Welcome to the RB40 Road Show!
When we didn’t have a kid, we usually traveled internationally once per year. We decided to put off traveling after RB40Jr was born because traveling with a baby is very inconvenient. There are plenty of things to see and do locally so we didn’t feel the need to drag our kid across the globe. We still love traveling, though. Last year, we decided to visit Costa Rica for 2 weeks because RB40Jr was 4 year old and he could follow directions. It was a great success and all of us enjoyed the trip. It’s a bit different to travel with a little kid because we cut way back on activities. Our trips are more relaxing now. Costa Rica was a great first trip because the flight wasn’t too long and 2 weeks was just the right length.
This year, we are heading to Thailand for 3 weeks! (We’re probably on the way as you’re reading this.) This trip will be very exciting for RB40Jr because it’s his first trip across the ocean. We haven’t been to Thailand since 2009 and I’m really looking forward to seeing my extended family. My aunts and uncles are all getting older and I want Junior to meet them before it’s too late. It will be great for him to see what life is like in Asia.
Also, this trip will give me a chance to try a different format here for a few weeks. The articles will be on traveling with just a touch of personal finance. I’ll update whenever I can and we’ll get back on regular schedule after Thanksgiving. Let me know what you think. I plan to take a year off to travel around the world in 4-5 years so this will be a good preview.
Our first stop on this trip is Bangkok. We’ll get there after two stopovers in Los Angeles and Taipei airports. This first part of the trip will take about 19 hours. Ugh, that’s a long travel day and I hope RB40Jr can handle it. This is why my mom doesn’t want to come on this trip. She doesn’t want to deal with the long travel days anymore.
We’ll land around 1 am and try to get through immigration as fast as we could. My uncle told me it takes 6 hours to get through immigration now, but I hope he’s exaggerating. It’s a bit hectic in Thailand because King Bhumibol of Thailand passed away in October. Thai people need to wear black or white clothing to mourn the passing of the king. This is a big deal because Thais really love King Bhumibol and you could get into trouble if you don’t show respect. Anyway, I don’t wear black or white so I had to buy quite a few things for this trip. This is one of the reasons why we had a negative cash flow in October. Mrs. RB40 has plenty of black clothes, so she’s set…
We’ll spend 3 days in Bangkok for this first leg of the trip. Here are some of the things that we plan to do.
- Finalize RB40Jr’s Thailand citizenship process. We need to add his name to the house registration. This will probably take most of a day at a government office. After this is done, he will have dual citizenship, that’s pretty awesome. You never know if it will be useful in the future, such as if he decides to live there someday.
- Visit the Snake Farm near the hotel. Mrs. RB40 has been here before so she will skip it and book a massage or something. I will go with Junior. He likes snakes.
- Explore the Silom area on foot and try some good street food and restaurants. There are thousands of places to eat in Bangkok and I have no idea where to eat. If you know a place we can’t miss, let me know. I read about these places on the internet and they sound really good – Café Bangrak, La Table de Tee, Salapao Ko Uan, Lek Seafood, and Somtum Convent.
- One flexible day – we will probably visit a temple or maybe check out Chinatown.
We’ll stay at Dusit Thani Bangkok for these 3 nights. My cousin works there and she got us an awesome employee discount. It’ll cost us under $100 for 3 nights at a luxury hotel in central Bangkok! Wow, that’s like 66% off. I’m looking forward to staying here.
After 3 days in Bangkok, we’ll take the overnight train north to Chiang Mai. We are really looking forward to this train ride because this will be Junior’s first non-light rail train ride AND they just got some new trains. The new trains are supposed to be up and running by now, but the rollout has been delayed since August. My aunt checked and told me that we’ll get to ride on the new trains on November 11th so wish us luck.
The old trains were the ones I rode 40 years ago. There was no dining car, but it was fine back then. Vendors used to run up to the windows at each station and you could buy BBQ chicken, sticky rice, or whatever you wanted through the windows. I’m not sure if they do that anymore. Oh, the onboard toilets were a bit umm… rustic. They were squat toilets that drop straight onto the track. That’s why you couldn’t go to the restroom when the train stops at a station. Anyway, we’re looking forward to checking out the new modern trains. The tickets for the 3 of us cost around $70.
