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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

about Kasma Loha-unchit's Thailand Trips

FAQ's: General questions  |  Travel Concerns  |  Accommodations |  Meals |  Medical Concerns |  Miscellaneous

Also available: One page printable version.

Kasma does not offer a "tour" in the conventional sense of the word. Her trips are more like a group of people traveling through Thailand with a good friend (Kasma) showing you around her native country. These journeys are designed for adventurous, flexible and easy-going people with a sense of ecological and social responsibility who are willing to leave their preconceptions and expectations at home in order to experience a different living culture on its own terms.

These trips are not for everyone! you must like spicy Thai food, rice and seafood, be open to new experiences, get along with people, be willing to get going early on some mornings, be open to new experiences, and be open to "roughing it" on occasion.

General Questions

Thai FigureIs it safe to travel to Thailand with the ongoing political turmoil?

Yes, absolutely. Since the military has taken over there is no more violence and the country enjoys increased stability. It is our opinion that the best time to travel to Thailand is when it is in the news. This means much less likelihood of encountering noisy, inconsiderate mass market tourists and we are more likely to have many of the places we visit completely to ourselves. We also will receive warmer welcomes (and better service) from the locals who appreciate our support for their local economies.

How long has Kasma been taking people to Thailand?

Kasma has led two to three trips to Thailand every year since 1986. (Kasma's Biography.)

What sort of a business is Thailand Travel Adventures.

Thailand Travel Adventures is very much a "home-grown" business, evolving out of Kasma's cooking classes. Since Thai cuisine is very much entwined with the culture, Kasma would tell numerous stories in her classes about her homeland and childhood experiences in this exotic tropical country. Many of her students who so enjoyed her classes, the authenticity of her cooking and delightful tales of her beloved native land, urged her to organize personal journeys for them to her homeland, personally escorted by her.

From the start, her groups comprised of cooking students, avid photographers (one of Kasma's hobbies is photography and many who have seen her photographs of Thailand are so touched by them that they want to travel with her) and their families, neighbors and friends. Now she takes two to three small groups of people (maximum of thirteen or fourteen per group) each year. She has no desire to grow beyond these few trips each year for she is doing what she loves – showing people the best parts of her Thailand, her culture and her people with their harmonious Buddhist way of life, and the exquisite cuisine . . . things they might not otherwise see or experience. Each journey must remain fresh for her in order for those who travel with her to receive the greatest benefit and meaning from their personal journey to "the Land of Smiles." As such, Kasma is not really in the travel business but offers opportunities for adventurous people who love exotic cultures and spicy Asian cuisines to travel with her and experience intimately, from an insider's perspective, a very different part of the world.

Because of the personal nature of Kasma's trips, you will be asked in the application to participate to agree to the following:

Because of the personal nature of the trip, I will be kind and considerate of other trip members, the trip leader and assistants. For my benefit and the benefit of other trip members, I understand that any trip member who disrupts group harmony may be asked to leave without refund at the discretion of the trip leader.

How far off the beaten track will we get?

In some instances, fairly far off indeed! In the North we travel to a Hmong village where we may be invited into a home and offered the local firewater as a welcome drink. On the southern trip we will travel far away from large cities and eat lunch in very local, Moslem restaurants. If you are squeamish or nervous about being temporarily away from the modern amenities that we take for granted in America, this trip may not be for you.

Which is the best trip for me?

Kasma's most popular trip is her 17-day "Trip B," which journeys through the historical heartland of central Thailand and then makes its way up to Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son and surrounding areas. This trip usually leaves towards the end of November and goes into December. She may also occasionally offer it at the start of January. (17-day Trip B itinerary).

Kasma also offers 17- to 25-day trips of southern Thailand. This trip spends roughly half of its time along the coast and on off-shore islands and the other half exploring the rich culture of southern Thailand. It is quite off-the-beaten path and is a more physical trip than the others. This trip leaves mid- to late- January (southern Trip So itinerary). To go on this trip you must love the sea, know how to swim fairly well and know how to snorkel. We spend much of the trip at marine national parks where the beauty is found largely under the water rather than above; we choose them largely because of their wonderful reefs for snorkeling. There are 8 days where there is some snorkeling and on many of those days we leave in the morning, snorkel all day and return in the evening: if you do not know how to snorkel, you may not enjoy these days. Because the parks are for their natural beauty, the accommodations may be rustic (we may even need to tent-camp on one island); there is no hot water, no air conditioning and electricity is available only during set hours in the evening night, and/or morning. For someone who loves nature and snorkeling, it is paradise.

Kasma has also offered, and may offer again, a 19-day trip to northeastern Thailand (Isahn), designed for people who wish to explore this interesting but less-traveled region. Here's the 2014 Trip NE itinerary.

Kasma also offers her Northern Frontiers trip, which visits the Eastern recaches of Northern Thailand, focusing on the provinces of Nan, Bua, Phrae and Chiang Rai. Here's the Northern Frontiers itinerary.

