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September 9, 2012 9:56 AM   Subscribe

I'm thinking of spending the Xmas holiday week (roughly, Dec. 22 - 30) in Thailand as a single woman traveler from the US. Recommendations?

I'd like beaches, massages, and to meet and enjoy other travelers from all over. I've heard that you can get great lodging and massages/spa treatments on the cheap. Is this still true? I'd also like to ride an elephant in a setting where the animals are treated very well. Does anyone have any specific recommendations? Advice? Things I need to consider? I've traveled much of the world but never Asia. Thanks so much!
posted by Punctual to Grab Bag (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I am not a woman but when i throught of Ko Samui when I tea your question. It is a short flight from Bangkok on Bangkok Air. I stayed at the Amari which is right on the beach. It is a smaller more relaxed island with fewer (but not free from) loud obnoxious drunks.

Phuket to me was zanier and you'd probably not feel as comfortable. However I stayed at the Hilton which on its beach had people giving massages from under umbrellas near the hotel's beach chairs. The massages were cheap and I got one every morning I stayed there. Phuket has a lot more crazy drunk tourists though.

The only time I saw elephants was in a really urban part of Bangkok and it just seemed so surreal. But I wasn't looking to them at the beaches.
posted by birdherder at 11:51 AM on September 9, 2012


Chaing Mai (in the North) is where you can access the elephant rides in the rural areas. The nicer hotels can hook you up-when I was there our little group hired a van and driver and they took us there and other spots like Doi Inthanon. IIRC Chang Mai is about an hour's plane flight from Bangkok, on an Airbus.


Of course that won't get you a beach. But it would be a nice several day's trip, and not that hard to access.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:12 PM on September 9, 2012


The elephant ride I did in Chiang Mai did not inspire confidence that the elephants were particularly well treated. Sorry I don't have a better recommendation.

Samui is fun, but loud... even ten years ago it was loud and I imagine it's no better now. The beautiful beach is lined with small hotels, which front a beach-long main street, and at night cars go along that street with loudspeakers, promoting clubs and parties.

Your best bet for getting current info and recommendations for your specific questions is to ask it at the Lonely Planet discussion forums.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:00 PM on September 9, 2012


I've visited Thailand five times (I think) spending a total of about ten weeks there, including two Christmases. I'm a man, but I've talked with several female friends who went there solo.

There are many great beaches in Thailand, although the era of undiscovered idylls is pretty much over and there are some horribly over-developed sprawls. It's not hard to avoid these if you do basic research.

Massages can be fantastic and cheap, the latter especially so if you go to smaller places off the tourist trail. My experience is that when you see the word 'spa', you will find places aimed at wealthier tourists and, while still generally a lot cheaper than similar establishments in the west, the prices are much higher than the basic Thai massage joints.

Lodging can be great value, but it's also possible to pay over the odds. At Christmas you're not going to get many great bargains, but intelligent use of review sites should land you a good room. I got some great deals on the wotif site, but that was several years ago and things change fast.

Regarding elephants, I have gone on several times here before about the Elephant Nature Park near Chiang Mai. (1 2 3) because it is, simply, absolutely wonderful. You won't ride elephants there, but you will feed and pet them and you won't miss the rides at all.

There are some specific suggestions (including mine) in the threads I linked to. Oh, and as for being a lone woman, you'll be fine with the usual precautions. You might encounter some scuzzy sex tourists, but that's fairly localised and easy to avoid.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 4:38 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


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