Big Work Trip - Looking for Ideas

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fizxman
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Big Work Trip - Looking for Ideas

Post by fizxman » Mon Mar 12, 2018 7:41 am

I've been approved for the biggest work trip of my life. I'll be leaving Saturday, October 27th for meetings on Tuesday, October 30th through Thursday, November 1st in Sydney, Austrailia. Then from Friday, November 2nd until Sunday, November 11th, I'll be free to do whatever I want, wherever I want. I'll need to be in Bangkok, Thailand for meetings on Monday, November 12th through Thursday, November 15th. I'll then be heading home on Friday, November 16th.

So, I have three questions:
1. What to see/do in Sydney?
2. What to see/do in Bangkok?
3. What to see/do the week between?

A few other details:
A. My wife is coming with me so while I'm in meetings, she'll be off doing things on her own. So #1 & #2 will be mostly for her since I'll be busy. I will be free in the evenings so I'll get to go out somewhat, just not too far from the hotels. I don't know where I'll be staying at in Sydney yet but the hotel in Bangkok is the Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park if that helps.
B. Between the two meetings, our plan is to spend 3-4 nights in one place and then 3-4 nights in a second place. We thought maybe one place would be where we could do some sightseeing or excursions and the other place where we would just relax at a beach or resort. We enjoy sightseeing but we're not hikers, backpackers, or campers. We'll do some light hiking, a few hours perhaps, to see something neat, but we're not hiking into the Austrailian Outback or up a mountain.
C. I have about 175,000 Hilton Honors Points, which depending on where we stay, could get us 2-4 nights free or I could use points+cash to offset the cost of an expensive hotel. So if anyone has stayed at a nice Hilton in the South Pacific or Southeast Asia, let me know.
D. My in-laws said we could use their RCI (timeshare) points if we want. The RCI website is showing some places in Brisbane/Gold Coast area as well as several places in Southeast Asia as shown on the map below. So if anyone has stayed in any of those locations, let me know.

My wife brought home a dozen books from the library for us to look through to help decide but firsthand experience helps. Thanks.

Image

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midareff
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Re: Big Work Trip - Looking for Ideas

Post by midareff » Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:16 am

I've spent time in Bangkok on several occasions and there is so much to do and see I could not even begin to simply list stuff beyond the Palace, amazing Wats, floating markets, flower gardens and such but there are amazing things outside Bangkok as well. Sanctuary of Truth is past amazing as is Siam. I have a website with trip pictures and everything is annotated with what and where. Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore (Sentosa Island a must see) and more are there. See what strikes your fancy. www.martindareff.com If you need more U can PM.

stan1
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Re: Big Work Trip - Looking for Ideas

Post by stan1 » Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:39 am

Not sure if you have traveled to Australia before or what your starting location is, but for my preferences and per my employer's travel policy you are leaving the US one day too late.

Instead of leaving on Saturday I would:
Depart Friday (e.g. flight from LAX-SYD departing 11 PM)
Arrive Sunday at 7AM. My experience has been that early hotel check-in is usually NOT available even with a high level of status in a frequent stay program (e.g. Marriott Platinum) without paying for the previous night.
Full rest day Monday.
Meetings on Tuesday.

Trust me you'll want the extra day to adjust if your employer will let you have it. Most do in my experience.

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KlingKlang
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Re: Big Work Trip - Looking for Ideas

Post by KlingKlang » Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:44 am

I think that Singapore is the perfect introduction to Asia for English speakers plus the greatest foodie destination on the planet. You can see the entire island with a moderate amount of walking using the light rail system (MRT). Worthwhile destinations are the Botanical Gardens, Cultural Gardens, old Chinatown, and the day and Night Zoos. Beware that the rest of the island is a giant shopping mall if your wife has no spending inhibitions. Also even though they have some sand piles on Sentosa that they call beaches Singapore is not a beach destination.
Last edited by KlingKlang on Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.

wahnfried
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Re: Big Work Trip - Looking for Ideas

