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Anyone tried Asian Trails for excursions or airport transfer

Southern California
Level Contributor
530 posts
12 reviews
Anyone tried Asian Trails for excursions or airport transfer

I found a website run by a BKK company called ASIAN TRAILS

that seems to offer various day excursions, airport transfers & longer excurions (which do not interest us).

Has anyone tried them for the following:

Day speedboat snorkel trip to Similan Islands?

Day speedboat snorkel trip to Surin Islands?

Day boat trip/snorkel/lunch/Muslim village tour to James Bond area?

Airport transfer from HKT to Khao Lak area hotel?

We'd like to avoid traveling with a lot of BHT & would prefer to

charge in US$ and this company apparently offers this...

Any experience with their snorkel island trips?

Airport transfer (it is a van & does the driver wait if your

flight is late)?

How many people go on the James Bond tour?

Kanazawa, Japan
Level Contributor
3,920 posts
3 reviews
1. Re: Anyone tried Asian Trails for excursions or airport transfer

Asian Trails is reputable and does a lot of business in group bookings. They are affiliated with Kuoni. What they offer are standard excursions and transfers at standard prices. You could pay less booking when you were there. You could also pay less by booking on your own through a guide if you are talking about trips like the floating market, where they charge $66.00 per person for 2 people. We did a 1/2 day with Tong there, pick up at 6:30, snacks in the car, stop at a temple for seeing a local not touristy temple, Celadon factory to see process (not for buying as they don't really sell there so much) and use toilets, floating market with lots of food, wood carving show room for showroom, back to Bangkok around 3:00. Cost was 3000 baht total for 3 people including gasoline and a bit extra for her tip...under $100.00.

About your credit card strategy.

I use both US and Japanese credit cards and other countries. Our trip to Thailand in August I used US based American Express and Visa cards. In all cases, although the hotels quoted prices in dollars, the charges are all converted to Thai baht on the day of check out and the charge is put through in baht and converted to dollars by the credit card company. The Peninsula offered us to charge in Japanese yen on our Japanese card, but did not offer the option of charging dollars during the next stay when I paid with our US card.

I'm fairly certain that the charges must be charged in local currency. Just something for you to be aware of before you count on being able to avoid currency exchange fees just because the price is quoted in US dollars. Cambodia is an exception to this, as the US dollar is pretty much the currency of choice there. We were quoted hotel price in US dollars and charged in US dollars (on a Japanese card, so we could not choose our currency, it was just US dollars).

It seems like this is important to you, as you are partially basing your choice of company based on them quoting US dollars...which can also mean their prices are inflated...If you want a definitive answer as to what currency an establishment will charge on your card, you would be best to ask them in advance about that, because this year was the first time I've ever been asked about which currency I'd like to charge in. In the past, it has always been local currency, never US dollars.

Kanazawa, Japan
Level Contributor
3,920 posts
3 reviews
2. Re: Anyone tried Asian Trails for excursions or airport transfer

Also, there is no need to travel with a lot of baht. You can use ATM machines, cash travellers checks or exchange currency if you carry cash, or use your credit card. We tend to travel with cash, travelers checks and credit cards...for us, the fee for using our ATM card is too high, but that is different from account to account bank to bank.

Southern California
Level Contributor
530 posts
12 reviews
3. Re: Anyone tried Asian Trails for excursions or airport transfer

Hi Fish,

I was not asking about pre-booking for excursions, as we will do it there... as one never knows about the weather... I was thinking about prebooking a shuttle from HKT airport to KL hotel...

if you have another idea, I'm open to suggestion.

I don't know if we want a taxi... I need to sit in the front, to avoid

motion sickness & he won't fit in the back seat of taxi.

What I want to know is, if anyone has taken an excursion to the SIMILANS, SURIN or JAMES BOND via Asian Trails & how are their excursions?

Is it a large boat with 20--40 tourists, or are the speedboat snorkel trips to the Similans or Surin smaller groups?

Ditto James Bond? I don't want to be like a sardine in a boat. Also smaller boats are easier for me to get/out of.

I was also wondering about a SHUTTLE from HKT to KL hotel?

Our hotel wants 1500 BHT each way. Asia Trails seems to be less.

We will be extremely jetlagged, so I don't want to get into a negotiation with a taxi driver, nor crammed into a tiny cab for a 90 km shuttle hotel transfer.

Southern California
Level Contributor
530 posts
12 reviews
4. Re: Anyone tried Asian Trails for excursions or airport transfer

Dear Fish,

It seems you guys travel the same as us:

AMEX checks

credit cards

We can't get ATM advances as it's very expensive... 3% charge of what you take out... which is outrageous, as in Siem Reap we'd be getting US$!

RAFFLES charges in US $

they said they would cash AMEX checks for us, so I can

pay the guide (Tek) in cash...

Raffles quoted us guide rates, then did a bait & switch when we wanted to book & said it was PLUS TAX & said we couldn't do Koh Ker unless we overnighted or flew in a helicopter!

Tried to tell me it was not a 3 hour drive... when 3 other guides verified that it was, besides Tek, so I told them I'd book temple guide privately.

ASIA ROOMS charges in US $ (we booked/paid for the Peninsula

in BKK w/ them)... very impressed w/ their rates...

The KhaoLak Orchid Beach will charge us in BHT & with the exception of CAPITOL ONE, all US credit card companies charge a 3% conversion fee (that you never see) on whatever is charged... so if one is staying at a pricey hotel, it can really add up.

We could charge KLO via Asia Rooms, but KLO offered us a 15% discount on food (we intend to eat there every night for a week) if we booked through them. For the 100 BHT difference per day & their guarantee of a ground floor room for me, I decided to book direct.

