I received that e-mail from my cousin to help him plan his trip to Thailand. After growing up in Bangkok for some 14 years, after traveling around the country and after taking several relatives around the city – I knew no one else could help him better. Then I figured I should also share my suggestions and tips here for people having similar questions.
So here I'm addressing the 3 questions from his mail that I've underlined in red...
Best time to visit Thailand?
Best time to visit Thailand?
November to February, in my opinion. Around March it starts to get hot and April onward it gets hot and humid. But if you want to enjoy the almost-three-day water festival ‘Songkran’, then it’s in April. Songkran marks the start of summer. ‘Loy Krathong’, the festival of lights in November, marks the start of winter.
Major cities to be included?
Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai/Chiang Rai are main ones. If you’re open to visiting places like Pattaya, then add 1 day-1 night for it while you are in Bangkok (see my post on Pattaya City if interested). There are other less popular beaches around Bangkok too – like Jom Tien, Hua Hin, Cha-am, Rayong, etc. But they also will be less polluted and less populated.
And if you like visiting smaller towns & villages to experience Thai culture and way of living, historic landmarks, surrounded by places with scenic beauty, then there are places like Kanchanaburi, Petchaboon, Pai, Ayutthaya, and so forth. Or if you like islands and beaches, then there’s Koh Samui, Phi Phi, Krabi, etc…
Parther with Indian tour operator or travel agency in Bangkok?
If either can provide tailor-made tour plans for you then I would recommend going ahead with them. Otherwise they might have fixed places to go or set itineraries to choose from, probably from places where they get commission. Or places that are not as much worth spending time at.
I know the Indian travel agencies, or even the guided tours in Bangkok, mostly take tourists to temples even if the people are not interested in visiting. So when a group tour bus leaves at 8 a.m. in morning to a certain temple, many people usually skip it. They also partner with some selected restaurants (even offering free lunch every day!) – where the food sucks big time. What’s the point of skipping everything when you’re paying for it in the travel package?
So if you can get the travel agency to just provide you the transportation along with booking hotel, then that’s great. For example, arrange cab to pick up from airport and drop to hotel, arrange flight from Bangkok to Phuket, etc, per-day personal cab service within the city. In any case, transportation and traveling on your own in Bangkok shouldn't be a problem (the language sure is!). Anyway, check out different agencies and see what they have to offer. If you can tell them how you want the itinerary chalked out according to your interests and only the places you want to cover in your trip – perfect.
Are you interested in my recommended places to visit and suggested things to do in Bangkok? Then here's part one of places to see and things to do in Bangkok.