his passengers were a pair of old European tourists. As we approached the hotel I deliberately asked the driver, in Malay, to stop short as we would walk the last few yards to the entrance. The look on his face was memorable! Very cruel!

TP2.

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Re: Return to Thailand

#612948

Postby Newroad » September 3rd, 2023, 6:14 pm

Hi All.

Re Perth from the UK, the most direct is the direct flight (LHR - PER) on Qantas.

The next most direct would be most of the middle eastern airlines. If not stopping over, I would recommend this route - conversely, if stopping over, I would instead recommend KUL, SIN or BKK.

Noting some of the extra stops desired by some, I would look at the Oneworld Global Explorer (Qantas) or equivalent Star Alliance (e.g. Singapore Airlines and I think Thai Airways) ticket - some details here: https://www.qantas.com/agencyconnect/gb/en/products-and-network/qantas-fare-products/oneworld-and-global-explorer-fares.html

I did this about 20 years ago: London - Vancouver - Los Angeles - Nandi - Sydney - Ayers Rock - Darwin - Perth - Tokyo - London. It was economy class and if memory serves, under £1000 (if not, it was only just over). The key issue for me getting it under the (then IIRC) 29,000 mile limit were an Alaska Airlines run codeshare from Vancouver to Los Angeles, then getting the right day of the week so that Nandi - Sydney was direct.

There may be business class variants.

Regards, Newroad

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Re: Return to Thailand

#615964

Postby Eboli » September 20th, 2023, 8:17 am

Thought I would update to say I applied for the 60 day tourist visa via the electronic Thai visa site:

https://www.thaievisa.go.th/

It was a total faff gathering all the information required (even the owner of the condo I'm renting didn't know the sub-district of the address). However, it took just under 48 hours between sending the application off to getting the visa back. That, at least, impressed me.

For future reference where a question seem inappropriate for my circumstances I simply attached a note saying so and the reasons. This seems to be OK as no objections were raised.

Eb.

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Re: Return to Thailand

#616004

Postby richfool » September 20th, 2023, 10:31 am

Eboli wrote:Thought I would update to say I applied for the 60 day tourist visa via the electronic Thai visa site:

https://www.thaievisa.go.th/

It was a total faff gathering all the information required (even the owner of the condo I'm renting didn't know the sub-district of the address). However, it took just under 48 hours between sending the application off to getting the visa back. That, at least, impressed me.

For future reference where a question seem inappropriate for my circumstances I simply attached a note saying so and the reasons. This seems to be OK as no objections were raised.

Eb.


A friend of mine from the UK was spending a week in France (where he has many friends) prior to a holiday in Thailand. So he would be flying from Paris to Bangkok. He applied for a 60 day Thai tourist visa via the website and it was turned down because he wasn't flying from his home country! At my suggestion he replied explaining the point, but by the time they acquiesced and approved it, he had changed his itinerary to a 30 day stay.

I must admit, nowadays I go for the easy option and get the 30 day exemption stamp on arrival. Having lived and worked in the LOS in the past necessitating work permits and then later a retirement visas, I got worn down by all the bureaucracy and hassle.

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Re: Return to Thailand

#627392

Postby Fluke » November 14th, 2023, 11:36 am

stevensfo wrote:
I fell in love with SE Asia while going to see my aunt in WA with a few long stop-offs, 5 days in Singapore, a trip to Vietnam and Laos and one trip with relatives to see Bangkok and Cambodia. I have a relative who teaches English in Phnom Penh. The French-run hotels on the coast are places you never want to leave.

Steve


I've just been reading through this interesting thread as I'm in the planning/day dreaming stage of a trip to the area, specifically Thailand and/or Cambodia. I'm thinking an initial few weeks from late November as a holiday/fact-finding mission in preperation for a longer stay from January through to March. I'd love to know more about these French-run hotels and the Cambodia coastal area more generally. I'm not bothered about treks around Angkor Wat or the like, I'm more interested in beaches, bars, markets, food and relaxation. I love a city but only for a few days at a time.

Or perhaps I could ask if you were planning something similar, how would you go about it?


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