Posted May 27th, 2012, 12:57 PM
Last edited by greatam; May 27th, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Bangkok is embarkation port so will have 5 full days to tour with private guide and car. We have contracted with Wandee tours and we are really looking forward to seeing lots of Bangkok and the ancient capital, elephant camp, Rose Garden and River Kwai. We will need a sea day badly as soon as cruise starts
Just a few suggestions for Thailand since you are spending 5 days.
If you are going to the Kanchanaburi area, make sure you spend the night. Don't let your tour guide short change you. They all want to do the day trip and go home. There is just too much to see and too much history to absorb in the area to relegate it to a day trip. The area is about a 2.5 hour drive each way from Bangkok, so a good part of the day is just spent driving.
There are some really neat hotels in the area-my favorites are the "raft type"hotels, floating on the water. I have stayed at The Floathouse River Kwai http://www.thefloathouseriverkwai.com/
, Yoko River Kwai (no website) and Jungle Rafts-the original http://www.riverkwaijunglerafts.com/
I have also stayed at the tented camp hotel-not my personal favorite-I prefer the ones on the water-but certainly a very popular hotel because it is booked full frequently. http://www.hintokrivercamp.com/
A trip on a raft pulled behind a long tail boat up and down the river to the water falls is great fun. When we went, our hotel-the Yoko River Kwai-was totally filled with Russians and their families. This trip was the hotel's raft and boat. What a hoot-our driver and guide and us speaking English and all the rest Russian. DH had a great time daring the kids to jump off the raft into the water falls and hanging on a rope off the raft. Fun knows no language barriers.
MAKE SURE you get to a GOOD elephant camp. There are some that are strictly tourist. Wangpo is probably the best in the area. Humane treatment of the elephants, the mahouts live in the village with the elephants and washing them in the river is great fun.
Tiger Temple is another not to be missed area. Pretty special to be surrounded in the canyon with tigers. Do a search through this forum to see pictures of DH and I with tigers all around us.
Sai Yok waterfall in Sai Yok National Park is pretty interesting and very scenic. You can get there via car or boat.
Hellfire Pass-the museum is very, very interesting. Since all of us have seen the movie, Bridge on the River Kwai, this puts the real story in perspective. The history walk through the canyon really make you think what the prisoners endured. It only took 3 months without much machinery to make the cut through the Pass. The prisoners really worked hard just to stay alive.
The "death" railroad-it is regularly scheduled RR BUT if you have a good guide, they know the history and will be able to share the story. This is a very nice, short RR trip. And the t-shirts and hats they sell on the train are very cheap and not bad quality. DH bought 10 hats for $2.00 each in 2005 and is still wearing them today.
When you are at the Bridge on the River Kwai, walk down the tracks to the cave. It is a Buddhist temple with a resident monk and very impressive inside.
Another really off the wall trip but one I will remember as very special is a trip from Kanchanaburi to the "Golden Triangle"-border of Thailand, Burma and Laos. You are WAY off the beaten path doing this trip but it is pretty neat to stand in the corner of three countries, two of them rarely visited by Westerners. If you have friends or relatives that were in the Vietnam War, they may have spent time in this area, although this was totally disavowed all during the Vietnam War. There were special forces and CIA operators in the area during almost all the Vietnam War-they were going after the drug lords who were in charge of the opium and heroin trade out of the Golden Triangle. Money flowed from the drug lords to the VietCong, much like money flows from the drug lords in Afghanistan to the Taliban and then to Al Queda today. You won't find many tour guides who recommend this trip but it is truly interesting. The scarves that are handwoven in the border village by the Burmese refugees are very, very nice.