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Travel Advice (thailand, bali, sydney, and new zealand)

ErinAnnErinAnn Posts: 196Member
edited April 15 in Reference
Hello lovely ladies of the forum. This is not sub box related, however I saw someone else post a travel driven discussion on here and would love any and all suggestions! I am going on the trip of a lifetime this June with my cousin.... We are going to Thailand (bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi - railay bay & koh phi phi) followed by Indonesia (Bali) then off to Australia (sydney) then finishing in New Zealand (auckland) ------ I know that's a crazy line up but it worked out that all this flights equaled the same price as just thailand and bali home so we took the plunge and said lets do it! So we're taking advantage of our youth(ish), being teachers/having summers off, and doing one big trip of a lifetime. If anyone has been to any of these locations we would LOVE suggestions on places to eat/drink, stay, must sees, must dos, avoid this, try that. Any friendly traveler advice is welcome! Let the countdown begin. <3 :) Thanks in advance for any input!
Post edited by ErinAnn on


  • TiskersTiskers Posts: 398Member
    OH! Thailand is amazing! We had one of our best vacations there. If you get a chance to take a trek through the jungle... I totally recommend! We booked in advance, had a very fluent-in-English guide and we spent 3 days/nights (of our 2 weeks in Thailand) trekking through northern Thailand, spending the nights in the small villages with the local native people. We hard boiled our own eggs in a natural hot spring... harvested some of our own greens for dinner... saw so many waterfalls... so much wildlife and beautiful plants/flowers/scenery... it was amazing!!!

    (The rest of our vacation there was spent in hotels, LOL!)

    You MUST ride the elephants... float on a bamboo raft down the river... the Floating Market is unbelievable... don't miss Chaing Mai's night market... and if your cousin is a male, he can get an amazing custom-made suit for under $200. My husband got one, and wished he would have gotten 3 or 4 (or more!)

    The Thai massages are SO CHEAP (like $5 or $10 for an HOUR!), and there are several different kinds. I recommend you try them all! Mani's and pedi's are also VERY cheap and soooo fun!

    Thai food is wonderful... take a cooking class or two if you can! We LOVED that! And don't miss the sweet sticky rice with mango... available almost everywhere. SOOO yummy! The street vendors have some of the best food.

    Ride a Tuk Tuk, they are super fun (although the roads in Bangkok are scary!)

    The temples and all the different Buddha's are amazing too. Any travel book will tell you about those.

    The Thai people are so friendly! And many of them know English.

    And a word of warning... our travel agent recommended we use Deet spray (primarily for the jungle trek)... and be aware that Deet melts plastic and vinyl. It's actually rather gross... it melted my sunglasses, my pedicure, and the straps on my backpack! So be careful with the nasty stuff!

    Real name is Lynn. So happy to be here! <3
  • ErinAnnErinAnn Posts: 196Member
    Thanks for all the great pointers @Tiskers sounds like you had an equally amazing trip! LOVE pad thai so a cooking class to learn how to make some legit pad thai would be amazing, I'll have to look into that more... and I'm obsessed with Mangos so I will probably eat more Mango sticky rice than any one person should while i'm there, ha :wink:
  • MandypMandyp Posts: 386Member
    Wow! Great use of flights and summer travel. I have visited Thailand several times and Sydney once. The shock of the prices in Sydney will be even more so after coming from SEA but a wonderful time to visit. Daily massage is a must wether it's a foot or Thai body massage. The country will still be in mourning I believe so palace visits will be unavailable. Plenty to see and enjoy. Chaing Mai is one of my favorite cities in the world. A wonderfulplace to take a full day cooking course or trek. So many full day excursions in the area.

    You can also think about switching to the international school world and then these trips don't have to be once in a lifetime. This school year I have visited Malta, Azerbaijan, Venice for Carnivale, Georgia(the country of wine not the land of peaches) , and I am currently in Crete for spring break. Just a little food for thought.
  • TiskersTiskers Posts: 398Member
    edited April 15
    @Mandyp What is the "international school world"?

    Real name is Lynn. So happy to be here! <3
  • Em1Em1 Posts: 1,189Member
    @ErinAnn Thailand is notorious for having very unethical animal attractions that they use to trap tourists. It's possible to ride an elephant in Thailand that has not been subjected to torture for its entire life, but they are extremely few and far between. Many of the companies now know that tourists are becoming more conscious of animal cruelty so they lie and put a tag line that they don't engage in animal cruelty, but don't fall for it unless you have a real reason to believe them. If riding an elephant is on your bucket list, do veryyyy thorough research on who you do it with. If I were you though, I would avoid all of animal tourism altogether including elephant riding, watching elephants paint, or petting tigers and other wild animals. There's much else to do in Thailand.
    As for pad Thai- one of my favorite dishes ever! I have to say that my absolute biggest disappointment during my trip to Thailand is that the pad Thai tasted exactly the same as the pad Thai I can find here in NYC! Haha. NYC does ethnic food right, it's not Thailand's fault :) Anyway, do not spend more than $3-4 on a big bowl of pad Thai in Thailand. I had incredible pad Thai both at a fancy hotel restaurant that catered to foreigners and at the airport food court. Guess which cost 4x more?
    If you're going to pick up souvenirs, look for artisan-made items. Thailand's mass-produced souvenirs are not very good quality for the most part. And omg they have the most on-point knock offs for all the cosmetic brands you can find at Sephora. HANDS OFF that $1 "Kat Von d" liquid lipstick, you do not want any of that stuff touching your body!!

