I had a great experience with this travel agency. I was able to stay within my budget, all the hotel choices were fantastic, the guides were on time and spoke very good English. The advice that my travel company gave me was excellent, and I was able to create a dream trip that I'll never forget. Their communication was very prompt, and they even gave us a surprise dinner one night that was FABULOUS.
The trip guide they provided was VERY thorough, and step by step everything went very smoothly. I will probably use them again for a trip to Japan next year!
Chiang Mai was by far my favorite place on the tour. It has an amazing vibe of laid back, authentic living, with great food and lots to do. The Sunday market was the funnest part of the trip, lots of street food, souvenirs, and variety in goods, not the same stuff like you see in other night markets.
The elephant experience there was amazing, but please make sure to do due dilligence as far as the ethical treatment of the animals you interact with and the places you support. Do research and pick a place carefully. Patara was very nice and the animals seemed well-treated, and you spend a day "owning" the elephant, wash them, ride them, interact with them for 8 hours. I cannot say I was 100% comfortable with the experience on a theoretical ethical level, the elephants were WAY more intellegent that I had even gone in thinking, and I might on second trip just go to a rescue organization where you can just observe, rather than RIDE an elephant (which is pretty uncomfortable anyway TBH) but bottom line, habitat is disappearing for wild elephants, and if we want to preserve species, there are some trade-offs that have to be made. Encouraging ethical tourism with regards to habitat and creatures seems to be a good way to persuade locals that forests should be preserved, not torn down to make wood for furniture in California. And the tour guide and my research was clear that it was a place that treated their animals well and rescued them, the babies were with their mothers the whole time, unchained, no seats were applied to the animals, and I will 100% never forget the experience. So just proceed with some consideration no matter how you plan a trip with regards to animal tourism!
Phi Phi island was a dream, Zeavola hotel was so nice, much better than the main city on the island that we visited, which was very spring break in vibe. Definitely would recommend the hotel for a beautiful setting. The beach was a bit loud with boats all the time, but it was a nice vibrancy actually, lots of international tourists there, very laid back and intimate.
The food is amazing as well everywhere you go if you're careful, I would do research though in advance, because Trip Advisor is the only guide you can get on your phone there, planning ahead a bit for nice dinners can help find better authentic food experiences. Don't be afraid of the street food, it's THE BEST you will eat. Just be discriminating and eat close to when they open.
I would probably not go to Phuket again since it was quite touristy and the city was not particularly memorable, and go to Krabi or a beach on the other side of Thailand instead. Phi Phi island was WELL worth the jaunt though!
Also, I would break up the trip to maybe stop in Tokyo, or Shanghai, so that the trip to and back isn't QUITE as long, especially going back, because the jet lag was pretty bad, 26 hours flying! And I might stay an extra week, 3 weeks would have been even better for the amount of time I went, and I could have seen another country or two while I was there.
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