View our Trip Schedule to see the currently scheduled trips.

Please Contact Kasma if you might be interested in any of these trips.

Why do you take people only to Thailand?

Kasma is not a travel organization and does not offer conventional tours. She is a native of Thailand and it is the culture that she knows and loves best. She believes that the best way to see a country is with a native speaker and she does not speak other Asian languages fluently. Kasma is an especially good person to go to Thailand with because she is truly bilingual in Thai and English.

What does the cost include?

Accommodations: Hotels, or similar lodging, hut or bungalow, with private facilities, based on two persons sharing a twin-bedded room. An exception will be national park housing, where several trip members may need to share dorm-style bungalows (applies only to southern Thailand trip); tent camping services are available at some parks upon request and at a minimal extra charge.

Meals: All meals (except one or two on the free day) are included – breakfast, lunch and dinner (except meals trip member chooses to have away from the group) – plus countless snacks.

Transportation: Land transportation by motorcoach, car, van, minibus, train, boat or other local conveyance (including air travel while traveling with the group) while in Thailand are included.

Services: Services of bilingual guides and entrance fees to places visited are included.

What is not included in the price?

Round-trip airfare to Thailand, excess baggage fees, forwarding of baggage, baggage loss, charges for inoculations, medical expenses, travel insurance, items of a personal nature such as laundry, beverages, optional trips, meals away from the group, special arrangements, airport taxes, charges, tips for room services and tips for the drivers. You will also probably need to pay for taxi service to and from the airport in Bangkok.

What about getting to and from Thailand?

The air travel portion of the trip is no longer included as part of the total trip price because in recent years airplane pricing has become too volatile. You will be responsible for booking your own flights to and from Thailand. We are happy to put you in touch with our travel agent and he can book you on flights that we recommend. We are happy to help you with your travel arrangements.

Note that in addition to the number of days given for each trip, you will need to factor in 3 additional travel days when traveling from the west coast. Because of the international date line, you will lose a day coming to Thailand so will need 2 extra days there. At the end of the trip, you'll need to add on another day to get home.

Why is the price "subject to change"?

As the contracts note, "All rates are subject to change as necessitated by unanticipated increases in room rates and fluctuations in currency." Kasma is a very small operator who strives to keep her trips reasonably priced. Whenever possible she keeps the trip price the same from year to year. Because the trips are scheduled over a year in advance, it is sometimes not until she gets to Thailand for her trips that she's able to assess exactly how much she needs to charge for the next year's trips. Her profit margin is not particularly high and sometimes she may need to increase the initial trip cost in order to continue offering her trips.

What sort of person chooses to travel with Kasma?

People who are adventurous and flexible. Her trip members tend to be active, down-to-earth people interested in learning about other cultures. Call them "travelers" rather than "tourists." They are interested in getting off the beaten track to connect with the real Thailand. They love spicy Thai food and are nature lovers, willing to put up with some inconveniences and rustic accommodations in order to explore unspoiled parklands and beautiful natural areas.

Two more terms for trip members would be "independent" and "self-sufficient." An example would be if you had a dirty towel in a hotel: rather than complaining to Kasma you would take care of the problem yourself by phoning or going to the front desk. It helps to have a spirit of adventure and willingness to get to know people – these can often overcome any language barrier.

Trip members are physically fit: the trips do involve a fair amount of physical activity – from market walks, to steep climbs up a hill to your accommodations, to occasionally carrying your luggage, to climbing into long-tail boats down south. If you have mobility issues, you'll need to check with Kasma.

People who are interested in learning about other cultures: many of the trips have a strong cultural component: you'll be visiting lots of Buddhist Temples up north so an interest in Buddhism is useful. You'll also be visiting some museums on each of the trips. There will be many opportunities to explore local markets and neighborhoods, often on your own.

These trips definitely are not for everyone. We do not stay in first-class or international tourist-class hotels and resorts; we mingle with the local population; we eat authentic Thai food both in restaurants and from street stalls; and we are sometimes very active. You often must carry your own luggage. When we travel down south you will need to climb in and out of boats, sometimes stepping knee-deep into sea water in order to climb on board. Thai culture is very different from American culture and Thai "common sense" might be different from what you are used to. When visiting markets or historical sites, after an initial talk giving background, history, and other pertinent information, trip members are set loose to explore on their own.

We cannot accept anyone who has special dietary needs – including food allergies, strong food preferences or not eating a specific food be it animal (pork, beef, chicken, fish, shellfish), vegetable (such as onions or peanuts) or grain (such as wheat).

Kasma's trips are not conventional guided tours where a tour leader guides the entire group everywhere and explains everything. It takes an active, flexible, independent, open-minded, and easy-going person interested in learning about other cultures to enjoy these trips.

Will there be culture shock?