Post by wahnfried » Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:45 am

How lucky you are!
I travelled several times in see Asia, both as a student and more recently.
The most important aspect is not to cram too much in a schedule as you will spend too much time in bus stations and airports without experiencing the fantastic landscapes, culture and cuisine .
If this is your first time in Asia I would recommend Malaysia, an absolutely fascinating mix of different cultures, Indian, Malay and Chinese .
The country is very organized, clean and modern , traveling will be easy as the distances aren’t that great assuming you’ll stay in the western part , the peninsula , Sarawak and Sabah will be more remote .
The food is to die for, a visit to the local night market will be an absolute blast.
Penang is the most historic city, Kuala Lumpur a modern metropolis, Cameron highlands with,its hillstations and tea plantations is a wonderful rest from the heat and the hustle of the tropical lowlands.
I spent a fantastic week on tioman island in the southeast , this was 30 years ago and I’m sure it is much more developed now , but it was /is stunningly beautiful...
Enjoy and Selamat jalan !
Wahnfried

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Watty
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Re: Big Work Trip - Looking for Ideas

Post by Watty » Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:46 am

fizxman wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 7:41 am
I'll be leaving Saturday, October 27th for meetings on Tuesday, October 30th through Thursday, November 1st in Sydney, Austrailia. T
Check the arrival date on that flight.

I would think that with the flight time and date change that you would arrive on the 29th and then have a big meeting the next day. That would leave you a pretty good chance of still being jet lagged in the meeting especially if you are flying from the east coast.

It would be good to consider going a few days earlier even if your employer will not pay for the extra nights in a hotel. Before I retired I didn't travel for work much but occasionally when I did I would tack on a few extra vacation days before the tip to play tourist. That worked out well for the employer since I could show up at the work site at 8:00 AM rested and ready to work.

AlohaJoe
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Re: Big Work Trip - Looking for Ideas

Post by AlohaJoe » Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:43 am

I am Australian and for many years worked for a company with offices on the west coast of America. I know probably hundreds of people who have done work flights between the two. Many of them did it 4 times a year. The higher ups would do it even more often.

I am amused at all the talk about taking several days off to recover. I've never seen that as an option. But I guess maybe there are some places where it happens. But I find it hard to believe that the OP wouldn't know what travel policies at his company are like.

And it definitely isn't what he asked about, so I'm not sure why people are answering a question he didn't ask instead of the one did.

I currently live in SE Asia and have been to every city likely to be mentioned in this thread multiple times. That doesn't mean my opinions are right, since tastes differ. So what follows is just based on my tastes.
fizxman wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 7:41 am
I've been approved for the biggest work trip of my life. I'll be leaving Saturday, October 27th for meetings on Tuesday, October 30th through Thursday, November 1st in Sydney, Austrailia. Then from Friday, November 2nd until Sunday, November 11th, I'll be free to do whatever I want, wherever I want. I'll need to be in Bangkok, Thailand for meetings on Monday, November 12th through Thursday, November 15th. I'll then be heading home on Friday, November 16th.
With 9 free days, just keep in mind that Australia is as big as the US. I wouldn't recommend the Gold Coast. It's not bad but it is an internal Australian tourist destination; people don't really fly around the world to go there. It would be somewhat like going to Daytona Beach. Plus, the beaches in Sydney are better anyway. Just go to them.

Remember that everything is far from Australia. It takes 5 hours of flying north before you reach the next country. On the plus side, it is towards Bangkok, so it isn't completely wasted.

Don't go to the Philippines. Manila is horrible and it has the worst internal air travel I've ever been on, so domestic connections are painful. Plus it would make travel back to Bangkok very long.

If you want a beach escape then look at Thailand's many options, Phu Quoc in Vietnam, or Sihanoukville in Cambodia.

If you don't want a beach weekend then of all the dots on your map, I'd go with Singapore. It isn't remotely as fun and interesting as Hong Kong but if you haven't been outside the US before it still has a fair number of highlights.

(What is the location you've highlighted in Vietnam? Is that supposed to be Hoi An?)

Random Poster
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Re: Big Work Trip - Looking for Ideas

Post by Random Poster » Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:00 am

I'd advise keeping things simple and not try to hit every sight or country in SE Asia on a different day.

To that end:

Spend 2 (or maybe 3) days in Sydney after the meetings. Go to the Blue Mountains (take the train), spend a day (or a half) at Manly, and another day (at most) just touring around Sydney. It is a lovely town, but it is pricey and can get a little boring once you've done the main sights.

