Overall, it was a great vacation and we all enjoyed it very much. Thailand is a beautiful country with very friendly people, a deep and rich culture and awesome food!
When we set out to book our family vacation to Thailand, at first we were overwhelmed by the choices and the planning. Which cities to visit ? What are the tours ? Where do we stay ? Flight travel etc. Luckily, I came across Zicasso – a new way to book travel – that connects you with a travel advisor who has local knowledge of the place you want to go. This is how I got referred to our tour planner and travel team.
The travel team really helped us experience Thailand with local guides who know the place well.
First of all, our tour planner is awesome – she and the travel team helped us plan our trip – everything from airline, to hotels to the day by day itinerary and travel insurance. Even before we left on the trip, we felt both prepared and excited by the program. The app is amazing – it feels great to have your complete itinerary including local tips around guides, phone numbers, flight details all available in the app when you need it. Our agent gave us many good choices for local tours and helped us pick the itinerary that best suited our family.
Flights – The tour planner connected us with an airline which did a great job with our flights. We flew from Vancouver and within Thailand. The flights were great, good service and generally on time.
Hotels – the hotel in Bangkok was great. We got rooms on a high floor overlooking the Chao Praya river – amazing views! The best part was seeing the fireworks display on the Chao Praya river for the New Year. The hotel was packed since it is high season for tourists and yet we got good service overall. In Chiang Mai, we stayed at a hotel. It is a quaint, homely place to stay and within walking distance to local markets. A couple downsides – lots of mosquitoes in Chiang Mai – the hotel does a mosquito spray in the evening sometimes and we had to be out of our rooms for an hour in the evening for that. The Wi-Fi also was not great. They serve a great buffet breakfast in the morning.
Local guides – Chatcha in Bangkok and Oil in Chiang Mai – were awesome! They were very flexible with our family needs, knew the local conditions well and really helped us get the most out of each day in Thailand. Having a guide and vehicle exclusively for our family needs each day was amazing! The pickup and drop-offs at the airports were great and both our guides helped us all the way from check in to the point of entry into security. Both guides had extensive knowledge of the history of Thailand and the local tours and this helped us understand things better. Finally, the guides helped us experience the amazing Thai food – including in local places and street food. We felt safe wherever we ate and always had bottled water available for our needs.
Tours – the original tours planned had more temples in the program. After a couple, we decided to improvise and change things up which our local guides helped with a lot. We added an Elephant camp tour at the last minute – this turned out to be the highlight of the entire trip for our kids (and us!). I did not know that Elephants can paint and seeing the Elephants paint some great pictures is an experience we will never forget! For the temples, there is a dress code – our guides helped us buy elephant pants where needed so we could go in. The Doi Suthep temple in Chiang Mai is a must see – you need to climb 300+ steps to get to the top – stunning temple and great views of Chiang Mai city. We loved the boat rides – the long tail boat ride in Thonburi and near the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market were super fun! Lots of history – if you like that, the Ayutthaya day trip is worth it. The Jim Thompson house in Bangkok is a short tour but very interesting and well worth it.
Food - always lots of food choices – a noodle dish restaurant in Chiang Mai is soooo good! Loved the foodie tour with street food in Thonburi, the floating market and Chatuchak market. Tom Kah soup, Mangoes, Coconut pancakes and of course Phad Thai, Fried rice, sticky rice – if you love great food, Thailand is like heaven!
Shopping – lots of great shopping opportunities and we bought many interesting things for the house. Its good to have local currency for small purchases. We loved the shopping at Chatuchak market, floating market and the malls – MBK and Siam Paragon.
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