Do be prepared for traveling in a place where much of what you think of as normal may not be recognized as such. In many ways, each day, you'll see different ways of doing things. As one example, traditionally soup is not served in bowls in Thailand: the serving dish of soup is brought to the table as part of a family-style meal and the soup is served over the rice, or a portion of the broth might be served directly into a spoon. One trip member thought this was "weird" but from the Thai point of view, giving each diner their own soup dish might be considered equally weird. As another example, most restrooms don't provide towels to dry your hand: air drying works perfectly well. These are just a couple example of dozens of times when, instead of judging Thai culture because it is different, you'll get a chance to exercise being open-minded and interested in how what is normal in one place is anything but in another. This, after all, is one of the joys of traveling.

What is the interview about?

Because of the nature of these trips, it is essential that all group members be able to get along harmoniously. Kasma or her husband talk to everyone to make sure that they understand and are in agreement with the nature as well as the specific conditions of the trip.

How physically fit must I be?

You must be fit enough to be on your feet for a couple hours at a time and able to walk 1 to 2 miles in one go. You need to be strong enough to carry your own luggage on those occasions when we do not have porters; this may involve carrying luggage upstairs or across a wide stretch of beach. You must be fit enough to walk up a moderately steep hill of about 1/3 mile or so. One of the places where we stay in Northern Thailand has cabins perched on a steep hillside and requires walking up stone steps to reach them, sometimes in the dark. In some hotels you may need to climb several flights of stairs. You need to be able to climb in and out of boats, particularly in southern Thailand where several days are spent on islands or going to and from islands. You definitely need to have a good sense of balance as even in the cities, the ground can be quite uneven. If you have mobility issues, you'll need to consult with Kasma.

The southern trip requires being in even better physical shape. One of the places we stay requires walking up a flight of very steep stairs, at least once by flashlight in the dark, and another time, carrying your own luggage. A couple places we stay will require good balance as you climb up to your cabin across uneven ground in the dark.

What if I've never been on a tour before?

Kasma's trips are not conventional tours in any sense of the word: they are more like small groups of people traveling together, accompanied by a friend who takes them to her favorite places in her homeland. These trips seem to attract people who don't normally go on tours.

In many ways these trips are a better way to see Thailand than traveling on your own, unless you have lots of time to gradually learn the ins and outs of Thai culture by hit and miss. Because of the economy-of-scale for a group to rent vans and boats, we are able to go to places that would be difficult for you to get to on your own, even if you know where they are. You certainly would have difficulty dining as well on the almost infinite variety of Thai foods (most of the best are unknown even in Thai restaurants outside Thailand) if you traveled on your own. More importantly, unless you can speak the Thai language well enough, you may end up in "tourist ghettos" where authenticity of cultural experiences and of the cuisine may be greatly compromised.

What is the average age of the trip members?

Each year it varies somewhat. There have been trip members as young as 18 and as old as 80 (but in better shape than the youngsters!). Each year there seems to be at least a few recent-retirees in their mid-50s to early-60s. People of all ages enjoy their travels with Kasma. (See testimonials.)

What about children.

Kasma does not accept children as trip members. The trips are very active and geared for adults. They are not recommended for people under the age of 18.

I see a lot of tour packages that go to Phuket and Samui. Why don't you go there?

It is only a slight exaggeration to say that these two islands consist of wall-to-wall resorts along the beaches. It is not really living Thai culture that you encounter there: it is western tourist culture. If that is what you are looking for, Kasma's trips are not for you.

What if I have to cancel a trip at the last-minute because of illness or family emergency?

After you have paid the balance of the trip, 75 days before departure, no monies are refundable. It is recommended that you purchase travel insurance to cover this contingency. There are several companies that underwrite such policies. Individual coverages for accidental injury, sickness and medical expenses; loss of baggage and personal possessions; trip cancellation/trip interruption and emergency medical evacuation and assistance may be purchased separately according to your needs. Ask your travel agent for further information on travel insurance. Or go to Google and search on "travel insurance."

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Travel Concerns

FAQ's: General questions  |  Travel Concerns  |  Accommodations |  Meals |  Medical Concerns |  Miscellaneous  ||  1-page FAQs (for printing)

Thai FigureWhat about getting to and from Thailand?

You'll need to make your own arrangements for getting to and from Thailand. We can suggest flights on a specific airline and put you in touch with a good travel agent or you can make arrangements by yourself. Make sure you get the correct travel dates from us.

How do I get to the hotel from the airport.

If you have booked on our suggested flights we may be able to pick you up and drop you off from the airport; otherwise you are responsible for getting to the hotel on your own.

Can I make any travel arrangements through Kasma's travel agent?

Yes.

Will I need a visa?

