When traveling, I usually find that Americans travel 10 days while most other nationalities travel for 2-4 weeks. Oh, we Americans do love to work and I realize businesses do not encourage 2-4-week vacations. But, when one is traveling half way around the world with 30+ hours of travel time to reach tantalizing Thailand at a cost of around $1,500 for airfare, common sense might tell us to stay a few extra days. Right? At Singles Travel International, we always offer extensions to our trips so you can take advantage of the destination once you arrive. Besides arriving at least one day before your tour leaves to make sure you leave with it, take a side-trip of a few days on either end to hit one more place on your bucket list. Baby boomers… watch your millennial children and follow suit by extending your vacation. Life is short, especially if you are already a baby boomer!
Thailand is a gem of a place to take side trips. From Bangkok where your tour starts, head to Chiang Mai/Chiang Rai (my preference) in Northern Thailand, or to Angor Wat/Siem Reap in Cambodia or to Hanoi/Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam. Once you have crossed the big pond, local flights are dirt cheap, under $100. I just tacked on three of these…Chiang Mai (air), Chiang Rai (“upscale” GreenBus from Chiang Mai for under $20 RT) and Ho Chi Minh (air) with local flights averaging $60 each.
Do you like a smaller city closer to the mountains and the Golden Triangle? Then try Chiang Rai with an all-day tour to the Golden Triangle where Laos, Myanmar and Thailand all meet.
A boat trip on the Mekong River will let you get you close to all 3 countries and set foot on Laos long enough to taste their snake/scorpion/opiate alcohol concoctions while passing No Man Island where all the opiate drug smuggling takes place since no country owns the island. Also visit the amazing White Temple, Blue Temple and Black House. Chiang Mai offers a larger city with all day tours to Doi Inthanon National Park with amazing King & Queen pagodas and waterfalls or Doi Suthep-Pui National Park to view the temple and visit local White or Long Neck Karen or Hmong village tribes. Both cities offer the opportunity to explore their old walled cities with numerous Wats (temples), street markets, night bazaars and tons of delicious, inexpensive Thai food. Last but not least, one must take a day getting real muddy while playing with and bathing elephants at the numerous elephant sanctuaries outside either city.
Did you serve in Vietnam, become a hippie, dodge the draft, support or protest the Vietnam War (American, anti-US war in Vietnam)? Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, beckons us if only out of curiosity and respect…..once enemies, now friends. As I boarded VietJet I thought of Allegiant Air back home and wondered if the old tin can would make it there! It did, and I am so glad I experienced the Saigonese way. Vibrant, alive and crazy at times, especially when crossing the streets….and changing daily as its renovation has really only been happening for 25+ years. The Cu Chi tunnels are a must…crawl inside to get an unfathomable taste of the reality of locals and troops for 20+ years….and to think the real tunnels were half the size. The War Museum and Reunification Palace tell us about the “American War” to liberate the South Vietnamese…there is always at least two sides to every disagreement. Don’t forget to ride a sampan on the Mekong Delta.
I must return some day to visit Cambodia and Angor Wat or Siem Reap. Maybe you will beat me there and tell me all about that area with your blog?? Now it is time for you to choose…. Tour or Cruise? Pick an “Exotic” Singles Travel International trip in November 2018 (Thailand or Vietnam) and then tack on your side trip to the other country. Go for it…. See them both. YOLO, we only live once to the best of my knowledge! Khob Khun Ka and Cam O’n to my new Thailandese and Vietnamese friends!
Submitted by Georgia, Singles Travel International Concierge and World Traveler