Fly to Singapore (say, on Monday) and spend 3 or 4 days there. Singapore is a bit sterile, but I personally love it. There is a great deal to do there besides eat and see the things that KlingKlang mentioned, but that's fine and just sitting by the pool isn't a bad thing to do either. There is a Hilton and a Conrad in Singapore, but I wouldn't expect your points to go too far with either. There is also a new Hilton Garden Inn that I think is near Little India, but I don't know much about it. Check out the reviews, if interested, for these hotels on Flyertalk's Hilton forum.

Then on Friday (morning?) fly to Bangkok and spend the afternoon and weekend touring around town. Two days of sightseeing will probably be enough (after you've seen a few Buddhas and temples, you've basically seen them all), and you'll be reasonably rested for the meetings on Monday. If you are so inclined, hit up the Chutuchak weekend market for the shopping and maybe a bar at night just for the experience. Or not.

Or you could skip Singapore and fly to Cairns and see the Great Barrier Reef (although I don't know when stinger season is, so that might be an issue with a November visit) and lounge on the beach at Port Douglas for a day or two or maybe visit the Daintree forest. Easy for a tourist to do, and flights from Sydney to Cairns and from Cairns to Bangkok are reasonably frequent as I recall.

But I wouldn't try to do too much and cut my arrival in Bangkok too close.

mrb09
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Re: Big Work Trip - Looking for Ideas

Post by mrb09 » Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:16 am

Another vote for slowing things down.

About 10 years ago I combined a vacation and business trip to Bangalore. I cashed in my Singapore Air miles and my wife and I flew to Singapore, we spent three days there and then flew to Melbourne (we had friends there). My wife and I spent a week there, I flew back to Singapore and then to Bangalore, then we both flew back to Singapore for the ride home.

Very much agree Singapore is worth a visit, and it is in-between Sydney and Bangkok, so a convenient stop. I'd been a few times on business, but my wife hadn't. We completely filled our days and had a great time. Night Zoo and Jurong Bird Park are both worth a visit. Extremely easy to get around there.

We were quite happy just tooling around outside Melbourne with a rented car, would have been nice to see more of Australia but we enjoyed the less frantic pace.

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fizxman
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Re: Big Work Trip - Looking for Ideas

Post by fizxman » Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:34 pm

Thanks for the ideas thus far.

Regarding when to leave for Sydney, we were planning on leaving the east coast US Saturday afternoon and catch the 10:45 pm flight from LAX to SYD (AA73) which arrives Monday at 7:45 am. Then we'd drop our bags off at the hotel and force ourselves to acclimate to the time change by doing something that day. We're going upgrade to business so hopefully, the lie-flat seats will help with the time change. Leaving Saturday would be easier because we have to drop the dog off at the in-laws 1.5 hours away otherwise, my wife would need to take another day off. We have another trip this spring and she's already over on her allotted vacation time. I don't know if one day would make a difference or not though.
KlingKlang wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:44 am
I think that Singapore is the perfect introduction to Asia for English speakers plus the greatest foodie destination on the planet. You can see the entire island with a moderate amount of walking using the light rail system (MRT). Worthwhile destinations are the Botanical Gardens, Cultural Gardens, old Chinatown, and the day and Night Zoos. Beware that the rest of the island is a giant shopping mall if your wife has no spending inhibitions.
How many days would you recommend staying in Singapore? Is 3-4 days enough, not enough, too long?
AlohaJoe wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:43 am
With 9 free days, just keep in mind that Australia is as big as the US. I wouldn't recommend the Gold Coast. It's not bad but it is an internal Australian tourist destination; people don't really fly around the world to go there. It would be somewhat like going to Daytona Beach. Plus, the beaches in Sydney are better anyway. Just go to them.

Remember that everything is far from Australia. It takes 5 hours of flying north before you reach the next country. On the plus side, it is towards Bangkok, so it isn't completely wasted.

Don't go to the Philippines. Manila is horrible and it has the worst internal air travel I've ever been on, so domestic connections are painful. Plus it would make travel back to Bangkok very long.