If you are an American citizen, you do not need a visa to enter into Thailand. Upon arrival in Bangkok, immigration officials will automatically grant you a stay of 30 days in the kingdom. Unless you are planning to extend your visit beyond the length of the trip, you will not need to apply for a visa. If you are not an American citizen and want to check if you qualify for an automatic 30-day visa or if you are staying longer and need to apply for a visa, you can do so online at The Thai Embassy in Washington, DC or at the Thai Consulate in Los Angeles, CA.

I want to travel to Cambodia: can you help me make travel arrangements?

No. Kasma is not a travel agent. She offers no travel advice outside the scope of the trip nor does she have time to provide information or help with other travel plans in Thailand.

What is our main mode of travel in Thailand?

Mostly we travel around the country in two mini vans, each seating six or eight people. There are a couple of days on each trip where we will be driving in the vans for 6 to 8 hours – through beautiful, rural countryside. Roads in Thailand are occasionally curvey and this mode of transportation may be difficult for people who suffer from motion sickness.

We usually return to Bangkok from Chiang Mai by train and from the south by air. While in the south we travel to offshore islands by boats, which range from large converted fishing boats to smaller "longtail" boats (boarded by wading into sea water and climbing over the side). These boat rides may also be difficult for people with motion sickness. Expect to get wet (including baggage) on any of the boat rides should there be waves caused by wind and turbulence. (Oversized garbage bags, or inexpensive fiberglass bags available from any of Thailand's marketplaces, are recommended to keep your luggage dry.)

Is there anything I can do to offset the negative ecological effect of airplane traveling?

  • We, personally make a donation every year to Urban ReLeaf.
  • The U.K.-based Carbon Neutral Company offers several options. Check out their "Carbon Calculator": your round-trip between San Francisco and Bangkok produces 6,288 pounds of CO2. They offer a number of options for offsetting the effects of this carbon.
  • Friends of Conservation, also in the U.K., have a different calculator: you'll be surprised how many actual miles an airplane travels, given its spherical routes in the sky. They suggest also off-setting donations to their projects.

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Accommodations

FAQ's: General questions  |  Travel Concerns  |  Accommodations  |  Meals |  Medical Concerns |  Miscellaneous  ||  1-page FAQs (for printing)

Thai FigureWhat types of hotel do you stay in?

We mostly stay in comfortable, clean medium-range hotels, inns and small Thai-style resorts that would be acceptable to a middle-class Thai. Hotels are locally owned and are Thai-style rather than American-style. All rooms have private baths. Except for hotels in cities and towns, many of the places we stay will be in beautiful natural areas.

The rooms may be somewhat different from what you are used to in western countries – they will not be as immaculate and sterile. Because Thailand is a tropical country, there may occasionally be mildew stains on a wall even though the room is clean. Many of the hotels or lodges do not have phones in the room and many lack fax machines in their offices. You may be unable to retrieve messages from your home answering machine in many locations. There may or may not be televisions in your room. If you are an extremely fastidious person or if it is important to you that people from your home be able to get in touch with you wherever you are, these trips probably are not suitable for you.

On the trip that goes only to southern Thailand we have stays on three islands – two of them protected national marine parks where the best accommodations are very rustic and basic and can be best described as one step up from camping; the other island is the one mentioned in the paragraph above. On one occasion we may need to tent-camp; although this has happened only once in the past, it is a possibility. We will stay one night in national park housing, where several trip members (usually four, possibly more depending on room availability) share dorm-style bungalows – in the past this has been four people in one room, sharing two bathroom. There will not be hot running water or air-conditioning on these islands and electricity is available only for set hours during the evening, night and/or morning.

Although the island accommodations are more basic and rustic, the islands themselves are very enchanting and idyllic, with dazzling beaches, gorgeous scenery whether above or underwater, lively coral gardens home to countless colorful fishes, and rainforest vegetation on dramatic limestone karsts or verdant hills supporting numerous species of birds (including endangered hornbills) and other wildlife. Some of the islands are very secluded and we almost practically have them to ourselves. But if it is important to you to stay in tourist-class hotels similar to those found in America in all your travels in Asia, Kasma's trips are definitely not for you.

I am traveling with my husband/wife. Will there be double beds available?

When possible you will be given a room with a double bed. There may be stops on the trip where this is not possible and you will be given two twin beds instead.

I have a bad back and am concerned that the beds will be too soft?

Thai beds are generally quite firm. So are the pillows!

Are all the rooms air conditioned?

There are a few places without air conditioning – particularly on the southern trip. Fans are usually available, although on the islands of the southern trip they may not be available at all times because the electrical power comes from a generator that is usually turned off after midnight.

What if I have a problem in the hotel, such as running out of toilet paper or drinking water?

You are encouraged to contact the hotel staff yourself to take care of the problem. All the places where we stay have someone on duty who can understand enough English to take care of such basic problems; sign language communicates just as well. Trip members are encouraged to relate with local people rather than stand aloof from them just because their primary language is different from yours.

What if I do not join up with a roommate?