We’ll be in Chiang Mai for 6 days and we’ll stay at my condo. Yes, I have a condo in Chiang Mai. J My dad lives there and occasionally rents it out to Japanese tourists. I plan to use it as a home base for a few years once RB40Jr goes off to college. It will be a great jump off point to explore Asia. That’s a long way off, though.
- Visit a retirement resort just outside of Chiang Mai. This is a full service retirement home that many westerners can afford. It costs about $1,400/month for single occupancy and $1,850/month for double (in 2015.) Not bad for a luxury retirement resort.
- Visit the elephant center at Lampang and tour ancient wats in Lamphun.
- Attend Loy Kratong and Yi Peng festivals. These are a fun cultural events and RB40Jr will have a great time.
- Walk around Chiang Mai and try as much food as we can. The regional Northern cuisine is a bit different than Bangkok and we usually don’t see much of it in the United States.
- Visit my dad’s side of the family.
The next stop is Siem Reap for 3 nights. We’ll have 2 full days to explore the Angkor Wat area, but probably won’t cram all the temples in. It depends on how Junior will feel. He will probably be bored after a few temples.
We’ll stay at Nita by Vo, a boutique hotel outside of town. This will cost us $305 for 3 nights. That’s pretty expensive for Cambodia so it’d better be the best hotel I’ve ever stayed in. Here is our plan.
- Day 1 – Angkor Wat private guided tour – $70. We’ll see the major sites on this day.
- Day 2 – Bantaey Srie (pink sandstone temple) and maybe the landmine museum. Alternatively, we could visit Beng Mealea (the ruin temple) instead. Not sure which one to choose right now. Anyone been to both? These are further away from the main Angkor Wat complex.
This is just a short trip, but I’m looking forward to it. Angkor Wat is a UNESCO world heritage site and it will be amazing to see these ancient structures.
After Cambodia, we’ll fly back to Bangkok and head to Rayong with my extended family. My aunt and uncle will meet us at the airport and we’ll book a van from there. We’ll probably drop by Chonburi to see families on the way to Rayong too. These two places are not on the tourist track so we’ll experience real Thailand life for a few days.
- Visit families, hang out at the beaches, and eat a lot of seafood.
- Visit Rayong aquarium.
- Maybe go to Koh Samed.
Not sure where we will stay on this leg of the trip. My relatives in Rayong own some businesses so maybe we could stay at their hotel for cheap. I’m not sure. We’ll figure it out.
Back to Bangkok
After Rayong, we’ll head back to Bangkok for the last stop of this trip. We’re going to stay at Anantara Riverside. This hotel is on the bank of the Choa Phraya River, the main river that runs through Bangkok and Thonburi. It’s a bit away from the major sites so it shouldn’t be too busy. We’ll spend these last two days relaxing, walking around, and eating good food.
We didn’t have enough points for tickets to Asia so we just charged them on the credit card this time. The flight to Thailand cost $2,200 and the flight to Siem Reap cost $650.
- $100 – 3 nights at Dusit Thani in Bangkok
- $300 – 3 nights at Nita by Vo in Siem Reap
- $260 – 2 nights at Anantara Riverside in Thonburi.
- $70 – Overnight train.
We booked nice hotels this trip because we’re only paying for 8 nights. We could go cheaper, but it’s nice to live luxuriously for a few days. $100/night really isn’t expensive compare to the US. Any mid tier hotel in the US cost $100/night these days.
- Snake Farm: ?$10?
- Elephant Center Lampang: ?$50?
- Angkor Wat driver, tour, and park passes: ?$150?
- Rayong Aquarium: ?$20?
- Food: $25/day ? $500?
- Misc: ?$200?
This is just an estimate. I’m not sure how much everything cost. I think $1,000 would be a good budget for food and activities for 3 weeks.
The trip should cost us less than $5,000. That’s not too bad for 3 people, right? We used Digit to save for this trip and it worked out very well. We’ve saved $6,377 without even noticing it. Check out my Digit review if you don’t know about them.
That’s it for today. Wish us luck on our long travel day. RB40Jr is very energetic and sitting around all day is going to be tough for him. We got 2 new travel games – IQ Fit and IQ Twist. They are a lot of fun and they should keep him busy for a while.
Let me know if you’d like me to check out anything in Thailand. Stay tuned for more over the next 3 weeks.
Part 1 – Exploring Bangkok 2016.
Part 2 – New Bangkok to Chiangmai Overnight Train.