whats better, a Honeymoon or a MefiMoon?
November 30, 2010 5:30 PM   Subscribe

For our Honeymoon, my other half and I will be going to London for 5 days, Paris for 4 days, make our way to Barcelona for 5 days, then Bangkok for ten days. I'm hoping for some recommendations for the leg from Paris to Barcelona, and Bangkok but feel to offer any recommendations!

The bit between Paris and Barcelona is the bit I'm the least sure of. We have 9 days to spread between them. Should we spend 3 days in France, hire a car and drive to Barcelona, taking 3 days to do the drive and then spend 3 days in Barcelona? Or get a train? Or a Bus?

Also in Bangkok, from talking with friends we won't have time to do both Chaing Mai and the beaches in the South... I'd love to do both but after having a wedding in Mexico, and the Europe angle I thing we'll both be wanting to relax more than trek through the jungle for eight hours to ride elephants etc... as amazing as that sounds.

Time frames - we arrive in London 6th of May, Paris 11th of May, need to leave from Barcelona to Bangkok (via London) on the 20th of May, then back home (Syd) on the 30th of May.

So ... hit me please! Accomodation, sights, you name it! Thanks in advance.
posted by Admira to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Barcelona's a really fun city; you might want more than 3 days there. You could easily spend a couple just visiting all the Gaudi buildings, and the Miro & Picasso galleries, if that's your kind of thing. Otherwise, it's just a great "lifestyle" city - sitting around in cafes, watching people go by, eating at midnight, getting to bed at 4am, etc.

Between Paris & Barcelona, I really liked Carcassonne. It's about the only place I've visited other than in India, where you have a medieval hilltop castle with a village inside & regular people still living there.

For Thailand, have you looked into Koh Chang? It's southeast of Bangkok, and more "eco" than most Thai islands - very laid back & good for relaxing, with a lot of the island devoted to National Park & at least some conception of sustainable development. Since its name means "elephant island" maybe you could find an elephant ride there anyway...?
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:42 PM on November 30, 2010

My all time favourite place in Thailand for relaxing is Ko Samet. Located in the Khao Laem Ya – Mu Ko Samet National Park, it's an easy 3 hour bus ride from Bangkok to Ban Pe where you can pick up a ferry to the island. It's absolutely beautiful and while it does have a 7-11 etc, is much, much quieter than the more popular southern beach resorts. A lot of tourists staying on the surrounding islands come over for the day only, so there is excellent people watching if thats what you're into. If you are going south, I highly recommend catching the overnight train, first class.
posted by Wantok at 7:14 PM on November 30, 2010

Unless you have a real hankering to see small French villages, I'd advise traveling by train from Paris to Barcelona. You can take the TGV (high-speed train) from Paris to either Bordeaux or Montpellier, and then make your way by slower trains toward Barcelona. I like Bordeaux, but I love the cities of the Rhône valley and southwestern France. Maybe take the TGV from Paris (Gare de Lyon) to Lyon; spend a night there, then head to Avignon, Montpellier, and finally, Perpignan, before going to Barcelona. Carcassonne is also worth a visit, but I wouldn't privilege it over the other cities I've mentioned.

Lyon is France's second city, but because of the Italian banking and textile influence, its architecture and culture are quite distinct from Paris. Montpellier is a medieval university city with a spectacular pedestrian zone in the city center. It also has a nice zoological park. Perpignan, in French Catalonia, offers a compact city center and the impressive palace of the kings of Mallorca.

P.S. I love driving in France (except in Paris), but if I were on your schedule, I'd prefer to use trains and have more time in cities. If you want to visit villages, take the train directly from Paris to Montpellier (a half-day trip) and rent a car to visit villages in the Hérault.
posted by brianogilvie at 8:03 PM on November 30, 2010

I second brianogilvie's suggestion for France via Lyon! If you find yourself worried about the time, I would keep Lyon above the other cities. You can also take the TGV to Perpignan and from there it is an hour or something by train to Barcelona.

Driving: the villages here are cute but repetitive. If you drive on the highway here, you won't see any of them anyway. Tolls and petrol are expensive. All the cars are manual. Automatic rentals cost extra because they are usually only available in the larger sizes.
posted by whatzit at 11:41 PM on November 30, 2010

In Bangkok, do something nice around the river at night. The bridges and temples along the river are all lit up and it is quite pleasant. An option could be a dinner on a converted rice barge, such as the Loy Nava - generally food is a bit touristed, but pleasant enough.