The trip price is based on double occupancy. If possible, you will be matched with an appropriate person of the same sex. If no one is available for you to room with, payment for a single supplement will be necessary.

What if I wish to room by myself?

It may be possible to room by yourself by paying a single supplement. Because this is a small group and reservations need to be made in advance, purchasing a single supplement is not always possible.

What is the cost of a single supplement?

The cost for a single supplement is based on current room costs and is approximately $700 to $750 for the 17- to 19-day trips and $1,050 to $1,200 for the 25- or 26-day trips.

What about the bathrooms?

The bathrooms in all of our hotels are American style: that is, they have a "throne" you can sit on. While traveling we will also come across can be termed "squatters" – which should be self-explanatory. We occasionally are in a situation where the only bathroom available is not particularly clean – usually these are few and far between.

Be aware that many bathrooms in Thailand are "water rooms" – like some European bathrooms the shower is simply part of the room and showering will get the floor of the room wet.

What about baths and showers?

Most of the time you will have showers. The showers in Thailand usually feature hot water on demand only, from handheld shower heads. In many instances the temperature of the water will wax and wane as you shower. In some showers you will need to be careful to watch that the water does not get too hot. Some places will not have hot water at all. And on the southern Tour you may encounter bathrooms where you must take a Thai "splash" bath.

What amenities do the hotels offer?

Kasma doesn't choose hotels based on it offering certain amenities. Do not expect your hotel to have a hair dryer in the room, a swimming pool, etc.. Hotels are often picked because they are close to cultural activities (such as a bustling morning or evening market) or located near some other activity or place where you might get insight into the Thai character.

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Meals

FAQ's: General questions  |  Travel Concerns  |  Accommodations  |  Meals  |  Medical Concerns |  Miscellaneous  ||  1-page FAQs (for printing)

Thai FigureWhat are meals like?

In Thailand, and on the trip, meals are meant to be a social occasion where the taste buds are delighted and a variety of textures and foods are enjoyed. We will eat Thai food for breakfast, lunch and dinner through the entire trip. Thai food in Thailand can be quite different from the Thai food you may have become accustomed to in many American Thai restaurants, which has usually been changed to suit American tastes. In some U.S. Thai restaurants the food is more Chinese in flavor balance than Thai!

Be prepared for the food to be more highly flavored and liberally dressed with the fresh flavors of aromatic herbs and pungent spices. There is also astonishing variety – it is not unusual for a restaurant to have 200 to 300 items on the menu. You will sample the best food that Thailand has to offer, the same food that Thais eat. Many previous trip members have said it is the best food they have ever eaten. Many of the favorite dishes cannot be found in Thai restaurants outside of Thailand, although they constitute the core of Thai cuisine in Thailand.

In general, Thai food is spicy and the Thai diet consists primarily of rice, fish and a wide assortment of vegetables, herbs and edible leaves of trees. As such, it is a very healthy diet. We will eat a lot of fish and seafood of all varieties (including crustaceans, such as shrimp and crab, and mollusks, such as clams and squid) as we travel through the country and especially in the southern region. (Fish dishes in Thailand do not taste fishy because they are very fresh and are prepared in a multitude of different ways with many different kinds of herbs and spices; some preparation techniques make their tastes and textures more like meat.) Of course, there will also be plenty of chicken and pork dishes, though beef is less common. In the North the main meat is pork, so you must be able to eat pork. Shrimp, in the form of shrimp paste, may be in many dishes that do not seem to include seafood. So, if you love seafood and rice and hot, spicy flavors, you are in for a real treat! If you do not like spicy foods, it is not recommended that you join any of Kasma's trips.

Most meals are served "family style." Kasma does all the ordering at mealtimes. Most meals are served family-style with five or six shared dishes served with rice – except for breakfast and occasional lunches where you will be served your own one-dish meal such as rice soup, noodles or fried rice. For these one-dish meals there is not always a choice because we order as a group. One big advantage of traveling with Kasma is that you get to eat many more dishes than if you traveled on your own. Many small-town restaurants do not have written menus and it takes someone who knows the language as well as the region's food offerings to bring to the dinner table the delicious specialties of the house usually missed by foreign travelers. Kasma frequently talks to the cook to find out what is good and fresh that day and orders accordingly. In many places Kasma is ordering specialties that may not be available elsewhere so she is unable to take requests for certain dishes that you may have enjoyed back in the States.

In some parts of the country there is not much choice of meats: thus, up North, on occasion, every dish served at a meal (except, perhaps, the vegetable) may include pork (and the vegetable may have been cooked in lard). One memorable meal in the heart of the country consists entirely of dishes with seafood, both fish and shellfish. On other occasions there is more variety.

Most tours do not eat this well – they are served a more westernized version of Thai food that is blander and much less interesting. In addition to authentic Thai food during meals, you will also get to sample a wide range of Thai snacks and "nibble foods" in-between meals.

Will all our food be Thai food?