If you want a beach escape then look at Thailand's many options, Phu Quoc in Vietnam, or Sihanoukville in Cambodia.

If you don't want a beach weekend then of all the dots on your map, I'd go with Singapore. It isn't remotely as fun and interesting as Hong Kong but if you haven't been outside the US before it still has a fair number of highlights.

(What is the location you've highlighted in Vietnam? Is that supposed to be Hoi An?)
Check on the Gold Coast and Philippines. The place in Vietnam is Dalat, here specifically. It got good reviews on Google.
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Terra ... 108.438111
Random Poster wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:00 am
I'd advise keeping things simple and not try to hit every sight or country in SE Asia on a different day.
Definitely not going to try to see everything on this trip. Even though we may never get back there, that's just the way it's going to be.
Random Poster wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:00 am
To that end:

Spend 2 (or maybe 3) days in Sydney after the meetings. Go to the Blue Mountains (take the train), spend a day (or a half) at Manly, and another day (at most) just touring around Sydney. It is a lovely town, but it is pricey and can get a little boring once you've done the main sights.
Staying in Sydney an extra day or two is something we've thought of, just needed to know what to do with the extra time.
Random Poster wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:00 am
Fly to Singapore (say, on Monday) and spend 3 or 4 days there. Singapore is a bit sterile, but I personally love it. There is a great deal to do there besides eat and see the things that KlingKlang mentioned, but that's fine and just sitting by the pool isn't a bad thing to do either. There is a Hilton and a Conrad in Singapore, but I wouldn't expect your points to go too far with either. There is also a new Hilton Garden Inn that I think is near Little India, but I don't know much about it. Check out the reviews, if interested, for these hotels on Flyertalk's Hilton forum.

Then on Friday (morning?) fly to Bangkok and spend the afternoon and weekend touring around town. Two days of sightseeing will probably be enough (after you've seen a few Buddhas and temples, you've basically seen them all), and you'll be reasonably rested for the meetings on Monday. If you are so inclined, hit up the Chutuchak weekend market for the shopping and maybe a bar at night just for the experience. Or not.

Or you could skip Singapore and fly to Cairns and see the Great Barrier Reef (although I don't know when stinger season is, so that might be an issue with a November visit) and lounge on the beach at Port Douglas for a day or two or maybe visit the Daintree forest. Easy for a tourist to do, and flights from Sydney to Cairns and from Cairns to Bangkok are reasonably frequent as I recall.

But I wouldn't try to do too much and cut my arrival in Bangkok too close.
Singapore and the Great Barrier Reef were both on the list. I mentioned the reef to my mom and she's afraid I'll be eaten by a shark. Someone else mentioned Port Douglas and that it's a little more laid back than Cairns.
mrb09 wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:16 am
Another vote for slowing things down.

About 10 years ago I combined a vacation and business trip to Bangalore. I cashed in my Singapore Air miles and my wife and I flew to Singapore, we spent three days there and then flew to Melbourne (we had friends there). My wife and I spent a week there, I flew back to Singapore and then to Bangalore, then we both flew back to Singapore for the ride home.

Very much agree Singapore is worth a visit, and it is in-between Sydney and Bangkok, so a convenient stop. I'd been a few times on business, but my wife hadn't. We completely filled our days and had a great time. Night Zoo and Jurong Bird Park are both worth a visit. Extremely easy to get around there.

We were quite happy just tooling around outside Melbourne with a rented car, would have been nice to see more of Australia but we enjoyed the less frantic pace.
We'll have to look more into Singapore since several people mentioned it. While it was on the list, I was kind of writing it off because I figured it would be very, very expensive. I guess it might not be worse than Sydney. Either way, since the bulk of my expenses are paid for, we're only on the hook for my wife's flights and food so we can afford to spend more than we're used to.

birdy
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Re: Big Work Trip - Looking for Ideas

