Founder of World Nomads, I love travel and photography and enjoy sharing what I've learnt over years.
1st time in Thailand for three weeks in Feburary What activities / Towns /Islands / Tours are best budget?
Well, I have to say that if you are Australian, the islands of the South like Krabi, Kho Phi Phi or Koh Samui are over-rated. If you went there 30 years ago they might have still held some mystique but in these days of cheap flights they are full of large, pink Europeans unused to sun, sand and sea. Not pretty. There is quite a lot to do in and around Bangkok, including this market to the south (http://journals.worldnomads.com/simon_monk/post/35426.aspx) which I haven't ever been to but will on my next visit for sure. Chiang Mai is very pleasant although well visited: they have a large night market on a Wednesday night which is great fun and you can go either north west or north east from there. Personally, I'd recommend the North East corner of the country (if you are game for a little adventure off-the-beaten-track so to speak. There is some excellent hill trekking on the edge of Laos from the town of Nan where you get to stay with various hill tribes and eat rice and cabbage for a week! Great experience, honestly. There is a most unusual temple in the north east, but I can't remember the name, it was years ago: it's built around a sandstone outcrop, has 7 levels which are just wooden boards stuck into the stone and you really take your life in your hands to explore it! Make sure you have travel insurance if you go here! Another recommendation is simply to make sure you eat at a genuine Thai night market most nights: these can be found everywhere at night where they set up in dusty car parks and the like and the food is simply awesome. The best one I ever found in many months in the country was in a tiny town called Loei in the north east - I've never had a Green Papaya Salad like it since! The food is some of the best in the world and I've never been sick in Thailand. Have fun simon almost 10 years ago
I'd agree, Antigua is a beautiful town to locate yourself in. I've only been there, not learnt Spanish there, but I know of this web site that prove useful: http://www.transitionsabroad.com/publications/magazine/0505/learn_spanish_in_antigua_guatemala.shtml PS - take care of your personal safety in Guatemala, there are bandits and muggings aplenty. Personally, I nearly got kidnapped on leaving a hospital at 3am, but that was 12 years ago ... and it's only got worse apparently! about 9 years ago
The currency is the wonderfully named DONG. Take US$ as the currency is non-convertible outside the country as far as I know. Last time I looked there was something like 9,000 to the US$ so you can end up with rather a large amount of paper. Most mid-range accommodation I have always paid for on credit cards (at least in the last few years) but cash is king the rest of the time. Local cash too, not USD. And beware the Cyclo drivers or anyone else who want you to pay in USD as they are just trying it on so they can charge you exhorbitantly. Great country to visit though. almost 10 years ago
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