Yes.

What if I don't like Thai food?

Because this is such an important part of Kasma's trips, it is recommended that you seek out other trips offered by travel agents and tour companies. We cannot accept you on this trip.

What if I don't eat spicy (hot) food?

Because Thai food is spicy, It is important that you be able to eat a modicum of spicy (hot) food to enjoy Kasma's trips. Because we eat family-style as a group, it does not work to order different sets of food for different people. On a scale of 1 to 10 for spiciness (heat) you should be able to tolerate at least a level of 5. A Thai "5" is somewhat more spicy than a "5" outside of Thailand. Although there is often a range of spiciness at a meal, there will be occasions when everything (except, perhaps, the vegetable) will be spicy.

I've heard that Thailand is a Buddhist country so will I be able to come if I'm a vegetarian?

There really is no vegetarian tradition in Thailand. After rice, seafood is the most consumed food. Following the rules for monks that were set up by the Buddha, Thai monks go out every morning to be given food and they eat whatever they are given, usually including meat and seafood dishes of all kinds. All meals are family style and the Thai diet does emphasize fish. This trip can not accept vegetarians or people with special dietary needs (see below).

What if I have special dietary needs?

We cannot accept anyone who has any special dietary needs – including food allergies, strong food preferences or not eating a specific food be it animal ( beef, chicken, fish, shellfish), vegetable (such as onions or peanuts) or grain (such as wheat).

Here are some "special dietary needs" that may come up: food allergies to a particular food (including shellfish, pork, beef, chicken, or even a vegetable (such as onions or peanuts) or grain (such as wheat); not eating fish, shellfish, chicken, pork or beef; strong dietary preferences such that you avoid a particular food, be it fish, shellfish, chicken, pork or beef.

The short answer is that tour members should be adventurous eaters, omnivores who are willing to eat, or at least try and hopefully enjoy just about anything and everything.

Be assured, Kasma does not order food items such as innards or bugs, although you may have a chance to sample them on the trip, if you wish. As we say, "Insects and innards are optional."

I like to drink beer with dinner. Is this included in the package trip price?

No. We provide water at all meals but you will need to pay for all other beverages, such as beer, coffee or soft drinks by yourself.

What if I get tired of Thai food or don't want to eat with the group?

If this is a concern for you before the trip, this probably is not the trip for you. We want people to sign up for Kasma' trips because they love Thai food and are excited about the prospect of traveling around Thailand with a Thai cooking teacher and master chef and immersing themselves in Thai cuisine. Although a trip member or two might occasionally go off on their own for one of the meals, the trips echo Thai culture, where meal times are an important social occasion when taste buds are delighted by the extraordinary varieties of Thai dishes. Meals shared together are one of the highlights and most important parts of the trips and at any given meal you would sample an intriguing number of Thai dishes that could include any kind of meat, seafood and exotic vegetables. Kasma does all the ordering and selects the best that each region, town and restaurant has to offer.

If you anticipate that the food might be a problem for you, you are better off going on other organized trips where not all meals are provided and you have the flexibility to eat what you want more often. There are plenty of package tours offered by travel agencies that cater to western tourists' wishes by providing foods that they think these tourists like to eat (such as cashew chicken, which actually is a Chinese dish and nothing Thai about it, American breakfasts and bland, watered-down versions of Thai, Chinese and other Asian foods). This is where Kasma's trips differ from other tours, as you will be eating REAL Thai food that locals eat in the different regions throughout her trips – foods that are filled with robust flavors, unusual textures, an abundance of exotic herbs and vegetables, a wide variety of meats and seafoods and exquisite blendings of the hot, sour, sweet and salty flavors that Thais love. Food is an important and inseparable part of Thai culture, so you will be given the opportunity to immerse yourself in an undiluted experience of true Thai culture, from an insider's perspective. Simply put, it is important that you are an adventurous eater to get maximum enjoyment from Kasma's trips.

Is the street food ok to eat?

Thailand is actually a very clean country. When Kasma orders street food, it is always from a stall that is clean and whose food handlers are clean. In addition the food is always cooked on the spot and served piping hot. (Check out Kasma's article on street food.)

Will I be able to get my morning cup of coffee?

Most mornings you will be able to get coffee, though it is not guaranteed. There has been a proliferation of coffee shops in Thailand so more and more there are stands and shops that offer kafee sohd – fresh ground and brewed coffee; it will be available some mornings (and at many gas stations) but it is not always available. It may not be American coffee but it will be coffee. In some instances it will be Thai coffee, which is made from a mix of coffee roasted with grains and seeds; this is sometimes be available only iced and sweetened with condensed milk. In other instances it will be Nescafe, which is, at least, better than the instant coffee found in the states.

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Medical Concerns

FAQ's: General questions  |  Travel Concerns  |  Accommodations  |  Meals  |  Medical Concerns  |  Miscellaneous  ||  1-page FAQs (for printing)

Nothing in these FAQ's should be construed as medical advice.
Please contact your own physician with your concerns.