Post by birdy » Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:42 pm

We just got back from Bangkok (3 weeks). The traffic is TERRIBLE. We used the Skytrain and Chao Phraya river boat taxi to get to tourist sights (tuck tucks-eating car fumes in traffic jams) (taxi-can walk faster than taxi can travel on most roads) (motorcycle taxi---waaay too scary as they drive between lanes, on sidewalks etc.). A few of the things I enjoyed while there: Tuck tuck midnight street food tour (included flower market & Wat Pho) and Ayutthaya Temples & River cruise( Bang Pa summer palace was highlight for me)---both were booked through Viator tours. On my own: Asiatique Night market with Calypso cabaret ladyboy show. Chatuchak Weekend Market (go EARLY as gets very hot and crowded). The National Museum of Bangkok. Thai massage ($7.00 for 1 hour!). Royal Palace (just down street from Nat. Museum). I did a lot of just walking around and people watching!
Did I mention how hot/humid it was!!!!!! If you are worried about eating street food on your own, all the shopping malls have very nice and lots of variety of good foods in their food courts. We ate at two Italian and 1 crepe restaurants outside of the malls. I loved the Thai food (spouse did not).

In Sydney, we enjoyed the hop off/on tourist bus, Bondi beach, Ferry to Manly, Taronga Zoo, Aquarium, opera house and shopping for Opals! We were only there for three days so we just stayed in Sydney.

What ever you do, enjoy the experience of the different countries and the warm-friendly people!

birdy

BlackcatCA
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Re: Big Work Trip - Looking for Ideas

Post by BlackcatCA » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:04 pm

Singapore is a great idea: 3 days should be enough. We were planning to do a 3-day visit last year but didn't go, but I did lots of research. Hotels should be reasonable in Nov, unlike Dec which was very expensive around NYE. Don't stay in a chain hotel, find a boutique hotel by the water or in an interesting neighborhood, NOT Orchard road which is too commercial.

Here is a ready-made iternary that looks pretty good: http://www.unitedmags.com/three-perfect-days-singapore

Lots of cheap eats: check out Parts Unknown Singapore (the Tony Bourdain show).

Sydney: Taronga zoo and aquarium were great. If you have time definitely go to Blue Mountain.

AlohaJoe
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Re: Big Work Trip - Looking for Ideas

Post by AlohaJoe » Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:21 pm

fizxman wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:34 pm
AlohaJoe wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:43 am
(What is the location you've highlighted in Vietnam? Is that supposed to be Hoi An?)
The place in Vietnam is Dalat, here specifically. It got good reviews on Google.
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Terra ... 108.438111
Ah. You shouldn't go to Dalat (for this trip). I live in Vietnam and have been there many times. It is nice and all but, again, not something people fly around the world for. Dalat's primary attraction is that it isn't like the rest of Vietnam. So for people who either live in Vietnam or have been vacationing in Vietnam for several weeks, it is a nice change. Dalat is built up in the mountains, so the climate is more temperate than most of Vietnam and it is surrounded by pine forests. Combined with the lower population and the number of villas it feels vaguely European in contrast to the rest of Vietnam. I like Dalat but if you've never been to Vietnam before it wouldn't even be in my Top 5 of places to go...and maybe not even Top 10.

AlohaJoe
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Re: Big Work Trip - Looking for Ideas

Post by AlohaJoe » Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:27 pm

BTW, if your wife is going to be solo for a few days, I'd encourage to visit some of the suburbs (which most tourists never make it to) while you're in meetings. That way you can do the big attractions in the CBD together. Places like Surry Hills, Paddington, and Newtown are all easy to reach -- in some cases within 40 minute walk of the CBD if you like walking.

curmudgeon
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Re: Big Work Trip - Looking for Ideas

Post by curmudgeon » Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:12 pm

I really enjoyed spending a few days at Port Douglas and visiting the GBR after a business trip I did to Australia a few years ago. It definitely seemed nicer than Cairns for a reef/beach focus. The reef is quite a ways out, so I think you end up spending 1-2 hours on the boat each way. There are some really big boats which go out to permanent platforms which can be a good option for those who are less comfortable with open ocean, but it can be a bit of a mob scene when you get into the water. Smaller boats will have more flexibility in choosing where to go based on conditions that day, but will have less space and facilities (overall much more enjoyable in my book, but some folks would prefer the big boats).

MoonOrb
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Re: Big Work Trip - Looking for Ideas

Post by MoonOrb » Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:16 pm

If I had ten days free in that part of the world, I'd spend them in New Zealand's South Island.

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