Tong is booked but we're going to book w/ one of her other guides for 3 days in BKK. One day BKK, one day Ayutthaya, one day BKK.

That will require cash.

I am going to see if the Penisula will cash AMEX for us into US$... of if Tong requies BHT, then into BHT.

I'm not doing the Damnoen Saduak floating market because it's too far to drive. Is THAT the one that Tong took you to?

OR

was it Wat Don Wai Floating Market?

The Wat Don Wai has a RAMP onto the boat... no problem to access.

Or, is there another floating market you are referring to?

I thought you went to one in BKK, but perhaps I'm confused.

The elephant ride in Ayutthaya has a staircase w/ handrails to get o the elephant... a platform at the top, very easy & safe, big umbrellas for shade & padded chairs... that are very doable for me. Very touristy, but doable. LOL!

When you've stayed at highend hotels, did you find that they would change AMEX checks into US$ at no charge? They should.

Kanazawa, Japan
Level Contributor
3,920 posts
3 reviews
5. Re: Anyone tried Asian Trails for excursions or airport transfer

Asia Trails charges $33.70 per person per trip for transfer to Khao Lak from Phuket airport...so for 2 people, it's $67.40...about double what your hotel charges at 1500 baht per trip. Asian Trails price is a ripoff. 1500 baht per trip is pretty standard, and you won't get it for less. For ease and because the price is fair, I'd book the transfer through the hotel. With any prebooked transfer, you provide the flight info and the driver will wait fot the flight. If you change flights, it's your responsibility to let them know, whether it's the hotel or Asian Trails.

Their trip prices are based on the number of people booked. You are two people, so you pay the price for two people each. The sorts of trips you want to take can easily be booked once you are there. If you want to join other people, that's fine, you do a join in. If you want to do a private trip, book a private trip. Asian Trails has no prices listed for their excursions...it is likely they book you with the local operator and how many people on the trip varies from day to day.

You pay Tong in baht. The Peninsula will exchange your AMEX $ checks to baht at a lousy rate. Go to a changer/bank at the airport and exchange there or in a shopping center somewhere. Or ask Tong to take you to a money changer.

Tong brought us to the Damnoen Saduak floating market...it was our second time there. It is 1 /12 hours about drive from the Peninsula. This is the most popular floating market and the one that is being referred to when "floating market" is discussed. We were back by 3:00.

Every elephant ride place has a staircase up to a platform where you then step onto the elephant from the platform and sit in the chair.

In the US and Cambodia, you can get dollars for $ TCs. We stayed at the Victoria in Siem Reap, and did exchange a couple of TCs to dollars there....they charged a dollar per $100, as did every exchange place, some charged $2.00. In other countries, because dollars are not the local currency, there is no reason for them to keep large amounts of them on hand, and even if they could give them to you, what would you do with them? You would still need to exchange them to local currency, in your case, baht. Cambodia is the exception in that dollars are used there. In Thailand, you use baht. Most exchange places in Thailand charge about 30 baht per check to exchange, regardless of how much it is, so big denominations are better. The exchange rate for TCs is slightly better than for cash.

Southern California
Level Contributor
530 posts
12 reviews
6. Re: Anyone tried Asian Trails for excursions or airport transfer

Thanks a ton, Fish.

Tong is booked, so she's looking into a guy & has one whose father has a wheelchair, which she sweetly offered to get for us.

I got the Peninsula's on reserve, but it's the old fashioned heavy kind.

Did you mean that the floating market was 1.5 hours away? As it reads 1/12... if we do a floating market, I think i want to the other one, that is a bit closer, for the 3rd day...for a half day tour...

I'm amazed that her rates are for 10 hours, I told her there is no way we'd ever go more than 8 hours.

As far as money changing, thanks for the Peninsula tip... i'll exchange at airport.

Raffles said no charge, but it's a 5 star hotel, so they ought to give us something at these rates!

I am sad that Tong is already booked, but I am sure one of her replacements will be good.

Kanazawa, Japan
Level Contributor
3,920 posts
3 reviews
7. Re: Anyone tried Asian Trails for excursions or airport transfer

Floating market is 1 1/2 hours, one and a half hours, about from the Peninsula by car with a stop at a temple and a celadon shop for toilet break and a look (but no buying).

Kanazawa, Japan
Level Contributor
3,920 posts
3 reviews
8. Re: Anyone tried Asian Trails for excursions or airport transfer

And Tong will do right by you, getting you someone good. She can be trusted for sure.

Southern California
Level Contributor
530 posts
12 reviews
9. Re: Anyone tried Asian Trails for excursions or airport transfer

Tong wanted to know if I could sit in a paddle boat. Does anyone have a link to a photo of one?

Also, has anyone done the OTHER floating market tour? The town is closer but about a hours' drive. It's called

Wat Don Wai Floating Market

I saw photos and the pier is ramped to a much larger boat on which you can have lunch.

how is the Wat Don Wai Floating Market ?

Kanazawa, Japan
Level Contributor
3,920 posts
3 reviews
10. Re: Anyone tried Asian Trails for excursions or airport transfer

Pictures of the boats. You down into them and up out of them.

www.nyhoff.net/wallpapers/bangkok_11.jpg

It's vendor boats, but the boats you ride in are the same. There is a low board for leaning back on a bit, but mostly you sit upright with legs crossed under you...if you sit in the front you can stretch your legs out straight.

Here's a link to the google search results for bangkok floating market image search. Plenty of pictures there.

http://images.google.com/images?svnum=10&um=1&hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&q=bangkok+floating+market&btnG=Search+Images