Thai FigureWhat vaccinations will I need?

None are required for travel to Thailand. However, vaccination against hepatitis is recommended, as is a tetanus booster if you have not had one in the past ten years. If you wish to be safe, check with your local health provider.

What about anti-malarials and Mosquitos?

The disease bearing mosquitos are mainly a problem in rain-forested and jungle areas late at night. We will not be in such areas. Whether or not anti-malarials are effective in preventing malaria is a controversial topic. Some doctors are adamant that you take them if you plan to travel to Southeast Asia; others do not believe the drugs currently available are effective in preventing the disease. One of Kasma's friends who took the drugs while traveling in Africa returned with malaria anyway.

The short-term and long-term side effects of anti-malarials may well outweigh their benefits. One trip member permanently damaged his eyesight from taking anti-malarial pills. Others get nauseous throughout the entire trip, not being able to enjoy a good meal or tolerate long drives. Since we will not be trekking into jungle areas late at night where malaria-carrying mosquitoes are active, we are not at risk. In all of Kasma's years of extensive traveling around Thailand, she has never taken anti-malarials and has never contracted malaria. No trip member has ever contracted malaria. Insect repellent, mosquito coils (cheap and plentiful in every marketplace in Thailand) and taking care to put on long-sleeved shirts and pants in the evenings to minimize exposed areas, are less risky preventive measures. Use your discretion. If you are concerned, please check with your health care provider.

Kasma uses a natural, citronella-based repellant called "Sssssting Stop" – it may be available at your natural food store. You may find the following web page of use :

Is the water drinkable?

To be safe, you should drink only bottled water, which is universally available. However, tap water is perfectly safe for brushing your teeth.

How about ice?

Ice cubes are made with drinking water at factories, so they are safe to eat or use in drinks.

What if I get sick?

Often your medical needs can be handled by a pharmacist, who can make recommendations and dispense western and herbal medicines. In addition, medical facilities and hospitals are conveniently located throughout Thailand, so you need not worry about the availability of proper medical care should unexpected emergencies arise. The cost of such services is much lower than at comparable U.S. facilities. You should notify us if you have any ongoing medical concerns.

What about diarrhea?

On some trips this is not a problem for anyone, while other times various people are affected. There are very effective local herbal remedies available, which usually take care of the problem very quickly.

Do I need special medical insurance?

In many cases, the medical insurance you already subscribe to will cover medical expenses during your travels abroad. Because some medical plans require a specific form to be completed by physicians who treat you in the foreign country, you may wish to request your insurance company to supply you with the form before your departure. In any event, do check your medical insurance policy to see what is covered and not covered so that you may decide whether or not to purchase specific travel insurance coverages.

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Miscellaneous

FAQ's: General questions  |  Travel Concerns  |  Accommodations  |  Meals  |  Medical Concerns  |  Miscellaneous  ||  1-page FAQs (for printing)

Thai FigureWhat kind of weather can I expect?

The average day is similar to a hot Californian summer day (80's to 90's, fahrenheit), except that it will be more humid. Evenings, especially in the north, are likely to be nice and cool. In the hills and the mountainous Mae Hong Son province, there is a remote chance that we may even be surprised by some rather chilly nights and mornings (even into the 50's or high 40's, fahrenheit). Daytime temperatures range from mid 70's to 90's, and nighttime temperatures, 60's to 80's, depending on which part of the country we are in. Thailand is a sunny country, so you will need to bring protection from the sun.

What if I don't want to do some of the activities?

You are always welcome to take time away from the group. If you do not return for meals, you are responsible for your own.

Can we rent snorkel gear in Thailand?

If you wish to snorkel it is recommended that you bring your own gear, including a mask, snorkel, and fins. Although they are available for rent, the quality is not always good and there's nothing more disappointing than snorkeling with a leaky mask. Also, the sizes available may not be a perfect fit for you.

Fins are highly recommended to allow you to easily negotiate your way around the extensive reefs without tiring; they are especially helpful in a few of the places we snorkel that tend to get a little bit of a current. The newer, smaller fins have worked very well for many past trip members. If you are near-sighted or far-sighted, a dive shop can sell you a mask with corrective lenses.

Will there be a chance to go scuba diving during the trip?

Not really. In the past, trip members have remained after the trip to enjoy some of the wonderful dive spots in southern Thailand. Many guidebooks cover scuba diving and recommend agencies.

Will we get a chance to meet Thai people?

You will get a chance to meet and know our Thai drivers. We take numerous market walks where you'll have a chance to interact with Thais. We sometimes stop to observe farmers plant or harvest rice and participate in festivals and temple ceremonies should we come across any. Many of the places we stay at have very casual and friendly staff and, because they know Kasma well and like her so much, they are also ready to become your friends. Young monks at temples often like to practice their English with foreign visitors. Even Thai tourists visiting the same sites we visit frequently wish to make their acquaintance and get their pictures taken with you. So, there are plenty of opportunities to get to know Thai people and learn about their way of life.