In the riverside restaurant category, I have a couple that I have enjoyed. These are not your five star sophisticated experience, but a pleasant local experience with good food and good settings. The two are Khim Lom Chom Saphan and River Bar Cafe. The former also has a restaurant boat that leaves from their restaurant. If you want to eat on shore, see if your hotel can call ahead for you to reserve a riverside table (still worth it if you can't get one).

For a swish drink with a view, go to Vertigo, the bar at the Banyan Tree Hotel.

Go see Jim Thompson's House, and have lunch at the cafe - it is a pretty setting in the middle of the city and the pomelo salad is really delicious.

Where to stay in Bangkok depends a bit on what you are interested in doing. However, if you stay somewhere on the skytrain lines, you can get most places easily on that (including down to the river). Also depends on your budget and whether you want to be in a touristy or more local area. Any hints?

I agree that for 10 days you should only do Bangkok and either north or south. I still really like Railay Beach in Krabi, even though it is getting more built up. The train is quite fun - you can get as far as Surat Thani in the south, before you need to transfer onto a bus. Or just fly!
posted by AnnaRat at 12:09 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thailand's southern beaches are OK but Chiang Mai is unique. The southern beaches have become way touristy over the past ten years and, well, so has Chiang Mai and the vicinity but not nearly as much. I'd rather spend time in the north rather than the south. It'll be much easier to take a week-long holiday in the Caribbean some day than it would be to get back to SE Asia.
posted by bardic at 12:11 AM on December 1, 2010

I would suggest that you won't need any time in Bangkok, and can go directly from there to either the beaches or Chiang Mai (or both, 10 days is plenty of time to do both). We stayed at a wonderful resort in Hua Hin, which was the "resort town" for Thai royalty way back when. Less on the backpackers and more on the couples. I think you can get a cheap flight via Bangkok to both locations. Our post about both Hua Hin and Chiang Mai can be read here.
posted by qwip at 6:50 AM on December 1, 2010

Bangkok is fabulous, unless for some reason you hate cities. If you're at all interested in having clothes tailored, go in right away and get measured and fitted, then pick them up on the way back to the airport. (A good hotel will have a tailor or an affiliation that can deliver them back to your hotel.) I'd stay at the same place in Bangkok on arrival and departure, so you can easily leave bags.

Arun Residence is the best place to have a drink on the river. It's located RIGHT across from Wat Arun. Bring mosquito repellent though ..l. I'm pretty bite-proof but get eaten alive every time I'm there. You'll need very good directions, in Thai, I think they have them on the website. Print it out. Have a local sim card so you can dial and have the staff direct the driver in. For some reason, it's under a shield of invisibility to local cabbies, and no one can find it.

Hua Hin is OK but the beaches aren't much and it can lean to cheesy, but the Sofitel and Anantara are both good hotels. What you want is Khao Lak. Le Meridien is fabulous. I'd also suggest Koh Lanta, but it's a bit of a trek to get there.

Feel free to PM me.
posted by cyndigo at 10:25 AM on December 1, 2010

wowee! paris AND barcelona? amazing. i would split my time between those two cities, and just fly from one to the other (this summer i flew from paris to bcn for 27 euros - SO much cheaper than any other option!) Some people like to do many places for a small amount of time, but i tend to spend longer in each city. i feel like i get a better feel for a place, and i find amaaaazing discoveries and things i would miss if i was just spending a day or two there. i looked at skyscanner.com and found cheap flights.

here's my to-do list for barcelona
1) Pollo Rico, 31 Sant Pau (just off Las Ramblas) – absolutely must go! Total sketchy hole in the wall lunch counter downstairs, but there is a restaurant upstairs with tables, that serves the same food at the same (ridiculously low) prices. I recommend: Pulpitos (grilled baby octopi. So delicious), pimientos del pardon (fried peppers), patatas bravas (basically fried potatoes with a yummy sauce.)
2) La llavor dels Origens, www.lallavordelsorigens.com, there are 4 restaurants that all serve really delicious 100% catalan food. The tapas tasting meal is amazing and you get to try a bit of everything. The menu is a whole magazine and each menu item is basically a little article, complete with a map for where each food comes from in the region. The sangria was yummy and very different because it uses a different kind of base (whose name I forget). 4 locations:
Pg. del Born, 4
c/ Vidrieria, 6-8
c/ Enric Granados, 9
c/ Ramon y Cajal, 12
3) El Pulperie, c/ de la Mercè at Avinyo– great, inexpensive tapas, more fried stuff though.
4) Madam Jasmine’s on la Rambla del Raval. A cute little bar
5) Penultima, c/ de la Riera Alta at about c. Sant Vincenç – extremely cute gay ‘pub’. Good place for a drink before heading out somewhere else to dance. Shrine of Michael Jackson, cutest people in Barcelona, etc.