    I really enjoyed Thailand, so I hope my post isn't too much of a downer! And sorry I don't have experience with your other destinations, but I am going to Bali this summer :)
  • Em1Em1 Posts: 1,189Member
    Oh a few random things about Thailand that surprised me:
    1. There are prostitutes everywhere. Seriously. Prostitution is legal there, but I wasn't expecting it to be so in my face lol.
    2. There are 7-Elevens every like, hundred feet. It's super bizarre. In Bangkok, I took one short tuk-tuk ride and counted 38 of them.
    3. If you're white, you'll be paying more for a lot of things than locals/non-white folk do. This is the case for international travel to Eastern countries in general, but I bring it up because I remember I was booking a hotel in person in Bangkok and when I gave them my US passport, they laughed and told me they would have charged me more if they knew I was American. My background is South Asian so I can get away with a lot when I travel that my white friends can't!
  • ErinAnnErinAnn Posts: 196Member
    I've heard that about the mourning @Mandyp - I'm sure there will still be plenty to do! - what is "international school world" do you mean teaching abroad?

    @Em1 no downer at all! good info and insight for me! I'm very Irish so my pasty white skin has never been a shade of tan :wink: I will not be blending in at any time, ha! I've heard haggling skills are a must, which stinks because I am lacking those skills. When are you going to Bali this summer?
  • JodiAnneJodiAnne Posts: 2,056Member
    edited April 16
    I agree with @Tiskers !! Thailand is amazing!! Chiang Mai is UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!!! But please DON'T ride the elephants!!! Unless it is at a sanctuary and it is bare back. Riding elephants at tourist sites are horrible for the elephants. Those wooden seats that they use to carry people around do so much damage to them. And they don't take proper care of them! Please dont!! I went to a sanctuary called Rantong elephant Sanctuary and it was amazing. We got to feed the baby elephants and bathe them and walk around with them all day! You aren't allowed to ride them there. They also stopped at the giraffe Manor where you got to feed and pet all the giraffes :)
    The night market is fabulous and definitely getc a massage....every day!!! And the mangoes!!!! Omg eat as many mangoes as your can!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Try getting a fish pedicure too!!! That's quite the experience!
  • ErinAnnErinAnn Posts: 196Member
    @JodiAnne your picture with the baby elephant just in your presence is MAGICAL! I'm fine with not riding one <3 I've heard so many horror stories about how they treat them that walking around with them and bathing them sounds amazing. And a daily massage and eating mangos also sounds perfect!!
  • TiskersTiskers Posts: 398Member
    edited April 16
    @JodiAnne Good point, thanks for sharing that info. You are right, that did need clarified.

    We rode the elephants in the village, and after the ride, they got fed, then a bath in the river and a massage. I can only speak from my own experience, but I feel pretty confident that those elephants were thankfully well cared for.

    Real name is Lynn. So happy to be here! <3
  • MandypMandyp Posts: 386Member
    @ErinAnn and @Tiskers I teach at an international school. There are international schools, well, everywhere. I teach middle school with an American curriculum in Kiev. My school has about 60 different nationalities that attend. A lot of embassy kids as well as some NGOs and international corporation's children. Also there are some painfully wealthy nationals.
    I love the smaller class sizes and the ability to interact and live in different countries. Also the travel opportunities are amazing!
  • nelliebelle1197nelliebelle1197 Posts: 2,599Member
    @Mandyp my friend who runs the STD clinic at the CDC in Thailand has her son in a similar school there. I thought you were in Korea!!
  • ErinAnnErinAnn Posts: 196Member
    @Mandyp I know people who taught abroad as well straight out of college and loved it!
  • MandypMandyp Posts: 386Member
    @nelliebelle1197 I was in Korea doing ESL for a few years and enjoyed teaching so much I got my full teaching license and now am at a school in Kiev, Ukraine.
  • ErinAnnErinAnn Posts: 196Member
    I'm sure you've had some amazing experiences with it all @Mandyp
  • LingLing Posts: 339Member
    Bali or anywhere in Indonesia has a visa on arrival fee and now it is $35. You pay when you enter. Bring small US currency with you to pay for it, or you get back the change in Indonesia rupiah currency.

    Since you are also going to a few islands in Thailand, Bali has similar beach experience. Try travel inland as well when in Bali, the scenery is different from the beach.

    Goal: Reduce, reduce, reduce. Only 6 months stash or less.
  • lynndeannelynndeanne Posts: 562Member
    @ErinAnn I was in New Zealand back in the eighties and LOVED IT. I spent most of my time in Auckland, but if you can get out and about, it's well worth a ride. I'd suggest a day or even an overnight to Rotorua. It looks like it has been built up a lot since I was there, but the geothermal spas were amazing! Also Maori exhibits.