What about shopping?

Thailand is a shoppers' paradise, with its widely available arts and crafts at reasonable prices. When we travel up north, one day is devoted to going around to factories. Unlike most conventional tours, Kasma and her drivers do not get a kick-back when members buy things, so she is free to pick the best places to shop. On our market walks there are often opportunities to buy things. In part, how much shopping we do will depend upon the group: the itinerary is somewhat flexible and if a majority of the group wishes to find more shopping opportunities, they can be accommodated.

Even people who are not usually shoppers often enjoy shopping in Thailand, due to the wide variety of reasonably-priced, beautiful things to buy and the friendliness of the people.

Will we have a chance to experience Thai night life?

Not on this trip. Most mornings we get a fairly early start for what will be a full day of activities: most people find they want to turn in early to get ready for the next day. If you are interested in bars, discos and night life, this is not the trip for you: Kasma deliberately does not visit places such as Phuket where there is easy availability of western-style night life.

How do I sign up?

Please make sure that you have read the Trip details and the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). You'll also want to review the trip contract for the specific trip you are interested in (follow the link in the "Explore Further" section below). Then Contact Kasma to make sure that there is space available and to set up a phone interview so we can be sure that you are a good fit for traveling with the group. We'll get you the most updated version of the Trip Conditions and Agreement for your trip, which you will return with a $400 deposit. Of this deposit, $200 is non-refundable from the start. The rest of the deposit becomes non-refundable 4 months before the start of the trip. The balance for the trip will be due 75 days before departure. After that time, no monies are refundable.

What about my other questions?

Please contact Kasma.

Currently Scheduled Trips Pricing Information

January 2017 to February 2018 Trips

Trip B:   17 day trip to Central & Northern Thailand, Nov. 24 – Dec. 10, 2017: $2,975 + airfare.Trip B Page

Trip NF: 18-day trip to Northern Thailand (easter reaches), January 5 – 22, 2018: $3,185 + airfare.Northern Frontiers Trip Page

Trip So: 19-day "snorkel" trip to Southern Thailand, February 3 – 21, 2018: $3,330 + airfare.Southern Trip Page

Explore Further

We suggest that you explore all of the links under Trip Information below. Read each of the Individual Trip Pages to see which you might be interested and then check out the itinerary, contract, blogs (if available) and photos for each trip. If you'd like to sign up, ask question, have us address concerns or would like to talk with a prior trip member, follow this Contact Kasma link and get in touch.

Note: All links open in a new window so that you can simply close that window to return to this page of links.

Khorat market vendor Trip Information:   Overall Description  |   Details   Trip Brochure (PDF) |
Trip Information    FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)   |   Testimonials

Individual Trip Pages:   Trip Summaries   |   Trip B   |   Trip So   |   Trip NE   |   Trip NF

Trip Itineraries:   Trip B   |   Trip So   |   Trip NE   |   Trip NF

Trip Contracts (PDFs):   Trip B   |   Trip So   |   Trip NE

Blogs on Trips:   Trip B, Part 1 & Trip B, Part 2   ||   NE - Weaving Villages

Trip Photos

Buddha imageNote: All links open in a new window so that you can simply close that window to return to this page of links.

Onsite Photos:

Single Trips:   Trip B & Trip B 09   |    Trip So & Underwater &   | Snorkel Krabi    |   Trip NE & NE Fabrics

Applies to all trips: Food Sampling   |   Thai Markets

Kasma's Google+ Photos: Offsite. Scroll to find relevant albums or use these links.

Google+ - Trip B: 2015 B-1 | 2015 B-2 | 2015 Videos  ||   2013 B-1 | 2013 B-2
Google+ - Trip B: 2012 B-1 | 2012 B-2 | 2012 B-3   || 2011 B-1 | 2011 B-2   ||   2010 B-1 | 2010 B-2

Google+ - Trip So: 2016 So-1 | 2016 So-2   ||   2015 So-1 | 2015 So-2  |  2015 So-3  |  2015 Videos ||
Google+ - Trip So: 2013 So-1 | 2013 So-2   ||   2012 So-1 | 2012 So-2 | 2012 So-3 ||
Google+ - Trip So: 2010 So-1 | 2010 So-2 | 2010 So-3   ||   2008 C

Snorkel Trip So:   Snorkel 2010-11   | Snorkel 2009   | Snorkel 2007

Google+ - Trip NE: 2011 NE-1 | 2011 NE-2 | 2011 NE-3   ||   2009 NE-1 | 2009 NE-2

Google+- Trip NF: Northern Frontiers

 

Signing Up

Please make sure that you have read the Trip details and the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs); then Contact Kasma.

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