Of course you will just wander around lots of little streets and choose your own adventures! Drink Xorchata at a place that serves only that. Crema de Catalan is a liqueur that is known in the region. Kind of yummy.
If you want to go on a bike tour or get a free decent map of the main areas, you can go to Fat Tire Bike Tours, c/ Sant Honorat 7, which is by Plaça de Sant Jaume. Their maps are free and good (even the small streets are listed), and if you like guided tours, it’s a decent one and usually the people are younger and fun.

also: - Bar Pastis - little french bar just off la rambla - great
- the market with its entrance on la rambla. get thee to a jamonery
- the rooftop of la pedrera
- wandering around el barrio gotico (and visiting the picasso museum)
- fondacion joan miro (important)

ok, now paris!
Go to the Rue Mouffetard. It’s a cute street to walk down.
Go to 59 Rivoli – it’s an artist squat that turned into a huge gallery. There are floors and floors of interesting art. It’s free.
I have never been, but La Dou Dingue is my friend's favourite restaurant (she’s from Paris)
Go to Rue Oberkampf to hang around.

1. Centre Pompidou (free wifi!)
2. Musée d'Orsay (Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec).
3. Fondation Cartier, boulevard Raspail. The museum itself is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen - it was designed by Jean Nouvel. There aren't many things inside, but all the exhibitions I've seen are worth the visit.
4. Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, rue de Turenne.
5. Airs de Paris, left bank, near Bibliothèque François Mitterrand. Lots of very cool art galeries in the area, on rue Louise Weiss.
6. Palais de Tokyo + Musée d'art moderne de la ville de Paris. Exhibitions at Palais de Tokyo aren't that great, but the space itself is amazing. Very cool, trendy spot with a great bookstore where you can find rare magazines, and there's a nice café as well.
7. Jeu de Paume (small contemporary art museum) and Musée de l'Orangerie (they have Monet's Water Lilies exhibited in three circle rooms). Both are located at the extreme end of Jardin des Tuileries.
8. Le Louvre, of course.

1. Merci, boulevard Beaumarchais. A small flower shop bought the inside of a huge house, and they're now selling everything, from fabrics to furniture, from Acne Jeans to kitchen accessories. There's a very nice café inside, next to thousands of used books.
2. Les Cahiers de Colette, rue Rambuteau. The most beautiful bookstore in Paris. Lots of books, they're specialized in French literature and social sciences. Colette is the kind of old bitch that I looove, she smokes, she drinks, she likes to hang out with young, handsome boys from le Marais.
3. Colette, rue Saint-Honoré. Very hip, very trendy, not really accessible, but worth having a look. Plus they have a great selection of magazines and weird little accessories.
4. Get some macarons at Ladurée. For cheap champagne, look for any Nicolas store - the French equivalent to SAQ.

Restos + Bars
1. Le comptoir des archives, rue Rambuteau corner rue des Archives. Simple and honest.
2. Le Loir dans la théière, rue des Rosiers, especially for breakfast or brunch.
3. La Strada, rue Geoffroy Langevin. Best pasta restaurant in Paris. Very small, but amazingly good.
4. Max y Jeremy, rue Saint-Saveur, near Montorgueil. Best mojitos in Paris for practically nothing. They also serve tapas.
5. Derrière, rue des Gravilliers. A little more expensive, but sooo cool. They transformed an old apartment into a huge restaurant and bar, but kept everything in place - so you can basically sip an apéro while sitting on a bed on the second floor. Speaking of second floor, right next to the bathrooms, you'll see a huge cupboard with glass doors on it. Behind it, there's a private fumoir full of books and old furniture. Awesome.
6. Le dindon en laisse, rue de Beautreillis. Right in front of the apartment where Jim Morrison died. Best food evah. Best wine list. Super cheap and accessible. The owner is very, very French, and very cynical - which means that he kicks out those he doesn't like. But if you're nice and you give enough tip, you might see a bottle of armagnac on the table at the end of the journey.
posted by andreapandrea at 3:28 PM on December 1, 2010 [4 favorites]

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