    I hope to go back to see the South Island one day...
  • SjskiSjski Posts: 385Member
    You will love Sydney...but then I am biased as it is my home town : ) I haven't ben there in a while though. I'll think about it and get back to you. If you want major swap bait for me...Cherry Ripe bars. Such yummy goodness : )
  • vkbrownvkbrown Posts: 414Member
    @ErinAnn GREAT itinerary! I did Bali a year ago.

    1. If you can, try to spend some time in Ubud and some on the beach. The city and the coasts (while not far at all) are so different.

    2. Again, time permitting - take a day trip out to the Gilis. Gili Air and Gili Meno are gorgeous tiny islands with no cars. Gili T is a party island. We did Gili Air for just a few hours and it was well worth it. The boat trips there and back also had amazing views of the islands.

    3. Tanah Lot, the Monkey Forest, and the elephant sanctuaries are all "tourist" spots well worth the trip. Bali Pulina is an incredible coffee farm a bit off the beaten path. There is a major waterfall nearby that is worth the hike.

    4. PM if you want contact info for an amazing driver. He made our trip, and several of our friends have used him since.

    Have a great time!
  • LisaMarieLisaMarie Posts: 689Member
    @ErinAnn We went to Australia to drop off my daughter for study abroad experience and she went to Bali for spring break. Bali- she said deff get a fish "pedicure" and hit up the monkey park but do not have any food in your purse or hats or sunglasses that aren't secure- those monkeys are major pickpocketers. We were in Sydney, Wollongong, Port Douglas, Cairns and Ayers Rock. We did multiple excursions (even skydived lol). PM me if you have any particular questions like where we stayed, what excursions were good. It was an amazing vacation (except leaving my daughter behind when we left).
  • ErinAnnErinAnn Posts: 196Member
    @Sjski I've had a cherry ripe from Australia and they're divine! I plan to bring as many back as I can fit in my suitcase :wink:
  • SjskiSjski Posts: 385Member
    @ErinAnn're my new best friend!!! lol. They are soooo good!
  • Emma227Emma227 Posts: 100Member
    @ErinAnn I grew up in Australia and NZ (Auckland). And love both countries. You will meet some of the friendliest and nicest people.

    For Sydney, I'm sure you have a list of things to do (and @Sjski I'm from Melbourne!). But my tip would be to stay either in the city or near a train station. Taxis and even Ubers are expensive in Australia and the ease of the Sydney train system (although not perfect) will help!

    For Auckland, I honestly haven't been back in a long time. But I highly recommend checking out the museums and the beaches. Auckland is a beautiful city and NZ as a whole is wonderful. I hear Ponsonby is great area, but honestly you can't go wrong staying somewhere either along the water front or near the city.
  • JodiAnneJodiAnne Posts: 2,056Member
    edited April 23
    @Emma227 I'll be visiting Melbourne and Cairns in August!!.. SOOOO excited for Melbourne!!! I want to surround myself with street art and coffee!!! Hahaha Any good tips or things to do?? I'm super stoked the Winter Night Market will still be going on!! How do you feel about Phillips Island? I wanted to see the penguins!!! Lol
  • Emma227Emma227 Posts: 100Member
    @JodiAnne sorry for the late response! But I'm so jealous you are visiting Melbourne. I'm missing home a lot :(.

    You'll absolutely love the coffee. There is a place called 7 seeds that roasts their own beans in house. Brother Baba Budan is another, they are technically cousins... I'm sure there are also new places that are equally as good.

    The night market is awesome, I make a point to go to both winter and summer. Although, be prepared for the ques. It's also a little overpriced, but the experience is worth it. If you are a foodie, there are lots of really great restaurants that are some of the best in the world, e.g. Dinner by Heston (UK), Ding Tai Fung (Taiwan), Shimbashi soba (best soba even by Japanese standards). One of our own, Brae, recently got into Top 50 restaurants in the world. Attica as well. Both are difficult to get a reservation.

    Phillip Island is great, but I have never actually gone to see penguins, I've been down for work retreats in the past and opted to do other things. The scenery is great.

    I absolutely love the Mornington Penninsula as it's relatively easy for me to get there from the East (I lived in the east side). But you also should go down the great ocean road if you can!! You must see the 12 apostles if you do (although I think less than 10 are left).

    Also, go for a footy game and eat a meat pie with tomato sauce (or as you call it - ketchup)!

    Public transport is free in the city center, so you can ride the trams to your heart's content!

    Let me know if you have any other questions!
  • JodiAnneJodiAnne Posts: 2,056Member
    @Emma227 thank you so much for the info!!! And for all the recommendations on places to eat, drink and explore!!!! I will definitely ask you of I have any more questions!!! I'm so excited to be there! The city looks like it has such a wonderful vibe. Everyone asked why I was doing Cairns and Melbourne and not Cairns and Sydney... I told them Melbourne appears to have the vibe of a city I would fall in love with! :)
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